Epoch of Rysos
(from http://www.epochofrysos.com/doku.php?id=haldyt )
At a Glance
(HAL-dyt) Sapient, non-spacefaring race, although they do interact with off-worlders. Their home-world of Haldye II is located approximately 4,900 light-years from Sol. Although in independent space, they are largely reliant upon the Traygnans.
Haldyt are bipedal organisms. They are endoskeletal and endothermic. Their skin is a grey hue with shades of yellow, brown or ochre. It is rough and hidelike. Though endoskelatal, they posses a segment series of horn-like plates on their dorsal surface. These plates are very tough and serve as armor. They possess two eyes that face sideways, a ventral mouth, and extremely powerful rear legs, equipped with digging claws. Adults are nearly 2 meters in length.
Haldyt evolved from burrowing animals, and though the modern Haldyt creates buildings, many still dig their own dwellings. The Haldyt remains an excellent digger, and uses this skill for hunting, protection or quick shelter. Much of Haldye II is covered with a course sand, and a high percentage of the life forms burrow.
Haldyt possess four limbs in total. Two are used for locomotion. The legs are very strong and support the largely horizontal torso in what appears to humans a a permanent crouch. Each leg terminates in a two-toed foot, each foot pointing nearly 45° from forward alignment. The toes have enormous spade-like digging claws. Males have a vestigial third toe or spur. The arms have four digits, two long fingers, and two short thumbs. All digits end in digging claws, though not nearly so impressive as those of the feet. The Haldyt hand is a poor manipulator and they find it difficult to use tools with the same facility as many other races. The claws are excellent weapons.
The Haldyt head is wedge-shaped, and the forward end is made of the same material as the digging claws.
Haldyt possess the same basic senses as humans.
Their eyes face sideways and are protected in the forward direction by a bony ridge. Because of this, they prefer to stand to the side when speaking to another. The haldyt has about a 150° arc of vision on each side. They do not find the lack of ability to see directly in front of them to be a hinderance. In fact, they have difficulty with the concept. As far as the Haldyt is concerned, it has two “fronts”: left and right. When traveling, they will cock the head slightly to one side and proceed at a slight diagonal. This seems entirely natural to them, and they would no more race straight ahead than a human would run backward. Their eyesight is myopic compared to humans, though superior within the range of about 6 meters. These differences are minor.
Haldyt hearing is comparable to Solians, though they possess no external ear structure.
They can breathe through mouth or nostrils, the latter of which are located behind the crown of the head, facing backward. They have four of them.
Haldyt are not specifically nocturnal or diurnal, operating on-and-off throughout the day and night. However, the heat of their world often forces them to bury themselves in the sand or retreat into shelters they have built.
Haldyt are omnivorous, and can digest nearly any organic matter. They have few compunctions about what they eat, but will not willingly engage in cannibalism. Their mouths are located on the anterior surface of the wedge of the head, place much like a terrestrial shark’s. The teeth are large, strong and numerous. The Haldyt continually replaces these throughout life – the dentition looks very untidy to human sensibilities, with teeth at all angles, sizes and shapes.
For most of their history, Haldyt had a natural predator on their world: large, flying reptiles which would swoop down and spear the Haldyt with sharp claws before carrying them away for food. This situation is rare amongst intelligent races, most of whom are at the top of their local food chains. Regardless, the Haldyt remedied this problem, eventually using technology to hunt down and exterminate their less intelligent predators.
Haldye II is an arid planet, and many of its life forms have ways of finding, conserving or storing water. The Haldyt is no exception. The plates on its back cover numerous reservoirs, from which the organism can draw at need. A fully grown Haldyt can store approximately 25 liters of water in these spongy organs. Haldyt consume about ⅓ the amount of water a human would need in identical conditions as well, making them efficient desert dwellers.
Haldyt exist in male and female sexual forms. Females lay clutches of hard shelled eggs which they bury under the sand and guard until hatching several weeks later. The young are capable of fending for themselves shortly after birth and are immediately integrated into the family unit which will protect and educate them.
Haldyt are hunters and survivalists. They have spent most of their history competing with a hostile environment, struggling to find sufficient food and water, and evading predatory creatures. These factors have done much to shape their psychology and culture.
A search for meaning in life has always been secondary to Haldyt. They don’t think much about their purpose in the world or search for the grand-scheme of events. Instead, they focus on the quest for life itself. This theme comes out continuously in their art, legends, and religions, which often depict birth, death, and the temporal sources of life (rain and the hunt) with a great sense of awe.
Haldyt care deeply about their family units and will go to surprising lengths to care for those around them. They are not individualists, and believe the best way to survive is by guaranteeing the survival of those nearby. While the scarcity of food has made large settlements generally infeasible, the Haldyt don’t seem to have any trouble organizing themselves on a larger scale when given the opportunity.
Though they are hunters, Haldyt are not typically aggressive creatures. They will fight if pushed, but feel that war is a waste of valuable life. Keeping their race alive has been difficult enough without killing even more in unnecessary conflicts.
Though it has been slow to develop, Haldyt have achieved a post-industrial level of technology. They have built a handful of permanent settlements, complete with sanitation, basic medicine, power grids, and even simple computers. They have also developed rudimentary vehicles, including ground cars and gliders.
Militarily, the Haldyt are not very advanced. However, they have mastered simple chemical and explosive weapons, which they employed in the complete eradication of their natural predators.
Recently, the Haldyt have begun importing more advanced technology from the Traygnans in return for labor-exchanges and joint mineral-mining rights in the Haldye system. These imports have included advanced power plants, water extractors, and sophisticated medical devices.
Since Haldye II is a rugged and inhospitable world, the Haldyt population has never boomed. The race is slow to reproduce, and mortality is high. As a result, their culture has been slow to take permanent shape and build a lasting legacy.
In recent centuries, medical and water-drilling technologies have allowed the Haldyt to increase the growth of their population and even establish a few settlements. Within the past hundred years, they established their only major city near the planet’s single spring. This city, named “Krath” for its founding family, has stood as the center of Haldyt culture and technology for several generations.
The Haldyt first made contact with an alien race when the Traygnans stumbled across their system, shortly after founding Sih-Traygna. Though the Haldyt had little to offer the Traygnans as allies, the Traygnans saw them as a sort of investment. They helped the Haldyt develop a successful mineral operation in the Haldye system and constructed a starport in Krath, along with donated merchant ships. It is the Traygnan hope that – with the right technology – the Haldyt will eventually become a powerful space-faring race who will have a historical friendship with the Traygnans.
Though their population is still small and technology lagging behind, the Haldyt are gaining in strength and numbers. In many ways, it looks as if the Traygnan investment may pay off sometime in the future.
In return for the Traygnan help, many Haldyt have freely enlisted with their benefactor race, serving as laborers, guides, and mercenaries. Given their strong survival instincts and swift legs, the Haldyt have been able to help the Traygnans in a variety of projects, most notably colonization of hostile worlds.