The Aslan

The Aslan

Expanding to the stars in the waning centuries of the Second Imperium, the Aslan represent at once both the youngest and one of the most active of the Major Races. From the constant influxes of ihatei along the border with the Heirate, sometimes as land-hungry immigrants and other times as vicious-if-short-lived raiding parties, to the clan wars which sometimes spill out into the greater space surrounding their empire, the Aslan are some of the most vibrant and aggressive individuals in known space.

Common Misconceptions

Before taking a look at the race itself, it is important to clear up a misconception commonly held amongst the people of the Third Imperium in regards to the Aslan. Most importantly and first, is the fact that the Aslan are not, in fact, uplifted Terran-stock lions, and in fact hold this to be a great insult. The resemblances they bear to beastial lions is largely cosmetic or aesthetic, and has little biological ground - though clearly descended from some form of pouncer-predator stock, the Aslan are genetically unique. Due to the large and imposing hairstyles favored by the males and their feline features, however, they were named after some indeterminate part of Solomani society (often attributed to a novel character of some sort, or a mythic figure). The name for the Aslan in their own tongue is Fteirle.

Also, calling modern Aslan "maneaters" or "cannibals" is an insult and also completely inaccurate - the Aslan have an enshrined sophont bill of rights within the Hierate and the consumption of other sophont races is dishonourable and likely to be punished by death, or prosecuted by war if an entire clan adopts the practice.

What Is an Aslan?

The Aslan are a feline major race, bipedal and standing at roughly seven to eight feet tall (females are smaller than males by up to a full head's height). Like other felines, they are fully covered in fur and possess both retractable claws in all four fingers and a highly specialized dewclaw under each thumb. Between this, their four fingers and their general bulk, Aslan are relatively clumsy by human standards, but also very durable and exceptionally strong. Their build reflects this - men are large, and their builds clearly suggest physical power, and even females are much broader shouldered and solidly built than females of other races. Aslan also possess tails, though the degree to which they function tends to very from bloodline to bloodline. In some cases, the tail is vestigial - in others, fully mobile, and in yet some others it is little more than a furry stub.

Biologically, Aslan are the closest to Humaniti of the Major Races, excepting the Vargr who are actually originally from Terra. However, they are also quite clearly from pouncer predator stock - they have a capacity for greater bursts of short-term speed than humans, and possess somewhat superior hearing and night-vision. Beyond this, they are a typical mammal with similar organ structure, though their digestive tracts are biased towards the stock of Kusyu and therefore bacterial treatments are necessary to be able to digest food (meat) from other planets, especially Terran. It is notable that psionic ability amongst Aslan is so rare as to be literally unheard of - the only psionic clan known of was destroyed in the Cultural Purge and therefore it is uncertain whether it was actual ability or merely mysticism that they laid claim to.

The Aslan empire lies to Spinward of the Third Imperium and is known as the Aslan Hierate, a loose and fractious coalition of hundreds of lord and vassal clans where internecine warfare is seen as a common and typical fact of life, rather than a problem. Clan wars are always being waged and power constantly shifts, leaving the political system (and political relations with neighbours) exceptionally fluid. It is a commonly-known fact (in some cases even among the Aslan themselves) that the Aslan have not, will not and are unlikely to ever band together as a united people for any reason, no matter how grave.

Aslan Culture

Aslan culture has incredibly rigid gender roles, to the point where, in the eyes of most male Aslan, the skillset of a person from another race defines their gender rather than their physical assets (unless otherwise indicated to the Aslan). Among the Aslan, males are the rulers, landholders, warriors and diplomats and concern themselves with politics, combat and non-technical details of running or participating in a clan. Females, meanwhile, are the merchants, CEOs, administrators, logistics officers and handle all technical, monetary and scientific aspects of Aslan society. Females cannot hold land, and are named for their husbands - but likewise males are rarely exceptionally intelligent, and have no sense for money. It can be said that the technological aptness of a female Aslan will usually increase with her social standing, as she is able to work with more critical and complex aspects of her field - while the technical aptness of a male Aslan is inversely proportionate to his social standing, with high-ranking clan members literally incapable of existing in a technological society without the aid of their female retinue.

Aslan society has, at it's simplest, roughly four divisions of increasing breadth. First, there is the individual - the individual is a member of his Family, his Family is one of several in a Pride, or Ahriy, and the Pride is one of many within a Clan. Beyond this, a clan may be a vassal to another, stronger clan, but beyond this the clan is the largest degree of organisation the Aslan are capable of. However, there is slightly more nuance to their society than can be seen from simply this description.

Firstly, it is important to understand that largely, within a clan there will be a major division between two different groups - the Awkhea, with are serfs, lower class Aslan without land of their own, and the Hahea, or the upper class which owns land. Families and prides will typically fall on one side of this divide or another. This rift provides the upper class with an eager base of labour and skilled and unskilled workers of both genders unable to qualify for more important positions, and while mobility is certainly possible, in general the Awkhea and Hahea are absolute facts of society.

It is also important to understand what a Family is. It is possible for two brothers to actually be from different families, as the distinction is not the same as it is between humans. A family consists of a male family head, his wives, his unmarried brothers, sisters, parents who no longer maintain their own families, and the family head's unmarried children. Patrilineal descent is solely important within Aslan society, so all of a given male's wives are considered his children's parents, and cooperate to raise the children.

At any time a male, whether brother or son, acquires Territory, he begins his own Family, with his own wives and children and other relatives. Brothers and sisters of the family head who marry off also begin their own Family (in the case of males) or join their husband's family (in the case of females). The same is true of female children. In the case of the death of a family head, his first son will inherit his father's Territory and may choose whether to include his father's family in his own - he is under no obligation to do so.

From there, we come to the difference between the first and inheriting son, and the great disenfranchised and romanticized body of non-inheriting sons, the ihatei (literally, second son). The ihatei are the driving force for expansion within Aslan society, as only the first son by Aslan law inherits his father's Territory (basically, his estate, not simply the land he owns). The others are armed by their pride with whatever they are willing to give them and sent off to discover new land, lay their claims, defend them and develop their land such that they come to be known as land owners themselves. While the motivations are vastly different, the ihatei perform the same service to Aslan society in effect that the Scout Service performs for the Third Imperium.

Beyond this, we can take a look at both corporations and the Tlaukhu. Corporations are generally staffed almost exclusively be females, frequently females who have sworn not to marry and who almost form the female alternative to the male-driven political body that is the clan. The corporation in Aslan society tends even more than in Human society to advance the profit motive, to the point where mercenary tickets are negotiated for corporate privateers intent on capturing enemy vessels and selling them later, as well as ransoming their crew. Corporations within the Hierate are driven, professional, and extremely cut-throat, as is the nature of society, and tend to be where the female aptness for technicality and finance shines through the most.

The Tlaukhu, conversely, is the name given collectively to the Twenty Nine, the most powerful clans in Aslan society. While 19 have remained since it's conception, ten were eradicated or so damaged as to lose their influence in the wake of the Cultural Purge, and as such these ten positions have been fluid since. While the Tlaukhu are a "body" insofar as they can be classed such to which issues can be presented, it is important to understand that there is no effective degree of organisation within the Hierate beyond the clan level - the Tlaukhu can as easily be ineffective as effective and is not a legal or governmental organisation. It is simply the twenty-nine most powerful clans in Hierate space.

Beyond this, Aslan culture tends to become exceptionally complex and requires a great degree of reading in order to properly grasp - such that it would be beyond the scope of this article. If you are interested, a good book to read would be "The Aslan Hierate: History and Culture," authored by I.S.S. Veteran, Professor G. Hanrehan.

((OOC note: this means read Alien Module 1: Aslan. If this article contradicts anything in the book, take this article as truth for this campaign unless it makes no sense - then please talk to me.))

It is important to understand that orthodoxy outside the reaches of the Hierate varies - those areas closest to the Hierate tend to be quite similar to the culture of the Hierate itself, while more moderate and assimilated versions tend to emerge the further away you get.

Aslan in the Reach

Aslan presence in the Reach is mostly limited to naturalized, long-standing members of the Imperium, resulting in an absence of a lot of the typical cultural markers of the Hierate. Aslan can be found on many worlds in varying numbers, typically concentrated mostly around the frontiers and the metropolises, though some might be found elsewhere. The Reach and other areas on the Trailing end of the Imperium are ideal for naturalized Aslan, as they can avoid much of the continuing stigma found along the border from some of the damages the Hierate caused in the Border Wars.

The Wiyhryelaleatloa is the Aslan clan in the area which draws to it those Aslan who still culturally identify with the Hierate despite a lack of connection and the vast distance between them. Because of this, it has been designated a religion and appointed a Baron as representative, and holds land on several planets in the sector - begrudgingly through monetary means rather than invasion or contest. Of course, given the distance between them, the Wiyhry is a pale and somewhat poor imitation based on the memory of what the Hierate was - a memory that is dim at best at this point.

The only other Hierate presence in the sector are the imported arms of Khtularoihowa, the young Aslan megacorporation that supplied arms during the Border Wars.

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