Role in the Universe
The Q'Coatl home world is the second planet from the sun in a solar system with six planets. Their type Alpha T-Gate orbits the fifth planet, and only gas giant, in the system. Because their world is far from Quartermain, it takes a long time to travel there. That, combined with their limited natural resources and lack of technology makes them of limited interest to the rest of the galaxy.
They have only one space port on the planet and it typically sees only one or two ships a month. Most of these are traders looking for things to sell as alien curiosities or Drazili ships looking for Q'Coatl healers.
Positions of Power
The society is based on the concept that the older one is, the more wisdom and experience one has been able to accumulate. As one grows older, one gains in social status and authority. However, even young Q'Coatl are considered superior to Ivka as young Q'Coatl grow up to become old Q'Coatl while Ivka die before accumulating any significant amount of experience.
Ivka Within Society
The most prestigious position for an Ivka is to be bonded to a single Q'Coatl, especially an older Q'Coatl. They are considered to be upper class.
Middle class Ivka serve the Q'Coatl in general. They may be assigned to a work crew or be the caretaker of a particular building. Such Ivka have a particular Q'Coatl or group of Q'Coatl that they report to. Those Q'Coatl are the ones responsible for these Ivka. They have a say in whether or not the Ivka can be chosen for bonding and by whom.
Some Ivka live apart from the Q'Coatl and rarely have direct contact with them, but most still revere them. The few dissident Ivka are found among this lower class. Any Q'Coatl in charge of a group of middle class Ivka who finds himself short-handed may recruit from an Ivka village, but no more than a quarter of their workforce should be newly recruited as they need time to adjust to their new position in society.
Rites of Passage
Q'Coatl bond with their first Ivka at the age of seven or eight. This age is also important as it is when the Q'Coatl generally start having education outside the home and they can be left without an adult Q'Coatl for short periods of time. Puberty usually starts between age twenty and twenty-two. Q'Coatl are considered mature at age thirty. They then go on a walkabout for a decade or two, followed by an apprenticeship that lasts until their hundredth birthday. It is rare to acquire a position of authority relative to other Q'Coatl before the age of four hundred.
Ivka reach puberty at the age of twelve or thirteen and are considered mature at the age of sixteen. Those born to lower class Ivka, even those who later became middle class usually stay in the Ivka village of their birth. Ivka born to the upper or middle class join the workforce at sixteen, usually under the command of whomever their mother works for.
Bonding With Ivka
The first Ivka to bond with a Q'Coatl is chosen by that Q'Coatl's parents. Typically, they will be seventeen or eighteen years of age and the child of an upper class Ivka, usually one serving one of the Q'Coatl's parents or a close family friend. Mature Q'Coatl usually bond with Ivka in their late twenties or early thirties and these Ivka are chosen based on their own service and accomplishments.
Telepathic Q'Coatl usually form a Mind Link with their Ivka but, for most Ivka and Q'Coatl, the bond is purely emotional. The Ivka knows that his or her loyalty lies first and foremost to their Q'Coatl. They must still obey other Q'Coatl, as long as it does not conflict with orders given by their Q'Coatl or cause obvious harm to their Q'Coatl or his or her possessions.
In return, the Q'Coatl is responsible for their Ivka, making sure all their needs are met. Most become very attached to their Ivka and show pride in their accomplishments.
Most travel to distant Q'Coatl cities, explore the wilderness and/or visit Ivka villages. After ten or twenty years, they return home, usually to stay. Some decide to take up residence in a city that they spent time in during their travels. Their return home is to inform their family and friends of their choice and to allow an exchange of goodbyes with those who are present. (Many of their friends may still be out on their own walkabouts.)
Only about 10% of those living in cities near the space port take their walkabouts off-world and less than 1% of Q'Coatl from more distant cities do. Young Q'Coatl who question the system or are just frustrated with it may decide to travel the universe in order to examine alien cultures or attempt to find a more satisfactory role in one. Some Q'Coatl may encourage their children to see the universe, as this allows a broader range of experience and gives them a chance to observe alien life forms and see how inferior they are. Wealthy parents may be generous enough to pay for passage off-planet, especially if they want their children to go. Other young Q'Coatl must work out a deal with the ship.
Those lucky enough to be healers can usually earn passage on Drazili ships. Drazili captains often attempt to take advantage of these healers by convincing them to pay for their return passage in advance with the assumption that, by the time the Q'Coatl wishes to return, the captain will no longer be following a route that includes both the Q'Coatl's destination and his home world. If you read the fine print of the contract, it states that the captain is not required to alter his route to accommodate the Q'Coatl and that the Q'Coatl is required to work for any time that he is aboard the vessel.
Most Q'Coatl start out with a limited knowledge of the Drazili language picked up from traders who never leave the planet while waiting around the space port for a ship to leave. By the time they learn to read, it is too late to get out of the contract. However, Q'Coatl are rarely bothered by this as, during the time spent on the ship, they are taught more of the Drazili language and are allowed access to the public and medical portions of their ship's database and get exposed to a number of different planets and races, allowing them a choice of where to disembark when their service time is up.
Those Q'Coatl who take their walkabouts in space, frequently spend much longer at them than other Q'Coatl, especially those who left because they were dissatisfied with their role at home. In such cases, they may fail to return before their Ivka dies or becomes too old to serve well.
While Q'Coatl are officially allowed to take on any job they are capable of performing, they are encouraged to find those that their psionic talents are best suited for. Most older Q'Coatl get involved in government in one form or another.
Sex and Reproduction
Q'Coatl are egg-laying. Females carry their egg around for a period of one week between ovulation and laying, which is the only time it can be fertilized by a male. This occurs once a year.
Mated pairs are rarely more than a decade or two apart in age. Their equivalent of marriage only lasts until their child reaches thirty, though most stay in touch and remain quite good friends. Most Q'Coatl have two or three children, though it is rare to have more than one with the same partner.
It is considered socially inappropriate to have children before the age of one hundred to be raising more than one child at a time. (The later is doubly bad if the second child is with a different mate.) When either rule is violated, it reflects badly on both parents and children. Twins are considered an ill omen, but the authorities rarely investigate if one egg somehow doesn't survive until hatching, even if foul play appears obvious.
There are no taboos regarding recreational sex, but those participating must be careful to avoid creating unwanted children.
Crime and Punishment
It is illegal to attempt to trick a bonded Ivka into working against his or her Q'Coatl in any way. Deliberate abuse or mistreatment of any Ivka, but especially one's own, is a severe crime.
Laws prohibit the use of psionic abilities against adult Q'Coatl without their permission, young Q'Coatl without their parents' permission, bonded Ivka without their Q'Coatl's permission or middle class Ivka without their supervisor's permission. There are exceptions to these, depending on circumstances. If the appropriate person cannot be asked for permission to heal an injury or transport an injured party to a healer, one can assume that such would be desired. Telepathy used for communication purposes only may be initiated before asking permission to do so. Friends or family members often grant each other general permission to do certain things. The authorities will generally be lenient if the intent was non-hostile and the lack of permission was unclear.
Upper and middle class Ivka are rarely held accountable for their actions. It is the Q'Coatl who ordered them to perform those actions that is considered responsible for them.
Minor infractions usually involve repaying the wronged party in some fashion. Moderate infractions may include forcing the Q'Coatl to endure the embarrassment of working for a Q'Coatl younger than they are.
The most severe punishment to be afflicted on a Q'Coatl is make them an outcast. They will never after that be intentionally placed in charge of other Q'Coatl or non-bonded Ivka and when their Ivka dies, they will not be permitted to bond with another. When that happens, they sometimes bond with a lower class Ivka and go into self-imposed exile. Sometimes they try to escape off-planet, but usually they just wander off into the wilderness. A few attempt to join a city far enough away to not know their reputation. However, few Q'Coatl beyond the age of fifty deliberately travel to a city where they don't know anyone and fewer still take up residence there, so such behavior is looked on with suspicion. If they are allowed to join the community, they will be watched very carefully and will probably be caught if they break any more laws.
Examination of the Q'Coatl skeleton reveals boney protrusions that indicate that their distant ancestors may have once had legs. The Ivka are the most intelligent and most civilized of all the primates on the planet and it is generally believed that they have their relationship with the Q'Coatl to thank for that.
Almost half the species on the planet have some instinctive, highly specialized, psionic ability. Predators usually develop offensive abilities while prey is more likely to develop defensive abilities. Most species, including those with no other abilities, have some level of Mental Awareness as one of their natural senses.
Guardians of Quartermain is an outline of an unofficial science fiction setting for DOJ, Inc.ís Hero Systemô 5th Edition (ISBN 1-58366-000-3). It requires the use of the Hero Systemô 5th Edition rule book. It is not in any way authorized by DOJ, Inc. nor is it intended to in any way infringe on their copyrights or trademarks. Contents are Copyright 2002 by Joseph Teller & Kiralee McCauley. Permission is granted for all non-commercial usage and duplication, in part or in full. All other usage requires written permission by the authors.
The Q'Coatl & Ivka Aliens are the creation of Cynthia A. Shettle, Copyright 2002, and presented here with her permission as part of the Guardians of Quartermain Project.