Motes in the Serpent's Eye
The Pershala are a nomadic cat-like race that are fascinated with speed. Although they are generally arrogant and self-serving, most other races are willing to tolerate the pershala because of the valuable piloting skills they provide.
The earliest pershala were undeniably planet-bound, but archaeological artifacts make it clear that the race has always harbored a desire to achieve high speeds and flight. Pershala are powerful climbers and adept acrobats, skills that served their ancestors well when they first took to living among the trees of their native worlds. For the pershala, it was a relatively short progression from the treetops to the sky and then into space. Along the way, their acute sense, strong coordination, and obsession with speed made them natural pilots and cause them to push their vehicle technology to the limits. The other sentient races of the galaxy came to recognize the pershalan mastery of piloting and design ingenuity. Many races adopted pershalan techniques and hired pershalan trainers and mechanics. It was not long until the pershala could be found in garages, hangars and space stations throughout the galaxy.
When the Dragon War came, the pershala found themselves deeply embroiled in the conflict. Pershalan pilots, soldiers, and scouts fought bravely for both of the dragon kingdoms. Each side quickly recognized the strategic importance of pershalan training facilities and vehicle designs and their value to the enemy. Many pershalan strongholds were destroyed and entire planets were decimated and stripped bare over the course of the war. The losses of the more advanced technologies and designs were heavy on both sides. Some speculate that this devastation was one of the major reasons that the dragons agreed to cease hostilities and enter into the compromise that is the Dragon Empire.
After the war, many pershala found that they had no homes to which they could return. As a result, many pershala continued doing what they knew best. A large number decided to remain in the military, where they have continued to serve with distinction within the Imperial fleets. Other pershala acquired new ships or redesigned their old ones, making these vessels their homes. They formed small caravans and fleets for protection and took up a nomadic lifestyle. Many travel from system to system looking for fresh resources or buyers for the trinkets they have acquired through their travels. There remain those pershala that feel cheated by the Empire’s treatment of them during the war. A number of them pursue criminal lifestyles in some of the major urban centers in the Empire. Their heightened senses and speed serve their roguish trades well. A few have sought out worlds similar to those of their ancestors upon which to settle. They find they are well suited for the life of a ranger and live relatively secluded lives.
Regardless of where they live, most pershala still maintain their love of speed. The twin sports of hunting and racing were popular among the pershala long before they ever dreamed of voyaging through the galaxy. To this day, each sport holds a special place in their hearts. Indeed, the two are often combined into a single sport, which the pershala call pertigren, or “the honored chase.” Every year, nearly every large concentration of pershala holds at least one or two of these events. Pertigren are always well attended by pershala and outsiders alike. Although creative variations abound, the event often involves a designated prey, four teams of protectors who guard it, and five teams of hunters. The hunters’ goal is to catch the prey before it reaches a designated location. The event can cover anywhere from a single city block to several star systems, depending upon the resources of the pershalan sponsors. Many pershalan personal craft are designed with one or more of these events in mind.
A pershala carefully considers any new purchase or acquisition. To a pershala the object’s feel is as important as its function. They choose items that best suit their personality. Many pershala look upon teleportation devices and starcasting vehicles with little tolerance, bordering on disgust. To a pershala, these items generally feel wrong as they accomplish the objectives of other forms of transportation, but lack the thrill and exhilaration those forms provide. Magic in general is disregarded by the majority of pershala, though their attitudes are slowly changing due to the magical advances and conveniences that have become commonplace during the benevolent rule of the Qesemet emperors.
Agile (+2): Pershala have the feline grace of their ancestors. They start with a d6 Agility.
Hygiene Freaks (-1): Compulsive cleanliness is also a common trait among the pershala. they are extremely hygienic, which gives them all the more reason to want to keep ‘unclean’ outsiders from handling their property. They generally abhor most forms of physical contact with others and have been known to flinch if they believe that even accidental contact is imminent. They find the cold, sterile touch of technology far preferable. Most bathe at least three times per day and nearly every pershala wears gloves almost constantly, changing them several times a day. This sits well with the majority of officials who prefer that the pershala keep their sharp claws hidden and unused.
Low Light Vision (+1): Pershala eyes amplify light like a cat’s. They can see in the dark and ignore attack penalties for Dim and Dark lighting.
Natural Weaponry (+1): Pershala have retractable claws and sharp teeth that do Str + d6 damage and never count as an unarmed defender.
The Need for Speed (-1): Pershala are speed junkies. There is a reason that one does not find many pershala piloting commercial luxury craft. To the uninitiated, their piloting style can be alarming or unsettling at best.
Outsider (Minor) (-1): The Pershala are of great value to the Dragon Empire and the galactic community as a whole, and they know it. While some appreciate the pershalan penchant for frankness and honesty, most see it as more arrogance. The pershala rarely attempt to alter this opinion. They easily get annoyed and agitated with others that they consider to be wasting their time. The pershala are often accused of being unapproachable, unfriendly and aloof. In truth they convey their emotions readily through their body movement and sounds. A pershala can almost always recognize the emotional state of another pershala, but other species have been unable to grasp or comprehend these complex patterns. Inevitably, an outsider will say or do something a pershala considers to be inappropriate or disrespectful. These mis-communications simply add to each races’ unsavory opinions of the other. In addition to the roleplaying effects above, a pershala’s Charisma suffers a –2 modifier among all but his own people.
Possessive (-1): Pershala are quite possessive of their property, particularly their vehicles, which most consider their home. Pershalan vehicles are often marked with identifiable symbols or special runes that have great significance to their owners. Any vehicle that is operated by a pershala, even those they do not own, are named by the pilot. The ritual naming process is very significant to the pershala and the names are often derived from prominent family members, trusted friends, and other respected community individuals. Occasionally, this practice results in some confusion as a vehicle may share the same name as a trusted friend. Pershala usually create elaborate security systems to guard their vehicles from theft or unauthorized use. They are quite possessive of their security codes and their granting of permission to use their personal vehicles, a trait that does not endear them to most other races and adds to their reputations as arrogant loners. These jealous attitudes are not limited just to vehicles. A pershala is as likely to be possessive of his tableware as he is his starship or a tribal heirloom.
Additionally, a starting Pershalan character will select one of the following:
- Best Damn Pilots in the ’Verse (+2): The character has a + 2 bonus when making any Piloting roll.
- Choose any from the list below:
- Leaper (+1): Your character doubles the normal jumping distance, and adds + 1d6” from a successful Strength roll.
- Naturally Stealthy (+1): The character starts with a d6 in Stealth.
- Climber (+1): The character starts with a d6 in the Climb skill.