Xikhani

Anything less than a fair quantity of Lodium or that wretched Manacite per head is an insult to an Overseer Prime such as myself. My slaves are of fine stock and in good working order. Your genetechs may even be able to make some use out of their code too. Now, let us put aside this silly pretense of barter and get to real business. Make me a fair offer this time.
— Trekessh Nyk Sidish, Overseer Prime of the Cortolex Consortium.
 
The Xikhani are an extraterrestrial arachnid-like species obsessed with wealth, status, and physic perfection through gene editing. They operate in large nomadic merchant-states and travel the universe via the gate network of the Architects. They are a universally reviled species divided up into corporate empires with specialties like slaving, medical science, psi-tech advancements, food production, cloning and "boutique" genetic enhancements and creations.


 

Origin


The Xikhani keep rather accurate records of their history and these documents speak of a distant homeworld in an empty corner of the galaxy. No god or divine event led to their existence. Instead, natural selection and evolution crafted these creatures into the eventual masters of their world.
 
Over the millennia they ventured further and further from their dark home in the depths of their world to prey upon the other life that existed on the surface. Simple sciences like domestication and hunting would ages later give way to advancements in medicine, Psi-tech, enslavement and genetic editing.
 
Many tens of thousands of years after they skulked from the shadows as simple primitive hunters they had risen to be the undisputed masters of their world. They farmed non-Xikhani life to the point of extinction, polluted their warm oceans with the toxic runoff from their factories and turned the tropical climates of their world into boiling deserts. Had it not been for their obsession with genetic modification and cloning they'd of driven themselves into oblivion as well.



 

Corporate Empires and the Great Exodus


Xikhani culture evolved to heavily favor commerce, trade, wealth and status as the primary drivers of motivation. This prioritization of physical wealth and social standing placed increasing levels of importance on the merchants of Xikhani early history and resulted in modern Xikhani all beholden to the massive corporations that dominate every aspect of their lives. This relationship is very similar to clan or tribal ruling structures but hereditary and family have nothing to do with their status. In fact, modern Xikhani have almost no concept of bloodlines, family or heritage. These concepts are antiquated to them; something a species is proud of only because it can't change these factors. Xikhani medicine and gene editing science are such that there is little genetic information inside them to relate them to another member of their species.
 
The Corporate Empires plunged the Xikhani Homeworld into ecological disaster as they harvested every resource in pursuit of profit. The Xikhani never blamed the Corporations for this. To them, blaming the Corporations would be like blaming a coin purse for being empty. Instead, they started to look into leaving their world behind entirely. While travel across the void of space was possible it was also difficult, fraught with danger and time-consuming. Instead, they turned to the The Gates. Several such structures existed on their world; though no Xikhani had ever seen one use. They were believed to be put there by the Architects long before the Xikhani species ever came to be.
 
The Research and Development wings of the Corporate Empires quickly found that the Gates could be manipulated and activated using Psi-tech. Developing the exact means to accurately connect to other gates destroyed the minds of thousands of entry-level Corporate employees but through trial and error, the Xikhani managed to master the formula the Architects used to traverse the gate network. So began the exodus from the Homeworld.
 
Corporations departed by the thousands. Some stayed behind trying to squeeze every last drop of resources out of the Homeworld while others rushed to stake their claim on the countless worlds that existed through the gates. Many of the Corporations vanished entirely or were destroyed during this time. Unstable gate connections would have dumped scores of Xikhani into the empty void between worlds. Some of the connecting gates were in such states of disrepair that their sudden activation caused them to detonate, killing the Xikhani travelers in the process. Countless temporal, magical and spacial anomalies took their toll as well, claiming victims without leaving so much as a trace behind. Yet, more than enough of their species successfully traversed the gates to begin their Corporate Empires anew on fresh, unsuspected worlds or pieces of the planes themselves.



 

New Commodities


The Xikhani were delighted by the diverse and seemingly inexhaustible quantity of life forms they came across in their journey through the planes and across worlds. Their homeworld was populated by simple, jungle and subterranean life forms that offered little utility outside of food and medician uses. During their early explorations they discovered species like Dwarves, Elves, Orcs and Humans. These new species promised so much in terms of harvestable genetic material for their medical industry but also for labor. These early days exploration seen hundreds of Corporate Empires switch their business model toward one slaving. The Xikhani craved legions of slaves to build their cities, work their factories and trade with the other more difficult species they encountered that couldn't be enslaved outright.
 
The Medicinal and Gene Editing industries experienced a new age of prosperity as whole populations were harvested to facilitate innovations in gene manipulation, life extension, cloning and bio-weaponry. The Psi-tech Corporations saw profits skyrocket as they developed devices for dominating the new species that were being discovered. This new golden age of the Xikhani people was not without its consequences though.



 

Do Not Dare to Tread


In their travels many mistakes were made. And truths were discovered that even the venerable Xikhani were not meant to know. Gates on dark worlds cast out of their solar system and spinning alone through the void, ancient worlds formed during the earliest eons of creation, hidden pockets of planar realms so isolated that no living thing has set foot there... these are the sort of places that were mistakes to visit.
 
Encounters with ageless horrors such as the Spawn of the Scorned One, fragments of Oblivion, alien gods and species so advanced they may as well be divinities. All of these threats are nearly impossible overcome and are best avoided but one in particular evokes true fear even the leadership of the largest Corporate Empires. The Architects.
 
The Architects are believed to be the species that built the network of planar and planetary gates. Only rumors, legends and ruins remain of what was once a vast interstellar and multi-planar empire. It's said they were a vastly powerful psychic people with a monstrous, cephalopod-like appearance. They traveled from world to world devouring the minds of the sentient species they found and using their psi-tech to extinguish the stars above the victim world. They were masters of flesh crafting, the mind and the physics of the cosmos but despite their unimaginable power this empire was toppled. The exact cause of their demise is unknown but the Xikhani do not believe they're actually gone. They think the Architects are still out there, sleeping in forgotten corners of reality, waiting for a time to awaken and reclaim what's theirs. All of the Corporate Empires agree that anything having to do with the Architects is forbidden. Should they be disturbed and awaken the Xikhani believe they would face extinction along side all the other inferior species.



 

Opportunities and Acquisitions


 
War and conquest are not truly part of the Xikhani culture. Such notions were long ago expunged from their nature. As a species they are naturally cooperative with each other and enjoy organized, structured versions of society. As their species advanced and Corporate Empires became the dominate sources of order and commerce war became unthinkable. Instead, competition in the market place became the new war. That is not to say duplicitious methods such as sabotaging cloning cylinders, poisoning rival batches of slaves, falsifying intelligence and bribing officials doesn't take place. Not only does it happen but such tactics are considered to be shrewd and well played so long as they do not result in the loss of Xikhani lives or meddling in the resting places of ancient threats.
 
Acquisitions are the closest thing to true conquest within their society. Competition between Corporate Empires can be fierce and often lengthy. As two competing powers struggle for dominance often one will exhaust its resources so fully that for it to survive it will accept being merged into the victor's Corporation. Cunning and wealthy Corporate Empires will also poach the staff of their rival with offers of wealth, genetic edits and superior titles. If enough of a rival's high ranking employees can be bought they will often force a merger with the victor. These events are celebrated the same way a victorious nation might celebrate an epic final battle with their foe.
 
While acquisitions are one of the most celebrated events that can unfold in Xikhani culture a close second is the discovery of one of the missing Corporate Empires (or, truthfully, the locating of the dead empire's assets. No one particularly thrilled to find a lost Corporate Empire alive and well.) Expeditions of all kind are dispatched in search of these entities and often the news of a successful find is kept quietly concealed until anything of worth can be secured.

Basic Information

Anatomy & Morphology

Eight-limbed arachnid-like species with strong exoskeletal structures, complex bundles of striated muscles, clusters of ocular and olfactory organs and a tongue like structure similar to pharyngeal jaws

Genetics and Reproduction

Xikhani have long ago given up on sexual reproduction. Their history of medical and genetic enhancement has led to a point where all births are purposefully done in gestation cylinders using the best possible genetic material on hand. This generally results in the cloning of existing Xikhani modified with any new enhancements that may be on the market.

Growth Rate & Stages

Varies from individual to individual but on average a Xikhani will reach maturity within a year of being released from a gestation canister. Freshly cast Xikhani are often only a few inches in size, comparable to many large spiders. They will go through many periods of ravenous consumption and hibernation as they quickly grow to maturity.

Ecology and Habitats

The Xikhani homeworld was said to be a hot, moist world with a very dense atmosphere. The Xikhani race is believed to have began deep below the surface of the world. As a species they are uniquely suited for dark, rocky environments. They were not suited for the dramatic shifts in the nature of their world due their civilization's pollution and reckless harvesting of life.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Modern Xikhani have all the food they need in the form of slave meat and slave-tended cattle farms. They enjoy a large variety of meat and do not enjoy having to eat the same species for a prolonged period of time. They prefer fresh meats and especially enjoy the taste of blood (which is generally siphoned into a secondary stomach using their pharyngeal jaw/tongue. This stomach is responsible for extracting water out of the body fluids they consume so Xikhani rarely drink fresh water. When forced to out of necessity they are extremely irritable about it and often develop stomach cramps, nausea and ulcers from having to survive off of pure water.

Biological Cycle

Age and time affect each Xikhani differently due to the unique breeding and cloning methods they use to propagate the species. The original Xikhani cycle include periods of hibernation between molting their exoskeleton. This trait still remains but their bodies use hibernation cycles to process and implement any genetic editing they may undertake. These periods can last several days, weeks or even months depending the edits made. During this time they will enter a deep sleep and their exoskeletons will excrete a hard organic resin that coats their body and clumps around it forming a blob-like cocoon. Once their edits are complete they will wake and use their jaws to cut their way out of the protective shell. The cocoon and any sloughed off pieces of their old form are left behind like a locust husk.

Additional Information

Social Structure

An outside observer may view the Xikhani as tribal. Operating in dedicated groups or clans and working together to further these insular social networks. This is a completely inaccurate view but one that cannot truly be dispelled unless the observer can truly communicate with the Xikhani to understand what is actually taking place. The Xikhani operate a vast corporatocracy across the many worlds they visit. The Xikhani are merchants first and foremost and the accumulation of wealth, estates, slaves, status within the mercantile structure they belong to and enhancements to their genome are their top priorities and the primary means by which they assess the worth of fellow members of the species.

Uses, Products & Exploitation

No part of the Xikhani body is palatable to any known species. Those that have tried describe their blackish flesh to have the texture of crustacean meat but a flavor similar to wet, molded bread. Their organs are quick to foul and those forced to eat them describe a consistency and taste like that of spoiled egg yolk.

Facial characteristics

Xikhani faces are rather similar to each other. They are generally a green/black color and with a smooth, glassy feel. They have eight shimmery blue/white eyes arranged above a wide toothy mouth. The only real variety in their facial features is with their pharyngeal tongue/mouth. These organs come in a wide variety of appearances and this is often how non-Xikhani can identify specific members of the species.

Average Intelligence

Xikhani are an advanced species with expertise in genetic editing, medicine, Gate use and psionic sciences.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Xikhani have excellent visual acuity and can also see in low or no light settings as well. They possess darksight capabilities similar to other races but at a range of up to sixty feet. They also possess highly developed psychic sensory organs along the flanks of their necks and into their ocular organs. This allows them to sense out sentient thoughts similar to how a predator might use olfactory senses to sniff out prey. This network of synapses and organs also feed into the Xikhani's wide-spread use of psychic technology.

Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms

Because of their obsession with genetic editing most Xikhani have developed significant immunity to most parasites. Certain psychic afflictions can certainly impact them though; including psychic parasites.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

Xikhani names, like their language, are short guttural noises that often start and end with a hissing noise.

Major Organizations

Xikhani society is organized around their merchant corporations. Each one operates like a state of its own and individual loyalty is tied to the corporation and sub-organizations within it.

Major Language Groups and Dialects

Xikan is the primary language spoken by the Xikhani. All dialects and regional versions of this language have been eliminated over the course of their history for the sake of proper communication between the merchant corporations.

Common Etiquette Rules

Titles. The Xikhani adore their titles and covet the titles of those who are higher in rank than them. They also enjoy lording their rank over those of lower position. The most basic etiquette in Xikhani culture revolves around properly addressing individuals by their title. To ignore or incorrectly state a title is a great insult

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

Most customs and traditions celebrated by Xikhani are unique to the Merchant Corporation they belong to. Celebrations are typically help in honor pivotal business decisions, acquisitions and such.

Common Myths and Legends

Many of the myths and legends shared by the Xikhani are about long lost Merchant Corporations from the past. They tell outlandish tales of corporations, their endeavors, downfalls, victories and how they disappeared. Many Corporations travel to new worlds and planes via the gates and often vanish without a trace. Many modern Corporations are often obsessed with finding the remaining assets of these lost predecessors

There are other legends they tell. Ones that do not invoke a sense of awe and excitement. They also tell stories of the old races, the Dwellers in Darkness, The Scorned One, Ximezci and other horrible entities. Yet, no tale shakes them to the core like those that speak of the Gate Builders. Also known as The Architects, these powerful psionic masters are said to have created a galaxy spanning empire long before even many of the gods were born. Places where the fragments of the Architects' empire once stood are treated with fear, trepidation and dread. The Xikhanis' deepest fear is that the Architects are not dead but instead are waiting, watching and sleeping. They dare not disturb these ancient places because they do not want to let the Architects know their worlds are now infested with new life to enslave or eradicate.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

To the Xikhani almost all other species are fit only for enslavement or consumption. Their are a few species they choose to give wide berth and praise to but only so long as it suits them. Once they have the means to topple a foe they will not hesitate to break any oaths or promises they made previously.
 
They have a particular disdain for any undead mostly because their psychic technology is useless against them, their flesh is inedible and they offer no genetic data they use for editing.

Origin/Ancestry
Extraterrestrial
Average Height
3-4 feet tall (if neck is fully extended vertcally)
Average Weight
90-130 LBS.
Average Length
6-8 feet if neck is fully extended horizontally.
Average Physique
The average Xikhani will have physical limitations similar humans or elves. They are, on a whole, a rather fragile species. Few choose to edit the strength of the exoskeletons to be stronger than leather armor.
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
There is little variety in the actual markings/coloration of the species. They almost all tend to have glossy, green/black exoskeletons and mauve colored psychic sensory organs running along their flanks in a think line.


Cover image: Xikhani Slavers by Steven Bellshaw

Comments

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13 Jul, 2018 03:17

Note to self. Avoid these at night... At all times.   Very well written, very descriptive. Will we get a Stat block for them in the future?

13 Jul, 2018 17:24

I might be able to do that for sure. I still need to tackle the narrative intro part

14 Jul, 2018 07:49

I like 'em! Not a nice bunch of people, that's for sure. :) Since you asked for nitpicking, here are some nitpicks, good anvilite.   Probably don’t need that comma after status in the first sentence.   “though no Xikhani had ever seen one use.”   in use or be used, probably. :)   “In fact, modern Xikhani have almost no”   Could probably nuke ‘the in fact’, this might be a personal preference.   The different sections are well used and well-written, but you could do with some images, quotes or something to break up the long stretches of just text.   Very well done though! I enjoyed the read!

16 Jul, 2018 14:23

Thanks so much for all the notes! I'm going to go through them tonight and get those fixes done. Glad you enjoyed the write up!

16 Jul, 2018 14:26

Anytime :)

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