The Raag are a species of large, strong, and aggressive beings. They are native to Heimis, a planet covered in a thick layer of ice with a liquid ocean underneath. Below the ice crust lies the Crystal Abyss, huge caves connected by a network of tunnels, where the Raag evolved and live. While the surface of the planet reaches temperatures of -200ºC, the temperatures inside the caves are a cozy -40ºC.
Many raag now live in gigantic space fortresses, constantly waging wars on each other. They use comets and asteroids as the foundation for their fortresses and equip them with weapons, hangars, and propulsion systems that they gathered from the Korian during the previous centuries.
Renowned for their strength and endurance, they place great importance on tradition and honor. Most of them see technology as something that is unnatural and mysterious, something to be feared and revered. Only the enginseers, trained by the Cult, have the knowledge and understanding necessary to use it.
The Age of the Gladiators
The Raag lived under the rule of the Korian for a hundred years before the Iz’kal were enslaved. Although they were spread all over the korian empire, many of them still lived on their home planet, the only place where they could breed. Korian hunting parties would often go there and hunt them down like wild animals for fun or to sell them as slaves. They served as labourers and as entertainment, and the most violent were traded among the different warlords and trained as gladiators for the Blood Games. Owning a strong gladiator was seen as a sign of power among korian.
It didn’t take long for korian to start breeding the strongest and most violent raag among themselves in an attempt to preserve and enhance those traits for future generations. Reproduction fields were established on the surface of Heimis which later turned into training fields. Warlords from all across the empire would travel to these places, seeking new gladiators for their games.
Over the years, many of these gladiators managed to escape and hid in the deepest area of the Crystal Abyss, which would later become the Surani. They started training other raag in the ways of battle that they had been taught by their masters, slowly creating an army of mighty warriors that lusted for korian blood.
As their numbers grew, more and more korian hunting parties started to go missing, the hunters becoming the prey. Eventually the most powerful gladiators started attacking the training fields and other korian outposts on the surface, timing them with the fierce snow storms that sometimes lashed the surface of the planet to leave no traces of their attack. The battered remains of the korian spaceships and weapons became hidden in the depths of the Crystal Abyss, and would eventually be studied by those raag who attempted to understand them. This marked the origin of the Cult of Eternia and the first enginseers.
The Cult of Eternia
During the age of gladiators, those raag that were unable to fight were despised for their weakness and remained in the Crystal Abyss while the gladiators and their followers went out to fight the Korian. Some of these raag quickly realized the potential that the captured korian devices could have and started studying them in an attempt to prove their worth to the other raag.
Among the ships that the Raag managed to capture, one stood out from the others, and it was called Eternia. Even to the Raag, whose knowledge of technology was rudimentary at best, there was something undeniably alluring about Eternia, and it wasn’t long before the cultists started treating it with reverence. It took them almost 2 years to be able to open it, and once they did, their reverence turned to devotion. The ship was able to speak their language fluently, had answers to all of their questions, and displayed unmistakable intelligence. With the help of Eternia, the Cult’s influence increased to the point where it matched that of the gladiators. The ability to control the technology at their disposal and the endless source of knowledge that was Eternia helped them secure a status that would have been unthinkable otherwise. The Cult progressively became more secretive and protective of Eternia, and even kept its existence hidden from most of their own members.
The gladiators felt threatened by the rise of the Cult and distrusted their ways and newly found magic, but they could not deny their usefulness, and so they endured their arrogant attitude.
A Fight for Supremacy
The raag originally lived in small tribes that were governed through strength. There was no unity among the tribes and no raag society to speak of. All of that changed after the arrival of the gladiators, under the korian occupation. They traveled all over Heimis, rallying the different tribes under their banners. Under their leadership, the raag became organized for the first time. It was during this time that the Surani was created, first as the place for civilians and children to live in and later as the administrative center of the society.
However, as the society grew, the violent nature of the Raag started resurfacing. The different leaders began fighting each other over power, which younger raag saw as an opportunity to prove their worth. A civil war threatened to collapse the frail society that they had managed to build, until some of the oldest and most powerful females decided to join forces and put a stop to the fighting. One by one they dealt with each of the leaders, using either brute force or common sense as needed. It was agreed that the Surani would become a sacred territory in which no fighting was allowed, a place where young raag could be raised and protected. The different leaders agreed to take their followers away from the Surani and settle somewhere else, which marked the origin of the first clans.
The High Council was given veto power on all decisions taken by the clans as a way to ensure the survival of the species. Besides that, they were tasked with the administration and well-being of the Surani and all the raag living within it.
The Ice Fortresses
After the Uprising, most of the surviving raag came back to Heimis. The population became too large for such a barren planet and starvation became a real threat. For the first time, the High Council, the different War Councils, and the Shadow Council came together to determine a solution to the problem. After a long discussion, it was decided that they would attempt to turn the asteroid belt around Heimis into floating citadels that would then roam the galaxy in search of food and other goods that were needed at Heimis. For the next few years, all able hands were employed for the task, and every large spaceship left by the Korian was dismantled for parts that would later be installed on the asteroids. The result was a fleet of giant spaceships the size of cities, each capable of harboring hundreds of thousands of raag. Every clan was given command over a few of the fortresses and sent into the unknown. They would come back every few years, their stores full of supplies essential for the survival of the inhabitants of the planet.
The ice fortresses have allowed the Raag to survive and prosper, despite the harsh conditions of their home planet. Each clan is responsible for the maintenance of their own ice fortresses, which explains why the enginseers, who are the only ones capable of repairing them, are held in such high esteem.
Raag have short lifespans. They reach maturity at the age of 10 and those that don’t die of violent causes will die of muscular hypertrophy before they turn 60. Their lives are divided into four stages.
For the first 10 years, they will be looked after by the keepers, a group mostly composed of elder females. During this time, they grow fast and become progressively more violent.
At the age of 10, most of them have become so aggressive that they are forced to leave the underworld. For the following 5 to 10 years, they will live alone or in small tribes on the surface of the planet, hunting for food and fighting other tribes over territory. As they grow older, they become stronger, but they also learn to manage their aggressiveness and eventually return to underworld, where they will join the Surani for a few years. It is here that they will train and prepare for the Culling, the great selection during which they will be assigned to one of the great clans, to which they will belong for the rest of their lives.
Raag have been found to only be able to procreate in Heimis, which has prevented them from colonizing other planets. They have short pregnancies that last 5 months, during which the female will usually stay at the Surani, being taken care of by other females. Once the child is born, they will look after them for a few months before leaving them in the hands of the Surani and returning to their clan.
The Culling is the most important event in the life of most raag. They usually spend years preparing for it as the outcome of this ceremony will determine their future. During this time, they will attempt to draw the attention of some clan or earn a reputation at their trade.
It takes places once a year, during the longest night of the year, and any raag that has never participated can take part. During the Culling, the different clans will approach the individuals they are interested in. Those approached by more than one clan can choose which of those clans they want to join, but this does not happen often as the most powerful clans tend to approach first, scaring off lesser clans from attempting to compete for the same candidate. Those raag that are not chosen by any clan will usually remain in the Surani for the rest of their lives.
The Raag lack an established form of currency and all their economy is based on bartering. Some of the most valuable goods are food and tools, but the value of the different goods and services will vary greatly among different clans and at different times.
The ice fortresses come back to Heimis every few years, bringing all kinds of resources and tools collected from different places around the universe. They will give out close to half of their goods to the Surani and the other half will be used by their clan.
Dealings with Other Species
After the Uprising, the Iz’kal attempted to establish an alliance with the Raag, but it quickly became apparent that they were too different from each other and they began to keep their distance. While commerce between them is not uncommon, and there have been instances when they have collaborated and helped each other, they will keep to themselves most of the time.
Ever since they came across the Raag, the Corvo have tried to impose their market system on them. Despite their best efforts, the Raag have shown little interest in most of what the Corvo had to offer, and only The Union has been able to secure a stable business relationship with them, by trading old and heavy weaponry for strange korian artifacts and raag mercenaries. Even so, the High Council, wary of the intentions of the Corvo, imposed severe restrictions to the kinds of dealings that the different clans could make, and the Cult, overprotective of their secrets, has refused any dealings with any other species, afraid of losing their power and influence.
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