Friday, December 17, 2010

[LPJ Design] Races of NeoExodus: Cavian Preview

Creatures of myth, whispered in legend, lost in the mists of history - and now returned for reasons unknown to any but themselves.  Such are the cavians, a race of humanoid rodents noted for their incredible psionic abilities.  The cavians were exiled from Exodus for nearly three hundred years, and their unexplained return has made more than a few other races extremely nervous.  Fear of cavians comes naturally to those without psionic gifts, for these rat-folk can ‘see’ thoughts and emotions the way most humanoids can see color.  Worse, most cavians are scions of a racial hive mind, a collective intelligence of phenomenal power.

Personality:  Cavians communicate among themselves telepathically without the drawbacks and benefits of individual sentience.  When they speak to creatures outside their hive mind, they often come across as shockingly blunt.  The concept of the polite lie is alien to a cavian, and he always looks at a situation with cold logic.  Even severed cavians who have lost access to the hive mind generally retain these traits.

Physical Description: Cavians resemble humanoid rats.  Their slim bodies are covered by a coat of short fur, which grows longer with age.  Cavian coats come in many different colors and patterns, with black, light brown and gray predominating.  The creatures’ eyes are similarly varied, although more are dark than not.  Albino cavians, with pure white fur and pink eyes, are more common than in most races.

Relations: As powerful as the cavian hive mind is and as formidable as many individual cavians are, neither could hope to live up to their reputations.  Most people believe cavians can peer into their minds and delve into their deepest secrets without even trying, and control those minds with only a little more effort.  Even powerful empires tread lightly around the hive mind’s goals.  Severed cavians are just as feared by commoners, but powerful organizations prize them as spies.  These cavians, many of whom feel a terrible emptiness due to their severance, often accept any task in return for a sense of belonging.

Alignment: The cavian hive mind is Lawful Neutral; all non-severed cavians share its alignment.  Severed cavians generally start Lawful Neutral, but may quickly adopt other alignments as their individual personalities assert themselves.

Cavian Lands: No one outside the cavian race knows where the creatures originally came from; today, they can be found all over Exodus.  They seem to prefer urban life and colonies can be found in any major city.

Religion: The cavians are short on religiosity and, unusual for a psionic race, mysticism.  Their hive mind is a sort of synthetic god unto itself.  Severed cavians have no cultural grounding in religion and either avoid it as incomprehensibly alien or throw themselves into it in a desperate search for belonging.

Language: All cavians speak common and their native tongue; the existence of the latter seems to point toward a pre-collective past for the race.  Among themselves, cavians prefer to communicate telepathically.

Names: Cavians have no need for individual designations within the hive mind.  Severed cavians, and those who deal with outsiders, find it convenient to adopt names derived from their language.  As with that language, their tradition of clan and personal names seems to point to a pre-collective past.  Whether the cavians actually retain knowledge of their former clans or simply adopt these names out of preference, perhaps even they do not know.

Clan Name: Adsila, Awenasa, Galilahi, Salali, Taysnita, Zitkata.
Male Names: Chepi, Eyota, Hurit, Izusa, Kanti, Niljon, Pauwau, Tahki.
Female Names: Alawa, Hausis, Keegsquaw, Numees, Onawa, Sinopa, Sokanon, Yepa.

Adventures: Most cavian ‘adventurers’ are simply specialized agents of the hive mind, seeking knowledge and power for the collective advancement of their people.  Severed cavians who take up the adventuring life do so for the same reasons as members of any other race.