Galka

The heavyset Galka are consummate craftsmen; despite a brutish outward appearance, they are not stupid by any stretch of the imagination, excelling in mining, metalwork and other matters of engineering. Their physical characteristics are an odd mixture of animal influences; smooth, greenish-gray skin and a rigid, medium-length tail–a counterweight for their top-heavy frames–hint at reptilian ancestry, but their expressive faces are entirely ursine. Unlike most other races, Galka have no gender, though their outward appearance and manner is distinctively male. Many cultivate lavish facial hair in their later years, often styling it in a wide range of outlandish shapes.

Vital Data

Representatives: Raogrimm (FFXI), Invincible Shield (FFXI)
Typical Height: 2.5-2.8m
Typical Weight: 160-220kg
Hair Colors: Black, brown, gray, red
Eye Colors: Blue, green, brown
Habitats: Deserts, Cities, Underground
Lifespan: 100-140 years
Young: 16-20 years
Average: 30-60 years
Old: 90-120 years

Society

The Galka may have once had a culture to call their own; if so, it has been lost to history since the race's glory days, leaving a nomadic people that makes its home in any society willing to accept them. Finding such hosts is rarely difficult; as architects, artisans or simple physical labor, Galka have the potential to easily drive an entire economy. Unfortunately, their generally passive nature has made them a prime target for exploitation by other races; it is not uncommon to see Galka pushed too hard for too little pay and only the barest regard for their well-being.

Though they have a complex spoken tongue, no written Galkan language exists; the passage of history and culture is entrusted to ‘Talekeepers’ who act as a repository of ancestral memory. Outsiders see Talekeepers as shamanistic fossils, spreading their superstitions and fairytales in hushed tones. In truth, however, these wizened Galka are key to a complex process that ensures their race’s continued survival.

Few are aware that the Galka undergo a cycle of reincarnation; the details of this process are nebulous even to the Galka themselves. Though they visibly age and readily succumb to war, disease, or starvation, actual deaths of old age are almost unheard of. Rather, upon reaching a certain age, a Galka simply bids his friends and fellows farewell, giving away what possessions and wealth he acquired over the course of his life, and sets out into the wilderness. The timing of this journey is carefully calculated through consultation with the Talekeeper over a period of several weeks, during which time the leave-taker is invited to speak freely and at length of his life, his insights and achievements in the spirit of closure. Thus unburdened, the Galka goes on his way, keeping only the clothes on his back and the little he needs to keep his strength up on the march.

Though the departing adult is never seen again, in time, a juvenile Galka will arrive to seek the Talekeeper’s counsel, still innocent to the ways of the world and his people. It is the Talekeeper’s responsibility to ensure the newcomer is suitably indoctrinated, to dispense the knowledge he needs to eventually fill his predecessor’s shoes. An elder Galka will be assigned to act as the boy’s ‘father', providing practical guidance and shelter. As the juvenile grows, he meets with the Talekeeper time and again, gleaning more of his purpose until he is at last a full member of Galkan society. For their part, Talekeepers seem to be possessed of almost unnatural longevity, reliably serving their purpose for generation after generation.

Roleplaying

Though sometimes seen as slow-witted or apathetic, Galka are creatures of deep emotion and rigid self-control. From early on, they are taught to bottle up negative feelings such as anger, frustration, and hatred, releasing them only in their final meeting with the Talekeeper. In this manner, Galkan wisdom goes, the race is protected from feelings that could ultimately destroy it. Fighting is seen as an acceptable, albeit temporary outlet for pent-up anger; inevitably, Galka that choose to take up arms are the most troubled of their kind, permanently torn between reason and rage with fear of death as the only mitigating influence.

Death itself is a powerful racial terror; Galka felled by war or disease are forever gone in both body and memory, with no possibility of replacement. Conflict is avoided rather than plunged into head-first; faced with a potentially infinite lifespan, Galka try to adopt a detached world-view, outwaiting and outliving hardships instead of tackling them head-on. To this end, most grievances are simply swallowed and disagreements rarely voiced—a fact that encourages other races to calluously exploit the uncomplaining Galka.

This emotional self-control can have dangerous results, however, as feelings can bubble up in the most unexpected places. Some Galka experience strong romantic stirrings, leading them to form intimate, if ultimately platonic, bonds with other races; they may even marry, although such arrangements are rare. While not strictly taboo in Galkan terms, interracial relationships rarely end happily for either participant, and are generally discouraged on a social level; ‘married’ Galka are usually subject to intense discrimination and harrassment.

When living among other races, Galka rarely use their own tongue; those who speak it tend to do so in a halting, awkward manner. The majority adopt their names from the nicknames and epithets given to them by other races rather than choosing their own, becoming ‘Vicious Eye,' ‘Hound Nose,’ or ‘Gold Skull’—often the first act of submission a young Galka undertakes. Only a small portion are named by their adoptive parents in accordance with the old traditions; 'true' Galka names are harsh-sounding monickers between one and two syllables in length, and include Khonzon, Belizieg, Zhikkom, and Ghemp.

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