Monday, September 26, 2016

U is for Ularu

" seek out new life, and new civilizations..." - some 60's TV show

Sketch I did in 1987 and cleaned up in Photoshop.

Note: The Ularu (pronounced oo'-lar-oo) are a race I started creating in 1987 but never really fleshed out. I've taken them out recently and dusted them off for my Hu'kura campaign.

The Ularu are a minor race of arthropodal sophonts native to the planet Hu'kura in the Foreven Subsector.

The Ularu are descended from insectoid omnivore hunter stock. Ularu have thirty limbs. The forward-most six limbs may be considered proper arms ending with hands containing three opposable digits, and can be used for fine manipulation work. The remaining limbs are more leg-like and end in a pad-like foot. When running at top speed, an Ularu will lower its entire body to the ground and use its six arms as extra legs. They have a segmented body with a hard dorsal carapace. They are typically physically stronger and have more endurance than humans. They are slower than humans over short runs, but with their greater endurance, need less rest when traveling. While just as intelligent as humans, they do not have the same drive or curiosity. They are omnivorous, but prefer meat.  They are ectothermic and typically regulate their body temperature by changing their environment. In times of great thermal distress, a gland in their body will release a chemical into the blood stream which will stabilize their body temperature. This benefit will keep the Ularu alive for an additional hour or two. The gland takes about a week to fully replenish itself.

Typical adults range from 12 to 15 feet length, with about half of their body in the upright position, giving them a variable height, but usually in the 6 to 7 foot range. Adults usually weight between 180 and 240 kgs. They have large multi-faceted eyes giving them a visual field of about 270 degrees. Their short range vision is comparable to humans, but Ularu have poor long distance eyesight. They have two olefactory antennae atop their head which gives them an excellent sense of smell. The base of the antennae contains a small tympanal organ giving them hearing comparable to humans.

A key element of the Ularu psyche is the need for routine and the ability to stay focused on a task. Each Ularu has a job to do and they do it. It is possible that this is a throwback to an ancestral caste system or hive mind, but it has never been studied. The ability to stay focused makes the average Ularu a great worker, and the Ularans have built many great stone buildings, roads, aqueducts and other structures. However, this single-mindedness also prevents them from being creative. They are achievers, not innovators or problem solvers. Change occurs very slowly within Ularu society. Ularu are not mindless drones, however. They still have individual thoughts and desires, but these come second to the needs of their society.

Ularu have two sexes. Pair bonding is pheromone based and couples mate for life. A typical female will only be impregnated once or twice in her life. After impregnation, the female grows within her an egg sac containing 2 to 4 fertilized eggs. After about six months of gestation the female expels her egg sac in a communal birthing nest, where the eggs are looked after by others until they hatch, usually within another two weeks. Ularu young can walk and eat solid food from birth. The birth parents have very little to do with raising of their young. Child rearing and education are left to a caregiver class until the young reach maturity around the age of ten. Ularu young will most often adopt the class of their birth parents and spend a two year period of instruction specific to that class. They are considered adult at the age of 12. Typical life expectancy is around 52 years.

Very little is known about ancient Ularu history. About the time the ancient Ularu were developing written language, they were enslaved by an off-world race called the Vorga. It is unknown how long the Vorga kept the Ularu as slaves, possibly thousands of years. Approximately 3,000 years ago the Ularu rose up against the Vorga and defeated them and claimed independence. The Vorgan Downfall (as it came to be called) created a leadership vacuum and lead to the Ularan Civil War, the re-emergence of Ramu worship, and the rise of a religious dictatorship.

Once the dust settled, the Ularu embarked on what they considered their “Divine Right of Conquest”. Called the Kakrha' Nin, it is a kind of religious mission of conquest and expansion, a cross between a holy war and Manifest Destiny. It is unclear exactly when humans arrived on Hu'kura, although it is believed they were there at the time of the Vorgan Downfall, but they were the first victims of the Kakrha' Nin. The humans that were not killed or captured fled to other parts of the continent and an intermittent war between the humans and the Ularu has been going on ever since.

Politically and economically, Ularan society is socialist, bordering on communist, but its government is a religious dictatorship. Worship of their god, Ramu, and following ancient scriptures are a part of everyday life and rarely questioned. There is very little private ownership of property and all is given to the temple, which redistributes the wealth.  A common prayer/response heard at the time of giving is "Ul huha ramuga, ka rumuga huha Ularu." (Give all to the temple, as the temple gives all to the people).

While not strictly a caste system, Ularan society is divided among six major classes; Priests, Builders, Caregivers, Warriors, Feeders, and Crafters.
  • Priests are responsible for governing and administration
  • Builders work on large scale construction projects, roads, etc.
  • Caregivers are the doctors, educators, and raise the young.
  • Warriors are the police, military and scouts.
  • Feeders grow crops, raise food animals, and prepare food.
  • Crafters manufacture tools, weapons, and small day to day items.
While the typical Ularu will stay with his class for life, it is not unusual for some cross pollination between classes. For example, a priest may work within the warrior class to provide leadership and organization, builders may work with feeders to develop irrigation systems.

Ularu are generally resistant to change and not very curious. They are at TL1 with some minor advances into TL2, especially in the area of metal smithing and weapon making.

THE NANWI' MIN (or Nanwi for short)
About 1 in every 2,000 Ularu are born with a mental aberration that does not become apparent until late adolescence. The symptoms of this aberration range from mild attention deficit disorder to full blown mania. Very little is known about the condition and ancient Ularu were known to kill their young exhibiting overtly strange behavior. Nanwi'min literally translates to "far dreamer", but does not have a direct Galanglic translation. The term suggests an Ularu who does not have focused thought, one who has their head in the clouds, or is easily distracted. As the ancient Ularu evolved a sense of morality and empathy, they eventually stopped killing the Nanwi. Over the past several centuries, the Ularu have started to recognize that Nanwi may be providing some societal benefits.

GM notes:  In reality, the aberration is really a sense of curiosity and the ability to think outside the box. In some cases it is also indicative of genius intelligence. A secret known only by the highest echelon priests is that all of the major advances in Ularu society have been brought about by Nanwi Ularu with the right combination of leadership, charisma, and social standing. It is these bold thinkers that keep the society from total stagnation.

  • Ularu do not tend to use ranged weapons because of their poor distance vision. They instead prefer close combat and melee weapons, in particular spears, axes, hammers, and swords. Because of the Ularu's superior strength and extra arms, Ularu weapons are often larger than human weapons. An experienced Ularu warrior wielding a six-handed broadsword in close combat is a fearsome thing to see. Humans handling large Ularu weapons do so with a -2 DM.
  • Ularu are naturally well armored. Treat their carapace as ballistic cloth armor and the rest of their body as jack leather.
  • Ularu are very difficult to sneak up on. The combination of their wide angled vision and superior sense of smell is formidable in this matter.
  • The most successful human attacks on Ularu have been made with ranged weapons while being downwind from the Ularu.

The single-minded nature of the Ularu is antithetical to creative role playing. Everyone pretty much just follows orders given from their superiors. Unless you are role-playing the High Priest / Dictator it probably wouldn't be that much fun.

ULARU NPC GENERATION (provided primarily for the purpose of creating warriors)
Roll 1d10 to determine number of terms served. Age = 12 + (4 x terms)
STR: 2d6+2
DEX: 2d6-2
END: 2d6+1
INT: 2d6
EDU: 2d6
SOC: 2d6
Ularu have no nobles, so SOC is really more a measure of how one is respected within society, or their level of authority within their class. Ularu with high SOC are usually given the best of everything available.
  • Priest Class Skills: leadership, admin, liaison, persuasion, legal
  • Builder Class Skills: construction, architecture, civil engineering
  • Caregiver Class Skills: medical, instruction, steward
  • Warrior Class Skills: brawling / blade weapons per Book 1, hunting, intimidation, stealth
  • Feeder Class Skills: agriculture, animal handling, etc.
  • Crafter Class Skills: metalworking, wood working, textiles, etc.
The referee should determine skills based on a character's class and the number of terms served. To reflect a fairly stagnant society, skill levels should generally not exceed 3, and the total number of skill levels should not exceed the number of terms served.

The Hu'Kura system is currently interdicted by the Third Imperium, although it is not part of the Imperium (there is a reason for that, but that's one of the mysteries the PCs must solve). The typical Ularu would not much care for leaving their home anyway. If Ularu ever do make it to the stars, it will be by some adventure seeking Nanwi.

  • As an Ularu ages, their carapace will become thinner and less shiny. In an effort to maintain the status quo, aging Ularu will wax their carapace, sometimes to ridiculous levels of shine. This is considered a vain fad of the wealthy by the young and those of much lower social standing. It is particularly prevalent among the priest class.
  • The Ularu keep a group of captive humans in every one of their towns and cities, regardless of size. The reason for keeping the humans captive is unclear, as they are not forced to do anything. The humans are kept and cared for (not very well, usually, but kept alive anyway). Some people have speculated that the humans are kept as pets or possibly as a kind of zoo exhibit, but there is not enough information to go on.
  • If the need arises, Ularu can handle human TL1 and TL2 tools and melee weapons without a penalty. More sophisticated weapons or delicate equipment is operated at -2.
  • Ularu cannot swim and they have a fear of deep water. They have no wet navy. Because they are ectothermic they become very sluggish in cold weather. Much of their religiously motivated expansion has been deterred by their own limitations.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, so the BEM is indeed pointing its spear at the poor human for a reason. They're dicks! :)

    Nifty aliens ya got here. Also, the presentation is excellent. Gonna miss these entries.