Zorren

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Zorren are the native species of Virgo Prime and were the undisputed hegemons of the Virgo-Erigone System… Thousands of years ago. A cataclysm has happened in the distant past and destroyed their nascent interplanetary empire and hurled their homeworld into a catastrophic climate crisis.

Zorren today are the remnant of the survivors of this catastrophe and have generally regressed into a more primitive society, roughly equivalent of the late medieval age of Humanity. Nonetheless, they are acutely aware of what they were once and some even try and reach this stage again and beyond, both by assimilating technology of aliens and rediscovering their own, lost knowledge.

Overview

  • Zorren have their own language, Terminus, which you can speak by typing #4
  • Zorren can wear most clothing, but they prefer light, layered clothes in bright colours, due to their usual living standards.
  • Zorren have no species wide restriction on diet, whereas other species might.
  • Zorren are from a low tech world and thus are not likely to be in the roles of engineers or scientific personnel. Doctors and chemists are also unlikely.
  • Zorren have dark blue blood!

Biology

Zorren bear a striking resemblance to the standard sapient found in the galaxy and share similarities with the Skrell, Unathi and Humans. Commonly defined body systems are the nervous, the cardiovascular, the circulatory, the digestive, the endocrine, the immune, the integumentary, the lymphatic, the musculoskeletal, the reproductive, the respiratory, and the urinary system. These are very similar to the common skrell or even human, with only some difference.

Most notably, their blood has no red blood cells - Instead their gas transport within their body is carried by free floating proteins called Hemocyanin. These use copper instead of iron atoms to bind gasses. The result is a light, transparent blood colour which becomes deep blue when exposed to oxygen, whether due to respiration or due to blood loss.

Zorren reach an average height of 132 cm (4 feet and 4 inches) for both male or female, although this might be caused by the general lack of proteins and calories in their diet. The highest recorded Zorren has reached heights of 168 cm (5 feet and 6 inches), leading to the conclusion that the real average height of a Zorren is around 145 cm (4 feet and 9 inches) when properly fed.

Zorren’s sexual dimorphism is not readily apparent as mammary glands are relatively small and sometimes covered by their fine, voluminous fur, though females have generally wider hips and smaller shoulders. Smaller Zorren sometimes lack these, however.

A Zorren’s ears can range from upright and small to slightly splayed and very large. This is largely dependent on ethnicity and is not ascribed to a particular sub species as Zorren are too genetically similar to each other for this - It is a simple expression of particular phenotypes.

Zorren reproduce sexually per internal fertilization with a gestation period of 32 to 34 weeks, usually in litter sizes of one or two. Birth is generally an arduous endeavour with an increased risk of the mother Zorren to die during childbirth without proper and adequate medical attention.

Children are generally born blind and helpless and remain non independent for a long time. Zorren reach sexual maturity at 15, where they are considered adult in most of their cultures, however they keep on growing and maturing until the age of 20.

The lifespan of the average Zorren is 50 years. However, this number is estimated by the current medical standards on Virgo Prime. Genetic profiling and living examples show that Zorren could in theory live much longer, up to 90 years with proper medical care.

Culture and Religion

There can be only a guess how many separate and diverged cultures of Zorren exist on Virgo Four, for now, as exploration, sociologic studies and extensive 3D mapping of the planetary surface are considered a tertiary priority to NT, rather focussed on settling the negotiated habitable land and exploiting the system for its Phoron. However, due to continued dealings, two distinct Zorren groups are known and stand in relative regular contact with outsiders.

Highlander Zorren

First and foremost are the Highlander Zorren, which is somewhat of a misnomer. Highland Zorren do prefer more fertile and temperate grounds for their agriculture, but live pretty much anywhere a sedentary lifestyle is viable. In fact, “Highland Zorren” was a mistranslation during the first contacts with NT - The ambassadors simply referred to themselves as nobleborn and of higher standing.

Highland Zorren are highly stratified and live in castes with little upwards mobility, being either born “Bound to Land”, “Bound to Arms” or “Bound to Blood”. These castes are strictly hereditary.

“Bound to Land”

Zorren are the archetypical serf. They have little rights and are not allowed to move away from their birthplace without the allowance of their lord. Thus, many Landbounders live their entire life living in the same place, toiling and working for a noble and getting their hard earned wealth extracted.

This, however, has a reason. Agriculture is very hard and arduous on Virgo Prime and soil cultivation takes entire generations to actually create fertile, rich grounds from the frontier and wasteland Virgo 4 has become. It also involves a lot of manual labour and not everyone is willing to endure such. Thus, to both work for a better future and to ensure that enough food for everyone is cultivated, the serfs have to stay - So, at least, the reasoning of the Boundblooders.

Serfs have to pay high taxes to their lord, need to get his permission to move residence, to marry or to take up another trade than farming. Latest rarely happens. They are also required to spend at least 20 days a year on the fields of the feudal lord or perform other manual labour for him.

Landbounders usually do not take up arms - in fact they are forbidden to do so - but in wartime they may be called to a levy of their feudal lord. This is one of the rare opportunities for a Landbounder to become free. If he shows bravery and mettle in battle, he becomes an Armsbounder. Another possibility is to buy himself and all his future offspring free. This rarely happens and usually marks that the cultivated land has been rendered fully restored and fertile again, a joyous occasion which usually leads to the customary gift of said land to the new, free family.

73% of all Highland Zorren are born bound to land.

“Bound to Arms”

refers to the primary obligation of the following Zorren Caste, the military service. However, in exchange, a Armsbounder is born a free person and are not required to stay in one place and are free to wander or take up any trade they wish to have. Many take up an art or work owned land as Free Farmers. While less poor and uneducated than a Landbounder, many Armsbounder remain illiterate and fairly ignorant of the larger world.

Armsbounders are still very much below the Bloodbounders and are required to dutifully serve them in the time of need in the form of the Fyrdlevy, a call to arms in times of war. Weapons and equipment must be paid out of the own pocket of the Armsbounder, which leads to a varying degree of battle readiness and troop composition. Richer Armsbounder can buy themselves free of their required military service by either paying into the war chest or contributing with naturals or goods to the cause. This is done often.

However, there exist some influential Armsbounder, especially in the wealthier farmer families having grown rich from ancient, re-cultivated land, using their funds to press for more rights and privileges and subverting the subservience required to the Bloodbounders.

For a Armsbounder to ascend to a Bloodbounder, there must be some extraordinary deed the Armsbounder has done. This might be saving a Bloodbounder’s life or years upon years of loyal and outstanding service. To found a new Bloodline is very, very rare.

26% of all Highland Zorren are born bound to arms, with 4% of these being rich, influential merchant and farmer barons.

“Bound to Blood”

are the true elite of the Highland Zorren, their priest nobles and leaders. Virtually any noble born Highland Zorren is literate and educated at least in the basics of their culture and beyond. Nobleborn Zorren represent the true richness of the Highland Zorren, having the most funds, power and prestige, leading in almost any venue of life, be it in learning, culture or warfare. Only Bloodbounders are allowed to lead troops or grant the permission to build and found communities - an effort often paid out of his own pocket. Bloodbounders serve in any government function as the highest authority and from them comes the legitimisation of many institutions, such as town guards or soldiers.

Bloodbounders are first and foremost loyal to their family - their clan. The intricacies of dynastic politics are byzantine and complex, where marriages and inheritance are just as effective tools of power than pure strength of arms. Many unions between noble families are purely done out of family reasons, with love being a distant, secondary concern.

Bloodbounders inherit their lands and titles by primogeniture with true cognatic preference. Thus, the firstborn inherits all titles of their parent upon death bed without care if it is a male or a female.

Titles include the lowest title of the Trelite, leading to the Proproctor and finally the Proctor, the highest noble title so far encountered. The trelite is usually rural nobility in charge of serfs cultivating new lands or a minor title within a Proproctory. They make up the mainstay of Highland Zorren nobility. Proproctors however are more powerful individuals, often second or third offspring of a Proctor which hold significant power and wealth. Proctors are petty kings of their own right and lead, usually, six to seven Proproctors in a web of obligation, mutual protection and backstabbing, not quite unlike old, terran monarchies. The feudal contract is a complex and often highly individual affair, where a Trelite or Proproctor might owe allegiance to several Proproctors or Proctors.

Local Highland Zorren say that there were Prelates, true suzerain over the Proctors, in not so distant history, but infighting and greed has destroyed the crown of the Prelaty that existed.

The Ardent Flame

Beyond the temporal power, Bloodbounders lead the Cult of the Ardent Flame, a mystic congregation exalting the Advance of Society and Order.Many Trelites are also the priest of their parishes and the Proctor levies much influence as leader of the local believers. The Ardent Flame symbolizes the light and drive of civilized people against the darkness of barbarism and only the excessive hedonism and waste of civilization’s gifts of the precursor Zorren has led to the descent of Virgo Prime to its savage, broken state. And thus, the Highland Zorren see themselves as Custodians trying to restore the planet with order, steel and sweat.

The Cult of the Ardent Flame is manifold of use for the Bloodbounders - It is a legitimisation of their rule (invoking the rigid society is an extension of order), an anchor in the often poor and sometimes miserable lives of the Landbounders and as a counterforce against reform of the current society’s system.

Only a measly 1% of all Zorren is actually born into a noble family and therefore Bound by Blood.

Flatlander Zorren

Flatlander Zorren do not live necessarily in flatlands either and their designation can be traced back again to the first NT contacts with the Zorren. There the noble ambassadors of the Highlander Zorren referred to them as “Flatfooters”, which would be today translated rather as “footpad” than “Flatlander”. However, their penchant of a nomadic lifestyle and their main living areas being the wastes of Virgo Prime made the name stuck.

Flatland Zorren are nomadic shepherds, craftsmen and occasional raiders, with less social stratification than the Highlanders. Flatlanders are quick to recognize quality in works and even a lowly artisan can raise to quite high social status if he proves him useful, savvy and influental.

The Banners

A “Banner” is the main unit of Flatlander organisation, representing the clan of Flatlanders, usually consisting of closely knitted extended family groups. Joining a Banner is a process of several influential members of the Banner vouching for one. In theory, this is available to everyone who could prove himself useful. In practice, only other Flatlanders enjoy being integrated into a Banner.

A Banner travels together in a set territory they claim as their own, patrolling it with warriors and exploiting it with shepherds and artisans. If another Banner infringes on this territory, there will be conflict. This happens frequently.

A Banner is lead by a Bannerlord and his council.

Bannerlords

Bannerlords are the elite of the Flatlander Zorren, almost universally fearsome warlords and fighters, having made their name on countless raids and tribal clashes. Their word is absolute and they decide what the Banner on the whole does.

Bannerlord is not a hereditary title - Rather, every decade (or if the Bannerlord died), there is a call to the Banners. Every Flatlander has the right to plant his own banner into the ground, upon which other Zorren can gather and declare their allegiance to this specific prospect of a bannerlord.

In reality, Flatlander Zorren often value their previous bannerlords or other Zorren of similar renown. Most of the time, the previous Bannerlord or his protege gathers the most support, leaving other Zorren who have called to the Banners with greatly diminished numbers.

This, however, is on purpose. Either, the smaller Bannerlords wander off to claim their own territory somewhere, or they swear allegiance to the Bannerlord with the most Zorren. Thus, they become powerful lieutenants and council members for the Bannerlord.

While Highlander Zorren do not recognise a divine right to rule solely based on blood, relations to a famous figure amongst the Flatlander Zorren carries a certain clout. This phenomenon is called “Bloodname”, where a prestigious family can become a force of its own. Flatlander Zorren are, however, entitled to disassociate from their Bloodname and try and make their own fortune.

The Broken Cycle

The Broken Cycle is the syncretic shamanist religion of the Flatlander tribes. While local traditions, chants and rituals vary from Banner to Banner and region to region, the universal belief that the hubris of the Zorren has led to the destruction of Virgo Four must be atoned.

Because the ancient Zorren have tampered in playing deities, the eternal cycle of death and rebirth has been broken, leaving Virgo Four on a permanent state of being mostly dead and decaying - Thus, the Zorren must atone by living short, brutish lives and do their best to survive.

This has the reason to repair the Broken Cycle, by imbuing their souls with scars of having lived long, well or brutal. Upon death, the forehead of a Flatlander believer is carved into to release the soul and let it whisk away to the Forge of Seasons to be hammered into a chain link for the Cycle. If there are enough well lived souls refined in such a way, Virgo Prime will be reborn, verdant and free again.

Thus, believers tend to seek risks and survive them, proving their worth and scarring their soul, making it hardened and strong to survive the process of eventual refinement. The worst that could happen to a Flatlander is to die young or to die without receiving their funeral rites, trapping their soul in a rotting body forever.

Relations

Zorren are mostly concerned with their own affairs and are, with exceptions, usually very wary of outsiders of their cultural circles. This includes NT, humans and other aliens, usually dubbing them “Offwordlers” and viewing them with a mixture of wary curiosity and thinly veiled contempt. Highlander Zorren are usually more willing to work together with Offworlders and some are actually quite amiable, such as the Zahaden Bloodbounders, fairly influential Proctors, who agree both to let NT carry out expeditions on their territory and to let Offworlders settle in the corporate town Anur.

Beyond that, Zorren are not worth the time of interstellar governments. At least, not yet.


Species on Vorestation
Station Crew
Akula - Angels - Demi-Humans - Demons - Dionae - Humans - Nevrean - Promethean - Rapala - Sergal - Skrell - Tajaran - Teshari - Unathi - Vasilissans - Vox - Vulpkanin - Xenochimera - Xenomorph-Hybrids - Zorren - Alraune