The Multaaran Empire

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MikkoM
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The Multaaran Empire

#1 Post by MikkoM » Wed Oct 21, 2009 7:51 pm

Version 1.1

Short introduction: Shape shifting artistic spy masters, who believe in knowledge.

Biology: The Multaarans are shape shifters capable of transforming their body to mimic other organisms or objects. They are also highly skilled in controlling their body temperature and metabolism, and appear to be resistant to telepathy. All of these factors combined make them very difficult to detect when they want to hide themselves. However maintaining other forms than their natural one consumes a lot of energy and puts their body under considerable strain. This is why it isn`t usually possibly for a Multaaran to hold a foreign shape very different from his original one more than a few days, before he must return to his original shape to rest and feed. The amount of time that a Multaaran can hold a foreign form depends considerably on how close that form is to the Multaaran`s original form.

The average Multaaran height is about 3 meters and the average weight about 150 kilograms. The Multaarans have six limbs and are bipedal. They don`t have different sexes as every fully grown Multaaran is able to grow off-spring. However in order for a new Multaaran individual to be produced genetic material is required from two different individuals. New Multaaran`s grow attached to the outer parts of an existing Multaaran`s body. The growing process takes about two years (in human terms) and during this time the new Multaaran individual is very vulnerable. The very long growing process is required to make the new Multaaran physically capable to change its form. The growing process, together with the fact that there is considerable extra mass attached to the “mother” Multaaran also limits her ability to take part in the society considerably. As a result of all this population growth is quite slow in the Multaaran society.

Society: The Multaaran society is build around a concept, that they themselves call “true knowledge”. What this “true knowledge” literally means is espionage. The Multaarans regard knowledge obtained by spies as the highest form of knowledge. Their society is ruled by The Council Of The Wise, which consists of former intelligent operatives that have already had a long career in intelligent organisations. However, the love of “true knowledge” also weakens the loyalty of Multaaran citizens towards the central government, as misuses of power and the secrets of those currently in power are quite often exposed in the Multaaran society, and civil unrests and changes in the government are not uncommon.

Another thing that is characteristic for the Multaarans is the love of art and the interest in creating new objects. Largely resulting from the Multaaran shape shifting abilities they have developed a unique appreciation for different shapes, colours and materials. The plurality of these is deeply appreciated in Multaaran architecture and object making, and objects and buildings which are able to, or seem to be able to change their form, colour or material are regarded as the highest forms of art in the Multaaran society, as they are believed to capture the Multaaran essence. This makes the Multaarans very good manufacturers of objects as after espionage, manufacturing and the solving of its problems is the second most appreciated field of work in their society. The down side of these kinds of values is that farming, which is seen as a non artistic field of work, is not held in high regard in the Multaaran society. Farming is seen only as a necessary mean to keep the society alive, and as such most respected Multaaran scholars don`t waste their time with its meaningless problems.

All official Multaaran representatives and high officials always appear in black colour in public, apart from their eyes, which usually have a colour that forms a sharp contrast to their all black bodies. On the other hand those individuals that are despised in the Multaaran society (criminals, traitors etc.) are forced to appear in all white. This “colour coding” is the combined result of Multaaran tradition, philosophy and natural science. The black colour that absorbs light rather than reflects it, is seen as an example of the ideal Multaaran. Someone who obtains knowledge for himself and uses it wisely, but doesn`t share it with every possible individual, as some one might use this knowledge against him. Black is also a concealing colour in the age old Multaaran mythology, not surprisingly as the Multaarans are day creatures. The colour white on the other hand reflects light and is thus seen in the Multaaran society as revealing. A white Multaaran is considered to be a fool, some one who openly shares his knowledge and secrets with others and because of this can be easily manipulated or destroyed by them.

The Multaaran individuals are usually very reserved and secretive even in everyday interaction with other Multaarans. In public discussions it is usually quite difficult to tell what they are truly meaning and a lot of age old phrases that are considered to be safe, but often have very little true meaning, are used in their conversations. It usually takes quite a long time for a Multaaran individual to start to trust some one and even when this trust is finally established, the most meaningful conversations are usually conducted behind closed doors.

Military: Like in all other aspects in the Multaaran society knowledge is also highly valued in the Multaaran military. The Multaaran military commanders believe in obtaining as much knowledge about the enemy as possible, while at the same time hiding their own forces from the enemy as totally as possible. If this kind of imbalance in knowledge is achieved, it allows the Multaarans to set up traps for their enemy, and to concentrate their attacks on the enemy’s weakest spot. Also, the Multaarans shape shifting abilities gives them a considerable advantage in ground combat.

History: The Multaarans developed on a swamp planet, which was ruled by dangerous large predators. They themselves were smaller predators and as a result of this they were constantly either stalking other animals that they could eat or hiding from larger beasts. As the Multaarans weren’t the dominant species on their planet, they weren`t ever very numerous and occasionally their numbers droped to near extinction. After one near extinction two changes began to take shape on two separated Multaaran populations. One of these changes was the increase in brain size and complexity, and the other was the emerging shape shifting ability, which began as simple colour changing skill. Thanks to these two significant changes both Multaaran populations grew larger and gradually occupied new areas. This aerial expansion eventually led to the meeting of these two populations. Fortunately for the future Multaaran generations these two groups weren`t yet genetically so different that producing fully functional off-spring would have been impossible for them, and so eventually the two populations merged.

Over time the Multaarans brain size and complexity and the shape shifting ability developed, and together they impacted the third major change in Multaaran prehistory. Slowly the Multaarans, which had previously been mostly either lonely wonderers or at most formed small groups began to form larger and larger groups, which thanks to the brain changes had more and more complex social relations. Other aspects that allowed this change to take place were the Multaarans becoming bipedal, which released all of their four upper limbs to effectively manipulate objects, the invention of nomadism, which allowed them to use their previous prey animals to produce food more effectively and the gradual discovery of eatable plants that could be grown for food.

As a result of all this, small Multaaran aristocracies began to take shape. At first these aristocracies were ruled by Multaarans that had been successful on a wide variety of fields of life (generals, scientists, merchants, artists, spies etc.). Many of these new aristocracies concentrated their efforts against the large predators that still were dominant throughout the Multaaran homeworld and were a serious threat to Multaarans and their “cattle”. During this period that has later been named “The Great Hunt” the large predators where eventually hunted to extinction. Those Multaarans that where masters of shape shifting played a crucial role in tracking down the predators and arranging successful ambushes against them. Many Multaaran writers of the time write of their deeds in awe, and at the same time criticize those generals that believed in defeating the bests with just pure military power, which often led to the mass slaughtering of those Multaarans involved in these campaigns.

After The Great Hunt was over the Multaaran societies grew considerably and so did the conflicts between the Multaaran aristocracies. The success of skilled shape shifters, spies, during The Great Hunt had already given them a dominant position in some of the aristocracies, and the conflicts after The Great Hunt only increased their meaning. Numerous times either generals who were also spies or generals that used the services of spy masters triumphed over generals that didn`t trust spies. Spies were also capable of ending wars with as little bloodshed as possible as they succeeded in assassinating the enemy’s leaders and influenced the situation so that the leaders that they supported rose to power. This was again noticed by important writers and thinkers of the time, who came to the conclusion that the leaders of the aristocracies should be selected among experienced spies, as these individuals had the ability to both collect vital information and use it effectively.

As spies rose to power in the Multaaran aristocracies, changes in the leadership became quite rapid as the competition among spies for the highest positions was hard and propaganda and assassinations frequently used means to gain high positions. The Multaaran aristocracies also continued to wage wars against each other, but usually these wars weren’t too bloody as they were most often resolved by successful assassinations of the enemy’s leaders or by a couple of decisive ambush battles or surprise attacks on enemy’s key areas.

At the begin of the space age there was much talk among the Multaaran aristocracies to unite all the Multaarans against the unknown threats of space, but for decades these talks never lead to anything concrete. Only after the leaders of the largest Multaaran aristocracy succeeded in assassinating the leaders of the second and third largest Multaaran aristocracies, and placed leaders more favorable to their ideas in these states, was it possible to form the Council Of The Wise.
However the council is still a young organisation and as such quite vulnerable.

Gameplay effects:

Espionage: Superior
Research: Average (possible bonus to espionage related techs)
Ground combat: Good
Diplomacy: Below average (lack of trust, difficult to understand)
Industry: Good
Mining: Average
Farming: Poor
Trading: Average
Population growth: Below average/Poor
Loyalty: Below average

Natural environment: Swamp


Notes: This is only the first version of this text. I am not sure if I am yet satisfied with the appearance of the Multaarans, apart from the colour ideology, but at least in its current form the appearance leaves a lot of artistic freedom. Also, even though I have stated that “all official Multaaran representatives and high officials always appear in black colour in public” this doesn`t have to mean that they are black all the time. Especially in diplomacy where things from time to time can probably get a little heated and convincing the other party of your suggestions is very important, I see no reason why the Multaarans would have to appear as black all the time. The black colour is only meant to be the standard appearance of these officials, to which they should return eventually in all cases.

I am not sure about the name of the empire either, and most certainly at least the Multaaran history could have a couple of names of individuals and areas in it. The entire history section was written quite fast and could of course have more material (like dates) and more varied events. I also apologise if I have stolen some one else’s ideas. At least I have used a similar predator idea that is used in Gyisache, and not surprisingly many of my ideas have been influenced by sci-fi series, movies and games that I have seen/played during my life. I am also certain that there are some language errors in this text, but hopefully it is nevertheless understandable.

Probably the biggest motivation for The Multaaran Empire were The Darloks from MOO 2. And the fact that I haven`t been fully satisfied with those races already posted in here, which use The Darloks as their source of inspiration.
Last edited by MikkoM on Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:14 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Bigjoe5
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Re: The Multaaran Empire

#2 Post by Bigjoe5 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:30 pm

In general, I like it, especially the culture. A few concerns however; Trade will most likely be the resource used for espionage. It doesn't really make sense for the espionage masters to have poor trade (i.e. nobody will play the race without customizing it to have good trade). Also, I find shape-shifting spy-masters to be kind of cliche, but maybe that's just me... Potentially very interesting would be the Laenfa with some aspects of this race mixed in, since the Laenfa have the interesting physiology and the Multaarans have a fascinating culture and history (particularly since the Laefna history is somewhat whimsical).
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Re: The Multaaran Empire

#3 Post by MikkoM » Tue Nov 24, 2009 11:48 pm

I just wanted to say thank you for your comments. Especially the trade issue was something that I hadn`t even considered. I will get back to the comments in more detail sooner or later, when I can find enough time to focus on this issue again.

For now, I would like to replace the word DNA from the following section of my text with a synonym that has the same function as DNA, but isn`t necessarily deoxyribonucleic acid.
MikkoM wrote: However in order for a new Multaaran individual to be produced DNA is required from two different individuals.
This might seem like a minor edit, but the word DNA in the text annoys me considerably, because it links The Multaarans to Earth creatures that have DNA, and it can also produce realism arguments about what DNA can and can`t do. I am thinking of using the word “inheritance material” to replace DNA , but don`t really know if this is a good term for this purpose.

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Re: The Multaaran Empire

#4 Post by eleazar » Wed Nov 25, 2009 2:07 am

MikkoM wrote: I am thinking of using the word “inheritance material” to replace DNA
Try "genetic material".

Also you use the term "woundrebal" at least a couple times. I have no idea what it's supposed to mean.


Shape-shifting as an espionage enhancing skill seems to me problematic when you have the diverse sizes and environments that our alien seem to be going for.
Can they shift into a battleship sized lava-dwelling egassem? Or a telepathic being that will blend in with the rest of George, or any telepathic species for that matter? We have proposed societies of microbes, vacuum dwellers, energy beings, robots, digital intelligence, etc.

Unless the shape-shifting is supernaturally effective, it just not as good as it would be in Moo1 when everybody was anthropomorphic.

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Re: The Multaaran Empire

#5 Post by mZhura » Wed Nov 25, 2009 4:36 am

eleazar wrote:Also you use the term "woundrebal" at least a couple times. I have no idea what it's supposed to mean.
vulnerable

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Re: The Multaaran Empire

#6 Post by MikkoM » Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:35 pm

eleazar wrote:Shape-shifting as an espionage enhancing skill seems to me problematic when you have the diverse sizes and environments that our alien seem to be going for.
Can they shift into a battleship sized lava-dwelling egassem? Or a telepathic being that will blend in with the rest of George, or any telepathic species for that matter? We have proposed societies of microbes, vacuum dwellers, energy beings, robots, digital intelligence, etc.

Unless the shape-shifting is supernaturally effective, it just not as good as it would be in Moo1 when everybody was anthropomorphic
Well, if these species that you mentioned are going to use already build parts of the game: research technology, build/grow space ships and buildings, collect food, minerals, wealth etc. they are probably going to have to use different kinds of objects to be able to do these things. Also most planets are probably going to have objects (and organisms) of different sizes and materials on them. Now at least to me this seems to leave quite a lot of options for a shape sifting species to use even when working with aliens that are very different than the shape sifters themselves, or live on a world that is very different from the worlds that the shape sifters prefer.

And what comes to the size issue, even without the shape sifting ability being supernaturally effective, there seems to be quite a large variety even in the size of certain human organs depending on how they are “packed” together. For example the lungs:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_lung

So considering this, it shouldn`t be too unbelievable that a shape sifting species can hold shapes that are radically smaller or bigger than the original size of the shape sifter itself.

And who said that being a galactic spy should be easy? ;) Probably all species are going to have to use technology to survive in environments naturally hostile to them, or to create a believable representation of a member of another species. However shape sifters should have the advantage that they can more easily hide these devises inside their bodies, and possibly by changing the relevant parts of their body also hide them from different kinds of scanners and other security equipment. And hopefully in many cases the shape sifters, at least at a distance, may appear like a member of another species without using any technology at all.

The problem with telepaths seems to be quite interesting however. It could probably be solved either by making the Multaarans themselves telepaths or by making them resistant and their thoughts invisible to telepathic species.
eleazar wrote:Also you use the term "woundrebal" at least a couple times. I have no idea what it's supposed to mean.
mZhura wrote:vulnerable
This is the word that I was looking for.
Bigjoe5 wrote: A few concerns however; Trade will most likely be the resource used for espionage. It doesn't really make sense for the espionage masters to have poor trade (i.e. nobody will play the race without customizing it to have good trade).).
This seems to be a big problem. Fortunately though, this can probably be quite easily fixed by changing trade to be at least average. Now as I have said in the Multaaran society description the love of art and the manufacturing of objects are also characteristic to the Multaaran society. And as a result of this, if the Multaarans are capable of producing very high quality products, there are probably going to be a large number of buyers for those products, despite the fact that the Multaarans themselves might not be the easiest merchants to deal with.

Bigjoe5 wrote: Also, I find shape-shifting spy-masters to be kind of cliche, but maybe that's just me...
Now I don`t know how popular shape sifting spy-masters are in sci-fi novels for example, but at least in TV series, movies and games that I have watched/played I have found the shape sifting species to be a bit disappointing. In DS9 there were shape sifters, but as far as I can remember only Odo used his ability actively for spying. The other shape sifters seemed to be more interested in being in their liquid shape or killing/enslaving non shape sifting species.

In MOO 2 there were of course the Darloks, which I liked very much, but because spying in MOO 2 was always quite random and not very strategic, I at least felt that I never got the change to use the Darloks the way I would have wanted to use them.

This is why I ended up creating the Multaarans, so that there could finally be a shape sifting species whose spying abilities would be used properly. (This is of course assuming that spying in FreeOrion will be more strategic/tactical and less random than in MOO 2.) The general idea of a species that can change its shape has also always fascinated me. And as I have tried to present in this message, I think that there could still be a place for a spy-master shape sifting species even in FreeOrion`s diverse galaxy.

The other possibility for a spymaster race that I currently can see would be strong telepathic species, but they probably too would face problems against other telepaths, machines etc.

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Re: The Multaaran Empire

#7 Post by eleazar » Thu Nov 26, 2009 3:23 am

I wasn't trying to make the point that shape-shifting would be useless. Simply that citizens of many species would be impossible to duplicate unless it can change it's size 100s of times bigger or smaller. In other words, that ability alone in the FO universe is not enough to make a species master spies -- unlike the MoO1 universe.

Also i don't get the point about the lungs (or other human organs). Lungs can change size because they are inflated/deflated with air from the outside. Unless your Multaarans are inflatable, and a large part of their volume is air (or whatever atmospheric gas), this doesn't really demonstrate a way that a creature could radically change it's size.

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Re: The Multaaran Empire

#8 Post by MikkoM » Thu Dec 10, 2009 12:31 am

eleazar wrote:I wasn't trying to make the point that shape-shifting would be useless. Simply that citizens of many species would be impossible to duplicate unless it can change it's size 100s of times bigger or smaller. In other words, that ability alone in the FO universe is not enough to make a species master spies -- unlike the MoO1 universe.
In my description of the Multaarans I have also tried to emphasise the overall meaning that espionage has on their entire society and its history. So considering this, it shouldn`t be too surprising that the Multaarans might also be very interested in developing new espionage related technology and methods to conduct espionage. And espionage related technology is probably something that all species have to use, if they want to have successful spy operations against species that are radically different from their own.

As for the telepath issue, I am a little reluctant to make the Multaarans themselves telepaths, as it would be nice if the species in FreeOrion could have characteristics different from each other. The Multaarans might have shape shifting as their special ability and be resistant to telepathy, leaving telepathy as a special ability to some other species. But if the Multaarans are both shape shifters and telepaths, being telepathic isn`t such a special ability anymore to those species that have it as their distinguishing ability. So long story short, I am worried that making the Multaarans telepathic might make them a species that has all the cool special abilities.

Anyway, if the Multaarans would be just resistant to telepathy, they could probably be interpreted either as mute individuals (if telepathic communities have them), or individuals that block other telepaths from their mind, or simply “fly under the radar” of telepathic communities, possibly by disguising themselves as objects or animals.
eleazar wrote:Also i don't get the point about the lungs (or other human organs). Lungs can change size because they are inflated/deflated with air from the outside. Unless your Multaarans are inflatable, and a large part of their volume is air (or whatever atmospheric gas), this doesn't really demonstrate a way that a creature could radically change it's size.
I was referring to things like these
wikipedia wrote: Together, the lungs contain approximately the same length as 1500 miles (2,400 km) of airways and 300 to 500 million alveoli, having a total surface area of about 70 m2 in adults — roughly the same area as one side of a tennis court.[1] Furthermore, if all of the capillaries that surround the alveoli were unwound and laid end to end, they would extend for about 620 miles.
although I do realize that achieving such an astonishing measurements as the surface area, or length of the capillaries, probably means that other measurements in these cases, such as thickness, are more than likely less than spectacular.

Also what you said about atmospheric gases isn`t necessarily a bad point, as using different kinds of gases in the shape shifting process might allow for big shapes that are also relatively light, thanks to the gases, and maybe even have some sort of surface tension (if you can call it that) like an inflated balloon. However, all this is of course pure speculation, as there are no real world shape shifting species that could use a similar process.

So all in all, taking shapes that are radically bigger than the Multaaran`s original shape wouldn`t probably be too difficult, as in addition to the all of the above, multiple Multaaran individuals could probably work together to achieve a radically bigger shape. However a radically smaller shape might indeed be more problematic, as there should probably be limits on how small a Multaaran individual can get, to make the whole process believable.

Also, as an addition to the notes, even though I have stated that “all official Multaaran representatives and high officials always appear in black colour in public” this doesn`t have to mean that they are black all the time. Especially in diplomacy where things from time to time can get a little heated and convincing the other party of your suggestions is very important, I see no reason why the Multaarans would have to appear as black all the time. The black colour is only meant to be the standard appearance of these officials, to which they should return eventually in all cases.

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Re: The Multaaran Empire

#9 Post by MikkoM » Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:49 am

Made a couple of minor changes to the story:

- Added a part about the Multaarans being resistant to telepathy. There isn`t currently any explanation for this ability, but if one is required it can surely be added.

- Removed the part describing the lack of trust in the Multaaran commercial world, and changed their trading to average (at least for now)

- Removed the very good option from ground combat, now good, as it would be nice to leave the best ground combat ratings to the more war like species.


Also recently found these two ideas for a shape shifting species:

viewtopic.php?f=7&t=11&start=15 (Geoff`s Amorphous Metallic)

viewtopic.php?t=12

Geoff`s Amorphous Metallic could also be used to create a metallic spymaster shape shifting species, but it would require a new story. However, I am not saying that it should be used for this purpose.

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