Posted Sept. 29, 2022, 1:18 p.m. by Fleet Captain Sage Pennington (Gamemaster Director/ Full Gamemaster) (Sage Pennington)
STANDARD NAME OF SPECIES (SCIENTIFIC NAME) Vren (Vrenlisidian Anthropormorphi)
AUTHOR: Lindsay Bayes / James Sinclair
HOMEWORLD: Alpha Oradiz IV (known to the Vren as Tutsikara)
HEIGHT (Adult average range from bottom of feet to top of head): 1.82M - 2.25 (6‘2” - 7‘4”)
WEIGHT (Adult Average): 79.3kg - 180kg (185 lbs - 400lbs)
LIFESPAN: 65 - 90 Standard Earth Years
STARFLEET: [ Common | Infrequent | Rare | Never ] (How likely one is to find this species in Starfleet. Non-UFP member races should never be more common than “Rare”, hostile powers should be “Never”.) RARE / NEVER
CLASSIFICATION: [Canon | Non-Canon | Custom ] CUSTOM
The Vren are a highly motivated amphibious species that have undergone significant cultural changes in recent years due to the desire of exploration of a more progressive younger generation; and the advent of a looming ecological disaster. Previously hostile to all outsiders, these changes have led to the opening of diplomatic ties.
The Vren are a bipedal amphibian species native to the swamps, marshes, rainforests, and jungles of Alpha Oradiz IV. The Vren most closely resemble the Poison Dart Frog of Central and South America on Earth. Bright, multi-colored skin mottled with black, gray, or dark green spots and streaks makeup 99.89% of the Vren population, with some documented cases of albinism and a condition similar to vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome occurring rarely.
Vren stand upright and have large, black eyes on the top right and left sides of their heads giving them almost complete 360° vision. This is an evolutionary adaptation to not being able to turn their heads more than a few degrees left or right. They can also see in the ultraviolet and infrared spectrums.
The brightly colored skin, as is indicative in many species, is a warning to would-be predators. Vren exude a strong paralytic toxin. The substance is strong enough to paralyze multiple Klingon-sized assailants simultaneously, up to and including respiratory systems. The toxin seeps continuously from small pores in the skin, but evaporates quickly, causing a bright sheen to appear on the skin itself. The toxin is capable of taking effect via contact or ingestion. The only species that has so far proven immune to the toxin is the Vren themselves, although even they become sluggish when exposed to the toxin of a different Vren individual. The skin of the Vren is also very tough and capable of withstanding a great deal of damage from almost all sources except extreme temperature.
Due to their amphibian nature and the humid environment of their home world, Vren require constant moisturization of their skin. Failure to do so results in a state of massive dehydration eventually leading to death. The process is fairly quick from start to finish, taking only 24 - 48 standard hours. This need led to the development of the Vren Wet-Suit, a suit designed to pull moisture from the surrounding atmosphere and disperse it across the skin of the Vren. This suit is worn by all Vren who leave their homeworld as a kind of undergarment.
Vren musculature is deceptively slight. While the species as a whole tend to look somewhat thin, their musculature is approximately three times more dense than that of humans with a similar build. This structure allows for a greater average strength compared to humans. This is most noticeable in the upper and lower legs which allow a typical Vren to jump straight up to an average height of around three to four times the individual’s height from a standing position. Vren also possess fingered hands and feet ending in suction cups that allow for purchase on smooth surfaces. The strength of such grip can allow a fully grown Vren to hang upside down on the underside of a plane for hours without tiring. Vren hands have four fingers, all of which can act as a thumb-like structure as needed. Vren feet have four such appendages, but only one (the innermost) has the ability to act as a thumb. Vren are amazing swimmers, and their amphibious nature allows them to hold their breath for extended periods, in some cases over half a standard hour.
Vren dietary classification is a combination of insectivore and carnivore. Vren possess a viscoelastic tongue with a non-Newtonian saliva to catch prey. Their tongues are extremely soft and easily damaged, so their use outside of eating is not something most Vren would ever consider.
Vren native speech is a complex series of croaks, screams, and musical whistles and chirps. But as apex ambush predators, Vren developed the natural ability to mimic noises and sounds of other species. This natural evolutionary development allows Vren to learn other languages very quickly and to speak as if they are a native speaker (provided they learn from one, of course).
Vren reproduction is done via amplexus. The male will grasp the female and hold her very tight to bring their cloacal openings into contact with his own. A cloacal opening is for expelling waste, eggs, sperm. By bringing the openings close together, the male can fertilize the eggs. The eggs are then laid by the female and the eggs hatch as miniature adults. A female Vren will lay 5 - 10 eggs per fertility cycle, which occurs once every three to five years.
Maturation from hatched egg to fertile adult takes approximately ten years.
Vren are calculating and consummate ambush predators.. As such, they tend to favor planning and preparation to reactionary responses. This is somewhat contradictory to their aggressive natures, however. Vren are always looking for the advantage in interpersonal and social engagements; and in physical conflict. This tends to create personalities of selfishness and self-centeredness. Adding to this is the historical lack of a nuclear family unit. Traditionally, once eggs were fertilized and laid, parents rarely cared for the newly hatched Vren until some 1,500 years ago when the need for a societal constant was realized. As far as their cultural identity goes, Vren are very new to the concept of ‘civilization’. They are highly inventive, however, thus leading to an explosion in technological development some five hundred to seven hundred years ago.
There has been a recent significant shift in Vren society, however. Due to the strife caused by the recent natural disaster, the Vren are beginning to temper their aggression with a sense of both internal and external community. Previously xenophobic and highly territorial, the Vren have begun to expand their efforts in peaceful contact with other societies and species. Whether or not this is part of some larger plan or scheme is yet to be seen.
CULTURE AND SOCIETY:
The Vren organize themselves into loose groupings not dissimilar to tribes but their inherent distrust of others (even amongst themselves) leads them to favor a rotational system of government where representatives convene and debate the issues at hand. The current council of leaders is chosen through a special vote of the representatives.
Vren society operates on a caste system with leadership roles going towards individuals that show a higher capability for calmness and consensus building. This has developed more recently as they have focused their efforts on outward connection. The caste system itself is based on the skin color and pattern of markings of the individual Vren, but (while very uncommon) there is some mobility between castes. The belief that skin color is a determining factor harkens back to an ancient religion that held to the belief that the naturally occurring markings were a sign of being ‘tainted’ by an evil deity by the name of Imog.
Grocklig - This is the highest caste on Vren. Typically those of almost pure color with little to no markings are here. This caste produces the most military officers and politicians. A great deal of wealth is associated with this caste. This is the only caste where the first generation of offspring of a member is considered part of the caste regardless of skin. If that offspring does not produce a qualified member, then the family is relegated to the ‘appropriate’ caste.
Hsssinthis - The next-to-the-highest caste level. Typical members have slight markings, but with near symmetrical patterning. Many business owners, merchants, and white-collar workers (scientists, doctors, engineers, etc.) are to be found in this caste.
Broguemt - The third of the four levels is for those with an equal amount of color and markings. This is the largest of the caste levels by population, and thus produces the most goods and services of any of the castes. It also has the largest numerical representation in the government.
Driiiged - The lowest of the castes, this is for those unfortunate enough to have more markings than color. This is the labor force. Some would liken their existence to indentured servitude. They are not allowed to own land or homes, but can own and operate small businesses.
Once eggs are laid, the mother waits for them to hatch. Any that survive are collected and stuck to the mucus on their backs and carried up into bioengineered nurseries in the tree canopy. In those higher reaches, they utilize epiphytic plants that collect pools of water to place their young to grow and feed on the various invertebrates that visit the water. These nurseries have increased the survival rate of the young from 25% to 50%.
Vren form mating pairs for a limited period of time with the pair bonding lasting until the young come out of the nursery in approximately 10 months. Then the bond is dissolved in a brief ceremony and the adults move on, with the young able to fend for themselves with community support.
Repeat pair bonding is unheard of to the point of being a significant taboo. Their long fertility cycles preclude a sense of monogamy.
The Vren language is based on a complex series of croaks, cries, chirps, and whistles. They are capable of broadcasting their speech over a full kilometer at full volume.
Most epithets and insults relate to or invoke Imog, even though few, if any, Vren follow those old beliefs in any way.
The Vren do not use relationship or gender based honorifics (though they have terms of endearment), leaning towards those that have important roles in society such as Braak (Honored One) and Ossin (Knowledgeable One).
A few samples:
Tutsikara - name of Vren Homeworld
Ku rok - We have met/ Hello
Ku riilg - We part/ Goodbye
Whis’Grang - Beloved
Driiigulp - Mate
The Vren are not a religious species as a whole anymore, but in the past the Cult of Imog held tremendous sway. According to their beliefs; Imog, the Bringer of Thirst, destroyed all life in the universe. But as destruction was his purpose for existence, he was forced to bring life back. He created the Vren and all life for them find sustenance on. He created the world and gave them all they had. But the act of creation was too taxing. He fell into a deep slumber, and sleeps restlessly… waiting to regain his strength to destroy again.
The Vren are highly ceremonial with many rituals. They value precision with each event and it is considered a great honor to share in a ritual or ceremony with someone for the first time. This honor would be even greater for those outside Vren society.
But not all are in favor of sharing this part of their culture. Many of the older Vren detest the idea of any outside sharing in their rituals, while many of the younger leaders and diplomatically minded individuals want to express their culture to the greater galactic community. This schism is ever deepening as the Vren realize they must make diplomatic overtures to someone in order to have help to solve their environmental crisis.
Technology and Living
Vren traditionally lived in huts made with hardened mud that was made of a stucco-like material. As their knowledge and technology increased, they discovered that the addition of certain types of algae on their world could create a form of concrete. With the discovery of different metal productions, they were able to build larger and stronger buildings to meet the needs of their growing society.
Regardless of what a building is made of, all must have some component of organic material and if not, an organic-based object must be placed at the entrance for all to touch. This ritual dates back to the old religion and their need to remember the ground from which they spawned from. It is believed that connection with the natural world is necessary in order to survive, that it fuels a physiological connection with the place that they are in.
When extended to constructed environments, such as a starship, the Vren heavily favor simulating a natural environment through the use of plentiful internal vegetation. They tend to paint their vessels to resemble the waterborne craft of their homeworld.
Arts & Creative Expression
Within tribes, communal singing is a part of daily life. This is even more so during special occasions. They heavily favor wind instruments, as well as percussion. It is rare for any instrument to be made of wood due to the high humidity of their homeworld and the warping it would cause to the instrument.
Dance does exist, though traditionally it was reserved for rituals. This has been changing in recent years as the Vren as a whole expand their society outward and are exposed to other forms of creative expression. Percussive music is heavily preferred.
Visual arts are important as well, with various forms being derived from natural materials. A more recent avant garde movement seeks to move away from this tradition and explore synthetic materials and ideas of creation.
Most clothing consists of loose robes or tunics that are not so much concerned with covering the body for the purposes of modesty as it is a status symbol. They tend to favor plain coloured fabrics with nothing too glaring that would mimic markings. Finer fabrics tend to indicate social status
One of the few pieces of ornamentation worn include sashes tied about the waist that indicate to which tribe a Vren belongs. Plain in color, it bears the tribe symbol and is tied so the symbol is almost always visible.
Ceremonies and Rituals
These are just a few of the many that occur:
Forming a Pair Bond
Prior to mating, a pair weave a neck ornament out of grass for each other and tie the ornament for their intended mate. This ritual is often witnessed by members of the tribe, but it is not required.
Dissolution of Pair Bond
Once the young from a cycle exit the maturation chamber, the bonded pair go their separate ways after ceremonially burning the neck ornaments in a fire.
Induction into a Tribe
New members are added to a tribe when they reach adulthood, or in some rare cases are adopted into a different tribe. In a ceremony that involves all the elder tribal leaders, a sash is presented to the inductee, of which they had to painstakingly embroider the tribe symbol on themselves prior to the ceremony. During the days they spend embroidering, they reflect on the responsibility of being a tribal member and supporting their society.
The Vren are a relatively young civilization, approximately 1500 standard years, although the species has archaeological evidence of being many thousands of years older than that. Much of the pre-history of the Vren is nonexistent as they did not develop the necessary cultural basics for a recorded history until approximately 3000 standard years ago. Prior to that, the Vren existed in a state of tribal groups with no common language and interactions between tribes relegated to raids and wars of expansion.
About 3000 years ago, a common language and cultural identity took root. The specifics of how this occurred have been lost to time and debated at length by Vren historians, archaeologists, and scientists. But whatever occurred allowed the Vren to move past their primitive tribal state and begin the formation of a fully-functional society. One of the great advancements at this time was that knowledge between groups was now shared instead of hoarded, and those new lines of communication allowed for gigantic leaps in technological advancement in a relatively short period of time.
It was at this time, perhaps as a reaction to the influx of new knowledge and technologies, that a religion began to form around the idea of a singular evil deity bent on the destruction of the Vren society: Imog, the Bringer of Thirst. The cult preached that unless the Vren praised Imog and sacrificed to him, then an age of drought and darkness would befall the Vren. The cult was very powerful at its peak some 2000 years ago, controlling most of Vren society. But over the following centuries, as more scientific finds were made (despite the best efforts of the cult), the belief in Imog waned. In current modern Vren society, followers of the Cult of Imog are very few and stay hidden from view. Most insults in Vren language are some form of dispersion about the recipient following the cult.
As the influence of the cult waned, a new tide of scientific and social advancement began that led to many discoveries that allowed for the Vren to accomplish space travel some 250 years ago. Warp travel was developed just over a hundred years ago, and the Vren began to stake claim to territory outside of their homeworld for the first time. This is what brought the Vren into conflict with the Federation near a small colonial planet called Oed V.
First Contact with the Vren was by an independent trader some 25 years ago. While en route to the burgeoning colonial outpost, a plasma storm threw the ship off course and, unknown to the ship’s crew, into Vren-held space. While adrift and in the midst of repairs, the trader was attacked by a vessel of unknown civilization. The trader managed to send out a distress call with vid of the attack, but the trader was destroyed. Star Fleet sent a vessel, the USS Pericles, to investigate. While scanning the wreckage, the alien ship appeared and attacked without warning. Fortunately, the Pericles was more than a match for the ship and soon routed the vessel. It fled towards a nearby star system, and the Pericles followed, but kept a distance. Soon, they discovered the Vren. They watched via long-range scanners and relayed the information back to Star Fleet. It was determined that a message would be sent to the Vren explaining the trader was lost and that there was no hostility intended. The message was sent via transmission buoy, along with instructions on how to make contact in the future. The Vren did make contact almost a year later, and since then there has existed a state of moderate animosity on the part of the Vren (although this could be interpreted as a reaction due to their aggressive and territorial nature), but no outright hostilities. Some small incidents have occurred from time to time, however, including a few attempted raids on the colony of Oed V; so the area around Vren space is designated as an area of caution.
Recently, and much to the surprise of Federation diplomats, the Vren have reached out and requested peaceful contact and negotiations. There has been some kind of natural disaster on the Vren homeworld, and they have sent numerous requests for meetings for discussing the matter with the Federation. The disaster in question is significant and has been confirmed by Federation scientists. The debris of a planet destroyed by unknown forces in a system several light years away is starting to pass between Alpha Oradiz IV and its sun. Unfortunately, the debris is also slowing down, and it is highly likely the Vren’s sun will stop its momentum while it is still between the star and the Vren home world. This occlusion of the sun’s energy will cause a significant drop in temperature on Alpha Oradiz IV, resulting in a lowering of humidity levels (necessary for Vren survival) and widespread die-off of flora and fauna.
A troubling side note. As the debris comes closer, the small remnants of the Cult of Imog are becoming more bold; claiming this is the prophecy fulfilled
Posted on September 29th, 2022. Reviews and public comments open until October 13th, 2022. Please keep any and all commentary constructive.
-Sage Pennington, Gamemaster Director
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