Race name: Rakwulf (Rakwulvs being the plural)
Homeworld name: Doorin
Main Cities: Enalath, Chisora, Genpha, Oloorai, Scliporphi, Lanthsoa
Basic Biology & Diet
Rakwulvs fall under the traditional taxonomy of mammals. Bipedal carnivores, they are characterized by long muzzles with slit nostrils, erect pointed ears, tridactyl webbed digits and furred bodies.
Due to the swampy climate on their planet, most Rakwulf adaptations are related to traversing or surviving in extremely moist climates. Their webbed digits, for example, help them to traverse bogs without restricting movement. Though swimming is easier, so too is walking across the mud. A wider surface foot area helps prevent the Rakwulf from sinking into the mire too far. Their slitted nostrils, placed towards the top of the snout, can be closed at will - an adaptation which greatly assisted the early Rakwulves in their aquatic hunting style. Primitive Rakwulf hunters would submerge themselves in mud and slowly paddle towards prey, similar to Earth crocodiles. When the moment was opportune, the Rakwulf would leap out of the mire and strike.
Even the fur of Rakwulvs is coated in a waxy oil which helps hold in body heat and allow for water and mud to be removed from their bodies with relative ease.
There are two subspecies of Rakwulvs - those with tails, and those without. The tailed subspecies tend to originate more from regions of Doorin where the swamps are primarily bodies of denser mud - the thick rudder-like tails assist in propelling themselves forward in these enviroments. Those without tails seem to have evolutionary ties more to zones of lakes, rivers, and watery marshland. The two subspecies intermingle freely and there appears to be no animosity between them. The tailed genes appear to be dominant, suggesting that at one time Doorin was even more swampy than it currently is.
Because of their apex carnivore build and the physical demands of marshland movement, Rakwulvs consume and burn off numerous heavy meals throughout the day on their homeworld. Those who travel offworld to dryer climates, however, are faced with a conflict of nature versus environment. Their metabolism and biology compel them to eat voraciously, but without constant strenuous physical activity, they very quickly begin to grow paunchy. It is quite easy to tell a native Doorin Rakwulf from an offworlder Rakwulf - just look to the waistline.
Sexual Dimorphism and Mating
There is little in the way of secondary sex characteristics of Rakwulvs, and females do not develop visable mammaries until they are actually pregnant. Male Rakwulvs tend to be smaller in stature than the females, both in height and muscle tone. Behaviorally, males are subordinate. While there are male societal leaders and males in positions of power, Rakwulf culture is primarily female-dominated. Females tend to be more aggressive, more outgoing, more expressive and generally more ambitious than their male counterparts.
This trend can be seen in Rakwulf courtship as well. The courtship is typically initiated by the female, and traditionally is accompanied by some sort of display of her general health and stamina. This may take the form of presenting the object of her affections with the fruits of a hunt, by an extended (and by Rakwulf standards, erotic) dance, or simply by flexing her muscles. Males may also initiate courtship, typically attempting the same feats, but it is fairly uncommon.
If the other Rakwulf is impressed by the display, courtship may move on to reproduction. Rakwulf reproductive biology is quite similar that of Humans - only there's a bit more hair and teeth involved. Not as bloody or violent as Morback courtship, there is none the less a great deal of biting and growling.
Gestation of a Rakwulf fetus varies depending on if the infant is to be born on Doorin or elsewhere. If the parent maintains a Doorish level or physical activity, the Rakwulf infant will be born in ten months' time. If, however, the parent is carrying the developing child while away from Doorin, they are frequently born early - at only eight months. While this premature birth does not seem to endanger the offspring, it does seem to correlate to a larger number of males born.
Rakwulf children reach young adulthood at approximately 15 years of age by Earth standards. They are considered mature by 20. The male does most of the nurturing and childcare, and it is considered normal for Rakwulf mothers to be primarily uninvolved in the lives of their offspring.
Language and Culture
Due to the generally subdued nature of Rakwulf males, most diplomatic dealings are done via contact with males. Females tend to be involved only when matters are dire or require a firm hand. The males, on the other hand, will do all they can to avoid offense and conflict with those they meet - this tends to work in their favor as traders.
There are at least six major Rakwulf nations, though there are easily a hundred times that in smaller kingdoms and sovereignties throughout Doorin. The six major nations occupy six of the planet's largest swamps.
The six nations have all developed their own distinct languages, though xenolinguists have identified many of the root sounds as being quite similar. Speaking any one of these languages requires substantial lung capacity - something the semi-aquatic Rakwulvs have a great deal of. For most other aliens, though, speaking a Doorish tongue will be something limited only to clipped sentence fragments or single words.
Rakwulvs do not seem to have much trouble adapting to Uni, though they do tend to drawl substantially when they speak it.
Though most species would dry a swamp to avoid the rot it would eventually lay to their structures, Rakwulvs quite enjoy it. Their homes are largely mud or clay based structures, and are typically at least an inch deep in water on the ground floor at all times. Additional floors may be added at any time due to the nature of the building materials, but it is largely considered 'prime real estate' to occupy the first floor.
Mythology and Rulerism
Rakwulf mythology first and foremost features the swamps and, unsurprisingly, an omnipotent force or being known as The Damp. The Damp is believed to be from whence all life originates, and to which all life should return. Should a Rakwulf be killed by one of Doorin's many larger predators lurking in the mud, it was the will of the Damp.
Because of the nebulous nature of the Damp, Rakwulvs had little to no trouble welcoming and adapting Rulerism to their current beliefs. The Ruler could well be the Damp, for Rulerism was nothing more than a new title for any old deity which might exist. As such, Rakwulvs will freely alternate swearing by the Damp and the Ruler. They are also fond of swearing by Dryness - though not in a cheerful way. To say something is positively Dry is not a compliment coming from a Rakwulf.
Technology and Alien Relations
The majority of Rakwulf technology is inspired by or tied deeply to water. Rakwulvs used steam to power things for many years, burning the pete of the bogs to heat water. As their technological understanding progressed, they moved on to splitting the hydrogen atom - almost all modern Rakwulf technology is hydrogen powered.
Unsurprisingly, this resulted it taking a much longer time to launch their first spacecraft (as nuclear powered rockets are not as powerful as one might think) but a much more sustainable life in space once they arrived. Rakwulvs quickly became traders and explorers, almost immediately finding their nearest neighbors on Hekshano.
While Rakwulvs welcomed the Rulerists to their culture, they were not going to become missionaries to the Hekshanians - they left that to designated Rulerist companies. They did, however, find the primitive Hekshanians charming and entertaining. Before the mine fields were implemented around the planet, Hekshano was a popular exotic get-away for Rakwulf vacations...Though it was a bit dry for permanent residence.
All Rakwulvs, be they native to Doorin or emigrants to other worlds, have a natural affinity for the wet and swampy climates. There is a deep sense of "rightness" to a Rakwulf to move through mud, and those who live in societies where it is not readily available will go out of their way to seek the sensation out. Those who go without walking through mud for too long may develop nervous personality disorders, and so mud treks are often thought of as a very valid form of therapy for Rakwulvs.
Most Rakwulvs found off Doorin now are traders or diplomats, and so have a large male population. They tend to court species indiscriminately, suggesting that the true attraction for a Rakwulf lies not in physical prowess (as suggested by their courtships) but in emotional bonds or mental stimulation. As a result, many Rakwulf half-bloods are born.