Puppeteers

Biology and Sociology

Puppeteers have two forelegs and a single hindleg ending in hooved feet and two snake-like heads instead of a humanoid upper body. The heads are very small, containing a forked tongue, extensive rubbery lips, rimmed with finger-like knobs, and a single eye per head. The Puppeteer brain is housed not in the heads, but in the ‘thoracic’ cavity well protected beneath the mane-covered hump from which the heads emerge. They use the ‘mouths’ to manipulate objects, as a humanoid uses hands. The Puppeteer’s native language sounds like highly complex orchestral music, but they seem to be able to reproduce human language without difficulty or device, as well as the Heroes’ Tongue (Kzinti), suggesting their vocal arrangement may resemble a pair of avian-like syrinx rather than vocal cords. Most Puppeteers give themselves the names of centaurs and other figures in Greek mythology, such as Nessus, Nike and Chiron — at least when called upon to deal with humans.

Biologically, Puppeteers are highly intelligent herbivores; a herd animal, Puppeteers prefer the company (and smell) of their own kind. Their cycle of reproduction is unusual, but Earth equivalents exist in the form of digger wasps: the Puppeteers consider themselves to have three genders (two male, one female), except their two ‘male’ genders are the equivalent of human female and male (one has an ovipositor, the other a penis, of sorts) and the ‘female’ is the (non-sentient) parasitized host into which the ovum and spermatozoon are deposited.

Puppeteers are also extremely long-lived. The exact length of a Puppeteer’s lifespan is unknown, but it is at least several centuries — the Puppeteer Eros has been in communication with Vulcan for over 300 years and he was considered elderly when diplomatic talks began in 2089. This lengthy lifespan is also responsible for extreme crowding: the Puppeteer homeworld has a population of over four trillion, and four farming worlds are dedicated entirely to supplying the population with food.

Technologically, the Puppeteers are very advanced, centuries or millennia ahead of most other species (including Humans). For example, modern transporter technology was reverse engineered by the UFP from a derilict Puppeteer ship. More impressively, Puppeteers transformed their home world, and several other astronomical bodies, into a Klemperer rosette, in order to flee a galactic catastrophe.

Socially, the two most notable traits of Puppeteers are their racial/cultural penchant for cowardice and their tendency to congregate in herds. The cowardice is thought in Puppeteer society to originate with the Puppeteer instinct for turning one’s back on danger. However, the trait is thought by many to actually originate from their herd instinct, as the instinct to turn one’s back is linked to an instinct to kick the hind hoof at an attacker.

Another noticeable behavioral trait is the coma state, broadly a cognate of the human fetal position – in the same way that ostriches are said to bury their heads in the sand, Puppeteers fold up into a ball, tucking their three legs and two heads underneath the padded cranial bulge. This is, in part, an explosion reflex, learned during childhood. Their cowardice is also reflected in their architecture and object design, as all the Puppeteer-designed rooms and vessels have no sharp edges; everything curves into everything else, giving a ‘half-melted’ look and meaning that objects are less likely to damage someone inadvertently, through their own carelessness.

A courageous Puppeteer is not merely regarded as insane, but is insane, showing symptoms we would associate with human mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, homicidal tendencies, clinical depression and so on. Incidentally, no Human has ever met a completely sane Puppeteer, as no sane Puppeteer would ever leave the safety of the Fleet of Worlds, and even those who do would not venture out without a painless method of suicide, in case circumstances required it.

Politics and Relations with Other Species

Politically, the Puppeteers have a form of democracy with two major parties: the Conservatives and the Experimentalists. The Conservatives have held power for a majority of Puppeteer history; Experimentalist regimes only take power when a crisis threatens the safety of the Puppeteer race, and action is considered less dangerous than inaction.

The leader of the Puppeteers is known as the ‘Hindmost’. Since Puppeteers are foremost concerned with their own safety and the survival of their species, the most important Puppeteer is considered to be behind, or the protector of every other member of the species. It is a shortening from the more literal the one who leads from behind.

General Products

The Puppeteers’ renown for honesty in trading allowed the species to accumulate an expansive mercantile empire called ‘General Products’. The Ferengi were uplifted by the Puppeteers about 2000 years ago and as a result their entire culture has become a mockery of General Products. After the Puppeteer Exodus, General Products turned over most of its business operations to the Ferengi with the CEO of the company being the Grand Nagus.

Foreign Policy

The general foreign policy of Puppeteers consists of attempts to control the universe around them to ensure their own safety. As Puppeteers try to expose themselves to as little risk as possible, they try to use other beings as agents, utilizing a combination of bribes and blackmail to encourage cooperation. Blackmail is not immoral to a Puppeteer, and Puppeteers have an established code of conduct surrounding the practice, making it perfectly safe for both the blackmailer and the victim, including that the blackmailer must turn over all their evidence against the victim and submit to a partial memory wipe, so they cannot betray the blackmail deal. The Puppeteers also use more personal manipulation; for instance, Puppeteers who have dealt with human males have utilized a voice that sounds like that of a seductive human female, and some Puppeteers have even utilized an implanted tasp, a device which could stimulate the pleasure center of the brain, thus allowing him to subliminally condition those he dealt with.

In the distant past the Puppeteer government meddled in Human, Ferengi, Klingon, Andorian, Bajoran, and Kzinti gene pools. Other species may have been meddled with as well but this remains unknown.

Homeworld — The Fleet of Worlds

For centuries, the location of the Puppeteer homeworld was a great mystery. No entity in Known Space outside the Puppeteer race was aware of the location, despite extensive surveys. In 2371 the USS Vanguard encountered the Fleet of Worlds and was asked by the Puppeteers to conduct a mission to a Ringworld. The Puppeteers used a transwarp superdrive to allow the Vanguard to travel thousands of light years in a matter of seconds. The crew of the Vanguard was actually able to visit the Puppeteer homeworld, a first for any species other than the Ferengi.

The Puppeteers had to make some drastic alterations to their home system during their history, as waste heat due to overindustrialisation was rapidly making their planet uninhabitable. They moved their planet farther from their sun to lessen the effects of global warming, but overindustrialisation forced them to move four of the other planets in their system closer to their world and terraform them into ‘farming worlds’, arranging the five planets into a Klemperer Rosette.

Eventually, their sun converted from a yellow dwarf to a red giant, so the Puppeteers moved the ‘Fleet of Worlds’ – the five planets – to their system’s Oort cloud. This is one of the reasons the Puppeteers were so successful at keeping the location of their homeworld a secret — explorers would be looking for a yellow dwarf (as one could surmise that Puppeteers had evolved around a yellow dwarf from their biology and that they were comfortable on Earth-like planets without pressure suits) when their planet(s) were actually near a red giant.

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Language of the Birds
Clytemnestra
Ferengi

Puppeteer Species Template
Attributes
  • Fitness 2(4)
    • Strength -1
  • Coordination 2(5)
    • Reaction -1
  • Intellect 3(7)
    • Logic +1
  • Presence 2(5)
  • Psi 0(5)
  • Force 0(5)
  • Essence 0(0)
Skills
  • Culture (Puppeteer) 2(3)
  • Engineering, Any 2(3)
  • History (Puppeteer) 1(2)
  • Sciences, Any 1(2)
  • World Knowledge (Sula Adani VIII or V) 1(2)
Typical Traits
  • Language: Language of the Birds [Fluent/R/W] (+4)
  • Mathmatical Ability (+3)
  • Excellent Chemoreception (+2)
  • Coward (-2)

Puppeteers

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