Species: Ksatsi

Name: ksatsi [kss-AT-see]

Homeworld: Yucca

Height/Length/Weight: No real sexual dimorphism in size/build. Ksatsi are 3-3.5' high at the shoulder, around 4.5-5' long (plus another 5-6' of tail), and weigh around 150-200 lbs.

Physical Description: Ksatsi are leanly muscled, streamlined quadrupeds with a sculpted body-build reminiscent of sight hounds. They have elongated, toothy snouts; the upper jaw is tipped in a short, sharp, curving beak with ridged/serrated edges, and the lower jaw has a brace of fused incisor teeth that actually flexes to be vertical when their jaws are shut, then extends to point outwards and upwards at an angle when their jaws are open. Their eyes are large, almond-shaped, and huge-pupil'd; they have a secondary 'middle' eyelid that is opaque but for a spiral of translucent skin, allowing a limited amount of light to the pupil during the daytime to avoid retinal damage. (They also have a regular eyelid that closes over that.) They don't have visible ears and merely slits for nostrils (instead of, say, a canine or feline nose). Ksatsi have long, arched necks, a deep chest, narrow waist, and long, slimly muscular legs; their tails are long, flexible, and deft, easily longer than their bodies. They have three-toed talon-like paws, each digit tipped in a curving, unretractable claw; their hindpaws have a heel-spur (very short, but sharp) and their forepaws have an elongated and centered dewtoe that can act as a limited thumb. (The middle toes of their forepaws is considerably longer and thicker than the other two foretoes, but their hindtoes are all of a similar length and strength.) The most distinguishing physical characteristic of the ksatsi is their hide - thick-skinned and leathery, they are covered in niched spikes on their skulls, necks, backs, flanks, outer/upper limbs (haunches and shoulders, primarily), and tails. These spikes are generally narrowly triangular or blade-shaped, flat instead of cylindrical (like an arrowhead, not the arrow shaft), and nestled closely enough into 'niches' in the hide that a bare hand stroking along the hide (with the grain of the spikes, which point upwards and backwards from the head) would not be bloodied. Ksatsi can 'unfurl' or 'loosen' their spikes, essentially ruffling them to point more prominently outwards/upwards, and making them a very dangerous animal to have nearby. There are also permanently 'unfurled' spikes ringing their shins on all four legs, the backs of their skulls (not quite flared upwards like a crest, but following the horizontal line of snout-and-skull), and branching out towards their tailtips (in a triangular pattern, so that their tailtip appears flat with spikes out to either side, horizontally). Ksatsi primarily move quadrupedally, but they can stand bipedally; their tail aids them in balancing their weight on only two limbs. Despite appearances, ksatsi do not lay eggs; their young are born live and suckle from their mother (who has teats on her lower stomach). (Male ksatsi have internal testes, external penile sheath; mating is done face-to-face to avoid horrible dismemberment due to spikes.)

Senses/Capabilities: Ksatsi are nocturnal plainsland predators; they have fantastic, long-range, motion-based night vision. (They also have a specialized second eyelid to help dilute sunlight, but their daytime vision is fairly poor, still motion-based, low-color, and shorter-ranged.) They have a fairly average (for predators) sense of smell and a decent sense of hearing; they can hear higher-pitched sounds than many species. Their sense of touch is dulled but not nonexistent. They are exceptionally fast animals, able to reach ~60-65 mph in a sprint, which they can maintain for a few minutes; they are not terribly enduring as a result, possessing a fast metabolism and needing to sleep, eat, and drink often. Though they are not overtly strong, they have a wiry resilience and agility that helps them avoid twisting or crushing injuries.

Coloration/Clothing: Ksatsi don't wear clothing, though they will 'dress up' by wedging objects (feathers, twigs, leaves, strips of hide or fur, etc) beneath their spikes on special occasions. They do have three main colorations: a dark reddish brown, a mild silvery grey, and a flat black. Their eyes are relatively colorless (grey, occasionally with tinges of blue or green or purple), and their eyelids are the same color as their hides. Though they are one solid color for the most part, some slight shading or mottling can occur. A rare condition is having white-silver 'highlights' along the edges of their spikes and in the niches in their flesh where the spikes press when furled - this is most commonly found in blacks.

Races/Breeds: Ksatsi have breeds, but not particularly distinct ethnicities or cultures based solely on breed. Ksatsi breeds are off-handedly referred to by color - reds, greys, blacks. Reds are the most common and seem to be the 'average'; greys are slightly taller and thinner, and blacks are the largest and heaviest. (Some blacks can actually reach 4' at the shoulder.) Particular cultures are more regional and don't directly correspond to any physical appearance or traits.

Language: Ksatsi speak tsan, a high-pitched shrieking language. Tsan is a harsh, almost cawing tongue that grates on the ears and nerves of most non-Yuccans; however, it is a complex, highly-developed language that makes heavy use of body language and tonal inflections to convey precise, rich meaning. It is not a quiet language and whispering is impossible, so most ksatsi 'speak' a local dialect of sign/body language for very basic and/or private conversations. Tsan is difficult for most hominids to speak, though most anyone can gain a listening comprehension of it with sufficient study.

Technology: Ksatsi don't make use of technology on their own, but they can learn to use the technology of other races, if so inclined.

Magic: Ksatsi are unusually skilled with sensing and moving in accordance to flows of raw (arcane) magic, and many of them train to become ksatsan mages, occasionally with an elemental twist. (Fire is a favorite among those who dabble in the elements.) Since ksatsan healers are alchemy- and herb-based, rather than magical in nature, ksatsan mages are considered crucial to a group's survival and success; there are always a handful in any pack. Most active ksatsan magic is ritual-based and involves managing the land's natural flow of arcane magic or manipulating the currents to help the pack prosper. (There are also less influential, more showy rituals for packmates and rites of passage, etc.)

Values: Ksatsi primarily value two things: speed (in running, reflex, and thought) and sensitivity to arcane currents. The ideal ksatsi is witty, fleet, alert, and attuned to its surroundings. They also value patience and willingness to teach even slow learners; as fast creatures, ksatsi are not terribly charitable to those who cannot keep up, but they respect those who can be. The ability to stop moving and just exist is regarded as an almost mythical skill, nigh-impossible to learn - not many seek it, but ksatsi admire those who achieve it.

Social Groups/Society: Ksatsi live in loose packs that often consist of several hunting groups of extended families. Packs change, split, and/or evolve with time; the familial groups with the packs typically stick together very tightly and are capable of being self-sufficient if need be - there's often at least one healer and one or three mages. Family groups are usually 5-12 individuals, and packs can have up to five family groups, bringing together up to 60 individuals. The size of the pack depends on terrain, running room, and abundance of food sources. Family groups are headed by the original parents, who work with other parental units of the pack to ensure everyone has enough room, food, water, and rest. Any family group who favors their own is usually outcast if they will not be fairer-minded.

Habitat/Settlements: Ksatsi never have actual settlements; they live off the land, on the land. Most ksatsi are found in plainslands, deserts, and savannahs - anywhere with lots of room to run and a sizable population of prey. However, most ksatsi are skilled climbers, and many packs reside in sparse forests with large trees, or even along cliffs and canyons.

Religion/Beliefs: Despite their close-to-the-land lifestyle, ksatsi are not particularly animistic or paganistic in their beliefs. They have no deities, revere their own bloodlines and ancestors, tell stories of old heroes in the hunt and those who first discovered how to manipulate magic… They construct showy, rowdy rituals around important life events, like births and mates and deaths, but don't particularly celebrate changes in the world and seasons. They don't kill or use much more than they need, but that's more for ecosystem conversation than any respect or duty towards other living things.

Interaction w/ Other Species: Ksatsi have no standardized response to non-Yuccans. Many greet strangers with curiosity, with territoriality, with friendliness, or with caution - it largely depends on the situation, the numbers (how many ksatsi, how many others), and the species involved. Ksatsi are quicker to relax and befriend those that do not seem like an overwhelming threat to their lives, but they also get bored quickly with people who are too weak or too slow. Some few ksatsi wander between the suns, but most stay on-world and live amongst their own.

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