This is a bit of private speculation about PSA and the four standard Frontier races. All four (I´ll exclude the Osakar, the Ifshnit and the Humma because I´m not all that familiar (or comfortable) with Zebulon´s) do the same stuff, but they may have wildly divergent reasons for doing it. What motivates a Dralasite to become a soldier, or a Yazirian to practice medicine? While the personal reasons may vary from sentient to sentient, there must be a "staple" motivation for that race to enter that particular field of study.
While this blog article is mainly for my own amusement, I hope that others will also draw some entertainment from it, and I believe it may actually be of help fleshing out some of the NPCs that will crop up in a game of Star Frontiers.
This is an easy one, or so it seems. All people bleed when injured, and sentients get sick all the time. Humans get tuberculosis, Vrusk are bedridden with grayscale, and Yazirians contract Arkray´s Disease. Someone is bound to care enough for their fellow sentients to enter a medical profession. Right? Bear with me.
Yazirians have always been a warlike species, and their history has certainly been rife with inter-clan warfare. Consequently, their knowledge of treatments for injuries is bound to be extensive and based on lots of practical, hands-on experience. Paramedics probably ranked below the warriors they serviced, though, and their contribution to the fight is likely to have ranked with other lowly support and logistics branches. In contrast, doctors and biological scientists are viewed as warriors in their own right, striving against as-yet-untreatable diseases with the weapons of their intellect. This kind of motivation holds true even in the modern age: most Yazirians who study medicine do so out of a desire to conquer illnesses.
Loners by nature, Dralasites are not known for their extensive social commitment to each other. Doctors and social scientists are oddballs in Dralasite society, a niche for those Dralasites who sincerely enjoy human (or dralasitic) contact. Others let themselves be ruled by an altruistic ethical philosophy; they reason that they don´t actually enjoy the job, but someone has to do it and it might just as well be them. The latter kind are usually gruff individuals whose bedside manners may leave something to desired; but you could (obviously) not wish for a more conscientious doctor.
Vrusk like stability and order. Injuries and diseases are prime examples of disorder. They make you late for work, they disrupt schedules, they interfere with the appreciation of beauty, and they appear as red marks on the ledgers. Vrusk who become doctors are determined to return the pattern of lifeforms to its original healthy symmetry, and they do so out of their most deeply ingrained racial impulses. Prosthetics must be a highly developed field, simply because to see someone maimed or disfigured for life, doomed to a less productive life, is distasteful to Vrusk.
A second class of Vrusk medics performs their job mainly because it is company-mandated. Vrusk trade houses demand hard work and dedication from their employees, but they also take care of them with an extensive social welfare system. In most firms, every shift has at least one member schooled (on the company tab) in first aid to provide help to fellow workers in the advent of an emergency. Other companies go a step further and exempt select employees from all other duties to serve as a shift´s doctor, medical and dietary advisor. Those who are assigned this position may perform their duty more out of a sense of loyalty to their house than out of a true calling. If nothing else, they are very diligent even if they lack in enthusiasm.
Humans are the most flexible race when it comes to professions. Still, Humans are gregarious creatures with a genuine desire to help and cherish that more than offsets their equally strong desire to do hurtful things to each other for reasons entirely bewildering to the other races. Consequently, they hold healers and doctors in high regard, and there are many Humans who enter the field of medicine for no other reason than to soak up the prestige that goes with the job. Those are best avoided, though. The human capacity for compassion means that there are more than enough doctors of the other sort; men and women who feel a genuine desire to aid their fellow human beings. Paramedics and rescue workers in particular combine the respectability of a compassionate healer with the adventurous veneer of someone who places their life on the line and thinks on their feet - both qualities that Humans admire.
This PSA has, more than any other, helped shape the Frontier and push back its boundaries. Its practitioners find themselves stuck on strange worlds, exploring rock formations and getting chewed on by native wildlife. It takes a special kind of sentient to enjoy that.
Yazirians who become environmentalists like to pit themselves against the dangers of unexplored planets and conquer. They may collect samples and do taxonomy all right, but at the end of the day, a Yazirian explorer wants to feel the thrill of being surrounded by untamed natural hazards and dangerous wildlife. They just love the challenge.
Dralasites work best in small groups, and even then they tend to need their personal space. Dralasites who go into environmental work take their racial predilection a step further and seek the peace and solitude of the wilderness. They prefer to work alone or in teams of only a few members each. With customary stubbornness and endurance, those lone explorers pursue their missions for longer periods of time than the other races would think possible, only grudgingly calling in when results have been obtained or the last of their supplies run out.
Vrusk, as a general view, do not care much for adventure. On the other hand, they like to impose order and structure to what they see, feel and hear, and they can be fascinated by beauty and the patterns of life in a way that the other races simply cannot comprehend. A Vrusk who embarks on the path of environmentalism enjoys the simple act of taxonomy, analysing and placing newfound lifeforms or geological formations into neat categories and determining their place in the order of things.
The adventurous streak that many Humans have stands them in good stead in the field of environmentalism. Humans love to explore and satisfy their intense curiosity, even if it means placing themselves in danger. Most expeditions are led by a Human.
The mind is, in a way, a frontier as wild and untamed as the physical universe. Psychosocial scientists and practitioners hold the society together and ensure that its many pieces work with each other with a minimum of friction. If the environmentalists are the spearhead of exploration, the psychosocial specialists are the grease that oils the wheels which drive the spear forward.
Proud warriors do not take easily to the field of introspection, and so the Yazirian field of psychosocial studies lagged behind the other races for a long time. Their psychological warfare experts were often brilliant, but the Yazirian concept of respect for the enemy meant that manipulation and undermining morale was seen as beneath a true warrior. So the science languished for most of their history, and only in recent times have Yazirians picked up the slack. Now traders and corporations make use of psychosocial experts to think up aggressive marketing campaigns and assess their competition´s mindset. Those Yazirians who take up psychosociology are clever and often ruthless manipulators who view the application of their abilities as a game of chess or a battleground... preferrably against a strong and cunning opponent such as a rival firm´s marketing department. Psychosociology sometimes seems to bring out the worst in Yazirians.
Dralasite society has been described as the banding together of basically antisocial individualists united by a philosophical need to work for the greater good of all. Under these circumstances, psychosociology had a rocky start. Its necessity has often been questioned in a race that prefers solitude to congregation, but the more the race had to work together (after they had been discovered by the Vrusk and were threatened with being eclipsed by the bugs´ dynamic work ethic), the more they came to depend on a scientifically stable psychosociology to overcome the adverse effects of too many lone wolves forced to act in unison. Psychosociologists are literally the glue that keeps Dralasite society together, and many enter the field less out of a genuine desire but out of a perceived philosophical duty to their race as a whole.
Many of those who learn psychosociology grow more understanding of their brethren, which in turns makes them more accepting and less likely to detest their prolonged company. Nevertheless, psychosociological practice amongst Dralasites tends to be rougher and less delicate than amongst the other races. Used to telling the truth, a Dralasite psychologist is more likely to confront their patient directly than to carefully tiptoe around the issue.
The Vrusk wrote the book on psychosociology, and are some of the most avid practitioners of the art. They are sensitive to many fine nuances that the other races are never aware of, and their deeply ingrained sense of harmony makes them desire to blend individuals and society flawlessly. The other races tend to see only the one side of the issue - the individual Vrusk having to adapt to the needs of society -, and overlook the part where Vrusk sociologists are toiling tirelessly reshaping their society to fit the needs of as many individuals as possible. The race takes an immense pride in their achievements: prosperity, harmony and mental stability for all is their unashamed creed.
Psychosociologists are a highly respected order in Vrusk society, surpassing even doctors and CEOs. Those that enter the field of social engineering or individual counselling are likely to be asked to pledge their support for fellow sentients in the same way Human doctors are made to swear the Hippocratic Oath. Still, the high esteem that psychosociologists are held in means that there are many who take the job not out of a genuine desire to help others, but rather for the prestige and power that it entails.
The other field where Vrusk psychosociologists come into their own is in their wildly successful marketing departments. Vrusk marketing analysts and advertisers can run rings around the other races when it comes to picking up on imminent trends and hitting the nerve of potential customers, and their services are in high demand throughout the Frontier.
The other races tend to joke that Humans went into psychosociology mainly to get to the bottom of their own irrational and unpredictable behaviour. Certainly Humans tend to rely less on "shrinks" but on their own sense of propriety, and despite many unconventional social constructs that have the other races´ socio-analysts plucking out their fur or pulling on their carapaces, seem to be rather stable in the long run. Certainly they do not sport any more psychopathological cases than the other races have. Perhaps it is because Humans actively embrace their quirks that they are less dependent on psychosocial guidance.
Humans who become psychosocial specialists tend to either be manipulators who actually enjoy subtly influencing people, or kind souls who genuinely want to help troubled individuals. Because of the deeply ingrained Human aversion to being manipulated and their desire to be self-reliant, Humans tend to view psychosociologists with a healthy dose of distrust. Admitting the need for counsel and help seems to go against the grain of Human self-appreciation and takes a lot of effort.
I´ll group all sub-skills in this PSA together because there is not really that much difference between them when it comes to mindset. Whether it is a good old laser pistol or kaboomite, it takes a special kind of person to enjoy putting holes into things. Violence is never far off on the fringes of society. Crime syndicates send their thugs out to break a few heads, the corporations need soldiers to guard their premises, and the ever-present threat of Sathar invasion hangs over the Frontier Sector like a pall. As long as we all don´t turn into more peaceful beings, there will always be the need for people schooled in controlled forms of violence.
Yazirians have an easy time being warriors. Which is far from saying they make good soldiers from the start. While many Yazirians learn martial arts (which may even form part of many elementary to secondary school regimens), shooting and other military activity, the order and discipline (and restraint) expected from soldiers do not come naturally to them. Those Yazirians who join a military corps are a proud and proficient sort. Yazirians are often found in shock units and frontal assault cadres where their ferocity is much appreciated. They tend to leave the finer points of logistics and support to the other races.
Dralasites are not violent by nature, and they tend to be reluctant soldiers. Where they do excel is long solitary missions such as reconnaissance, commando, or scout / sniper duty. Dralasites like to operate in small, self-sufficient units, making good use of their patience, endurance and capability of operating for long periods of time without human (or dralasitic) contact.
The inherently peaceful Vrusk view violence as a last resort option. They are realists and careful planners, though, and military preparedness is not a foreign concept for them. Vrusk will fight to protect their corporation, some even to the death, but they hardly relish the opportunity the way Yazirians do. A Vrusk who actually desires to become a soldier is something of a misfit in society, although their duty to their corporation is admired. Soldiers are viewed as responsible citizens doing an unpleasant job. Discipline in Vrusk units is often excellent, and they excel in logistics and tactical expertise.
Humans don´t, as a rule enjoy combat, but those who become soldiers are usually a bit more gung ho than either Dralasites or Vrusk. The mental flexibility that Humans flaunt is often their greatest asset in combat - those who face a Human unit in battle are well advised to expect inventive and unconventional (some would say crazy) tactics from their adversaries. In appearance, Human military units rarely conform as strictly to regulations as a Vrusk or Yazirian unit would - the individual soldiers tend to mark their equipment with personal mottos or pictograms, and modify issued gear to suit their personal tastes. Formal discipline is often much slacker than with the other races, and Humans often have difficulties "fitting in" in mixed units.
... To be continued. Stay tuned!