Centauri Race (Babylon Five):
Background information is excepted from Voltayre's Encyclopia Xenobiologica
" There was a time, when this whole quadrant belonged to us! What are we now? Twelve worlds and a thousand monuments to past glories, living off memories and stories, selling trinkets." -
PSYCHOLOGY: Centauri are generally regarded by other races as pompous aristocrats who dream only of their decaying past. It is said that every generation of Centauri mourns for the "Golden Days" when the power of their empire was rivaled only by the gods. With the lust for power brought on by Lord Refa in 2258 and the madness of Emperor Cartagia in 2259 and 2260, the Centauri did not mourn the losses of the past but raged for the empire they were building. After the death of Cartagia and the end of the Shadow War, the Centauri started haltingly on the harsh road to reconciliation with the Narn and other races.
HISTORY: Centauri history, in popular texts distributed by the Centauri Historical Guild, is defined by a series of conquests. Even though dozens of worlds once swore fealty to the Republic, the Centauri consider their premiere achievement to be the extinction of the Xon. In the fifth century C.E. the Centauri encountered their first alien sentients -- on their own planet. The Xon and the Centauri arose on Centauri Prime, with each species coming to dominance on the planet's two main continents.
Centauri accounts of the first contact between the two races say that a Centauri expeditionary force of three sailing vessels happened upon a Xon coastal city. Three years after they launched, the Centauri sailing vessels returned to the Centauri continent, carrying a Xon invasion force (its original Centauri crew was slaughtered). The brutality and cruelty of the Xon horrified the more culturally advanced Centauri. Further contact was sporadic, yet just as brutal. As Centauri technology advanced into the equivalent of the human Rennaisance, Xon piracy and raiding missions were too much to ignore. The competing fiefdoms of the Centauri continent forged alliances to deal with the Xon. Decades of fighting between the two races ensued. Centauri intellect won over Xon physical prowess. Around 500 C.E. the Centauri-Xon War was over; the Xon extinct.
During the war several ruling families had maneuvered themselves into positions of power. As they were the ones who had contributed the most to the war effort, they felt that it was their right to rule. Dissension was short-lived as the populace recouped from the war. The Noble Houses formed the Centauri Republic. Taking the useful elements of their former military alliance, the Centaurum was created as a ruling and advisory council. The head of the highest Noble House became the Emperor, leader of the Centauri people. Emperor Kiro ascended the new throne after consulting with three Technomages. In commemorating this event, the Eye of Empire was presented to the Emperor by the Guilds. With the Xon defeated and political stability securing the land, the Centauri entered into a period of renaissance and exploration.
As the Republic entered the atomic age, an alien starship crashed on their world. The vessel was stripped and its technology examined. From the wreckage, the Centauri learned the secrets of interstellar travel. Fleets were constructed and the Republic explored the nearby star systems. Alien species were discovered, almost all of whom were no match for the Centauri's technology. The Centauri battlefleet numbered in the thousands. Sometimes the mere arrival of the fleet, so numerous as to block out the local star, would cause a civilization to surrender. The Vega system (now owned by the Earth Alliance) was conquered in only nine days; its indigenous population wiped out. World after world fell under the banner of the Centauri Republic. Those that were not enslaved were destroyed.
Such conquest, officially, went on without defeat. However, many ships and a few outposts fell to marauding by an alien race known as the Drakh. These defeats were stricken from public record by the Emperor's order, yet surviving crewmen and colonial defenders brought stories back to Centauri Prime. Eventually the legend of the Drakh entered the popular culture as a bedtime story to scare little children, as Drakh incursions ceased after the Shadow Uprising in the 13th century.
The expansion of the Republic was a slow process, as each new system was securely in the Emperor's grasp before another world was colonized or assaulted. In six hundred years, the Republic spanned over one hundred systems. Fortunately for the Centauri, their borders (boasting only a handful of systems at the time) were barely affected by the Shadow Uprising in the 13th century. After establishing a colony in the Batain system, the Centauri encountered the Minbari and the Vorlons. These races were magnitudes more powerful than themselves and the Centauri were forced to learn the lesson of interstellar diplomacy. The pinnacle of the Republic spanned the 1700's
to the 1900's. After centuries under the Emperor's thumb, "client worlds" and enslaved species became restless. Within the Republic itself, the Centaurum was torn in countless power struggles. The Noble Houses fought for their own agendas, ignoring the good of the populace. As a result, the vaulted position of Emperor was vacant almost twice as often as before.
By the 1950's the Republic began to disintegrate. Open rebellion spread from world to world, creating far more fronts than the Centauri could deal with. Rebel worlds seized Centauri battleships and manufacturing centers and used them against their former masters. The great Centauri Fleet was significantly reduced and the Republic's sphere of influence shrank. Losing was not something to which the Centauri were accustomed. Fighting within the Centaurum exploded into open accusations, occasional assassination and outright combat as the Noble Houses sought scapegoats for their continual losses. In the end, the Republic was forced to acknowledge the legitimate governments of their former slaves, now formed into the League of Non-Aligned Worlds.
Decades passed leaving the Republic a handful of vassal worlds. But as time went on a new generation of Centauri entered power. Hungering for the former glories of the Republic, they began attacking alien worlds. Not wanting to face a combined League force, nor the fleets of the Minbari Federation, the Republic entered previously unexplored sectors of space. Diplomatic relations were opened with sufficiently advanced worlds. Primitive civilizations were subjugated.
The Narn were one of those primitive civilizations. The Centauri invaded their homeworld in 2110. The planet was strategically well located, had an abundance of natural resources, and an indigenous population that was not technologically advanced. The Centauri enslaved the barbarian Narns and raped their homeworld. It was an easy conquest and many Houses grew in wealth through selling the handicrafts of their new slaves. House Turhan was responsible for strip mining the world.
(It should be noted that the official Centauri line on the subjugation of Narn, is that they found the Narn a primitive people. As an act of generosity they gave the Narn technology far ahead of their own, took them to the stars, taught them laws, and civilized them. All this was repaid in terror and death.)
The Narn, however, did not remain passive. Methods gained through years of conquest failed to soothe the Narn, it only made them resist with more fervor. Disruptive elements were removed only to be replaced by more in his or her place. Centauri factories and installations were monkeywrenched. The Narn venture was costing the Centauri almost as much as it was making them. It became a point of pride to control Narn. While open rebellion was put down immediately, guerilla actions were very successful. It is said that the Centauri lost the Eye of Empire, the symbol of the Emperorship, at the Battle of Na'Shok in 2160 C.E. (the Centauri government paid very generously to get the artifact back only to have it stolen by human Raiders in 2258. Officially, the Eye was recovered by a little known ambassador on Babylon 5 who has since become a major player in Centauri, and galactic, politics. In truth, the Eye was recovered by the Shadows and presented to Londo Mollari as a gift to ingratiate him to their "favors.").
Around 2198, the Centauri encountered the Humans. By this time the Republic had become increasingly isolationist, a policy not hindered by their failing occupation of Narn. The Centauri, not wanting the expenses of conquest, opted to try and dupe the Earthers. Because of similarities in outward appearances, the Centauri told the Earthers that they were a long lost colony of the Centauri. They claimed that they were the dominant species of the galaxy and controlled a vast Empire. Eventually, the Earthers knew better. Through genetic analysis and contact with other races they found they were hardly related, and the Centauri Republic had been shrinking for decades. The Centauri claimed that they did not intentionally deceive the humans. A clerical error led them to believe that Earth was Beta 9 rather than Beta 12. The Centauri created economic and cultural ties with the humans and sold them non-military technology (jumpgates, for example), in exchange for "native trinkets" (Earther music, art (mostly of the late Rennaisance and Baroque period), philosophy, games (including poker), and literature) that could be resold for more ducats back on Centauri Prime. This trade allowed the Humans to jump ahead at least a hundred years in technological development.
Meanwhile, the difficulty of controlling Narn continued to escalate. Their other vassal worlds began to resist being ingratiated to the Centauri's "help." Attitudes within the Republic began to shift from conquest to complacency. One by one the worlds of their empire dropped away. The Centauri let them go, feeling that "they'll come crawling back sooner or later." Their military shrank, as more Centauri shirked the "hard" careers, leading the Republic to hire mercenaries among other races (including the Dilgar). Their laziness did not temper their cruelty -- the last Centauri Emperor to rule the Narn Homeworld executed 100,000 Narns on a whim. After one hundred years of occupation, the Narn drove the Centauri off their homeworld through a war of attrition, making it too expensive in lives and ducats to occupy. Unfortunately for the Centauri, their treatment of the Narns insured them an enemy forever.
After relinquishing control of the Narn homeworld, the Centauri were forced to abandon world after world due to Narn aggression and rebellion. Narn internment colonies set up by the Centauri rebelled and pledged allegiance to the reborn Narn Regime. Even the threat of a Narn attack would force the Centauri to abandon their worlds. Sporadic retaliation on the part of the Centauri allowed them to retain some of their holdings near the Narn sectors. The Centauri controlled sectors bordering the Narn's were established as Quadrants and military installations were established. Most fighting between the two races occurred in these areas, though occasional deep raids by both sides took place.
Diplomatic skill came as second nature to the highly political Centauri. The Centauri diplomatic corps increased in strength. Relations with the League of Non-Aligned Worlds were even opened, though it was a strained relationship at best. Relations between the two powers broke down in 2231 during the Dilgar War when the Centauri refused the League's cries for intervention saying they were neutral in this conflict (the Centauri were clients to Dilgar mercenaries). After the humans defeated the Dilgar, the Centauri looked toward the Earth Alliance as a means of improving their own stalled empire. However, warming relations took a backseat to self-interest as the Minbari declared war on the Humans in 2246. Not wanting to agitate the powerful Minbari Federation, the Centauri sold everything but weapons to the Earth Alliance. Strangely, the Centauri have always seemed to favor the Humans (probably due to similarities in likeness). Even when the Centauri (with the help of the Shadows) in 2259 raged across Known Space, the Centauri offered the Earth Alliance a treaty.
This change in Centauri policy can be attributed to Emperor Turhan, who felt that the future of the Republic lay in diplomacy rather than conquest. Upon the death of his father, his first act as Emperor was to cancel the battle plans for an invasion of Earth and her colonies, citing that the losses on both sides outweighed the possible gains. He was later proven right as the Humans drove the Dilgar back to their homeworld, Omelos. He also granted several concessions to the Narn when it was possible, making him unpopular among the more militant elements in the government. Causing further disruption in the power structure of the Republic was the death of the sole successor to the throne, Turhan's son, Beyon, in 2252. He drowned in a boating accident. His personal guard reported that he was unable to find the child in the murky water. Several days after making that report, the guard was found dead. Officials ruled his death a suicide of grief and shame. The following year an assassination plot againsthe Emperor was uncovered. Bribed by the Narns, House Bleda and House Corono plot to dispose of the Emperor with a fusion bomb. Most of the conspirators are publicly beheaded as traitors to the Republic. In 2254 Prime Minister Malachi narrowly survived an assassin's blade. The assassin was sent by House Madrin who had hoped to assume his position. The Emperor's supporters were not immune to these attacks. Senator Foresi's mind was scanned following a meeting of the Centaurum. The telepath, Vetrello Motro, was caught and sentenced to death. In pleading for his life he named House Mareau as his employer and how they ordered him to perform the scan. Because of House Mareau's long history of service, they were merely asked to leave their position in the Centaurum. The vacancy caused by Mareau's departure allowed the struggling House Lorem to gain dominance in their home province.
Narn hatred against the Centauri did not abate with time. In 2253, launching from their base in Quadrant 37, the Narn attacked the Centauri military installation in Quadrant 27, severely damaging it. The Emperor was forced to order reprisals against the Narn which continued until 2255, but never escalating to the point of full-scale war. A final attack on Q27 by the Narn rendered the colony impractical for habitation. Not entirely abandoning the system, the Centauri established a listening outpost there instead. In 2258, in the most daring action by the Narn, the agri-colony of Raghesh 3 was successfully invaded. Claiming that they had a right to the colony since 2138 when Narn slaves were transported there, the Narn strongarmed the five thousand Centauri of the colony to proclaim that they invited the Narn to "assist" them. The Narn were eventually forced to abandon their new
conquest due to political pressure. With representatives on the newly-constructed diplomatic station Babylon 5, the stirrings of peace talks were started, with the Euphrates Treaty making the first step in building a bridge to a more peaceful future.
The need for a return to the glory days of the expansionistic empire was awakening in the Republic and Raghesh 3 marked a turning point in Centauri attitudes. While Emperor Turhan sought to concede much to the Narn in order to reimburse them for what his people did to them, more and more Centauri felt that only new conquests would stop the decline of their former empire. Leading this "return to strength" fervor was Lord Refa, a high-powered functionary in the Centauri government. His faction undermined the authority of the Emperor; making Emperor Turhan appear ineffective and weak. Rumors also suggested that they were the cause of the death of the Emperor's son. Further proof in Refa's accusations came in 2258 when it was rumored that the Emperor's health was failing.
With the only heir apparent dead, every Noble House jockeyed for a clear path to the throne. Refa's faction, however, had the edge over all the other Houses -- an ambassador with very powerful associates. On December 31, 2258, the Narn colony at the edge of Centauri space (Quadrant 37) was completely destroyed by Shadow forces at the bidding of Londo Mollari. Ten thousand died in the attack, and propelled the once obscure ambassador into higher circles.
Emperor Turhan visited the Earth diplomatic station Babylon 5 in 2259 in the hopes of making amends with the Narns and hopefully seeing a Vorlon. His already terminal condition became worse before he could publicly announce an apology to the Narns and was confined to the station's medlab facilities. The Vorlon ambassador, Kosh, visited the Emperor on his deathbed. Turhan asked the Vorlon, "How will this end?" To which Kosh replied, "In fire." Using the head of the medical staff, a human, to relay his message to the Narns, he told the Narn ambassador that he had no intention of starting a war with the Narn. Instead he had wished to make amends to them for the evils his people had done to them. This noble, if not overdue, act was completely undermined by Refa's faction. Under Refa's direction, Ambassador Mollari requested that the Shadows destroy the Narn listening
post in Quadrant 14. Three Shadow Cruisers decimated the base. His gesture for naught, Emperor Turhan's dying words were to Ambassador Londo Mollari: not "Continue. Take my people back to the stars." as is publicly known, but "You are both damned." (in reference to Londo and his friend Lord Refa). After the destruction of the Narn colonies in Quadrant 37 and Quadrant 14, the Narns were forced to declare war against the Centauri.
Although public record states that Prime Minister Malachi committed suicide shortly after his Emperor's death, he was murdered by Refa's faction at the same time the Narn listening post was destroyed. After some intense political maneuvering, Refa's faction has emerged the victor. The Emperor's nephew, Narleeth Cartagia Jarn, is the new Centauri Emperor and Refa's puppet. Opposition from other Houses are crushed under Refa's witch hunt, where the mere accusation of treason will dishonor a House. According to Centauri law, traitors are executed, followed by the confiscation of their property (in the process destroying the House).
The ensuing Narn-Centauri conflict was short lived and costly for the Narns. Within weeks, the Centauri had forced them to holding actions. Six months after war was declared, it was ended in a decisive two-pronged attack. An intercepted transmission revealed that the main body of the Narn fleet were poised to strike at the main Centauri supply depot in the Gorash System. Further information gained from prisoners from the Narn colony on Dras told of the pitiful defenses guarding the system as the main fleet massed for an attack. Seizing an excellent opportunity, the Centauri attacked. Mollari's Shadow forces annihilated the Narn fleet attacking Gorash. Meanwhile, the Centauri fleet bombed the Narn homeworld using mass drivers (weapons outlawed by every civilized world). They continued shattering the world with asteroids for four days until the Narns unconditionally surrendered, with eighty-nine million dead.
Emperor Cartagia declared that a week of festivities be celebrated to commemorate the recapture of the Narn homeworld and several nearby colonies. The days of an Empire comprising a mere twelve worlds were over.
Following the defeat of the Narn, the Centauri turned their eye towards the Non-Aligned Worlds beginning with pak'ma'ra and Drazi holdings. Although obviously indicative of their expansionistic aims, the official word was that they were simply creating a "buffer zone" to stabilize their recent acquisition of Narn properties.
On December 12, 2259, the Tuchanq arrived on Babylon 5 pleading for aid to restore the ecology of their homeworld. The Narn had subdued them, covered their world in munitions factories and decimated the ecology so much, the Tuchanq were forced to reprocess their dead as food. The Centauri offered to supply the necessary help in return for the ability to station a small "defense" force on the planet's moon. Initially rejected for the Human and Minbari offer (which had no conditions), the Centauri eventually "won" the planet following the gross abuse of law that resulted in a bloody riot and the (faked) execution of a Tuchanq delegate. The "Greening of Tuchanq" was begun by Republic Navy terraformers on December 22, 2259, following a speech given by Emperor Cartagia:
To wound the Land is to wound yourself, and if others wound the Land, then they are wounding you. Those that heal the Land heal themselves, and if others heal the Land they become brothers. People of Tuchanq: the Narn wounded your Land. We, the Centauri, have come to heal it. We are your brothers.
Approximately a week later, the Humans signed a non-agression treaty with the Centauri, hoping for peace at any cost. After the Earth Alliance allied themselves with the Republic, the Centauri further expanded their borders into other League member states.
After these actions, Ambassador Mollari grew squeamish about his ties with the Shadows. Wishing no further dealings with them, he acquiesced to a "settlement." According to this settlement, the Centauri were granted rights to conquer one-third of the Milky Way Galaxy (a little over half of Known Space which included their current holdings). Most of the galaxy was delineated as Shadow territory. There is a buffer zone between the two "Empires." There are no guarantees that either side will not attack the other once they achieve their immediate goals. After Ambassador Mollari severed his link to the Shadows, Morden (a human Shadow Thrall) found Lord Refa quite receptive to his propositions. In return for the Shadows' assistance, Refa agreed to expand the Republic's borders. All twelve alien governments bordering the Centauri found themselves at war. Worried about his people, and the loss of the one thing that made him valuable to Lord Refa, Ambassador Mollari poisoned Refa, forcing him to drop his ties with Morden and the Shadows -- and beef up the defense of Centauri Prime. Although Refa felt that Morden was the key to his rise to the Emperor's throne, such power would not do him much good if he was dead. He refused all calls from Mr. Morden. The occupation on Narn gave the Centauri a change to vent their frustrations on a helpless population. Several regiments of Centauri were given the charge of "culling the herds." They test populations for those with a tendency for aggression and remove them from the gene pool.
Aggressive Narns are brought to centrally located concentration camps where they are put to sleep or killed by other, more violent means. Most times, whole villages are burned to the ground.
CULTURE: Centauri culture is defined by the family. One's family (or House) defines one's cultural rank, status, and title. A House's social position is always in flux as other houses gain or lose their prestige as a result of other House's machinations (For example, House Kiro is that of the first Emperor. It has now declined to fill the role the Emperor's messenger service). Houses with long histories of service to the Republic are Noble, or Great, Houses and are held in the greatest respect. Noble Houses hold much wealth and power and are deeply involved in the politics, economics, and industries of the Republic. To have power in Centauri society, one must play the game of blackmail and backstabbing. While one can work to increase one's position in society, connections in high places do not hurt at all. Neither did poison. Poison is a traditional political tool dating back from the earliest days of the Republic. One of the more popular poisons is Dovisiani (also known by many other names). It is a bi-part poison, each by itself is inert until mixed together. The first part settles into the intestinal system of the victim and is very difficult to flush out. When the second part is ingested, the poison reacts quickly in the cardiovascular system killing the victim. The power of a Great House is relative to the amount of dirt they have on other Houses; kept in what are called Purple Files. The Purple Files of House Mollari are so extensive that should they become public they would ruin the Centauri Republic. Gaining power solely through these means is a risky endeavor. Young Centauri are told the tale of Yovlo the Reviled to discourage such dishonorable practices as spying, poisoning, and blackmail. When Yovillo finally made a mistake (in dealing with the Emperor no less), his head was placed on a pike in the Imperial Gardens after days of torture and his entire House was destroyed. While there never was a Yovillo in the Old Republic, the truth remains that should the Emperor or the Centaurum find a person dishonorable, that person and his house will suffer. Of course, others see the tale as a message to be crafty enough not to get caught. All this politicking is the realm of the male Centauri. Males are the leaders of the Republic and hold all positions in the military and other physically demanding occupations. A male's status is displayed in the length and height of their hair-crest. Wearing one's hair longer than your status is viewed as pathetic. Female Centauri take the opposite approach and go bald, save for a knot of hair at the back of their skull to show their disdain for the petty trappings of the males. Females are upheld as the nurturers and teachers of the family. Women traditionally exert their wills in a subtle manner upon their men. While women are not barred from traditionally male occupations (some females are actually quite aggressive in political and economic arenas), the effects of subtle distaste for unconventional women usually drive women to seek their fortunes outside Republic space.
Ascension in Centauri society is not always accomplished under the table. Advancement through marriage is a less strenuous route. For a thousand years, arranged marriages are the primary means of binding two families together. Such pairings are arranged in early childhood. This merging of noble families has kept the "fabric of the Republic strong." Most times, the participants in these marriages are required to sacrifice their desire for love for the good of the Republic. This is not to say that marriage for love is a rare thing. While a male Centauri's first wife may be a political marriage, he is free to marry as many wives as his position can support. In current Centauri society these institutions are losing favor and most are only carried out by the nobility. It is a trend by the young Centauri, called Radicals, who feel they should cross under the swords and boughs only for love.
Practiced in the early days of the Republic, fosterage (or surrogate parenting and instruction) has fallen into disuse in the current era. Fosterage is, however, still allowed by law and to reject it would be seen as an act of defiance against tradition. Upon the death of the Emperor, custom states that the royal consort assumes the spirit of her late husband. She is then presumed to speak for the late Emperor who resides in the afterlife.
The two greatest composers of Centauri opera are Dorva, known for his aria, "Forcumbales Toccata," and Centaro, who's "Micriva Taro" brings joy to the heart of every Centauri. Faking one's death is very popular in Centauri drama and other media. There are many variations of the theme, but it still remains the fantasy for Centauri husbands with too many wives.
Centauri Dueling Societies, or Koru Prido ("Proud Knives"), were once very popular on Centauri Prime. It is customary for members to have a fighting name given to them by their comrades. According to the laws of the Koru Prido, one may challenge another member to the Molago, a fight to the death using a koltari, a Centauri short sword. The victor of the duel must accept the loser's family as his own. The duel begins with the words: "The Molago is declared and accepted. Draw your swords with purpose, and sheathe them with honor."
RELIGION: While religious interference by the Vorlons seems to not have occurred in the Centauri's current pantheons, some of their ancient gods could be construed as Vorlonic constructs. Prehistoric Centauri held widely varying beliefs; most of which centered around incarnations of nature. Most of these deities were animalian or animal-Centauri hybird in form. Belief in specific deities varied widely by geographic area, although a few deities did gain some widespread worship. A few have even survived, in modified form, to the present.
The Carmine Wars of the third century C.E. brought religious faith to an all time low. It wasn't until war was declared on the Xon that the Centauri's faith was rekindled. Physically weaker than the Xon, Centauri casualties were high. Many began to look to their fallen leaders and heroes for guidance in the devastating war. Some proved more benevolent than others, and so gained a following. Worship for most gods and goddesses stayed within their own Houses and formed the minor pantheons; the major pantheon being composed of the most popular ancestor spirits. Interestingly, the head deity of the Centauri belief system is known by the simple name Great Maker which appears to be similar to the Ikarran deity of the same name. Following the Great Maker is a series of six head gods: Ruterian (associated with one of the first warlords to successfully assault the Xon homelands and several sea deities), Ben-Zan (the god of food), Mo-Goth (god of the underworld and protector of front doors), Gon, Illaros (goddess of luck and patron of gamblers), and Li (goddess of passion; also called Kolee in some regions).
One of the first goddesses to enter the major pantheon was Li, Goddess of Passion. According to temple records, Li was a historical figure that lived during the Xon Wars. Her advocation of passionate lovemaking, large families, and promiscuous behavior brought her scorn and derision during her lifetime. Her home city branded her a pervert and had her banished. Continuing her message she found no safe home until her death during a Xon attack. It was several years before the Centauri recognized the wisdom of her words. Even as the Xon's population diminished, the Centauri's grew -- a major factor in the Centauri's eventual victory over the Xon. Towards the end of the Xon War, Li was granted godhood and her symbolic form. The idol of Li (cast most often in gold) portrays both male and female attributes. She has breasts, a large male hair-crest, and six tentesticles protruding from her hips.
It is said that among the civilized races that the Centauri have the greatest faith in their gods. Temples to the major deities are in all major cities and colonies. Not only are these places of devotion holy, they are great tourist attractors (over 10 million sentients visited the Temple to Gon on Immolan V in 2252). Currently there are a total of fifty major deities, although some consider Zoog to be the fifty-first. Zoog was a minor deity of a Noble House. They pushed their god into acceptance among the populace, culminating in the erection of the Great Temple of Zoog. Bribes and blackmail forced the religious establishment to recognize the temple as legitimate. Thus was a household god elevated to the Major Pantheon in an act of vanity.
Each individual Centauri chooses to worship one god in the hopes that he or she will be admitted into that god's realm in the afterlife. There are as many "heavens" as there are gods. If one sufficiently appeases the chosen god, then you are accepted into the afterworld to await the time when all the heavens will be united. If you do not succor the chosen god properly, you are reborn and must convince another god that you are worthy. If, throughout all your lives you fail to appease any of the gods, your soul is not reborn and drifts forever.
Once a year, the Centauri hold a Festival of Life. The origins of the Festival go back to the Centauri-Xon War. The fighting was extremely vicious, since neither side wanted to share Centauri Prime with the other. At the end of the year, the Centauri would gather together, count how many survived, and celebrate their good fortune. This often resulted in everyone becoming one with their inner self -- or, more accurately, passing out from intoxication.
Worlds conquered by the Centauri that have indigenous peoples either adopt Centauri religion or are forced to do so.
LANGUAGE: Most Centauri call Centauri Prime "Homeworld" - though some translate it as "First."
GOVERNMENT: The head of the Centauri Republic and soul of the Empire is the Emperor. His word is the law and every proclamation is for the good of the Republic as the Emperor is the mouthpiece of the gods. Surrounding the Emperor is his Court, composed of the Imperial Advisors, prominent Senators and leaders of the Noble Houses.
The Court helps the Emperor make decisions on the Republic's various policies by advising that he take certain actions. The Imperial Advisors are a group of elite statesmen who oversee various aspects of the Republic. Senators from the Centaurum come to Court to explain the needs of their constituents and those of the Republic at large. Noble Houses seek the goodwill of the Emperor in assisting their various enterprises across the Republic and Known Space.
It is argued that the Imperial Advisors hold the most power in the Republic aside from the Emperor. They have constant access to the seat of power and control the flow of information to the Emperor. Heading the Imperial Advisors is the Prime Minister. Should anything happen to the Emperor, the Prime Minister will rule as regent until a new Emperor is chosen by the Centaurum. The Minister of Intelligence, Grand Fleet Admiral, Guardsman Elite are but a few of the advisors in the royal court. These positions are considered the highest honor in the Republic to hold. The most prestigious advisory roles are those of the military leaders. These positions are ancestral, coming from houses (House Dromo provides as Grand Fleet Admiral and House Tavastani provides as Guardsman Elite) that date before the Xon War. These advisory positions are unimpeachable. The Centaurum is a parliament composed of the most powerful Houses in the Republic (that is, those Houses below the Emperor's). It is a highly politicized body; its members constantly jockey for position and status within its ranks. While the Centaurum is charged with maintaining the Republic so the Emperor may concentrate on the larger issues, it has no power to make laws. However, should an Imperial Decree be decidedly against the good of the Republic, only a three-fourths vote in the Centaurum may counter it -- a near impossible task. Should the Emperor die with no clear heir, it is the duty of the Centaurum to seek out a House equal to the former Emperor's in history and nobility and to appoint a new Emperor from that House. The Centaurum itself is divided into several Committees charged with maintaining certain areas of the Republic (The Emperor's Committee on Finance is in charge of the economy, for example). Problems of a more general nature are brought before the Centaurum as a whole for deba. The title of Vocator is given to committee chairmen to exemplify the power of their position. It is the Vocator's duty to determine who shall speak in committee and to report on that Committee's findings to the Centaurum at large and to the Emperor should the matter warrant it. Depending on regional laws and traditions, senatorial positions are either elected or appointed. Eligibility for a senatorial position is only open from the region in which they were born, not their current location. Political connections to the Noble House of the region are practically a necessity to be elected to the Centaurum. Females are not restricted from membership, but then again, there has never been a female Senator in the Republic.
Problems at the regional level are solved at the Local Court. Members of the noble houses of the region staff the court with the Senator representing the region serving as its head. Most times a magistrate (often the head of the most powerful House in the region) is appointed to act in the Senator's stead while the Senator attends to business at the capital. This arrangement is the same on colony worlds and stations as it is on Centauri Prime, with regions covering as small an area as Merrani Cape to entire worlds and systems.
Slavery is legal according to Centauri law. Historically, slavery was used to punish criminals and those who offended the great Houses. After the founding of the Republic, slavery continued to be practiced, though less frequently. As the Centauri took to the stars, conquered races began to fill the slave pits. Some contend that slavery contributed to the decay of the Republic. Slavery within the Republic is still legal. A few Houses (mostly those in control of hostile colony worlds) actively make use of slave labor.
While their days of outright of conquest are over, the Centauri maintain their power through diplomacy. A good number of independent worlds have good relations with the Centauri (like the vin'Zini ) and the League of Non-Aligned Worlds maintains ties to the Centauri if only to keep the peace. Diplomatic missions to Narn are completely out of the question. In deference to the power of the Minbari and Human governments, the Centauri hold cordial relations with those races. Diplomatic relations with the Minbari have been problematic at best. Despite the technological superiority of the Minbari and the respect that commands, the Centauri disdain their highly structured culture. What the Centauri find disturbing is that both diplomatic missions to Minbar have failed. The first diplomat fell in love with the Minbari philosophy and went native. A disgrace to the Centauri Republic, the former diplomat renounced his citizenship. At last word, the diplomat was located on a distant world trying to grow a headbone. The second mission was opened in 2260 and closed a few months later. Rumors suggested that the diplomat, Vir Cotto, was succumbing to the "Minbari influence," but was saved in the nick of time before he did any real damage.
MILITARY: All military actions originate from the Emperor or a member of his chief military advisors, of whom the Grand Fleet Admiral is the head. The bulk of the Centauri's ground forces are composed of Centauri Royal Guardsmen, led by the Guardsman Elite (another Imperial Advisor).
The Centauri space fleet is without peer among the younger races in both number and firepower. Without straining their resources, the Centauri are able to simultaneously defend Centauri Prime and their colony worlds. While ship design hasn't changed much for centuries, the Centauri have maintained their technological edge over the younger races. Their main advantage is to be the only young race to utilize magneto-gravitics in their drive systems. While costly in power consumption, these drive systems provide better maneuverability and speed over traditional ion engines and, more importantly, a psychological edge since the magneto-gravitic drive also makes the ship a gravity positive environment. Considering the size of the Centauri fleet, the thousands of battles, and the dozens of ships seized by rebellious worlds, it is a wonder that no other race has discovered the Centauri's use of magneto-gravitics. In addition to superior mobility, the Centauri's sensors systems are among the best in Known Space, allowing them the advantage of detecting and preparing for an incoming attack.
The ground forces of the Centauri are exclusively Centauri Royal Guardsmen (although mercenaries -- Dilgar, Pre'lek, among others -- have been employed by various parties from time to time).
The Centauri Royal Guardsmen were originally organized as an elite arm of the military to escort the Emperor during wartime. As the Republic expanded their duties grew to include quelling riots on rebel worlds. Today, the Royal Guardsmen form the military and law enforcement branches of the Republic. The Royal Guardsmen are divided into three branches: Centauri Guardsmen (the domestic and colonial police force), Military Guardsmen (the ground forces of the Centauri military: from footsoldiers to elite commando squads), and the Royal Guardsmen (the guardians of the Imperial household and the Emperor). While the uniform of the Centauri Royal Guardsmen is respected among the populace, some elements do not live up to the name. Centauri Guardsmen are usually low-brow Centauri with little motivation to advance in society. These enforcers of the law are, generally, not too intelligent and are easily bribed. Most Centauri Guardsmen receive little-to-no training. Military and Royal Guardsmen, on the other hand, are typically well-trained and are proficient in at least one martial art. Of those developed by the Centauri, Tronno and Coutari are the most popular.
TECHNOLOGY Galactic; Centauri power sources are crystalline based. Centauri are the second most advanced large scale member of the yonger races.
PSI ABILITY: One of the first discoveries in genetic mapping was identifying the gene that controls telepathic potential. While the Centauri did not carry out extensive genetic experiments, this knowledge was used to identify telepathic potential in newborns. A certain amount of genetic screening also is carried out by the government to insure that telepathy does not go out of control.
Children with telepathic potential are identified before birth so that arrangements can be made with the Noble House of the region. The Noble House takes that child under their care (utilizing the tradition of fosterage) teaching them the responsibilities of their power and the traditions of the Republic. When the telepathic ability emerges, they become part of the Telepaths Guild.
Most Centauri telepaths of significant ability belong to the Telepath's Guild, a powerful economic and political entity within the Republic who hire out their telepaths to provide service to the Republic. While the Guild is a commercial venture, it is supervised by the government. Traditionally, the Guild frowns upon aliens hiring their members, but for the last fifty years this policy has not been enforced. However, should any Guild telepath be hired to harm the Emperor, his Court, or members of the Centaurum, punishment is strictly enforced. Those guilty of this crime are heavily fined (often driving their House to ruin), banished from the Guild with their powers suppressed (either chemically or through surgery), imprisoned, or put to death depending on the crime. Performance evaluations, similar in practice to those of the Psi Corps, are performed regularly. All Guild telepaths must submit to a mind probe should any member of the Centaurum request it.
There are several divisions within the Guild. The military, espionage, and economic branches are the largest. The most honored is the Emperor's Own: a group of powerful female telepaths. Four telepaths are grouped together shortly after birth and raised together. After years of contact with each other, these four women are in constant mental communication with each other. It is one of the most rigorous programs; every precaution is taken to insure that each telepath is mentally sound since insanity is a great danger in any stage of the bonding process. Through this process, the four telepaths are always unconsciously connected mentally. They are taught to communicate without line of sight and to always know the location of her "sisters."
When an Emperor ascends the throne, a group is chosen from the Emperor's Own to serve him in his reign. Whenever the Emperor travels outside the Court, two telepaths accompany him while two remain in court. This ensures that the court nobles and the Emperor havehe most current information about each other's circumstances.
All Centauri have varying amounts of precognitive ability; usually sensed in the form of dreams. These dreams tend to focus on death of that particular Centauri; but are rarely remembered. Not all Centauri dreams come to pass, however, since the future is ever moving according to the choices made in the present. While male and female telepaths are the norm, very rarely are procognitives born. These seers are exclusively female and are one of the great treasures of the Republic. Usually a prophetess has no telepathic powers, only the ability to see into the future, although rare cases are known (Lady Ladira of House Kiro is one such prodigy). There is no formal organization among the seers, although many acknowledge those with superior skills and talents with difference. All prophetesses are outside governmental and Guild control. They go where they will and answer to none (including the Emperor).
Attributes: IQ: 3D6 ME: 3D6 MA: 3D6 PS: 3D6 PP: 3D6 PE: 3D6 PB: 3D6 SPD: 3D6
Hit Points: PE +1D6 per each level of experience
S.D.C.: Only those gained from OCC or Physical Skills
Average PPE: 3D6
Occupational Character Classes (OCC & RCC): Any, can become magic using classes in magic rich universes such as Phase World
Horror Factor: Not Applicable
Physical Appearance & Biology: While seemingly human in outward appearance, Centauri have a very dissimilar genetic structure. The most pronounced difference between the two races are their sexual organs. Male Centauri have six "tentesticles" which can be manipulated with great skill. They extend out from the sides of the body and "fold" in over the solar plexus when not in use. Centauri females have six narrow receptive orifices, three on either side of the base of the spine, just above the hips. Centauri sexual intercourse can be divided into levels of intimacy and pleasure simply from the number of tentesticles used in penetration. Culturally, the use of only one tentesticle is of little significance since only mild stimulation occurs (though fertilization is entirely possible unless steps are taken to prevent this). The more tentesticles used, the greater the pleasure for both participants. Centauri have no major blood vessels at the surface of their wrists. Centauri blood has never been successfully synthesized by human physicians.
The average lifespan of a Centauri is 150 years.
Weight: Variable, average is from 5 foot to 6 foot 2 inches (1.5 meters to 1.9 meters) - essentially same as human
Weight: Variable, average is from 80 lbs to 200 lbs (36.3 kg to 90.7 kg) - essentially same as human
Average Life Span: 150 Earth years.
Special/Natural Abilities: None, except that some Centauri will have visions of their own death.
Magic: Only if in a magic rich universe. In magic rich universe, Centauri can become magic using character classes.
Psionics: Standard (Use Psi-Corp Psionic Tables but ignore psi-corp organization)
Allies: None (Earth has a non aggression pact with them)
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Racial information from Voltayre's Encyclopia Xenobiologica.
Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).
Rifts Conversion Copyright © 1998, Kitsune. All rights reserved.