Humaniti

In this first in a series of biological and cultural reports on the most common races within Charted Space, we will be exploring the ubiquitous Humaniti, most populous race within the Third Imperium. Like all of the following short discussions of the various races of Charted Space, this will be formatted as such - a quick overview of any unique biological aspects, followed by a discussion of the history of the race and a cross-section of several cultural and sub-special groups, as well as explanations of how they differ from "typical" stock of the race.

Editorial Note: While not technically a proper scientific term, "race" has been used here instead of "species" to differentiate organisms possessing sophont minds from organisms which lack them. Sub-groups within a race, however, are still referred as sub-special or sub-species.

Human Biology

It is important to understand one thing about Humaniti - they are considered to have genes generally more accepting of mutation or alteration than many other races, which is both a blessing and a curse. While it allows them to adapt more quickly to various environments, or to genetically engineer themselves for those environments or for specialized tasks, it likewise makes them more prone to genetic illness and especially cancer. Hence, while their adaptability is one reason they've managed to be so prolific on a galactic scale (as opposed to other races which developed genetic engineering slower, and still tend to alter their worlds to suit them, rather than altering themselves to suit their worlds), it also leads to an overall shorter lifespan amongst those who are unable to afford proper treatment. However, due to the preservational nature of anagathics, those with access to the treatment tend to last far longer without developing genetic instabilities they might otherwise be naturally inclined towards.

Physically, however, a human is an upright, bipedal mammalian organism with traits mostly common to other great apes. While the typical Human stock, as seen in the Solomani and Vilani, only differs cosmetically (though even within these mostly cultural groups, cosmetic differences are significant), several "altered" sub-species, either from evolution or deliberate genetic engineering, have grown significantly different. It is rare, however, that a sub-species will ever become genetically unique enough to be incapable of breeding with other humans - though there are a few such cases. One such case, native to the region, will be discussed later in this paper.

While biologically, human sub-species that have lost the ability to breed with other human sub-species are not, in fact, considered sub-species of homo sapiens but in fact unique human species in their own right, this tends to be a solely scientific viewpoint. Excepting a few radical human purist fringe groups, few individuals would make a distinction between a Solomani individual and one of these other human species - they are all still Humaniti.

History of Humaniti

Humaniti is not the original word by which the Human species was identified. Initially, the term was Humanity, but at some point along the way, the y was replaced with an i, for reasons only speculated at. The most common theory is that while the term humanity identifed qualities within humans (such as compassion or generosity) that, in light of other races within Charted Space, could not be considered unique to humans, the term humaniti, meanwhile, carries no such connotations - it is used merely to refer to individuals belonging to the genus homo.

The actual history of humaniti, from antiquity, is about as well-known as any other race's true origins, which is to say it remains a mystery to this day. What is known is that humaniti originated on Sol, and from there either spread throughout the stars, or were spread throughout the stars by an older, extinct race (the Ancients), along with several other species (most notably the Vargr, genetically similar though unique to dogs). The Ancients theory is more commonly cited than any other theory, due to the explanation it provides for why humaniti did not at least retain some knowledge of their spacefaring past, rather than having to simultaneously crawl from pimitivity to spacefaring societies on several hundred different planets. As the Ancients theory explains, humans were not client races of the Ancients or any such thing - rather, they were a primitive race taken from Terra in antiquity, before they had truly attained sophont minds, and seeded on hundreds of different planets. This resulted not only in a very widely adapted set of humaniti, but also left humaniti in the best position to form an interstellar empire.

It is a point of pride amongst Solomani that they are the true, original, unaltered human stock - likewise, it is a point of pride amongst Vilani and other sub-species who did not originate on Terra that they were the humans who were deliberately chosen and seeded throughout charted space. Naturally, either jokingly or venemously, Solomani tend to point out that others are not the true baseline humaniti, while those others tend to point out that the Solomani are descendents of those who were left behind on Terra, generally with implications that they were inferior. This tends to be a humorous thing anymore, but during the Interstellar wars, it was often an outlet for bitter resentment on either side.

In any case, the specific histories of the Solomani and Vilani can be found discussed in more detail in the History pages of the Visitor's Centre. However, a quick overview can be provided. The Vilani were the founders of the First Imperium, the Ziru Sirka in Vilani, and ruled for several thousand years before the Solomani on Terra achieved their own Jump Drive. The meeting of these two empires, one huge and one small, was the spark for the Interstellar War, in which the League of Sylea formed around Terra battled the Vilani until finally, Vland itself was taken and the League succeeded the Ziru Sirka as the Second Imperium. Four centuries of shakey, unstable rule by the Solomani eventually lead to the collapse of the League, and the thousand-year Long Night, in which various pocket empires rose and collapsed and struggled to survive. The new League of Sylea was formed in year 0 by Cleon Zhunastu on Core, and eventually expanded to the current size of the Third Imperium, exchanging the name of the League for that title.

Over the course of this cyclic expansion and regression, several hundred new "strains" of humaniti were located, and several hundred more were created as part of colonization efforts - many of these dying out during the Long Night, but many more either surviving or being re-created as the Third Imperium slowly took back the old League's holdings. As such, even the Coreward Reach has a number of minor Human sub-species, as well as one minor Human species, rendered incapable of breeding with other strains of humaniti by genetic differences. The latter will be discussed later in this article.

The Cultures of Humaniti

The Solomani

Solomani, following the naming scheme by which the Vilani named themselves, are humans from Sol. More specifically, they are humans from Terra, in the Sol system, and represent the baseline of humaniti, before they were seeded throughout the stars. Like most "typical" humans, they vary wildly in appearance, and so the easiest way to identify Solomani humans are by cultural or clothing queues - visual things not related to the physical makeup of the individual specifically. Common cultural markers, if they are present at all (Humaniti tends to meld together into just Imperial Humaniti when it interacts for any extensive period of time with the interstellar community) are references or behaviours (or clothing and such) associated with old-world cultures. However, due to the distorting affect of time, as well as distance, these tend to end up either hyper-idealised (the Sword Worlds) or filtered through local conditions - where, for instance, you might find a folk tale or visual element similar to such an old-Terran element, but it has been altered to fit the planet on which the Solomani came to live.

An important thing to note is that identifying Imperial Solomani with the Solomani Confederation rimward of the Imperium is a considerable social gaff. While the reigning human culture there is Solomani, it is vastly different even for some of the citizens living there, and the withdrawal of the Autonomous Region from the Imperium, and the Solomani Rim War are significant sore spots amongst Solomani who did not support it - whether refugee or simply Imperial citizen. Furthermore, implying the Solomani are associated with the Confederation also tends to associate them with the colonial, totalitarian and racist philosophies of the Confederation, which is rarely taken as a complement. Imperial Solomani are Imperial citizens first, Solomani second, as it is with most individuals within the Imperium.

The Vilani

Humans from Vland. The Vilani are the "old Imperials," cultural heirs to the Ziru Sirka, the first Empire. A common stereotype of Vilani are haughty, distant individuals who still cling to the old glory they once had, though this is unfair (see the notes above about the human tendency towards cultural homogenity when interacting with the interstellar community). Most Vilani are proud Imperial citizens - the "old guard" attitude is only truly prevalent on Vland and the surrounding systems, and even then it is a minority tendency.

One thing that characterizes the Vilani though is a greater sense of cultural identity - the Vilani were a global community even from the start out of necessity due to the harsh conditions of their home planet, and while wars and splinters still occurred, the Vilani largely emerged onto the galactic stage with a view of "a Vilani is a Vilani." While this broke down somewhat over time due to distance and the Long Night, Vilani cultural markings are still generally quite easy to recognize compared to the more subtle Solomani. They have often been compared to Egypt and Persia on old Terra before the invention of the Jump Drive, due to the sound of their language and their clothing styles, but they are nonetheless just as physically diverse as the Solomani.

The Zhodani

Humans from Zhodane. Beyond the fact that the Zhodani Consulate is supportive of, and dominated by psionics, little is known about the exact origins of the Zhodani or how they came to be what they are. What is known is that, by Imperial standards, their society is a totalitarian one with little allowance for personal privacy or freedom, often mocked by the phrase "Happiness is Mandatory in the Consulate." Naturally, though easily able to pick up on the sarcasm, the Zhodani fail to understand why that's a bad thing - why would anyone willfully choose to be unhappy?

Zhodani are easier to pick out than the muddled stock of Imperial Humaniti - hair colors and skin colors vary just as much (though there is a tendency towards darker hair colors), but Zhodani tend to be taller by about a foot on average, and more slight of build. However, Zhodani nobles visiting their embassies in the Spinward Marches tend to run the gamut from sprightly to powerfully built, to pudgy and rotund. They are, mostly, just taller than the rest of Humaniti. Given the less-than-friendly relationship between the Consulate and the Imperium, citizens within the Imperium tend to be able to pick up on a Zhodani accent much easer - especially in the Marches and the Coreward regions of the Imperium.

The Iasdani

In the midst of the Long Night, a small Vilani pocket empire emerged, whose name has been lost to antiquity, but whose legacy largely endures in the artificially-created Iasdani. Originally the result of a genetic modification program intended to colonize the planet Iasdi in […] Sector, the Iasdani were abandoned on their planet when the empire to which they were clients collapsed inward on itself, leaving them alone in the skeletons of above-water buildings. Without any transport off-world, and having been relying on their employers to deliver materials (as no amount of engineering would've made mining the core of the planet many miles below the surface possible without extreme cost - the pressure was enormous), the Iasdani were forced to assume a mostly aquatic existence, which they were thankfully quite well adapted for. Surviving miraculously and even managing to discover some higher shelfs on the planet to excavate, the Iasdani were mostly forced (and later simply accustomed to living) at an extremely low tech level, hunting for food and obtaining the plant sides of their diet from free-floating or surface seaweeds and such plants, as well as the plant life that dwelled on the enormous coral bands which their planet would later be famous for.

The Iasdani were, originally, similar to humans but due to more than a millennia of isolated interbreeding became unique enough to render them incompatible with common strain humaniti. Noted for their dark, thick, rubbery skin, elongated frames and large, webbed hands and feet, as well as for being completely hairless, most normal humans described the first meeting with an Iasdani as "uncanny." They were given gills on the back of their necks as a secondary respiration system which has in time grown to be dominant - while still perfectly functional their air-breathing respiratory system is noted as "weak." Most Iasdani who frequently operate on land or in space complain of being short of breath as much as they complain of the dryness. This leads to decreased athletic capability on land - but any Iasdani could swim a hundred circles around a floundering human with ease. Lastly, Iasdani eyes are large and possess a nictating membrane, allowing great underwater vision without assistance.

((Iasdani have Exceptional Dexterity (+2) while in water, and have Notably Poor (-2) Endurance while out of water. They can breathe underwater, and move at one-and-a-half times regular speed for a human while in water (9 metres). ))

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