Meet the Thk’kok – Part 1

Covenant Game Design - Meet the Thk'kok - Part 1

(Having trouble with the pronouns? Check out this post, and be sure to tune in to the latest episode of the podcast while you’re reading it!)

Sean again. We’ve introduced you to the calerre (part 1 and part 2), the chiroptim (part 1 and part 2), and the acoes (part 1 and part 2). Now it’s time to meet the thk’kok!

As always, remember that everything on this blog is subject to frequent and massive change. That especially goes for the thk’kok, because they’re the hardest ones for me to envision. Partly it’s because there’s some things about them that I don’t want to reveal (yet), and partly it’s because they’re so alien.

Appearance: Like I said, thk’kok are probably the most alien-looking species in Covenant. They have a long thorax covered in shaggy hair and with eight legs, each with two elbow-like joints. The rear four limbs end in feet with three mutually opposable toes, while the forward four end in hands with three mutually opposable fingers.

Thk’kok normally only use their hands to manipulate their environment but can, with practice, learn to use their feet as well. This makes them expert climbers, as well as dangerous opponents in hand-to-hand fights. Their backs sport a pair of thin, leathery wings. These wings are too small for them to fly, though a few are able to glide with them.

Their heads have four solid-colored eyes. Two are designed for depth-perception, while the others are designed for wide-angle peripheral vision. However, a thk’kok can – again, with practice – learn to focus a pair of eyes on a separate object, allowing them to aim and fire two weapons at the same time.

Their lower jaws split open, much like a trap door. This reveals a hollow, harpoon-like tongue.

Thk’kok rarely wear clothes. Their thick pelts keep them warm. Instead, they will tattoo their limbs and head, which are hairless, and will braid the hair of their their shaggy coats with beads, leather thongs, ribbons, wires, and anything else they can find.

Reproduction: Thk’kok are viviparous and sequentially hermaphroditc. They are born male and begin to transition to female at about 20 to 30 years. This transition period lasts, depending on the amount of care and availability of hormones, anywhere between 5 to 10 years.

Biology: Humans often called thk’kok “bugs”, based on their appearance. Thk’kok are not insects, though. In fact, they don’t really have any analog to Earth organisms, besides being warm-blooded and bearing live young.

One of the main differences between the thk’kok and Earth organisms is their diet. The tissues of their wings contain photosynthetic cells that allow them to survive on less food. When they do eat, they shoot their hollow tongues into their prey, pumping in digestive juices, and then sucking out the liquefied innards, much like a spider.

Another major difference is their lack of vocal cords. Thk’kok can normally only communicate via clicks and glottal stops. To send messages over long distances, pastoral thk’kok will use bone and wood whistles of different pitches. Thk’kok who live among other sapient species will also often get laryngeal implants that allow them to speak “normally”.

Psychology: Thk’kok psychology is at its most alien on their homeworld of Slice o’Heaven. Pastoral thk’kok here don’t have a real sense of individuality, and the first person singular doesn’t exist in their various languages. Instead, most will refer to themselves as “this one” or as their role in their tribe or group (e.g., “this warrior”, “this technician”, “this mother”, etc.).

It should be noted, though, that this appears to be cultural, not biological. Thk’kok raised or living amongst aliens will develop as strong a sense of individuality as any human’s. Sociologists theorize that this is a survival adaptation to the unique challenges presented by Slice o’Heaven.

Lifespan: Thk’kok have an average lifespan of 40 to 50 years on their homeworld Slice o’Heaven. This lengthens to about 200 years off-planet and up to 1,200 years in the Covenant.

History: The calerre contacted the thk’kok approximately 120,000 years ago. At that time, the thk’kok were both technologically advanced and very hostile, wiping out the Covenant’s first contact team almost to a man.

Not much is known about the thk’kok from this time, though. When the Covenant returned, the thk’kok homeworld had been devastated by a huge explosion in its southern hemisphere, and the thk’kok had been reduced to a Stone Age level of technology. Whatever happened, it both wiped out most of the thk’kok’s records from this time and created two powerful entities – the Mother and the Worm that Burrows in the Heart of the Mother, also known as the Worm – that would seize control of the planet’s history.

Now, the thk’kok are just as intelligent and adaptable – possibly more so – than humanity. However, the thk’kok on Slice o’Heaven remained in the Stone Age right up until the present day. This is because they have been caught in the middle of a war between the Mother and the Worm, which has suppressed their development.

To make matters worse, humans from the Terran Federation settled on the thk’kok homeworld about 400 years ago and quickly enslaved much of the planet. (The name “Slice o’Heaven” is the human name of the planet, not the thk’kok name) These human settlers were nostalgists who longed to recreate Earth on their new home, and so attempted to terraform it. This created three areas on the planet:

  • The Green Zone, which is completely terraformed with an Earth-like biome
  • The Red Zone, which is completely un-terraformed and retains its native biome
  • The Yellow Zone, which is the interface between the Green and Red Zones and holds a mixture of Earth and native organisms

The thk’kok resistance retreated into the Red Zone, where they continue to fight the human invaders to this day. As for the Mother and Worm, they have stayed out of this fight for reasons of their own.

Abilities: The thk’kok have two main species abilities:

  • Multiple Limbs: The thk’kok gain advantages to anything that would benefit from having more than two hands, such as climbing or wrestling. They also have weapons and martial arts that take advantage of their unique anatomy, giving them more attacks and making them more dangerous in fights.
  • Nations: The thk’kok are grouped into “nations”. These nations have greater differences than the ethnic groups found in other species, allowing them to specialize more and giving them access to nation-specific abilities.

Handles: These are single words that I use to try to get a handle on the thk’kok.

  • Adaptable: Usually humans are the “adaptable” species in roleplaying games. I decided to subvert that by giving that distinction to the thk’kok. After all, they have to be able to survive on a world controlled by two omnipotent forces and invaded by an alien species. They’ve managed, not just to survive, but even thrive. They’ve also learned how to turn alien weapons and tactics against their creators.
  • Guerilla: Pastoral thk’kok are often lightly-armed Stone Age hunter-gatherers. To survive against superior human forces, they have to be able to live off the land, pick their fights, and move fast.
  • Immigrant: Thk’kok who live amongst alien sapients, either willingly or unwillingly, face all the problems that slaves and immigrants have faced throughout history. They must adapt to a new culture and withstand prejudice, all while trying to make a living and provide for their families. Some will become model citizens. Others will become criminals. Still others will become firebrands who fight for civil rights and social justice.
  • Mystic: The thk’kok worship the Mother and Worm as gods. Because of this, thk’kok who haven’t spent a lot of time off Slice o’Heaven will be mystical and highly superstitious.

That’s about it for now. Swing by Wednesday when we show you how to roll up a thk’kok character.

Published by radiofreecovenant

A podcast about the science-fiction roleplaying game "Covenant" and the urban fantasy novel "Crossing the Line", soon to be published by Black Opal Books.

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