Ocean of Night: Spectre's Shadow
The asari, a race native to the planet Thessia, are often considered the most powerful and respected sentient species in the known galaxy. They were the first race, after the Protheans, to achieve interstellar flight, and to discover and inhabit the Citadel.
A mono-gender race – distinctly feminine in appearance – the asari are known for their elegance, diplomacy, and biotic talent. Their millennia-long lifespan and unique physiology – that allows them to reproduce with a partner of any gender or species – give them a conservative but convivial attitude toward other races. The asari were also the ones who proposed the creation of the Citadel Council and have been at the heart of galactic society ever since.
Biology: A typical asari individual has a blue to purple skin tone. Some asari also have facial markings that can either be tattoos or genetic – in the later case those markings might represent the “father” species of that particular asari. In the place of head hair, asari possess wavy folds of sculpted skin; aside from this and their skin tone, aesthetically the asari are the closest alien species to humans.
Despite their obvious difference between them and humans, and their tremendous difference when compared to other races such as turians or krogans, asari are considered attractive by almost all species, which is useful considering their method of reproduction. Although not fully explained, some scientists speculate this attraction may be neurochemical in nature.
Asari have a robust cellular regenerative system. While they do not heal faster than other species, asari are known to reach 1000 years of age.
Although asari have one gender, they are not asexual. An asari provides two copies of her own genes to her offspring, which – regardless of the species or sex of the “father” – is always an asari. The second set is altered in a unique process called melding, also known as the joining.
During melding, an asari consciously attunes her nervous system to her partner’s, sending and receiving electrical impulses directly through the skin. A common phrase used before melding is “embrace eternity,” presumably to help focus the partner’s mind. Effectively, the asari and her partner briefly become one unified nervous system. This unique means of reproduction is the reason asari are all talented biotics. Their evolved ability to consciously control nerve impulses is very similar to biotic training. The partner can be another asari, or an alien of any gender. However, since the asari began encountering other sentient species, non-asari mates have become preferred for the diversity they provide. This reproductive process can lead to some confusion among non-asari, who might expect offspring with “mixed” genes. However, the offspring is always 100% asari, as it does not actually take DNA from the partner, simply use it as a “map” to randomize the genes of the offspring.
An asari’s melding ability extends to a mental connection as well, which some describe as being the true union between an asari and her partner. It allows the asari to explore her partner’s genetic heritage and pass desirable traits on to any offspring. During mating an asari and her partner share memories, thoughts, and feelings. It is also possible for an asari to meld with another for the sole purpose of transferring thoughts, without reproduction. If the asari so desires, it can even force ideas and orders into the mind of her partner, possibly forcing him to act as she wishes – if the partner cannot resist the asari willpower that is. This is not done without consequence, however, and the partner is always aware of the attempt, even if he ends up being compelled to perform as the asari commands. This method of mind-control is frowned upon by most asari and is forbidden by Galactic Law.
Asari pass through three climacteric life stages, marked by biochemical and physiological changes:
• The Maiden stage begins at birth and is marked by the drive to explore and experience. Most young asari are curious and restless.
• The Matron stage of life begins around the age of 350, though it can be triggered earlier if the individual melds frequently. This period is marked by a desire to settle in one area and raise children.
• The Matriarch stage begins around 700 years of age, or later if the individual melds rarely. Matriarchs become active in their community as sages and councilors, dispensing wisdom from centuries of experience. Their knowledge and guidance may be one reason why Matriarchs are rarely seen outside asari space.
However, it should be noted that, each stage can be started whenever an asari feels that she has reached the correct level of maturity. While each stage of life is marked by strong biological tendencies, individuals do make unexpected life choices. For example, there are Maidens who stay close to home rather than explore, Matrons who would rather work than build a family, and Matriarchs who have no interest in community affairs.
History: The asari were the first contemporary race to achieve space-flight and discover the mass relays. When they found the Citadel in around 580 BCE, the asari also encountered the keepers, whose mute assistance enabled them to quickly settle on the station and learn how to operate its systems. Sixty years later, the salarians made first contact with them, and together the two species agreed to found the Council.
Culture: Because of their long lifespan, asari tend to have a “long view” not common in other races. When they encounter a new species or situation, the asari are more comfortable with an extended period of passive observation and study than immediate action. They are unfazed that some of their investments or decisions may not pay off for decades or centuries. Matriarchs can seem to make incomprehensible decisions, but their insight is evident when their carefully-laid plans come to fruition. In interstellar relations, this long view manifests in the unspoken policy of centrism. The asari instinctively seek to maintain stable balances of economic, political, and military power.
Traditionally, asari spread their influence through cultural domination and intellectual superiority. They invite new species of advanced development to join the galactic community, knowing that their ideals and beliefs will inevitably influence the existing culture. The asari tend toward communal, consensus attitudes among themselves too: for example, they prefer to live in shared spaces aboard starships even if there are alternatives available.
Asari believe that their offspring acquire the best qualities of the “father” from the melded genes – which, of course, depends much on the “father” qualities and those a particular asari considers as being the best of them. They also frown upon intraspecies conception, since genetic traits and cultural insight is gained from mating outside their species, so it’s considered wasteful for asari to reproduce together. The results of such unions are occasionally referred to as “purebloods”, a great insult among contemporary asari. A rare genetic defect known as Ardat-Yakshi, which makes asari destroy the partner’s mind during melding, occurs much more frequently among the daughters of purebloods.
Some races, especially humans, that had a long history of cultural and gender bias – where the male gender is was always dominant – might have trouble convincing themselves that asari are the most powerful race in known space, despite their political and military superiority. Most, of course, keep this feeling to themselves.
Asari are well aware they tend to be attractive, and are comfortable expressing their sexuality. During maiden stage, many asari take the job of erotic dancers in bars or discos. Young males of all races tend to have a fascination with asari.
Because of their natural sensuality and ability to mate with any species, asari are sometimes rumored to be promiscuous. These rumors are mostly a result of misinformation (or wishful thinking). In fact, asari have to accept that if they mate outside their own species, they will almost inevitably outlive their partner (with the notable exception of the krogan, who have a similarly immense longevity). Therefore they have had to apply their philosophical “long view” to relationships as well, savoring the time they spend with their partners rather than focusing on their inevitable loss. As a result of the age difference many asari raise their daughters alone, especially if the “father” species is short-lived. Despite their partner’s death, a part of them will live within their other.
The asari celebrate the springtime fertility ritual Janiris, which marks the start of the new year. During this time, they create wreathes of flowers and distribute them among their friends and loved ones. As is the case with the holidays of some other Citadel species, the celebration of Janiris has been adopted by other species that operate in Citadel Space.
Economy: The asari possess the largest single economy in the galaxy. They have extensive trade and social contacts. Craft guilds, such as those within the cities Serrice and Armali, hold a virtual monopoly on advanced biotic technology. Given their political influence, an embargo by the asari would prove disastrous to any race.
Religion: The pantheistic mainstream asari religion is siari, which translates roughly as “All is one.” The faithful agree on certain core truths: the universe is a consciousness, every life within it is an aspect of the greater whole, and death is a merging of one’s spiritual energy back into greater universal consciousness. Siarists don’t specifically believe in reincarnation; they believe in spiritual energy returning to the universal consciousness upon death will eventually be used to fill new mortal vessels.
Siari became popular after the asari left their homeworld and discovered their ability to “meld” with nearly any form of life. This ability is seen as proof that all life is fundamentally similar. Siari priestesses see their role as promoting unity between disparate shards of the universe’s awareness.
Before the rise of siari pantheism, asari religions were as diverse as their political opinion. The strongest survivor of those days is the monotheistic religion worshipping the goddess Athame. Like the asari, the goddess cycles through the triple aspects of maiden, matron, and matriarch. Asari often swear “by the goddess”, though this may be a cultural legacy rather than reflecting an individual’s belief.
Government: The asari governmental structure, known as the Asari Republics, is relatively broad; the asari came late to the notion of world government. For centuries, their homeworld of Thessia was dotted with loose confederacies of great republican cities. The closest Earth equivalent would be the ancient Mediterranean city-states. Since the asari culture values consensus and accommodation, there was little impetus to form larger principalities. Rather than hoard resources, the asari bartered freely. Rather than attack one another over differing philosophies, they sought to understand one another. Only in the information age did the city-states grow close; communication over the internet evolved into an ‘electronic democracy’.
Aside from their Council representative, the asari have no politicians or elections, but a free-wheeling, all-inclusive legislature that citizens can participate in at will. Policy debates take place at all hours of the day, in official chat rooms and forums moderated by specially-programmed virtual intelligences. All aspects of policy are open to plebiscite at any time. In any given debate, the asari tend to lend the most credence to the opinions of any Matriarchs present.
In modern times, the asari normally act as the diplomatic arm of the Citadel Council.
Military: The asari military resembles a collection of tribal warrior bands with no national structure. Each community organizes its own unit as the locals see fit, and elect a leader to command them. Units from populous cities are large and well-equipped, while those from farm villages may be only a few women with small arms. There is no uniform; everyone wears what they like. The asari military is not an irregular militia, however; those who serve are full-time professionals.
The average asari huntress is in the maiden stage of her life and has devoted 20-30 years studying the martial arts. Asari choose to be warriors at a young age, and their education from that point is dedicated to sharpening their mind and body for that sole purpose. When they retire, they are quite proficient at killing.
Huntresses fight individually or in pairs, depending on the tactics preferred in their town. One-on-one, a huntress is practically unbeatable, possessing profound tactical insight, a hunter’s eye, and a dancer’s grace and alacrity. Biotics abilities are also a requirement to enter the military – meaning that an asari must have developed her innate biotic talents prior to enlistment.
While fluid and mobile, asari can’t stand up in a firefight the way a krogan, turian, or human could. Since their units are small and typically lack heavy armor and support weapons, they are almost incapable of fighting a conventional war, particularly one of a defensive nature. So asari units typically undertake special operations missions. Like an army of ninja, they are adept at ambush, infiltration, and assassination, demoralizing and defeating their enemies through intense, focused guerrilla strikes. Asari huntresses were among the first individuals to be chosen as Spectres.
As a popular turian saying puts it, “The asari are the finest warriors in the galaxy. Fortunately, there are not many of them.”
Asari Names: Aethyta, Aleena, Alestia, Batha, Nassana, Lidanya, Liselle, Mallene, Nelyna, Rana, Seryna, Sha’ira, Tela
Asari Family Names: Dantius, T’Soni, Calis, Thanoptis, Vasir, Iallis.
Asari Racial Traits
• Physical characteristics: an asari gains a +2 bonus to Dexterity, Wisdom and Charisma and a -2 penalty to Strength and Constitution. They are gracious, wise and beautiful creatures, considered as such even by members of other races, but their bodies are weaker.
• Embrace Eternity: Daily Power. Asari have a natural ability to attune their nervous systems others, which they evolved for reproductive purposes. it is a melee attack (physical contact required). Establishing the mind-meld is a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity. If successful the is under control of the target. Requires a DC 15 Check to maintain.
• Biotic Savant: The asari are naturally gifted at the manipulation of biotic fields and are more advanced than other races at their uses and understanding in everyday life as well as combat. Asari receive a +1 on all Biotic Checks, Attacks and can extend any effects with a successful DC 15 check
• Seductive Allure: The less stringent sexual restrictions of the asari allow themselves to be sexually manipulative or just to enjoy themselves and get what they want. They see the giving of pleasure no different than the offering of a service. Asari gain a +3 Skill Bonus to Diplomacy and Insight
• Diplomatic Immunity: Encounter. the asair use more than firearms and biotics to manipulate the battlefield. when an asari is attacked, they can use a Diplomacy check to make themselves seem helpless or even attractive to the attacker. a successful check forces the target to re assess and find a new target. on a critical success he will actually lower his guard and forgo his turn.