Species: Gracken

Name: gracken(s) [GRAK-ken(z)]

Homeworld: Kel'k

Height/Length/Weight: Ranging from 4-5' high (measured at the top of the head in a normal stance) and around 2.5-3' at the withers, grackens are about 8-10' long from nose to rump when stretched out; their tails are roughly as long as their bodies, effectively doubling their length. Grackens weigh between 200-300 lbs.

Physical Description: Grackens are gaunt, nominally quadrupedal proto-avians with a strangely arthropodesque leg structure. They have a very thin pelt that's more like primitive feathers than hairs, vanes thinly lined with tufting fibers. They have long, tapering, narrow beaks and four black eyes; two eyes are set in front on the face, providing binocular vision, while the other two eyes are set into the sides of the head. They have thin-skinned, hairless ears, long and raggedly leaf-shaped, set behind each side-eye. Their necks and torsos are smooth and almost serpentine in shape and flexibility, narrowing into a slender, prehensile tail that tapers to a hairless tip. Grackens have two 'arms' and four 'legs'; they generally move about on the four rearmost limbs, but they can drop to all sixes while climbing or moving on especially unsteady terrain. Their long, lean arms are biramous: their upper arms split at the elbow into two forearms, each with a pseudo-hand of its own. Gracken hands are three-fingered, bony and clawed, and lack an opposable digit; their palms and fingertips are not padded, surprisingly soft-skinned and sensitive. Their legs are slender and wiry in musculature, jointed like a spider's - the upper leg rises skyward and slightly outwards from the shoulder/hip, then descends to an 'ankle' joint of a level with the belly, which extends into a third leg segment; the gracken's feet are merely four digits extending radially from a small, tough-skinned sole. Gracken toes are largely inflexible, finding traction through the hooking claws tipping each digit and the stiff, serrated hairs lining each toe. Grackens are not sexually dimorphic - their genders cannot be distinguished by sight alone.

Senses/Capabilities: Grackens have an unusual but highly effective sense of sight, though generally poor night vision. Their main two eyes, set in the front of the face, provide long-range, detail-oriented vision with excellent depth perception; the two eyes set to the side are motion-based, providing excellent peripheral vision, but poor static detail and a lack of depth perception. They have fairly keen senses of smell, short in range but distinguishing, primarily to gauge the edibility of whatever they've found or killed. Their hearing is average, geared towards high-pitched noises. Their hands, especially the fingertips beneath the claws and the palms, are very sensitive, while the rest of their hide is relatively thick and insensitive. They have practically no sense of taste. As for capabilities, grackens are extremely flexible, agile, accurate, and precise in their movements, especially their attacks. They are quick runners, reaching speeds of up to 35 mph, but far from enduring; they possess a wiry strength but are not physically powerful.

Coloration/Clothing: Grackens do not traditionally wear clothing, but those few who got off Kel'k have eagerly adopted the habit, being uninsulated creatures used to a rather warm world; some grackens on Kel'k who have extensive dealings with non-grackens on-world have also started wearing clothes. They seem to have a preference for cloth fabric, rather than leathers and furs, and have little concept of color, fashion, fit, or shape. They also like shiny things and will happily wear an abundance of jewelry, often poor in make or gaudy in design. Grackens are pale and uninteresting in coloration, usually a shade of beige or copper with faint mottling; their skin is dark brown and lends a depth to their thin pelts. A variety of markings are common in grackens, including but not limited to spots, stripes, rosettes, speckles, patches, and flecking. Grackens have dark claws and beaks and startlingly red tongues.

Races/Breeds: Grackens have no identifiable ethnicities.

Language: Grackens speak clk'k, a chattering and clicking language extremely simple in structure and vocabulary. Body language and facial expression are used to convey exact meanings of the spoken words. So far, grackens have proven adept at learning other languages, including vocan, buthan, and Lo'ken.

Technology: Grackens have very primitive technology; they have not explored metalworking yet and seem content to make things from clay, wood, plant fibers, and stone. They are fond of weaving hemp-like material into nets and jewelry, while clay and wood are used to make basic tools (bowls, spoons), and stone is reserved for baubles and some few primitive weapons. Crafting is more of a hobby than a necessity to them, something interesting but not required to survive, as they are quite capable of thriving on Kel'k with nothing more than their own naked bodies. Despite this, grackens have shown a marked interest in the technology - especially metal tools - of non-grackens, including intersun ships. Many have tried to learn how to make such objects, even whittling miniature ships.

Magic: While not particilarly inclined towards magic, grackens have the capacity to learn to use any kind of it, probably excluding the Light (though none have tried). Many enjoy the chaos of dark magic, while others find a certain usefulness in nature and elemental magic. On average, only one in five grackens will be interested enough to learn to use magic at any level, and few are committed enough to reach any semblence of mastery.

Values: Grackens value survivability. A gracken will go to any length to survive, and will be entirely unpredictable when its survival is assured.

Social Groups/Society: Grackens are social creatures and rarely live alone. Though they have no social hierarchy and seem to embody anarchy, they can act in coordinated groups of three to fifteen easily; some groups of up to fifty have been seen, but those are a temporary combination of multiple smaller groups. Grackens rarely stay in family groups; one mate will leave a group to join another after a while, and adult offspring are almost immediately expelled to find a different group or form a new one. It is theorized that grackens work together solely for purpose of survival; they exhibit no interpersonal loyalty beyond the obligation to keep their current mates and non-adult offspring alive, and even that is limited.

Reproduction/Aging: After a short gestation of three months, anywhere from one to eight eggs are laid in a clutch; they're hatched after a couple weeks and walking well within a month. Mute and seemingly nonsentient until a year of age, grackens enter adolescence around two years and are sexually mature at three; they are completely mature at four years. Grackens have a shockingly short lifespan, some showing signs of aging as early as fifteen years; average lifespan is between 20-25 years, though some have lived into their early 30s in a peaceful, protected environment. Grackens reproduce frequently and with no regard for biological relation or even gender; same-sex pairings are as common as different-sex couplings. Grackens do not take long-term mates, although healthy offspring will often incline two gracken to mate again for a few more litters before separating, usually for life. Similarly, unhealthy children (often from a biologically-related pairing) will incline the parents to separate immediately, often abandoning or eating their offspring. Children are cared for by both parents until adolescence, at which point they are left to be raised by the group, and they are forced to leave said group once they're sexually mature. Some gracken parents, usually younger ones, will abandon their offspring to the group once weaned. Because of the nomadic and every-man-for-himself nature of grackens and these groups, only one in four children reaches full adulthood.

Habitat/Settlements: Grackens have no concept of territory, ownership, or personal space. They rarely stay in an area unless it is teeming with resources, which are usually depleted fairly quickly with consistent gracken occupation - at which point, they move on. They will construct tipi-like structures out of live plants and brambles if the weather warrants such shelter, but they don't make homes of any sort; they have not turned their skills with wood and stone to constructing any kind of architecture. As for habitat, grackens can survive nearly anywhere on Kel'k, which is a dry and hot planet with few large bodies of water and few dense forests or jungles. It has no harsh winters, but sandstorms and tornadoes are fairly common, as are earthquakes and grassfires. Grackens are efficient at cooling themselves but not well-insulated, so they do poorly in cold or cool-and-wet climes.

Religion/Beliefs: Grackens do not deal with gods, spirits, ancestors, elements, or any other aspects of religion or spirituality. They have no consideration for an afterlife, souls, or karma. However, they have been introduced to the reality of the Light; they acknowledge it as magic but not as any higher power.

Interaction w/ Other Species: Grackens are intensely curious about outsiders, despite the fact that Kel'k has been marked off-limits for intersun trade and civilization, its people deemed too volatile and impressionable for sustained contact. Though grackens tend view other people as a food source at first, they are eager to communicate and examine other races and their possessions once intelligence is displayed (or greater prowess is established). Grackens are unpredictable at best, capable of killing a person who has interacted amiably with them for some time, but also occasionally sparing the life of someone who would otherwise be food. Those without a considerable physical, magical, or technological advantage rarely deal with grackens.

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