Physical Appearance and Structure
Ul-Mor resemble octopi adapted to life on land. Like octopi, Ul-Mor have eight large limbs. Each limb ends in five small tentacles useful for grasping and manipulation. They walk on the four largest limbs, using the other four to hold weapons and tools. The Ul-Mor also have a ninth limb, a tentacle about 30 centimeters long, used for communication (see Speech).
Ul Mor have keen eyesight. They also have an excellent sense of touch. An Ul Mor's suction cups are equipped with chemorecteptors so that the it can taste what it is touching, so the sense of taste is also excellent. The Ul Mor's senses of hearing and smell, however, are substantially less sensitive than those of Humans.
The Ul Mor's 30 cm-long ninth tentacle is an extension of their spinal cord. The end contains a hard cartilage point encasing a series of nerve endings. The Ul-Mor can insert the tip of this tentacle into the fatty tissue surrounding the spinal cord of other creatures, achieving a nerve link which allows them to communicate directly with the creature's mind. The UI-Mor use this tentacle so effectively they can achieve a direct mind-link with any being. They do not have a complex spoken language, since they communicate with each other using mind-link. The Ul-Mor have, however, developed a secret sign language used in situations where mind-link proves impractical.
Society and Customs
The Ul-Mor are pastoral nomads inhabiting the deserts and rocky barrens of Volturnus, where they herd kwidges and cactus whompers. While tending their flocks, the Ul-Mor ride a four-meter tall bipedal dinosaur called a loper. They control these animals using mind-link, and, as a consequence, very close ties develop between rider and beast. They also make use of herd-hoppers, small, kangaroo-like reptiles that act as herd dogs, helping the Ul-Mor tend to their herds. The Ul-Mor's high regard for lopers is apparent to anyone associating with them. Much of the Ul-Mor culture is based on their religion. They believe in the "One Who is Many", a deity that encompasses all things. Though there are many different forms of the One, the Ul-Mor believe that all objects, no matter how strange, are part of the One.
As an Ul-Mor matures, he identifies with a particular object (such as a tree, rock, or bush). When he dies, he is buried near this object, and is believed to have been transformed into that object. The object is then named after the dead Ul-Mor. In this manner, the Ul-Mor avoid considering a tribe-member dead. Instead, dead Ul-Mor merely assume a new form of the One. A special historian, called a Rememberer, memorizes the names and locations of those who have assumed a new form of the One. Usually, these names include a capsule history of the individual's life.
Ul-Mor life is filled with pageantry and ritual. The most important ritual is the Time of Oneness. When the two moons of Volturnus enter conjunction with its sun, the capacity for mind-link is increased greatly. The Ul-Mor then have a tribal mind-link known as the time of Oneness. During this mind-link, they undergo a mystical experience, seeing everything as a part of the great Oneness. Another important ritual is the Great Game. At the end of each year, Ul-Mor males ride their lopers in a very rough contest called the Great Game. This contest is similar to a cross between polo, rugby, and fox hunting. The new year is then named after the victor.
The basic social unit of the Ul-Mor is the "clutch," a marriage unit consisting of several Ul-Mor that have found themselves compatible during the "Time of Oneness." The adult males of the clutch care for the herds and prepare themselves for combat, while the females take turns incubating the clutch's eggs and maintaining the camp. Though most decisions affecting Ul-Mor life are made on the family level, they do have tribal and inter-tribal councils. These councils make decisions affecting the tribe and the nation. If a family does not agree with a council decision, they may leave the tribe and do as they please. The Ul-Mor legal system is strongly objective, making no allowances for extenuating circumstances. Because the law is designed to protect the tribe, the Ul-Mor feel that extenuating circumstances are unimportant. If an individual violates the law, he has injured the tribe and must be punished. Punishment usually emphasizes compensation for injury inflicted upon the tribe.
Some crimes, however, are so serious that the individual can never compensate for his transgression. Such crimes include wasting water, breaking eggs, and desecrating sacred objects. The punishment for these crimes is always banishment. (Most banished Ul-Mor quickly die without the comfort of mind-link.) Though the Ul-Mor are basically communal beings, they maintain a facade of individualism. The Ul-Mor often wear brightly colored headdresses with dyed kwidge feathers, have decorative body tattoos, and engage in a form of ritualized theft designed to display their cunning and battle prowess. An individual may attempt to steal anything he wishes from any being who is not a friend of the tribe's. If he succeeds, the thief divides his prize among all members of the tribe. The easier it is to divide the prize, the more impressive the Ul- Mor consider the theft.
Like most explorers meeting a new race, the player characters will find their smallest actions are likely to provoke strong reactions from the Ul-Mor. Any selfish or greedy action will be regarded with distaste by the Ul-Mor. The Ul-Mor will take immediate and forceful action to prevent wastage, but will not punish a character unless he does the same thing several times in a row. Any character who desecrates a sacred object or steals from a member of the tribe, however, will immediately be stripped of his equipment and left to die in the desert. (If an Ul-Mor marriage unit is willing to repair the damage and take responsibility for the character, however, the Ul-Mor will give the transgressor another chance.) Any character who gives them gifts and cooperates easily will be well-liked, and treated with courtesy. A character who exhibits courage, battle prowess, or a showy display of ostentation will be greatly admired. The Ul-Mor will go to great lengths to impress this character.
Mind link: The Ul Mor can communicate with any species using their ninth tentacle to establish a direct mind link.
Notes & References
- Source: SF0 "Crash on Volturnus"
- Art and into by Ragnarr)
- Endless Quest #08: Villains of Volturnus, pp. 112