Species: Ssarin

Name: ssarin(ni) [SAR-inn / sah-RIN-nee]

Homeworld: Yeh-lo

Height/Length/Weight: Ssarinni are tall, lean people with no real gender-based distinction in size. They range from 7.5-8.5' tall and weigh between 250-300 lbs.

Physical Description: Ssarinni are two-armed, four-legged, warm-blooded reptiles with smooth, soft-leather hide. They are extremely lean and wiry in build, sleek but lanky, with long limbs and necks and bodies and faces. They have long, flat, serpentine faces with rows of sharp teeth lining their angled jaws all the way back to their earlobes; their ears are long, sweeping, thin and pointed. Their eyes are large and nearly round with translucent lids and slitted pupils; they have mere slits for nostrils. Their necks and torsos are long and lean; their shoulders are slender, arms slim, and hands wide with three fingers and a thumb tipped in soft pads of flesh (no claws). Their wrists have sharp, fleshless, arcing blade-like extensions protruding from the bone, which can be struck together to make a spark. Their stomach meets with a strangely constructed pelvic system that holds four hips instead of two - their legs branch out in four directions, their forward pair facing forward and their other two facing backwards, all at slight outwards angles so that they aren't quite parallel to their bodies. Their four feet are lizard-like, a squat 'sole' with four long digits, each clawed (hooklike, unretractable) - the innermost toe on each foot is semi-opposable, giving them great traction on rocky surfaces or in trees. Ssarinni have no tails, but do not need them, given their six limbs and light weight. Genitalia is entirely internal, tucked away within a 'pouch' in the very center between their four legs; they reproduce via eggs, which are laid immature but develop to a hatching status very, very quickly.

Senses/Capabilities: Ssarinni have excellent night-vision, decent daytime vision, and superb hearing. They have senses of smell even poorer than that of humans and a distinguishing sense of touch and taste. Their most notable feat is their ability to move silently, undetectable by all but the keenest of ear, even to a point of being close enough to touch; because of this, they often hunt by scaling trees and closing in on their prey in a slow-motion ambush. They are not swift runners on flat ground (only ~18-22 mph), but they can vault from tree to tree with considerable speed, often keeping up with or surpassing swift quadrupeds on the ground below. They are not overly enduring creatures, but they can keep up a good running speed for an hour before calling off the pursuit. Ssarinni are also not excessively strong creatures - their strength is wiry, and they use the leverage of their long limbs to their advantage - they're also extremely agile and are more prone to dodging blows than parrying or blocking them.

Coloration/Clothing: Ssarinni are largely swamp-colored - some combination of dull green, black-green, grey-brown, mud-brown, flat medium-dark grey, and/or medium-light yellowish green. They are typically more than one color, occasionally all of them, in some form of intricate and body-wide marking: mottling, dappling, blur-edged patches, obscure striping or spotting, etc. Most ssarinni have extremely detailed and intricate markings on their faces; each ssarin's pattern is unique, often used to recognize people, since names are of little value to them. As for clothing, ssarinni don't wear it for any practical purposes, but they do love adorning themselves with colorful fabric for the hell of it. Many of the old ssarinni who can no longer hunt, as well as the ssarinni with some kind of high rank in the tribe, have elaborate and utterly impractical outfits, usually consisting of patterned cloth draped haphazardly around limbs and torso; a kilt-like affair around their four hips is about as simple as it gets. All ssarinni also have unique, individually-made masks, carved of dried wood or bone, that fits perfectly to their faces. Each mask is highly detailed, often very ornate, and are carved upon reaching adulthood by the individual itself, but the design is made by the seer of the tribe to reflect the carver's innermost nature. Masks are always worn around outsiders (so that they will not be able to memorize the ssarin's face-pattern; outsiders don't understand the rich symbolism of the masks) and strangers (to properly introduce oneself without having to waste time explaining who one is; the mask does a good job of summing up a ssarin's most basic core characteristics).

Races/Breeds: Ssarinni do vary somewhat in culture, traditions, physical attributes, and clothing across different regions, but no variation is consistent and widespread enough to denote an actual ethnic difference. They're just a diverse species.

Language: Ssarinni have a fragmented, rudimentary spoken language that changes with time and location across Yeh-lo. Their language, such as it is, consists of sounds for concrete nouns and some basic abstract concepts, like 'magic' and 'danger', etc. Ssarinni do not communicate using this language - it merely augments their primary method of communication, which is a robust and dynamic form of sign language. Like dancers, ssarinni make exaggerated movements, typically employing all limbs - as well as facial expressions (or head movements, if wearing a mask) and different stances - to communicate very generalized statements or concepts. Each ssarin has its own way of communicating, its own personal style, and so understanding ssarinni sign-language is largely a task of inference, assumption, and comprehension based on past conversations with an individual ssarin. Ssarinni are incomprehensible to nearly all outsiders, including humans; k'anta have grasped enough bits and pieces to understand that they should just leave the ssarinni alone before they do make a mistake, like humans once did, and anger the warrior-like tribes.

Technology: Ssarinni don't use metal; their weaponry is all wood, stone, and bone. They are extremely skilled woodworkers, as evidenced by their ornate masks, and also have a knack at carving stone, bone, hooves, and antlers/horns into useable tools.

Magic: As is expected for a species of Yeh-lo, all ssarinni have a strong fire affinity. Not all of them learn to manipulate it as a form of magic, but all ssarinni are tightly attuned to the 'feel' of fire essence and can always orient themselves by torches left burning, seemingly at random, through the woods. An average ssarin can sense a single torch from a few miles away; a skilled ssarin seer (fire-mage) can sense a single candle from a few miles away, and a torch from as far as ten miles. Ssarinni are taught early to hone their fire affinities, and also taught how to use their wrist-blades as flint to strike a spark and light their own fires (provided tinder and kindling is present, of course). Ssarinni who show an exceptional sensitivity to the presence of fire are taken by the tribe's seers as apprentices; seers can not only sense fire but also manipulate it, as a showy display of light and sparks and smoke, or as a hell-hot weapon. (If the ssarinni had any interest whatsoever in metalworking, the seers would be the smiths.) Seers also perform fire-based divination, most importantly in the coming-of-age rite for each ssarin, in which they reveal the design for the new adult's mask.

Values: Ssarinni value the physical attributes of stealth, agility, prowess in the hunt, and skill with a chosen weapon, as well as the mental attributes of fearlessness, hunt/battle strategy, humor, and flair (/style/character/personality). They are far from a serious, stoic people and love to be expressive, charismatic, and dynamic. Pranks are common, especially when such can test a ssarin's ability to move undetected around another ssarin. Story-telling is equally common, and most tales are greatly exaggerated in order to entertain. However, when push comes to shove, ssarinni are some of the most formidable and deadly warriors in the universe - when hidden by nightfall in the trees, armed with their preferred weapons, and waiting for a kill.

Social Groups/Society: Ssarinni live in smallish tribes of no more than 200 people, covering no more than 200 acres. Each tribe has its own land, which it uses for hunting, farming, and simply living. (Note: Not all tribes farm. Many make their clothing from leather and hides and furs, but enough tribes farm and actually weave cloth, then trade it, that more tribes than not have actual cotton clothing.) Tribes are led by a small group of ssarinni, each who serve a particular function. There is a tribal father and mother, who oversee the conception, rearing, and training of the tribe's children; there is a tribal war leader, whose task is to keep peace between its tribe and the neighbors, and if peace cannot be kept, it is this ssarin who leads the tribe in battle; there is the head seer, who leads and trains the tribal seers and who finds the new apprentices; there is the tribal hunt-leader, who organizes the hunts and leads when a leader is necessary; some tribes also have a tribal weaver, who is both responsible for tending cloth-plants and also harvesting them, then weaving the cloth (tribes who do farm have many, many weavers, and the tribal weaver directs them all); there is a tribal woodworker, who organizes all the woodworkers in making masks and weaponry and tools and homes. None of these leaders is seen as less or more important/powerful than the others. Only in times of great danger will the war leader step up and take a more firm command, and that only lasts until the nearby tribes settle down and battle is no longer imminent. Each leader is chosen from the most skilled ssarinni by the current leaders and elders, both for its skill in its chosen field and its ability to work well with the other leaders.

Habitat/Settlements: Ssarinni live anywhere there are trees, and sometimes where there are great jagged mountains instead of trees. They hate the cold, but Yeh-lo is an extremely warm planet, even in its cold seasons, so there are few places that are actually 'too cold' for a ssarin. Like most creatures, the ssarinni go where there is food and water. They claim large tracts of land and place single torches in a pattern unique to their tribe, thus marking their territory for all ssarinni to sense, recognize, and avoid. They build wooden buildings - shanties and huts, typically with thatched roofs and no real walls - on a small patch of land deep within their territories, often no more than an acre or two for the entire tribe. Ssarinni who want their own hut must complete a rigorous series of tasks for the woodworkers, much of which entails gathering the materials necessary for a hut, before the woodworkers will build one. Most ssarinni share huts or sleep out of doors on piles of soft blankets, furs, hides, etc; the farming tribes also stuff cloth bags with feathers or unusable raw cotton to add to these impromptu nests. Each leader (and its family, if it has one) has its own hut, and there are also covered buildings for most of the crafters (weavers, woodworkers).

Religion/Beliefs: Ssarinni, as one might expect, worship the essence of fire as the spirit of all life. Fire can give warmth and therefore life; it can be used for divination and is thought to see to the core of every ssarin; it can be felt in the heart like no other element can; and fire can destroy at will, both to remove the bad and to make way for new growth. Ssarinni do not consider fire to be an intelligent spirit, merely a powerful force that is to be respected and carefully used (much like Lightworkers consider Light). Ssarinni give little heed to thoughts of an afterlife, nor do they have any moral qualms about hunting to survive or killing others to keep their land and their tribe safe. (Granted, they also don't kill unless it's been shown that there is no other option. They won't kill strangers on sight, for example.)

Interaction w/ Other Species: Ssarinni are largely incomprehensible by any non-ssarinni, due to their combination of base spoken language and ever-evolving sign language; even telepaths have no luck with them, since ssarinni don't think in words or linearly at all. If communication could be established with them, outsiders would find the ssarinni to be a jovial and good-natured people who welcome friends and allies, despite some of their cultural quirks. However, since reliable communication has - so far - proved nigh-impossible, only the ssarinni's outwards characteristics are known: they are respected and feared as efficient, deadly warriors. Other races avoid Yeh-lo fervently.

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