|Location||Shining Plains, Shaar|
The thri-kreen are an insectoid humanoid race that primarily live in the Shaar. They have six limbs: two for walking and four to use as arms, along with heads complete with compound eyes and antennae. They secrete a paralyzing poison from their mouths, and have natural claw attacks.
The thri-kreen are a race of nomads and hunters, and control the land just north of the Toadsquat Mountains. They are alien in their thinking, regarded by their neighbors as savage and brutal, and thus are not liked by humans and their ilk. The thri-kreen trade with some loxo tribes and will fight anyone they view as intruders upon their territory without fear of death.
Clutch, Pack, and NationEdit
First, most humans and other non-kreen have a skewed view of the clutch mentality, and often confuse packs with clutches. Clutch mentality is hereafter referred to by its thri-kreen name, tokchak (literally egg-mind).
Many non-kreen mistake tokchak for more basic instincts, referring to thri-kreen as hive beings. While the reverence and need for the clutch is admittedly mostly instinctual among thri- kreen, the modes of behavior encouraged by tokchak require thought; tokchak also does not have the level of sub-psionic mental and pheromonal communication found in true hive beings. Thri-kreen are not at all like such insectoid creatures as antloids.
Clutch has three meanings, as used by thri-kreen. First, a clutch is all of the eggs laid by a single kreen at the same time as many as 30 eggs. Second, it is all thri-kreen who hatch from a single clutch of eggs; this is sometimes called a birth clutch. Third, a clutch is a thri-kreen and any other intelligent beings accepted by that thri-kreen as clutchmates.
A clutch of eggs is called at ok (egg or eggs) in the thri- kreen language. A clutch of living thri-kreen and other clutch- mates is calledgt ok, or egg-family.
A thri-kreen can belong to several clutches at once, and usu- ally belongs to at least two: the birth clutch, and a clutch formed later in life by taking new clutchmates. The difference between clutches is somewhat important to a thri-kreen; while all clutch- mates are considered equal, the birth clutch is considered spe- cial (sort of first among equals).
A pack(tek in thri-kreen) is a group of thri-kreen that con- sists of several clutches. All the clutches of a single pack are interrelated; that is, each clutch has at least one member who is also a member of another clutch of the same pack. See the accompanying pack and clutch diagram for an example.
A lone thri-kreen seeks to find new clutchmates (see Tokchak under Mentality and World View, in this chap- ter). To be accepted as a clutchmate, another being must be trusted, liked, and respected by the thri-kreen. The decision is relatively subjective, and the thri-kreen might judge prospective clutchmates in other ways as well. If the various individual criteria are met, the thri-kreen accepts the prospect as a clutchmate. Often, if another being fights at the side of and defends the thri-kreen, the other will be considered a clutchmate almost immediately.
No one is ever accepted into a birth clutch. Instead, the first clutchmate accepted beyond the birth clutch is the first of a new clutch for the thri-kreen. Later, others can be accepted into this new clutchif approved by all the clutchmates of that clutch. Approval is sometimes verbal, sometimes assumed; a thri-kreen who accepts a clutchmate and later accepts a second may either ask the first clutchmate to accept the new one, or might just observe until the first clutchmate has apparently accepted the second. In clutches with non-kreen members, it is
usually easier for the thri-kreen to observe than try to explain to the non-kreen why the questions are being asked, and exactly what they mean.
A thri-kreen can still accept new clutchmates who are not approved by a clutch; these individuals are the beginnings of other clutches. A thri-kreen who has traveled for many years might have several clutches, some with several members, some that include only the thri-kreen and one other clutchmate. In some cases, a thri-kreens clutchmate might even be a member of two or more of the thri-kreens clutches, if accepted by all the members of more than one clutch.
Note that a thri-kreen who accepts a new clutchmate does not necessarily inform the new clutchmate of this fact. Another thri-kreen simply knows when such a bond is formed; when thri- kreen accept each other as clutchmates, they do so at almost the same time, as if linked psychically. This is largely a function of pheromones: A thri-kreen accept- ing another as a clutchmate releases a special pheromone that 9
tells the other (subliminally) that the clutchmate bond is being formed. If the other agrees, he or she also releases the pheromone, automatically. If not another, negative pheromone is released, and the bonding does not occur, in either direction. Because a thri-kreen clutchmate knows, a thri-kreen expects other clutch- mates to know as welland because the new non-kreen clutch- mate cannot release pheromones, a refusal cannot be received, so the thri-kreen expects to be accepted as a clutchmate by the other as well. This can lead to confusion.
Certain more worldly thri-kreen, who know more about non- kreen psychology, often inform the prospective non-kreen clutchmate that they are being considered; a wise prospect, one who expresses feelings of honor at receiving this compliment, can then be accepted as a clutchmate.
The duties, responsibilities, and privileges of a clutchmate are many. A clutchmate can depend on a great deal of support from other clutchmates, and is expected to give the same kind of support to them. Belonging to a clutch determines the thri-kreens place in the universe, and gives the thri-kreen a set of parameters within which he or she must operate. The requirements of a clutch transcend alignment. Thri-kreen might be good or evil, lawful or chaotic, but the thri-kreen still behaves the same way toward clutch and clutchmates. Regardless of the thri-kreens true align- ment, behavior toward clutch and clutchmates is essentially law- ful good. This is one of the reasons why other races consider thri-kreen unpredictable, whether they are truly chaotic or not; a thri-kreen that behaves one way with clutchmates might behave in a strikingly different manner with others.
The duties of a clutchmate are simple at the basic level: help the clutch. This is enough for the thri-kreen, and serves as a guideline throughout life. Thri-kreen seldom think about the details of the duties. Many of the details are not even spoken; the thri-kreen simply understands the duties and would never think of shirking them. A thri-kreen finds it difficult to express the rules of clutch behavior; when such things must be explained (as to a non-kreen clutchmate), the thri-kreen some- times tells the story of the Great Race.
Breaking the TiesEdit
Generally, the only way to leave a clutch is through death. This is the only way a thri-kreen ever leaves a clutch of thri-kreen; they do not quit a clutch. Other people can stop being clutchmates to a thri-kreen, either by their own choice (if they understand tokchak, or more likely, by the thri-kreens choice.
Sometimes a thri-kreen will accept a human or other non- kreen as a clutchmate. Later, the thri-kreen might realize the non-kreen was not quite what was expected from initial impres- sions. This may result from initial confusion on the non-kreens part about what is expected of a clutchmate; or confusion because the non-kreen did not know he or she was being consid- ered, because the thri-kreen did not know to inform the non- kreen of that fact. In such a case, the thri-kreen can release the clutch bond; if the other knew about it, the thri-kreen tells the other, in a matter-of-fact manner, that the other is no longer a clutchmate. No explanation should be required, but a thri- kreen will be brutally honest if pressed. This type of bond-break- ing is done without malice or grudge, at least on the thri-kreens part. Most thri-kreen understand non-kreen well enough to know that sometimes mistakes are made regarding them. An unsatisfactory clutchbonding is such a mistake, and can be cor- rected by breaking the bond.
Since thri-kreen never bond with other kreen by mistake, breaking a bond rarely occurs. When thri-kreen decide they do not get along (usually because they have different goals and plans) the two just go their separate ways, with the clutch-bond intact. If they run into each other again, they try to avoid one another, but honor the clutch-bond if it comes up.
It is rare, though possible, for thri-kreen to sever a bond for- mally; it requires one to inform the other, and requires the other to agree. This is sometimes done amiably, if the thri-kreen simply have different goals, but can escalate into a fight if one of the thri-kreen takes insult at being asked to break such an important bond. In such cases, the one asked to break the bond fights to deny the implication that he or she is a poor clutchmate.
On some occasions, a clutchmate might do something so rep- rehensible that the thri-kreen immediately expels the other from as a clutchmate, and seek revenge. There is no room in the thri- kreen philosophy for the clutchmate who goes bad. An accepted clutchmate who betrays the clutch receives death, as quickly and as brutally as the thri-kreen can give it. If there are more than one thri-kreen in the group, they all attack the betrayer. There is a word in the thri-kreen language, gtokxhko; it means, literally, clutch-breaker, with some rather
unpleasant connotations. It is such a vile insult, the worst that can be given by (or to) a thri-kreen, that it is seldom even thought, let alone spoken. The thri-kreen would rather just kill the clutch- breaker as quickly as possible and go on with things. Once a clutch-breaker has been destroyed, the thri-kreen never speak of that individual again; it is as if the clutch-breaker never existed.
As previously stated, a clutch is organized along a strict hierar- chy based on dominance; each clutch member knows who is more powerful and who is less powerful. In most cases, determi- nation of clutch hierarchy is peaceful; most thri-kreen can tell who is more or less powerful and aggressive, and give or take orders accordingly. Most positions in the hierarchy are deter- mined by someone giving an order or making a suggestion, and others following it; the one whose suggestions are followed the most is the clutchleader, while the clutchsecond is the one fol- lowed next most frequently, and so forth, to the thri-kreen who takes the dominance (and orders) of all other clutch members. When hierarchy is determined in this manner, it relies partly on the thri-kreens charisma; however, the other thri-kreen in a clutch also judge a potential leaders intelligence, aggressive- ness, and strength before taking an order. Thus, a non-charis- matic warrior who the clutch recognizes as a strong and cunning hunter will be accepted as leader more readily than a charis- matic, but weak, individual.
A thri-kreen unhappy with his or her place in the order either a clutchsecond unhappy with the leader, or someone lower trying to move up a little for the good of the clutchcan make a dominance challenge. The two contenders fight until one surrenders or dies. After the fight, no bad will exists between the contestants; once the issue of dominance is resolved, they both go about their business with the full security of knowing just where they stand in the clutch.
Pack and NationEdit
As previously discussed, a pack is composed of several clutches. The nationat least in the Tyr Regionis a collection of pack with no real cohesion; the term nation is simply used as a con- venience (primarily by humans and other non-kreen) to describe thri-kreen who roam the same region and do similar things. The thri-kreen of Tyr do not consider themselves to be organized into nations of any kind.
Thri-kreen do recognize the existence of pack, and they tend to use the name of the pack to identifv themselves, as in Lakta- Cho of the Chtik-tek, which means roughly, Finder-of-lost- knowledge, of the Yellow-Hills-hunting-pack.
A pack generally has members of only one species of thri- kreen; a typical pack consists of either Jeral or Toksa, only. Each pack has a leader, a packsecond, a council clutch, and its own local customs: packmates are expected to treat other packmates a certain way.
The pack leader is the most powerful clutchleader, but not necessarily the leader of the most powerful clutch. For example, the leader of a clutch of three might be more powerful than the leader of a clutch of 30; if so, the leader of three is also the leader of the packassuming he or she wishes it, and all challenges are accepted and conducted properly. All the clutch leaders of a pack make up a clutch of their own; this clutch of clutchleaders serves as an informal council when the packleader wants advice before making an important decision.
Pack leadership is always determined by challenge, never sim- ply according to who gives and takes orders. When a clutch joins a pack, its leader challenges other clutchleaders to find his or her correct place in the hierarchy. The challenges can start with any other clutchleader, but most clutchleaders know instinctively where they might fit in.
A pack can have any number of clutches, and any number of members. Most packs have between 30 and 100 members, and as many clutches as those comprise; the great majority of packs have between two and 12 clutches, and fewer than 50 members. Larger packs are seldom practical, given the hunting conditions throughout the Tyr Region; if a pack grows too large, it splits, with the packleader taking several clutches one way, and the packsecond taking the rest of the clutches in another direction.
Though a clutch might have non-kreen members, a thri-kreen pack hardly ever collectively considers a non-kreen to be part of the pack. A pack might, for a time, accept the leadership of some powerful human or humanoid, but this is a rare and unstable arrangement. Though a thri-keen pack never truly accepts a non-kreen leader, at least one thri-kreen has created a pack with non-kreen members: see Krikiks Pack of about 50 escaped slaves, led by the thri-kreen druid Krikik, in the accessorySlave Tribes( # 2 4 0 4 ) .
The duties of a packmate are similar to those of a clutchmate, but not so binding. While a thri-kreen feels an irresistible bio- logical and psychological compulsion to treat clutchmates in a certain way, the urge to treat packmates likewise is not nearly so strong. The thri-kreen reveres packmates, because they are clutchmates of clutchmates, or are perhaps related through more clutches. The packmate is therefore worthy of respect. While the packmate might not be a clutchmate, the packmate is automatically worthy of consideration for that status. Packmates are generally treated as clutchmates when possible, though a thri-kreen is not compelled to favor a packmate; he or she can forego that treatment for a time if it is inconvenient, or if it inter- feres with duties to clutch or clutchmate.
Some thri-kreen, when away from other thri-kreen, take an intermediary step with members of other races. Before accepting an individual as a clutchmate, the thri-kreen accepts that person
Like the clutch, the hunt shapes the thri-kreen lifestyle. Not only do the thri-kreen hunt to survive, but they carry the mindset of the hunt(tikchak, or hunter-mind) into other aspects of their lives. Much of a thir-kreens normal day is spent preparing for the hunt, hunting, and preserving food and doing other things in response to the hunt.
Mentality and World ViewEdit
Greatly influenced bytokchak (the clutch mentality) and the
need for and persistence of the hunt, thri-kreen have an overall mentality quite different from that of non-kreen species. Besides those characteristics already covered, thri-kreen have evolved other abilities to help them survive. Cunning and wisdom have been granted in part by their
racial memory. For thri-kreen, Wisdom translates directly into cunning needed for hunting; the enhanced Wisdom score is a direct evolutionary result of the ingrained thri-kreen fascination with the hunt. Only a halfling might have a higher maximum Wisdom as a starting character. Thri-kreen do not gain Wisdom as they age, so older non-kreen sometimes have higher Wisdom scores than the wisest of thri-kreen Thri-kreen have little use for memorization, and little apti- tude for magic, thus simple intelligence is relatively unimpor- tant. Their insect nature makes them largely incomprehensible to others, and makes them easy to dislike.
A thri-kreens maximum adjusted Charisma score is 16; this reflects the oddness of their mindset in comparison to other character races. The lower Charisma also results from their prag- matic insect nature; they do not seem as friendly, because they are not. Being clutchmates transcends friendship, but has noth- ing to do with Charisma. Tokchak: Clutch-Mind
As indicated, the clutch mentality shapes the thri-kreens entire outlook on life. Tokchak dictates how the thri-kreen lives, even without a clutch. A thri-kreen without a clutch seeks to form one. The thri-kreen is compelled to find his or her place in the clutch; knowing where one falls in a hierarchy is important to a thri-kreen; not knowing this results in insecurity and possibly psychological problems.
Tokchak also affects the thri-kreen in somewhat more subtle ways. For example, thri-kreen mate for life; mating is a sort of advanced form of the clutchmate bond, and the bond is impos- sible to break. Also, because they give to the clutch, thri-kreen tend to share things; they have little need to own or possess phys- ical things, and they share what they find with others. A thri- kreen has no real need for money, so has no reason to keep it; when treasure is split, the thri-kreen would rather have one of the tasty eggs found recently, or maybe a pretty gem, than the heavy, useless, inedible and relatively unpretty coins.
Thri-kreen often give away coins to their non-kreen clutch- mates. This mentality makes them completely incomprehensi- ble- and more than a little suspiciousto elves (No, what do you really want? I mean, really?. Within the clutch, when an item is needed, it is freely given. What needs the thri-kreen might have for money outside the society of clutch and pack is handled by barter. See Chapter Four, Trade, for more details.
Thri-kreen do not like to be called bugs and do not like being referred to as it. A thri-kreen is a person(kreen means per- son after all), with a life, a history, a place, and a gender. These things are important to the thri-kreen, just as they are to other sapient beings.
The individual thri-kreen establishes a place through the hunt and through tokchak. The thri-kreen is a person to whom freedom and individuality are important, but who willingly accepts the great responsibility of being a clutchmate.
Birth, Life, and DeathEdit
Thri-kreen are pragmatic about the cycle of life. They lay eggs, and if the eggs are destroyed before they hatch, that is the way of things; the answer is to lay more eggs. Life is the hunt, and the clutch. Death is the natural end to things, after the thri-kreen has hunted and has given to the clutch. Thri-kreen do not fear death, because they know it cannot be avoided, and there is no sense in fearing that which is inevitable. However, neither do thri-kreen welcome death, for it is the end of their usefulness to the clutch.
Thri-kreen do not really believe in an afterlife, but have a rudimentary belief in reincarnation. Eggs are usually laid in the final resting place of old thri-kreen; the thri-kreen believe the young inherit the characteristics, and sometimes even the minds, of their ancestors. Considering the thri-kreen racial memory, there may be more than a little truth to this belief. Infant thri-kreen in some areas are shown the belongings of thri- kreen among whose remains they hatch; if the larvae show an inclination for any of the possessions, they are considered rein- carnations of the thri-kreen to whom the things belonged.
Though debates still rage on, most tohr-kreen sages believe that larvae do carry the minds and personalities of parents or other ancestors into their new lives. If the DM wants to use this interpretation of reincarnation in the game, it might mean that the racial memory of the thri-kreen has also brought memories of specific events to the thri-kreen.
Thus, a reincarnated thri-kreen might recognize an object hundreds of years old, or remember an obscure fact about a bat- tle that took place a decade before he or she was born. The DM can use such memories to pass on clues and adventure hook to the players.
Thri-kreen are large, both in comparison to normal insects and in comparison to most other intelligent Athasian races. While a typical (real-world) mantis might grow to 3 or 4 inches in length, an adult thri-kreen stands 7 feet tall, plus or minus a few inches. From the top of the head to the tip of the abdomen, an thri-kreen measures some 11 feet long, with the slight variance of a few inches. Most adult thri-kreen weigh between 450 and 470 pounds.
All adult thri-kreen, regardless of gender, are nearly identical in height and weight. They have few at cells and never become overweight; since their muscles are hidden by their exoskeleton, a strong thri-kreen does not look much different from a weak one. This similarity makes it difficult for members of other races to tell apart individual thri-kreen of the same species, unless the thri-kreen are decorated, scarred, clothed, or equipped in a distinctive way.
Despite their great size, thri-kreen are quite dexterous. The adjusted Dexterity for a thri-kreen player character ranges from a minimum of 17 to a maximum of 22. While the most agile halflings and elves are equal to the most agile thri-kreen, the average thri-kreen is more dexterous than an average member of any other race.
Skeleton and MusclesEdit
Like other insects, the thri-kreen has an exoskeleton, rather than an internal skeleton like that of a human. Also like other insects, the thri-kreen has three body segments: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen.
Each segment is held together by the thri-kreens muscles and skeleton. The thri-kreens skeleton is a chitinous exoskeleton, bolstered by internal strips of cartilage, like those found in cer- tain other arthropods (like crabs). A strip of cartilage runs the length of the thri-kreens thorax and serves as an anchor for vari- ous internal organs. Other strips run through the different seg- ments of the thri-kreens arms and legs, helping support muscles. The strips themselves attach to the thri-kreens chitin.
A thri-kreens chitin is tough enough to give them a natural Armor Class of 8. It is relatively lightweight, weighing about he same as bone. Spikes and other protrusions are often seen on the thri-kreens chitin; while these look dangerous, they are of little use in combat. The thri-kreens chitin helps retain moisture, while allowing heat to easily radiate from the thri- kreens body.
Thri-kreen chitin is less brittle and more flexible than most bone, at least as long as it is part of a living thri-kreen. However, it is as flexible as a humanoid internal skeleton only at the joints; for example, a thri-kreen cannot shrug or curl into a ball.
A thri-kreens muscles rest along the inside of the chitin seg- ments, and attach by tendons to other chitin segments. Unlike the humanoid structure, in which a major muscle (such as the biceps) flexes, lessening the angle between two bones and pulling them together, a thri-kreen flexing of major muscles increases the angle between chitin segments. This gives a thri- kreen a strong backhand, so they usually attack in that fashion. Like humanoids, thri-kreen have lesser muscles that can pull the chitin segments in the other direction.
A thri-kreens body is divided into three distinct segments, each housing vital organs. This section describes those segments, the organs, and the limbs of a thri-kreen.
The thri-kreens head houses the brain and most of the sensory organs, including the eyes and the antennae. The head is also the location of the thri-kreens mouth, which gives access to the insects breathing, digestive, and vocal systems. Antennae: A thri-kreens antennae are used to smell and hear.
Though thri-kreen detect pheromones with their antennae, this is not their sole means of communication, as it is for some Athasian insects. With the antennae, thri-kreen read the pheromone discharges of kreen and other insects; this allows communication of basic emotions and desires, such as hunger, anger, sexual desire, contentment, and so forth.
While a thri-kreens antennae can also pick up scents from other sources, thri-kreen are no more or less vulnerable to scent- based attack than others (except against ranike sap; see Chap- ter Three). The taste for elf flesh seems to be rooted in the thri-kreen antennae, and it is believed that the scents of a fight- ened or running elf are appealing to a thri-kreen. While this par tially explains the well-known thri-kreen taste for elf flesh, the fact is little known, and elves who know it do not rest any easier.
The antennae sound receivers are also sensitive to minute changes in air pressure, informing a thri-kreen about his or her surroundings. If the thri-kreens sight is impaired, as by darkness or blindness, this pressure detection can roughly locate of nearby objects and creatures. The thri-kreens method of hear- ing makes them no more or less vulnerable to sound-based attack than other types of creatures. Eyesight: The thri-kreens eyes are often referred to as multi-
faceted, this is not precisely true. The thri-kreen eye consists of a sphere inside a tough egg-shaped outer shell. The shell is a translucent black (like obsidian), and it covers and protects the thri-kreens actual sight receptors. On the interior sphere, which can rotate within the shell, are three eyespots (which function as mammalian eyes) and numerous secondary eye- like motion detectors. When light strikes the eye at a certain angle, the motion detectors and eyespots can be seen through the protective shell, giving the thri-kreens eyes a multi-faceted appearance.
When the thri-kreen discharges pheromones (from the abdomen), chemicals are also released into the eye shell, chang- ing the reflected color of the eye. Lighter colors represent pleas- ant feelings, darker colors denote unpleasant emotions, and bright colors mark passion or strong feeling.
Despite these differences in structure, thri-kreen eyesight is, for all practical purposes and miscellaneous effects, the same as mammalian eyesight. Mandibles/mouth: The thri-kreens mandibles and mouth
are typical for insects. Thri-kreen have no lips or real teeth. Their main mandibles (jaw segments) open and close horizon- tally, rather than vertically. Another lower jaw segment, located between the main mandibles, closes upward; this segment is not used to bite, but starts food on its way down the thri-kreens esophagus. Besides these parts, the thri-kreen mouth has small inner mandibles that manipulate food during eating (see the poster). A thri-kreen also has a tongue; a rough, dry piece of flesh that can reach only a short distance past the inner mandibles. Thongue holds the thri-kreens taste buds, which have a range sim- ilar to those of humanoids. The scent receptors of the antennae also help enhance taste. Neck: The thri-kreens head is connected to the thorax by a flex-
ible neck. A thri-kreen can turn his or her head 90 degrees to each side, and can look both forward and backwards at the same time when the head is so turned. The Thorax
The thorax is the segment to which the thri-kreens limbs are attached; it also houses most of the internal organs (see poster for the thri-kreens internal structure). While the thorax is a sin- gle segment, it is often considered to have two parts. The upper portion, the prothorax, holds the thri-kreens lungs and heart, and is the segment to which the thri-kreens four arms are attached. Protothorax: The lungs of the thri-kreen are similar to those of a
mammal; one lung lies on each side of the cartilage strip that bisects the thorax, and both attach to the long esophagus. A thri-kreen technically has two hearts, but they work so closely in tandem, they are usually considered a single organ. Like the lungs, the hearts are divided by the cartilage strip. They lie along the strip and along the lungs; together they produce a heartbeat with a four-beat cadence. Each heart pumps in blood from the veins at the bottom, oxygenates it during the trip past the lungs, and expels fresh blood into the arteries at the top. Each heart has its own set of arteries and veins, which interacts little with the system of the other heart.
The prothorax also holds various smaller organs and glands, including the thri-kreens poison glands, which are located at the top of the prothorax. The paralytic poison produced has sev- eral uses, and is further detailed in Chapter Three.
The prothorax can rotate almost 90 degrees on the lower tho- rax; combined with the flexibility of the neck, this can allow a thri-kreen to look 180 degrees from the orientation of the lower body. The prothorax can bend as much as 45 degrees forward or backwards as well. This allows the thri-kreen to stand upright, with the prothorax perpendicular to the abdomen, or to bend the thorax to almost the same plane as the abdomen. The latter position decreases the thri-kreens height to about three or four feet, but is uncomfortable and can be maintained for only a few minutes at a time. Lower Thorax: The lower thorax is well buffered by strong mus-
cles and other tissue to absorb the shock of leaps, for the thri- kreens powerful legs are attached here. Arteries, veins, and the digestive tract pass through the lower thorax, but most of that portion of the body is taken up by thegyt hsa, a large, spongy organ that produces the thri-kreens blood. Those who have studied thri-kreen anatomy for the purposes of killing them rec- ognize this organs importance; it is often mistaken for the thri- kreens heart, and stabbing it is both easier and more effective than hitting one of the thri-kreens true hearts.
The blood produced is thick, and dark yellow in color. Other important components of the blood, such as the thri-kreen equivalent of platelets and the disease-fighting white cells, are produced by other organs in the lower thorax. The lower thorax attaches to the abdomen with a somewhat flexible joint that allows the thri-kreen to raise or lower the abdomen slightly (perhaps 15 degrees), or to wag the abdomen a like amount. Limbs
Thri-kreen, though they are much like mantises, have no wings. However, some species related to the thri-kreen that do have wings are detailed in Chapter Five. Arms and Legs: A thri-kreen has four arms and two legs, unlike
less evolved mantises such as trin, which have two arms and four legs. The joints attaching these limbs to the thri-kreens body are fairly flexible, much like the humanoid equivalents of shoulders and hips, allowing a fair degree of rotation. As shown on the poster, thri-kreen have no real shoulders. Hands: Because their hands are enclosed in chitin, thri-kreen
do not have a great deal of touch-sensitivity in the hands. They can detect heat and cold, and can tell rough surfaces from smooth ones, but most differences in texture are lost on them. To a thri-kreen, burlap feels about the same as silk. Feet: Thri-kreen feet have four toes, three that point forward and
one that points backwards; a strong membrane stretches between the forward toes, allowing the thri-kreen great mobility in sand. The Abdomen
A thri-kreens abdomen, like the rest of the body, is protected by segments of chitin; these look something like bands circling the thri-kreens abdomen at intervals. Some species, such as Toksa, have a non-protective shell of chitin that may be vestigial wing casings. Organs: The thri-kreens abdomen holds digestive and repro-
ductive organs, as well as the glands that produce pheromones. The primary digestive organs (stomach and intestines) are located near the front of the abdomen, while the thri-kreens excretory system and reproductive organs are located near the back. A females reproductive organs are located on the top of the abdomen, while the males are beneath; both are protected by chitinous plates. Gender differences are not readily notice- able to members of other races. Pheronomes: A thri-kreen exudes pheromones through pores
along the sides of the abdomen. While the thri-kreen can volun- tarily control this with effort, most releases of pheromones are unconscious and indicate the thri-kreens mood to other insects. Thri-kreen pheromones are odorless to most humanoids, and cannot be detected except perhaps as a vague feeling, such as mild hunger or unease; even in such cases, the source is not obvious.
Because damage to a thri-kreen usually indicates damage to the thri-kreens chitin, thri-kreen healing is also different from that of other beings. A thri-kreens internal injuries heal at about the same rate as similar injuries done to humanoids. With a thri- kreen, platelets reaching a wound become exposed to air and cause the blood to not only clot, but harden; the hardening blood develops into chitin in a relatively short time, usually within a day.
A thri-kreen who receives a deep wound might develop a lump of chitin beneath the outer shell; this might be re-absorbed by the body over a period of a year or more, depending on its size. Such a growth seldom interferes with the thri-kreen in any way. New chitin is usually of a slightly lighter color than the sur- rounding material, usually making scars more evident on a thri- kreen than on a humanoid. Wounds do not always heal smoothly; the new chitin is often rough and exudes past the surface of unin- jured chitin. Care must be taken if the thri-kreen wants a wound to heal smoothly; sandstone and other rough materials can be used to smooth the area. Thri-kreen usually wear their scars with some pride, and an old thri-kreen often has chitin laced with scars and covered with knobs and other protrusions.
Besides damage to chitin, a thri-kreen can suffer other injuries as well. A broken chitin segment must be set, like a bro- ken bone in a human, and eventually heals. Removing a seg- ment of a thri-kreens arm is like severing a humanoids arm.
Healing magic works the same on thri-kreen as on other beings, as does the healing proficiency (but note the restrictions on herbalism in Chapter Three). For example, a cure light wounds spell seals a wound and stops it from bleeding; when used on a thri-kreen subject, the spell creates a new layer of chitin that is not soft or tender. Similarly, cure blindness or deaf ness can affect a thri-kreens eyes or antennae to restore the appropriate sense.
Not all of a thri-kreens adaptations are completely advanta- geous. For example a thri-kreens ability to detect pheromones also makes him or her vulnerable to smoke produced by ranike sap. Thri-kreen and other related species find the odor repug- nant and can approach only with difficulty. Ranike trees grow high in the Ringing Mountains.
The thri-kreen cannot swim. They cannot float without sup- port, and their arms, legs, and hands are not built to propel them through water. If the water reaches their breathing holes, they drown much more quickly than a human. For this reason, thri- kreen tend to dislike and distrust accumulations of water larger than a small pool.
That thri-kreen have fully adapted to life in arid climates actually works against them in other areas. A thri-kreen who spends an extended period in a humid region, such as the Forest Ridge, can develop lung infections and chitin-rot (see Chapter Three for details).
In many ways, a thri-kreen matures at age four. At this time, the thri-kreen has only four molts left. Physical development is fin- ished, except for the growth associated with the molts, and the thri-kreen is fertile. Thri-kreen between the ages of four and twenty-five can breed successfully. Thri-kreen often choose mates early in life, any time after reaching age three (the young adult stage), and often before they reach sexual maturity. Young thri- kreen choose their own mates. A thri-kreen will mate only with a clutchmate. Dangerous recessive traits were eliminated from thri- kreen many centuries ago, so inbreeding is not a problem.
Mating usually occurs in latter part of the year, during the time of the ascending sun; eggs are laid about 30 days later. A female thri-kreen lays many eggs at one time, normally between 10 and 30. The eggs are about six inches in diameter, and dun in color, the female digs a chamber and places the eggs inside, then covers them with sand. A thri-kreen pack will halt for several days to allow a member (or members) to lay eggs; pack members scout the area and set up a defensive perimeter. This is the only time when a female thri-kreen is treated any differently socially than a male thri- kreen. The thri-kreen realize the importance of producing eggs.
Most pack have regular egg-laying grounds, often the same grounds where thri-kreen dead are laid to rest. In allowing the eggs to develop and hatch in what is essentially a graveyard, the thri-kreen believe the young will take on the characteristics of the strong and wise old thri-kreen laid to rest there. In addition, the carapaces of the dead thri-kreen serve as shelter for the young, and the carcasses attract carrion-eaters that serve as food for hungry, newly-hatched larvae. After the eggs are buried, the thri-kreen move on.
Some eggs are eaten by predators; to the practical thri-kreen, this is just natures way of insuring that too many thri-kreen do no overrun the region. About 60 days later, usually right around the time of the highest sun, surviving eggs hatch, and the hatch- ling thri-kreen move about, feeding on small animals and learn- ing to use their hunting instincts.
Because of predators and generally harsh conditions, some clutches never hatch, while others are destroyed soon after hatching. Note that the given clutch mortality rates are average; some clutches are destroyed completely, while others lose only a fraction of their members. Thus, a new clutch of thri-kreen might have less than a half-dozen members, while the rare clutch that hatches in an excellent environment might reach adult- hood with 20 or more members.
Venom and CrystalEdit
An adult thri-kreen develops the ability to produce enzymes that act as a paralyzing agent when entering the body of an opponent. The development of the ability is related to the thri-kreen racial memory, which determines exactly when the power becomes active. Once the thri-kreens venom-producing gland has been activated, another part of the racial memory is brought to prominence: the knowledge of how to use the venom to make a special crystal calleddasl. The Venom
The enzymes for the thri-kreens venom are produced in a small organ in the upper thorax; ducts lead from there to the thri- kreens mouth. The enzymes are secreted onto the mandibles, which deliver the poison to an opponent on a successful bite. The venom becomes active within one minute of its delivery, and paralyzes almost any kind of creature-except for thri-kreen and members of closely-related species.
Though rumors occasionally circulate that males are vulnera- ble to the venom of females, this is untrue; thri-kreen are com- pletely immune to thri-kreen venom. It should be noted that races related to thri-kreen have venomous bites as well, and the poison is somewhat different. Still the thri-kreen are immune to the poisons of related creatures like tohr-kreen, trin, zik-trinta, and zik-chil, just as those beings are immune to the poisonous bite of the thri-kreen.
The thri-kreens venom is useful in combat and in hunting. A thri-kreen uses the venom without reservation; it allows him or her to quickly paralyze prey, then move on to capture or kill more prey, increasing the amount acquired for the clutch. The production of the venomous enzymes is prompted by the adren- alin surges created by combat and other stressful events. The combat effects of the venom are further discussed in the next chapter. The thri-kreen might voluntarily give up the use of venom for a time to produce dasl.
As mentioned, the production of venom makes it possible for a thri-kreen to produce a crystalline substance called dasl. This material is used primarily to produce chatkcha, the throwing wedges used by the thri-kreen. Dasl is important to the thri- kreen culture; they regard the substance with an almost religious reverence, largely because it is produced directly by them, so is like a part of the thri-kreen. Dasl is also useful, particularly in making chatkcha for use in the ceremony of adulthood; dasl is used almost exclusively for chatkcha. The crystal is made using sand and the thri-kreens ven- omous saliva. The thri-kreen chews a common herb (calledfejik by humanoids, but known aszi k- t hok by thri-kreen; the herb is found almost anywhere on Athas where there is plant life, and is used as an inexpensive food seasoning by some humanoids). The plant serves as a catalyst. When the venom and plant juice are spit onto sand, the sand bonds together into an opaque, crys- talline substance, much like cloudy glass. For approximately a day, this substance is soft enough to be shaped by a thri-kreen using claws or simple tools.
Dasl weighs approximately the same amount as a similar vol- ume of stone, but is quite similar to steel in terms of holding an edge, breakage, and so forth. Therefore, dasl chatkcha (and other weapons) are sturdier than those made of stone, bone, or wood. It might seem that a thri-kreen would want to produce many weapons made of dasl; this is basically true, but there are three reasons why dasl is uncommon. First, dasls production is a racial secret.
Second, the fabrication of dasl prevents the thri-kreen from using venom. Chewing zik-thok paralyzes the venom glands for one full day. Conversely, a venomous bite depletes stores of the enzymes; a thri-kreen must wait at least 12 hours after biting before being able to create dasl. Making a chatkcha requires enough venom that a thri-kreen cannot use the poisonous bite for 10 days; a thri-kreen who carries several chatkcha is consid- ered a formidable warrior, to have survived many days without venom. The slow process of creating weapons, makes most thri- kreen consider carefully before committing too much time to making dasl.
Finally, dasl is not suitable for all types of weapons or equip- ment. Besides the reverence it is given, which makes it too important to be used for common objects, it cannot handle the physical stress put on large or oddly-shaped items; see the next section for details. Making Weapons of Dasl
A chatkcha can be produced by a thri-kreen who devotes venom to the task for 10 days. These days need not be consecu- tive; part of the catalyzed venom is used to bond pieces of dasl together. The venom can also be used to repair a broken dasl item, at the cost of being unable to use venom for the next day.
As the thri-kreen makes a dasl chatkcha, racial memories of how to use it are triggered as well. While chatkcha can be made of other materials, the dasl ones are the most personal and the most prized, both for their revered substance and their sturdi- ness. Like dasl itself, the crystal chatkcha are considered almost a part of the thri-kreen; dasl is made for chatkcha, and the shape of the chatkcha is ideal for dasl.
The crystal is sometimes used to make a head for a gythka; this requires 20 days for the standard gythka shape. Thus, to make both heads for a gythka takes 40 days. Dasl is seldom used for any purpose other than making chatkcha or gythka, because of its cultural importance, the secrecy around it, its elimination of the thri-kreens venomous bite, and its general unsuitability for other purposes. The crystals lattice structure is stable in small, three-pronged items like chatkcha and the heads of gythka. However, the struc- ture is unstable if used for other constructions. A dasl breast- plate, for example, if a thri-kreen could be persuaded to make such a thing, would break into smaller pieces when struck. A dasl long sword would break the first time it was used, because the crystalline structure would not support the length of the weapon compared to its width.
Just for clarification, dasl can be used for chatkcha, kyorkcha, and gythka; short, wide-bladed knives, such as most punching and throwing daggers; heads for arrows, spears, axes, and similar items; and short spikes for such things as morning stars. Remem- ber also that dasl is coveted; since it is as strong as steel, but weighs half as much, those who know about it desire itespe- cially if it is used in normal weapons, other than chatkcha. A thri-kreen who walks around with several weapons made with dasl is asking for trouble, in the same way as a human who walk around with several metal weapons.
The structure of the kreens mouth is different from the struc- ture of a humans mouth. Kreen have no lips and their tongue is different; there are some sounds they cannot reproduce effec- tively. They cannot make the sounds represented by the letters p, b, f, v, m. However, they use other sounds not readily imitated by humanoids. These sounds, and their symbols, are given below.
- qh-click (the tongue-click that a human can make by moving the tongue from the roof of the mouth to impact on the floor of the mouth)
*pop (a sound which can be roughly imitated by a human who places a thumb in the mouth, and then brings it out rapidly)
- xh-grind (a grinding, growling sort of sound)
- m m hum (an open-mouthed hum with a bit of a buzz)
*glottal stop (a slight, almost soundless pause between syllables, produced by closing the glottis at the back of the human throat