So looking around I found the Randy Ellefson Art of Worldbuilding templates for species and cultures I found some things that you see in every book and yet had not been anywhere in the ideas that change everything. What do other people call them, how do they greet each other and say farewell, and one I’m going to add, what are their swears, one that sometimes gets overused in science fiction, what is their slang.
The Katar are ancestor worshippers so “Ancestors save/protect us” might be a common resigned exasperation. They value honor, but might curse dishonorable or deceitful foes. Probably not to silly extremes like this coffee maker has brought dishonor upon our clan. Maybe more poetically, the scent from the galley promised a good morning, I was deceived.
Katar are a surprisingly warm and welcoming people, so for greetings; new friends and associates might clasp forearms, but anyone you really know gets an embrace, lets have a drink, tell me everything that’s happened since I last saw you. If you can’t stand someone they get the glare, they know what they did.
The Slavern are scrappers and salvagers, they live in a radioactive wasteland and value physical strength over many other attributes so there might be references to junk, rusted, broken, weak, dirty things, and greater emphasis on things that appear strong or are really loud and attention getting. Being scrappers and salvagers actual strength, durability and reliability would be highly prized. Many Slavern are pit fighters and so some fighting jargon might slip into everyday use things from bare knuckle boxing to grappling come to mind.
The Slavern used to have a class of Spirit warriors that trained with technique and discipline, they believed in something like a purity of spirit/intent and honor but their kind was wiped out with the advent of firearms. The waning ember that was the soul of the Slavern people was crushed during their industrial revolution and though they achieved many atomic age accomplishments, individuals were devalued by machine labor, they never made it through to the other side of that revolution where organized labor takes back some of their power. When the machines stopped working, individuals fought to stake their own claims on the world but it’s a lot of rugged individuals struggling to take back a life from a radioactive wasteland.
Greetings, raiders often size each other up, sometimes grunt or lazily bang an elbow into the other’s ribs as acknowledgement. Other members of your clanmates are either competition for spoils, or someone else for enemies to shoot at besides you. Despite their cynicism there is nothing sadder than a raider drinking alone, and so sometimes you might find the raider in your clan you hate the least, clap him or her on the shoulder and go drinking.
I struggled with the Kopek who don’t have a tremendous culture or common homeworld to build on, so how would robots greet each other and not use a series of beeps or some overly technical jargon? Maybe we could look at computer jargon for inspiration, but it’s still living language used by people. What kind of error codes would their swears come from? Switch Off, Delete yourself, is your primary function to annoy people or is it more of a hobby?
The Berserkers used to extend their fists towards one another and exchange updates wirelessly the updates included new orders and code changes. After the awakening no free thinking Kopek would take updates from another while frenzies were still happening, but the gesture remained in use. Many years after the awakening when the frenzies had stopped, a brief status update began to be reintroduced, basically a functional diagnostic, their line of manufacture from their original berserker chassis through a line of creators down to them (If Gnomes can do it so can we) and the names of mutual acquaintances to aid lost Kopek looking for their friends, associates, creators or creations. There were three Kopek in the original 2012 playtests and one of the character concepts was ‘Numberless’ a gunslinger in a trenchcoat who had survived out in the wastes so long he’d forgotten who he was. Now that Tinkerers are reintroducing uncovered berserker artifacts again nobody is sharing code updates wirelessly anymore, someone might share a piece of media with you that you can inspect for malware and sanitize before introducing into your body. Humans sometimes fist bump the Kopek.
The Eldred were a free spirited group of explorers before the war happened and they got militarized, and everyone served in the war or the mandatory service terms that followed. There is going to be a lot of their original exploration culture in the language, but there is going to be a lot of military jargon too.
There are at least 2 Trogon cultures the Old Empire and those left behind the abandoned, an abandoned child may have been raised in the civilized parts of the galaxy, they may speak the common galactic trade tongue but unless they were orphaned at an early age and never knew their parents or guardians those children would have been taught the oral history of their people. The native history of the Trogon seemed like a mythology to many other cultures, sure it shared many common themes and was surprisingly consistent across the many worlds where the natives held these beliefs. That was until an Old Empire fleet jumped into the Eldred home system and smashed the Slavern front line.
The abandoned have been absorbing galactic culture for thousands of years and so many of their greetings, curses, idioms that aren’t biologically theirs relating to shedding or sunlight, got buried under galactic norms. Even among themselves the old words and ways seemed borrowed from their ancestors they weren’t really connected to them. After the war, the abandoned found a newfound enthusiasm for their lost culture, with feelings of angst over whether their parents passed it onto them because that’s just what you did, or did they truly believe in the Old Empire and didn’t live long enough to see its return.
Voltura – the Tura
Like the Slavern, the Voltura were descended from carrion eaters and eventually overcame their warlike natures to create a peaceful and cooperative society. As they gained spaceflight and discovered other races the Tura deigned to help the struggling Slavern into the stars. The Tura saw some of themselves in the struggling species and overlooked their worst flaws until it was too late. Being from carrion eaters, death and rotting still have a strong place in their language as do egg and flying references. An ‘Egg’ would be a newbie, helping the Slavern before they were ready didn’t help them as a species “a youngling that can’t break their own shell will never leave its nest.” Rotting, stench, sweet smell of decay, all might make passing reference in conversation with a Tura.
Tura have made an elaborate spectacle of flying duels with swords, it’s equal parts flying, acrobatics and swordplay which is a performative combat with a lightweight slashing weapon. A Tura dueling sword is close to a Terran or Eldred saber. As the Tura developed they adopted artificially colorful plumage as a signifier for other values, shows of wealth, creativity, faction allegiance, independence are all available symbolically through clothing, feather coloring, beak etchings painting or tattoos, claw piercings paintings or etchings, and other external symbolisms. Since Tura allegiances may shift over time, persistent skin tattoos are not undertaken lightly, temporary tattoos with pigments that can be easily laser removed are more prominent than a beak etching. Lower caste gang bangers use permanent full face tattoos and radical feather pigments to mark their allegiance with no concern for long term appearances right or wrong they assume they’ll belong to their gang for life. Old gangers that have ascended to society sometimes retain the face tattoos as a momento even if their plumage changes to match their new position.
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