The Rhtharians are one of the “minor races” once under the dominion of the Mogg’Theran Empire of Many Suns. They control about a dozen star systems at a key juncture where the old Empire nudges against the Protectorate, Arkhon territory and Vorhasi space. The Rhtharians have long hoped that this would turn their controlled areas into a trade zone, but that hasn’t come to pass as they’ve anticipated.
The planet Rhythmar, fourth planet in the Rho-Tharmak Star System. The ringed planet has a nitrogen, methane and chlorine atmosphere that is poisonous to most species. It is covered mostly in seas of thick hydrocarbon soup and water. It has several tiny moons and is heavily industrialized.
Sphere of Influence
The Rhtharians are a major power player in the aftermath of the fall of the Mogg’Theran, competing heavily (and often violently) with the Fahreen and Arnuban species. The Rhtharians once had a strong relationship with the Arkhon, but that relationship suffered in the aftermath of the first Arkhon-Protectorate War.
The Rhtharians control about a dozen star systems, including seven habitable planets, and two of the ten jump gates spread across the Empire of Many Suns. These gates form a crucial corridor that could allow a fleet from the Arkhon to outflank the Terran Protectorate by cutting off about 60 light years of travel…or vice versa. Neither the Arkhon nor the Protectorate are close to making a deal with the Rhtharians over use of the gate, because the Rhtharians do not trust the Arkhon, and humans do not trust the Rhtharians.
The Rhtharians, primarily due to an ongoing war with the Arnuban, are regular purchasers of mercenaries, though many human mercenaries will not work for them. They purchase the services of the Mogg’Theran nomadic fleets, a few Sigmari ground troop companies, and even some rogue Arkhon forces to supplement their military forces. Such mercenaries make up about 15% of the Rhtharian combat forces, which are always kept separate.
Rhtharians can also be found in both the Starfarer and Novaslayer organizations, though there are more in the latter.
The Rhtharian civilization is an odd mix of theocracy and technocracy, utilizing a philosophy known as the Teachings of the Rhyss-Kun (pronounced Riss-COON). The Rhyss-Kun teaches that one must meld the spirit world with the real world, and excel at both, to achieve perfection. It sounds good on paper, but it is a fairly amoral philosophy that focuses on the self, and achieving internal harmony. It speaks little about the external and how one should interact with others is always a matter of debate among the Rhtharians. This means Rhtharians run the gamut of alignments, like any free-thinking species, but they lean heavily toward anarchist.
The individual Rhtharian is all about personal advancement, both spiritually and socially, and it is excepted behavior to think of oneself first, in general terms. This in no way means all Rhtharians are jerks. There is quite a substantial following of something called the Way of Reciprocation. Rhtharians who follow the Way of Reciprocation believe in a sort of “Pay It Forward” philosophy that states, essentially, that good deeds done to others are likely to be rewarded, thus making being a generous and thoughtful person a legitimate path toward self-gratification. In other words, scratch their back and they’ll be more inclined to scratch yours.
Rhtharian worlds and colonies are an odd blend architecturally of the spiritual and the technological. The Techno-Temples, the centers of Rhtharian culture, are looming arcologies covered in religious symbolism, edged in neon and decorated with holograms, slick computer interfaces and multimedia religious presentations.
Most humans find Rhtharian worlds to be fairly oppressive. The streets are narrow and buildings are tall and dark with Rhtharian gods and religious figures carved into many of the dark surfaces, often with glowing eyes or holding holographic weapons or items.
Rhtharians generally identify themselves by philosophical paths. There is the previously mentioned Way of Reciprocation as well as four others. The Way of Denial teaches supreme selfishness and materialism, and teaches vehemently against charity, claiming that you are not helping others by giving freely and are practicing self-dishonesty when you do not take for yourself first. The Way of Joy teaches that instead of long-term achievement, one can achieve inner peace and life-long happiness by being a hedonist, living in the moment and doing what feels good at the time. The Way of Aggression teaches its adherents to take what they want by “reasonable violence,” meaning acts of aggression that do not present a large and unusual risk of blowback on the aggressor (no killing someone in the street for their wallet, for example, or general breaking of laws). Finally, the Way of Stars teaches that the universe is large enough and there are enough resources that everyone everywhere can have everything they want simply by expanding to new worlds with new resources.
The Way, or Path, one follows is how Rhtharians identify themselves socially and politically. It is more important than family, geographic birthplace or any other social division.
The Rhtharians are a tall, lanky species (usually seven to eight and a half feet tall) with no real comparison to earth-type animal classifications, beyond being vertebrates (though they have one flexible column of cartilage that’s more centrally located, that works as a spine). Rhtharian skin comes in various shades of mauve, but are mostly uniform in color. They are hairless, give birth by a form of osmosis where the child forms an external growth on their bodies (although there are two genders), and breathe nitrogen. They are impervious to airborne poisons and gases, meaning that while they need nitrogen to breathe, they can survive in atmospheres many species would consider poisonous. Rhtharians prefer cool, humid (dank) climates and while they have excellent vision in both day and night, they prefer darker lighting.
The Rhtharians are one of only a few life forms on their planet, and their world never developed anything similar to plant life. Rhtharians subsist mostly off hydrocarbon-based soups and small life forms that wriggle through them. They eat these small slug and bug-like creatures live.
Males and females are easily distinguishable, with males having a pronounced head ridge and silvery-blue eyes, and females having almost no head ridge and luminescent red eyes. They generally dress similarly, with dress differences more based on class than gender. High-ranking members of Rhtharian societies wear skirts as a sign of wealth and enlightenment.
Rhtharian females only give birth to one child at a time, and usually have no more than two or three throughout their lifetime. About 25% of Rhtharian females never have children.
All Rhtharians are minor psychics, with one in about 5,000 being born a burster or zapper. These beings are highly valued in society, and start off with a bit of a leg up on others, often rising to command and leadership positions. The High Chancellor, the overall ruler of the Rhtharian Dominion, has been either a burster or zapper consistently for the last 300 years. Rhtharians have a lifespan of about 130 earth years.
The Rhtharians have a professional all-volunteer military similar to the Terran Protectorate. It is seen as a good, quick (though risky) path to personal success. The military is well-trained and dedicated, but it is fairly small, as the Rhtharians are a low-population species with a slow birth rate. Rhtharians have not excelled at their own ship designs, but instead tend to buy or otherwise “acquire” ships from other species. They have a few smaller ships that are their own design, but almost no capital ships. In general, they prefer frigate and destroyer-type vessels to large cruisers. Rhtharian fleets are made up of old Arkhon, Xintrin and Mogg’Theran ships primarily, and recently they have begun to acquire human ships as well, though they usually buy through third parties.
Rhtharian ground forces are small, elite tactical units focused on urban warfare and hit and runs. They are experts at stealth, infiltration and intelligence gathering. Rhtharians shy away from large engagements and tend toward surgical strikes meant to deliver “death blows” to their enemies’ plans and infrastructure.
Currently, however, the Rhtharians are on the losing end of a war with a species known as the Arnuban that favors heavy piracy and commerce raiding as a means of warfare. This has caused tremendous damage to Rhtharian trade and infrastructure, and is weakening their military, as the Arnuban have done an excellent job of suffocating the Rhtharians’ supply of new combat warships from other species. The Rhtharian Dominion is too populated and defendable for the Arnuban to truly conquer it, but they could do enough economic damage to put the Dominion out of the running as a serious power for decades or even centuries.
Rhtharians are very good at small-scale, personal technology. Weapons, armor, computers and make heavy use of nanotechnology and micro-robotics. They’ve also made a name for themselves in small personal weaponry favored by assassins. As noted earlier, most of their starships were bought or at least designed by someone else. One of the few ships they produce themselves is the Imperial Corsair, a raiding vessel originally designed by the Arkhon during the first war with the Terran Protectorate and sold to privateers on the agreement that they would raid human space. Rhtharians also have advanced chemistry and biological sciences. The Rhtharians say their growth as a civilization was stunted during their 200 years under the control of the Mogg’Theran. This may be true, as they are a highly intelligent race. But many say their inability to work together as a species plays a higher role.
The Rhtharians export personal weaponry and arms, chemicals, nanotechnology, and a surprising amount of culturally influential goods, such as music and video entertainment (though it tends to be rather on the dark, brooding side of things). They import ships, fuel, and heavy metal and also are a major employer of mercenaries (mostly Mogg’Theran and Sigmari).
Relationships with other governments
The Terran Protectorate: The Rhtharians have a VERY strained relationship with the Protectorate. The Rhtharians were allies of the Arkhon during the first Arkhon-Protectorate War, believing the Arkhon would help them consolidate their power in the Empire of Many Suns in return. The Arkhon used them as raiders to harass human space, disrupt supply lines and terrorize the populace. They also used Rhythmar as a large shipyard and resupply depot. A Terran Protectorate fleet, once the Arkhon were on the run, attacked Rhythmar’s shipyards and destroyed much of the fledging Rhtharian fleet. The Rhtharians were amazed to see the Arkhons retreat and leave them at the mercy of their enemies, and realized they had been used as pawns. The Rhtharians have slowly tried to improve relations with the Protectorate, but they’ve gotten a very chilly reception. Many horror stories of the Rtharian Raiders and their Imperial Corsair (which the Rhtharians still use) still circulate among humanity, and many humans have not forgiven them for what they consider wartime atrocities.
The Arkhon Imperial Freehold Co-Prosperity
The Xintrin Merchant Guild: The Rhtharians best trade partners and probably the species they are on best terms with, though they are nowhere near allies. They do a lot of trade back and forth, and the Rhtharians have asked the Xintrin to act as a go-between for the Rhtharian Dominion and the Terran Protectorate in an effort to improve relations. As the Arnuban continue to press the Rhtharians militarily, these efforts will become more desperate.
The Vorhasi: The Rhtharians have had little contact with the Vorhasi. They stay out of Vorhasi space, and the Vorhasi don’t seem interested in them. They do revere them as heroes however, for destroying the Mogg’Theran home world and (inadvertently) helping them throw off their ages-old conquerors. The day the Vorhasi destroyed Gargannau is a holiday on Rhythmar known as Liberation Day.
The Empire of Many Suns: The Rhtharian Dominion is a part of the former empire. They were the first species to rebel against the Mogg’Theran, and had been in rebellion for two years before the Vorhasi destroyed Gargannau. As far as the Rhtharians are concerned, the other species should have immediately looked to them for leadership, since only they had the backbone to act. That didn’t happen. Relations are cool but stable with most of the other species, but they are at war with the Arnuban. They hesitantly hire Mogg’Theran fleets, but only when they desperately need them.
Starfarers: There are Rhtharians in the Starfarer organization, but generally relations between the group and the Dominion are tense because of their much closer ties with the Novaslayers.
Novaslayers: The Novaslayers have a long connection with the Rhtharians which they say dates back to before the Rhtharians achieved space flight. The Novaslayers have even gone as far as to suggest that the Teachings of the Rhyss-Kun are simply a translation of their own goals and beliefs brought to Rhythmar centuries ago. There is some archeological evidence on the planet that does support the possibility that the Novaslayers have been there before, and there are a number of Rhtharians in the organization, some ranking quite highly.
Optional Player Race
Alignment: Most Rhtharians have a selfish alignment, with the majority being anarchist. Unprincpled and Abberrant are the next most common alignments. However, Rhtharians can be any alignment.
Attributes: I.Q.: 4D6, M.E.: 3D6+6. M.A. 2D6, P.S. 3D6, P.P. 3D6, P.E. 3D6, P.B. 1D6, Spd. 4D6.
Hit Points: P.E. + 1D6 per level.
S.D.C.: 5D6, plus those gained from O.C.C. skills and abilities.
Height: 7 to 8.5 feet tall
Weight: 220 to 300 lbs.
I.S.P.: M.E. + 4D6, +1D4 per each additional level of experience. More if a Burster or Zapper (as per O.C.C.)
Natural Abilities: Vision is about twice as good as a humans. Nightvision: 1,000 feet. Impervious to gases and airborne poisons and toxins. Can breathe in any atmosphere with at least 10% nitrogen (though they prefer about 20 to 60%).
Psychic Attunement (Special): All Rhtharians have the equivalent of the psychic powers Presence Sense at a range of 300 feet. They can also sense psychic or magical abilities or effects in use at a range of 1,000 feet. These are very vague “disturbances” that provide little in the way of detail beyond general range, direction and power (very weak, weak, moderate, powerful, incredible, etc.). This ability is always on and uses no I.S.P.
Psychic abilities: In addition to Psychic Attunement, each Rhtharian can pick one minor psychic ability from each of the three minor categories: One power from healing, one from physical and one from sensitive (with the exception of presence sense, since they basically have it already) for a total of three powers. They do not gain additional powers as they increase in level. Rhtharians are considered minor psychics, so they still need to roll 15 or better to resist psychic attacks.
Magic: As per O.C.C. Rhtharians practiced magic long ago, but the art eventually died out. However Rhtharian children, in the right environment, could be raised to be any magical O.C.C. that a human could be. A small handful may be among the quietly resurgent Fist of Xin, and would most likely be Mystics.
Combat: As per O.C.C.
Bonuses: +2 vs. psionics, +4 vs. insanity, +2 vs. horror factor.
Skills: All Rhtharians speak and read Rhythmarian and Mogtu at 98%, and have computer operation at +20%.
Common O.C.C.s include: Galactic Tracer, Space Pirate, Freedom Fighter, Runner, FACE Agent, Burster, Zapper (Psyscape World Book), Operator, Rogue Scholar, Rogue Scientist and City Rat. The Rtharians can also pick the Shaper O.C.C., but they are referred to as a Priest of Rhyss-Kun. Their genetic servants tend to be more alien and monstrous in appearance, and there is no law against creating sentients or enslaving them (though slavery is not a common practice among them as a species…it is seen as decadent and distasteful). Rhtharian military characters should use Transgalactic Empire military O.C.C.s. (obviously no invincible guardsmen).