The Cerberi are a Jump-capable humanoid species from Alkalsit in the Almaaz System. Their reputation is primarily as mercenaries and pirates, though their culture is actually quite complex and relatively peaceful.
Example Names: Abbis, Apika, Buru, Dagirsu, Ereshki, Gamu, Ibnita, Ilisur, Myla, Muress, Nebucha, Sadita, Usaba
- Antisocial: -2 penalty on all Communication checks.
- Arrogant: -2 Cha.
- Brood: You hatch a brood of 10 males once per year which are non-sapient and obedient to you. They can learn tricks (fetch, attack, guard, heel, etc), but cannot use tools or equipment.
- Chthonic: Cerberi can see in the dark, regardless of available light.
- Desert Adapted: Cerberi gain an Aptitude on desert survival-type rolls, general immunity to high temperatures and the effects of blinding light.
- Regeneration: So long as they are at half their total HP (rounded up), cerberi recover 1 HP/round.
- Thick Hide: 2 Armor points (recover 1/day).
- Venomous: Cerberi bites can be fatal. (STR + PHY to resist; DC 20; 1d4 Str damage/round until resisted).
On Alkalsit, the cerberi adapted to a desert environment. The brood-mothers learned to cooperate to survive. Cactus farms, rodents and lizards bred in captivity, and water collectors became commonplace. They hunted their natural predators to extinction and became apex predators themselves. Territorial rivalry developed on their small homeworld, but eventually the world was unified under a Matriarch.
When first contact was established with the nomadic Omid, the cerberi Brood-Mothers traded their males’ labor and their world’s mineral wealth for technology. Since that time, the cerberi have rapidly industrialized and have taken to the stars as mercenaries.
Recently, evidence suggests that the cerberi may have either once traveled the stars, served another species, or had a stellar neighbor in the past. Reverse engineering their technology may prove advantageous to the cerberi.
Externally, cerberi resemble viperid humanoids, with many heat-diffusing tentacles extending from the back of their heads, an armor-plated face, forward-facing eyes and many sharp, venomous teeth. Their skin varies in color from cream, buff, yellowish-brown, pink, or ash gray with blotches of brown or white. Their eyes are small and solid black shaded by an extrusion of bone plate above the eye. They have no visible ears or noses. They can smell by tasting the air with their tongues. They breathe through their mouth, their large lungs and large capillaries carrying more oxygen, requiring that they inhale infrequently. Though in times of physical exertion, they will pant heavily.
In addition, to protect against skin-dwelling fungus and bacteria, they molt annually, shedding the skin by rubbing against rocks and peeling the rest off by hand.
Internally, they resemble most other humanoid species, with notable exception being their excellent heat-diffusion and water retention capabilities.
Male cerberi are much smaller than females and considered non-sapient. If a male is separated from his mother’s brood, he will become a female after about a year, impregnating himself in the process.
Cerberi are nocturnal for half the year and diurnal for the cooler half of the year.
Their diet consists of mostly lizards, ground-dwelling rodents, and cacti.
Female cerberi require a year between births and gestation takes about 10 weeks. They always birth between nine and eleven young. cerberi give birth to live young enveloped in a thin, embryonic membrane. They emerge shortly after being expelled from the mother.
The lifespan of the cerberi is about 200 years.
Socially, the cerberi come off as arrogant and reserved. In truth, they are a socially anxious species, preferring solitude and the company of their brood. While not necessarily shy, they often have trouble developing skills in etiquette and polite behavior. Blurting out how they feel and what they see is normal for the cerberi. Regardless of this lack of control, most are painfully aware of their awkward behavior.
Despite their exploitative relationship with males, brood-mothers have a nurturing feeling toward their brood. They even personify and name their males in the same way that some humans treat pets. Physically abusing or neglecting your brood in public is considered taboo. Malnourished broods reflect poorly on their mother’s social standing, and given their awkward social behavior, many will blurt this out for all to hear.
Molting is done in private, doing so in public is considered shameful and disgusting.
Mothers used to lay their eggs in ground-dwelling rodent burrows, which would then hatch and feast on the inhabitants. Today, they prefer incubators. Before modernity, many mothers would die of heat exhaustion after birth. Thanks to medical advancements, this is no longer the case.
Cerberi culture values creativity. Those with intelligence and cunning are respected as leaders, and candidates for Matriarch, while those who are not are expected to obey their superiors.
Political power is held by a Matriarch and her allied brood-mothers. While a fight ensues upon the death of a Matriarch, these wars are bloody and brief. The cerberi are intrinsically hierarchical, obeying those they perceive as stronger, and condescending to those they feel are weaker. Notably, this tends to extend to females of other species as well.
Their major religion is polytheistic, focused on cleansing sinful thoughts and action through physical exertion, especially through dance and manual labor. Another commonly held belief is in a form of numerology. Many mathematicians wish to abandon this mystical association between numbers and events, but the superstition continues to hinder scientific progress for the cerberi.
Skiff racing is a popular sport. Formerly a primary mode of transport, sand skiffs are large sleds attached to a brood-mother’s males which they drag across the dunes. After they bought anti-grav technology from the omid, skiff travel became a novelty. Today, local and global competitions take place.
Their military is a mix of draftees and volunteers.
Cerberi technology is crude by comparison to their neighbors. Much of their population lives at an industrial age level of technology. Automation is rare, relying instead upon broods for manual labor and manufacturing.
Structures are invariably buried or built under great natural rock outcroppings to shade them from their homeworld’s suns. As a result, much of their civilization lives underground during the day and comes out at night. In the cooler half of the year, they move to the surface and rest underground at night.
While the cerberi possess jump drive, it is still cheaper for them to buy ships from the omid than to build their own.
They prefer to fight their wars covertly through black ops missions, so their spacecrafts are small transports and stealth ships.