Skrell/Culture

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Despite what one would expect from such a pragmatic society, the Skrell place great importance on the arts, entertainment and creativity. The existence of the Talum-Katish as a fully fledged caste is but one indication of it.

Culture

The Arts

For obvious reasons due to their biology, Skrell give a lot of importance to music: It is actually quite rare to meet a Talum-Katish who does not at least possess average singing skills. While it would be impossible to describe their entire musical history, a few major points can be mentioned; First and foremost, skrellian music has abandoned tonal considerations, both in harmony and melody, centuries ago. While the skrellian artists are still looking to produce enjoyable music, they prefer to avoid the restrictions of a codified system, allowing them more freedom in their creations, at the cost of more work to develop proper musical structures. Secondly, rhythm. While it is still very much existent in skrellian music, rhythm too went through a long phase of deconstruction in the musical process. In the last few centuries, the trend has been to subtly (sometimes not-so) shift the rhythm of their music over time, meaning a musical phase that starts as slow can finish very fast. The process is, however, not random. At last, voice plays a very large role in their music. Because of the specifics of their written language, Skrell did not develop a printing system until very late in their development, meaning knowledge had to be spread either by handwritten books or orally; in the latter case, songs quickly became the norm to transmit that knowledge. Skrell do have a large array of musical instruments, most electronic, to serve as a support to the vocal lead, but generally, voice stays at the forefront of mainstream skrellian music.

On the topic of written language, skrellian literature has also evolved greatly over time. With the rise of advanced means of communications during the first centuries AC, its use as a narrative medium has slowly faded and nowadays, most of the new books published are poetry. In the last few centuries, skrellian writers have taken a step further down the road, by slowly removing narration itself from their work, using the visual impact of their complex, intricate written language to convey their message.

In the domain of visual arts, the Skrell have a long, complex history of painting and sculpting. In their early days, they used to spray dye made from their local, diverse vegetation onto small ponds, using the water as their canvas. Such works were ephemeral at best though while more stable platforms have now been widely adopted pond-painting is still a mainstay in skrellian art. However, the method did evolve over the millennia: the chaotic ponds were slowly replaced by artificial pools, complex colouring agents replaced natural dye… In the recent centuries, the art form evolved to a new stage, with molecular painting gaining popularity: three-dimensional paintings made in tanks of variable sizes have become more and more common in high society, a hybrid of painting and sculpture whose fragility is only matched by its cost.

Sculpting itself has seen its share of changes. While ancient painters were busy with their ponds, early skrellian sculptors saw potential in the massive Kol’mo, mushrooms that can be found on most of Qerr’balak’s surface. An easy material to work with, the Kol’mo stayed popular until the middle of the industrial revolution, with Skrell developing new tools and materials for their creations. However, the emblematic mushroom experienced a curious resurgance at the beginning of the second century AC, with the rise of genetic engineering in the scientific field; quickly, the Talum-Katish adapted to this new practice and thanks to the very primitive genetic code of the Kol’mo applied it to artistic expression, growing surrealistic mushrooms while completely bypassing the need for any physical sculpting. The practice still exists to this day, although the Skrell use many more plants for manipulation. This practice has not entirely replaced traditional sculpting methods, and great Kol'mo works can be seen city states across the stars.

Sports

All Skrell practice sports to a certain extent, although the specifics generally depend on the caste. While the Kanin-Katish and Raskinta-Katish practice sports that do not shy away from physical effort, the more intellectual castes engage in sports that mirror their strengths. Most skrellian sports are played in teams, and with the exception of the Raskinta-Katish’s activities, often lack an actual adversary, preferring to place the players in front of issues waiting to be solved.

As a warrior caste, it is not surprising that the Raskinta-Katish place a lot of focus on fighting sports. They are, however, often team-based, and with a strong emphasis on coordination and dexterity. The most emblematic of them is Ka’morr; taking place over a pool, two fighters, each accompanied by a carrier, are supposed to fight until one of them falls in the water. They are maintained over water by their carrier, who stays underwater and keeps them standing with two platforms, just large enough to stand on. The carriers are not allowed to fight, but it are otherwise allowed to trick the fighting opponent into stepping on one of the opposing platforms to make them fall. Pairings are not taken lightly: Carrier and fighter generally practice together for years before reaching an acceptable level of skill. Styles vary wildly, with some teams focusing on studied, carefully executed movements, while others adopt more improvisational styles, only relying on the carrier’s ability to read the body of their partner and anticipate their moves.

A number of skrellian martial arts, originally developed by the Raskinta for use in war and refined over the millennia, are now regularly enjoyed as both sport, practice and entertainment beyond their original utility. Not originally conceived as sports, though the fact that they are focused on the disabling of an opponent has led them to, over time, become a competitive sport in some Raskinta circles and beyond. While there are now countless variations and subtypes there are two popular, and well known martial art forms. The first of these, Terr'Mapla, is an ancient martial art from the Qerr'Balak continent of Qorr'Gloa, where it was developed as a deliberate, careful defensive martial art designed to disable an attacker through a series of throws and pins. It is widely known, as it, or a variant of it, is taught to the vast majority of Raskinta-Katish. Given its deliberate, defensive stance, competitive Terr'Mapla is a long, slow, tactical battle focused just as much on the wits of the competitors as their strength and agility. Points in sparring matches are generally awarded for hard pins and clever use of tactics, deception and outwitting an opponent. A second, equally popular martial art, practised almost exclusively by Skrellian SDTF's, is known as Xorr'Mapla, and is designed with lethality in mind. Using overwhelming, rapid, aggressive strikes, it is designed to take down an opponent in a manner that is often lethal. As such, it is not venerated as an entertainment as Terr'Mapla is, though it is popular in private Raskinta gatherings and underground circles. Dedicated masters often combine both the Terr and Xorr'Mapla in order to create a fluid, highly adaptive fighting style, though this takes decades of practice.

The sports of the Kanin-Katish are much more based on endurance. Team-based, they often pit the players against environmental challenges. Contrary to Raskinta-Katish sports, they tend to include mild intellectual components, requiring the players to think before they act. The sports evolved along technology; the rise of artificial gravity, notably, had a profound impact on the playing field. One of these sports, Qel’xi, has actually gained popularity in previous century: Taking place in a specifically-built polyhedron (the actual number of faces depending on the team’s size and other factors such as difficulty), a group of Kanin-Katish must help their leader reach the centre of the room and stay there for a predetermined duration. The difficulty lies in the artificial gravity of the room, each of the faces generating their own in a limited bubble, forcing the participants into struggling against their own, conflicting weights. The centre of the room being flooded with overlapping gravity fields, it requires great endurance and coordination for a team to maintain a proper chain for more than a few seconds.

As expected of them, Talum-Katish merge sports and arts through dance: with a large amount of them taking place in or under water, they also evolved along a lot along modern technologies, antigravity environments partially replacing the former dancing pools. Waterdancing remains mainstay for Talum-Katish, as water offers entirely different parameters to evolve in. Oddly, skrellian dance often looks very martial, with human sociologists quickly comparing them to the kata of Eastern Asia.

Malish-Katish practice close to no physical sports. They instead focus on very intellectual activities, ranging from visual puzzles to logical riddles. These games are generally played in teams, although the players are often separated and cannot share information with their team mates. Each player has thus the task to complete their own part while having no knowledge of the bigger picture.

At last, Qerr-Katish, just like Malish-Katish, do not practice a lot of physical activities. They are, however, extremely fond of numerous strategy games, where their intelligence and organisation skills are put to the challenge. Countless games exist, with even more variations depending on the planet or city where it is played. With the rise of virtual reality and advanced artificial intelligence the concept was taken even further, with full simulations being developed, both as a training exercise and as entertainment.

Celebrations

While there are countless celebrations, anniversaries, holidays and observances celebrated across Skrell space, there are a few that are near universally celebrated, mostly to mark milestones of the Skrell's progress.

Some are, but not limited to (all dating provided in the human norm):

Xiq'zom'r, the Celebration of discovery - Observed on the 15th of June, this celebration observes the establishment of the first Skrell colony on another astral body. Typically celebrated by large gatherings, conferences and symposiums on a variety of scientific subjects and the unveiling of large engineering projects as well as reflection on the progress of skrellkind. It is considered a more formal affair concerned with progress, technology, science and debate.

Xiq'Krall, the Celebration of friendship - Celebrated on the 11th of August, this celebration is the anniversary of the first sapient species the Skrell discovered, far on the unknown side of Skrell space. It has come to embody a celebration of all the sapients' skrellkind have encountered among the stars. Typically celebrated by social gatherings with an emphasis on trying new things, or, if available, experiencing something from another species, be that food, or technology or other.

Xiq'Qerria-pli'a, the Celebration of war's end - Celebrated on the 2nd of December, this is the anniversary of the Qrri-Qerria war, and the occasion is a solemn one, as the last true war between skrellkind, Skrell seek to remember the lessons learned from it, and mourn those who were lost. The observance has come to encompass the idea of peace in general, the tragedy of war, and the loss of life, and is a day of reserved gatherings and remembrances for those who have passed.


Death ceremony

Skrell, unlike humans, do not typically hold funerals to mourn the passing of their deceased. Instead, they hold remembrances, typically two day long affairs which celebrate the life of the deceased, their accomplishments, feats, friends, family, service and other aspects of their lives. A positive affair, the focus is always on what the other brought and gave to the universe, and what they have left behind. Despite the jovial atmosphere and positive attitudes on display at these ceremonies, it is considered a highly important affair, and the best way to respect the deceased. Over the course of the period, a Skrells remaining family, friends, colleagues and other related people of import gather, give speeches about the deceased, observe items of significance on display from their lifetime, cherish memories and engage in a feast.