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Shirren

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Shirren
A shirren soldier.
(Creature)
Type Humanoid
(shirren)
CR By class level
Environment Any
Alignment
Adjective shirren
Images of shirrens

Source: Core Rulebook, pg(s). 50-51

Shirrens are a race of locust-like humanoids commonly found in the Pact Worlds.[1] They were formerly members of a predatory, telepathic hive mind known as the Swarm, but have recently become independent and unique individuals — though they still strongly value communalism, they also seek harmonious relations with other races.[2]

Appearance

Shirrens are arthropods with chitinous exoskeletons, large compound eyes, and sensitive antennae that aid in their telepathy. Unlike many arthropodan races, they walk upright, manipulating items with three-clawed hands. In addition to their two sets of main limbs, they also have two sets of smaller limbs growing from their thoraxes. While often displayed, these “mating arms” are extremely weak and used only for ceremonial and reproductive purposes—to use them for mundane activities would be seen as grotesque and shameful.[1][2]

Sexual dimorphism

Shirrens have three sexes: male, female, and host. During reproduction, female and male shirrens provide the initial eggs and sperm, and hosts incubate the fertilized eggs while also adding their own genetic material and immunities. Shirren young spend their first 2 years in a tiny, wormlike larval form, and are often carried around in protective containers to let them safely observe the world.[1][2]

History

See also: Swarm

Shirrens were once part of the Swarm, a monstrous, locust-like race that traveled from world to world, consuming all it encountered before moving on. Some time before the Gap, a mysterious mutation caused an entire subcolony to break from the Swarm's hive mind, with each of its members gaining a sense of self. Addicted to the new drug of individualism, these renegades rejected the Swarm's mindless consumption, forming a new race called shirrens. As the Swarm continued its consumption, the shirrens bid their time in the eventual hope of escape.[1][2][3]

After the Gap ended, the shirrens took advantage of the ensuing confusion among the Swarm to flee from the rest of the Swarm in rudimentary biomechanical starships. Not accustomed to having its own components going rogue, the Swarm put its entire strength to chasing the shirrens. For three years, the shirrens were relentlessly pursued by the Swarm, only stopping briefly to gather resources or repair damaged ships. They tried to avoid populated areas so they would not be responsible for the extinction of others, but even when the shirrens passed close to such places, the Swarm ignored them to focus on chasing the shirrens. The shirrens lost nearly a third of their population during the hundreds of skirmishes that took place in this time.[3]

When Triune revealed the Drift to the galaxy, the shirrens saw a way to escape the Swarm for good, and after a year, they managed to develop a Drift engine that was installed on their starships. The shirren captain Cyrsaptu and her crew on the Freedom's Echo gave their lives to distract the Swarm and ensure that the rest of their species could escape into the Drift.[3]

The shirrens' first Drift jump took them into a solar system just outside the Swarm's telepathic sensors. When gathering resources for their next jump, they found a comet with powerful energy signatures. On the comet, the goddess Hylax manifested before the gathered shirren miners. Having watched their struggle and willingness to sacrifice themselves for others, Hylax welcomed them to her fold, granting them techniques to resist the Swarm's influence and bolster their independence. Many shirrens converted to Hylax's faith and built a monastery known as the Forever Reliquary on the comet, which they consider a sacred site.[3]

In 5 AG, the shirrens entered the Suskillon system, whose fifth planet Suskillon was inhabited by humans. Some of them were unsure if they would be accepted, others were certain that the humans would understand their peaceful intentions, and yet others wanted to settle an uninhabited system. The shirrens thus split into three groups.[3]

The first and smallest group came to Utraneus, the habitable but uninhabited third planet in the Suskillon system. After less than three years, they discovered that the planet's porous ground made life difficult, and left Utraneus to join their cousins elsewhere. The second group found themselves welcomed by the humans of Suskillon, and introduced their faith and Drift engines to their new neighbours. Since then, they have made a significant minority in Suskillon's population, and the anniversary of their arrival is celebrated in a festival called Day of First Contact.[3]

The third group left the Suskillon system to search for an uninhabited system for themselves. After charting a large number of unsuitable planets, in 7 AG, they named and began settling Ilemchuuva, the third planet in an uninhabited system dubbed Chuuva.[3]

In 64 AG, several groups of explorers successfully petitioned Ilemchuuva's government for permission to explore or colonise the galaxy in Drift-capable starships. Their travels spread the shirren species across the entire galaxy, in almost every place where life can survive.[3]

In 83 AG, a group of shirrens picked up an unnaturally strong signal that turned out to be the Starstone at the heart of Absalom Station. As they emerged into the Pact Worlds system, which was still recovering from the Stardust Plague and expecting another Veskarium attack, the shirrens were surprised by how multiple species could act together for mutual defence and governance. They managed to convince the Pact Worlds of their peaceful intention and sent a delegation to meet the Pact Council and the Stewards in Absalom Station, where they introduced their history and warned the Pact Worlds about the Swarm threat. The Pact Council welcomed the shirrens into the Pact Worlds, and Verces offered them a stretch of the Temora Desert in Fullbright where they could settle.[3][4]

Society

A shirren scientist.

Shirrens define themselves by their individualism. When they left the Swarm, they assumed partial control over the neurological pleasure and pain systems by which they were formerly directed, and even generations later, making choices for themselves can literally flood them with pleasurable neurotransmitters. While this ability is not always beneficial — some shirrens deliberately drug themselves this way, becoming "option junkies" blissed out on sequences of trivial decisions — freedom of choice is crucial to shirren identity. At the same time, shirrens remain highly communal, and are valued as collaborators by other races due to their ability to foster teamwork and put the goals of the group first.[1][2]

Religion

Shirrens worship Hylax, deity of diplomacy and peace, as the Swarm once did before they abandoned their sense of individuality.[5]

Abilities

Shirrens are capable of sensing their surroundings even when blinded or without light. They also possess limited telepathy.[2]

References