Kzinti

From Star Trek: Theurgy Wiki

Kzinti characters in Star Trek: Theurgy:
The kzinti (singular, kzin) were a race of sentient feline carnivores native to the Alpha Quadrant. Kzinti were highly sexually dimorphic, at least in terms of intelligence; only the males were sentient, a trait that kzinti sometimes forgot that other species (such as humans) did not share. The kzinti were enthusiastic carnivores and disdained other sentient species, such as vulcans, that used only plants for sustenance. Since making first contact, the kzinti initiated no fewer than four wars against mankind, but were defeated on each occasion; the last such conflict was concluded by the Treaty of Sirius (also known as the McDonnell-Rishal Treaty), which remained in force for centuries thereafter, despite occasional incursions and rogue aggressions by renegade kzinti.

While it was easy, and in fact common, to assume that kzinti were related to other felinoid races such as caitians, vedala, sivaoans, eeiauoans, ferasans, or m'dok, there was no documented proof of any common ancestry with the kzinti beyond the possibility of common seeding resulting from the Preservers. This theory was further supported due to the genetic and reproductive compatibility kzinti appeared to have with the various humanoid races. Although such pairings required a fair amount of medical assistance to carry to term, this was believed to be the result of kzinti genetic tampering to enhance their own evolution in recent ages rather than any fundamental uniqueness in their origin as a species.

It should be further noted that, based on the similarity of names, the kzinti were also mistaken to be another, distant off-shoot of the xindi, although this was also proven untrue as the species did not originate in the Delphic Expanse and did not share the same common genetic markers as other members of the xindi.

Ironically, some felinoids encountered by the Federation, while believed to be independent races, were in fact merely extended kzinti prides operating independently of the Patriarchy. These included the kytharri, lyrans, grond and the mirak.

Physiology

Kzinti skeletal configuration
On average, kzinti stood much taller than humans with a large male standing as much as eight feet (or 2.4 meters) in height and weighing nearly 500 pounds (or 226 kg) and females being slightly shorter and less massive. The kzinti homeworld had a gravity approximately 1.2 times that of the Earth with a higher atmospheric concentration of oxygen which contributed greatly to their size and strength. In addition, their homeworld was, on average, 5 degrees colder than Earth, resulting in the additional genetic adaptations below.

It should be noted that despite the perception that kzinti were large, in comparison to the native fauna of their homeworld, they were considered small. Typically, large land predators took prey no more than twice their weight, and usually less than their weight. By contrast, lone kzinti would stalk and kill zerkitz up to ten times their weight, and hunting parties would take a a'kdzrow of up to twenty-five metric tons. Because the primitive ecological structure did not allow the kzinti to assume the niche of large predators due to competition from the v'speel stalker and the pack hunting grlor, it is assumed that the kzinti were, instead, forced into the intelligence niche resulting in a society based in cooperative hunting.

Kzin were bipeds, standing erect on short, digitigrade legs. They were typically covered in dusky brown or tan fur with individualized black markings not unlike that of a terran tiger most commonly appearing on the face and hands. This coloration allowed their ancestors to blend into the more mountainous regions and cave systems of their world to avoid detection by prey. Specimens with full black fur were rare and all who had them are taken by the Black Priests. They were powerfully built, with thick limbs and torso and, although mammalian, did not have a mammal-like rib cage, instead possessing a latticework of cartilaginous and bone struts encasing their torso. They had long, semi-prehensile tails and possessed tetradactyl hands ending in three thick fingers and an opposable thumb, all possessing fully retractable claws, while their feet had three toes, also with retractable claws, and a dewclaw.

Kzinti possessed a tri-cardial cardiovascular system, consisting of two semi-independent and redundant circulatory systems and a third, transitory proto-heart that controled pressure between the two systems, allowing blood to transition between them as necessary. As a result, a kzin could suffer cardiac arrest in any one of the hearts only for it to be restarted by the remaining two while blood flow remained relatively unaffected, perhaps causing only a slight light-headed sensation or transitory vertigo. Further, blood born pathogens and contaminants, including injections, were much slower to affect a kzin, often requiring to five or six times the standard time frame to take full affect unless both circulatory systems were affected (or injected) simultaneously.

All kzinti possessed a region analogous to a cat's "scruff" situated from the base of their neck down between their shoulder blades. Stimulating this region, through massage, kneading or gentle gripping pressure could cause involuntary weakness, pacification and even receptiveness in a kzin. This was a conditioned response, theorized to be a hold over from ancient evolution, and many kzinti kept this area covered; although the triggered response was not strong enough to off-set actual aggression, hostility or other such visceral emotions.

Kzinti were obligate carnivores to the point that they were incapable of gaining any nutritional value from eating plant matter primarily due to a lack of the necessary enzymes in their digestive track to extract the proteins to live. They were known to regularly hunt even sentient species and to regularly consume the spoils of these hunts although these were "officially" declared as punishments for crimes against the Patriarchy.

Senses

Kzinti sexes.png
The head of a kzin was quite cat-like in appearance, although with a large cranial bulge. Their eye colors varied from yellow to near-red, with round pupils instead of cat-like vertical slits. They possessed a tapetum lucidum, which was a reflective layer behind the retina that sent light that passed through the retina back into the eye. While this improved the ability to see in darkness, it reduced net visual acuity, thus detracting when light was abundant. This gave the kzin a minimum light detection threshold up to seven times lower than that of humans and also had the effect of causing a kzin's eyes to glow slightly in response to light sources. Kzinti eyes had a visual range between 200 and 850nm allowing them to see into the ultraviolet and infrared spectra unassisted.

Kzinti ears were structurally similar to fans and parasols, allowing them to fold tightly against the skull to the point of closing. Humans and kzinti had a similar range of hearing on the low end of the scale, but kzinti could hear much higher-pitched sounds, up to 64 kHz, which was 1.6 octaves above the range of a human, and even 1 octave above the range of a terran dog.

A kzin's sense of smell was about four times as strong as humans' as a result of the kzinti olfactory epithelium possessing almost twice as many receptors. As a result, the average kzin had a more acute sense of smell than human. Unlike terran cats, however, kzinti did not possess a vomeronasal (or Jacobson's) organ. Further, kzinti typically lacked the ability to taste sweetness, which aided in their uncommon dietary nature as their modified sense of taste caused them to ignore plants as a potential food source, a large part of whose taste appeal derives from their high sugar content, in favor of a high-protein carnivorous diet, which would still stimulate their remaining taste receptors.

Kzinti possessed roughly twenty-four movable vibrissae ("whiskers"), in four sets on each upper lip on either side of the nose and in tufts over the eyes. The structure of the brain region which received information from the vibrissae was similar to that found in the visual cortex which would permit the kzin to create a three-dimensional map of its surroundings. This doesn't mean that sensing with vibrissae was a type of vision as it was still a touch sensation and environmental information was built up incrementally in small steps. Vibrissae aided sensation and navigation. The upper two rows of whiskers were able to be moved independently from the lower two rows for greater precision during measurement. These whiskers were more than twice as thick as ordinary hairs, and their roots were three times deeper. They had numerous nerve endings at their base, which gave extraordinarily detailed information about nearby air movements and objects with which they make physical contact. They enabled a kzin to know that it was near obstacles without it needing to see them.

Finally, all kzinti had an innate empathic sense referred to as ziirgah that allowed them to instinctively sense the emotions of others through a mixture of observation and extrasensory perception. However, this sense was seldom developed beyond its natural, instinctual base and many were loathe to attempt to employ the ability with any conscious intent. It was this empathic ability that caused some kzin males to be born telepathic, although the telepathy gene was mutually exclusive to the gene that causes black fur, thus no kzin with completely black fur possessed telepathy. Those who exhibited telepathic ability were forced into addiction of a drug derived from the lymph of an animal called a sthondat. Sthondat lymph extract significantly increased telepathic ability, but it was addictive, and was toxic with long-term use, causing muscle atrophy and thinning fur. Only one out of every thousand Kzinti telepaths retained their sanity, but became shivering neurotics. The effects of the drug were a major ordeal to even the most accomplished Kzinti telepaths; none would take a telepathy-inducing dose unless ordered. One dose of the drug lasted for eight hours and the telepath needed to sleep for at least twenty hours afterward or suffer severe health problems.

Once under the influence of the drug, the telepath lapsed into a relaxed hypnotic state and could probe the minds of targets up to 2500 kilometers away. The ordeal was disgusting, painful, and exhausting for both the telepath and the target. Any person caught in the mental grip of a kzinti telepath stiffened convulsively and experienced rolling waves of pain in the forehead and neck and the target could sometimes go so far as to lose consciousness. Kzin telepaths were able to read the minds of any intelligent species.

Telepaths were tolerated by the warrior class due to the specialized use of their skill, otherwise they endured a low-caste position in society, just above the status of slaves, with the occasional slave being considered of a higher social status. Telepaths rarely, if ever, earned a name, and were legally forbidden to breed. Kzinti telepaths were easily identified by their unkempt appearance, matted fur, and bouts of shivering. They slept for most of their leisure hours and their bedraggled, distraught appearance was considered shameful for a kzin.

Reproduction

Female kzinti, also referred to as kzinrett (pl. kzinretti) were only semi-intelligent, having long since been bred into sub-sapience by the Patriarchy, and were kept closely guarded in harems and treated as little more than chattel by the males. Females were primarily instinct-driven and typically did not speak and generally only understood a limited number of words and phrases, seldom exceeding a hundred. Those demonstrating higher intelligence, as tested by the Black Priests, were put to death at an early age by decree of the Patriarchy. Kzinti females were in heat only when fertile, and kzinti generally engaged in sex solely for reproduction.

Only kzinti males, or kzintosh (pl. kzintoshi), who had earned unique names through great deeds were permitted to acquire mates.

A fertile female kzin had only three or four estrus cycles in her lifetime and although litters typically always consisted of twins -- one male and one female -- kzin population growth was extremely slow and kzin males competed strenuously both for females and for the resources to support them. A high proportion of kzin males died to challenge duels resulting from this competition, and in the adult population females outnumbered males in a ratio of three to one. In other words, two thirds of all male kzin kits could expect to die in combat, either at the hands of older and more established kzin or as a result of the vast military machine and open conflicts perpetuated by the Patriarchy against other species. Combat death among males began in late adolescence and rose to a peak in young adulthood, declining steadily thereafter. This single fact dominated the entire kzinti social structure: the entire Patriarchy was built around the requirement to redirect the aggression of young males outward to prevent them from completely destabilizing the hierarchy. It was this high death rate that allowed the extended polygamous mating structure that was the core of kzinti social life. Adolescent kzin, regardless of station of birth, could only look forward to a lifetime of status-driven combat with a better than even chance of violent death.

The kzinti penis seemed to incorporate several features designed to maximize mating success. When not aroused, the penis was completely obscured within a sheathe on the groin positioned above the testicles, of which the male possessed two. The testicles, often engorged in response to the scent of a female in season, resulting in a doubling or tripling of semen production. The penis, too, responded to these pheromones, becoming heavy in the sheath and more sensitive to direct stimulation. At the base of the penis, comprising nearly 20% of its total length, was a knot not unlike those of terran canines, which aided in stimulation and as a preventative measure against semen spilling out during the act. The tip was up-turned, behind which was a secondary knot covered in cartilaginous barbs similar to those of terran feline, however, in addition to the standard stimulation produced by the barbs, the flesh surrounding the head pulsed in conjunction with the kzin's circulatory system, creating an autonomic undulation along the remaining length of the shaft.

Psychology

Kzinti were bad-tempered, took offence at almost any slight, and had a society and a code of honor that compelled them to react violently if an apology was not immediately forthcoming. The same code of honor also permitted no apology if the kzin in question believed himself to be in the right. As such, kzinti society developed a great number of ways of reducing such conflicts, but this was not always successful. Honor was considered so personal, so important, that a dishonored individual might as well not live. The kzinti system of honor meant that they would not lie to anyone under practically any circumstance and they would not mistreat prisoners or torture them needlessly (but they could and frequently did kill and eat them if they were useless). Honored prisoners (eg. kzinti with complete or partial names) were permitted an honorable death, which meant a hopeless - or nearly hopeless - fight usually resulting in the prisoner's death.

A kzin on the attack rarely did so with any sense of caution and ignored all but the most catastrophic damage. In fact they were usually quite cool during battle, but headstrong and willful to an inhuman degree. It was commonly believed by humans in the latter stages of the Man-Kzin wars that kzinti weren't a threat because they frequently engaged in conflict before they were prepared; to the kzinti, however, there was no honor in a battle when victory was assured. In fact, kzinti respected those with strength, or to a lesser degree, intelligence, and even bestowed great honors upon members of other races if they proved worthy.

Aggressive and territorial, kzinti had much more need of "elbow room" than humans. They saw themselves as the lords of creation, and believed military expansion and subjugation of other races to be their birthright as granted by the Fanged God.

Because of the high value placed on the perception of strength, physical presentation and appearance was highly emphasized by each kzin. When time permitted they frequently engaged in grooming, such as brushing their fur. Such actions were not considered vain but instead a necessary ritual to prove ones health, social standing and value as a potential mate, ally, or adversary.

Language

Speech and Writing

Example of written script
The written script was based on claw-carvings in wood and is often described as 'dots and commas' by humans.

The language, itself, known as kzintsu'ng, sounded clashing and terrible to human ears, but was in fact pitched and cased with several modes with the mode being dependent upon to one was speaking. Although there was only one main language (the Heroes' Tongue), it had many modes including mocking, deferential, technical and royal, the latter of which was only spoken to and by members of the Patriarchy. Such modes were strictly tonal and were not represented in the written version of the language. A human with plenty of spit and a good falsetto could learn the basic modes of the Heroes' Tongue and be understood anywhere, but pronunciation was difficult; similarly kzinti could learn to speak Federation Common with some difficulty.

In conjugating kzintsu'ng, if the word ended in a vowel sound, the tense replaced it but if it ended in a consonant, the tense was tacked on to the end. For example, su meant "to slash" and hrung meant "to think." Thus, se (su + -e) meant "I slash," while s'rrti (su + -'rrti) meant "they slashed," and hrungk'taahr (hrung + -k'taahr) meant "you (all) will think." To convert from simple tense to continuous/progressive tense, one would add the prefix aat'- (literally "to do") before the conjugated verb, and for perfect tense, add an additional un-. Thus, aat'unhrungk'taahr (aat'- + un- + hrung + -k'taahr) meant "you (all) will have been thinking" and unhrungk'taahr meant "you (all) will have thought". To negate an action, one appended the suffix -chssee to the end of the conjugated verb such as sechssee or "I don't slash."

Subject Present Tense Past Tense Future Tense
First person, singular -e -'rre -k'te
First person, plural -ex -'rrex -k'tex
Second person, singular -aa -'rraa -k'taa
Second person, plural -aahr -'rraahr -k'taahr
Third person, singular -tosh -'rrtosh -k'tosh
Third person, plural -ti -'rrti -k'ti

Micro-Lexicon

One unusual feature of kzintsu'ng was that words were not shared between different grammatical elements. For example, while the word "light" could be a verb, a noun, or an adjective in English, such was not be the case among the kzinti. Instead, each had its own distinct word. Conversely, kzintsu'ng was not a particularly flowery language and thus lacked a great many synonyms in favor of more precision.

Nouns and Pronouns Adjectives, Adverbs and Modifiers Verbs
animal ta'sskin a vuul to adapt k'sarung
concubine prret and yahuung to be tai
excrement (shit) skaatch deep zeri to bite kshrats'
future totek't female -rett to decay tadi
he to'k for t'kaat to defy ya
hunt jeehaz I k'tze to die hmadizhr
from prrewr great kchee to differentiate tsoewrre
it vraang lethal ztazzksom to do aat'
klingon k'liingon male -tosh to follow mearowet'aatrurre
klingon language k'liingontsu'ng may/might hrreo'- to have sex ch'rowl
life eelo no chss to live t'kovar
luck hrowks'maat not -chssee to say raoowh
meeting reet'ss of nar to scent hvraf
past totek'rr on g'kzu to slash su
prey tui or rao to speak tuyk
she ta'k plural -i to stop tauurre'
spear chugra possess u'- to think hrung
sun kshinn the zhe
that arow uh h'rr
they to'kzi vengeful kzarr
this sero when totekupf'
tool maarra
vengeance kzaii
warrior t'kzintar
we k'tzi
what hrrwweo
you chojj

Common Phrases and Proverbs

  • K'sarungaa yahuung t'kovaraa rao tadaa yahuung hmadizhraa. -- Adapt and live or decay and die.
  • Totekupf' chojj kshrats'aa, kshrats'aa zeri. -- When you bite, bite deep.
  • Arow raoowhtoshchssee hrrwweo chojj hrungaa vraang raoowhtosh. -- That does not say what you think it does.
  • Arow hrreo'taitosh ztazzksom. T'kaat chojj -- That may be lethal. For you.
  • K'tze techssee k'liingon. K'tze tuykechssee k'liingontsu'ng. -- I am not a Klingon. I do not speak Klingon.
  • Tsoewrretosh u'wtsai prrewr u'skceri -- Can't tell his wtsai from his sk'ceri. (literally implying stupidity, ignorance or incompetence such as "can't tell ass from hole in the ground"; but also a euphemism meaning someone who overcompensates or exaggerates such as "doesn't know the difference between their sword and their penis")

Mathematics

As a result of their four fingered hands, kzinti mathematics were octal-based (sometimes referred to as base-8) as opposed to the Federation standard of decimal-based (or base-10). Thus, instead of counting "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10", a kzin would count "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 10 11 12". This significant difference in the base mathematics of the two cultures meant that kzinti wishing to use Federation technology or vice versa faced a significant challenge until they adapted to the difference in values. The result was kzinti often under-compensating and humans over-compensating, especially as the numbers increased, creating very drastic difference in perceived values.

Body Language

Body language was important in social encounters. Those of lower social status keep their eyes averted, except when challenging (though such challenges were highly regulated through cultural norms). Submission was signaled by covering the nose, prostrating oneself or, in extreme circumstances, exposing belly and throat. A kzin who was about to attack or challenge would often adopt a threatening posture including folding back the ears to prevent them from being ripped or torn, bristling the fur to hide the shape of the flesh, and causing the tail to become stiff and erect as if ready to whip an opponents legs from under him. The lips pulled back from the fangs in challenge, and the claws emerged ready for a fight.

Emotion Manifestation
Worry a flattening of the fur
Frustration open-shut flare of nostrils, ticking noise from throat
Readiness ears laid flat
Smile twitching of ears
Slyness slight lidding of eyelids; could also mean calculating thought
Laughter twitching of ears and tail
Dismissive shrug yawn
Confusion careful sniffs of air, slight raise of muzzle
Threat bearing of teeth/fangs
Salute claw rake in front of own face

The tail was a great indicator of a kzin's mood with a lashing tail signifying worry, a dragging tail showing depression, and a raised tail happiness. If the tail was hidden between the legs, it was badly frightened -- something most kzintosh were loathe to display. A slow, teasing motion of a kzinrret's tail-tip was considered extremely sexy by males, as was a cool, defiant stare. The ears, too were highly expressive - a twitching indicating amusement, laying flat showing nervousness or readiness, and fanned revealing intent concentration or alertness.

Sitting, standing or lying down with the legs splayed was considered obscene in both males and females.

Kzinti also made extensive use of scent. They scent-marked with glands in cheeks and hands, occasionally using their urine.

Home World

The kzinti homeworld orbited the star 61 Ursae Majoris at a distance somewhat greater than that of the Earth's orbit around the sun. It was a larger world with gravity 1.2 times that of Earth and a year roughly one and a half times as long with a day lasting 27 hours and 36 minutes. The climate of the world was cooler and drier than Earth with definite axial tilt the resulted in distinguishable seasons. It received less light from its star, which was redder than Sol and consequently dimmer. The atmosphere had a higher concentration of oxygen than Earth and it was orbited by two moons, the Hunter's Moon and the Traveler's Moon.

The kzinti refered to their world as "Homeworld" ascribing it no other official name in the kzinti language, but was named "Kzin" or "Kzinhome" on Federation star charts.

Fauna

  • a'kdzow: animal that weighed up to 25 metric tons
  • frrch: animal prized for its pelts
  • grashi: a small burrowing animal
  • grik-grik: a kzinti food animal
  • grlor: a pack hunting carnivore 20 meters long with a long neck, sinuous build and a mouth big enough for a human to stand in, best described as a wingless dragon
  • hrhan: scavenger birds with a 15 meter wingspan, long necks and razor-sharp fangs used to rip flesh
  • k'ldar: forest-dwelling larger cousin of zianya
  • krrach-sherek: fast animal
  • kshat: a herbivore capable of digesting offal
  • Kudlotin: cold-climate animals prized for their hides
  • kz'eerkt: a tree-dwelling animal similar to a monkey (also used as a derogatory term for humans)
  • mzail mzail: venomous lizard creatures
  • oolerg: kzinti food animal
  • p'charth: animal that feigned death in order to lure prey close enough to spit a neurotoxin in their face
  • raaairtwo: a large herbivore 2 meters high at the shoulder, covered in shaggy orange hair, typically weighing twelve tons with the temperament of a rhino with a spiked ball on its tail making it well capable of defending itself
  • rapsar: genetically engineered creatures created for use in combat that could be engineered to different specifications based on task; possessing a hybrid gill/lung structure allowing for the extraction of oxygen from both water and air, allowing them the operate well in either, and suction cups for grip, and lacking any digestive system, having been designed to live for only a couple of weeks; and also possessing large, forward-set eyes, large external eardrums (allowing for a sonar system), and a skin that has both chromatophores and scent camouflage glands, allowing them to hide effectively.
  • rarchtha: animal whose fat can be used to mask one's scent
  • saberwing: flying predator which has gray wings
  • sherrek: animal native to Kzinhome
  • slashtooth: a muscular but agile animal sometimes used in gladiatorial style battles where a Kzin must battle increasing numbers of them until their inevitable death
  • sthondat: unfit for kzinti consumption, sthondats featured in a great many colorful kzinti insults, and an extract of the lymph was used by telepaths
  • terrenk: a rather strong, fast animal which fights ferociously when cornered
  • tuskvor: ancient animal described as a hulking beast which organized into herds with adults reaching 50 meters long and described as a long-necked sausage with legs like tree trunks and shaggy fur and large tusks that protruded from their upper jaw and large horns in the forehead, and small eyes; although they were herbivores, the herds were known to charge and trample other creatures when threatened
  • vatach: a creature analogous to an earless Terran rabbit; the meat was reputedly tasty, but the animal was considered too tame for kzinti sport
  • v'pren: flying carnivorous animal that could grow to the size of a human thumb and had powerful jaws, swarms of which could kill a kzin
  • v'speel: a stalking animal native to Kzinhome.
  • zerkitz: a prey animal weighing as much as 10 times the weight of an average kzin
  • zianya: a herbivore, and a favored kzinti food built to deal with the constant thread of predators, having long, powerful legs for acceleration and tremendous lungs for endurance
  • ztirgor: a herd beast used by the kzinti for freight haulage, capable of dodging skillfully but possessing no other defenses

Culture & Customs

The Kzinti social system was draconian in its complexity but ultimately simplistic at its root: kill or be killed.

Naming Conventions

Unlike traditional feudal aristocracies, any kzin could earn a name. The Patriarch did not earn his title through great deeds (though his acts of courage were countless), but by challenging and defeating his father, the old Patriarch, in single combat. Courageous acts that advanced the Paramountcy were grounds for a brave kzin to earn a new hereditary name to pass on to his descendants. A full name also meant that the kzin was entitled to better education, land, a harem, and the breeding rights.

A kzin that had not earned a hereditary name was called by his profession, for example, Speaker-to-Animals or Slaver-Student; these kzinti often had tattoos on their ears displaying their proficiency. Kzinti with partial names like Chuft-Captain represented intermediate recognition of noble birth, substantial service, or conspicuous gallantry. Addressing a kzin by his previous job-bearing title was a grievous insult.

Honor and the Dueling Traditions

The kzinti call themselves "Heroes" or the "Hero Race" and because they believed themselves to be "heroes", their society placed a very high value on "acting Heroic" and behaving in a heroic fashion. To kzinti society, "heroic" meant being honorable and having integrity. Honor being more important than profit, they neither lied nor bluffed and promises were binding, and personal danger was never taken into consideration.

Kzinti honor, called strakh, was similar in many ways to the samurai code of Bushido. Strakh served as almost a sort of currency or favor system, since they did not use money in their culture. For example, if the Patriarch got meat from a seller's market stand, the seller gained considerable strakh, which brought honor to the seller allowing him to get better customers, in turn leading to more strakh, giving the seller a higher status within the community.

In addition, combat between kzin, whether as individuals or as prides, was governed by a set of simple rules known as the Dueling Traditions:

The Dueling Traditions serve to limit the damage of inevitable conflict. Skatosh sets the limits on a challenge duel, and prevents the brother of a slain warrior from claiming vengeance if the fight was fair, which also prevents a squabble from becoming a pride-war. Skalazaal exists so that when pride-wars occur worlds are not sterilized as Pride-Patriarchs contend for what they might wrest from each other.
-- Destiny's Forge: A Man-Kzin Wars Novel by Paul Chafe
"As skatosh tests the strength and skill of warriors, skalazaal tests the strength and skill of Prides. In skalazaal as in skatosh, no slave may carry weapons for its master, though it may otherwise serve the Pride in any way. As in skatosh, no warrior may use a weapon that does not strike with his own strength. As in skatosh, no Patriarch shall leap his pride without the challenge scream. As in skatosh, skalazaal must be declared and open for all to bear witness to the honorable combat for the contending prides. As in skatosh, skalazaal sees no victory without honor. As in skatosh, skalazaal is judged by the Conservers and their edict is final."
-- Destiny's Forge: A Man-Kzin Wars Novel by Paul Chafe

In short, the Dueling Traditions required that first only kzin may carry weapons; slaves may not be sent to fight in their master's stead, although nothing prevented the slave from serving as a convenient shield. Second, honorable combat between kzin required the use of martial weaponry and most commonly, this took the form of a ceremonial dueling knife known as a wtsai. Weapons making use of artificial propulsion such as phasers, guns or even crossbows were forbidden. Third, striking an unaware enemy was similarly forbidden. Combat was only permitted once a challenge had been issued such that both parties were prepared for combat and said combat was open for others to observe. These dictates preserved the perception of honorable combat between kzin with members of the Conserver Cult serving as the ultimate authority in such matters.

One way to improve a kzin's social caste came through this ritual dueling. Whether the loser of such a duel was killed outright as honor demanded, the victor often removed the loser's ears. It was not uncommon for kzinti to carry such dried ears as trophies on their belts. The terms 'earless' and 'nameless' were synonymous for having no honor in kzinti society. It should be noted that such duels were subject to cultural protocols dictating when and against whom they could be conducted.

Another, more convention manner by which a kzin may raise in rank was through the awarding of achievements -- bust most notably, achievements of renown that benefit the whole of the kzinti people, the Pride, or the Patriarchy.

Aging

Kzinti did not have a tradition of celebrating the day of their birth with the same regularity as humans. Instead, they focused on the transition through the cycles of life from kit to adolescent and finally to adulthood. These stages were defined less by astronomical happenstance and more by the biology and psychology of the individual. As the kzin matured, the pheromones they produced altered radically, alerting others of the pride of the pending transition.

Males who were coming of age as adolescents were gathered and rigorously tested by the priesthood to determine the position to which they were most suited within the pride. The results were given to the patriarch and the newly fledged males were assigned the roles that would likely define them into adulthood. Some seasons later, once they had mastered their skills and proven their value to the pride and their pheromones signaled the end of their maturation cycle, they were again taken before the patriarch, but this time as individuals, and granted the name that was their profession.

These stages, depending on the individual, could be challenged early, allowing particularly strong-willed kzin to advance to the next stage in an effort to gain straakh earlier in life at the risk of taxing their more immature bodies or risking harm by fraternizing with others physically more mature than themselves.

At the opposite extreme, end of life -- specifically senescence -- was treated with disdain. While it was considered a triumph to overcome all challengers that might otherwise take one's life, to live to the point of deterioration was shameful. Kzinti had no time, patience or care for the elderly. A kzin who could not fight, hunt or contribute meaningfully to the pride was less than a female. While some might have argued that the elderly contributed through the wisdom they've acquired, such contributions were culturally the hallmark of the priesthood and held no bearing on the age of an individual, but on the collective age of the institution as a whole. As such, kzinti males seldom reached old age, either due to naturally succumbing to a younger and stronger challenger, or by honorably ending their own life in service to the pride. There was no set point in a kzin's given life cycle where this was more common than not, as death was an ever-present threat in kzinti society. Further, as a result of this practice, it was unclear what the natural maximum life expectancy of a kzin was.

Clothing

Partially due to their naturally insulating fur and partially due their inherent reluctance to undertake tasks such as animal husbandry or textiles, there was no real demand for clothing among the kzinti. There was no stigma for nudity and almost all females spent their entire lives unclothed. Males would, on occasion, wear artifacts that were more ceremonial or served as a convenient place to holster items or display trophies from their hunts, but this amounted to either a series of belts, pouches and, most infrequently, something akin to pants; but for the sake of freedom of movement, they remained averse to anything resembling shirts. When circumstances dictated, kzin males would wear full armor or environment suits, but these were usually specific to military engagement when the strength of flesh and the speed of muscles would likely prove insufficient defense against an enemy.

History

Kzinlogo1.png
Very little was known of kzinti history beyond the homeworld prior to their first contact with the humans of Earth. Only the names of certain significant eras were known, with little detail forthcoming as to their duration or driving events. It was known that the kzinti, from the earliest days of their society, were initially a migratory species to some extent, only infrequently settling in notable territories. A period known as the Great Migration recounted the westward migration of the Rritt-Pride into the great savannah to avoid the Sorcerer Pride that controlled the Fortress of K'dar. It was said that this age ultimately concluded in the Battle of the Hungry Years when Chraz-Rrit-Star-Sailor defeated the Sorcerer Pride and seized the Fortress, thereby establishing the bloodline that would come to rule all kzinti.

It was in this time that the truth and myths of the kzinti people seemed to commingle with equal tenacity. While mythology held that the kzinretti surrendered their reason to the Fanged God following the fall of the Sorcerer Pride, archaeological evidence showed that the kzinti were, in fact, uplifted by an alien species known as the jotoki with specific intent to use the primitive felinoids as soldiers and mercenaries to safeguard their own burgeoning merchant empire. This arrangement proved ultimately short-lived as the jotoki were woefully unprepared for the savagery of the kzinti. In the end, the kzinti had seized all that had once belonged to their alien masters, devouring the jotoki to the last. It was after the kzinti had claimed the technology of the jotoki that they began an aggressive campaign of genetic manipulation to accentuate those features they considered most heroic in the kzintoshi, and regressed all signs of sapience from the kzinretti, ensuring the ongoing dominance of the Patriarchy.

A brief period known as The Long Peace followed as the kzinti exploited and mastered their new dominion and technologies. During this time, the modern structure of kzinti society arose, given birth due to the no major wars being fought among themselves. Such an idyllic period was not meant to last as finally, inevitably, the Patriarchy turned its eye towards its neighboring systems and the possibility of conquest. And thus was born the Red Age, also known as the Great Hunt.

The Man-Kzin Wars

Just over a century had passed since the inception of the Great Hunt and the expansive growth of the burgeoning Kzinti Paramountcy when the first official contact was made with the monkey-descended humans. History sensationalists maintain that this first contact lead to a series of wars that ultimately decimated the Earth while finally leading to the defeat of the kzinti at the conclusion of the fourth war. This, however, was quite far from the truth as the kzinti never actually set foot on Earth but instead laid seige against an unknown human colony in the Alpha Centauri system. Beginning in 2049, following the detection of the UNSS Icarus in the system, the kzinti descended upon the planet and initiated what would later be called the First Man-Kzin War. The Centaurans were human descendants of the ancient Greeks transported from Earth in the 3rd Century but, alone, were little match to the more powerful kzinti. Fortunately, thanks in no small part to the crew of the Icarus, the kzinti vanguard was driven back.

Two additional conflicts arose between 2054 and 2058 as an ever-increasing armada of kzinti warships began to arrive in the system, each time to be driven back by the unpredictable nature of the humans and the ingenuity of the Icarus crew. At the conclusion of the so-called Third Man-Kzin Wars, it was apparent that the next such incursion would end with the kzinti victorious and the planet solidly under their control.

Meanwhile, on Earth, humans discovered the secret of warp technology with the maiden voyage of the Phoenix in 2063. This monumental leap forward in space travel allowed the humans to reach and reinforce the colony in a fraction of the time required by the Red Age vessels of the kzinti. The fourth and final conflict proved the most decisive by far, with the arrival of a fleet of converted DY-500 ships equipped with warp drives. With far greater speed and maneuverability, the humans were easily able to defeat the kzinti and force them to abandon any future ambition for the system.

A year later, in 2065, the Treaty of Sirius (also known as the McDonnell-Rishal Treaty, so named for the co-writers) saw an end to the conflicts between humanity and the kzinti. Among other things, the treaty ordered the complete demilitarization of the kzinti with only a small police force being allowed to operate in its place so as to maintain the peace. Another clause was that Earth, and later the United Federation of Planets, were allowed unrestricted access into kzinti territory, including the surrender of several kzinti held worlds. For their part, the kzinti had but one demand: that any and all knowledge the humans had acquired regarding the kzinti or their technology be highly classified and thus knowledge of their ignominious defeat would not be widely known.

The Long Wait

The age following the defeat at the hands of the Federation was not an easy one as it required not only a rebuilding of their devastated population, but a dismantling of their military forces, having been reduced to little more than peacekeepers. Some prides, seeing weakness in the Patriarchy for the first time in untold centuries, rebelled and sought fortunes beyond kzinti space, but such hubris was seldom rewarded and many such prides died out or found themselves reduced to piracy or worse, forced to abandoned their strakh to prey on the weak and unworthy to survive. The Patriarchy, however, managed to hold the homeworld and remaining territories, carefully watching and waiting as events unfolded beyond their borders.

In 2293, representatives from the Federation's Bureau of Interplanetary Affairs discussed renegotiating the terms of the treaty with the kzinti, likely as a result of changing attitudes towards the klingons during the establishment of the Khitomer Accords. Unfortunately, the renegotiation fell through as the kzinti proved unwilling to revisit their wounded pride and debase themselves as they felt the klingons had and many within the Federation, already wary of possible peace of the klingons, proved resistant to the notion of unchaining the far more predatory kzinti.

Government & Military

kzinti starship circa 22nd century
The kzinti were superb fighters and great conquerors, beginning with the genocide of their would-be masters, the jotoki. With little more than sublight vessels they managed to carve out a mutli-system empire near the heart of the Federation, populating it using a model similar to the ancient Romans of Earth. The Great Hunt, as this expansion was called, was initiated by the Patriarchy and persisted unchallenged for nearly half a century before their encounter with humanity.

Kzinti occupation was an exercise in extremes. On the one hand, kzinti cared little about their subject races, and so tended to leave them to their own devices, provided they obeyed their laws and paid their tributes. On the other hand, an expanding kzinti population required a vast amount of space, and the ongoing war effort demanded natural resources, so subject races tended to be pushed together as kzinti lands grew. If a member of a subjected race committed a capital or treasonous offence, the usual method of execution was usually a hunt, as kzinti enjoyed the challenge of hunting (and eating) sentients, and made no attempt to hide it. To be fair, they demanded the same of their own criminals, with the distinction that cannibalism was taboo, thus merely the lands and wealth (and often life and ears) of the defeated were taken.

Planetary Holdings

  • Kzin: The kzinti homeworld.
  • Ansrarw: A heavily arboreal world with an eccentric rotation due to an off-center core resulting in a longer night cycle for much of the planet.
  • Ch'lat: A mostly arid world consisting of large, sparse savannahs and deserts; although possessing a relatively low gravity, the atmosphere was oxygen and nitrogen rich prompting the growth of extremely tall, slender trees with long, intertwining branches.
  • Meerowsk: A large, swamp covered world that, due to its position within its solar system and relative gravity, was often bombarded by meteorites and other cosmic detritus, making the world not only a valuable mining commodity, but a dangerous place for kzinti to prove their skills. Due to its mineral wealth, the planet was temporarily seized by human forces during the final Man-Kzin war, only to be driven away by the inhospitable nature of the planet itself.
  • Reessliu: An unremarkable terrestrial world of moderate temperature variance primarily inhabited by kzin servitor species dedicated to agriculture and animal husbandry.
  • Sårng: A gas giant on the far end of kzinti space with an atmospheric pressure of a couple tons per square inch; the kzin had established several floating habitats dedicated to mining of the atmospheric resources and refinement of fuel and other byproducts for over a thousand years.
  • W'kkai: Although originally an otherwise mountainous but otherwise unremarkable kzin colony world, this planet saw many bloody conflicts during the Man-Kzin Wars such that it later came to be known more for the number of bones and bodies that littered its surface than for any other reason.

Former Planetary Holdings

  • Fafnir: An ocean world orbiting a yellow dwarf star with no polar caps and possessing a single continent, Shasht, which served as the heart of industry, and thousands of coral islands, used for residences. With a 22 hour day, the natives of Fafnir were typically in no hurry to go anywhere. The world was deficient in metal resources making it reliant of off-world imports to sustain its industry. It was formerly a kzinti world, before the humans claimed it in reparation after the final Man-Kzin War.
  • Hssin: A formerly kzinti held system closest to Alpha Centauri. It consisted of a red dwarf sun named R'hshssira and a non-terrestrial planet, on which the kzinti once maintained a sealed habitat protecting them from the poisonous atmosphere. Following the McDonnell-Rishal Treaty, the planet was ceded to human control as it lay within the demilitarized neutral zone known as the Chord of Contact that serves as the border between the Federation and Kzinti space.
  • Skrullai: Kzin colony world that later was liberated by humans.
  • Vz'vzmeer: Kzinti planet that was believed razed by human forces.

Technology

Much of the technology attributed to the kzinti came, in truth, from their one-time masters, the jotoki, or from those the kzinti subsequently conquered. Primary among these technological advancements was a mastery of genetic manipulation, allowing the kzinti to drive their own evolutionary process, as well as develop genetically enhanced, if admittedly short-lived, battle beasts that they can use to test their own martial prowess.

Ships of the Fleet

Starship Type Class Notes
Battleship Conquest Fang At one time, this was the most powerful of kzinti battleships, capable of interstellar travel, planetary bombardment and ecosystem devastation, and self-manufacture of fuel, parts, and weaponry. Following the McDonnell-Rishal Treaty, all of these vessels were drydocked or scrapped. Some such vessels were stolen by renegade prides that fled the control of the Patiarchy.
Dreadnought Ripper Ripper class vessels made up the majority of kzinti command ships, leading the expansion of the paramountcy and serving as the bulk of the fleet. As with the Conquest Fang class of ships, these vessels were similarly drydocked or scrapped as a result of the McDonnell-Rishal Treaty.
Warship Ripping Fang The Ripping Fang became the largest of the known kzinti vessels following the conclusion of the Man-Kzin Wars, used primarily for patrol of their territorial borders. Being surrounded on all sides by the Federation, these vessels seldom saw action except to defend against pirates and renegade forces that slipped through Federation patrols in a misguided attempt to strike at the kzinti systems directly.
Swift Hunter A warship originally used during the Red Age, many Swift Hunter vessels were subsequently scrapped or altered into policing vessels to maintain internal kzinti law.
Destroyer Prowling Hunter A variant of the Swift Hunter class warship, the Prowling Hunter was smaller and possessed a limited form of cloaking device. It was believed that the device was stolen from a suliban colony that had foolishly settled within kzinti space and adapted to be compatible -- at least in part -- with kzinti technology. Because cloaking was inconsistent with kzinti battle practices, it was seldom used and never perfected. Following the McDonnell-Rishal Treaty, these vessels were scrapped, although rumors persisted that the kzinti have retained and since upgraded this cloaking technology as a matter of covert development, as they were not bound by the constraints of the Treaty of Algeron.
Scout ship Prowler This was a class of kzinti scout ship used heavily during the Red Age, that was subsequently decommissioned in favor of the Raptor class.
Raptor The Raptor class scout ship saw out the conclusion of the Man-Kzin wars and was later adapted to interplanetary patrol and peacekeeping duties.
Slasher The Slasher class scout ship was developed in 2311 to replace the retrofitted Raptor class vessels and went on to compose the bulk of the interplanetary policing force of the kzinti.
Interceptor Scream of Vengeance Kzinti vessel used for high-speed interception, this was developed following the McDonnell-Rishal Treaty as a concession on behalf of the Federation to allow the kzinti access to warp technology. Such ships were required to carry no more than two kzinti at a time, although they could be converted to carry up to a three kzin compliment, and maximum warp capability was limited to Warp 7.
Attack Fighter Rending Fang A kzinti heavy attack fighter often used in inter-fleet battles and atmospheric incursions, these vessels also possessed cloaking capabilities although these systems were seldom used in the midst of combat. Following the McDonnell-Rishal Treaty, all attack fighters have been reportedly decommissioned and scrapped in favor of scout and interceptor class vessels.
Courier Swiftwing Another kzinti vessel permitted the use of warp technology, courier vessels became one of the only kzinti ships permitted to move beyond the borders of kzinti space as they served as messengers, trade ships and diplomatic couriers in whatever limited degree the kzinti understood those concepts. As with the their interceptor class vessels, the maximum warp permitted for their couriers was Warp 7 although their size and crew compliment was not as restricted as Swiftwings were not permitted to be armed.

Mythology

The kzinti religion exemplified the ideals of kzinti society--Individuality, Success, and Effort (all combined in the concept of Heroism)--through the analogy of The Great Hunt.

  • The Great Hunt was an analogy for life.
    • Goals were, of course, analogous for prey...
    • ...but it was the Hunt, the struggle, which was most important.
    • Kzin work ethos believed that adaptation and effort brought success while stagnation brought failure.
  • If one hunted with honor and skill, one proved their worthiness to the Fanged God and hunted for eternity.
    • This was not species-specific... but all hunters in the afterlife were kzin. Of course.
    • Honor was generally equivalent to sportsmanship; skill ranged from actual dexterity to creativity and ingenuity.
    • Slyness was not a bad thing if it was for the right cause--the best Heros used their brains as well as their brawn.
    • Success was paramount, but not the degree of success. If two Heroes fought their hardest and one won more than the other, but both win, then both have proven their worthiness. Success was defined as meeting personal challenges of import--setting a difficult life-goal and attaining it. Lawyering the issue--arguing that it was difficult to eat a hundred Twinkies in one sitting and making that a guarantee for paradise--was frowned upon greatly; the Fanged God does not listen to lawyers.
  • If one hunted poorly and dishonorably, one simply ensured their continuance as prey into the afterlife.
    • Anything non-kzin in the afterlife was prey. This meant if one woke up as a rabbit, the one was not on the good side of the Fanged God.
    • Prey got the short end in that they get resurrected in the afterlife to be prey once again. This was the kzin analog to hell.
    • Dishonor was cheating, lying, and stealing (as usual); 'poorly' includes a general lack of success (being a "nice guy loser" was not sufficient Heroism to attain paradise).
  • The afterlife belief structure was summed up as: "Hunter in life, hunter in death; prey in life, prey in death."

The Unspoken Power of the Black Priests

"...And the Great Prides and the kzintzag alike adhere to the traditions because the Patriarch does. Some traditions serve the species, like the code of honor, and the Dueling Traditions, but many serve only the priesthood, and the priesthood serves the Black Priests. [...] The High Priests stay in their temples and seek unity with the Fanged God. Perhaps they achieve it, who knows? We say the High Priests are most powerful because they sanctify the ascension of the Patriarch, but this not power because they cannot choose not to do it. We say the other cults serve the High Priests, but this is like saying you serve your slaves by providing them food and shelter. The Black Priests act for the High Priests in the waking world, and what High Priest even knows what a Black Priest does? A Black Priest comes into a Pride-Patriarch's stronghold and says 'The High Priests have so commanded,' and who can question them? The Black Cult are many things, all of them dark, all of them powerful, and their stranglehold on our species starts with the Kitten's Test. They are the Bearers of Bad Tidings, and what tidings are worse than the news that a promising son will be taken to become Telepath, that a daughter still suckling will be abandoned to the jungle verge? Who in all the Patriarchy does not fear the Black Cult?"
"They are just one order among many, and others are more dangerous."
"You speak of the Hunt Priests. The Black Cult are too stealthy to ripple the drinking pool, but they are the ultimate power in the priesthood. All the orders are pledged to obey the High Priests, but it is the Black Cult that speaks for them. The Hunt Priests do not apply the Hot Needle save at the order of the Black Cult. The puzzle traps of the Conundrum Priests hold their enemies, the Practitioner Priests in every Pride serve as their eyes and ears and noses. They do not often show their power, but they are playing a long game, as are we."
-- Destiny's Forge: A Man-Kzin Wars Novel by Paul Chafe

Kzinretti Sub-Sapience

"It is told that in the time between the wet season and the dry Chraz-Rrit-Star-Sailor won the fortress of K'dar from the Sorcerer Pride. Among his prizes he took the kzinrett P'rerr as his own. His consort V'rere became jealous and betrayed him to his enemies in order to gain his empire for herself, and so Chraz-Rrit was nearly slain in an ambush at Hrar. While he lay wounded the Sorcerer Pride attacked the Citadel, and V'rere too was nearly slain in the defense. The Fanged God became so angered that V'rere's ambition had so nearly destroyed the Patriarchy, and so commanded that all kzinretti surrender their reason, so that never again would consort and sire contend against each other. P'rerr wished only to be with Chraz-Rrit and so submitted to the Fanged God's will, but V'rere refused in her pride, and so the Fanged God banished her to the jungle forever. As a reward for her loyalty P'rerr was told that the line of the Patriarchy would forever flow through her."
Pouncer waved a paw dismissively. "This is a kitten's tale."
"Every kitten's tale carries truth init, or at least wisdom. There is more to this one. It is told that after her banishment jealous V'rere scheme to again by by Chraz-Rrit's side, and so when once more the cool season turned into the hot, and she came into her fertility, she disguised herself as P'rerr. She stole into the Citadel and played with P'rerr and told her stories, and because P'rerr had given her reason to the Fanged God she did not notice that V'rere was disguised as she. When V'rere had P'rerr's trust she gave her the tea of the zee flower, and P'rerr fell into a deep and dreamless sleep. In the dead of the night, still disguised, V'rere came to the Patriarch and mated him, and when the hot season again became cool she bore him kits. Knowing she could not maintain her ruse forever, she put her kits beside sleeping P'rerr and stole out into the desert once more. When P'rerr awoke she thought they were hers and suckled them. But Egg-Stealer the grashi had been hiding in a burrow in the Patriarch's Garden and saw it all happen, and when V'rere had gone he ran to the Fanged God and told him everything.
"The Fanged God was enraged at V'rere's trickery and to punish her he commanded the prey animals to leave the jungle, that V'rere would be forced to follow them across the desert and know thirst. Then he commanded the Black Priests to examine every kit of the Patriarch's Line in their fifth time around the seasons, and to banish all who carried the signs of the Line of V'rere. Finally, his anger abated, he turned to Egg-Stealer and thanked him for his warning and granted him a boon. And Egg-Stealer asked that his line become to plentiful that it would never end, and the Fanged God made it so, and this is why the grashi flourish in flood and in drought and on every world, why even when the kzinti leave a place the grashi remain where they have been."
-- Destiny's Forge: A Man-Kzin Wars Novel by Paul Chafe

Differences between the Fanged God and the God of the Humans

"You have your Fanged God, and we our Bearded God, but they might almost be two faces of the same entity. Both of them demand truth, honor and justice of us."
"But your Bearded God also demands that you love your enemy," the kzin rumbled softly. "And the Fanged God does not."
-- Man-Kzin Wars XIV by Larry Niven
"Some of us believe Fanged God and Bearded God have their own kingdoms. Others have conceptions more subtle: that the Fanged God is the heroic aspect of the Bearded God, who being omnipotent has no need for heroism."
-- Man-Kzin Wars X: The Wunder War by Hal Colebatch

The Extended Pantheon

"Do you have a god that watches over travelers?"
"We have a saint. Saint Christopher."
"Ah. For us, the brave traveler, who dares the unknown, comes under the attention of Amara, third male kit of the Fanged God. But he lives on the Traveler's Moon, which orbits Kzin with the Hunters' Moon. I am not sure how much attention he pays to the goings-on of this world."
-- Man-Kzin Wars XIV by Larry Niven