Biology and Appearance
Native to the planet Csilla, the Chiss are a race that very closely resemble humans, but there are significant differences between the two, most notably in outward appearance. Chiss have black hair and glowing red eyes while their skin colour ranges from pale to dark blue; it is believed that their coloration and the eye color is influenced by the level of oxygen in the environment. They also have an increased metabolic rate, which typically results in a very lean physique with well-defined musculature.
Whilst their hair was typically jet black, it did on rare occasions go gray with age which was seen amongst their females and was a sign that they had borne children that would have a great impact on their society. Their physical form led to some speculation on whether they were an offshoot of humanity’s ancient expansions into the galaxy or whether their physical form coincidentally matched that of Humans. However, genetic analysis indicated that they were an offshoot of humanity and it was believed that moving underground led to a divergence between them and base line Humans. Their unique skin tone was seen to be the result of glacial minerals.
Male and female Chiss tend to be more powerfully built when compared to Humans but exhibit the same variances as Humanoid sexes. A Chiss stood between either 1.6 to 2.1 meters in height though an average height of an adult was believed to be 1.7 meters.
The Chiss vocal mechanism was noted for being similar to Humans but there were apparent differences which was evident in their capacity to speak their native language.
In addition, their growth rate was greatly accelerated to the point that they matured quickly and much faster when compared to Humans. Chiss of the age of 10-years of age held the physical maturity of a 20-year old Human. This in turn resulted in a culturally-imprinted emotional maturity that was many times above that of their Human counterparts. They were capable of living up to 80 years old where a Chiss was considered venerable; children were between 1-10 whilst they became adults between 11-13 and were considered full adults by 15-50. Middle-age was between the ages of 51-62 and those between the ages of 63-79 which was considered old.
Society and Culture
The Chiss are known as being very deliberate and composed in their actions and their disciplined manner has been credited to their upbringing. In Chiss society a child’s maturity is accelerated; they almost entirely bypass an adolescent period before being accepted as an adult. Chiss culture is largely based on customs and courtesies. For a time in their history there were Ruling Families, also called Ruling Houses. The number of these extended families would wax and wane depending on the governing needs of the time, and eventually faded from direct political power, but a legacy of social practices from their era still lingers. One such tradition is the elaborate welcoming ritual, in the form of colours and ceremony, that marks the visit of a member of a former Family into the domain of another.
Honour is very important to the Chiss race, and the actions of a Chiss are always subject to scrutiny. As such, the Chiss tend to be very formal and always considerate of how their actions can affect their Family and themselves. They are also very intelligent and often gifted in strategic thinking, as well as private and insular. The Chiss language is called Cheunh, but many also speak the trade languages including Basic.
Due to the remote position of their home territory in the Chiss Ascendancy they remained largely an enigma to the rest of the galaxy, and contact with outsiders was limited even in the days of the Galactic Alliance. What was known about them was mediated largely through encounter with military units, and through a few high-level contacts with political and diplomatic delegations. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that the military and the ruling class were the best understood aspects of Chiss society; or at least, the best documented.
Their society was highly structured and ordered with the rule of law being enforced by a group of affiliations known as the Ruling Families, also known as the Ruling Circle, that consisted of a number of clans or houses. These were not biological family groupings but instead different branches of their government. Among their ranks included the Csapla, Nuruodo, Inrokini and Sabosen families with some sources stating that they represented bloodlines that predated modern Chiss civilization. Every Chiss was known to had claimed affiliation to one of the four families which was determined by both tradition as well as place of birth. In reality, the family names were more of a cultural holdover as the bloodlines had grown so co-meddled that any Chiss could claim affiliation to any of the ruling families. As families themselves were not in competition, rivalries themselves were rare according to one report by the University of Sanbra as a Chiss’ allegiance to one family did not normally affect their day-to-day living. In spite of the outward impression of calm and order that the Chiss liked to project to outsiders, there were evidently tensions within the Families. This was evident by the fact that there was a tricky balance of power amongst the families.
These ruling families were composed of clans that were headed by government officials known as Aristocras. Those chiss that belonged to the same house defended one another at every opportunity whilst those from competing houses searched for facts that could be used to snipe or undermine the other whilst attempting to secure any advantage for themselves. As a general rule, Chiss did not take part in any action that would bring shame on their house with entire family lines exiled due to the actions of a single member. A tradition of shadow children was also recorded, these were offspring who were kept safely anonymous to prevent a family bloodline being fully exterminated. As a general rule, a Chiss never did something that would knowingly bring shame to their family with entire lines being exiled due to the actions of a single family member.
The best-documented means of acquiring Family status through merit was that which operated in the military. For the duration of their service, every officer in the Chiss military was attached to one of the Ruling Families as a “merit adoptive,” and while under normal circumstances, this Family status was lost when an individual left the service, those of particular ability were said to be “born to trial,” and given the opportunity to make their Family status permanent. If these Trial-born of the Family were successful, they would be permanently “matched” to the lineage; conversely, members of a Ruling Family could apparently also be “released” and “rematched,” although it is even less clear how this processes operated. It is possible that marriage was involved in matching, although no mention is yet known that indicates an institution of marriage among the Chiss. There was a hierarchy of leadership within each Family, consisting of brothers and sisters (known collectively as siblings), plus cousins, and ranking distant relations—the last being the highest level that the most able Trial-born could reasonably hope to achieve. Individuals with the ranks of Aristocra and Syndic also served as high-level representatives of the Families, with seemingly plenipotentiary powers, though an Aristocra could hold only collateral rank within the internal hierarchy, and a Syndic at least could be Trial-born.
The families themselves were quite aware of any opportunity where they were able to exploit the weakness of a rival. As such, they were quick to take offense at any insult that was perceived against their position. Those Chiss caught in the middle of inter-house rivalries spent much of their time in intelligence gathering in order to get useful information that could be used for blackmail even if it was only capable of being used many years in the future. This trait made the Chiss excellent counterintelligence agents with a trained member of their kind able to see through disguises, evaluate body language, detect idiosyncrasies in speech pattern and even distinguish authentic items from forgeries. Chiss officers informed that the highest structures of power and influence within the Family hierarchies were kept largely secret from those outside them.
The number of Ruling Families within Chiss society was not a fixed number and was in a state of flux. As stated, over the various centuries, there had been as many as twelve and as few as three Ruling Families that led the Chiss. The Fifth Ruling Family were the Chaf, who wore yellow, and apparently held a specific portfolio for diplomacy and foreign affairs, while the Second and Eighth Ruling Families shared a military oversight role. The Eighth hey wore dark red, and naming patterns indicate that they were known as the Mitth family.
The heart of Chiss politics and government was on their homeworld of Csilla where the ruling families met the House Palace at Csaplar. It was there that both the Cabinet and Parliament resided. Representatives of the 28 colony worlds were located at Parliament where they were appointed as governors or House leaders. The Cabinet handled the intricacies of governing with all their decisions being approved by one of the four families. Chiss governmental structure existed to move important decisions up the chain of command and ultimately to the ruling families themselves. As such, individual colonies had their voices heard in the Parliament with these being taken up by the departments of the Cabinet after which they were finally given to the families The positions in Parliament were democractically chosen by colonial vote which differed compared to Cabinet who were all appointed by the families.
Their government was highly structured and ordered with the rule of law being enforced by the ruling families. These were not biological family groupings but instead different branches of their government. The Csapla dictated colonial issues, natural resources and agriculture whilst the Nuruoda handled the military as well as foreign affairs. Inrokini were responsible for industry, science, communication and non-military technology with the Sabosen taking the duty of overseeing justice, public health as well as education. All families along with the average Chiss citizen were represented at Parliament. Though not led by a dictator, the Chiss believed that only rigid discipline and superior technology were needed to hold the forces of anarchy at bay. The ruling class were known to engage in constant power struggles but despite this fact, the Ascendancy maintained strict controls over its territory which led to its civilization to prosper.
However, the federal powers of these representatives, who seem to have been known collectively as “Senators”, were largely limited to voicing concerns that would then be responded to by a central oligarchy, consisting of the Family hierarchy—perhaps in the form of the Council of Families—acting in conjunction with the Cabinet, a cadre of administrative officials appointed by the Families themselves. It was this élite that was apparently responsible for all aspects of policy and strategy, shaping and directing Chiss society across the Ascendancy through controlling the allocation of resources in a highly-controlled and money-free command economy.
Chiss diplomats were typically assigned a staff of twenty who wore their own house colors and were capable of being assigned two squads of six warriors as an honor guard though these units also wore military black.
The military of the Chiss was represented by the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force which was also known as the CEDF, the Chiss Expansionary Fleet and the Chiss Defense Fleet. Whilst their kind were methodical as well as cautious; they were always prepared to respond with lethal force if their enemy made the mistake of firing first. Through the CEDF, patrolled the Unknown Regions and monitored any threat with their fleet of top-of-the-line capital ships as well as squadrons of clawcraft starfighters. In many similar respects to the Galactic Empire, the Chiss military was well armed and trained military force that encompassed several advanced as well as orderly worlds. It was known that they maintained an impressive fleet which was dedicated to the defense of their territory. In fact, their military was a sizeable force with the Nuruodo family being in charge of both the fleet and the army. As they had never needed to act as a single unit; the military was partitioned into 28 colonial units known as Phalanxes. Their operation usually fell upon the shoulders of an officer appointed by a House leader who were known as Syndics. The Phalanxes were a completely separate entity from the Chiss Expansionary Defense Fleet which was deemed a foreign affairs asset rather than a military one. Members of the Chiss Defense Fleet wore the color black as it was a combination of all colors which symbolized the fact that it drew its personnel from all the families. Even honor guard details of warriors wore military black instead of their house colors.
It was known that anyone that was caught hiding illegal substances or supplying cargo to their enemies were likely to have their goods confiscated. The CEDF patrolled their growing territory and observed neighboring worlds. Furthermore, anyone that violated Chiss Ascendancy space were to be intercepted by the Household and Colonial Phalanxes who zealously guarded their territory. These served as a homeguard unit that protected the 28 colony worlds as well as the planets of the ruling families. As such, it was virtually impossible to infiltrate Chiss Space any intruders caught were often kept at a penal colony to suffer a prison sentence at an outlying system. Whilst the CEDF patrolled the borders of Chiss space, the Phalanxes responded to any threats that got past the Fleet. In times of crisis, however, the CEDF supplemented its numbers by drawing upon the ranks of nearby Colonial Phalanxes.
It was known that senior officers of the Defense Fleet belonged to no Chiss family and were in fact stripped of both family name as well as privilege. This was because they were made formally part o the Defense Hierarchy so that they could be called upon to serve all Chiss without deference or prejudice. Thus, ultimately, military command was merit-based and did not involve any family connections. Once taken into the Hierarchy, the officers were required to prove themselves in a similar manner as how the Ruling Families selected merit adoptives. In fact, all warriors were made merit adoptives when they were accepted either into the Defense Fleet or the Expansionary Fleet. Admirals of the Defense Hierarchy took direct command of Defense Fleet battlegroups, and also held oversight over the Expansionary Fleet. The mandate of the Expansionary Fleet, in contrast, was defined as guarding the Chiss frontier and exploring unknown space beyond the edge of the Ascendancy, and its forces included Picket Forces commanded by officers known as Force Commanders (sometimes shortened to Commander; Crahsystor in Cheunh).
Adding to the confusion is a variety of evidence for other Chiss military forces operating alongside, and sometimes in opposition to, the black-uniformed personnel of the Expansionary Fleet and the Defense Fleet.
There were thus potentially as many as four distinct military organizations within Chiss society:
- Defense Fleet—defensive fleet units under the authority of a central high command.
- Expansionary Fleet—frontier patrols and exploration missions.
- Colonial Phalanxes—planetary militias guarding the Chiss colony worlds.
- Household Phalanxes—paramilitary guards loyal to the aristocratic Ruling Families.
Chiss considered themselves to among the finest and most capable of warriors. One of the institutions where their military trained was known as the Chiss Academy that gave tasks to its students with high marks awarded depending on the degree of success achieved in the mission. Their cold disciplined nature made them brilliant strategists and excellent tacticians. Much of the ranking structure of the Chiss paralled that of the larger galaxy with numerous titles.
Most Chiss military personnel encountered by outsiders wore sharply-cut black uniforms, varying according to rank and occasion from ornate ceremonial dress to practical combat jumpsuits. All uniforms appear to have carried at least a little colored trim, increasing in quantity on more formal attire, and alongside the essentially horizontal divisions of uniform style, further lateral distinctions separated officers whose uniforms bore different colored flashes. These flashes apparently denoted affiliation to one of the Ruling Families.
Sometimes, colored trim may have had a meaning that was not directly related to Family allegiance. Red seems to have had martial associations: red piping was worn by military cadets at Rhigar, for whom it represented a military ideal known as Red Flame, which may have been of significance throughout Chiss society, while the Mitth Family, with their burgundy colors, were one of the two Ruling Families with political oversight over the military. In contrast, the occasional non-Chiss allowed for political reasons to train at Chiss military academies were distinguished by blue piping, and this usage may also explain the mixed blue-and-yellow colors used by some warriors; these may have been commoners given status as merit adoptives of Ruling Families at the start of their military service, their status denoted by combining Family colors with blue, rather than the pure color that would reflect permanent affiliation by birth or merit.
Regardless of these details, one thing that is clear is that the aesthetic of Chiss military uniforms was part of a wider visual pattern, in which specific colors were associated with specific social groups. The black uniforms of the Defense Force represented the fact that personnel were drawn from all branches of the Chiss community, black being perceived as a combination of all the colors. In contrast, an Admiral of the Defense Hierarchy wore gleaming white, and given that Admirals also renounced Family allegiance, this probably indicates a removal of all color.
The Chiss language was Cheunh and was first accepted during the developing years of their civilization when they formed a planet-wide government which consisted of single tongue that their society accepted. It was known to be a dense and difficult synthetic language to master as complicated ideas were expressed by uniting unrelated words into larger words. Thus, it had relatively few core words though the syntax required the speaker to piece together compound words which was complex and involved. One factor that certainly added to the complexity of the language was the fact that written Cheunh was not set down in a phonetic alphabet. In writing, Cheunh did not possess an abstract alphabet like Aurebesh with ideograms representing concepts and complex ideas being expressed by combining simpler ideograms. The Chiss held great pride in not only understanding but conversing in such a convoluted language. It was hard for outsiders to understand though Car’das believed it to be a logical, and the Chiss believed that the grammar was logical and easy to learn. However, the Chiss believed it was quite impossible for non-Chiss to learn to speak it properly. Though this complex nuance filled language was difficult for non-Chiss to master due to its intricacies, the Chiss themselves had little trouble mastering Basic though many were unfamiliar with it. At least some phrases in the language were highly idiomatic – the pejorative moactan teel literally meant “fair-haired”, implying that something about the addressee was non-Chiss, and thus barbarous.
Traditionally, Chiss names consisted of a long tripartite structure with three distinct sections. Usually, this followed the convention of the first and last being family names and the middle being the given name. Abbreviated versions of these were known as core names with their usage being a questionable choice. This was because full names were required for formal occasions, strangers and those that were believed to be the speakers social inferior. However, this policy was capable of being broken if there were good and valid reasons for doing so. Such was the case when dealing with outsiders who had trouble pronouncing Chiss full names. The predominance of core names, at least in communication with outsiders, was such that a number of such names were recorded without the full name being known. Apparently, the core name was typically formed by combining the short central section of the name with the last sound of the preceding section and the opening sound of the following. The name of the Ruling Family to which they belong is used as the first element of their full name, and this also defines the opening sound of their core name.
The impression held by the galaxy was that the Chiss were arrogant, aloof and calculating beings. However, whilst this was true in some cases, the Chiss demonstrated varying personality types similar to other species. General traits demonstrated by them, however, were being well-educated, artistic and cautious when dealing with outsiders. Outsiders had the general impression that the Chiss were very polite and highly civilized species. Their reputation meant that they were both respected and, in some cases, feared.
The harsh cold conditions of Csilla led to the Chiss developing a self-reliant streak which was the core of their notoriously aloof personalities. This led to outsiders characterising their race being as cold as the ice plains of their homeworld. As a people, they were intelligent as well as highly valuing their privacy. This extreme protection of their society was what allowed them to remain hidden from the rest of the galaxy for so long. They were described as being pensive as well as contemplative, deliberate and calculating. This meant that they often studied situations from many different viewpoints. As such, they considered all alternatives to a situation and even noted down scenarios on what would have happened if they had made a different decision. In combat situations, Chiss acted both calmly and intelligently as well as formed well planned strategies. Chiss did not give themselves over to passion and instead viewed problems as curiosities that needed to be solved through rigorous application of brainpower. As such, they did not allow hot emotions to interfere with their methodical analysis of a problem through logic. In terms of personality, they often displayed a cold, arrogant and disciplined behavior. Though they showed a cold lack of emotion, their actions were not necessarily impartial as most were motivated by the pursuit of power which was encouraged by their ruling families.
In general, they lived a harsh but disciplined life style where self control along with propriety were the most valued character traits that all Chiss aspired to. Whilst passions themselves were recognized, they were done so with disdain as such energy was believed to be better applied elsewhere. The regimented style of their society meant that crime was abhorred and seen as the weakness of an individual. Blaming society was a notion completely alien to their mindset and justice was given with little thought on compassion. However, the Chiss did not believe in capital punishment as they recognized it as being an irrational emotionally driven reaction instead of being a true deterrent. Instead, the greatest punishment they gave for their most heinous of crime was exile. Due to the great importance of family loyalty was in their culture, exile was considered a grave punishment for any Chiss to face.
During their childhood, Chiss were taught to read through the great stacks of data of the great library on Csilla. These contained basic information that every Chiss absorbed during their childhood after years of intense schooling.
The species were highly reserved in their emotions and often did not display feelings openly; either by smiling or by warm gestures. As such, they rarely were vocal about any feelings of anger or frustration though they did possess some curse words to employ should the situation warrant such an expression.
Though this was the impression projected, the Chiss were also a thoughtful people. While they were deliberate and calculating, they were not above wondering about how certain events might have turned differently had circumstances been altered. Much of their ability to solve problems stemmed from their reliance on data and when facing unpredictable situations, typical Chiss behavior meant that they would rather flee in the scene. This was not a universal characteristic as certain individuals with the ability to learn under such circumstances were able to continue to fight. In fact, whenever a Chiss suffered a setback or even a defeat, they often contemplated what might had been done differently in order to ensure that a victory was achieved in the next engagement. Chiss were noted for possessing an unparalleled aptitude for tactical thinking. The ideals of the Chiss were idolized in the form of the Red Flame which was a combination of courage, discipline and cunning.
The long spacefaring history of the Chiss led to them creating a superior combat force with their starfighter pilots being infamous throughout the Unknown Regions. Such squadrons were ruled by discipline and their pilots were known to spare disabled starships if they broadcasted a surrender. They also did not celebrate until their duty was completed as any celebrations made before such an event were considered false. Despite this, they were highly committed in their duties and a Chiss warrior if given an order would carry it out even if they disagreed with it which highlighted their belief in the chain of command. It was also known that the Chiss as a culture had an aversion to suicide and expendability as they found those actions to be wasteful.Though this was the case, there were occasions where Chiss gave their lives rather then surrender. In such circumstances, this was either due to the importance of the strategy for their people or because surrendering to a certain foe was considered a fate worse than death.
The Chiss had a keen interest in art and science and were skilled in mathematics. Their thought processes were based around a logical mindset which meant that they were interested in philosophy and in learning about other cultures. On the other hand, they were also xenophobic and any knowledge they gained from other cultures was used as a means of gaining a advantage over a potential foe.
Their clinical detachment was similar to how a biologist studied an insect which was how the Chiss view their foes and they often engaged in extreme caution in such circumstances. When among non-Chiss, individual members of the race were often aloof and pensive as they plotted tactics which would ensure a victory if a confrontation were to occur. Chiss never truly lost their xenophobic instincts, even when they were amongst members of other species for long periods of time. Ultimately, Chiss were loyal to their own kind and looked down upon aliens as being barbaric as well as immature. Despite this fact, most Chiss were considered peaceful and abided by the strict code of conduct that governed their race.In addition, though xenophobic, they were at times willing to accept members of other races into their ranks so long as they proved to be exceptional as well as trustworthy individuals. Furthermore, the subject needed to prove themselves capable of following Chiss disciplines in order to gain their loyalty and respect. The Chiss were considered an honorable people who did not kill more than they thought was necessary to accomplish their goals. However, they were not above using biological weapons of mass destruction against a foe should it be felt that their survival was threatened.
In Chiss society, there was no concept of finances or money with everything being provided for by the state. They also maintained tightly controlled borders that were self-sufficient in the isolated territory that they rule. Their colonies supplied them with both food and resources whilst developing technology comparable to the rest of the galaxy. As such, they saw no need in trade and their culturally derived contempt of “lesser races” also prohibited them from forming better relations with their neighbors. In fact, the motive for their exploration and expansion was dificult to determine as they lacked the passion for conquering the unknown which was a trait that Humans possessed. In addition, they did not claim new territory out of greed or for a hunger for power. Their space program was mostly governed by the basic need to manage their population and gathering resources without upsetting their homeworlds ecosystem. Their territory sufficed for their entire population needs. A report by the University of Sanbra indicated that the Chiss population numbered nearly 5 trillion. Despite their growing border, they still fostered a cultural contempt for other species. Instead, they believed in isolation and the preservation of their heritage.
It was believed by many xenosociologists that the rigid and disciplined nature of Chiss society stemmed from their cold environment on their homeworld. They were noted for displaying no signs of decadent or greedy behavior and thus it was concluded that any signs of colonial expansion were mostly due to the Chiss desiring to put order onto chaotic locations. This was in fact the leading theory by the University of Sanbra who concluded that the motivation for Chiss expansion was their ideal of seeking to impose order on what they saw as a chaotic and barbaric region. Being nearly impossible to enrage, they preferred to only act when all factors had been taken into account with the issue itself analysed. In addition, they believed firmly in the chain of command as well as positions of authority. In fact, Chiss were taught to respect the position itself rather then the person holding that title. As such, Chiss often responded when an individual called out the rank rather then their name.