The Zelnalak are a highly adaptable, prolific blue and white furred humanoid species. They are well known for their friendly, affable personalities, their strong interest in learning about other cultures and species (and how to absorb them), and their excellent networking and community building skills.
The first reports of the Zelnalak species came near the end of the Gresh Collective, during the Scourge War 1 million years ago. They were one of few species to benefit from that conflict, as the vacuum of power allowed their kind to find homes across a wide swath of the galaxy. The Zelnalak were a hardy species, able to adapt to most environments they found themselves in.
It soon became apparent that where Zelnalak settled, more Zelnalak would quickly appear. Unlike any other known sapient species, Zelnalak possess the unique characteristic of being almost universally compatible – they are capable of mating with most biological life they encounter. In addition to this, their genetics are supremely dominant: any child born of a Zelnalak will also be Zelnalak, bearing (if at all) only superficial traits of the non-Zelnalak parent. With a rapid period of gestation and a swift transition into maturity, the Zelnalak are capable of creating a substantial population of their kind in any environment after only a few generations. Left to their own devices, within a few hundred years they can become the dominant species on any planet, continuing to gobble up genetic real estate until the native species goes extinct. The Zelnalak were so friendly and helpful that few species were able to realize exactly what was happening until it was too late.
In spite of having been around so long, Zelnalak have surprisingly little in the way of their own recorded history and culture. They prefer to adopt the cultures and histories of the peoples they encounter, weaving them together into a strange tapestry they call their own. For the Zelnalak, history is more about the story, and less about the facts.
During the rise of the Celestial Ascendancy, the Machine Mother recognized the threat the Zelnalak might pose to humanity. In order to minimize the danger, she released a nano-virus into the Zelnalak population, designed specifically to suppress their natural pheromones and therefor make other species less receptive to their charms. In the centuries after the Fall, many Zelnalak scientists searched for a way to reverse this change, but so far they have been unsuccessful.
The Zelnalak have spread across the galaxy, becoming a significant component of every multispecies group and empire. Their homeworld of Zel now serves as one of the primary capitals for the Trove, a multi-species federation born out of the ashes of the Celestial Ascendancy. Zelnalak are remarkable for their ability to create a vital and thriving community under any circumstance – however, one should never forget that they are, in truth, an aggressively invasive species.
You are helpful, friendly, and generally good spirited, the kind of person others love to have around. When not the leader of a team, you are the essential glue keeping it together. You are fascinated by other species, and enjoy learning about all aspects of their lives.
To others, you sometimes come across as overly friendly and overly emotional. You prize cooperation over competition, and do not easily become angry. You will not resort to combat unless all other avenues have been exhausted. An early surrender is seen by Zelnalak as a valid combat strategy (one which has won conflicts in the past after a long period of biological attrition) and it is not unheard of for a Zelnalak to defect to the other side of a conflict if they believe it to be for the ultimate good.
Your devotion to a community you’re involved with is extremely strong. However, this feeling is generally towards the group itself, rather than the individuals which make up that group. If sacrifice will serve the greater good of the whole, you will support it. Because of this tendency, many younger Zelnalak easily fall prey to mob-mentality in their communities, while older, more experienced Zelnalak are better able to exert their individualism.
While you may have many acquaintances and good friends, you hold aside the part of yourself which would allow you to be truly close to others, making exceptions only for your mates and your children. Zelnalak make excellent parents.
You readily absorb the cultures of people around you, making them your own. You are a great mimic, but often your interpretation is skewed, either through misunderstanding or by way of having mixed things up with another culture’s traditions. In such cases, it is hard to persuade you that you are mistaken.
Zelnalak have both a biological and cultural taboo against breeding with other members of their own species when other viable species are present. If you encounter a species with which you cannot breed, you may be dismissive or even hostile toward them – though to avoid being disruptive, you will generally not do so in public.
Zelnalak babies are given their first-name in the style of the non-Zelnalak parent’s culture – because of this, there are no family names or names that carry on longer than one Zelnalak lifespan. Some Zelnalak keep their first-name for their entire life, in recognition of their parents’ achievements, but once they reach adulthood it is more common for them to change it to better fit the culture they are active in. They view their names as adornments, easily swapped out for something more appealing or useful.
Cultural Liaisons excel at networking and community building, and through this collect cultural data for Zelnalak records. Swashbucklers embody the archetype of the charismatic, heroic fighter, as seen through the eyes of Zelnalak historical documents. Geneticists specialize in collecting and analyzing genetic information on other species, with the primary goal of improving upon their own.
Others may purchase Dirty Tricks at no cost.
Zelnalak can always spend 1 Stamina to call the Skill “Harmless”. This is a Mental Attack that prevents someone from Attacking you unless you engage them in Combat.