Intelligent Species
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November 29, 2007, 2:35 pm

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Cheka Man

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The Broan


The Broan, an enigmatic, amphibious species of unknown origin, that lives in the salt-water marshes to the east of Locastus.

Physical appearance

A Broan stands, on average, 5-6 feet tall and is roughly humanoid, incorporating piscine, amphibious and reptilian traits. The torso is stocky and compact, and ends in a long, sinuous eel´s tail.

Its long, sinewy limbs possess one additional joint when compared to most other humaniods, and the overlong arms end in large, webbed, 9-fingered hands tipped with sharp claws, which twitch rhythmically at all times. The movements of these hands are extraordinary quick, allowing the Broan to catch fish or pluck an arrow out of the air without problems.

Broan skin is grayish-green, glistening with slime, and is deeply ridged and furled, like the surface of a brain. Its head is a low, neck less dome, rising from hulking shoulders, and is dominated by large, bulging eyes, white as a poached egg, in which 5-8 pupils move about independently. The Broan possesses no nose or mouth, but, in its place, has a disturbingly vagina-like vertical slit that open and closes as the creature breathe.

Broan, true amphibians in that they can extract oxygen equally well from water and air, can also regulate their metabolism, for shorter periods of time, to operate anaerobically. They are, however, dependent on salt-water to keep their sensitive skin from drying out and to wash away waste products that are extruded through the skin. This makes them more comfortable in a salt-water marsh environment than on true dry land, and they are, naturally, extremely strong swimmers.

They are also predators, built for a diet of protein-rich fish, seafood and amphibians, that they catch with their own hands. Their quick hands and their venomous claws enable them to pluck tiny, lightning-fast minnows from the water without problem.

Broan can talk, using a sibilant, stereophonic voice that sounds like a susurrus. They seem to have a good grasp of most human tongues, as well as some of the non-human ones. Very few has been granted a personal session with a Broan, as they keep most of their negotiations through the channels of their hired traders and intermediaries.

Broan reproduce infrequently and slowly, but their numbers seem to be more or less stable, since Broans rarely die, other from accident or disease.


While human scientists know very little about the Broan, they seem to be loners. A settlement of Broan is not a community, but more like a gathering of hermits. They are, however, very intelligent and keep high aesthetic standards. They are just not very sociable, not even with their own kind.

Decision-making among the Broan communities consist of long, elaborate conversations in order to achieve a consensus, rather than a democratic process. Their individuality forbids them from accepting a majority vote over their own will. This trait makes them slow at taking decisions as a group, and can lead to split when a consensus cannot be reached.

Broans seem happy to keep to their own, peaceful way of life, but is not afraid to use violence if it is deemed necessary. During the civic uprising at the time of the Great Fire of the Maul, in 179, the leader of the xenophobic insurgents, Asmorin Morr, ordered the Banks enclave (see below) destroyed, and sent a boat full of his Constables there to put the Broan to the sword. The boat could not even reach the shores of the island before it was swarmed by armed Broan rising up from the waters, and sunk, every crewman slaughtered.

They are also extremely suspicious against other species and have a hard time understanding the actions and thoughts of, for example, humans. Even so, in Locastus, The smaller, newest Broan enclave has initiated trade and exchange of technologies with the rest of the city. Although this was probably done out of necessity to ensure their survival after the larger enclave exiled them, the Bank enclave seems to appreciate their human customers, although they prefer to work through intermediaries.

Broan, not fully comfortable with using mundane technology, excel at bioengineering and genetic manipulation. They can, through subtle tweaking, breed living organisms to provide them with warmth, food and shelter. Their houses, their light-sources and their vehicles are all, in one way or another, living, breathing organisms.


In Locastus, there exist two Broan enclaves, one in the Greydog Marshes east of Locastus proper, and one, this one much smaller, on the swampy island of Bank, in the harbor basin, not far from the Maul. They seem well adapted to a swamp-dwelling lifestyle, but seem to prefer somewhat higher temperatures than Locastus can offer.


The first contact between Locastrians and the Broan came in 151, when a strange, semi-organic submarine surfaced in the Locastrian harbor. A Locastrian diplomat were sent aboard and, although very little is known about what he was told, the Broan was granted Locastrian citizenship. Over the next months, several more of these strange vessels would appear, and the Broan population grew to the approximate size it is today.

Although very little is known about the origins of the Broan, it is widely thought that they were fugitives from something that threatened their unknown homeland. The place they came from must be very far away, however, since not even the most daring explorers of Locastus have found so much as a trace of Broan anywhere else across the seas.

The first Broan enclave in Locastus was established just east of the city, in the swampy, forested Greydog marsh. The first semi-submerged, igloo-like Broan dwelling only took a few weeks to appear, having grown from seeds taken on the submarine.

In 164, 13 years after the Broan first came to Locastus, a second wave of Broan refugees arrived. These newcomers, more talkative and open-minded than the others, were also incorporated with the Greydog enclave. Their radically different attitude, however, quickly made them unpopular with the older inhabitants, and, in 166, they were thrown out of the enclave. The exiles, not ready to leave Locastus, settled on the uninhabited Banks Island in the Locastrian harbor basin, not very far from the Maul, and still live there to this day.


The Broan are adepts in the art of tweaking living organisms into tools and vehicles, using various compounds that they themselves produce inside their hideously complex bodies. Using raw material, such as fish, frogs or shrimp, they can combine, manipulate and enlarge traits until the animal can be utilized for the purpose intended by its creator. Some of these products they sell to the rest of Locastus, some they keep to themselves. Examples of this technology include:

Glow-orbs: A floating, helium-filled sphere, approximatively the size of a human head, which is anchored to the ground by a tough, fibrous umbilical. During the dark hours, the gas-filled orb begins to glow with a warm, yellow light. This light-source, the product of a fusion between glow worm and a native plant, can be found all over Locastus, except in the gardens of the rich, where its considered vulgar.

Self-propelling boats: A canoe-like vessel, seemingly made from scaled reptilian skin, and with rows of flippers running down its length, to propel it along.

Octopus masks: A tentacled, sack-like being, which, when placed over the face, will wrap those arms around the wearers head to secure itself in place, and will then provide the wearer with air, even if under water. There are also octopus masks that can filter out poisonous gasses, or biological agents.

Flesh-eater: A weapon, never sold to non-Broans, that resembles a large, two-handed sword made from bone. Its edges are studded with hundreds of razor-sharp shark teeth which can be made to move in a manner not unlike a chainsaw, inflicting massive injuries to anyone hit with the weapon. The weapon-organism then feeds on the blood and gobbets of flesh it has ripped from its victim.

Mine plant: When the seeds of these plant-like organisms are scattered, they will quickly form a large, underground sac filled with a highly energetic explosive compound. Above ground, when the explosive below is finished, a single stalk will sprout. If that stalk is touched, the explosive will detonate, in the manner of a land mine.

Razor ivy: Another invention adapted to the modern battlefield, to aid in trench warfare. The seeds are scattered over the disputed terrain, and will, when they grow, form a tangled, incredibly resilient carpet filled with millions of long, wickedly curved and sharp thorns, capable of rending human flesh, or entangling equipment.

Broan Relations

Of the two Broan settlements, the Greydog enclave is the most secretive. It keeps to itself, and interacts very little with other species, and seems to harbor a deep hatred towards the Banks enclave.

The Banks Island enclave, however, with its proximity to the rest of Locastus (and especially the Maul) seems to delight in trading with humans and other species. The Banks Island Broans has developed a massive network of human traders, intermediaries and negotiators who handle their trading in the city.

They will trade indiscriminately, with anyone who has the cash and raw materials they desire, and they have been known to supply the crime lords of the Maul with new, powerful drugs and gadgets. One rumor that circulates is that the Broan supplied information to Mowar Dusk that enabled him to establish his hive of ochre bees, his source of Red Honey.

Over the years, there have, for unknown reasons, been a number of clashes between the two Broan enclaves. No one knows the origins of this enmity, but the enclaves regularly raid one another, seed poisonous fungal spores over each others territory, or send unmanned vehicles full of explosives on each other.

Author´s Notes

This is, along with the T´cha (which I´ll be adding later), one of the more bizarre species of my Locastus setting. A lot of this comes from my own background as a molecular biologist, where you study mutations, genetic engineering and so on. I´ve always wanted to incorporate that in some way in a fantasy setting, and the Broan is my vehicle to do so. Hope you´ll enjoy it!

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Comments ( 9 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted valadaar
November 29, 2007, 15:36
Excellent indeed Ouroboros! I have a school of magic - the Zoimorphisits School of Magic which seems related!
Voted Cheka Man
November 29, 2007, 23:15
A whole new race. 5/5
Voted Scrasamax
November 30, 2007, 3:46
i would switch the glow-orbs gas to hydrogen rather than helium, mostly based on the assumption that I dont know a way that an organism could come into possession of enough helium to float itself, whereas hydrogen works, and is very easy to come by.

Nice work, but I can see LOTS of folk wanting to get chop chop stab stab on the Broan. I do feel rather sorry for them, but like to know more aobut where they came from and why they are refugees.
Voted CaptainPenguin
November 30, 2007, 4:36
Once again, like from all your Locastus submissions, I'm feeling strong but pleasant echoes of New Crobuzon and China Mieville's Bas-Lag. I like the Broan, especially because they are just the right spot on the continuum between race-so-mundane-its-boring and race-so-bizarre-its-unusable
November 30, 2007, 7:27
Scras - I have had the hydrogen v/s helium discussion once before, when I did a write-up at many moons ago. The helium thingie is actually taken from real life - there´s some little floating kelp or something that can scavenge helium from the atmosphere. Even so, hydrogen might be better from a narrative point of view - it can explode, and that might be a fun thing to do.... Oh, and the real origins of the Broan will be revealed in time - whenever I get off my arse to write that book.... :-)

Captain - Mieville is one of my greatest inspirations, and I love the feel of weirdness in his books. I´ve tried to incorporate as much of that flavour as possible without plagiarizing or becoming too bizarre. Mieville´s setting (while absolutely brilliant) is just a bit too much out there to provide a good foundation for things like believable politics and human motivations. I wanted the Broan to look monstrous, nightmarish, but function under the same basic rules as any intelligent being - looking for safety, forming a base of food and production and so on...
Voted Murometz
February 22, 2008, 17:13
Love them! And Cap's last line sums up why I love them perfectly!
Voted Michael Jotne Slayer
October 2, 2008, 13:29
Once more i notice a sub that I have read before but failed to vote on. Shame on me. Good work!
Voted MoonHunter
October 3, 2008, 12:14
Very nicely done. Well presented. It includes everything you need. It is complete in detail, with lots of implied information to give you direction for other things. I thought the biotech was a nice touch, though kind of tacked on at the end, and not really mentioned before.
January 17, 2011, 15:52

Love the Broan bio-tech!

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