- 1 Physical Data
- 2 Naming Conventions
- 3 Occupations
- 4 Culture
- 4.1 Personality
- 4.2 The Pack
- 4.3 The Tribe
- 4.4 Education
- 4.5 Warrior Tradition
- 4.6 Societal Issues
- 4.7 Outside Influence
- 4.8 Religion
- 5 Pyracani Expletives
Pyracani are bipedal caninoids in appearance, typically standing between 5 to 7 feet tall. The females tend to be smaller in comparison to the males. A majority have wolfish features, with a long, thick snout and pointed ears that stand straight up from their heads. There is a great variety in appearance, however. Some subraces mirror features of dholes, foxes, or even hyenas, and many appear like a blend of these. They sport a coat of thick fur which can be colored black, brown, reddish-brown, reddish-orange, tan, gray, silver or white, and many shades in between. Typically a Pyracani’s fur is a uniform color, with darkened highlights around the ears and face, though light-colored muzzles, throats, bellies or ear tips along with facial spots or stripes are not uncommon. The whites of their eyes are hidden by their lids except in times of extreme panic, and their irises tend to be color gradients rather than any one color, with a circular pupil. Most common is bright yellow on the outside tapering to amber in the center, though mixes of black, gray, brown, green and blue are not uncommon. Rarely, a red-eyed Pyracani emerges, but as this is indicative of a chromosomal disease, they rarely make it to puberty. Their hands and feet typically have pronounced fixed claws which they have to keep trimmed regularly, lest they curl inward and pierce their fingers. They have sharp, pointed teeth, indicative of a carnivorous diet. They are tailless and plantigrade, though they tend to run on the balls of their feet.
On Pyracan, few males wear anything on their upper bodies save a sciath (a ceremonial shawl), except in the deepest winter. Shorts, a loincloth or a kilt are common on their bottom half. Females typically wear dresses or sarongs. Feathers are a common decoration, as is a variety of subtle jewelry, and shoes are only typically worn for safety reasons or on cold worlds.
Pyracani gestation is approximately 12 months, with the resulting pup being utterly helpless for the first six months. By the age of 1, he is walking, and by the age of 6, he can basically survive by himself if provided with food. It is at the age of 6 that the majority of Pyracani are initiated into the Church of the Supreme One, having the fur at the tops of their heads lightly singed by a glowing ember while the entire congregation agrees to raise him faithfully and steer him away from sin. By 17, they are typically off to college for their chosen profession. By the age of 20, they're often in the work force and having children, though this is less and less common. They hit their physical peak at the age of 30, and their mental peak by the age of 70. Any above the age of 70 is typically considered old. Any above the age of 90 is expected to have children that care for him while he acts as a mentor and elder over his children's packs, and those that continue to toil out of necessity rather than enjoyment are considered pathetic. Those that reach the age of 140 are considered truly ancient.
Pyracani males' first names are quick and short, typically monosyllabic, sounding almost like a bark. Examples include Gran, Huff, Por, Buk, Vokk. Female names tend to add a softer syllable to the end of the barked syllable. Examples include Bakka, Uru, Gafa, Carru.
Pyracani surnames are determined by their tribal affiliation, and have a slightly Gaelic sound to them, with a lot of double r's, k's and n's. Examples are Currin, Brogainn, Cannain, Morrdha.
While Pyracani can (and do) fill roles in most general professions, there are three that they are most well-known for. Foremost, they are known as ruthlessly efficient soldiers, and are hired as mercenaries throughout the Ancient Expanse as thorough and professional fighters. Secondly, they are known as superb artisans, and their handmade goods (or goods even hinted to be of Pyracani origin) fetch very high rates, similar to modern Earth's Amish. Last, they are known as excellent herders, breeders and ranchers, and their meat, milk, pelt and fur animals are rated extremely highly within the Ancient Expanse.
Pyracani are stereotyped as a hotheaded, passionate race, as tech-stupid rednecks, as violent brutes, as slothful druggies, as simple herders, as tree-hugging hippies and as ultra-conservatives who sneer at atheists and look down their noses at progress, and there are certainly individuals who fit these stereotypes. However, the Pyracani are a much deeper and richer race than these hurtful portraits portray. Their empathy, honest emotionality, sense of duty, bravery, self-sacrificial and down-to-earth natures, and deep need for perfection in whatever they strive for tenders deep respect within the Ancient Expanse.
The Pyracani retain many characteristics of their ancestry, including the instinctive need to form a pack. A typical Pyracani pack consists of a pair of mates and their offspring, which can sometimes consist of offspring from several mating seasons. Pyracani children typically remain with their parents until the age of seventeen or older.
If the young male finds a female to his liking, then a courting ritual begins. In order to win his chosen mate, he must fight the leader of her pack. Typically, this is the female’s father. In ancient times, their ancestors would fight to the death in these rituals, but in modern times it is more symbolic, but still a dangerous undertaking. Such a challenge involves no weapons or any other form of protection. It is fought tooth and claw. If victorious, the young male wins the right to court the female. If he loses, he must withdraw, however if he is still determined, he retains the right to challenge at a later time, so long as another male does not succeed in winning a challenge for the mate he has chosen. Within Pyracani society, these challenges are seen as a means to ensure that the offspring of the race are strong and healthy, able to carry on their culture and defend it, and thus through these challenges the weak are filtered out. In recent years, some pack leaders have accepted challenges in other arenas than combat from prospective mates with skills in other areas, but this is considered aberrant by society as a whole.
‘Lone wolf’ Pyracani are becoming more and more common. They are generally tolerated, but amongst the old and conservative they are considered outcasts in society, usually because they believe this means they are weak in some way. For the most part, this is typically demonstrated socially. As far as society as a whole they retain their rights, including the right to win mates and the right to seek entry to the military.
Immmediately beyond a Pyracani's pack is his tribe. Tribe names are passed down via the father to all his offspring, and are a source of intense pride. Insulting someone's tribe is essentially equal to challenging them to fight. Each tribe is designated by a specific pattern on their sciath, a diamond-shaped garment worn over the head and down the chest, shoulders and upper back and made of millions of woven-together feather barbs.
A diamond-shaped garment with a hole in the center for the head, it is made of the woven-together barbs of thousands of feathers covered in a clear, flexible, waterproof lacquer, with intricate, often colorful designs that symbolize the Pyracani's tribe. The sciath is given to the Pyracani when his pack decides he has become an adult. For Pyracani without parents, this can happen as early as twelve, though some Pyracani who fail to take life seriously never receive a sciath. The garment is typically only worn for holidays and formal occasions, though some Pyracani have taken to wearing them offworld as a show of pride.
Pyracani go through rigorous, year-round mandatory schooling until puberty, which typically hits around 15 or 16. At this point, they typically choose a mate, though they are increasingly putting this off until after college or later. After that, they either enter the workforce, take a year or two of college prep, take a year of Penitence through the Church, or enter the military. Pyracani typically enter college at around seventeen.
A long, woven-leather belt with string-bound tufts of hair sticking out from amidst the woven leather, scollainn are typically worn by non-soldier warriors, as they are summarily banned within Pyracan’s military. They are decorated with tufts of neck hair from each Pyracani the warrior has bested via taking Hotuk (see below), and are widely seen as a mark of the warrior’s battle prowess. The Church of the Supreme One has made it quite clear that they will not administer sacraments to anyone who is wearing a scollainn, so they are typically left at home during religious ceremonies.
Duels between Pyracani have occurred for over two thousand years despite the best efforts of governments, tribes and the Church to eliminate them. Before discovery by the Hekayti, these duels typically took the form of ‘taking Hotuk’, a means of settling honor disputes without killing. The duelists would beat at each other with fists, feet and two tonfa-like weapons called Hotuk. When one party fell unconscious, the winning party would use the sharpened knob of the Hotuk to cut a lock of hair from their opponent’s neck, and kept it on a long necklace to show their battle prowess.
When guns were introduced to Pyracani society, duels quickly became much bloodier as the tradition morphed into attempting to shoot guns in non-lethal ways. One wrong twitch often turned an ankle shot into a gut shot, dishonoring one party and killing the other. In 2400, it was estimated that over ten thousand Pyracani died as a result of duels, as opposed to the mid-hundreds in 2300.
In 2422, High Bishop Tutt Maewynn came up with an extremely controversial solution, one that ironically caused him to be ousted in single combat. He secretly consulted with Falari scientists in Aureus and eventually drew up plans for a modernized Hotuk, utilizing weakened stun baton technology that could easily be handcrafted and fitted in each of the Hotuk’s tips, and calling it Hotukkir, or Gentleman’s Hotuk. This served to add elements of guile, tactics and nimbleness to taking Hotuk that actually had the effect of raising the number of duels fought, but it also drastically cut the number of deaths due to dueling.
Now, taking Hotuk is considered an elegant means of deciding honor conflicts (though the Church is still trying to ban it), as they are no longer determined merely by strength and endurance, but also by guile, tactics and agility. The slightest touch from the ends of the Hotukkir causes one’s opponent to lose coordination, and few can stay conscious for more than ten touches. It also had the benefit of not leaving the conquered opponent bruised or brain-damaged, so that the honor gained from vanquishing a difficult foe is not tarnished.
Recreational drug use permeates Pyracani society despite the steadfast efforts of the Church to stomp it out. Two drugs are far and away the most popular, both having roots in ancient religious tradition. First is mionta, made from nutmeg-scented powdered flower petals and smoked in a long-necked pipe. It is a social drug, making the user more friendly and less inhibited, and is often paired with alcohol in bars on Pyracan. The Church has tried and failed several times over the last 200 years to ban or limit the drug on Pyracan, but has failed every time. It was originally used in pack spirit worship, to bond the pack together into something the spirits can be proud of. It seems to have few long-term effects beyond mild addiction and lung cancer. The second drug, lios, is more insidious. Made of the juice of a certain toxic berry, it was used in ancient times by shamans to make direct contact with the spirits. Today, it's an extremely addictive and powerful hallucinogen, typically taken by the poor and destitute, and eventually saps the user's ability to tell the difference between the real and the imaginary. It has been banned on Pyracan with tens of years in prison for possession of a single ounce, but its use continues to flourish.
As Pyracan continues to slowly integrate with the rest of the Ancient Expanse, more and more young Pyracani have lives and views dramatically different than their untraveled parents. Some of the bigger points of tension involve the young age at which one starts a pack clashing with the tendency of some other Hiverspace races to marry into their 30's or 40's, interaction with atheists and agnostics causing the young to question their deepest-held spiritual beliefs, the allure of cheap, disposable consumer goods over the durable but old-fashioned homemade goods of their forefathers, eschewing their simple and conservative traditional dress for fancy modern clothing, sex outside of the pack structure, and even giving up the pack in favor of living or working by one's self. These tendencies seem to have worried the Church as well as some parts of the Pyracan government, though no overarching policies have yet been made to slow these trends.
The Pyracani are a deeply spiritual people, and more than half are actively involved in some sort of organized religion.
In ancient times the Pyracani believed in dozens of animistic nature spirits depending on the area and tribal group, and each family had altars or jewelry with totems of their favorites. Some Pyracani still carry such totems, though they have been greatly reduced in status from something to be prayed to in times of need to simply a good luck charm or family heirloom. Pyracani idioms remain rich with mentions of these spirits, however, even if modern Pyracani don’t remember the stories of the spirits themselves. A few of the totems that still appear today are as follows:
- Duru- A spirit of home and hearth, it is represented by a green stick splintered on one end to make a crude broom. This totem was once used to prevent evil spirits from entering the house, now it’s just used as a decorative element.
- Hysin- A fertility spirit, it is represented by a round orange fruit ripped open to show hundreds of dark red arils. They are kept as good luck charms during difficult childbirth or infertility, typically placed in the woman's pillow.
- Ibin- A spirit of fortune and luck, it is represented by a spear piercing three silver rodents. Merchants occasionally wear this totem as a necklace for good luck in business dealings, with the eyelet in the butt of the two inch spear, and the three rodents flattened into jingling metal cutouts, like coins.
- Jota- A spirit of the unburned dead and said to be brother to Siorc, it is represented by a resinous firestick. It has regained popularity in the last 300 years as Pyracani went to war on foreign planets where enemies did not respect the requirement that a dead Pyracani be burned atop a funeral pyre, and thus left the Pyracani spirit in limbo.
- Siorc- A spirit of the angry sea and said to be sister to Jota, it is represented by a piece of a storm-wrecked ship. Sailors used to keep these on a thong around their necks to assure that their nets were always full, but now it's simply a mark of the sailor's profession.
- Yir- A spirit of patient tenacity, it is represented by a miniature Rickirr skull with blue gemstone eyes. Kept by a few suitors and soldiers in the field, they keep this tiny bone carving in their pockets as a silent reminder to persevere level-headedly rather than do something foolish in the heat of anger.
Since 1938 CE and Bonding Day, their religion has centered solely on a belief in the Supreme One, an almighty power represented by a white sun with red rays emanating from it. He created their world and the heavens, and keeps for them a special place in the afterlife. Their understanding of him has changed since 2340, when their planet was discovered by the Hekayti. Before discovery, he was a beneficial provider, bringing the rain and sun in turn, and was their personal god, serving as the pinnacle of his creation. After the event known as the Purple Dawn, Pyracani understanding of him matured into more of a protector or guide, showing Pyracani the proper path for living their lives in the midst of the chaos of the outside world, and would provide this guidance to all sapient life, if they followed him.
As all life is a creation of the Supreme One, they must be afforded respect. On the other hand, anyone who threatens another being threatens a creation of the Supreme One, and thus must be stopped. Every sapient creature sins and strays from the Path, but contrition will lead them back to the Path.
Major Events in the Church of the Supreme One
- 694 CE - The Supreme One speaks to the Holy Daughter Zoru Ruannaigh in Dirus, laying out his Path for the Pyracani.
- 1938 CE - Bonding Day. Wurr Dourragh successfully unifies the Twelve Nations under a single government, and instills the Church of the Supreme One as the official religion, banning the worship of false gods.
- 2346 CE – A major rift in the Church of the Supreme One begins in the holy city of Dirus after a Hiver bomb blows up their newly-built spaceport in Aureus, killing over a thousand Pyracani and throwing the planet into panic. A large group of senior priests led by High Confessor Prut Currin declare that the beings beyond the moons are subjects of a much more complex and multifaceted Supreme One than was previously understood. This flies in the face of the High Bishops’ ruling in 2341 that beings beyond Pyracan are direct agents of the Supreme One, and their actions mirror the Supreme One’s will for the Pyracani.
- 2347 CE – High Confessor Prut Currin defeats all five High Bishops of the Supreme One in one-on-one combat, and installs five new High Bishops who agree that beings beyond Pyracan have the potential for evil, and that the Supreme One is god of all the universe, not just the Pyracani, in an event later called the Purple Dawn.
The Church hierarchy is large and somewhat complex, with a good deal of politics involved in much of the process. A group of 100 Bishops and 100 High Confessors elects five High Bishops, each of whom serve for life, or until they are defeated in single combat by a high priest. Paradoxically, challenging a High Bishop in combat, win or lose, is a cause for immediate banishment from the priesthood. This is meant to prevent frivolous challenges from ambitious priests. Confessors and High Confessors take confessions from the congregation at least once a year and prescribe penance for the individual's sins. Pastors and High Pastors deal with the weekly ceremonies and sacraments, and directly care for their congregations.
The Church has a diverse group of monasteries, producing Monk-Artisans who produce high-value, high-labor goods, Monk-Supplicants who spend their lives piously praying for the ignorant and the damned, and the Monk-Faithful, a small but elite military, highly trained in hand-to-hand combat.
Another group within the Church are the Penitent. Made up of the young, poor, homeless, unemployed and ultra-religious, they are fed, clothed and sheltered for a term of a year in exchange for hard labor for the Church or a monestary during the day, and fervent group prayer at night. During that time, they are considered property of the Church or monestary. It is considered a high honor to complete a year of Penitence, and tends to garner preferential treatment in applying for college or a job, so many of the more devout young Pyracani participate in the ritual.
The Fire's Return
Pyracani have an involved death ritual that is always performed the same, regardless of a Pyracani’s status among their society. Even Pyracani who hate their enemy enough to torture or dismember their foe will perform this ritual for the dead body in the strictest reverence. To do otherwise they believe would cause great offense to the Supreme One, who regards his children as equals regardless of their mortal status. The deceased are dressed in the ritual garb of their ancestors and placed aloft on a funeral pyre which is decorated with the symbols of their tribal ancestors. As the flames are set, the pack kneels around the pyre, and will belt out long, mournful howls to the heavens, as they pay their respects to the dead and to herald their arrival to the Supreme One, so he can receive them.
While Pyracani are a religious race, they are also an extremely passionate race, and Pyracani expletives and insults are legendary throughout the Ancient Expanse. Expletive use is considered an art form, and soldiers, spacers, sailors and even the occasional seamstress all strive to master it. This list only briefly touches on a few more popular expletives. (ie, make up your own as you see fit, and add them here.)
- A cave within a cave - Referring to the subject being more womanly than a woman.
- Bag of unspilled guts - A mild insult against the subject's combat readiness.
- Bearing one's false wound - To menstruate.
- Bigtk - Literally, a bucket filled with sand, but used to mean useless.
- Binding Jota - To be untrusting.
- Bristle-furred - Young, immature.
- Byot - Literally, poorly made goods, but meaning less than Pyracani, inferior.
- By the fiery radiance! – A mild oath referencing the Supreme One, often shortened to simply radiance.
- Crook-worn - One who copulates with one's domesticated animals.
- Dark-seeker - One who hides beneath their mother's dress, a coward.
- Duru-toothed - Referencing the ineffectiveness of a broom as a weapon, it means one who fails to protect his pack.
- Fyir - Literally, to pass through like a ghost or Hiver, but used to mean one whose mate leaves them.
- Ibin-eyed - A cheater.
- Grain-chewer - One who wastes seed, ie, masturbates.
- Guttering candle - An insult towards the subject's lack of faith, mostly used by the old.
- Hgathi - Literally, unable to urinate on a wall, but used to mean weak or womanly.
- Hysin-stuck - Referencing the stickiness of paws covered in fruit juice, it refers to those that bear many children without the means to care for them.
- Joha - A mid-ranged oath, meaning exposed anus.
- Juto - One with the genes of two fathers, implying that one's mother mated with two different men in close succession.
- May you never burn - One of the worst of insults, it states a wish that the subject die apart from the Supreme One.
- Moonless - One who leaves the Path, a sinner.
- Pkaut - Copulation (popular).
- Pulling Cana - Achieve climax.
- Riding Siorc - Foolhardy.
- Rkoh - Literally, three dozen children. Used as an intensifier, as in, a rkoh juto would have three dozen fathers, and a rkoh snake-paw would be a betrayer three dozen times over.
- Scentless - Stupid.
- Snake-pawed - A betrayer.
- Surk - Literally, an accidental tear in fabric, but used to mean that the subject was an accidental and unwanted child.
- Su-te - Excrement.
- Vekkol - Literally, maggot-ridden meat, but used to mean wishy-washy, as if the subject couldn't decide to eat his kill before it went bad.
- Wearing a flower for <person> - To act womanly in order to achieve a goal. Sad, but understandable.
- Wearing a yellow feather - To be the subject of cuckolding.
- Worm-chewed - A frequenter of loose women, referring to pests eating a tree before it can fruit.
- Yir-Pkaut - Impatient to the point of being a liability.
- Yutao- Literally, a salamander tail, but meaning impotent, and often accompanied by a pinky finger going from straight to curved.
|Hiverspace Races:||Aukami, B'hiri, Drrhaan, Falari, Gankri, Hekayti, Llivori, Lotorian, Lyiri, Muscipulan, Nemoni, Opodian, Pyracani, Riftwalker, Thul, Tupai, Yoridini|
|Normalspace Races:||Almedae, Calzonite, Castori, Centauran, Demarian, G'ahnli, Grimladhi, Kretonian, Mekke, Mystic, Nall, Odarite, Phyrrian, Theorian, Timonae, Vollistan, Ydahri, Yoescu, Zangali|
|Other Races:||Kamir, Il'Ri'Kamm, Positronic|