Intelligent Species
Forest/ Jungle
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Rating: 4.5
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ID: 4840


March 1, 2008, 2:10 am

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Cheenan The Tree Folk


You could only hear the rest of them. And you could only hear them because they didn’t mind being heard. Running in the trees they were. We followed the little guy named Dorto. He led us to a spot and said in broken Gallen, "Here is village". There was nothing there I tell you. We looked about and could not see a thing.  He smiled and pointed up.  You could see it then, the huts and nests and ropes. A bunch of them were just hanging there by their feet looking at us. It was going to be an odd night. Exerpt from A Sailor’s Journey, by Ptholus WindRider

Full Description
Cheenan are a small folk, about 3 1/2 feet/ 1.1 meters tall (+/-6" or 15cm). They resemble small humans, though their torsos seem a bit overlong and they are bow legged. Their feet are the give away. They have long toes that are prehensile and even have thumbs. Skin tones range from a light tan to a tanned bronze. Their eyes are deep pools of chocolate dark. Both sexes wear their brown to black hair somewhat long, with most of it braided in one to six braids and adorned with feathers and beads. Their identifying "hair style" has their hair loose and long, then at just below their shoulder blades it becomes braided.

Cheenan like to wear simple clothing; tunics, loin cloth and hooded ponchos made from leather, fur, or their soft grass weave. They commonly wear large pouches that have two or more straps, so they are held tight to the body. This keeps them from being a liability as they move through their forest homes

Cheenan are able to grasp and manipulate objects with their feet almost as well as their hands. This enables them to attack and perform actions requiring manual dexterity using their feet when appropriately steadied. Their grip is not perfect with them, think of it as an "off hand" (in fact they have three off hands unless they have an ambidexterity trait or two).

Because of their prehensile feet, they can live an arboreal life with no problems. They are able to move up to half running speed in the trees. They do not need to make a climb roll against any "average" climb. All difficulties for tougher climbs are reduced by the average difficulty. Because of their surer footing (feet that can grab), they can actually run along branches and ropelines with an automatic ease.

Additional Information
Cheenan are a nature-loving, spiritual folk. They are generally quiet-natured, preferring discussion over violence. However, they will not shy away from violence if protecting themselves or their friends.

Their society is along matriarchal lines, with females being the tribal leaders. This gives their tribes an extended family feel. Each Cheenan has a sense of belonging and their reciprocal duty to society drilled into them very early in life. All Cheenan grow up knowing that the extended family is there to help them if they need it, just as they feel they should help others. They are communal in orientation. Cheenan love family get togethers, or any other large social gathering. At such get togethers there is story-telling, sharing knowledge and crafting.

Everyone in the same village are "trunk-cousins" to each other. "Auntie" and "Uncler" are used as terms of respect to an older person. To those younger or the same age, "Cousin".(Brother/ Sister/ Aunt/ Uncle are reserved for blood relatives). All Cheenan feel a duty to watch out for one another and to offer assistance to any "family". member who needs it.

Being adopted into a Cheenan family can be a comforting and suffocating experience.

Their homes are made in the hollow trunks and branches of the greater trees in their jungle/ forests. Various tents, cover fall shelters, and platforms are also used. These all are connected by rope bridges, swing ropes and the interconnecting branches of the great forest trees. Most of these communities are village sized.

In a few places, some "wild seeded" HomeTrees are found. (Some are "left behind" by the pre-cursors). On the HomeTrees, Cheenan Cities are built.

Some Cheenan community have Undercousins, Humans (or other beings) that live under their village on the ground. These two villages have a symbiotic relationship, sharing resources and manpower when possible.

Each grouping of Cheenan will have a (female) Chief (often known as Great Momma) and a (male) Shaman. Both of them will have an "apprentice" or two, just in case something happens. While the Cheenan will be masters of Naturecraft and might have some low level magics dealing with it, only the Shamans will know magic both clerical and sorcerous. The Shaman has a deep responsibility for the teaching, spiritual matter, and pastoral care of for their "family". The Chief will lead the group, assigning duties and making sure everyone is taken care of. She will also speak for the group.

The Fears
Most Cheenan have one of the two Fears, while a good 20% have both. A small minority (about 10%) has neither fear.  The fears range from mild aversions to neurotic compulsions.

Fear of Open Sky: Agoraphobia

Those with it, fear the openness to some degree and prefer to stay within the canopy of the trees. The open sky or an open plain are a fearful ting to them. These people like the feeling of being "mothered" by the trees around them.

Fear of Earth: Rhypophobia

Those with it, fear the unnaturally still and hard ground. In the trees there is always some vibration and some sense of living things under you. They will not come to the ground, preferring to spend all their time in the trees. For these people, the ground is still and dead. It is unnatural to them.

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Comments ( 8 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Murometz
March 1, 2008, 13:50
Very nice. You get a good sense of them. I dont know why, but I get a mental image of a Cheenan youth, reclining high up on a thick branch, humming and absent-mindedly painting in water color, upon a pallette, wielding the paintbrush deftly between his toes. He paints a scene he sees below, a group of Undercousins, going about their daily chores.

Love their phobias, and you gotta love Great Momma.

An arboreal new-take on halflings.
March 1, 2008, 17:32
I really don't think of them as halflings. Besides the being small part, they have only limited in common with them. You can't be big and live arboreally. There is a reasons Chimps/ Orangs can live in trees and Gorillas don't. Weight to bring trees down, breaking branches, and so on. In fact, these guys may be too big.. perhaps reducing their height by 6" (15 cm) might be more realistics.

Still they end up kind of neat. And being limited by the fears, it keeps them from mucking around with the world.
Voted valadaar
March 1, 2008, 19:59
Hmm, I like these - an easily usable arboreal race as well suited for fantasy as for (with some minor tweaks) sci-fie or pulp.
March 2, 2008, 1:10
That concept had occured to me as well, but I did not add it. They make great "primatives" for your Star Tech people to encounter. They are just different enough that they are interesting, rather than Humans w/ special effects work.

Now, if they are star born themselves, that opens up a ton of possiblities. They are uniquely suited to zero g, able to hold on or move about with less effort than a human. (The only that could be better suited might be the aquatics). Their knacks and mental states would easily lend themselves to being "good crew". In fact, a less formal crew structure would suit them perfectly, as they would become family. I would see them as having technical knacks as well (which would not be exploited in their "native lowtech state".

The Fears would still work well for Spacers as well. They don't like being outside, so they will stay in the urban areas or inside the ship. They don't like work in the black, but there are plenty of things on a ship that need to be done that don't involve EVA. The fear of planet side is equally as applicable. They like the humm and vibrations of the ship. The ground is "dead" so to speak.
Voted Cheka Man
March 2, 2008, 10:25
A new kind of Ewoks. 5/5
December 22, 2008, 14:57
On another site, someone is running what we would call "A New Take on Halflings". The concept of arboreal hobbits has come up several times. I reposted this there, and ask others... should this be a new take on Hobbits?
December 8, 2016, 7:38
I actually thought of these as some offshoot evolution of chimps. But yeah, with the big feet and short stature, I can see these as halflings.
Voted Dozus
December 8, 2016, 7:38
Only voted

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