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Hello there, 17th Shard. As some of you may know I engage in a lot of worldbuilding for a space opera setting, one that puts a lot of emphasis on the many alien species populating the cosmos. I've been keeping info about these species in an OpenDocument file for my own access, but I thought I'd test the waters by posting this essay on the species here for the community to take a look at.


I know it's pretty dry, so don't feel the need to read through every word. It'd mean a lot to me just for people to skim through it and maybe comment on anything that really jumps out at them.


Thanks in advance, and I hope you enjoy the fruit of my obsessive mind. :)







On the Yulli


The Yulli are a herbivorous rodent race from the planet Yullus, simply called "Homeworld" by expatriates. They are a strong interstellar species with numerous colonies, trading outposts, and drone fleets.


Homeworld and Natural Habitat


The planet Yullus is a terretrial body with around twice the mass of Earth but a gravitational pull of only 1.2 g. There are four continents; two form a collective land area the size of Eurasia around the northernmost latitude while the other two are small island continents located closer to the equator. Aside from the north polar sea there is only one ocean, a vast and turbulent body of water with supermassive storms blowing across its surface and tremendous sea monsters lurking underneath.


The planet has one moon, a large body three times the mass of Earth's Moon that is tidally locked and serves to stabilize the homeworld's rotation.


The Yulli evolved in a cold desert on one of the northern continents, and many of their adaptations reflect this. They have a proclivity for cold and dry climates to this day but are adaptable enough to make themselves comfortable in many other environments.


Appearance and Anatomy


The average Yulli stands three feet tall. The body type is similar to that of a hamster, compactly built and rounded. There is no neck to speak of and only a nub of a tail. As a bipedal being, a Yulli stands balanced on two strong back legs, and uses evolved forelimbs to grasp and manipulate items in its environment. The hand has four digits, three fingers and an opposable thumb.


A Yulli's face is dominated by sensory equipment. Massive black eyes are positioned on either side of the skull, rendering the beings more efficient at monitoring their environments than humans but diminishing their binocular vision. The nose is at the end of a short snout and is highly sensitive, and Yulli suffer a fear response when exposed to the scent of a predator or dead Yulli (though the degree of terror varies from individual to individual). The ears are the most outreaching part of Yulli facial anatomy; wide and round, they swivel reflexively to pick up sounds in the being's vicinity and become more active in times of fear or stress.


The mouth is small but filled with powerful incisors, much like those of Earth's rodents. These are for gnawing into the centers of leathery plants found on the homeworld; juicy cactus-like plants still make up a substantial part of the Yulli diet, and most meals would not be considered complete without a hard-to-chew first course.


Outside the skin, a Yulli is covered by a layer of fur, usually pale pink but occasionally rosy, majenta, or even red depending on the ethnicity. The Yulli have been colonizing other worlds long enough for some adaptive radiation to have taken place; the descendants of Yulli of particularly cold colonies have thicker coas and more substantial fat reserves than those of more traditional arid desert settings.


Internally the Yulli are fairly typical as far as carbon-aqueous vertebrates go. A strong skeleton supports the usual organs: heart, lungs, stomach, etc. The largest deviation a human anatomist would notice is the structure of the torso skeleton; rather than sporting a defined rib cage, Yulli organs are protected by a mesh of dense bone just underneath the skin and fur. Broken portions of the rib mesh will heal in a scar-like knob visible as a lump under the fur.


Life Cycle


Yulli are eusocial. Within a typical family group only one female is fertile and capable of nursing young. Infertile females and males are difficult to distinguish, but the fertile female is larger, endowed with a thicker layer of lard, and has eight teats and mammary glands for young to nurse from. It has been argued by some that fertile females have a higher-on-average intelligence quotient, though this is difficult to ascertain.


Where the physical act of reproduction is concerned, Yulli are also mostly typical. Two genders are required to share genetic material and create a new Yulli, a process which is carried out via coitus. A mother Yulli will birth a large litter of young, which begin life no larger than mice but are kept clinging to her nipples nursing until large enough to detach and explore the world around them.


Yulli childhood can be considered to last the equivalent of fifteen Earth months for a female and twenty for a male; the pups usually take part in community labor as soon as they are capable, however. Males will become sexually mature upon reaching around twenty months in age but will not necessarily mate unless given the opportunity. Most females' reproductive systems are stunted by the presence of their mothers' hormones and will never reach total sexual maturity.


The equivalent of thirty Earth years has traditionally been considered a ripe old age for a Yulli, but medical technology can increase the lifespan by many decades. Yulli nowadays can live for nearly a century.


Outlook and Society


As with most species, Yulli culture is built around the family unit. The single breeding female is the mostra, who after mating with a male will give birth to six to eight infant Yulli. These will remain clinging to their mother, constantly nursing, for a period of several months before detaching to begin forming life experiences. During this period the lactating mostra is cared for by a petostra, literally a "patron family." The petostra is usually the extended family of the pups' mother or father, and the mostra and her brood are seen as owing love and allegiance towards the petostra.


The first brood of pups are sostras, infertile females who make up the mostra's inner circle. The mostra secretes pheromones which keep her daughters from developing functioning reproductive systems while in her presence. Any sostra who spends enough time away from her mostra will eventually develop larger size and teats, and ultimately become a fertile mostra herself. Most sostras are content to remain as handmaidens to their mother, however, and will not become mostras unless the old mother dies. It is only ambition, overpopulation, or a significant conflict with the mother that will prompt an infertile female to voluntarily leave the family to start another.


Once the family group has become established and the mostra considers herself to be in a stable position, she will begin to give birth to bostras. A bostra is a fertile male, a drone, that makes up the primary work force within a Yulli family. They are slightly larger than a sostra though smaller than a mostra, and anywhere between twelve and thirty bostras may be birthed for service to the family.


It should be noted that the Yulli do not constitute a true hive society; individuals possess free will, and while the roles of mostras, sostras, and bostras generally remain the same, exceptions abound. It's not unheard of to find a mostra working a low-paying job on an alien world, or to find a bostra serving as a politician. Regardless, in traditionalist Yulli households, of which the most are found on the homeworld, mostras are considered the heads of their households, sostras perform day-to-day  duties of the home, and bostras are sent out into the world to bring resources home to the family.


The personal name of a Yulli reflects the family basis of their society. The naming convention for the primary Yulli culture is Personal Name, Caste, Apostrophe, Surname. Example: Yig Bostra'Yarno.


While family is the foundation of Yulli psychology, their sociable natures do not end at blood ties. Friendship is highly valued amongst the Yulli, sometimes to the very same degree as family. It has been proposed that Dunbar's number, the theoretical limit to how many stable relationships a human can cognitively process, is half again as large in Yulli brains as it is in human beings. While contested, it is evident to all who have gossiped with one of the creatures that Yulli adore large and extraordinarily complex social groups.


Being such sociable creatures, it is unsurprising that the Yulli tend to be exceptionally bright, friendly, and talkative creatures when around each other. They are inclined to instinctively like others of their kind unless a grievance becomes known, and the streets of a Yulli metropolis are generally noisy with the sounds of rodents chatting with strangers in their squeaky languge. Despite this general air of camaraderie, Yulli remain curiously tight-lipped around aliens, which tend to trigger a fear response in the herbivorous rodents. There are exceptions, of course.


Modern Yulli society, especially around the homeworld, has become highly industrial and economic. Many bostras work jobs at mining and production facilities, and some sostras work similar jobs or hold management positions outside the home. Political power, once the sole province of the mostras of established families, is now consolidated into a series of corporations that themselves rely on the edicts of benign artificial intelligences programmed to maximize Yulli chances of survival in the universe. Corporations are not related to blood ties and include workers and managers from thousands of Yulli from across the planet's surface, much like a human business.


Culture and the Arts


Yulli culture on the homeworld has become highly homogeneous—not due to invasion or genocide like in many human empires, but as different tribes through history merged together to share resources during one of the many cataclysms the planet suffered. Inter-Yulli war is not unheard of, as the rodents are willing to fight over sparse resources or territory. Violence invokes a more visceral atavistic repulsion in Yulli than in humans, however, causing difficulties when raising armies in anything but the most dire of circumstances. In most cases rival groups will either merge together over a period of generations or the weaker of the two will migrate to a new area.


Beyond the homeworld the culture is similar, but has diversified due to distance and isolation. Over a thousand years, different Yulli worlds have often developed their own distinct customs and regional governments. While the homeworld is capitalist, some colonies are communist. A slight few have even seceded from the rest of the species government, and a couple are known to have rescinded into barbarism.


Nonetheless, certain characteristics are repeated across the majority of Yulli cultures. Family ties and sociality are highly valued across the entire species, for instance, with very rare exceptions.


Cultivation of grains and other food plants is practiced among even those Yulli that have ceased to be civilized, as the ability to control food quantity is immensely valuable to fast-breeding herbivores such as they. As a consequence harvest days have a special significance and are often observed long after a population has ceased to be close to food production; thus, Yulli celebrate holidays much the same way humans do, though sans religious implications. Festivities are generally simple and focused on drawing groups closer together, generally through a communal project. For instance, on one Yulli colony world inhabited by native insectoids, every member of a family decorates a plate-shaped sheet of paper and connects it to others in the shape of a centipede.


Yulli architecture is built low to the ground and is more likely to extend underground than it is into upper stories. Older, wealthier families may reside in entirely subterranean bunkers isolated from other households, while the majority of homes are all interconnected and see frequent visitations between neighbors. Where multiple stories are a necessity it is not uncommon to see residents flocking to the lower floors whenever possible, as the Yulli prefer to stay close to the ground when not traveling or working.


The Yulli, like most sapient races, possess an artistic side, but it is not highlighted or deemed historically significant as in human society. Many Yulli are inclined towards the creation of artwork, but this often takes the form of scrawling simple fractal shapes on the sides of buildings where friends and family members may see them, or by crafting rings or small figurines out of clay or metal and hanging them from chains above doorways.


While gifted with an excellent sense of hearing, the Yulli dislike music and do not engage in it, preferring to keep their ears open for the chatter of friends and for possible threats in the environment. Individuals with more melodious voices are encouraged to talk more, not to pursue a career in singing.


One particularly odd quirk of Yulli sociality is spontaneous drama, essentially a game of unscripted make-believe played between friends and family or between strangers in public places. In young Yulli the role-playing serves to sharpen developing social skills, and adult Yulli adore it as it stimulates their more developed minds to practice the same. It is initiated with a husky coughing noise that has been described as the Yulli equivalent to laughter and usually involves one of a number of stock characters that have been passed down over the centuries.




The Yulli as a whole are not remarkably zealous when compared to humanity. Belief in higher powers has been frequent throughout their history, encompassing the worship of deities and spirits as well as myths that seek to explain natural phenomenon. Religious rites are almost entirely absent, however, and while religious Yulli may utter personal prayers in times of crisis or fear, there are no established guidelines or templates for these orations. There are no priests, temples, or holy books, and the very concept of a crusade is alien to the Yulli mind.


The dominant form of Yulli spirituality within the modern culture is a simple system that places value on the enlightenment of communities through cooperation and interpersonal harmony. To treat other beings as one would treat a close family member is considered the epitome of this practice, and a tolerance towards other cultures, Yulli or alien, is encouraged. A creator force called the Goodness may or may not be included within this system at the digression of the teacher; Yulli are the type of creatures that consider the question of whether a God exists to be a boring piece of theological minutia not worthy of the average worshiper's time.


Monotheistic and polytheistic religions continue to exist among the Yulli, and given the casual attitude Yulli treat their faiths with, the religions tend to merge and become interconnected as teachers of these ways borrow characters and concepts from one another's myths.




An advanced interstellar society, the Yulli possess a high level of technology that allows them to build spacecraft and colonize other worlds.


Yulli warp stations are predicated on plutonic technology, like those of most other races in the galaxy. Plutonics are also employed in myriad other pieces of tech, especially in weapon systems and the notoriously resilient Yulli vehicles.


The bulk of Yulli spacecraft belong to the Kill Fleet, an armada of remote controlled defense drones armed with plutonic plasma beams and a quantum computer system used to synchronize strikes during combat. Most of the Kill Fleet remains in orbit around Yullus to defend against surprise invaders, but regular patrols sweep the surrounding solar system in search of stealthy invaders. These are produced en masse at stations in orbit around Yullus, and platoons of the drones make periodic visits to distant colonies to remind aliens—and the Yulli colonists—that the homeworld defense force is not to be trifled with.


Manned spacecraft are relatively uncommon, but come in a variety of different shapes and sizes depending on the corporation that manufactured them. Scout crafts tend to be small, diamond-shaped, and accompanied by escorts of drones to uncharted parts of the galaxy. Colony ships are huge and round, capable of holding thousands of Yulli in the ever-ongoing colonization effort. Command ships are the closest thing the Yulli possess to manned warships, and are small, unobtrusive vessels designed to observe and deliver commands to drones while in areas beyond reach of the primary control stations.


Plutonic-powered hovercraft are a ubiquitous form of transportation on Yullus and other civilized planets, though on the homeworld itself a system of ancient railways are also maintained. Individuals usually do not own hovercraft, instead renting them from the corporations when they are necessary, or more frequently, boarding public craft supplied by the city companies. The public trains and hovercraft of Yullus tend to be cramped and noisy, precisely as Yulli like them. (As mentioned, Yulli have refined chatting with strangers down to an art form.)


When on hostile planets or among questionable company, Yulli make use of large robotic suits called bipods. These can be anywhere from four to twelve feet tall depending on the make, and are usually armed with single action railguns or simple plutonic plasma launchers. (Sonic weapons are not unheard of, and on worlds populated only by simple wildlife flashing lights may be the sole armament.) The primary defense value of a bipod generally lies in its bulky armor and intimidation value towards aggressive alien life forms.




Archaeological findings suggest that Yulli civilization has existed for slightly over forty-five thousand years, a staggering amount of time when compared to how long other civilizations tend to survive. The species itself dates back four million years, and survives multiple closely related species which died out during a dry spell in the homeworld's climate. Written Yulli history only documents the past ten thousand years, and much of the earliest portion of the documentation is mired in mythology and revisionism.


For most of Yulli history the species existed as a collection of unaffiliated families which dug community burrows and foraged only enough food to survive. Agriculture became prevalent among some family groups as early as one million years ago, and forty-five thousand years ago families began banding together to share resources and to build the first cities. These early cities sprouted all over the largest continents of Yullus, and separate cultures formed from families which spread to offshore islands. War during this period was largely unknown save for occasional skirmishes, but around seven thousand years ago the Yulli cities began to clash more frequently over land.


During the next couple of  millennia the Yulli cultures that would eventually dominate the species became powerful, spreading across the continents assimilating most other factions and occasionally driving out hostile forces that refused to merge. Many noteworthy historical conquerors were born in this period.


The wars and competion between wars brought new technological innovations, but eventually the world settled into a period of high metallurgy, exploration, and steam-powered technology reminiscent of the 19th century of human history. Another plateau settled upon the Yulli as technological innovation stagnated.


Then came the Luprex War.


Seventeen hundred years ago a species of predatory reptilian megafauna called the Luprex invaded Yullus, wiping out many cities and establishing small colonies and outposts across the planet. The Yulli of the time period were taken completely unaware by the invasion force, and were unprepared for the high technology war the Luprex waged. Yullus was occupied and Yulli society was badly shaken.


During a period of several decades, however, surviving Yulli orchestrated a violent logistical war against the occupation. Gunpowder, before largely used as enterainment, was adapted into firearms and artillery. Luprex units were ambushed, killed, and their technology was appropriated by the bands of Yulli. Raids were launched against Luprex farms to destroy their equipment and livestock. For every Yulli rebel killed in an ambush there were several more being birthed at hidden nests in the countryside; little by little, the Yulli outbred and outfought the occupying force until the Luprex began to leave the planet, the cost of occupation now greater than the cost of finding a better planet.


The victorious Yulli had by this point become a more paranoid culture than they had been previously, and set about rebuilding their society with a greater emphasis on security. Yulli scientists were now aware that travel between the stars was possible, and left behind artifacts of Luprex tech were reverse-engineered until their principles were understood.


The scarcity of the resources in the damaged, post-apocalyptic countryside triggered the consolidation of power within several merchant groups which established control over important resources, paving the way for the commercialism-focused Yulli culture of the modern day.


Scarcely two hundred years after the Luprex had left the planet, the Yulli were launching their first unmanned probes into space, while building massive nuclear missiles pointed at the sky in fear of new invaders. The exploitation of asteroid resources was begun by the corporation shortly thereafter, and the development of the plutonic engine made interstellar warp possible. Scouts were sent, finding both uninhabited worlds ripe for colonization and outposts of the Luprex advance force.


The Kill Fleet was designed and established shortly thereafter, with the original model being a self-replicating drone armed with mass drivers and strength of numbers. From safe on their homeworld the Yulli controlled a fleet of remote-operated drones, using them to launch assault after assault on Luprex-controlled worlds. The Yulli took pains not to allow their drones to be traced back to their own planet, and upon discovering the homeworld of the Luprex devoted their entire economy towards pushing the offensive.


Three hundred and fifty years after the end of the first Luprex War, the Luprex homeworld had been seized by the Yulli, the last survivors of the Luprex fleeing into Kuraurus space in disarray.


Since this historic event, the Yulli have enjoyed over a thousand years of stability. Several dozen planets have been heavily colonized, including the former Luprex homeworld; drone fleets are everywhere and have defended their creators from several would-be invasions. Yulli traders and scientists are a common sight throughout this area of the galaxy, and can even be found doing business within the Humaneria.


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Fascinating stuff. I especially enjoyed the history section. Do you think you'll ever post a basic overview of your universe? I see recurring terms in some of your work, and would like to know where things fit in the grand scheme of your creative construction.



Almost certainly, once I've got everything set in stone. I'd like to write at least one genuine short story set in this 'verse here soon, if just to give people a general feel for it.


What recurring terms are you noticing, if I might ask? I'm curious which of my terms are more eye-catching than the rest.

Edited by Kobold King
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