The word "Stenza" is a corruption of an old Sandibar loanword that, as far as is known, has connotations of "these northern freaks who do things like eat poison and live in the back of beyond for no good reason". (It may also refer to "those people with the very strange, strict migration pattern", although this is somewhat more dubious.) The Stenza themselves have accepted both interpretations, and find the descriptor quite flattering.
GeneralStenza are completely hairless, with warped-looking skin over their faces and necks. They are generally stronger than humans, considering the slightly higher gravity of their homeworld. They possess claws, as well as flat, irregularly shaped front teeth, sharp fangs, as well as four premolars and four molars marked by sharp points (these features are especially pronounced in pups and young children). Within, each Stenza possesses two sets of three lungs each, a primary set and a second set which functions like the swim bladder in fish, maintaining oxygen levels and allowing Stenza to hold their breaths for long periods of time. Their blood is black, and gets sludgy when exposed to most external conditions. Stenza are, in an academic sense, warm-blooded but supercooled. This requires strict internal temperature regulation, to which a considerable amount of metabolic output is devoted. The wonders of technology mean this is usually supplemented with things like cooling packs and Insulating Mesh, so as to reduce the strain and lower the risk of the biological system failing. Failure of internal temperature maintenance often results in the individual freezing solid. (In fact, the system is so important to Stenza biology that, like the human designation of "brain death", they have a phrase which means "the internal regulation system has shut down".)
Average PhysiqueThe average Stenza build is tall and athletic, muscular but not overtly so. Men are more graceful in their lines and shapes, whereas women tend toward stockiness. (An uninformed human from the nineteenth century might, for example, suppose that women were men and men were women.)
Body Tint, Colouring and MarkingSkin tint ranges across a full host of shades of blue, many of which are only perceptible to other Stenza. However, there are some shade differences that a human can pick up on; some Stenza are noticeably lighter than others (which has had very little social impact as it is common practice that if one Stenza insults another to his or her face, the former gets very swiftly clocked in response). Pups begin developing creases in their faces several months after emergence from the Ice Flats , and retain those lines for the rest of their lives. Exact patterns vary, but they serve as a very convenient anchor for Facial Decoration .
EarsStenza ears have varying point designs, which are used to check parentage in the case of lost pups. The ears are sensitive to changes in air pressure, leading to some jokes that they can predict the weather, but it comes in handy dodging such hazards as Ice Storms. Additionally, the ears have a degree of motility, and are used in body language to convey emotion (f'ex: curled or leaned back for wary, or flared out for anger).
Gender DifferencesWomen tend to be larger than men, a feature evolved to birth higher numbers of healthy pups. This results in greater physical strength on their part. Women also possess a braid-like ridge on their scalp and shoulders, the pattern of which is unique to each (although there is a "handedness", generally speaking, to the way it curves). It serves as an erogenous zone and the lower half of it (roughly, the part which begins at the shoulders or base of the neck) opens during birth. This process is generally painful and triggers a rush of hormones that can shut down a new mother's internal temperature regulation, among other things. Usually she can recover unassisted, but severe imbalances must be corrected with the help of a post-natal specialist.
Stenza are sexually dimorphic (women are larger). Further, they average somewhere between 6'6" and 8' tall, and can weigh between 200 and 400 pounds, usually. As, culturally, everyone fights, there are remarkably few life-span differences.
Genetics and Reproduction
Women give birth to litters of pups, anywhere from two to ten at a time. Pups become too heavy to carry at around the mid-year mark, and are released into the Ice Flats for the other half of the year before emerging. Pups scramble around on all-fours and begin life with smooth skin, developing lines and other skin distortions at around one year old. They tend towards trouble, getting into anything they can find, and are virtually uncontrollable. At around two years old, they've grown out of this phase and shift into a bipedal way of life. It remains this way until they die.
Growth Rate & Stages
The phases of Stenza life can be divided biologically between "quadrupedal" and "bipedal", and then bio-culturally between "child" and "adult". The Pup stage, marked by its extreme biological divergence, lasts about two years before the body shifts around to allow better upright mobility. Around this time, children stop having hormonal effects on adults, but do not develop the adult hormonal response to pups until later in teenage years, as part of puberty. Culturally, at the conclusion of training, a young Stenza has the option of undergoing a citizenship trial. This has no bearing on whether or not they become an adult, but does open up certain career paths for them. After this point "adult life" can be said to truly begin. This will last for approximately two hundred years or until the Stenza is killed in combat.
Ecology and Habitats
Optimal conditions for Stenza are between -50 and -135, outside of which heat and cold become noticeably uncomfortable. Best designed for dark, icy conditions where being dark blue allows them to hide better.
Dietary Needs and Habits
The Stenza diet is primarily composed of meat, blubber, and other fatty tissues commonly acquired from megafauna and aquatic or semi-aquatic large mammals (akin to whales or elephant seals). The blubber of many of these species contains a poisonous substance or substances which require a specific combination of lipases and other enzymes to specifically digest into non-toxic forms excreted as waste (the substance can also be extracted and distilled into a uniquely Mudeweian beverage that works on Stenza the way alcohol works on humans, but if a human ingests too much of it, he or she begins to hallucinate vividly). The fat itself is one of the primary sources of energy for the body. This diet can be safely supplemented with some fruits, particularly fruits poisonous to other neighboring species, such as the 'Alashaia. However, it is commonly advised to avoid consuming these items too much, in case of ill effects. Pups, whose ability to maintain internal temperature is less developed than that of adults, eat more per capita and by mass than adults. This meets their higher metabolic needs, but it also contributes to their view that everything not bolted down is a snack. This is the origin of a large number of medical issues pups face, with which Stenza doctors are incredibly familiar.
Stenza mating follows a seasonal cycle. Courtship Rituals are initiated between Last Sunset and the Stenza's annual migration. Mothers carry pups through the winter and, roughly around First Sunrise, bear them into the Ice Flats. Shortly after Last Sunset, the pups emerge, and are generally out and about causing chaos in time for their first migrations. Stenza also follow a remarkably strict (for Mudeweian species) migration cycle, leaving before the onset of High Winter and returning some weeks before First Sunrise. In the earliest days, Stenza moved south along traditional and highly ritualized paths (connected to the Snow Pup called Migration, who is celebrated with a libation when the destination is reached. This tradition continues into the present, where aboard clan ships, there are places to pour libations of thanks out to Migration for their success on "making it half way"). In the modern era, this has adapted to the use of space travel, but Stenza have not moved permanently into space (but for a few cases of station workers and pup compliment) due to the technical considerations around moving the Ice Flats.
Stenza organize themselves along familial ties into groups known as Droga, which can be loosely understood as "tribe". A droga tends to average around 400,000 members, plus or minus. Mated pairs get absorbed into either his or her droga depending on the clan's needs (a system of fluid locality that broadly appears bidirectional), and their pups are members of that droga upon birth. All other things are determined by the individual, what they can and are willing to achieve. As such, Stenza lack understanding for "high" or "low" birth, destiny/predetermination, personal wealth (putting more stock in personal ability), or even why other species think it's a bad thing when one of their own is treated differently based on appearance. A system of taxation (and thus money) had to be developed once the Stenza began to pursue empire; prior to, an individual had what they could take or trade for (they still use a mix of both systems amongst themselves, but money has been popular for doing business with the wider universe). Stenza, men in particular, have a long tradition of bragging about their cunning and prowess, and expecting others to back up their boasts with demonstrations in hand-to-hand combat. When these demonstrations occur in view of women, it is commonly a courtship gesture and develops a flowery character uncommon to other types of sparring matches. Men pull out their best moves and tactics for such displays. Stenza organize themselves by experience and demonstrated competency, something most pronounced in the military where, for example, First Officer is (usually) the individual with the best ability to direct people and resources to accomplish an objective. (The one exception to this pattern is the Droghi, and even then a debatable exception: the clan elder is by definition the one member of the clan who has been able to survive the longest, quite the feat considering their lifestyle.)
Their faces, and periodically their necks and shoulders, are lined and otherwise slightly distorted. This additional skin serves as an anchor for bone trophies from significant kills, and many individuals like to arrange these in pleasing patterns (others prefer a more "abstract" arrangement). These patterns often assist in finding mates. Stenza are completely hairless, and have pointed ears in varied patterns which have aesthetic value on top of detecting minute changes in air pressure and temperature.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
They are confined to the north polar region of Mudewei, which has effectively contained population size for millions of years. The advent of space travel did not alleviate this, as it is very hard to find a planet that meets Stenza biological needs.
The Stenza have access to knowledge of the scientific achievements of all of its members (see below). They thus tend to see themselves as the most brilliant creatures around, and look down on others as "puny minded".
Perception and Sensory Capabilities
SensoryThe primary sensory feature of the Stenza is their near-universal red-green colorblindness (such as proto- or deuteranopia). However, they perceive incredibly minute differences in shades of blue and yellow and are primarily adapted to low-light conditions. A flashlight can blind them with remarkable efficacy. They additionally have very keen hearing, thanks in part to the shape of their ears. While the variations in point number and overall ear shape appear to be primarily cosmetic, these features universally serve to detect minute changes in air pressure. They have a distinctive "sense", therefore, for bad weather (on Earth comparable to the "trick knee" effect), and this feeds into their migration instincts. The third leg of this triad is the sense of smell; receptors are divided between the nose and the palette, and scent information is processed through an extensive olfactory bulb which sits in front of the rest of the Stenza brain and has connections to the area believed to be responsible for the Collective Knowledge. Stenza are known to track prey for miles on end in a straight line, and are able to discern recently dead prey from prey that has been dead a day or so that has not yet begun to visibly rot. (While they prefer to kill the prey themselves, they will eat an animal that has keeled over in front of them, but not one that has been dead for a couple of days.)
Collective KnowledgeFor more information, see here: Collective Knowledge Otherwise known as "the Collective", this is the poorly understood process by which every Stenza knows what every other Stenza knows. It is not a true "hive mind" in the sense that all Stenza have free will and opinions of their own, but it allows them to access a vast array of scientific information on any subject. You can learn how a weapon works by accessing it, but it will not teach you more than a WikiHow on its use. Nor does it make you qualified for that weapon's manufacture. For another example, by accessing the collective a Stenza can learn what all his compatriots know about subspace and its properties, and the engines used to traverse it, but that does not mean the person will be able to create and fly a ship through subspace, certainly not on their own. The Collective is limited by the need for practice, especially in combat and other physical pursuits, but it deeply affects scientific research and verification. Duplication is not always needed, and if something were to go wrong with an experiment, someone else may devise a fix even if the original scientist worked alone (which is not usual). There is a sort of peer review process, as well, but it is seen as more in tandem with the research being conducted, rather than done afterward.
Civilization and Culture
Naming traditions vary with clan, but in the Stenza language only names can be gendered male or female. For example, in the Greater Pass region, many feminine names end in the letter -o, while many Low Pass clans have male names ending in a vowel sound, such as -a. Of particular note is that clans who live near the Northern Mountains have seen a more dramatic change in naming conventions over the years than elsewhere, due to the influx of Stenza from other regions around the Ice Flats. Names based on other phrases or words, such as "šai" (tiny, puny), have to be dramatically altered to work as a name, while still retaining some of the original sound. Each name is followed by two determinatives: one designates the clan to which the individual belongs, and the other is a universal sign indicating "of the Stenza". These serve in place of a last name, and are the only standardized thing about a Stenza name. (Additional, non-determinative epithets may follow if the Stenza in question has done something notable. For example, Iradae the Lawgiver was written of as Iradae, [Strara droga] [of the Stenza], The Lawgiver, Uniter of Clans, Victor Over the Stone Menace. Traditionally shortened to "Iradae the Lawgiver".) The key constant among all clans is that no pup is immediately named upon, or very soon after, birth. This is seen as imposing the will of the adult onto the child, in a sense, and so it is common practice to wait until the personality of the child has been more fully experienced. Most commonly, names are given just before children enter the education system, but a name can be changed upon dramatic events in a person's life, including particularly trying Citizenship Trials
The building block of Stenza society is the Droga, headed by a Droghi, who is the oldest member of the clan still living. The elders comprise a body known as the Droghi Council, which manages most of the day to day and domestic affairs of the empire, and is in turn headed by a leader chosen by ordeal. The leader is regarded as a near-absolute ruler and the commander-in-chief of the Stenza fighting force, a position the Stenza take incredibly seriously. More loosely organized groups of individuals exist around various grounds. For example, ship technicians develop their own slang for efficiency of repairs and also to joke about the higher ups. There are subcultures of otherwise disparate Stenza individuals who carefully curate the archives of data on planets that Stenza conquer or visit (if asked, one such nerd will expound to you at length about Desolation's history).
Scars and prosthetic limbs are extremely well regarded in Stenza culture, as are many of the stories behind them. The gaining of scars and the loss of various body parts in combat or through ordeal shows a survivor or a victor, and they are considered status symbols.
The most prominent gender roles in Stenza society are the division of courtship roles, where men are expected to demonstrate their cunning in front of physically stronger women. However, this line has never actually been defined and solidified; the long history of conflict has cemented a pragmatic ideal in Stenza society that no one should be restricted from any position on any basis whatsoever. This ideal works well enough for actual Stenza, but trends defined by biological differences between the sexes can still be found (for example: men doing well in repair work and women working well with heavy weaponry). These trends are not considered absolute, but do sometimes factor into hiring choices and individual career paths.
For more detailed notes on this subject, see Courtship Rituals Save for one-night stands that come out the other end looking like duels to the death, courtships are strategic affairs. Potential partners spar each other frequently, hand-to-hand and with all sorts of weapons, meet each other at bath houses to see scarring, gather data from the potentials' closest friends (their Blood Siblings and Litter Mates). The blood sibling's job in this case is to hype their friend up to potentials, as well as approach anyone interesting in a crowded setting, arrange the initial sparring matches, and suchlike.
Romantic RelationshipsOne of the consequences of the Stenza rules for settling conflict among adults (as formalized by Iradae the Lawgiver as part of The Twin Pillars ) is that adults in a relationship are also expected to communicate slights small and large to each other, and handle the matter accordingly. Verbal communication is expected, and so it becomes common to not only discuss when the other party messed something up, but for everyone from generals on down to deck swabs to tell their partners about their work, lives, secrets, and anything else. Additionally, when one member of a mated pair or other close partnership is insulted, while the insult is responded to by the insulted party, much of the arranging is managed by their partner.
Blood SiblingsFor more detailed insights, see here: Blood Siblings A recognized relationship between people who have served together and, often, undergone high-stress situations together (for example: your blood sibling might come from your company, but not everyone in your company is your blood sibling). This is treated as of the same seriousness as being litter mates or a long-term relationship. Blood siblings are expected to put the needs of each other before their own, particularly in combat, and they perform other social functions, as well. They help arrange relationships or one-night stands. They might help with children, or financial affairs. They often provide emotional stability for each other, as well. When one of the siblings married and moved clans, while the other sibling(s) were considered to belong to their original clan, they had a certain freedom when it comes to moving about, and might relocate to follow their sibling around.
The DrogaThe clan, or droga, is the primary family unit and so is responsible for pup management, child education, and the citizenship of members who desired it. Thanks to the existence of the Clan of the Lost, there is no formal concept of "clanlessness", although such a thing can be felt in victims of harsh tragedies like the Clan Killings. Clans supply warriors for the army and are also expected to be able to support their units efficiently; no one clan is allowed to be "all soldiers". Warriors of the clan can also be responsible for supplying its food stores with game, maintaining security, and often led in the vanguard during the annual migration south before the invention of spacefaring vessels. During extended periods of peacetime, warriors will learn other trades, and it is not uncommon for them to retire out of military service to enter into another field. Within the droga, it is required for ranked officers (First through Fourth) to manage troop morale and supply chains, so that no one is unsupported. (Periodically failure in this regard blooms into a Watergate-style scandal. It can be socially managed if an officer is also blood siblings with a subordinate, but this is not foolproof.) Clan leaders do not often engage in battle, but are nonetheless important to morale. Besides setting an example, the clan leader and his or her officers are obliged to cooperate as closely as possible in order to achieve the state's goals (there is a "follow orders" element to the Stenza military, but it is slight compared to the bonds of clan affiliation and the meritocracy, which allows that anyone who thinks their officer sucks can challenge them and perhaps replace them; this is as strictly regulated as duels in civilian settings).
Average Technological Level
Faster-than-light travel (according to certain intergalactic law enforcement agencies, a "level 9 civilization"). This means that interstellar travel is as commonplace as commercial flight is to humans. Much movement in the Stenza army is space-based, and many conquests are other planets (some even believe those other planets should somehow be kept in stasis). Additionally, they have adapted a jelly-like substance at the edges of the Ice Flats for its vast medical uses, as prosthetics and artificial organs and so on. These prosthetic devices joined scars and non-replaced limbs as marks of high regard, and potentially helpful in finding a romantic partner. The universal translator, default set to Mudeweian Stenza, is required across the empire, for everyone who lives under it. It allows for all communications to immediately be understood by others and prevents any forming of rebellious plots against the Stenza. Communication devices operate within subspace (as do quite a number of ships), and many "phone"-like devices are operated through artificial satellites orbiting Muxter, staffed by Muxterans. These regulate almost all communication across the empire, and are closely monitored by Stenza supervisors. The army is supported by what are known by outsiders as sniperbots and by insiders as infantry drones. They are body-shaped robots which serve as low-level guards and extra bodies to fill out the army, protecting organic lives and giving the sense of scale to enemies and soon-to-be subjects.
Major Language Groups and Dialects
The most common language is a sort of standardized Stenza known as Mudeweian Stenza, which serves as the default setting for translator units, and the default language in which business and politics are done. However, each clan has its own dialect, which one can pick out if they do not have a translator or have turned it off.
Common Etiquette Rules
Military discipline among citizens (as opposed to civilians, who have not gone through the citizenship trial, and youths, who are in the same boat as civilians) is expected in every formal setting. Clan elders and ranking officers are saluted (a gesture composed of crossing forearms over the chest). Stenza waste little time with words, so in formal situations words are carefully chosen for accuracy pertaining to the matter of discussion, and so as not to be terribly insulting. Informally, words are used with bluntness in mind. Insults in a bar, cantina, or cafeteria are commonplace, as are the resulting fights. (This practice also saves a lot of time looking for dates, for the night or otherwise. A Stenza date is much more likely to tell you where they want the night to end than a human, or a date of other species.) A highly common display of affection for other Stenza is to gently touch or pinch the nose of another, most commonly a long-term partner or a pup (interestingly the practice is rarer between pairs of Blood Siblings).
Common Dress Code
Clothing first came into use as a collection of furs and a basic form of Insulating Mesh intended to protect against the warmer temperatures of southern climes, and the increasing cold of their home, and has evolved outward from there. Mesh is a mainstay as military gear and a staple for anyone venturing beyond the narrow band of "acceptable" climates for the Stenza body, including civilian explorers, nature enthusiasts, scientists, technicians on ships going to other planets, and so on. Furs, leathers, and bone have seen wide use in traditional wear, from the takhasar and loosely hanging bones of An'o dancers to the ceremonial uniforms of high-ranking officers. For casual wear, woven textiles are the order of the day. Cloths of varying sizes are wrapped around the body at the waist, often into configurations resembling kilts, baggy shorts, "M.C. Hammer pants", or other such garments. The torso is typically left bare unless the weather gets particularly cold, or for certain decorative purposes (i.e. moderately sized trophies that do not fit on the face).
Culture and Cultural Heritage
Stenza culture prizes honorable personal achievement (and as such abhors a cheater). What an individual is capable of and sets out to do determines their occupation, their rank within the field, and their esteem among their peers. Citizens and civilians can commit themselves to a given field of work and gain notoriety in so doing. A lot of people join the army, as it is the path to leadership (the Stenza version of an American child wanting to be President when he or she grows up), and may change their field as they age. Stenza have an incredibly rich oral tradition dating back tens of thousands of years, including myths, legends, cultural heroes, important historical events, and even old war songs. Their oral traditions are also adaptive, having folded in big news and songs from other civilizations, including recent additions Gee, I Wish I Was Back In The Army and The Old Man. They also employ An'o and chants to convey meaning about historic and mythopoetic events. Stenza also hunt, so a lot of cuisine originated with recipes for preparing and preserving such arctic animals as Basket Horns, Kʉrdeneχ, and other species. Each clan has their own recipes for such, and differences go so far that some clans consume local fowl while others do not. The most common fruit is 'Alashaia, which holds a prominent place as both a fruit in its own right and as an ingredient in such beverages as Migration's Toast and 'Alashaia Hot Cider. There is a widely held belief best summarized as "Those who can, take care of those who cannot." It manifests across the board, as it has for millennia before the advent of empire, as free medical care, hearty food stores, free education of youth, and so on. It is an extension of hospitality culture and generates an expectation that should one Stenza who was on the receiving end find themselves in a position to give back or pay it forward, they must do so. It is one of the many responsibilities anyone who prepares for military service or training as a doctor (to name two examples; this is universal enough to include nearly everyone) must be willing to accept.
Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals
History is recorded in the Collective, but actively transmitted through An'o and especially through Khe'drakha, the long-winded poetry recited by trained orators. Khe'drakha covers all sorts of events and recounts the details of each, from the creation of the world and Stenza life down to the achievements of the most recent leader, whereas dances are composed and performed primarily for the honor of divine beings. Stenza rely on their local frigid environment to preserve their dead, discussed more at Funerary Rites. They lack belief in an afterlife, instead believing that the life given to them by Iradae and Lan'tha will eventually be returned. It is an ancient belief that their bodies are to be placed in the care of the Snow Warrior, perhaps because of the way Iradae and Lan'tha structured their world.
Arguably one of the most well-known taboos of Stenza culture is the prohibition against "baby talk" when addressing pups. This is usually regarded as "talking down to" an individual who probably possesses vast and deep understanding, and whose only real trouble is how sounds work. (Studies have also shown that talking normally around pups helps them process language in real time and fosters their own development of speech.) On the subject of the Collective Knowledge, due to it the act of lying (especially about readily available facts) is frowned upon. (This has led to Stenza often being stereotyped as bad liars by members of cultures where lying is more common and easier to accomplish.) In this vein, and tied to an overall culture of personal merit, cheating at major contests such as the Leadership Challenge or Citizenship Trial is a high crime addressed by the Droghi Council, and may be punished by stripping of citizenship, up to execution. Also tied into the Collective is the conception of privacy. It is suspected pups treat every action and event undergone by their fellows as their own, and they do not learn to divide themselves off from this until almost the age of two. Additionally Stenza are able to connect to the Collective on and off for the rest of their lives, uploading and trading data as they do. This has led to a remarkably nuanced idea of what constitutes "private information" in Stenza society. Facts and intentions can be withheld, for example; presumably children's mystery cults are a means of teaching children and adolescents to do this in preparation for several adult activities. Traditionally one withholds data pertaining to religious experiences (which are nigh impossible to process anyway), the experience of sex (but, notably, not relevant scientific facts pertaining to procreation), and certain government activities; but this can be applied more broadly, such as attempts at cheating (see above). (While pups routinely pop up on security footage, doing pup things, actively seeking to film them specifically is considered a privacy violation, as well as a violation of their autonomy.) There is a specific barrier placed around anyone who is too young to have decided on the Citizenship Trial, where that event is used as a divider of sexual relationships. Adults, who have made the decision (one way or the other), are forbidden on pain of especially brutal execution from interacting in such a way with older adolescents. The divide is such that it is expected for adolescent relationships to end once one party makes a decision (although it is possible to resume a relationship once the other party/all other parties has/have also made a decision; all members must be in the same age category). The words describing adults who break age categories to seek partners are so severe they are rarely used as insults, as even accusing someone of such conduct is extremely serious and merits thorough investigation.
Because the Ice Flats are not water, and because that substance is necessary for Stenza development and survival, many biologists hypothesize that the Stenza represent (at least predominantly--there is evidence they are related to a six-winged bird commonly smoked for special occasions) a distinct genetic lineage from the Sandibari and many other life forms on Mudewei. The exact mechanism of how either of these came about is unknown, but this distinction has been mythologized in the tale of the asteroid. Following a strike severe enough to alter Mudewei's tilt, it is said that Parevia destroyed the rock for disrupting her carefully laid plans, while Lan'tha watched the liquid bubbling up in the crater and hatched the idea to create the Stenza (and a few other things). The oldest known Stenza settlement dates to twenty-five thousand years before the present, and exists at a site farther from the Ice Flats than any other. No one knows why it was abandoned, and there are many stories to go around. Many consider it the most likely that it was too far from the Flats to allow pups to survive, but other theories have extended very far afield, from invasion to strange rocks glowing in "mysterious colors unlike any seen on
Earth Mudewei". Either way, every other clan's settlement was built, and rebuilt, near the Flats, sometimes moving over territory disputes before reaching the even distribution now presently observed (which, for reasons of climate and weather, bars the passes).
Stenza clans (called droga in the native language) have warred with each other over every distinction, from mode of governance to the best view, to the existence of Red-Green Vision (the last was the subject of a civil war following the Unification of Clans by Iradae the Lawgiver). As such, they have ironed out most differences, allowing unification to hold together for two and a half millennia, and in the present the only common disputes are on the allowance of "off-worlders" and the question of certain military actions.
Common Myths and Legends
Interspecies Relations and Assumptions
There is a very sharp divide among the Stenza populace about whether or not someone who is not born into one of their clans, who is therefore not biologically a Stenza, can gain legal citizenship through their ordeal process. For as many people who believe that the rules do not inherently exclude any non-Stenza participants, there are just as many who are adamant otherwise. One of the most unique metrics the Stenza use to gauge other civilizations is how well the children are looked after. Through the filter of their own culture, they frequently analyze how prominent phenomena like child abuse (of all kinds) are in other societies, and if it is too high or too egregious then the other civilization is considered "barbaric", "barely capable of reason", and no better than wild animals, no matter their level of technology.