Uncle Jimbo's Bug Huntin' Range
The vriik are a sentient race of predators from a low-gravity world within Orthopteroid space. They stand about 1.5m tall and weigh an average of 50kg.
Form and Physiology
Vriik are slender tailed humanoids. Unlike humans, neither their brains nor their mouths are located in the head. A vri's brain is found in an armoured hump where a human's shoulders would be, and his mouth is located low in the chest. The head contains two eyes, two ears, two whippy black taste sensors, and a large air-intake with bone-reinforced spiked lips that the vri' can use to attack enemies. Two short, thin arms are set low on the body, giving a round-shouldered appearance. Vriik have long and agile legs ending in birdlike talons, and a whip-like tail, held straight out for balance when the vri' runs.
A vri's smooth, glossy hide is dark grey-brown with silvery stripes. His eyes are large, dark and expressive. Vriik ears are very small and set close to the long, snake-like head.
The vriik skeleton is interesting to offworld biologists. Made from compounds heavy in iron and magnesium, this red coral-like substance is harder than bone, but thinner in most places. The vriik's back is supported by a series of broad perforated plates with multiple nerve channels, attached by complex rocker joints that allow dextrous twisting, and widening at the top of the torso into a thick wedge that protects the brain-pan.
Behaviour and Culture
A vri' female can lay 50 to 100 eggs in her lifetime. The vriik young are not intelligent, and are not regarded by vriik as people, but as animals called v'kipf. They hunt small creatures for food in the wilderness, while their brains grow more complex and their feeding-claws develop into arms. When v'kipf reach the age of seven to twelve years, their intelligence is sufficiently developed that the adult vriik can recognise their potential as people, accept them into the community and begin teaching them language, culture and morality.
Throughout their history, vriik have known that a v'kipf which shows promise in purely physical feats can be captured at the age of three to five, and trained to work for the community. Though they understand language and tool use, these workers lack some indefinable self-conception and will never become true adults. They are regarded as a separate form of life, called v'vipt. These are both more and less than slaves, traded and disposed of as freely as animals, but treated with kindness and even respect. A vriik addressed by some ignorant alien as "v'vipt" would react much like a human accused of being a horse.
V'vipt show no interest in breeding, and seem to regard the process with confusion and distaste. A pair can be induced to breed by their owners, but they seldom produce more than five or six offspring. Vriik believe that these v'kipf are inferior and unlikely to survive the rigours of growth. Nevertheless, the offspring of a v'vipt can become a real person just as readily as any other juvenile.
The vriik were encountered by Orthopteroids of the Vitak Coalition, a group led by scientists and philosophers exiled from At'oraak due to their unacceptable views of personal identity and ethics. After some initial bloodshed, the vriik understood that the Orthopteroids were not planning to poach their v'kipf, and quickly became willing partners of the colonists.
When the Vitaks sought military aid to assault their hated Commission masters, the concept of v'vipt came to the fore. Millions of v'kipf were rounded up, quickly force-matured and trained as ideal soldiers. The Vitak labs parlayed these into millions more through cloning. Although the v'vipt assault troops were badly affected by the intense radiation leakage of the Orthopteroid drive-senders, their wave attacks and reckless ferocity became a nightmare that many in the Orthopteroid home system have never completely forgotten.
Many years after the Drone War, the now highly educated vriik spawned a strong popular movement against the Orthopteroid Core. Some Orthopteroids in the former Commission and Tauran domains still harboured prejudice against what they regarded as Vitak killers. Whether rightly or wrongly, many influential vriik argued that the species should follow its own interest and separate itself from Orthopteroid paternalism. The Vriik Destiny movement was only partly successful, converting, at its height, perhaps 20% of the vriik population. However, many of these were both wealthy and technically skilled. Without any great animosity, a Destiny fleet was fitted out, and set out for the outer reaches of the star cluster, where they now form a significant independent nation.
Vriik use the same technology as Orthopteroids, though the vast majority do not have access to the advanced devices of the Core, such as stealth units. Like Orthopteroids, vriik of the Core often use cyber-gear. The Vriik Destiny nation has received laser technology from the Wanderer fraal which is quickly being deployed to Destiny military units.
Attribute Scores: Vriik (V'vipt)
STR 4-11 (3-12)
Crisis State: Vriik are known for their calm, swift and capable response to any crisis situation. Their tenacity, inventiveness and self-confidence are focused into an almost frenzied mental state. Those who know them only as battle opponents have misread this as the "berserker" stereotype. A vri' gains one extra action per round.
Protected Organs: Because his brain is well protected from physical attacks, a vri' gains one extra Mortal point.
Unarmed Poison Attack: Vriik can attack with their venomous air-lip spikes in what is erroneously referred to as a bite. On a successful Unarmed Attack - brawl check, the vri' does damage of d4-1w/d4-1w/d4w. If the target suffers primary wound damage which is not stopped by armour, the vri' injects a paralytic venom (no penalty to Con check, onset 1 minute, duration of attack as per Con check).
Vriik can also kick or lash with their tails for the standard amount of unarmed damage, and have developed both defensive and power martial arts. Their arms are not strong enough to deliver an effective punch.
Nocturnal: Vriik generally hunt from the late afternoon to early morning. They reduce all penalties for low light (but not total darkness) by 1 step, and have a +1 penalty to their actions in Amazing lighting conditions (equal to a bright sunny day).
Vriik Psionics: The native vriik and Orthopteroids never understood nor developed the potential of psionics. The Vriik Destiny nation has acquired a small number of mindwalker academies through contact with Wanderer fraal city-ships. Oddly enough, the vriik psionic facility cannot interact with physical matter, so a vri' Mindwalker or talent cannot use the broad skills Biokinesis or Telekinesis.