Species: Har Ka

Name: har ka [har kah] (Note: 'har ka' is for plural and singular both, but singular is often shortened to 'ka'.)

Homeworld: Har'ni

Height/Length/Weight: The har ka are, quite frankly, huge. When squatting, the tops of their shells can reach heights of 10-13', and when they're stretched out in the water, they can be up to 25-30' long (from face to toes). They weigh around or over half a ton.

Physical Description: The har ka are enormous, shelled, frog-like amphibians* who live in deep lakes, seas, and oceans. (*They are not amphibious in the sense that they can breathe in air as easily as in water, but in the sense that they can hold their breath for up to an hour, enabling them to stay above the water for as long. They have gills and would suffocate if out of the water for more than an hour or so.) They have wide, short but tapering faces (rather than froggy mouths) with small black eyes and internal ears; they lack nostrils. Their bodies are squat and heavy, partially surrounded by a thick keratinous shell that drapes over the back and upper flanks - a band of more flexible material runs along the curve of the stomach to hold the shell in place (rather than a turtle's shell, which has the entire stomach covered). Har ka skin is very thick, rough, and coarse, and along the stomach and throat it's bumpy and almost serrated, like very large-grain sandpaper. Their hind legs are quite reminiscent of frog legs, being long and muscular with lengthy webbed feet; short but sharp protrusions of keratin on the end of each webbed digit make for primitive claws and effective means of warding off would-be attackers. Their forelegs are short, muscular, and flipper-like - they retain a strong bone structure and more resemble seal flippers than whale flippers, since the 'hands' are vaguely like webbed (and clawed) digits, rather than a seamless flipper. (The har ka were once more amphibious than they are now and those frontal limbs were used as talons, rather than flippers; they were short but powerful and well able to grasp and claw at prey or enemies. In time, their flippers will likely move towards the whale shape.) Har ka do not have tails; their shells are fused to their bodies, no longer removable, and males have a series of ridges and short, triangular spikes running from fore to hind along the arch and rims of the shell. All genitalia is internal.

Senses/Capabilities: Har ka have senses well-adapted to life underwater. They have a whale-like hearing system, eyes that can sift through the fluctuating light-dark of shallow and medium-depth waters quite well, and an extremely keen (almost shark-like) sense of smell. Har ka senses function quite poorly out of water, but they are sufficient to recognize intelligent creatures from the land and to hear (loud) noises in the air, including words and conversation. As for capabilities, har ka are powerful swimmers and can easily reach a cruising speed of 40 mph if going with a current; they are quite enduring and very strong in the leg and jaw. They are not agile nor flexible - they are meant to be powerful rather than deft.

Coloration/Clothing: The har ka don't wear clothing. Their coloration tends to be very dark and somewhat dull, often an indistinct mottling of black, swamp green, dark blue, dark purple, and dark grey. Har ka bloodlines who have lived near shores or the surface for several generations occasionally develop patches of lighter coloration (often blue-grey) along their heads and shells, a mimicry of light as it filters through the water. All har ka have black eyes.
Races/Breeds: The har ka don't have separate ethnicities.

Language: The har ka don't speak so much as they sing. Communication is slow, simple, and musical, often taking a few minutes to phrase one sentence of medium complexity. They have no name for their own singing language, and their fellow Har'nians usually just call it 'ka song'. Ka song has a small vocabulary and uses root words for a concept without modifying them to indicate tense, person, subject, etc etc; its structure is fluid but still simple. Ka song is also partially outside of the normal hearing range of land-dwellers, so listening comprehension of it is out of the question; many har ka can manage to speak rinnua (well, a seriously mangled version of it) in order to communicate with harinni and aralahari.

Technology: The har ka don't use technology.

Magic: Har ka don't use magic, though they're very good at sensing it (both while being used and also in its raw, unaltered state).

Values: Har ka don't think in terms of values and abstracts. They are what they are, they do what they do.

Social Groups/Society: Har ka are generally solitary beasts, at least in lifestyle. Though they aren't asocial and often communicate with those within singing distance, they live and hunt alone, coming together only to breed. The har ka mind is thought to be inscrutable by land-dwellers, so their reason for remaining alone in the deep waters is a mystery.

Reproduction/Aging: Har ka females have a cycle of fertility about once every five years, at which point she seeks out and chooses the best mate available to her; if none of the local males are up to her standards, she goes as far as necessary to find a good one. Being chosen by a female is an honor to a male - males do nothing to earn this honor or prove their worthiness - and refusing her advances is pretty much unheard-of. A successful conception will end the female's cycle and she leaves for shallow waters; a gestation period of six months results in a small clutch of eggs (1-4) being laid. The eggs continue developing for another six months before hatching; the larger the clutch, the smaller the offspring and the greater the likelihood of one of them being sickly or malformed. The mother plays the role of the solitary parent to her offspring for three years; when they hit adolescence, she leaves them. Har ka are fully mature at five years and females begin the fertility cycle between six and seven years. Har ka are extremely long-lived and are fertile until they hit 100 years or so; many live into their 130s and 140s.

Habitat/Settlements: Har ka don't build settlements. They live in freshwater or saltwater lakes or seas; they dislike rivers unless they are very deep and rather slow, and they avoid shallow or small ponds or other water-bodies that may dry up. They avoid arctic waters but tend to be unaffected by seasonal winters if in the ocean (given that the water is much slower to change temperature than the air and rarely gets overwhelmingly cold before it warms again).

Religion/Beliefs: Again, the har ka don't think in terms of abstracts and what-ifs and nebulous concepts. They interact with what is, rather than what might be.

Interaction w/ Other Species: Har ka are quite neutral towards other species, though they're poor at recognizing sentience (and therefore knowing what not to eat) when it comes to new species. They are familiar with harinni and aralahari and will not eat either of them (unless they find dead ones); some har ka are actually friendly towards their fellow Har'nians and will come up to the shores to interact with them. Once they find out a species is sentient, har ka make a point not to try to kill and eat it, but they react very strongly if the new species is threatening to them in any way (including verbally). Any species that sails the waters of Har'ni must be introduced to the local har ka first.

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