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Human Minor Race - Vratch

I've created these guys for my Hinterworlds campaign, to be the folk in the background, that no-on ever gives a second thought to. See what you think.


The Vratch are small hominids, averaging 1.4 metres in height, with notably short legs. Though they appear bulkier than baseline humans, much of this consists of folds of loose skin, giving the unclothed Vratch a baggy apearance. They have pale, coarse skin, small features which tend to be lost in their jowly faces, and wispy dark hair tending towards baldness.
Vratch are notably less intelligent than baseline humans, and tend towards sluggishness of both thought and action. They are however noted for their resilience and ability to focus on a specific task till it is complete, without falling prey to distraction or boredom; this, along with their characteristic stoicism, makes them reliable and conscientious workers.
The divergence between Vratch and Solomani humans is such that they are not interfertile, and are thus classified as an entirely separate species. Most baseline humans find Vratch quite ugly, and they have a variety of uncomplimentary nicknames throughout the Rimward-Trailing regions, of which "baggies" and "wretches" are among the less offensive. They are so clearly inferior to normal humaniti that the Ancients' purpose in breeding them is unfathomable - perhaps they were a failed experiment in creating a quiescent worker race?


The Ancients moved the proto-Vratch to Tula (Leonidae 1015), whose original native name may have been Huwu. By the arrival of Solomani colonists, the Vratch had barely attained TL1, and were still confined to the westernmost of the two northern continents, Vratep. The eastern continent of Darupin was regarded in Vratch religion as the home of the gods, forbidden to mortals. Darupin, unlike Vratep, shows evidence of Ancient habitation, and its desertified state appears to have been the result of actions during the Final War.
The Solomani scouts who first surveyed the system were commercial locators, seeking prime colony sites to sell the astrographic details. They solved the inconvenient presence of aboriginals by simply omitting them from their reports, so the largely Russian colony group which subsequently settled the southern continent of Kaluga were unaware of their presence; it was several years before they even realised they were not alone. Initially the small size of the colony and its physical separation from the Vratch allowed the races to co-exist. Later attempts to engage in dialogue with the Vratch were met with indifference, except for sermons about staying out of Darupin; the Vratch proved adept at picking up Russian quickly but were reluctant to teach the newcomers their own language. The Kaluga colony succeeded in establishing a functioning, self sufficient TL4 society which survived the Long Night almost without interaction with the natives. As interstellar trade returned, the Kalugan tech level and population both increased, and their impending exhaustion of the south's resources led them to look towards Vratep. Attempts to begin trade were again still-born, and eventually the Kalugans resorted to military force to get what they wanted. The Vratch resisted only feebly, even accounting for the technological gap, and before long were little better than serfs under Kalugan overlords. They still insisted on the sanctity of Darupin - but the forbidding eastern continent was of little interest to the Kalugans, so this was an easy promise to keep.
Tula continued to thrive, and jump drive technology was obtained, presumably from Solomani traders. It was indirectly this which led to the Vratch Uprising of 802-804, as suureptitious Kalugan survey expeditions discovered that what little lanthanum their planet possessed was to be found on Darupin. Mining operations could not have remained permanently hidden from the Vratch, even if an attempt had been made to do so, but the Kalugans were astonished by the ferocity of their response; all over Tula, apparently apathetic Vratch - farmworkers, household servants, industrial workers - rose up and attacked their masters. The Vratch Uprising was bloody but doomed, and at its end the Kalugans were divided about what to do with the surviving rebels. After such bloodletting, anti-Vratch extremists were in the ascendant, and moderate voices could prevail only sufficiently to allow for Vratch exile as an alternative to extermination. In the years that followed, millions of "fortunate" Vratch were shipped off planet in conditions of utter squalor, to any place that would take them - and a few that would rather have not, but were "persuaded" by the Tulan Navy. The Cytrialin Unity was particularly accomodating. So it was that the Vratch became a people without a homeworld.

The Vratch Today

The Vratch response to their exile was puzzling - they almost seemed to welcome it. They are very secretive about their religion, even to the extent of refusing to name their lost homeworld, but it appears that they feel they have failed in their sacred task of protecting Durapin, and have thus lost the right to live in paradise on "Tula". The whole race is being punished for an unspecified time, and the Vratch are very close-lipped about what they expect to happen at the end of it.
Descendants of the surviving Vratch spread out from their original places of refuge, and most good-sized planets in the Hinterworlds and Leonidae now have a population; they are not uncommon in neighbouring areas, such as the Glimmerdrift Reaches, and some have even reached the Imperium or the Hive Federation. There are significant minorities of Vratch in both the Cytrialin Unity and the Council of Leh Perash. They have become the "invisible people" of the Rimward-Trailing area of human space, performing menial jobs for poor pay and with little complaint, even though they are the butt of frequent jokes and barely concealed contempt. They show little resentment about their fate, even towards the Tulans.
Vratch learn the language of whatever culture they are living in, and only speak their own ancient tongue privately amongst themselves. They retain their peculiar religion, though it seems to have gone through considerable mutation, and perhaps schism, since their ejection from Tula. Those few who have been allowed to witness Vratch religious ceremonies report that these consist of long periods of monotonous, intoxicated chanting interpersed with brief frenzies of flagellation and other self-harm by one or more of the participants. In unsophisticated societies, the Vratch are sometimes accused of carrying out sacrifices during such ceremonies, but no reliable evidence of this has ever been produced.
Vratch rarely develop strong ties to a particular place, and often move around, including from world to world; given their low social standing, such travel is usually by cold sleep, unless they can swing a working passage. They tend to associate with other Vratch, and any decent sized startown has its Vratch ghetto. Abuse of alcohol and other (usually legal) intoxicants is endemic, and spacefarers have learnt to ignore the unconscious Vratch, slumped in the gutter - just as they ignore his more fortunate brothers and sisters, cleaning the floors, selling cheap food, or driving delivery vans.
There are a few - a very few - Vratch owned starships in the Hinterworlds and Leonidae sectors, and these will tend to have exclusively Vratch crew.

Vratch are not interfertile with standard humans. Given their appearance, few are tempted to try.

Vratch Names

Vratch names are in three parts - family name, personal name, and "village". The latter commemorates the name of the settlement where the Vratch's ancestors lived before the Tulan Expulsion, and is added at coming of age, selected by the young Vratch from those carried by his or her parents or grandparents. It is preceded by the particle "det", meaing "of" or "from". Most Vratch also take a common local name as a nickname, and use this and their family name with non-Vratch; for some reason, in Solomani regions these names generally end in "-y" or a smilar sound, e.g. Amy, Danny, Julie or Kenny.
E.g. Howog Ketch detLoyudwal is known as Billy Howog to the customers of his hot-dog stall in New Athens, Thanas.

Typical Names

Personal Male: Balgam, Ketch, Gangur, Horub, Puwul, Mebdin, Supun, Yeged, Blaw
Personal Female: Hendap, Zwigan, Pobot, Rindlap, Suwut, Kegbas, Miglin, Kanaw, Yowd
It is also possible to feminise most male names by adding "-ni" to the end, unless they already end in "n" or "l", in which case "-di" is used instead.

Family: Hugen, Labdal, Yabetch, Slee, Chrebew, Kuwug, Tron, Inik, Zhretaw, Hugap, Teden, Vripti, Belg, Halbaw, Tchapab, Bubel, Smaw, Adbur, Rabandan, Heket, Doy

T20 Game Mechanics

-2 Str, -2 Dex, +2 Con, -2 Int, +2 Wis, -2 Cha, -4 Soc

Vratch base speed is a lumbering, short-legged 6 metres per round.
Medium-size; Vratch receive no special bonuses or penalties as a result of their size.
Armour: +1 natural AC bonus (folded flesh)
Automatic Languages: Vratch and the dominant local language (usually Galanglic)
(Despite their low intellect, Vratch learn languages surprisingly easily. Languages should always be treated as a class skill, and Vratch have a natural +2 to speaking any languages that they possess ranks in.)
Special: Vratch are immune to all telepathic effects, and should be treated as if wearing a psionic shield at all times. This includes such effects as chirper "invisibility". This fact is NOT generally known.

For obvious reasons, Vratch are not really intended as PC's, their shortcomings far outweighing their advantages. They are, however, always lurking in the background - janitors, clerks, street sellers, industrial and farm workers, petty criminals, beggars - scattered across the Rimward-Trailing region. Few people take much notice of them; they're just there.
One of my players, on finding out about the Vratch, decided that they are all Hiver spies. :D

You know, perhaps he has a point....
Originally posted by Tom Kalbfus:
Do they live underground and grow beards? They sound vaguely familiar to me.
Nope. Not strong, not bearded, not troglodytic, not aggressive, not surly. Not a Dwarf
Knowing PCs, as we all do, I expect one "over-coming-adversity" Vratch to hit the space lanes soon. Thanks for sharing. I especially liked the detailing, the "invisible" members of society spin, very nice. And you included T20 char gen stats! :cool:
Good write up Ninth Council! I likes it!<nods/bows>. Hiver spies? They fit the Sun-Tzu [Art of War] written requirements just nicely!
:eek: ;) :cool: :cool: :cool: