|Rlaan (Worker, Defender, Hybrid)|
|Homeworld (Origin)||4th planet in system SCx9362|
|Age of spaceflight||TBAL|
|Physical characteristics|| Defender: 1m (Body diameter), 2m (Knee height) |
|Life span||250-350 Earth standard years|
|Number scheme||See Rlaan numbers|
Ammonia-blooded, methane breathers from a cool world distantly orbiting a hot star, the Rlaan are a collection of oddities. Unique among the known space-faring groups, the Rlaan are actually two separate species, the defenders and workers speciating some hundred thousand or so years ago.
Physical characteristics (Defender, Workers & Hybrids)
Rlaan are radially symmetric beings with a base four split. Their workers stand about one meter high at the prime knee, and are nearly one meter in diameter. Members of their warrior caste tend towards being 50% larger in both dimensions. Rlaan natively breathe a methane-based atmosphere, and must wear special breathing apparatus to negotiate oxygen-nitrogen environments. Their skeletal structure, being an exoskeletal carapace supported internally by millions of reinforcing struts, is best suited to lower gravity worlds, and leads to the use of mechanical assistance on larger or denser rocky bodies.
Both species are similar in appearance, with the primary differences being size, the degree of fine control in the manipulator appendages (workers have better fine control), and the structural integrity of the skeleton (defenders are less fragile than workers).
The defenders tend towards darker shades of red and purple, whereas the workers are somewhat pale. Though the offspring of worker-defender matings are sterile, these hybrids exist as nearly 4% of the population, and have come to play important social roles, especially in the realm of politics.
Rlaan are radially symmetric with four equivalent segments. Each of these segments contains one compound eye composed of four segments, one ambulatory appendage, one mouth with four mandibles, one manipulator appendage, various local organs, and portions of the central organs. The Rlaan skeleton is a supported exoskeleton, that is to say, the exoskeleton is supported internally by a network of millions of small extensions of the skeleton, which together form a sort of highly porous lattice that the soft internals reside in. A defender stands about 1.5 meters high at the top of its carapace, and 2 meters high at its knee joint. The central body is around one meter in diameter, and a third of a meter in thickness. Out of this central body come the four ambulatory limbs, going up and out from the body to the knee joint, and then proceeding down where they terminate in a four-splayed gripping foot. Suspended below the central body is the "head" portion of the Rlaan, about half a meter in diameter and also about a third of a meter in thickness, with its bottom covered in a particularly thick extrusion of the exoskeleton. The manipulator appendages sprout from the region connecting the head with the main body, and end in four radially arranged fingerlike structures. A worker’s dimensions are about 70% that of a defender.
Concept art for a Rlaan Worker
(the front and the back legs are cut away for better visibility)
With equatorial temperatures peaking near 230 K, seas of ammonia, and a methane atmosphere, the Rlaan homeworld is not what most species would consider a prime vacation spot. Life on this planet progresses at a rather slower pace than that on water worlds, but proceeds nonetheless. From the point of view of ammonia-methane life, the Rlaan planet is actually quite toasty.
Rlaan lifespans tend to be between 250-350 years. This is believed to be a large factor in their cultural homogeneity and the methodical nature of their advances, both through space and as a culture. Rlaan culture itself is a very dry affair, with social dynamics primarily involved around expository investigations of philosophical debates that have yet to be satisfactorily translated into the language of any other species.
Their music, if it can be called such, has been compared to "the set of frequencies one would expect to register if a Myztherian Octpanther were let loose in a campanile". On a more disturbing note, the Rlaan central archives possess the largest collection of data concerning Jerry Lewis and Yoko Ono outside of Human space. The Rlaan are, however, regarded by many of the other space faring races as much more intelligent than their culture’s taste in art would suggest.
Rlaan written language appears as a sequence of characters consisting of one to four radial slashes in each of four quadrants formed by a pair of crossed lines. It is read in a counterclockwise spiral out from a blank central region that is reserved for the signature glyphs of the author. The Rlaan have vast stores of written documents going back thousands of years, but attempts to decipher most of them have met with limited success, as the concepts often being discussed seem to have no corollaries in the languages of any other species.
Rlaan science is more advanced in the fields of chemistry and genetic manipulation than any of the other space-faring races. The Rlaan are also quite knowledgeable about materials science and the advances in the latter are often related to the former. Aside from these noted cases though, Rlaan science has advanced more slowly than that of the Humans or the Aera, and the extent of its advances is more a measure of the age of Rlaan investigations into science than any particular brilliance on the part of the Rlaan. Though not truly uncreative, the Rlaan seem hard pressed in the department of inventive spontaneity. In particular, the Rlaan are rather behind humanity in their exploration of both artificial intelligence and tightly integrated biomechanical systems, having sufficed with loosely coupled designer organisms.
The Rlaan are governed by a body whose name translates to The Rlaan Assembly it appears to be some form of representative democracy, but the exact methods of choosing one’s representative seem complex and arcane beyond the tolerance of most observers to bother attempting to figure out. This body then churns out laws and regulations at a breakneck pace, the enforcement of which is then delegated to the complex Rlaan Bureaucracy. Attempts to understand the inner workings of the Rlaan Bureaucracy have met only with confusion for all parties involved. Strangely, the members of the Assembly are disproportionately sterile hybrids, believed by the Rlaan to be more levelheaded than either the aggressive defenders or the timid workers. One thing that did translate clearly, however, was the Rlaan differentiation between civilian and non-civilian. Given their biological distinction between these two, it is easy to see why the Rlaan have such firm views upon how civilians should be treated.
Notable Rlaan Factions and Organizational Entities
Most Rlaan are adherents of Rlaanbzztkrlbzeentkaan. What this means is very difficult to say, as, though it is a text based religion, the text is under constant revision. Indeed, the Rlaan Assembly regularly submits changes and additions to the holy text. Contradictory edicts abound, and scores of companion volumes are included with every copy that debate the relative merits of breaking one set of edicts over another. Edicts contradicting each other,however, are the least of a reader's worries, as the universe is created 37 times in 17 entirely distinct fashions, by a grand total of 4301 entities, albeit 4210 of these were all in one creation story. History, morality, ethics, and the fundamental nature of reality itself are all presented in so many different forms in the text, that it defies rational understanding as to how the Rlaan consider the book canonical and relevant. However, they do. And they gather together at one of the 73 specified intervals of worship, for those that interpret worship as being allowed, to engage in whatever activity is currently believed to be both correct and legal by the group that has thus met. Rlaan places of worship are thus remarkably like most Rlaan art: constantly changing in nature but composed of themes that are themselves mind-numbingly repetitive, and constantly possessed of an aesthetic that runs counter to common human tastes. (by JackS in this post)
Depending on your viewpoint, either base 4 or base 256. Namely, every Rlaan character is composed of 4 subcharacters, so, going by the subcharacters, it's base 4, but there are 256 distinct numerals per character read. Rlaan numbers are distinguishable from the characters in the rest of the Rlaan script in that the center of each subcharacter is marked with a dot. As far as the Rlaan are concerned, it's base 256. (by JackS in this post)