Take a moment to imagine the universe. It is big. Very big. Our current understanding of the observable universe is about 93 billion lightyears across – and that’s only what we can observe. Beyond that, the universe may very well be infinite. The odds are high that we are not alone in this universe, and that there are a great many species, some perhaps even spacefaring. So it is with our galaxy of Asteria.
As with all pen and paper games, always feel free to forge your own races. As the example above says, the galaxy we live in is huge, and Asteria’s is actually larger – so all kinds of xenobiology might exist. The only statistic to consider that has any impact on gameplay is size, so if you make a new race, decide if it is small, medium, or large – or like dragons, beyond large.
As for Asteria as written, races in this galaxy are broken into three groups: Asterials, Moiety, and Ferine. Not all of the races of Asteria originated in that galaxy – ironically, only the ferine and a few of the moiety technically did, created at the behest of the Galatic High Council of those we call Asterials. More details on this can be found in the Lore section. But for the purposes of our standard races, Asterials are the oldest, followed by some Moiety, and finally the Ferine.
In a distant galaxy, the Asterials were the first to reach the stars. They colonized great swathes of their galaxy, developed technology even in advance to that found today, and cultivated both magic and science to make their lives easier. The Asterials are proud races who have shaped not only their original galaxy, but the Asteria galaxy as well. And then they fell, and fled here. Asterials will speak of the old days as if it were a paradise, and perhaps it was – but much of that history remains lost and half-remembered through the stories of refugees who fled their own creations.
Despite possible conflicts in their past, the Asterials work together as more or less equals now, guiding the galaxy through their high council. As races, space is large enough for all of them, and they each have claimed core spaces for themselves, trading with each other and uniting much of the settled space of Asteria today. Due to their vastly different origins, they tend to be varied in appearance, though most ended up bipedal.
Humans originated from the Milky Way Galaxy, setting them apart from all other Asterials. Their species was first encountered by the Elgar, who saw Earth as an oasis in a desert. The planet, despite the best efforts of the humans that lived there, was a haven of genetic diversity and possibility, and for several decades, the Elgar lingered while the other Asterials continued their flight towards Asteria. The general consensus was that humans were too warlike as a species to be allowed to join the greater universal community, having been engaged in worldwide conflicts during the time of the Elgar’s study. Unfortunately, the genetic structure that made up most Asterial species was too complex to splice with this fresh source of DNA, and so the Elgar were forced to use human genetics to splice the local fauna into Moiety and Ferines. At some point, though, the humans managed to capture a ship at one of their military bases and eventually discovered the Elgar presence, as well as the theft of their genetic data. Faced with this information, humans nearly collectively destroyed themselves, with only a handful of humans rejecting Earth and leaving with the Elgar to rejoin the remaining Asterials. Though initially small in number, the most eloquent among them essentially shamed the entire universal community for their complicity in the theft of a sentient species and its resources, and were allowed to join the ranks of the Asterials themselves.
Since then, the human population has skyrocketed and they have settled into the new galaxy. Their local group, New Terra, shows some signs of the old hostilities and warlike behavior of their Earth-bound predecessors, but most of it has been directed towards fully establishing themselves as a galactic contender: advancing technology, creating corporations, and establishing outposts nearly everywhere in their own space, and a few places beyond. As for the fate of Earth, no one knows what has become of it in the long centuries that have passed.
In terms of appearance, humans are much as they were on Earth and are considered medium-sized by galactic standards.
In a universe of highly advanced technology, one might think there is no place for faith, magic, or mystery. The Macesterials, however, would prove this assumption quite wrong. All Macesterials share a spiritual link with a place they call Elysium – a space outside of our own space-time, at least according to Macesterial belief systems, that explain their connection to the great ancestor tree for whom they are named. This connection allows most Macesterials to bring a part of Elysium, or whatever they are connected to, into realspace, fundamentally altering reality where they do so. However it is that they and others do so, all Asterials call it as it is: magic.
This connection not only drives much of their magi-technology, it also defines much of who they are as a species. They are close-knit in their communities, seeing others Macesterials as extensions of the same root. Their connection to Elysium and the ancestor tree brings them pride, to the point of being seen as haughty by other races. And of course, success in Macesterial space is almost always tied to one’s magical ability, especially since magic has such a detrimental effect on most non-mechanical technology. That last fact helps to design their local group.
Macesterial space is arranged around the magical and the technological. Their local group, Alfheim, contains purely magi-tech starports and buildings, as well as several technology-only starports for the outside species to visit. And usually, it is just a visit; few non-Macesterials live in their space except for Maefa and Leefa.
As for appearance, Macesterials are tall, slender, bipedal creatures, though only slightly taller than humans; they, too, are considered medium-sized. Their faces are somewhat rounded, with small noses and long ears. They sport hair on their heads that is often light in color and very fine, but it is highly common for them to dye it a variety of colors. Their fingers also tend to be longer than humans as well. Humans took to calling them elves after their old myths, but most Macesterials do not appreciate this nomenclature.
Where the Macesterials are defined by their connection to magic, Elgar are often defined by their pursuit of science. It is not uncommon to find an Elgar-run ship to be overly tinkered and perfectly engineered, and for an Elgar to be upset when it is not. Likewise, when the galaxy felt it best to expand the gene pool and the number of sentient, space-faring species, Elgar were the first to take to the task, creating more and more powerful re-sequencers as well as the fabled biochip, which is now part of most races’ lifecycles. It is believed they have even turned this tuning onto themselves, resulting in the sleek gray bodies of small to medium height and the enlarged head and minds they have today, but only the Elgar themselves know the truth.
Elgar local space, known as Majstro, is as well ordered as everything else in their lives. Factories produce precise quotas, traffic moves in perfect alignment, and even their schools and universities advance or fail their students in step. Their taxes are high, their standards are high, and their dislike of sloth is high.
In return, Elgar technology tends to be the most advanced in the galaxy, sleek and overdesigned as it is. Their companies produce a scant amount for outside consumption, and most of it is beyond all of their competitors. It has led to theories that the Elgar may still be making use of powerful AI technology from their original homeland, but the Elgar firmly deny this – it’s simply how their race operates.
One of the most unique species in Asteria, these creatures originated from plantlife that grew to sentience. They had initially peaceful contact with the Macesterials, who saw kindred spirits in creatures born of a literal tree as they believed themselves born of their spiritual one. Their relations somewhat fell out for a time as the Macesterials tried to drag them into ancient conflicts, though; overall, the Leefa tend to be relaxed, laid back, and simple in desires. This, however, belies their unique intelligence.
Leefa do not die in a traditional sense. Certainly they can be killed, and most leefa eventually wither; however, when leefa die, they produce a seed containing their genetic and somewhat literal memory. In this way, they create clones of themselves, with some access to their previous lives – making some of the leefa older than even the dragons if viewed through the leefa’s many incarnations. These are not perfect copies of who they were, as this genetic memory gets tangled with all the previous, and the process of growing introduces new experiences, so while one iteration of a leefa is similar to its forebear, it’s never quite the same. Leefa are also capable of genetic diversification and can reproduce with other leefa, though this case is very rare and produces a jumble of memory that leads to personality quirks but little usable memory for the new individual.
As the only race descended from vegetation, their focus as a society usually is on the balance of nature. They try to oversee every instance of terraforming in the galaxy, and they try to grow all life on top of old life, leading to strange branching space stations and structures. They reject the idea of a food chain, and see it as a food cycle; they also require more water than other species and artificial sunlight to survive. They also process CO2 instead of oxygen and require nitrate to remain healthy. They can look like a variety of shapes, though they usually end up bipedal in form with bark-like exoskeletons. They live primarily in the core space of Drassil. They can be small to large, depending on how they’ve grown, with older ones tending to get quite large.
Daklin originated from a volcanic world, heavy with greenhouse gasses that, thankfully for their survival, did not undergo a runaway effect. Their world was very hot and difficult to live on, and it led them to band together to survive. In many ways, they have a stronger community than even the Macestrials. This translated into space as well, since they require higher temperatures to survive than the other races of Asteria; they form into small communities in space stations where they raise the temperature in their section, or on desert and volcano worlds that would be uncomfortable to other races.
Since interaction is vital to their culture, daklin tend to be charismatic and social, even with other races. Their non-competition due to living on worlds unlivable to other races make them a welcome sight throughout most of the galaxy – with the exception of human space, who for some reason believe they are devils. Sure, they have horns, and red-to-brownish skin, are the same size and shape as humans, and live in hot, burning worlds – but these do not make them evil in any way, and the daklin take offense when called as such.
Still, a lot of useful minerals get locked on the fringes of the habitable zone, so the Daklin tend to trade with their neighbors. They also are a common sight as miners and factory workers throughout the galaxy. Due to their living conditions, Daklin core space is pretty small – only two local systems are ruled by the daklin alone in the Magenis local group – but their non-competition for desert and volcanic worlds means they have spread through lots of space ostensibly owned by another race – and they usually have full autonomy on their worlds, as well as good relations with the locals.
Dragons are massive lizard-like creatures. They tower over most races, boast an impressive wingspan, and most come with claws. Some have been said to breathe fire; others covered with various forms of bioluminescence in their scales or spines or horns. Some have fins rather than horns; some have both. Dragons are monolithic only in their great stature.
To what degree any of this helps them in a modern space age, though, is often a debate. While technology is much advanced, it still takes resources to go into space and, by virtue of size, dragons always take more. They did, of course, get to space on their own – the gigantic planet from which they originally hailed had more than enough resources and, from there, they spread throughout the cosmos, some dragons taking entire worlds for themselves as the legends go. But legends are all that remain of their home world and the ways they lived: legends that decry their ancestors as warlike, territorial monsters.
Today, nearly all dragons live in the dragon local cluster, Tarragon, and they’ve entirely transformed from any territorialism that once dominated their species, at least at a cultural level. Most dragons adhere to the philosophy of the Galactic Dragon – that they are all individual parts of one massive dragon which they comprise, and their society is based around fairness, working together, and the greater good of the species. All dragons funnel their earnings to the head of the Galactic Dragon, the Dragon Council, who distribute the wealth so that every dragon has an equal share, carefully calculated to be just enough to make the receiving dragon feel content in their station.
Outsiders viewing this system rightly wonder where the excess wealth goes, and the Council will gladly and quickly answer to infrastructure and trade. But still, stories abound of the fabulous treasure vaults of the dragons, made no less unlikely by visitors to dragon space stations finding elaborate palaces of gold and gems. Add to that the claim that all dragons make – that they are descended from Dragon Royalty, a tenet of their faith as well as their governance – and outsiders often try to capture or extort dragons: usually to their own peril and disappointment. While the lowest paid dragon might still be well-above living wage on another world, dedicated entrepreneurs own far more wealth than the average dragon ever will.
*A note on dragons – there is a specific background for them. One technically does not need to take this background as a dragon, nor does one need to be a dragon to take the background, as the dragons of Asteria allow converts, but it does grant a shape-changing ability, making it far, far easier to interact with the majority of the universe, since it is simply not dragon-accessible out there!
Moiety are a combination of two different races, usually gene-spliced into being. Sometimes, they’re a single race with certain characteristics added, as in the case of Altamen, but most are a combination of two others. Once created, though, these races do tend to breed true and can continue their line; however, because of their status as two races and the often unique circumstances of being, many are integrated into other societies instead of having their own. In fact, only Maefa have their own core space and separate governance. Dragtoks are also trying, but have not yet succeeded.
The following are just a few examples of the most popular Moiety.
Elgar became fascinated with the animals that humans would keep as pets during their vigil over the planet Earth. When genetic splicing proved to be unviable with their Asterial samples, they reluctantly turned to using human DNA, but they were afraid of creating another warlike species. They believed that the domestic feline was therefore ideal for splicing with human genetics, as they were largely lazy and content. While this was predicated on some false data, the end result was a curious blend of the two, primarily human in shape with fur-like hair, tails, and cat ears. When their warlike nature was not replicated in their sample set, they confirmed that humanity’s aggressiveness was more cultural than genetic, and began much larger experiments on their code.
As for the Altamen themselves, they would often act as aloof specimens just as fascinating to the Elgar as their domestic animal counterparts, often escaping cages and learning as much as they could about their new lives and environments. They never really developed a strong sense of difference between themselves and humans, however, and so when they were brought together with the remnants of the species by the Elgar, they initially got along well. Humanity still had a long way to go before it became more tolerant, and even desirous of some of their traits, but a long way they had, and by the time they arrived in the Asterial Galaxy, they were considered an offshoot of humans, much like their canine counterparts, the Half-Dogs.
A half-Ferine, half-Asterial race, clearly stated in the name: dragon and huztok, the lizard-people Ferines. This Moiety was the first found to link the non-human Asterial races with Milky Way genetics, and furious research continues trying to discern why this Moiety was successful when so many others are not. Anyone from the outside would clearly sum it up in the word ‘scales’ but that is an unsatisfactory and surface level answer to one in the field, especially an Elgar.
Regardless of how, the why was obvious: to try to transfer dragon strength and advantage into a more compact form. And in some ways, it has succeeded; the dragtok often possess wings, strong scales, muscles few other races can boast, and tower over most other races besides dragons themselves, all with only being a fourth of their total size and mass. Bioluminescence has sometimes appeared in them, though to date, no fire breath has been observed – though it’s nearly unheard of in actual dragons too.
Dragtok, however, might have unearthed some of the long dormant territorialism that resided in the dragons, though they will claim the huztok side is responsible for it. Dragtok are sometimes aggressive, sometimes crass, and often spiteful. They are also the only Moiety besides Maefa who seek a core space of their own, though there have not been enough of them together to establish themselves as the Maefa have, as yet. But as time continues to pass, it seems these are a new contender for Asterial politics – though time will tell if they will ever be called Asterials themselves. Dragtok tend to be on the large side, though they can be comparable to humans in height as well.
Unlike the Moiety, and ironically unlike their name, Half-Dogs are not actually half dog – they are half human and half Vultup, a canid-family descended Ferine. Elgar experiments with actual half-dogs did not go well, though all records have been stripped from history as to why. In fact, Vultup were created long before the Half-Dogs, and many of their traits had to be distilled down in order to create a Moiety similar to Altamen that was capable of true breeding. The result: primarily human in look with fur-like hair, tail, and dog ears.
While human genetics did not have its traits coded into it, canids did, and their tendency towards the pack became dominant in the Half-Dogs, even more so than the Vultup forebears. It might be due to their higher similarity to humans than others of their species that causes them to be so loyal to whatever group they choose to adopt, or that adopts them. This trait has been endearing to most other races, even the humans who had the same initial trouble with them as the Altamen. However, it has sometimes been used against them in various degrees, leading some to worry about their long-term viability, especially when they have not demonstrated any large desire for their own core space.
The original Moiety, the Maefa are a combination of Leefa and Macestrial genetics – while their societies were compatible, their genetics were night and day, much to the chagrin of the hardline Macestrials that believed in a literal ancestor tree. Still, somehow once the Elgar were involved, a way was found, and the green-skinned Maefa were the result.
Though filled with chlorophyll, they resemble more of their Macestrial side than their leefa one, though they can grow from medium to large size and often sport leaves in addition to or instead of hair. While they had lost the longevity and memory inheritance of the Leefa and otherworldly connection to Elysium of the Macestrials, this Moiety proved to be hearty in other ways: they possessed drive that far outstripped their leafy cousins, and were not as held back by propriety as their other parents. Rather than be looked down upon for this, the two parent races agreed that it was good that they could find their own place in the universe. Most of the other races agreed, except for the Elgar, who had been trying to combine the best of both species rather than create something new. Still, even they welcomed the Maefa into the fold willingly.
While most Maefa still linger in the local clusters of the races that founded theirs, they also possess a local cluster and culture of their own. Their home cluster, Ygg, consists of several forested moons, and the various alignments of which are the cause for various cultural rituals and celebrations. Many Maefa believe they are the bridge between the spiritual ancestor tree and the physical one, and that one day they will blossom and become a new great tree. Many outsiders believe that is already happening.
The Ferine were created by the Elgar during the Great Flight using genetic data collected from Earth, initially without the humans’ knowledge of it. After the Altamen, the Ferine project was born, creating several different racial templates based on the animals that Earth possessed. The main goal was to diversify the various races and create genetic exemplars capable of adding value to the galactic gene pool. Only a few ended up ‘printed’ on a mass scale, though several genetic archetypes remain and can be coded by a gene tailor; in other words, while there are only six Ferine listed below, there are several other types that are simply rare, like lapins (rabbitfolk).
Due to their origins, however, most Ferine see themselves as a single race of many different peoples. Their culture is still developing, even 500 years after their creation, and all of the Ferine groups share the same core space, though many other planets and systems also have Ferine on them. The further a Ferine goes from its core space, the more ‘normal’ they become – that is to say, tech savvy and enlightened as to how the galaxy works. Those closer to Ferine core space tend to be more naïve and wide-eyed about how the universe works, often putting the Asterials on a bit of a pedestal. In time, they will have their own society and way of being, but for now, their newness still remains.
Naturally next on the Elgar list, the Altavi are far more feline than human, walking upright on reverse joints and paws. Their whole body is covered with fur of many different distinct patterns similar to those of Earth’s larger felines, and they can also be a bit of a mix. Their ears are also generally more pronounced than that of the Altamen. Some can be a bit territorial, but most are curious, which has suited them well to learning about how the universe works. They are one of the most numerous species of Ferine, and as a result of that and their natural curiosity, they are also some of the most common to find away from Ferine core space. They can be on the small side or normal human in height.
The second of the Elgar’s creations, and roughly as numerous as the Altavi. Not all of the Vultup have a pack instinct, as some of them, especially those of fox descent, prefer to strike out on their own. Like the Altavi, a variety of different canid genes were used, from foxes to wolves, to even jackals and raccoon dogs. This results in all kinds of fur patterns and even snout length and skull roundness. They are also not uncommon outside of core space, though they are more often traveling together. They can be on the small side or normal human in height.
These Ferines were created primarily using lemur genetics, though some primate DNA was also utilized. They often have large eyes and long, strong fingers. They also tend to sport long striped tails. While less common outside of core space, they tend to be more visible; one of the most famous pilots of Asteria is a Martaco, and an official mascot for the Flea Shooter line of ships. They have a surprisingly strong sense of smell, and in fact can communicate some information through olfaction. They can be on the small side or normal human in height.
Records of humans were analyzed as much as their genetics were, and their histories, while often inaccurate, included their understanding of the ancient saurus species: dinosaurs. While they had been lost to time, the possibility of recovering something of them fascinated the Elgar, and so resequencing of many dormant genes in a variety of species – from modern day lizards to chickens and other birds – was underwent in an effort to recapture their lost essence. While they never managed to turn a chicken into a T-Rex, they did create a vast variety of lizard-based species, with everything from scales to plates, horns and crests, or even smooth snakes, with unusual slithering as a means of locomotion.
The huztok are, however, more lizard-brained as a result, leading them to be somewhat distant, aloof, and highly pragmatic. They do not form attachments easily, but they recognize the benefit of companionship. They focus more on the present than the future, but they also do not worry much about the past. Their details-oriented way of thinking – and not having fur to stain with oil – leads many of them to engineering positions. Still, even though more lizard than man, human genetics do still remain within them, so their thought patterns can and do still tend towards the complex and they can feel just as much of a drive to social interaction as other races. It just might not last as long. They can be any size, from smaller to larger than humans.
Having already sequenced some birds in their previous project, Bratal were a natural next step. These feathered folk largely cannot fly as their wingspan simply cannot support them, but many of their avian traits still remain – beak-like mouths, strong torsos, thin, often winged arms, and feathers of every color on the spectrum. They often have slightly longer necks, and can move their heads in ways other races sometimes find unnerving. They are highly social, and like to be seen doing well. They can be on the small side or normal human in height
These Ferine were late in development, and few of them exist in great number, but the Elgar consider them one of the better successes of their genetic campaign. Descended from the rhinoceroses of Earth, these Ferine are huge, muscular, and dedicated. Every one of them is taller than their human genetic forebears, and their thick hides make them pretty tough as well. Few make it out of Ferine core space, however, as most of them are happy to live their lives as farmers on their home world. Those that do branch out almost always have to leverage their strength and toughness – and they do.