The Kałceba are a sentient species of marine mammals who live near rivers, lakes, and oceans. Known in the human world for their love of travel, adolescent and young adult Kałceba will often move between different seafolk towns and villages as they explore locales.  

Physical Description

  Kałceba are four limbed and bipedal, able to move easily from land and water. They tend to be taller than the average human, standing between 5’9 and 6’5, with a longer spine and more flexible neck to help with swimming. They carry a half-inch of blubber under their skin to help keep them warm. Kałceba are naturally fleshy as a result.   Their fingers and toes are longer than humans and have slight webbing. Their noses are slightly flatter and are able to seal when underwater. Kałceba’s rounded eyes look similar to humans with similar shades. However, they possess a second membrane, which allows them to see clearly underwater. They open the clear membrane when on land so that they can see clearly above water as well.   Kałceba are able to hold their breath underwater for upwards of 30 minutes while swimming and their magenta blood type allows them to heal faster from injuries than other sentient species. However, they do have similar lifespans to humans, living to be between 80-100.   These superficial differences, however, aren’t what make Kałceba stand out to humans. Instead, it is the unique nature of their hair and skin. Their skin is thicker than humans with an almost malleable touch; on sunny days, Kałceba risk drying out. Although Kałceba are born in colors of human flesh tones, as well as pale pink and bluish-gray—dependent on their ancestry—Kałceba are masters of disguise.   Much like an octopus, Kałceba are able to change the color and texture of their skin to match the environment they are in, effectively hiding from any predator—or sentient beings—looking for them.   Kałceba also have a natural defense mechanism built into their hair. Instead of the hair follicles of humans, Kałceba possess hair of tiny tentacles resembling sea anemone, which come in a dazzling array of bright colors. Though the tentacle hair can be cut with only a minimum discomfort, many Kałceba choose to leave their hair long as they are able to use it to stun and poison small prey, such as their next fish meal. Use enough of them and they can also temporarily paralyze larger creatures and beings — just enough, at least, to make their escape.   These combinations make them sought after private investigators and many Kałceba have joined such crews looking for adventure and coin.  

Relationship with the Sea and the Mark

  Referred to as the Watermark by the Kułceba people, this mark allows them to communicate telepathically with animals under the sea. However, unlike the Vlektso, they have no such qualms about eating fish, as their diet requires them to do so. Although, there are some that may keep certain semi-sapient fish or marine mammals as companions or pets.   Kałceba people who have finessed their powers can have some limited control over creatures of the sea, although trying to control too many at once is difficult for all but the most powerful of seafolk.   Kałceba will often come across native Phasma spirits, referred to as Children of the Sea; when they do so, they follow any words spoken with a certain amount of reverence. However, they don’t regard the Children as anybody to worship or pray to. For Kałceba, the Children have concurrent but separate paths then the Kałceba and when their paths do cross, it may be the beginning of their next great story.    

Gender Roles

  Kałceba have no native words that denote gender. Instead there language includes a single gender-neutral pronoun used when referring to people. Though they are aware that other sentient beings and creatures recognize gender, Kałceba hold no such qualms, as they can change their biological sex at will. Kałceba are born bidirectional hermaphrodites, with both male and female external and internal organs. Children remain as neither and both sexes until they come of age.   At this time, adolescents choose whether they wish to be a sire or a bearer. From this choice, they are offered one of two plants, which allows for certain hormones to activate, essentially changing their dormant physiology. These changes take a number of months to happen. Most cultures allow for individuals to switch between sire or bearer throughout their life. There are some that may put a limit to the number of sires or bearers at times, dependent on population needs.    

Social Norms and Mores

  Nudity   For a Kałceba, nudity is not based on the clothes worn. In fact, most Kałceba would prefer not to wear clothes as it allows them to camoflague themselves quicker without the annoying step of stripping out of their clothing. When in the ocean and in many of their communities, they do not wear clothing. More and more Kałceba are adopting wearing clothing on a daily basis due to mixture of outside species and cultures. Even those who live in nudist communities will wear an easily removable wrap when travelling, out of respect for other persons.   Sexual Relations   All Kałceba have male and female sexual organs. Male and female organs external bits stay retracted into the body unless aroused. It is considered highly offensive to show arsousal in public or in the presence of any other person who who has not consented to relations. The age of consent in most Kałceba settlements is after the coming-of-age ritual, where they choose whether to be a sire or a bearer. This typically happens between 15-17 in most settlements.   View towards Outsiders and Mixed-Species Children   Kałceba are typically friendly to most outsiders they meet. However, they rarely make lasting connections with them. Many Kałceba consider other sapient beings to be players in their next story. Meeting outsiders is about pursuing that story, not getting bogged down in heavy emotions. New communities are formed in remote locations because they do not want outsiders to disturb their way of life. Expect a kind welcome and a bed to sleep in if you stumble upon a Kałceba village. But be aware that the next morning, they will ask about your travel plans with a large smile upon their face. The majority of Kałceba are indifferent to world affairs, wars, or petty politics unless it directly affects them or one of their community. In the 1000 years since humans have landed on the planet, most Kałceba settlements has been neutral in every war. That is not to say that some Kałceba did not fight in that war. But these are individuals, not representatives of the Kałceba people.   Most communties regard children who were born of a Kałceba bearer to be Kałceba, even if they have a father of a different race. Although, if they did not receive one or more of the genes regarding: the watermark, bidirectional hermaphroditism, body camouflage, or voluntary apnea they are considered defective and discouraged from mating during their exploration period. However, children born from a sire are not automatically granted citizenship in Kałceba communities such as the Dullo Islands. If an outsider requests to stay in a community, based on Kałceba heritage, the previously stated indicators help to prove their heritage, with the Watermark being the most important of the four. Kałceba are split on whether to allow outsiders who are in a relationship with a Kałceba person to be allowed to live in the community. Some more of the forward-thinking communities do allow it. However, even in these instances, the person will always be regarded as a second citizen and certain positions may not be open to them. The Llellâ sought to change this discrimination by creating their own settlements where people are treated equally, regardless of species origin.  

Kałceba Cultural Groups

Dullo   The Dullo are loosely connected communes who live on various islands or near isolated rivers in or around the continents of Terre and Anacora. Although there is no overarching government which manages them all, the Dullo are connected through their traditions--most notably, the exploration period, where the Dullo people will leave their community for years in order to visit other Dullo communities and places in the world. As a result, the Dullo are the most numerous and spread out cultural groups in the Kałceba species. However, their exploration period has also caused the offshoot of other cultural groups within the Kałceba species, particularly after the arrival of humans and subsequent spread of other species in places previously uninhabited.   Read more about the Dullo people.   Ôvâ   The Ôvâ is a monarchal government which lives in caverns on the Northeast Continent. It is the most insular cultural, as their caverns are only reachable through swimming under the sea. Unique among most Kałceba, they form lifelong partnerships with one another. However, their leader also requires adults in relationships to undergo sex changes when children are not produced and may request them to add partners to their marriages.
Llellâ   The Llellâ are a democratic settlement which lives in coastal communities on the southern coast of Anacora; many began as explorers of the Dullo who wanted to form lifelong partnerships with people of other sapient species while still retaining some of their traditions. The result is villages and towns with multiple species and cultures coexisting. Many of families still practice modified versions of the Exploration. Although some Dullo do not recognize them as part of their coalition. Additionally, the Llellâ are less likely to leave their children in different settlements, preferring their bearer children to come home to give birth, so that they can be raised by the family. Their city of Cadude is the largest congregation of Kałceba in the world.   Tsotsâ   The Tsotsâ is an anarchist settlement of Kałecba off the east coast of Anacora originally begun by individuals who were banished by the Dullo. They are a primarily secular group, who have rejected the old storytelling traditions for the belief that pleasure is to be taken in the now. Although they are most known for their mercenary groups, the Tsotsâ are not all criminals. They welcome any person, Kałceba or not, to live among them, so long as they do not try to force their beliefs onto others. And will seek out those misfits who feel as if they do not belong in their home culture. Even so, it's best not to walk into their settlement unless you know how to take care of yourself.
This piece is a work in progress as I better expand on the native species of Phasmatum. Please let me know if this information is clear for you and what you wished you could learn more about.
Kałceba Bearer
Other Common Names  

Seafolk (common among humans)

Cromaforos (for changing abilities)

Squidheads (derogatory)

Webbed Toes (derogatory)

Webbed D-cks (profane)

  Language   The Kałceba have many clicks and trills in their native language, inspired by the communication of other marine mammals. They also employ a secondary sign language for travelling under water, or to send silent messages to comrades, though many humans have learned how to communicate in this way. The spoken language, however, is one of the most difficult for land-faring folks to learn. Even the name of their people is often mispronounced. Spoken as Ka-ch-e-ba by most people, the correct pronunciation would replace the “ch” with a click created by pressing the back of the tongue against both molars and the rest of the tongue on the roof — then sucking in air, creating a “tchick” sound.   The Kałceba also incorporate many whistles into their sentences. Typically, a high whistle tacked onto the beginning or end of a sentence denotes something important, displeasure, or even a threat. Length and decibel are taken into account in these instances. A low whistle, on the other hand typically means a comment is meant to be taken light-heartedly or as a way to soften bad news. Kałceba have true names, in addition to their spoken names, that are conveyed through whistles. Whistle naming is a difficult cipher for most outsiders to understand, but most Kałceba are happy to share their whistle name and what it means. Even if it's usually impossible for most outsiders to replicate.     Community   Despite their affinity and need to be near water most Kałceba build their communities on land. It is common to find Kałceba communities near rivers or on the coast. The islands to the south of the Terre continent are inhabited almost entirely by the Kałceba. There is also a cavern community which is assessable only to the Kałceba as one must swim far undersea in order to enter it. Most Kałceba communities have populations no larger than 500. The majority of the Kałceba value individualism within community. Most communities has a small defense forces to manage legal affairs from within and defense affairs from without; however, the Kałceba’s best defense against outsiders is their relatively isolated positions from most outside settlements.   Fashion   Clothing is not important to the Kułceba. However, they do love to express their individuality in different ways. One such way is through wearing trinkets and jewelry on their limbs and in their hair. Some of these items come from their vitrine and when wearing, Kułceba people hope that admirers will ask them about the piece.   In addition, Kułceba showcase style according to creative designs they create on their skin or hair. One may choose to make their normally blue-gray body look like a sunset and their normally green hair burst forth in oranges. They may even change the textures of their skin to include bumps and valleys across their arms or legs. Those that really want to show-off may even create simple moving stories on their body — there are some popular performers who can create compelling body art shows this way.   Typically when travelling outside their community, Kułcaba carry clothing in their waterproof travelling pack. For most days, many will wear a lightweight tank wrap, which can easily be torn off in a crisis. If it’s an especially sunny or dry day, they will wear long sleeve clothing that they slightly dampen before wearing. Additionally, all carry a collapsable hat that looks somewhat like a wide jellyfish. This hat has a hand-pumped sprinkler system which allows them to not only protect themselves from the sun but rehydrate their hair and body if it gets too hot.  

Cover image: by Taryn Elliott


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31 Mar, 2021 05:27

The physioshaping and color morphs are interesting, with visual graphic story telling! Very interesting and different.