Notable Fauna: Strokera

From Wikipedia of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, an online Star Wars Club

By all accounts Strokera is a place of extremes. With its lands fragmented by both a vast inland sea and broad rivers, life in every corner of the realm has developed within relative isolation. Often locked to a single part of the continent by the treacherous rivers, land-bound species have evolved in all but total ignorance of the other regions, leading to the rise of several micro-ecosystems. While broad animal diversity can be found on almost every world, of every region, few have been found to be so varied and so unique as those found here.

The animals listed below are but a few species of note to Odan-Urr and its allies, each categorized by their natural territory.

Northern Wilderness

Ithex

Biology:

The Ithex are a species of gigantic insectoids, each easily matching the height of the average human. Protected by black chitin plating, their six primary legs permit them to rapidly traverse across the frozen wastes, often leaving tracks punched inches deep into the ice. Two secondary legs double as miniature arms, and are often used to permit the creature to maintain its balance on unstable terrain or use a set of dursasteel-hard claws to overturn rocks whilst foraging for food.

Curiously, the ithex lack the typical abdomen found on many such insectoids. In its place, the thorax is overdeveloped, rising well above its head in a stubby conical design filled with an unknown super-heated liquid. Early investigations into this region suspect that this odd bodily function may even be the reason why the Ithex have thrived in a region which is typically devoid non-mammalian life. It permits them to have an internal body temperature vastly higher than most creatures, guarding them against the sub-zero environment, and serving as an effective defensive measure against predators.

When threatened, each one can shatter one or more of the transparent chitin “blisters” across its thorax, coating the surrounding area in burning fluid. However, this appears to be strictly as a defensive measure, as the Ithex are herbivores by nature. Subsisting primarily on the sap from larger trees or the algae seen thriving on the ice, there has yet to be a recorded incident of one actively hunting another beast.

Territorial and Social Traits:

The Ithex typically live in seemingly tight-knit family groups, with several adults tending to clutches of up to eight infants. Often forming temporary homes among the more densely forested areas, they will often only for a short time before moving on. While hardly natural tunnellers, they can forge short-lived underground caverns, which will quickly collapse behind them within a matter of days.

Due to their nomadic nature they are far from territorial or openly hostile, and individually they appear indifferent to most life-forms about them. Often they will only be provoked into action should the group as a whole, or their infants, be threatened and will act with a surprising level of tactical intelligence. Combined with the seemingly coded flickering of the bioluminescent patterns dotted across their bodies, this has led some to suspect that the Ithex may even be sentient. If proven, this would support the long-standing rumour that this species somehow descended from a Fefze swarm which attempted to establish a colony here during the Galactic Cold War.

Kaelef

Biology:

One of the larger felines found on the continent, the Kaelef are extremely reclusive creatures and excellent ambush predators. Standing at roughly one-and-a-half meters tall, their bodies are covered in thick fibrous hairs which guards them against the cold. This disguises their lithe forms and permits them to easily hide themselves amid the freezing terrain, as their fur is capable of changing shades and textures to match its surroundings.

Despite possessing a set of serrated claws to bring down foes, the Kaelef’s main weapon is its maw and set of grossly oversized teeth. While the claws can bear prey up to five times its size to the ground and grapple with rivals, its fangs can punch through toughened skin with enough strength to shatter bones. A common indicator that a Kaelef is responsible for a kill is when a limb has been nearly severed from the body by a powerful single bite, or the corpse has been felled by a single extremely powerful blow to their necks.

While dangerous by any standard, what makes the Kaelef a subject of interest among many members of Clan Odan-Urr is their apparent aptitude with the Force. Many local legends claim that these animals are capable of transfixing their prey and even guarding themselves against mundane senses. Hunters have stated that they could pass within inches of an Kaelef and never know it was there until it struck, or will even lose track of it across open ground. While this was initially put down to mere superstition, scouting reports have confirmed oddities in their capabilities. More alarming still, they even display a drive to hunt powerful Force-sensitive individuals.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Given their territorial and isolationist natures, it is extremely rare to see more than one Kaelef in the same region. The few times their paths cross are only during mating season or when a rival wishes to expand their territory, encouraging conflicts between the two. Such battles are rarely decided by a single fight, and often devolve into a series of painstakingly long, lethal ambushes fought almost entirely beyond the naked eye. The only reason records even exist of such behaviour was thanks to an excavation group stumbling upon two as a conflict began, and spent the next month fleeing from the increasingly hostile Kaelef.

While they are capable of adapting to entirely different environments and easily moving from one location to the next, a Kaelef often prefers to concentrate their efforts on a single den for security. These often serve as much as personal larders to stockpile fresh kills as shelter against impending blizzards, and a place to raise their young during the first years of their lives.

While their meat is toxic to most species, Kaelef pelts and teeth are highly prized among bounty hunters. The pelts, in particular, retain their unique capabilities for decades after death, and are often equal to military grade camo-cloaks, while their teeth make for extremely potent blades if given to the correct craftsmen. Despite their benefits, many younger bounty hunters and soldiers for hire are often drawn to hunts more for the prestige of owning such items rather than their actual capabilities.

Yilren

Biology:

Typical of most cold weather herd animals, the Yilren rely heavily upon mounds of fat and thick fur to survive snowy environments. Standing on two powerfully built hind legs, many initially compare these creatures with Tauntauns upon seeing them for the first time. A few have even gone so far as to try and prove that the Yilren are a subspecies of the more common pack animals, but beyond a few baseline physical similarities, the two could not be more different. Unlike Tauntauns, the Yilren rarely require more than a few hours sleep per month, and are capable of travelling for days on end without pause. In addition to this, while they make for poor mounts, they have repeatedly proven to be excellent pack animals. Often they will even quite willingly join with groups as beasts of burden if given even the slightest reason to stay. This means they rarely need to be domesticated or broken so long as they are provided more food and warmth than they can find on their own.

The most striking trait of these beasts stems from their ability to live off all but the most toxic of foods. While herbivores by preference, a Yilren can and will seemingly consume anything in sight if needed in order to survive. This is permitted both by a complex digestive system which is capable of stripping out nutrition from almost any food and an extreme resistance to harmful viruses. This also ensures that they remain highly resistant to infection from predator attacks, and they are capable of completely recovering from wounds which would normally lead to death by infection or necrosis.

Each Yilren also reproduces asexually and can lay clutches of up to sixteen eggs three times every standard year. While many die young thanks to the extreme cold or even emerge stillborn, this rate helps to offset the natural attrition of herds via predators and their harsh environment.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Due to their nature, the Yilren often travel in extremely large herds, relying upon sheer numbers to keep away both the cold and predators. This permits them to huddle in vast groups to wait out the worst of any blizzard, and to quickly resolve any solitary attack with a massed charge. Because of this, many hunters are often limited to focusing upon a single isolated Yilren at the herd’s edge, and are often forced to ignore their young to avoid provoking the group as a whole.

Curiously, herds of Yilren can fluctuate and shift seemingly at random, often splitting up and rejoining or departing entirely without rhyme or reason. While this might, in part, be to help cover a wider area to gather food there has been little to no indication of rivalries, conflicts or even loyalty between herds. This might in part be down to the lack of any alpha male, but such a theory only opens up further complications questioning how these beasts follow any singular direction.

Northern Mountains

Quath

Biology:

Unusual even by the standards of Strokera’s fauna, the Quath are nightmarish predators which have become a major hazard among the mountain ranges. Often hiding within the low hanging mists which surround the northern mountains, all their victims usually witness are a tangle of grasping tentacles reaching out for them before dragging them screaming back into the clouds. This has earned them the moniker of “Sky Sarlaccs” and with good reason. The body these tentacles spring forth from is little more than a bloated hovering sphere of flesh, easily the size of a light freighter, and surrounded by howling jagged maws.

Few of these monstrosities have been recovered intact, as apparently any force powerful enough to fell them triggers a chain reaction within its body, causing it to explode. Blaster bolts in particular provoke an especially volatile response, resulting in the creature detonating with a force akin to a proton torpedo. Because of this, many researchers suspect that the central body houses sacks of rethen gas to keep itself aloft, and may even be the cause of the very mists they use as camouflage.

Given their nature as ambush predators they have an extremely slow flight speed, relying more upon stealth than active pursuit of its prey. Because of this, their tentacles possess rapid regenerative properties and are resistant to most physical forms of damage. Blades or blunt objects will leave little more than rapidly fading scars, and only concentrated fire from multiple blasters will leave any lasting harm. Many researchers believe that this species is no product of natural evolution and is likely the result of Sith Alchemy. However, this still remains a theory and little has been done to truly substantiate these thoughts.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Little can be said of the Quath’s behavioral patterns or mindset, and it remains a mystery as to even how they reproduce. While no two creatures have been seen directly fighting against one another, they typically appear to avoid entering the hunting grounds of potential rivals. Short of a massed feeding frenzy, it is almost impossible to find two hunting in the same area.

Territories are an equally difficult matter, as there seems to be no exact pattern or requirements for each hunter. One simply selects an area of the mountainside, awaits something to foolishly brave the mists, and then consumes them. The only true territorial requirement appears to be a somewhat thinner atmosphere and open terrain, but even this is still questioned by many researchers even today.

Argis

Biology:

Larger even than the Quath, the Argis is a vast airborne hunter known for its extreme patience and savage assaults. With a wingspan of almost twelve meters from tip to tip, the first and last warning of its prey is of a massive shadow falling upon them. While the Argis’ build and rows of feathers clearly links it to avian ancestry, the predator’s body has evolved beyond what many denizens of the galaxy typically relate to their kind.

Much of the Argis’ skeletal structure has been grossly exaggerated, expanding and extending beyond its skin. This covers vital points in a manner akin to chitinous plating. This is most evident in the areas surrounding its chest and head, with the latter flattening out and thinning until it resembles a hook-beaked serpent's skull. The bone itself, both plating and skeleton, is hollow but incredibly tough and is capable of rapidly healing any fractures which might form during hunts. While its armoured qualities greatly add to the beast’s weight and limits its airborne maneuverability, the positioning has greatly enhanced its ability to abruptly drop out of the sky onto its prey, and some reports even claim to have seen Argis’ using their vast bulky to simply crush smaller prey.

When not in flight, the Argis uses two sets of gigantic talons to roost, each having evolved to both bear its titanic weight and spear its prey. The frontmost set in particular have clearly developed for combat and grasping struggling prey, as the claws both feature a number of extra digits and secrete a numbing venom which causes paralysis. When forced into combat on the ground, it will often rear backwards, using these to swipe at its prey or pin them in place; an act it is capable of thanks to the long reptilian tail which it uses to both assist with its flight and control its balance.

The Argis’ leathery skin is notably tough, and even the thinning membranes of its wings are capable of shrugging off the scratches and bites of smaller predators. This is equally true of its feathers, and it is not uncommon for a careless explorer to cut their hand upon the edge of a fallen plume. An Argis’ age and status can often be read from the colours and shades of these plumes, which often ripen or shift colours during mating seasons.

Territorial and Social Traits:

The Argis lack many of the expected territorial traits which are expected of such massive predators. Often they will mate for life, and when hunting an especially dangerous prey it is not uncommon for several breeds to group up without quarrel or conflict. It is equally rare to find such beasts in direct conflict with one another, even when one is infringing upon the other’s territory. This perhaps suggests a higher level of communication or instinctive co-operation between individuals, and such a lack of direct competition many even be the reason why they have thrived here when other hunters exist only in limited numbers.

Despite favouring mountainous regions, the Argis are seemingly capable of adapting to most environments or new prey with little real difficulty. So long as a lifeform is carbon based and lacks venomous defences they are capable of incorporating it into their diets, and they are willing to even consume carrion when required. Instead, their reason for remaining close to the mountains seems to be due to the more defensible nesting environments it offers.

Kytan

Biology:

One of the few recognisably simian species found on the continent, the Kytan have adapted well to all aspects of their rocky, high altitude homes. Relying upon speed and agility to survive, these mountain dwelling apes use two sets of powerful arms and six grasping hands to easily traverse otherwise impassable terrain. Thanks to the ability to instinctively pick out handholds at a moment’s notice, they have repeatedly proven to be capable of clambering up sheer cliff faces and craggy broken rocks alike. While thinly built and extremely wiry, they are nevertheless strong enough to haul one another up past obstacles, and a group working together can traverse mountains at an astounding rate.

The thick and naturally grey fur of this species serves several purposes, the first and most obvious being to warm them against the frigid air. Beyond this, it is also used to draw in dew from the surrounding mists, providing each of them with a sustainable drinking source. These droplets enter the body via hyper-reactive pores on their skin and, while unsavory, it is one of the few reliable ways to gain consumable water on the mountain range’s upper reaches. The species is also noted to use their rapidly extrudable tongues are used in place of fingers to quickly grasp prey; snatching small lizards or uprooting the few weeds capable of growing in these environments.

Often relying up fleeing threats over fighting them, the Kytan are noted to have excellent sight and hearing. As they can pick out the sound of a diving Argis from miles overhead, and spotting the telltale clouds hiding a Quath as they come into range, they are quite capable of hiding before most predators can hunt them down.

Territorial and Social Traits:

It is difficult to fully judge the social nature of the Kytan or their favoured homes due to their chosen environment. Ignoring the vast predators which dwell on the mountains, the Kytan seem to prefer lurking in an underground network of caverns and tunnels which crisscross the range’s interior. Many entrances to these homes have been specifically built up and blocked off by rubble (an intentional effort by the Kytan themselves) until they are so narrow that only they are capable of entering and leaving without considerable effort.

What little can be told of this confirms that they do operate in large groups and can easily coordinate their efforts into carrying out single large-scale projects. In addition to this, it can be theorized that their eyes are well suited to low light environments, or at the very least that some additional sense can make up for it in these subterranean dwellings. As no single Kytan has ever been seen carrying their young outside of these environments, it can be assumed that their infants are kept underground until they are mature enough to brave the open world.

Evergreen Forests

Talik Birds

Biology:

With an average size of seven inches from beak to tail, the Talik Bird is one of the smaller airborne creatures of note thus far. Distinguished by the three sets of wings which keep them aloft and the short trowel-like beaks used to dig through bark, they have adapted well to life among the dense upper canopies of the forests. Understandably because of this, their feathers are often a mix of brown and black pattern, allowing them to blend into their surroundings while roosting. Males do however gain a bright streak of emerald green across their chest once they reach maturity.

While seemingly physically fragile, a Talik’s skeleton is far less brittle than most other airborne species and can endure impacts which would outright kill most other avians. Fat reserves stored about their chest and abdomen also permits them to enter a level of extended hibernation if needed, which helps to explain this species’ unwillingness to migrate to warmer climates during the winters.

Typically laying clutches of up to sixteen eggs at a time, often several times per season, the Talik population can easily explode if left unregulated. This has led to a heightened level of infighting among their kind, to the point where a few lesser species of scavengers live almost entirely off of a carrion diet from this bird.

Territorial and Social Traits:

The territories of Talik swarms are less rigidly defined than one might expect for avians. There is no apparent unity among their kind, and each individual animal will turn upon the other for their own benefit. Competition for food and shelter is a constant struggle, and any who wish to lay claim to an opportune roosting spot will be forced to repeatedly defend it against intruders. However, as fractured and quarreling as they are, few predators will risk targeting them as prey. If an outside threat should emerge, the entire population of an area will act as a single entity and relentlessly assault the threat until it has been driven out or killed.

While humanoids are thankfully largely exempt from this extremely defensive attitude, they have been known to frequently attack both airspeeders and domesticated pack animals. This has caused many to view them as a pest, and Strokera’s populace has sought to constantly thin their numbers via artificial means and limit their presence to a few designated areas.

Tarvek

Biology:

Like so many species on colonized worlds, every environment suffers its intruders. Some new breeds of creatures are slowly added introduced the environment to benefit the colonists, while others stow away on transports and break free upon arriving at their new home. Most of the latter examples often prove to be disastrous for one species or another, by either disrupting the food chain for years to come or proving themselves to be wholly unsuited to their new homes. Tarveks are one of the rare exceptions to this rule, and since their arrival they have adapted almost perfectly to feed upon the creatures which dwell in the forests.

Originating on Felucia, the Tarveks are a breed of snake largely noted for lacking many inherent traits expected of such a species. With adult examples ranging from fifteen to seventy inches in length they are by no means the largest breed found in the galaxy, nor the most venomous. Furthermore, while capable of moving in almost complete silence, their bright orange and yellow hues means that they cannot hide among the branches of trees as most of their kind would. Instead, these snakes rely more unique biological assets in order to survive.

While the snake is well protected by armoured scales, several large bulbous punches dot the underside of its belly and throat. When provoked, small indentations allows it to release the venom as a fine poisonous spray into the air, which will hang over the nearby area and induce a paralysis in almost any native creature which inhales it. Once its prey succumbs to its venom, it will descend upon it, unhinging its jaws and swallowing its prey whole, before slowly digesting it over the course of a full month. Thanks to an extremely flexible and loosely joined skeletal structure, they are capable of consuming creatures vastly larger than themselves. With enough time and effort, it has been theorized that an especially large specimen could be quite capable of swallowing large sentient creatures such as Wookiees. Once it has had its fill, a Tarvek will often burrow underground or seclude itself for a time, entering a coma-like state of hibernation in order to conserve its energy.

Territorial and Social Traits:

As they reproduce asexually, Tarveks rarely encounter one another save as rivals or enemies. Fights between the two are often brief, with one typically tearing out the throat of another, or sometimes even consuming them as they would their prey. As each lays only relatively small clutches of up to six eggs, the Tarvek population is always relatively limited in any area, with many of their number often dying out at a young age. Perhaps because of this, these animals seem to have no defined territories or areas they consider to be their personal hunting grounds. Each will lay claim to an area of the forest and promptly attempt to muscle out any local threats.

As they favour disabling their prey over actively hunting them, Tarveks will always seek locations which are beneficial to their poisons. The uppermost branches of trees are the most obvious among these, but it is not uncommon to see them waiting on the edges of open glades or even beneath fallen leaves depending upon the season. Each seems to have an almost instinctive awareness of wind direction and potential weather changes to assist with the spread of their poison, which is potentially linked to an as of yet unidentified olfactory nerve.

Gorrox

Biology:

Small, skittish and capable of outrunning almost anything else within its domain, a Gorrox is a species of prey which has proven to be difficult to catch by both predators and hunters alike. At thirty-five inches long and eighteen inches tall, they are a remarkably large breed of forest dwelling rodents noted for both their sheer speed and a very unusual evolutionary quirk. Running from its crown to its tail, the Gorrox features multiple sets of conical eyes, each of which can seemingly act independently of one another; thus making it almost impossible for predators to catch them unawares. Were this not enough, the creature’s large pointed ears allow it to pick out the telltale sounds of larger beasts from up to five miles away.

As with most species which dwell in the dense forests, the Gorrox has adapted itself well to life amid the canopies of leaves. Each of its six legs ends in a curved zygodactlous foot, which combined with their natural ambidexterity permits them to easily finding purchase and maintain their balance while moving between trees. Furthermore, each is well suited to burrowing into the wood to consume insect grubs and plucking berries free from branches, two essential elements of their diet. While they will consume warm blooded meat if there is no other alternative, their digestive system consumes the former two foodstuffs far more easily than most other alternatives.

More curiously still however, evolution seems to have robbed the Gorrox of two natural weaknesses of most other animals. The most obvious among these is the removal of any need for sleep. Subjectives both in the wild and in captivity they have proven to remain fully active at every hour of the day, seemingly without any need for pause or rest. While this has likely contributed to each Gorrox consuming vast quantities of food on a daily basis to maintain their energy, it robs predators of another weakness for them to exploit. Finally however, their muscles seem to lack the build-up of lactic acid common in most breeds of animals throughout the galaxy. Save for sheer lack of sustenance, little seems to truly wear them down or even slow down a Gorrox once they have opted to flee a predator.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Like most species found within the forests, Gorrox favour living high among the trees when possible. Familial groups are not uncommon for these creatures, though there seems to be more of an early tribal mentality which dominates group structures. The sense of dominance and control extends beyond a simple pack pack mentality, and studies have been made to try and identify the more complex social dynamics of groups.

While conflict with other numerous species within the forest is hardly uncommon, both in terms of actual combat and simple flight, the Gorrox seem to exist at relative peace with the Taliks. Flocks and groups seem to either ignore or simply refuse to fight one another even when they are competing for food but, while this would normally be some indication of a symbiotic relationship, there is little connection beyond this. Many researchers suspect that, due to their greater numbers and the fact each species favours different breeds of grubs, they turn a blind eye towards one another but little can be said for the exact nature of their relationship. Even after several decades of study, it remains a point of curiosity among researchers.

Boreal Forests

Toleweh

Biology:

One of the few humanoid species which evolved on Strokera, the Toleweh are a race of tree-dwellers who typically stand at one-and-a-half meters in height. Combining avian and reptilian traits, most notably the broad hooked beak which takes up most of the lower half of their face, their bodies are deceptively frail thanks to a thin and almost wiry build. However, this disguises an extremely strong skeleton and a powerful muscular structure which allows them a far higher power‑to‑mass ratio than what is typically found in most species. While ill suited to bearing great weights, it allows them to coil up their strength and shunt it into singular blows; a potent skill when combined with the sets of serrated bone blades which run the length of their forearms and calfs.

The blades themselves, while often mistaken as offensive weapons, are used almost exclusively as tools in day to day life. Designed to assist with singular stabbing blows, the curved edges are more often than not used either to assist with clambering up the gigantic trees they call their home or to strip bark from the environment while foraging for of food. This is further assisted by two sets of taloned hands, which can be used to pluck grubs or insects from their hiding places, and a lengthy prehensile tail which is almost as long as they are tall.

The deep orange and browns of their scales allows the Toleweh to easily blend into their environments, as does a remarkable level of control over their biological functions. Research has suggested that these creatures are capable of lowering their body temperatures and slow their heart rates to avoid detection; while their sweat secretes pheromones which render them almost invisible to surrounding animals.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Unlike almost every other native creature found thus far, the Toleweh are the only race who have been confirmed as sentient. While certainly extremely primitive, holo-recordings have shown these animals using basic stone tools and fire to accomplish what little their arm blades cannot, and there is even an indication of verbal languages developing within tribes. These societies are relatively isolated from one another, bound to the oldest trees of each respective area and reliant upon them for day-to-day life. Tribes use them both as shelters and a source of food, and as a result, encounters between isolated groups are extremely rare, though they often end in hostility.

The actual social structure of each tribe varies wildly from one to the next, but they appear to each be matriarchal in nature. Rather than individual familial groups, there seems to be little real divide or distinction between bloodlines among their number, and despite their hostility to outsiders there are few moments of true violence between tribesmen.

Beliskar Wolves

Biology:

In stark contrast to the rest of the continent, the Boreal Forests are largely bereft of true alpha predators. Many carnivores found here are more akin to carrion eaters and ambush predators rather than ranging beasts, and the Beliskar Wolves are believed to be the primary cause for this. Show any person an image of a Beliskar and they will often mistake it for any common breed of this species scattered across the galaxy since time immemorial. Dark furred, four legged with a fang filled maw, they appear no different than most forest dwelling predators, until their size is taken into account. Often standing between one-and-a-half to three meters tall depending upon their age, they tower over most sentiment humanoids and are powerful enough to bring down Dewbacks with a single well-placed bite.

While lacking much of the stealth typically inherent in such creatures, Beliskars have proven to be incredibly tough and extremely fast even over rough terrain. With fur which is more akin to steel wire than hair and hides which can resist serrated blades, they are resistant to most conventional attacks, and nothing short of vehicle mounted blaster cannons have proven to reliably bring them down. Even then, it will often take sustained fire before they even notice their wounds. Thanks to durasteel hard bones and a multitude of redundant organs, tales of Beliskars still fighting for several minutes after they have been severed in half is considered to be only a mild exaggeration. Even without this, a genetic quirk scientists have yet to be able to fully identify permits them to recover from grievous wounds in a matter of weeks, and seemingly even toughens their flesh further.

Rather than tracking their prey down or shadowing them like smaller breeds, Beliskars instead rely upon their sheer strength and speed to bear down upon their victims in a single charge. Often tearing through undergrowth otherwise impassable to most animals, they snatch up their prey and promptly decapitate them with a single bite. While this can result in the loss of fangs against especially tough opponents, Beliskar skulls have displayed several sets of teeth in a state of continual growth. As soon as one is lost, it can quickly be replaced by another.

There are only two debatable weaknesses which can be used against the Beliskars. The first is that they have seemingly no fight or flight instinct, and will react to any challenge as a threat. Once this happens, their predatory nature takes over and they will fight until they or their foe is dead or rendered unconscious. The other stems from their complex olfactory senses. While well developed and capable of distinguishing both prey and rivals from miles away, it is nevertheless easily fooled or disrupted. Artificial pheromones and smoke bombs alike have proven to confuse and disrupt the hunting capabilities of Beliskars, and are one of the few reliably safe ways to enter their hunting grounds unchallenged.

Territorial and Social Traits:

While native to the Boreal Forests south of the continent’s major mountain ranges, this seems to be out of choice rather than necessity. Their sheer size and ravenous nature requires them to consume almost a third their body weight in meat each day, and often more if they are healing from injuries. The constant need for food is a daily challenge because of this, and the relative scarcity of prey in both the open grasslands and mountainous regions means that the forests are the only viable location for hunting.

The constant shortage of food, competition and conflicts means that the Beliskars suffer from a relatively low population, often living in small packs of four to six beasts at a time. It is not uncommon for one group to absorb another following a pack conflict once an alpha predator has been defeated, but these numbers often dwindle over the following few years. This is in part thanks to the fact that Beliskars are not above cannibalism to satisfy their hunger, and pups are frequently left to fend for themselves upon the death of a parent.

Many hunters are highly paid to find isolated or exiled younger members of packs. While savage, if they are found at a young age they can be at least semi-domesticated, as proven by a breeding pair found in Trepus. It should be noted, however, that those born and raised in captivity are frequently smaller than their wild kindred. Males often only grow to two meters at the most, while the largest recorded female was only one-and-a-half meters in height. This suggests a reaction to trauma or conflict helps encourage growth. Despite this, even “tame” Beliskars are still well renowned for their ferocity and Jabba Desilijic Tiure was known to repeatedly purchase captives to challenge his pet Rancor.

Sarrids

Biology:

Lithe, thin and capable of rapidly burrowing into the hardened earth of the forests, the Sarrids are survivors first and foremost. Ranging from twenty to thirty inches in length, these creatures are distinguished by a hardened skin of brown mesh-plates ending in spikes and a set of four extremely stubby legs. While warm mammalian in nature, physically they have more in common with snakes than most burrowing species. Most favour on their bellies while above ground, while below it their plating is used to power them through the soil; with each scale opening and closing in rapid flutters of movement to shunt them forwards.

The head of a Sarrid is completely without eyes, and lacks even the slightest hint of having once possessed them. Save for a series of thin slits which makes up its nose and mouth, it is little more than a featureless angular wedge to help them ploud through the earth. With little to no sense of smell as well, the Sarrids instead used their legs as a means of finding their way through the world. As each ends in three grasping toes, they are perfect for shunting objects out of the creature’s way, but more importantly a series of internal bones allows them to detect tremors through the nearby earth.

Due to their subterranean nature, most Sarrids will only emerge above ground when given no other choice. If an obstacle is simply too massive for them to overcome, or the ground too dangerous, they will emerge at night in an attempt to pass over it. Quite how such creatures are able to tell night from day despite their lack of sight is as of yet unknown.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Due to their physical limitations, most Sarrids favour remaining several meters underground at all times to avoid predators. Even those who venture to the surface will rarely range up there for long, nor will they risk moving away from the root systems they have made their homes. As each lives in an almost symbiotic relationship with the larger trees of the forest, feeding off of the various parasites which waste away at them from within. While hardly bound to a single tree for life, they will rarely willingly move save for being ousted by a rival or upon the tree’s death. Some have even suggested that they may even take in nutrients from the soil about them, but this idea has largely been disproven in recent studies.

The infants of their kind will only stay with the mother until they can move under their own power, at which point they are ultimately left to fend for themselves. In a move of strange brutality however, runts are often killed by the parent at an extremely young age, perhaps to lessen the burden upon themselves.

The Shattered Lands

Carnyx

Biology:

Noted for their bright blue hued shells, the Carnyx are a species of shellfish which thrives in the immense inland sea of the Shattered Lands. With the oldest of their kind growing up to twenty inches in length, their flat ovular bodies are well armoured against attacks from above or their sides, and can even deflect most basic harpoons if given an opportunity to burrow into the sediment for protection. As they are scavengers by nature, each crab is noted to have two sets of claws. A larger pair for burrowing, digging and ripping its prey apart, while the smaller and more dexterous set are used to probe areas ahead of them and pick out morsels for consumption. Both an armoured tail and a set of sixteen legs lined with fins permits the Carnyx a limited capacity to swim through the water, while also allowing them to clamber over land.

Unlike most crabs, the Carnyx is completely blind, lacking the usual telltale eyestalks which would rise above their armoured mouths. Instead, each one seems to rely upon a crude form of echo-location to pick out subjects around them, shuddering or vibrating their claws to create a pitched sound ahead of them to formulate an image. This is then picked up by a series of raised spines which lines the uppermost section of its shell, which can be lifted or flattened for protection. This use of echolocation is often also used to disorientate or drive away certain predators, as well as issue challenges or calls to others of their kind.

Finally, the Carnyx possesses heightened regenerative properties, ones far more potent even than what is typically expected of such species. Severed limbs have been seen to regrow within a matter of days if not hours, and even stronger specimens almost severed in half have been able to recover given enough time. This makes the act of consuming them especially dangerous, as the chemicals they secrete to permit their regeneration is highly poisonous and often provokes dangerous chemical reactions when encountering stomach acid. Only a number of local fishermen are aware of the proper method of cooking and serving such creatures, and consuming one is regarded as a something of a challenge for most local tourists.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Like almost every species which calls the Shattered Lands their home, the Carnyx have evolved to weather intense storms and immense hurricanes of all forms. This is accomplished both by their ability to rapidly burrow into the ground, and their natural instinct to swarm together for protection. Carnyx swarms will anchor against one another during the most fierce storms, turning their bodies into a bulkwalk against the elements and waiting out the tempest. Once it is finished, they will begin to emigrate en mass across the seabed, consuming any sustenance the storm might have dredged up.

While stories persist of swarms attacking people or being a menace to all local aquatic life, this could not be further from the truth. Often a Carnyx is far more interested in food which will not fight back, and will primarily target carrion or things close to death. This allows them to naturally clear entire sections of the Shattered Lands in the wake of a storm of dead or dying plant or sealife, speeding up its recovery.

Jorakk

Biology:

A common sight both on land and in the more open areas of the Shattered Lands, the Jorakk are a species of reptomammals which have adapted well to their semi-aquatic environment. While they retaining many aspects which makes them well suited to a land dwelling breed, evolution has granted them a number of traits allowing them to easily travel between the small fragmented islands. Often standing at one-and-a-half to two meters tall, they are among the largest creatures found within their environment.

The Jorakk’s massive barrel-shaped torso is upheld by four stubby but powerful legs while on land and a massive broad-finned tail tail while in the water. Several secondary fins line their sides to assist with movement against rapid currents, while their squat and bullish heads are almost half the size of their body again, and almost all maw. Large enough to consume the heads of most creatures found on Strokera whole, and it is backed by muscles powerful enough to easily tear them free. These are often used to easily crush through the larger fruits found in their local environment or tear up aging trees in their hunt for sustenance, but they can easily be used against other creatures.

As their bodies are highly resistant to all but the most poisonous of creatures they are quite happy to consume anything which might lie in their path. The Carnyx is an occasional, if apparently unpleasant, part of their diet and the Jorakk apparently has few qualms turning upon almost anything in search of a meal. This is permitted by a series of six massive tusks which lines the edges of their mouth, and another set of two forward facing variants located in their lower jaw. The aforementioned set are used to grapple and crush prey, while the latter are used to kill those resistant to any initial bite.

While many would-be hunters initially regard such creatures as comical or even an easy target at first glance, this is an often fatal mistake. Their rotund bodies are covered in extremely thick skin and layers of fat not unlike that of a Hutt, and have proven to be equally as resistant to both blasters and physical attacks. In order to support their massive bodies, their skeletons are also incredibly durable, to the point where a full-on collision with a landspeeder will do little more than enrage a Jorakk. Capable of reaching up to 24 km/h on land and even faster speeds in the water, they can close on possible rivals and prey within a matter of moments.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Often favouring large packs of up to twenty adults, Jorakk are highly territorial and are rarely willing to share their chosen feeding grounds with potential rivals. While birds, scavengers and smaller creatures are typically ignored, anything which even comes close to half their size is deemed a threat, and will be turned upon. Most tourist boats often only manage to escape being attacked by emitting certain high frequency trills which calm them on an instinctive level, matching elements of their calls.

While they will migrate across the Shattered Lands several times each year, each pack will often return to the same groups of larger islands or certain areas over expanding upon their domains. This has been theorized to be thanks to favouring certain plants or even allowing certain areas to recover and regrow from their presence.

Kongur Whales

Biology:

One of the exceptionally few solely aquatic species found within the Shattered Lands, Kongur Whales are an elusive and rarely seen species. Thought to be an offshoot of the larger and more predatory breeds which dominate the surrounding oceans, these creatures grow to be roughly three to six meters in length. Unlike most water dwelling creatures found throughout the galaxy, they lack the typical tail and fin formations which would normally signify them as a breed of whale. Bereft of the normal dorsal fins and extended tail, Kongurs instead direct themselves through the water thanks to a set of twin broad “blades” akin to most hammerhead species. This is further assisted by several rows of small extended fins which line the middle of its body and trail in its wake, while the conical tail which makes up the majority of its form twists and flexes to power it through the water.

The near-white skin of Kongurs is dotted with a large network of bioluminescent strips and lights which flash in response to danger, moods or even to simply confuse predators. Curiously, while this is typically a trait of creatures which dwell at extreme depths, this breed of whale seems to suffer from few to no ill effects when moving through shallow environments. A multitude of skeletal armoured plates line the head and majority of its form, protecting it against predators. While brittle and fragile to the touch once parted from the creature, a simple electrical current (such as its own bio-electric pulse) is enough to give it a strength on par with most industrial metals.

In contrast to what you might expect of such a creature found within the Shattered Lands, Kongurs do not feast upon fish or meat. Instead, the large maw which takes up the majority of their face has evolved to consume algae and almost microscopic creatures, filtering them out through the water and consuming them en mass.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Favouring fleeing its opponents over open combat, a Kongur will often seek deeper waters if met with a potential threat. Relying upon their heightened speed and armoured skin to combat most threats, they will often attempt to outrun or outlast predators. If needed, they will utilise their bioluminescence to confuse those hunting it to make an escape.

Solitary by nature, it is very rare to see more than two or three such whales in the same general vicinity. While there is no apparent conflict among their kind, they show little in the way of communication or even contact with one another. Combined with the lack of any sightings of younger creatures over the years, this has left many to suspect that the Kongurs migrate to the Shattered Lands from another location. However, various protective laws have prevented researchers from legally tagging and tracking the species to truly confirm this.

Kithrax Bayou

Taskun Islebacks

Biology:

Easily the largest of the animals of the found in the Kithrax Bayou, the Taskun are gigantic carnivorous reptomammals which rival even A6 Juggernauts in terms of their sheer size. Resembling gigantic turtles, much of their body his hidden within a gigantic angular shell which protects their internal organs, leaving only their trunk-like legs and head exposed as needed. These are often fully withdrawn within its shell as it waits patiently, semi-submerged in the swamplands, for possible prey to stumble upon its location.

While even the best camouflaged animal would often be easy to pick out thanks to its sheer scale, the Taskun has several major evolutionary advantages to offset this limitation. After finding a suitable spot, the creature excretes a number of nutrient rich chemicals to encourage natural plant life, moss and algae to spread across its shell. This rapidly grows to cover its exterior within a matter of weeks, and in turn draws in a number of species the Taskun has a semi-symbiotic relationship with. Of note are smaller birds and fish which dominate much of the swamps, as such plants make for perfect nests and sustenance for their diets. While their presence serves largely to hide the Taskun and deal with parasites which develop across the more vulnerable areas of its skin, their relationship is more one of protection.

When a predator hunting these smaller creatures approaches their location, the Taskun senses their movements through tremors in the ground. It waits until they are within striking range, so until they are fully committed to the charge that they cannot withdraw, before lashing out in a split-second strike. As its neck can almost double the length of its body when fully extended, it is capable of biting down and snatching up a beast from almost any angle of approach. It is not uncommon for the Taskun to swallow an intruding creature whole, before using a secondary set of jaws within its neck to crush and kill its prey. Even without this though, a single bite is usually enough to tear most smaller predators in half. Approaching one is even more dangerous whilst underwater, it can use its secondary jaws to create a sudden vacuum in the water, sucking its prey and anything close by inside gullet before they can react.

Given their nature as patient hunters, they can lie in wait for weeks or even months at a time with little to no movement, living wholly off of the nutrients of their last kill. During these times, the only way an experienced hunter can tell the difference between a mound of rotting fauna and an waiting predator is the small tubular nose they extend up through the water to take in air.

Territorial and Social Traits:

By their nature, the Taskun are extremely territorial and will not suffer rivals infringing upon their territory. Should two Taskun or another equally gigantic beasts meet, the normally patient hunters will be roused into a relentless fury, and will pursue their foe for miles at a time. After defeating and killing such a foe, a Taskun will strip much of the body of its flesh, leaving only rotting bones and skin in its wake. This serves both as a marker of its prowess and deadliness to rivals, and a potential trap to lure scavenging beasts into its domain for fresh meals. Scouting runs have reported finding wrecked landspeeders placed in such a manner, confirming that this hostility extends to inorganic vehicles.

While ultimately favouring small lakes and submerged boglands over dry or exposed areas, the taskun do not require an environment specifically tailored to hide their bulk. Members of their species have been encountered both on relatively open terrain and amid dense forested environments, and so long as there is an abundant source of water they will find a way to thrive. However, they seem drawn to the swamplands of Kithrax Bayou for reasons yet unknown, suggesting that there is an additional requirement researchers have yet to uncover.

At several points during their long lifetime, the Taskun will travel among the larger rivers dotted across Strokera, shedding the vegetation they have developed during their long stay in the swamps. While decades apart, the first several such journeys will be to return to their spawning grounds on the inner sea, with the last leading them to a graveyard on the outermost coastlines of the continent.

Cultural Impact:

The Taskun are considered to be one of the major predators which led to tourists avoiding the south-western swamplands, and they have remained the subject of a number of local horror stories. Many of these relate to the long standing tale of colonists who disappeared into these lands decades ago, which was only further reinforced by the discovery of various landspeeders within their territories.

Their near legendary endurance and unique nature with their environment has led multiple expeditions by both xenobiologists and criminal elements to try and hunt them down. The former often to take one into live captivity for study, while the latter often attempt to hunt them for the renown of claiming its shell. Despite the vast resources and firepower which often accompanies such efforts, no recorded expedition has ever achieved their objective.

Mire Kraken

Biology:

Considered to be little more than a creature of mythology for several decades, the Mire Kraken’s existence was only recently proven. Lurking on the outermost fringes of the Bayou and the largest lakes, this massive cephalopod has adapted well to concealing itself from sight. Despite growing up to an estimated thirty meters in length, they are capable of flattening and elongating their bodies to fit within smaller pools formed amid the swampland. Many are even capable of altering the colouration of their skin in order to better blend with their environments, but this is not universally true. Combined with the presence of a muscular seam not unlike that of a cuttlefish on certain specimens, this has led to the belief that there could be multiple sub-species of this particular creature.

Possessing an elongated head and eight sucker covered arms, they retain the same basic body structure as most generic octopi. However, in place of a single beak, the Kraken has a ringed maw of jagged talons and spikes. These can extend and retract at high speed, shredding any part of its potential prey which is drawn within range of this maw. Similar spikes are located in the center of each suction cup, but are noted to retain a number of barbed edges which will hook into place once punched into an object. This makes the creature extremely difficult to dislodge once it has gripped its target, and even after being freed this can easily result in death by extreme haemorrhaging. Were this not threatening enough, when forced to retreat the Kraken will expel torrents of noxious ink. Upon coming into contact with exposed skin, the substance will provoke a burning sensation and will lead to blisters if left untreated. It has been thought that this relates to an old myth that these creatures expel boiling hot blood.

As with most such species, the Kraken’s body can endure an alarming level of punishment. Infamously, the first specimen recovered by hunters was returned to a local research center with severe damage to its cranium. While the Kraken was thought to be brain-dead, it had instead induced a form of coma to speed up its healing process, and broke clear from the facility within a matter of days.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Found only on the southernmost areas of the Bayou, the Kraken lurks within the largest pools of waters it can find. Patient and capable of hibernating for long periods of time, it is often content to wait for prey to stumble upon its location rather than actively hunt them. Often the Kraken will extend its tentacles to broaden its reach, sometimes even laying out bait or allowing smaller prey to pass through its territories unharmed in order to attract a larger meal.

During the rain seasons, Krakens will often use the heavy downpour as an opportunity to depart their homes in order to find new bodies of water. Using their arms to “walk” across the land, their arrival can completely reshape or even destroy entire sections of the Bayou while migrating. This time is also used as an opportunity to spawn new creatures, laying their eggs in smaller lakes and territories beyond their usual reach. This, combined with the lack of any adverse effects both in fresh and salt water, has led many to suspect that those seen so far may only be adolescents who have yet to take to the open seas. This would be a disturbing revelation if ever proven true, as it would likely mean that there are far larger Kraken lurking in the depths of this planet.

Ochral Striders

Biology:

Often nicknamed “Silt Striders”, the Ochrals are a bizarre sight but can be picked out from miles away thanks to their sheer height and strange loping gait. Another of the crustacean species found on Strokera, the Striders move across the land on a set of four double jointed legs, each of which is eight meters in length. Tipped with a series of spikes and sensory antennae, permitting it to test the status of the ground and water beneath it as it moves across the land. These also allow it to pick out vibrations in the soil, picking out and detecting potential predators from over a mile away.

The creature’s main body itself makes up only a third of its overall mass. The creature’s primary mouth is located within the underside of its body, guarded by several segmented armour plates. A number of adjoining tentacles line the mouth itself, permitting it to scoop up and consume the rotting plant life which makes up the majority of its diet. In addition to this, the rim of its shell is lined with a number of eyestalks to keep track of what might be awaiting about the ground beneath it. Atop of its main body is a second set of much larger antenna, which serves to help it pick out potential changes in the wind and environmental hazards.

In contrast to more creatures found within the Kithrax Bayou, the Ochrals’ shells feature unusually bright hues of yellow and blue over any true camouflage. This is considered to be the result of a warning system to possible threats as, despite their nature as herbivores above all else, they are remarkably effective combatants. While typically slow and lumbering, they can perform surprising acts of agility and speed when provoked, using their spike-tipped legs as weapons. A mere group of two working in coordination can stand a reasonable chance of slaying a full grown Dragonsnake.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Migratory by nature, Ochrals rarely remain in a single place for long, and seem to be perpetually on the move. Their nickname of “striders” stems as much from their height as the fact that they rarely stop, and seem to be capable of slowly navigating the land even while in a state of half-sleep. Favouring moving in packs, they often form single file columns as they traverse the land, with the most dominant member of their kind heading such a group.

It takes a considerable level of provocation for a smaller creature to drive them into conflict. Unlike most of the massive beasts found in the Bayou, they show little concern for those beneath them. While this means that they are not a direct threat unless attacked, they also show no aversion when it comes to crushing landspeeders or vehicles underfoot should they be in their path.

Despite their power however, the species has proven to be remarkably easy to corrall and even tame for use elsewhere. The local zoos typically feature at least one Ochral, while many farms have found that they are extremely useful as beasts of burden if properly trained to avoid certain threats. So long as they are properly fed and not attacked, they will rarely turn on their masters or pose much of a threat to their new owners.

Koiwar

Biology:

Above all other creatures on Strokera, few are as feared or legendary as the Koiwar. Capable of rivalling the Taskuns in terms of their sheer size and length, they are a species of gigantic burrowing armoured worms, capable of living off of the minerals in the earth but favouring living flesh. The conical armoured front “mouth” is covered by forty inches of armoured bone, and within it lies row upon row of serrated churning teeth. These are powerful enough to split open body armour and vehicle plating alike, and only the most durable defences will force them to reject a morsel they might consume.

Each Koiwar hunts by sensing movement across the ground overhead, allowing them to detect exactly when and where possible prey might be. This is accomplished by each segment of their armoured shells linking into a highly sensitive nervous cluster which can seemingly pick out the size and weight of a creature by its steps. This permits them to hunt down and target the largest groups of smaller predators found in the area, and their existence is likely the reason for the strangely dispersed patterns most packs in the Kithrax Bayou travel in.

On the rare occasions where its teeth and sheer bulk are not enough to overwhelm it, the Koiwar can resort to a secondary weapon to overwhelm a foe. It is capable of expelling bio-plasma from within its maw, which can potentially melt or even vaporise a target target upon contact, and will destroy almost anything caught within its path. This is typically only reserved for environmental difficulties or even larger threats, but it has made even the slightest effort to colonize the local area almost impossible.

Territorial and Social Traits:

Extremely vicious and hostile to any potential outsiders, the Koiwar is a threat to even others of its own kind. Rendering the land almost perpetually unstable thanks to their constant burrowing, conflicts between two such worms can result in massive destabilising tremors quaking through the earth. As they are more than willing to consume their young, the species manages to keep their own numbers relatively in check, and an apparent reliance upon the heavy rainfall to soften the earth has limited their presence to one area of the continent.

There are few true social interactions between one Koiwar and others of its kind which do not result in violence. Should one encounter the other, such a meeting will ultimately result in the death of at least one predator.