Zaddat

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The Zaddat are an Unathi client race only recently introduced to SolGov space. Having evolved on the high-pressure and post-apocalyptic world of Xohok in the Vengeful Father system, Zaddat require an environmental suit to survive in usual planetary and station atmospheres. Despite these restrictions, worsening conditions on Xohok and the blessing of the Moghes Hegemony have lead the Zaddat to enter human space in search of work and living space. The vast majority of Zaddat now live in the Spacer Fleet.

See also: Zaddat Roleplay Guide

Mechanics

Require a voidsuit to survive in 1atm.

Require a gas mask or oxygen supply to survive in nitrogen atmospheres.

Skin bursts open in cancerous growths when exposed to direct light, dealing severe burn damage.

Take increased damage from most sources.

Have their own language, Vadahq.

Spawn with a puncture-resistant voidsuit that can be customized by use of a verb.

Spawn with a gas mask.

Culture

The Shroud

From birth to death, Zaddat spend the vast majority of their lives inside of closed life-support systems called Shrouds. The primary purpose of the Shroud is isolation from the low pressures preferred by most other sapient races, a function easily performed by most races' voidsuit designs. In addition to functioning as a voidsuit, Shrouds process waste, allow for the intake of food and water, protect the Zaddat from contagion common in their cramped quarters, and serve as an important facet of a Zaddat's desire for individual expression. A Zaddat's Shroud is seen as an extension of the face and necessary professional garb-- even within arcships and stations designed for their physiology, most Zaddat wear their Shrouds in public spaces. Because of the limited number of Shroud designs available, many Zaddat choose to personalize their suits with patches, pins, colorful cloths, and custom fittings, giving some Shrouds an eerie resemblance to human "punk" fashion or overdecorated millitary personnel, depending on the individual.

The Colonies

Rampant industrialization on the Zaddat homeworld of Xohok lead to Xohok's atmosphere becoming unbreathable, and all other publicly-documented garden worlds have an atmospheric pressure between 70 and 200 kPa. Terraforming any world remains outside of the Zaddat technological ability, as do large atmospheric domes on the surfaces of uninhabitable worlds. As a result, almost all Zaddat live in large habitat-ships called Colonies-- originally converted Hegemony bulk freighters, then original Zaddat designs. Zaddat Colonies are far less independent than ships in flotillas like Ue'Orsi or Shelf, and other species' assistance is usually required to construct a new Colony or make significant repairs to an existing ship. This produces a feedback loop that renders the vast majority of the Zaddat population transient and reliant on good relations with host species for their continued survival.

The Unathi

The Zaddat have spent over two centuries as Unathi clients. While current Guild-Hegemony relations are somewhat cooler, early Zaddat viewed integration into the Hegemony as an opportunity to escape their slowly dying homeworld, and many embraced the Unity and the political opportunities that came with it. As a result, indigenous Zaddat religious systems have died out, replaced with a Unity variant containing only a few Zaddat concepts. Their close adherence to the Unity has lead to their being granted broader autonomy within the Hegemony, culminating with their charter to leave Hegemony space after the Fourth Reformation.

The Unity

The Zaddat naturally practiced many of the constraints of the Unity as a result of their guild system; extreme dedication to a craft, devotion to a kin group, and asceticism have all been part of Zaddat culture since the 2200s. Many religious Zaddat view this as clear evidence of divine intervention in their biological and cultural evolution. Nonetheless, Zaddat-specific concepts have been introduced into their sect of the Unity. The sun-worship of Uueoa-Esa, viewed by the Unathi as an expression of the Maker, has syncretised with Zaddat superstitions created during the Dark Sky. Many Zaddat view their congenial sensitivity to light as a divine punishment for what they did to their planet. This, and the severely dire situation they were in before their discovery by the Hegemony, has led many to genuinely believe the Unathi were divinely guided to save them from their own folly and thus are owed an enormous debt by the entire Zaddat society. The search for a new homeworld has itself taken on aspects of a religious pilgrimage, an attitude encouraged by the Spacers and the Hegemony alike.

As a shorter-lived race, from a very competitive culture, the Zaddat remain significantly less spiritual as a culture than their Unathi benefactors. While most Zaddat believe the dictates of the Unity, they occupy a much less prominent position in their psyche than they do in the Unathi psyche. Nonetheless, the Hegemony continues to encourage their conversion and greater religiosity with significant success.

The Guilds

Zaddat first became Unathi clients during a period where access to food, liquid water, and life support were restricted only to Guild members. Consequently, the most important relationship in Zaddat culture is that of guildmaster and apprentice. After finishing a six year course of study under the Noble Guild, a young Zaddat will pledge themselves to a guildmaster and enter a decade-long period of training, after which they are themselves allowed full political and economic autonomy and eventually allowed to take apprentices themselves. One's guildmaster acts as a surrogate parent, and the guild as surrogate family. To be guildless is a dire fate. Before the loss of Xohok, a guildless Zaddat would be a perpetual child, existing on the fringes of society and begging for scraps. Now, in the age of the Colonies, a guildless Zaddat is likely to be exiled from their ship, forced to stake out a life in hostile territory in the confines of an environment suit.

Leadership in a guild is based mostly on seniority and competence, and the day-to-day affairs of a single Zaddat Colony are rife with more politics than some human nations. Every function from sewage to childrearing to ensuring that host species don't shoot the Colony out of the sky is contracted out to insular teams of specialists. The only thing preventing Colonies from becoming terrifying games of mutually assured destruction is the fact that each guild has its own rivals within the industry who are usually more than happy to break strikes. In the event that an industry does become controlled by a single guild, that guild would become extremely powerful... such as the coalition of guilds that currently rule over the Zaddat.

Spacers' Guild

The Spacer's Guild was originally a small split-off from the Engineers' Guild, concerning itself with navigation and asteroid mining. Over time, it has become the "face" of the Zaddat exiles, managing interspecies diplomacy and supplying the Colonies with a constant stream of labor contracts. The Spacers claim that this is a natural extension of their role of finding safe passage between stars, but their enemies view it as a naked power grab.

Engineers' Guild

The Xozi Engineers' Guild is the largest and most powerful engineering guild and the parent organization of the Spacers' Guild. The Engineers perform most of the labor of keeping the Colonies physically intact and are widely renowned for their talent. Many Engineers quietly regard the rest of Zaddat society as parasites off of their hard work, but for the time being keep these sentiments largely unspoken.

The Noble Guild

Nearly 90% of all polyp-producing females belong to the Noble Guild, which concerns itself with polyp production, child rearing, and education. All young Zaddat pass through the Noble Guild on their way to their permanent guild, making it a shared cultural foundation for all Zaddat. Formed out of the descendants of nobility who sided with the guilds during the revolution and of those queens who remained in power when the Unathi came, the Noble Guild guard their monopoly on the Zaddat population jealously, many leaders openly styling themselves queens or other noble titles.

Droning Guild

For centuries under Unathi rule, the Zaddat considered thinking machines were believed to be too impractical for any Zaddat resources to be expended on their pursuit. The ubiquity of drones in human space proved them wrong. The Droning Guild was formed by former Engineers and Spacers during the first years of Solar residence and believes drones to be the solution to the Zaddat' woes-- capable of operating in hostile environments without life support, devoid of any desire for upward mobility or individual expression, and perfectly legal (so long as the EIO registration is paid on time.)

Art Houses

While not as unified as the other coalition guilds, the various art houses, especially the Fashion Guilds, are considered the most prestigious and dignified of guilds. They train only a very few apprentices every year, and have a reputation for quality that would make a Kishari director or a Talum-Katish poet blind with envy. They style themselves as above the politics of the rest of the guilds and often provide a voice of moderation to the internal bickering of the Colonies.

Naming

Zaddat names are full of harsh consonants and buzzing sounds. Example names include Ivti Azav, Zidz Ivti, Azhox Dzaz.

Zaddat take the personal name of their original guildmaster as a surname as a sign of respect and to signify guild membership. Pre-apprentice children take the word "Iz" as their surname, which is also used as a surname by the guildless. While some sycophantic Zaddat will take their guild name, the name of their home colony, or Xohox as a Hegemony clan name in addition to their two-part name, and strip the guildless or dishonored of their master's name, these practices are uncommon among most Zaddat.

Physiology

Zaddat physiology resembles a strange mixture between Earth insects and aquatic invertebrates such as jellyfish. Xohok's high-pressure, oxygen-rich atmosphere, caused by a robust system of subcrustal volcanism and anaerobic chemosynthetic producers, causes Zaddat to have severe difficulties breathing and surviving in the atmospheres favored by most other sapients. Physiologically, Zaddat have a chitinous carapace covering a weaker endoskeleton made of partially-calcified collagen. Atop the carapace is a fibrous layer of soft tissue that is anchored to the Zaddat around the shoulder and forms a distinct symbiote cultivated by the Zaddat during the Darkening of Xohok.

Zaddat have facial mandibles that retract into their skull when not eating and vocal cord analogues that produce sound by rubbing together, not unlike the legs of a cricket. They have long, tapered limbs that flare into three or four phalanges at their end. While their evolutionary ancestors are thought to have eight limbs, four have become vestigial and are now only found on the torso of fertile females. Infertile females are externally identical to males.

Earth atmospheres pose two problems for Zaddat habitation-- the general pressure is low enough to cause significant strain on their fragile joints, and the partial pressure of nitrogen is toxic to them. Their environmental Shrouds address the former problem and their gas-mask Veils address the latter problem. Furthermore, their symbiotes are extremely photosensitive and respond to bright light by reproducing haphazardly, at a rate fast enough to kill the Zaddat host within minutes. As a result, Shrouds are necessary in any lit space, such as workshops or storefronts.

Shrouds are extremely complex and in-depth pieces of machinery that handle food intake and waste disposal alongside hostile pressures. Zaddat Shrouds also assist in muting the natural buzzing accent Zaddat have when speaking Galactic Common, though cybernetic modification of the larynx for clearer speech has become popular in the last few decades.

Lifecycle

Zaddat hatch in clutches of seven or so eggs as nonsapient polyps, very simple bags of methane gas that float to the upper atmosphere of Xohox and use the energy of their sun to photosynthesize. Over the next several months, they begin to develop a complex system of neurodes and functioning limbs as they cannibalize their photocytes and gas reservoirs until they begin to return to Xohox's surface. The reproductive system is the last to be constructed and will be skipped if conditions are unfavorable for its formation; this results in most Zaddat being infertile and promoting a system of kin selection that has led to the current Guild system. Zaddat fertility rates have notably declined since the introduction of the symbiote and its corresponding energy and weight burden during the polyp stage, as well as an increasing need to resort to cramped nurseries instead of the spawning grounds of Xohox.

Zaddat end the polyp stage in a state of extremely rapid neural development, much like that of human toddlers. In the ancestral environment, this was used to quickly learn behaviors that would be required to survive wherever they had landed; in the modern age, it instead makes very young Zaddat exceptionally good apprentices, after a five to six year general education at the hands of the Noble Guild. The ensuing apprenticeship lasts between ten and fifteen Earth years until the apprentice becomes a journeyman, and another five to ten until they are considered a master capable of taking apprentices themselves.

While "naturally" Zaddat have a lifespan of 100 to 110 years, the rigors of life within the Shroud take their toll. Life expectancy for the modern Zaddat is about 90 years.

History

The specific chronology of some events in the history of the Zaddat are considered state secrets by the Hegemony and not known by humanity with confidence. Before 700 - Division of labor sparks the formation of proto-guilds.

Before 2150 - Guilds lose power to the early Zaddat Monarchies, a heavily stratified system of autocracies ruled by fertile females.

Late 2100s - Revolutions sweep the habitable regions of Xohox, deposing the Queens or forcing them to consolidate power in the newly-born Noble Guild. Modern Guild system forms.

Early 2200's - Guild-sparked industrialization upsets Xohox's delicate ecosystem. The already cloudy skies grow dark.

Later 2200's - Zaddat society collapses as agriculture fails. Attempts to counter this by adopting photosynthetic symbiotes, while somewhat successful, also infect all Zaddat with their current inability to tolerate light.

2300's- Surviving guilds cluster around chemosynthetic and artificially-lit farms. All Zaddat outside of a Guild perish. Society begins to acclimate to the current status-quo.

2341- Unathi Hegemony discovers the Zaddat on Xohox and establish Xohox Base to administer their new "converts" after a brief show of military power.

2380- A collection of former industrial guilds successfully negotiate with the Hegemony for assistance constructing the first Shrouds and Colonies. They form the Spacer Guild.

2403 - Mining and construction facilities constructed on Xohox' dwarf moon Hixo. Hegemony pleased with growth of Zaddat industrial base.

2424 - The Trade Guild, the largest of the guilds before the Dark Sky, emerge from space into habitats constructed by the Spacers and negotiate a number of contracts with the Hegemony and client races.

2451 - Tensions between in-system interests and the Spacers and their allies spark the Trade War. Spacers vastly outclass the homeworld Zaddat in technology and in-orbit assets, and defeat and absorb the Trade Guild.

2470s(?) - Unathi-Schierian war leads the Spacer Guild to re-ignite dorment industry on the surface of Xohox to provide for the war effort.

2480 - Xohox's sky goes completely dark, crippling agriculture a second time. Zaddat power firmly consolidates in the hands of the Spacer Guild.

2508 - Contact War. Zaddat contribution negligible.

2512 - Losses during the Wars lead to the Iku Clan, noted diplomats and spies, taking control of Xohox Base.

2526 - A landmark agreement with the High Circle permits the Zaddat to travel freely throughout most of Hegemony space, owing to "the nomadic nature of [their] people".

2533 - The War Guild, previously a supporter of the Spacer Zaddat and a critical asset during the Trade War, leaves the Spacer Fleet and takes up residence near Xohox Base for undisclosed reasons.

2537 - Zaddat play vital support role in improving relations with human and Skrell colonists in Hegemony space

2548 - Fourth Great Reformation of the Unity spurs greatly improved Unathi-Zaddat relations.

2550 - Spacer Zaddat broker second agreement with the High Circle, permitting them free range throughout all space provided they bring an Unathi escort. Spacer Fleet becomes a wandering Hegemony exclave within SolGov space.

2553 - Spacer Fleet settles in Raphael and nearby systems, offering engineering assistance with colonization efforts in-system.

2554 - Zaddat targeted by Lizard Riots in the system, prompting the Fleet to depart for the Golden Crescent after the destruction of the Colony Dawn by disgruntled Raphaelian workers.

2555 - Formation of the Droning Guild during Fleet transit in the Bowl.

2558 - Arrival of the Fleet in the Golden Crescent. Hoping to avoid a second Raphael incident, individual Colonies split from the main fleet and maintain a presence in nearly every system in the region.

2562 - Present day.

Language

The common language of the Spacer Zaddat, Vedahq, was developed to maintain tight communications between Colonies. It is a crisp, utilitarian language consisting of a wide array of human-unpronounceable buzzing and clicking sounds. Many Zaddat also speak Sinta'Unathi.

Relations

Humans: The Spacer Zaddat are grateful for SolGov hosting the Spacer Colonies, but leadership remains firmly with the Moghes Hegemony. Most Spacer Zaddat understand that they exist in SolGov space as part of a complicated game of espionage and diplomacy and avoid worsening international relations when possible.

Positronics: Positronics and Zaddat often compete for the same jobs, and positronics were chief among those who expelled them from the Precursor's Crypt. Racial tensions run high.

Drones: Complex automated machinery was out of Zaddat reach until their migration to SolGov. A large contingent of the Xozi Engineer Guild broke off to form the Droning Guild, which already holds a great deal of political power as many hope for drone technology to ease their burden of labor.

Prometheans: Prometheans have too small of a population for the Zaddat to have a unified opinion on them. They are generally viewed as a curiosity at best and a waste of resources at worst.

Skrell: The Inner Kingdoms were rejected as a potential host nation because of the Skrell's tendency to terraform any moderately-habitable world into a near-duplicate of Qerr'balak, leaving the odds of the Zaddat finding a replacement for Xohox fairly slim. Many Zaddat resent the Skrell for this callous disregard for native life.

Unathi: The Unathi Hegemony has ruled over Xohox and the Spacer Zaddat for centuries, and most Zaddat remain loyal to them and their Unity. This puts them at odds with the Unbound and Heretic Unathi who are most often found in Sol space.

Tajaran: Some forward-thinking Tajaran have proposed an alliance with the Zaddat, to reduce their dependence on Solar technology and scientists as they modernize their infrastructure, but the nomadic Zaddat are wary about being trapped within the Rarkajar Rift.

Diona: Several choruses have expressed interest in helping the Zaddat terraform a new homeworld, assuming a candidate can be found. Some of them have taken up residence in the life support systems of Zaddat Colonies.

Teshari: The Zaddat, privately, sympathize with the Teshari as another race who has lost control of their homeworld, though neither of them have the technological, economic, or political capital to aid the other.

Vox: Pointing out similarities between the Zaddat and the Vox is a good way to find oneself blacklisted by every guild in the fleet.

Job Preferences

Zaddat are most commonly contracted out for engineering work because of the prominence of the Engineers Guilds, but will generally take whatever short-term contracts are available. Many Zaddat have a knack for medicine born from living within the confines of a Shroud, and some corporations hire Zaddat scientists in (futile) hopes of pilfering secrets from the Hegemony. Zaddat are too slow and fragile to work in Security and because of their distrusted and transient nature are not hired as Command Staff.