Friday, 29 June 2012

Species Profile: Sardastianite

The Species of Universe XGT: Sardastianites

Although the first thing that most people notice about them is the simple physical fact of their height - being one of the tallest sapient races in Universe XGT - the Sardastianites are one of the oldest and most sophisticated of all known civilisations, with a meticulously-recorded history stretching back some eighty thousand Verruhann years.  Both archaeology and surviving documentation agree that the Sardastianites had amassed huge libraries and developed complex theatrical and musical traditions long before most other species had got as far as devising a written language.  Today, they control two galaxies (their native Sardastian, and the far-flung colonies of Sodestu Semakaaris), and are one of the universe's most culturally influential races.


Species facts & figures
  • Homeworld: Verruhann, Theute starsystem, Sardastian galaxy
  • Other distribution: species controls two galaxies, Sardastian and Sodestu Semakaaris, containing a total of approx 80 to 90 habitable planets; has some presence in Vomo and a few other galaxies
  • Biology: placental mammals
  • Gestation: 11 months
  • Time to maturity: 23 years
  • Natural average lifespan: 150 years
  • Average adult height: 9-12 ft
  • Languages: Five Thoughts
  • Currency: Zamatii and variants

Language & Culture

Traditionally, the Sardastianites favoured a monarchy-based government system.  Over the millennia, however, their ideology shifted towards elected non-hereditary rulers, eventually arriving at the point where their heads of state, although still called 'Prince', are in fact more equivalent to what we would recognise as a President.  The inhabited worlds of Sardastian are divided into seven groups of between four and twelve planets, each ruled from a Capital World headed by a Grand Prince.

While all of the planets in Sardastian and Sodestu Semakaaris use currencies called 'Zamatii' (or a close variant of that name, derived from an ancient word denoting a unit of weight), the various Zamatii are not a single unified financial system any more than Earth's numerous currencies called 'Dollars'.  The most widespread Sardastianite currency is the Dhy Cear Zamatii, used throughout the ten-strong planet group centred on Dhy Cear.

The Sardastianites speak a family of related languages known as 'the Five Thoughts'.  The name derives from the fact that the group comprises five primary languages (called Costrache, Vyrtrache, Jotrazhe, Gortraize and Alnatreans), all of which have remained consistently popular among philosophers and other intellectuals. The various component languages in the group share many of their grammatic, structural and etymological origins, in a way similar to the connection between Spanish, French and Italian.  There is believed to have been an original root language underlying them all, in the same way that Latin underlies the modern Romance Languages.  Although a conventional analysis of the group would say it contains five 'living' languages, a growing school of thought says there are in fact six, as the two main dialects of Gortraize - namely Gortraize Teron and Gortraize Waq - are sufficiently different from one another to count as separate languages.

The use of music is deeply entrenched within Sardastianite civilisation, with every major life milestone and social event having its own musical forms and traditions.  The vast majority of Sardastianites posess some musical ability, either through innate gifting and/or through sheer hard work, and tone-deafness is considered as much of a disability as colour-blindness.  While it is rare for a work to remain completely anonymous, there is little emphasis on legal ownership of a composition or performance, and the general mindset is one of giving credit where credit is due, but being free to borrow and adapt material into new forms.  One of the most notable aspects of Sardastianite music culture is the creation of monumental works known as 'Lifetimes' - a Lifetime being a collection of material (up to several hours long) which an individual has either written themself or has considered to be an important part of their listening, and arranged to reflect their life's journey.  The work will, in most cases, develop over the course of years or even decades in an organic reflection of its writer's experiences, and it is not uncommon for friends or relatives to add the final touches immediately after the writer's death, with the work being performed in its completed state for the first time as part of the funeral ceremonies.  Influential figures are often retrospectively assessed by others through the posthumous composition of non-autobiographical Lifetime works about them.


Physiology

While the Sardastianites are generally humanoid, they can be easily distinguished by their height, with most adults standing between nine and twelve feet tall.  Other conspicous traits include flattened noses, pointed ears, long necks, and shortish, rather thick legs ending in compact feet.

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