Explorations of the Cosmic Frontier
The Zhodani are a discrete, though interfertile, sub-species of independently descended human stock, transplanted by the Ancients. Their skin tones range from light blue to a deep purple, and they have a thick bony ridge on the forehead, but otherwise have as much variation in features as a typical Human.
Zhodani society within the Confederacy is divided into three hereditary groups:
• Nobles are the enfranchised ruling class. They perform all high governmental functions, and receive extensive psionic training from childhood.
• Intendants are the managers and administrators of society. They comprise most business executives, military officers below the ranks of admiral or general, and fill most non-elective governmental positions. Intendants are rewarded for great diligence, service to the state, or victory in the psionic games, with the grant of a noble title.
• Proles (or proletarians) constitute the masses, are forbidden the use of psionics, and do not receive training. Proles include all members of the military below officer grade, most merchants and scouts, supervisory and junior management personnel, technicians, craftsmen, and labourers.
There is no upward mobility for proles unless psionic powers are detected in them as children, in which case they will be inducted into the intendant class. Intendants who perform well in their positions can be elevated into the ranks of the nobility. In this way, proles can have some hopes for an improved lot for their children, intendants are encouraged to strive hard, and there is a constant infusion of new blood into the nobility. Extensive psionic ability among the ruling classes permits the Zhodani government to weed out subversives early in life, and re-educate them as useful members of society. With rare exceptions, Zhodani are extremely patriotic. Other races see them as brain-washed xenophobes.
Zhodani citizens possess a high degree of personal honesty. Indeed, the Zhodani feel uncomfortable in most places outside the Confederacy, where ‘liars and thieves are allowed to wander around loose’. Privacy of thoughts is highly respected among the Zhodani upper classes, although proles have no such right. Nobles have almost complete right of personal privacy, and intendants nearly as much. Rights of foreign nationals vary with whatever treaty is in effect between the Consulate and the foreign power. The treaty with the Imperium is unclear in its protections. Most visitors have no protections for mental privacy, but diplomatic personnel and some selected commercial representatives are provided visas which allow psionic shields to be worn.
The Zhodani have a general distaste for other races which do not practice psionics. Effective indoctrination and ever-present possibility that one’s mind is being read have removed dishonesty and deviance as common features of society. Disagreements still occur, competition thrives, passions flare. But all takes place in an atmosphere of honesty and truth. Individuals can express their feelings without fear and problems are openly dealt with. In nonpsionic societies, much is kept secret within the mind. A Zhodani visiting the Imperium would be appalled by the deviousness and dishonesty that pervades society.
Imperial distaste for the Zhodani is based on two facts. First, the Zhodani practice psionics, and an Imperial cannot be sure that a Zhodani is not invading his mental privacy at any time. Second, because of their psionic abilities, the Zhodani have the most effective authoritarian rule in history. Imperial citizens, used to a great degree of local autonomy, fear Zhodani conquest because of the loss of freedom it would entail.
Typically, Zhodani society does not expect violence or dishonesty, and most of its enforcement apparatus is devoted to annual check-ups of individual attitudes. Each prole has a caseworker who maintains a file and performs an annual check-up for correct attitudes, as well as feeling for any problems or situations in need of assistance. Enforcers within the community enforce traffic regulations, arbitrate disputes, and watch for disturbances.
These enforcers are similar to police, but can detect problem situations in the course of their patrols. They are constantly on the alert for aberrant thought. When detected, they home in on its source, apprehend the individual, and take him to a re-education center. There, psionics is used to monitor the progress of reeducation and the individual remains in custody until corrected. To an Imperial it would be easy to look upon this Thought Police as a sort of secret police oppressing the masses. To the Zhodani, this is not the case. They are instead a respected community service. Even its clients feel relieved after being located and assisted back to normalcy. That, of course, is how they are supposed to feel.
The Zhodani Confederacy have fought several wars with their neighboring Human Empire, Aslan Hierate, and Vargr Territories. Artificial Intelligence is prohibited within the Confederacy, which has likely contributed to some of their recent military failures. However, Zhodani expansion and assimilation of new worlds is extremely efficient. Zhodani worlds isolated from the Confederacy have developed societies similar to the Confederacy. Imperial Citizens of Zhodani decent and even Prole emmigrants do live within the Empire, but experience mistrust in many societies whenever tensions between the stellar nations increase. In some areas, Zhodani citizens are subjected to periodic psionic screening or wear psionic dampeners.
Adaptable: Just like Humans, the Zhodani are quick to adapt to new environments. They receive a free Edge just like humans.
Mistrusted: Zhodani travelling outside the Confederacy receive the Outsider hinderance.
Psionic Heritage: Zhodani who take the Arcane Background: Psionics, receive an extra +5 power points.