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Shen

Excerpted from: "A Catalog of the Races of Starmourn Sector"

By:    Various authors
Date:
Last updated 0919/03/17 A.E.

The Shen are one of Starmourn's older Younger Races in terms of the age of their civilization, though they're far from the eldest. Famous for their former connection with the believed-extinct Elder Race of the Utan Mir, today they are well-known for their real estate and transportation interstellar corporations. 

Homeworld System Barrak
Homeworld Kovalar
Capital City Janilyn
Reproduction Live birth with a gestation period of 13 months.
Avg. Lifespan 120 years
Diet They're vegetarians and can't tolerate meat barring one specific exception around birth - see below.
Temperament Calm and collected when sober. After a few cups of rootwine or a spoon of fermented vuu honey though, this veneer is frequently shattered. You'll see them weaving on their feet, collapsing in each other's arms in hysterical laughter, and even brawling.
Likes/Dislikes They find meat-eating to others to be quite distasteful, and unless they're intoxicated, they tend to exhibit little tolerance for the lazy, for practical jokes, or even most humor.
Romantic relationships They're strongly monogamous and though divorce is culturally permitted, it's considered fairly shameful and is rarely done. Homosexuality is common and unremarkable, as with all civilized races.
Family structure Their social structure is such that the partner from the family with higher social standing is generally recognized as the head of the family, though they have a birth ritual (see below) that is a holdover from older times when their culture was more paternalistic.
How do they treat the helpless? They venerate the elderly, but, in a practice that is losing favor, infants born with serious discernible defects are sometimes left to die of exposure.
Notable rituals On birth, it is traditional for the eldest living member (male or female) of the father's direct ancestry to perform the Ritual of Coadunation, in which this eldest of the paternal line consumes part of the placenta of the newborn - the only 'meat' the Shen ever consume. This ceremony is meant to symbolically join the two families as the eldest of one takes the body of the youngest of the other into him or her.
Social mobility The Shen culture can be somewhat rigid and while they don't have formal castes, the importance of one's family has a large influence on the range of stations likely available to you in life.
Entertainment The Shen are great lovers of art, including elaborate soundscapes called 'Aetherscapes' that they listen to in specially-designed anechoic (meaning totally echo-less) chambers. To non-Shen ears, they're tuneless, chaotic noise, as is the case for even the Shen if any echoes are permitted to pollute the incredibly subtle patterns in the sound. To a Shen in an anechoic chamber, these Aetherscapes paint aural pictures that convey enormous subtlety of emotion and gradation of concepts. Some of their most famous historical figures were Aetherscape composers, like Roan Sheel (deceased) and Yen Agafan (alive and old today), whose most famous - or infamous if you're not Shen - piece is "The Palette of the Stars."
Janilyn, Capital of Kovalar
Janilyn, capital city of Kovalar, the Shen's homeworld.
Government Their government is composed of two parts, apart from the judiciary: An elected body called the Assembly, and the Council of Great Family elders. Each of the recognized Great Families has a representative on the Council - typically, but not always the eldest member of that Family. They elect one member of the council to be the Head of State, called the Prime Elder. The Prime Elder leads the Shen and proposes new legislation, but the Assembly must ratify that legislation for it to become law.
Prime Elder The current Prime Elder is Jatt Yaghah (male).
How old is their culture? They achieved spaceflight approximately 110,000 years ago.
What are their primary industries? Although like any modern economy, theirs is complex and multi-faceted, the Shen are particularly known for their interest in real estate and transportation. They particularly favor real estate in high-end resort areas, and on a few leisure planets they've snapped up virtually every single kilometer of shoreline. Their interstellar transportation industry is renowned for a logistical efficiency matched by few others.
Historical enemies They've had many conflicts with the shapeshifting Fatar race, whom they detest. In the Changeling War, long ago, it was first discovered that the Fatar had infiltrated the Shen's government, its military, and its society. The resulting series of paranoid purges almost certainly killed far more Shen than Fatar, and the Shen have since tried more than once, unsuccessfully, to wipe out their enemy. They're also implacable foes of the Ishvana ever since that terrible being's destruction of the Utan Mir, who they venerated and who taught them so much.
Religion If the Shen were ever a religious people, they abandoned their religion long ago.
Language The Shen use two racial languages - Low Shen and High Shen. The former is what they use most of the time in day-to-day use. The latter is a dialect reserved for important events like the Ritual of Coadunation or the funeral of a Prime Elder.

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