Well, I have been having computer problems and I decided that now is as good a time as ever to continue to waste my time developing my reptilian, honor-obsessed militaristic race of lizards for a planned Stellaris AAR.

Here is a description of them for the first draft of my planned four part preluide series:

<-- Drash Karr Basic Information -->

Overview: The Drash Karr are a warrior race hailing from the moon Karr orbiting the Gas Giant named Bid' Jossk in the Dec' Haran System, though their people are actually divided into many different castes. Their name literally translates into English "The Children of Karr". Each caste accomplishes a very specific task, though the broader castes are divided into many smaller sub-castes. For example, the Warrior Caste is divided into the Grunt caste, the Mecha caste, and the Naval caste. Each of those is further subdivided until every specific niche required to keep an army functioning is filled.

Planet: Bid' Jossk actually orbits towards the inner edge of the habitable zone of its star, and some would argue that it is actually too close to its star to support life, however the rapid orbit of the moon combined with its rotation means that a day is only six hours, half in the light, half in the dark. The surface is primarily composed of desert, mesas, and mountains, though there are a dozen or so small seas. The depressions surrounding the seas and the heavy cloud cover on the northern hemisphere combined with fossilized aquatic animals indicate that at one time, many millions of years ago, a much larger percentage of the surface was covered in water. Perhaps the moons' parent planet once had a more favorable orbit, but moved in closer to its star, but this would have been long before the Drash Karr had even started to evolve.

Culture: Drash Karr culture stresses The Challenge, or the challenges one will face throughout his or her life. The Challenge is different for each caste as well as each individual Drash Karr, basically providing that for one to do ones' best in all things would bring both the individual and the greater whole more honor.

This is an amazing system because it blends perfectly a sense of individualism by encouraging one to strive to achieve ever greater amounts of honor and acclaim while maximizing the sense of being part of a greater whole for each individual. They defend their home worlds with wild ferocity, and will not suffer foreign overlords defiling their homes. Aside from this one quirk, they are actually extremely tolerant for an interstellar empire, allowing conquered races, no matter how primitive they were before, to rise through the ranks and attain great glory and respect in their society, even to the point of the most trusted, honorable, and talented Xenos to command their great fleets and armies.

Females, unlike in many human cultures, are treated with the utmost reverence and respect, as they bring life to the entirety of the Drash Karr and are physically completely equal to males.

Warriors prefer single-combat and will tear a scale from their body, usually the back, and pin it to their armor upon defeating a foe in single combat. While the Drash Karr are willing and able to use more advanced weaponry such as the feared Orbital Drop Mechas and Tanks, or even basic projectile weapons, they prefer to close the distance to an enemy and use either their short or long swords to duel.

Religion: The Drash Karr have no single religion, per se, but throughout the many millennia of recorded Drash Karr history they have worshiped many gods. Even now, they follow their Protector, and treat him or her with near god-like reverence and respect. Before they followed the Protector, nearly all Drash Karr worshiped their homeworld of Karr as a god.

Biology: The Drash Karr are a large, bipedal species. They are covered in strong scales of varying color. These scales, when combined with the bulletproof silk suits worn under their heavy metal armor, can stop projectile weapons from causing any real harm. Their only known physical vulnerabilities are their eye and mouth openings as their metallic helmets open up to allow them to breathe and see.

Their home planet is covered in mesas and large open deserts with the occasional mountain, and their scales turn pure white when their bodies begin to overheat.

Their mouth is divided into three mandibles. They used to serve the purpose of hunting back when the Drash Karr were primitive animals, but since then have served little purpose other than to inspire terror in their enemies (and quite effectively at that, considering that they are covered in hundreds of small incisors. The Drash Karr possess specialized organs in their stomachs to grind up meat into a digestible form.

Members of the Drash Karr species communicate with each other using special organs in their throats that can produce more complex sounds than a human can. As a result, the first languages of the Drash Karr were a complex combination of sounds. In the end, as the Drash Karr created and adopted a simpler language as their interstellar Empire expanded and incorporated more and more races.

When their bodies begin to overheat, their scales turn a shade of white to deflect the sun and their scales open up to allow the wind to cool their skin off. They do sweat to some degree under their scales

Breeding: Drash Karr breed in much the same way as most other species. After sexual intercourse, the two Drash Karr are bound to each other for life by unique chemical and physical reactions to the sensations. The female will then lay anywhere from 10 to 20 eggs that develop into Drash Karr infants in two Earth-years. Only half of the eggs will hatch, however, and rarely does more than 1 survive their first five great cycles of training and schooling.


The Drash Karr can easily reach heights in excess of 7 feet, and some have been known to reach up to ten feet. Their bodies are somewhat aerodynamically designed in form to help them reach maximum speed. Their average strength is double that of the average human, but can in rare cases be triple. Unfortunately, the societal selection process used by the Drash Karr, many years of hard training, that has caused their race to develop such strength, has a high fatality rate and when combined with the low hatching rate of the Drash Karr eggs. In most cases, only 1 or 2 Drash Karr children survive the training, the strongest, fastest, and smartest of their species. This low survival rate is offset by the fact that Drash Karr women can have up to two broods of eggs a year, one in the celestial spring and the other in celestial fall, meaning 1-2 new children per year.

Conquest Policy: First Contact Protocol was dictated by the actions of Protector Oberon, the War-Chief that united his homeworld and brought the Drash' Karr Empire onto the interstellar stage. From his personal journals;

"In the event of contact with an alien race, overwhelming force must be used to ensure the security of our species. The aliens will be given the chance to prepare for the coming battles equivalent to 1 great cycle. After the grace period expires, our entire fleet will mobilize to meet the enemy. Any encroachment in our space during this time will immediately end the grace period. Our armies will be brought to their worlds to do battle in their cities while our fleets engage in space."

"Every attempt to meet them on equal ground must be made. To seek a decisive technological advantage in combat would bring dishonor to the Drash' Karr Empire and would be a punishable offense. Punishment will be left to the discretion of the reigning Protector."

"The one exception to this rule, however, is if the security and survival of the state as a whole is in danger. In the event of contact with a race that desires our destruction, appropriate force will be applied. All technological innovations will be leveraged."

Time: Time is measured in Great Cycles, Cycles, hours, and minutes. Minutes and hours are roughly measured in the same way they are on Earth. A "Cycle" is the time it takes the moon of Karr, their homeworld, to orbit its parent planet. A Great Cycle is the time it takes its parent planet to orbit its Star. Its parent star itself is a Type F Star, shining with a blue color.


Technology has steadily progressed, and the Drash Karr are very capable of designing terrifying weapons of mass destruction, but have agreed across the board that such an action would be horrendously dishonorable and any nation that attempted to do that was easily swatted down and destroyed by the combined military might of the rest of Karr.

<--End Description-->

I am looking for inconsistencies as well as any and all input on the verisimilitude(is that a word?) of my scenario. I am planning on asking some more questions, such as where the habitable zone for such a star would begin, where it would end, as well as designing the warbeasts the Drash Karr will ride into battle on, but those are questions for another day.

Karr's parent gas giant, Bid'Jossk, is slightly larger in both circumference and mass than Saturn.

EDIT To clarify, I am looking for cultural and biological quirks that I might not have noticed, as I am not too confident in my ability to be accurate and not overly extravagant.

  • $\begingroup$ In would have formatted it better, but the keyboard on my Kindle Fire is horribly small and my thumbs are amazingly fat. $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Jun 30, 2016 at 22:09
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'd say chances are pretty high that they'd secretly develop WMDs and other "dishonorable" weapons. The huge cultural stigma against such weapons would ensure that they're kept secret, but their willingness to declare total war to defend their species, combined with their acceptance and integration of outsiders would be a strong incentive to develop them "just in case." I'd also say that their weapons technology would develop slightly slower than similar races, because their incentive for developing them would be more based on ensuring survival than on gaining an advantage. $\endgroup$
    – emo bob
    Jul 1, 2016 at 0:10
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    $\begingroup$ @emobob I am sure they would develop them, but they would be unwilling to use them unless a threat to their very existence as a species emerges (because the very use of such weapons IS a tremendous threat to their existence. All in all it would be an interesting species to write about and play as, something like the Sangheli in Halo with a strong blend of Human emotion and honor. I am currently writing about their first Protector and how he united their species under his militaristic rule ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Jul 1, 2016 at 0:35
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    $\begingroup$ No, "realisticity" is not a word. The word you wanted is "realism". The correct word is "verisimilitude", which makes the difference between wanting something to be realistic and wanting it to appear realistic. The latter being what people in worldbuilding almost always need. $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2016 at 1:57
  • $\begingroup$ It seems to me that some problems might arise. If they believe in proving themselves in combat against other species, that they would be more likely to look down on conquered species, especially since they fight on equal terms. Might make an interesting social divide if some think all creatures should be equal and others think they are better. $\endgroup$ Jul 3, 2016 at 4:12

4 Answers 4


Biological realism:

  1. You need a reason why half the eggs don't hatch. Disease? Inbreeding? Terrible childcare (egg-care) methods? Some other factor? For instance, some species of marine turtle have quite a lot of smaller than average eggs which don't hatch. The theory is that these eggs are not really eggs at all - they are 'spacers' to help keep pockets of air open in the buried clutch of eggs.
  2. You say that very few offspring make it through training. This means that the major form of infant and childhood mortality is self-inflicted. Given that this species (or its ancestors) will also suffer from diseases, attacks by predators, starvation during famines, murder, bad luck and accidents, it looks like their 'honour training' is designed to drive them to extinction.
  3. You describe them as reptiles, but there is nothing much (apart from scales and laying eggs) that strikes me as a reptilian physiology. Are they really ectotherms (cold-blooded)? If so, they'll be struggling to cope with winter or temperate climates on planets like Earth. There are sound physiological reasons why big reptiles like alligators & Komodo dragons don't inhabit chilly places like New Zealand, Norway or the north of the USA. (Little reptiles tend to hibernate). If they are really mammals-with-scales, then ignore this.
  4. Childcare and education. I'm including this in biology because civilised, technological species who have a squillion kids is a real bugbear of mine. The bigger your litter/clutch of kids, the more of your population you have to dedicate to educating them. Human women have 1 kid at a time, and with a ratio of 1 primary school teacher to 25 kids in the classroom, that means 1 teacher for every 25 women who had a kid in 2016. Your Drash Karr women lay 20 eggs and 10 hatch. So our example class of 25 kids are the offspring of only 2.5 women. You therefore need 1 teacher per 2.5 women if you want to teach those kids to read! And they are only the first clutch of 2016! So it is really 2 teachers per 2.5 women. Given that there is no such thing as 0.5 of a woman (!), let's round up the numbers... 20 teachers per 25 women. So in a village of 50 adults (half male, half female), 40% of your population will be dedicated to educating this year's offspring!

Data added: this government website states that in England there are 8.2 million kids (including nursery schools, state schools and private schools) and 438000 teachers (state schools only). That's a ratio of 1 teacher to 19 kids. So it will be a bit less that this when the nursery and private school teachers are factored in.

Cultural realism:

  1. Wars are often (mostly?) won by the folks with the technological advantage. In fact I'm betting a whole lot of technological innovations were created in the first place to improve the chance of winning. You can invent the bow and arrow for hunting animals, but the only reason to invent the cannon is to destroy the fortifications and manpower of the enemy.

  2. Honour is not a cross-cultural standard. Someone has picked something and labelled it 'honorable' or 'dishonorable' or neutral. If a nobleman insults another nobleman? You have an honorable duel. If a peasant insults a nobleman? Off with his head! Because murdering peasants is not 'dishonorable'. So to make these guys interesting, you'll need to find some honour quirks which are unique to them and aren't just a Hollywood version of chivalry or samurai or 'noble savages'.

  • $\begingroup$ They actually are reptiles. Most of their homeworld is desertous terrain barring the far northern hemisphere, so it would make sense biologically for them to let the environment warm them. $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Jul 5, 2016 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan - thanks for clarifying. I just made the comment because I'd read a lot of SF where the creatures are described as "reptiles" but behave in every way like a mammal. The only reptilian thing about those is scaly skin. So gold star to you for doing it properly! $\endgroup$
    – DrBob
    Jul 5, 2016 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ Do you think an apprentice system where each adult couple must tutor their own hatchlings would make sense for this society? $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Jul 5, 2016 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan - 'tutoring their own hatchlings' is pretty much what all animals with parental care do, so yes it is doable. The problem is the effort needed. Lions don't have to teach their cubs much more than 'how to catch wildebeest', so the system works for them. If they also had to teach them arithmetic, bricklaying, accountancy, hyperspace navigation, etc they'd never have the time. Also the parents can only 'home school' in subjects they know and understand. If Mum is a mathematician but can't speak French or ride a horse, the hatchlings learn maths but not French or horse riding. $\endgroup$
    – DrBob
    Jul 6, 2016 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ The modern education system (where groups of children are taught by a small number of dedicated specialists) is an artifact of our culture placing high value on a "well-rounded" education, and there is no reason to suppose it would exist for this species. Since their culture is caste-based, an apprenticeship education system where children learn "on the job" would make more sense - but with many apprentices per "teacher". Not unlike military training, actually - which fits the rest of their culture quite well. $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2016 at 8:22

From a narrative perspective they’re not very entertaining, fiction is all about conflict and when you have a race of Mary Sue super-soldiers it’s hard to create a credible threat for them and without a credible threat stories about them won’t be dramatic or inspiring. However an insistence on honour to the point of absurdity helps, a story about them fighting a good clean fight against some utterly alien and eminently practical race would be inspiring, that is of course assuming things aren’t working out well for them.

Once you’ve established that the borg/zerg/whatever are clearly going to win and struck that point home over and over THEN you can write a great story about them making a comeback from the brink of defeat. Perhaps their insistence on honour encouraged other races to ally with them, perhaps the enemy forces lost momentum, their willingness to fight waned, and your Drash Karr fought them back through sheer persistence.

Or maybe they’re completely defeated and driven from their homeworld, forced to become nomadic mercenaries or pirates just to survive, a people with such an honour focused culture placed in such a dishonourable position creates a rich backdrop for interpersonal conflict and personal uncertainty.

In terms of realism your guess is as good as mine.

  • $\begingroup$ I might spaw an endgame crisis early and have them try to fight the end game alien invaders "honorably"? $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Jul 5, 2016 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ They don't all have to be honorable. Oberon L'Karr united his homeworld after overthrowing the ruling elite. They "shamed" him and their entire nation by ordering the execution of Oberon's mate and hatchlings after he refused a direct order in wartime (which actually led to a devastating military victory). He then forcibly "cleansed" his nation of their taint (he was the commander of an entire quarter of his nations' army, and his troops were much more loyal to him than they were to a bunch of scheming aristocrat-caste dishonorables). $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Jul 5, 2016 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ Murdering children is dishonorable, as they represent the future of the Drash Karr. (Yet, both the aristocrats and the "honorable" Oberon killed children, but in Oberon's casenit was a revenge killing.) $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Jul 5, 2016 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see a problem with the large numbers of young - Heinlein tackled this really well with his Martins in Stranger in a Strange Land. There is violent competition in early life, the Martians spawning vast numbers of hatchlings, leaving them entirely to their own devices to live or die. If they survive and reach a certain level of sentience, they are "brought in" to civilisation, and their education begins. Turtledove's reptilian invaders in his alternate history series has a similar, but slightly less extreme system. Young are fed, but otherwise ignored until they reach a certain age. $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2016 at 8:49

You mention Xenos rising in this culture - do the Xenos have to buy in 100% to the honour system? If there are interpretations of "honourable" that can justify, for example, killing children, what happens when a Xeno uses such a justification?

The Turks had the Janissary army (essentially a Death Squad of unmarried Xenos trained from early childhood to be super-soldiers), but they accomplished this feat by kidnapping male children from their subject nations at a young age, and raising them as Muslims. These foreign-born Janissaries could rise to be the Supreme Ruler, but they had no knowledge of, or contact with, their original family and culture.

If Xenos are allowed to retain their own culture and also participate in the Karr culture, you probably should give thought as to how the resulting cultural conflicts are resolved.


Any attempt at an honorable stellar-age war is ridiculous, unless your species is remarkably quick to adapt, or you assume that only planets with similar climates to your homeworld are capable of sustaining any form of life. If humans were to attempt honorable warfare on Venus, the economic burden would be huge. Space suits, that would not be dissolved by or melted by the atmosphere for everyone. Besides that, these suits would add considerable bulk and weight - making use of cover, and running from cover to cover would become ridiculously difficult, and any breach of the suit would mean death. The same goes for Karr on a moderate-to-cold climate planet. The native species could easily seek refuge in cold mountains and maintain an exhausting guerrilla war for ages. An example of a species that has a chance at an honorable war on any planet is... Zerg.

That being said, I think the whole First Contact Protocol and Technological section is way off for a species, that is reptilian (ectothermic) and has a huge disadvantage against moderate to cold climate planets, has an educational system based on natural selection and survival of the fittest. It would make more sense, if they reserved the honor system against one another, but used WMD and terraforming (also a WMD, as huge, global-scale climate change, and more than likely, also the complete change of the composition of the atmosphere is likely to annihilate most of the life on the planet that is being terraformed) against other species with little to no regard.

Such a brutal, care-free "wreck everyone else" technological and First Contact Protocol policy would work more favorably for war beasts as well.

Also for their armor, more specifically - their helmets, they could reduce their vulnerabilities further, by leaving openings only for their eyes, and breathe through gaps left between their scales and the helmet, that lead to the openings for their eyes. Fogging up would not be an issue because there are no lenses. This vulnerability could be sealed up if you use some sort of bullet-proof lenses (some crystal structure commonly found on their planet), and just route the breathing canals to a different part of the helmets.

But as @Cognisant noted in his answer, you're creating massive, unkillable super-soldiers. The problem with that, is that it becomes difficult to find a viable threat. You're basically running yourself into a predictable outcome - the only way they can be defeated, is if the enemy defeats them in space, before they are forced to fight face-to-face, or the enemy has superior terraforming technology, and just "terraform-nukes" their inhabbitted planets, forcing them into a life of living on spaceships, with ridiculously limited resources and sustainability, until they go extinct.


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