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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Introduction

RossN

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Baviir.jpg

Grand Princess Reetril Koriik of the Baviir Stellar Principality.
'All life began when the Divine Three met together; He who is Rain, She who is Forest and They who are Wind. Together the Three shaped life into the swimming things of the oceans and the scurrying things under the leaves of the trees. Then the Three made the higher things, the feathered beasts of the skies. To some were granted speed, to some ferocity, to some strength and to some grace, and speech and thought. So we were formed and in those days we lived in the heavens and all was good...'

-An extract from the Heavenly Scrolls of the Southern Continent, based on oral sources and written down circa. 400 BC (Earth calendar.)
'...the same evolution that rendered our distant ancestors unable to achieve true flight shaped us in other ways. The development of tool use, advanced language and complex hierarchical groups all stem from adaptations to the pressures faced by our species with the disappearance of self powered flight. Nevertheless while no surviving solely aerial species of Skanaa is sapient it is clear from the fossil record that a 'flying stage' is crucial in the development of intelligence. No purely terrestrial or aquatic animal could possibly develop the necessary brain complexity. Their environments are simply too rudimentary compared to life on the wing...'

-An extract from On Evolutionary Adaptions by Y'Kree, 1827 AD (Earth calender.)

~~~~~~

Greetings all! This is my first Stellaris AAR, though I have read many of the fine examples in this forum. I will be playing the Baviir Stellar Principality, a civilisation of sapient avians as they take their first wingbeats into the wider galaxy.

As I've noted this is the first time I've tried writing Stellaris so it will be a bit of an introduction for me to. As with most of my AARs this will be history book style, but I want to make use of in-universe documents like letters, diaries and interviews. Hopefully I will be able to make it work!

Next: Who (or what) are the Baviir?
 

loup99

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Subscribed! I will admit I didn't expect your next AAR to be with Stellaris, but I look forward to reading the introduction to the Baviir. :)
 

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A RossN AAR! Glorious! :)

Haha, love the part about flying being a necessary step for sapience. They will learn soon. ;)
 

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Ahh, excellent .
 

Bored Student1414

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Haha, love the part about flying being a necessary step for sapience.
The mediocrity principle is a decent place to start talking about alien life but it is so limiting as well. They will learn this soon enough.
Welcome back sir. I look forward to another excellent AAR. Beware of Earth dates. You do not what stage you might find the humans in.
 
About the Baviiri

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Baviir Start Screen.jpg

Skanaa


The Baviir (plural Baviiri, adjective Baviiran) are a sapient avian species native to the world of Skanaa, a giant moon close in size and atmospheric composition to Earth though slightly colder and wetter. Skanaa orbits a gas giant named C'Knoor which in turn orbits a yellow star called Skeru. The system is home to several other planets and C'Knoor even has another large moon, the icy Ganymede sized Y'Tari Vak, but Skanaa is the only planet or moon with an atmosphere capable of sustaining life.

The Baviiri themselves are both the only sapient and the largest land dwelling lifeforms though there were now extinct non-sapient avians who filled a similar ecological niche to the extinct giant pterosaurs of Earth's Cretaceous period. The largest animals of all on Skanaa are whale sized armoured aquatic predators similar to Earth fish.

Overwhelming complex life on Skaana falls into either the avian or piscine category, or rather life than via convergent evolution resembles those Earth forms of life. The planet is home to many invertebrates though few reach any great size and there are no equivalent to the highly complex Earth cephalopods. Mammal like creatures occupy the niche of small omnivores in the extensive forests that cover most of the planet's terrestrial surface excluding the marginal arctic and desert terrain, the latter the stronghold of Skanaa's comparatively few surviving reptilians.

Skanaa has three major continents and numerous rocky archipelagos.

Baviir Biology

The average Baviir stands at roughly the same height as a human woman (unlike humans Baviiri have little size dimorphism between the sexes.) They are noticeably lighter than most Earth animals of similar size, a fact attributable to their 'hollow' bones that originally allowed their ancestors and their still living non-sapient relatives to fly.

Baviiri come in two biological sexes and broadly similar attitudes and variety towards gender and mating as humans including such concepts as personal sexual identity and romantic love. Baviiri lay eggs, either singularly or less commonly in small clutches. A Baviir will recognise a 'nestmate' as a brother or sister.

Like the majority of Skanaan vertebrates Bavirri have six limbs; two legs, two human like arms and two wings. In the case of the Baviirri the wings are no longer naturally capable of providing actual flight but in the right conditions they are highly accomplished gliders and thermal riding is a popular sport among the nobles who tend to have the best quality wings (in contrast slaves or criminals invariably have their wings clipped.)

Bavirri, like all of Skanaas avian life are covered by a thick coat of feathers remarkably similar to the birds of Earth and serving a similar purpose. A Baviir's feathers are particularly ornate, though their colouring and condition depends on sex, caste, health, age and geographical origin - 'golden plumed' Bavirri originated on the Southern Continent while 'azure' Bavirri are originally from the Northern Continent.

Given their small head size to body size it should come as little surprise that the brain of an average Bavirr is considerably smaller than that of an average human. It is however in many if not most respects much more efficiently evolved. Bavirri actually have slightly superior intelligence than humans, an equivalent sense of hearing and greater visual acuity. On the negative side Bavirri have only a very rudimentary sense of smell; a human perfume would not be detectable to the average Bavirr and Bavirran incense, rarely such as used in certain religious and civic ceremonies would roast a human's nostrils.

Bavirran speech has a pleasant quality (one area where their curious resemblance to the Earth peacock is thankfully absent!) Bavirran voices tend to sound feminine to human ears - even the deepest individual would only be equivalent to a human tenor. Conversely Bavirri find deeper human voices hard to understand along with being audibly unsettling.

Baviiri are omnivores, feeding on a wide variety of invertebrates, small mammals and piscines, fruits, nuts and grains. Vegetarianism for personal or religious reasons is not unknown but is more difficult for Baviiri than for humans as so much of their diet is dependent on the high protein derived from invertebrates.

Baviir Psychology

Baviiri, in human terms, tend to be vain, proud and emotional. Personal appearance is immensely important to most Baviiri; traditional belief held that exterior beauty and grace reflected the inner purity of the soul and though modern society mostly no longer holds that belief there is still a deeply ingrained feeling that one's personal standing is stained by losing pride in one's appearance. It should be noted that the Bavirri are capable of distinguishing between misfortune such as losing a limb to accident or disease and deviancy such as consistently failing to groom one's feathers. The former is the target of sympathy, the latter the target of disdain.

The only socially acceptable period for an otherwise healthy Baviir not to look his or her best is during periods of personal mourning when even this cardinal rule may - temporarily - slide.

This obsession with beauty extends to objects and surroundings as well. Efficiency for efficiencies sake is quite contrary to their cultural ideal. A ship or a weapon must be good at it's job of course but the average Baviir would insist grace and style are part of that job.

Baviiri are territorial beings, quarrelsome at the best of times. In the more civilised era the constant drive for social standing is much less likely to involve bloodshed, but duels are still frequent between rival factions and individuals. A Baviir would enthusiastically recognise the society depicted in The Count of Monte Cristo.

Baviir Society

Baviiran society, as developed in the centuries before spaceflight, is aristocratic. The various noble families like to trace their lineages back to historic, indeed near mythical flocks of old though in truth there have always been rising and falling houses and in two centuries there has been a lot of churn. The current ruling dynasty has been in power for about five generations since Grand Prince Sorrel Koriik united the Hundred Princes to form a global government (though the union was in name more than fact for several decades until the last few holdouts were won over by diplomacy or war.)

The Hundred Princes (sometimes shortened to merely 'the Hundred') are the ruling body of the Baviiri and the reigning Grand Prince or Princess selects his ministers from among their number. It has not been unknown for those noble families bereft of talented individuals in a particular generation to 'adopt' a commoner from outside the ranks, bringing in new blood, though in these cases the adoptee generally has strong links to the noble family to begin with.

Beneath the Hundred Princes and their often vast extended families are the lesser Nobles, the Merchant caste (which in modern times also includes many scientists), the Farming caste, the Religious caste and finally the Slave caste. Slaves may be hatched into their station, the sons and daughters of disgraced and defeated families or be unfortunate individuals personally sentenced to slavery.

Religion plays a part in Baviiran society, though it would not be accurate to call them a theocratic people in modern times. About 30% of Baviiri are some variety of agnostic, secular 'humanist' or atheist. A slight overall majority (58%) are believers in the historically dominant faith of the Divine Three - the Rain God, the Forest Goddess and the Wind, a deity of no assigned gender. The remaining 12% of the populace hold to a variety of minor faiths including belief in an impersonal universal creator deity, 'ancient astronaut' theories involving alien life or a traditional form of ancestor worship (once the indigenous belief of the Southwestern Archipelago dwelling purple plumed Baviiri but now very much a minor belief system even there.) Most Bavirri believe in an afterlife where their ancestral powers of flight will be restored to them.
 

RossN

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loup99: Thank you and I'm glad to have you aboard. :) To be honest I'm a little surprised I went with a Stellaris AAR too, but it seemed like a fun opportunity to at least try.

Nikolai: Unless the galaxy is full of Avians of course! :)

stnylan: Hah. :D And thank you for your advice again!

Bored Student1414: Thank you, and good point! :) I fear my lack of experience with this game is already showing!
 

stnylan

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A very informative write-up. Already the Baviiri are starting to feel more solid.
 

Bored Student1414

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So the Baviir are not that different from humans and their culture is not that alien. The Commonwealth of Man would be hostile to them because they are aliens. The United Nations of Earth wouldn't like them because the Baviir society seem like an unholy and undemocratic cross between snobbish pre-French Revolution Versailles noble culture and the Qing-era Chinese stagnant scholar bureaucracy. The Baviir would make a great Star Trek race. The Federation would be friendly but Captain Picard and other Federation diplomats wouldn't like to deal with cutthroat nobles. Good luck and let us hope the Galaxy is friendly to them.
 

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That is a very informative and interesting update!
 

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God bless Avians and the triumph of the peacocks! :p
 

loup99

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The different facets of the Baviiri are certainly a lot clearer with this concise but instructive overview, and I suspect their psychology will play a major role in how they envision and interact with spacefaring. We also see a very hierarchical and dynastic society which in a sense ressembles the old feudal and aristocratic models on Earth.
 
Chapter One: Grand Princess Reetril

RossN

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Grand Princess Reetril.jpg

Her Radiant Highness the Grand Princess Reetril.

Chapter One: Grand Princess Reetril


*N.B: For clarity purposes this AAR uses the in-game dating system rather than the Baviir calender.

Grand Princess Reetril ascended the Azure Throne fairly late in life. At forty eight she was already in her middle years and would not have been expected to inherit at all had her brother and predecessor Grand Prince Kwiark (r. 2162 to 2199) left any offspring. Despite a wife and a truly heroic passion for courtesans the late Grand Prince failed to father a single known egg so it all passed to Reetril.

The public newsnets, working themselves into a fever as the coronation approached dwelt on the fact that Her Radiant Highness had inherited the 'regal' plumage of her great-great grandsire the first Grand Prince Sorrel. Indeed Reetril, elegant, tall and primarily shaded a dusty blue was considered an immediate improvement on Kwiark, whose dire physical decline in his later years had much to a sybarite existence than made even the most decadent princes of the Hundred shiver with disbelief (and envy.)

Though her title was new the monarch had known for years she was next in line and she had kept herself busy planning, preparing and scheming. Over the past century the Koriik dynasty, though never seriously challenged in ceremonial terms, had declined in power relative to the Hundred. Much of the dynastic wealth had been squandered by Reetril's brother who had compounded his flaws by playing favourites in the choice of ministers and governships. A host of weak and corrupt officials, distinguished only for sycophancy to the Azure Throne saw royal authority gurgle away. Reetril, the heiress presumptive had made a calculated decision to withdraw from court life in the later years of her brother's time in power, by which point court life, once the epicenter of political doubling dealing on Skanaa had decayed to an endless procession of banquets, masques and drunkeness. On three separate occasions Grand Prince Reetril had been too addled by the spiced violet wine of the Tilarue Mountains to personally attend state meetings of the Hundred.

Reetril was as fond of fine living as any Baviir but, beyond a private weakness for handsome electrum plumed males with long muscular necks and pliable wills, she was all business. Naturally good with finances, unlike almost every one of her dynasty, Reetril worked hard to establish alliances with wealthy families merely of the Noble class and even the Merchant class. When she came to the Azure Throne the Grand Princess struck hard and fast, stripping a half dozen families of their Princely class. Her victims were the irreparably dissolute and the talentless elevated by Kwiark to the royal nest. In there place she elevated her allies to the Hundred, giving her an immediately loyal and financially powerful bloc of supporters. The new Grand Princess was able to achieve this with little opposition from the older families represented in the Hundred in part due to her personal popularity with the public and in part because Kwiark's cronies had been so loathed Reetril was able to sell the measure to the Princes as a conservative measure, sweeping away the corrupt interlopers. To balance the blend of old and new Reetril appointed a scion of one of the oldest families to the post of Exalted Advisor (essentially prime minister [1].) Kwiark had made it a sinecure for his favourite mistress but the blue blooded Prince P'Konori was neither concubine or lickspittle and the appointment of so obvious a worthy did much to soothe ruffled feathers over the memories of Reetril's late, unlamented brother.

Having settled the political situation and won time for herself and her eldest hatchling the Crown Prince, Reetril turned to her true ambitions: the redevelopment of Skanaa and the move into interstellar space.

The industrial revolution on Skanaa had begun some four centuries before Reetril ascended the Azure Throne, before there even was an Azure Throne. In that age the world was divided into countless feuding (and sometimes outright warring) principalities. Dazzling advances in technology had changed every aspect of Baviir life but it had also left much of the world polluted, overcrowded or both. Grand Prince Kreethak (r. 2071 to 2127), the third monarch of Skanaa had been the first ruler to take the industrial damage and the plight of the poor seriously, but though his efforts had pushed back the worst of the abuses Skanaa was far from restored to pristine health. Reetril would over the early years of her reign devote a lot of resources to demolishing slums and replacing them with modern city, business and industries. The pollution wastelands would be turned into forests of the kind that sang to the soul of every Baviir from slave to sovereign.

Skanaa and C'Knoor.jpg

Skanaa, her parent planet the gas giant C'Knoor and her 'little sister', the ice moon Y'Tari Vak.

Paying for all this would be Reetril's most audacious gamble, and one that if it failed could topple herself and her entire dynasty. The Baviir were to strike out beyond their own solar system.

For three generations the Baviir had made modest journeys into space, first to Y'Tari Vak 'Skanaa's white plumed little sister' as the poets of old called her. That expedition had proved a disappointment; fair as she was Y'Tari Vak was too cold and inhospitable to harbour life and lacked even minerals to tempt the greedy. The other planets and moons orbiting Skeru proved somewhat richer pickings in metals, energy and scientific research but the technology of Kreethak's era made conquering the solar system a costly and unglamorous endeavor and during his successor's rule the supply of credits and space pioneers all but dried up. Two centuries after the first Baviir had breached the atmosphere of Skanaa in a primitive, chemical powered rocket there were still bountiful deposits of minerals entirely untouched on Skeru's other children, to say nothing of the energy given by the star herself.

From an early age Reetril had become convinced that the Baviir should reignite their interest in space travel. The theory and technology had improved in the past century even if not properly employed and an exploratory journey through 'hyperspace' was fundamentally possible. In fact an expedition could be mounted within months of her taking the Azure Throne, admittedly at daunting cost in both credits and political capital.

In her coronation speech the Grand Princess announced space would be the great focus of her reign:

'We are all the hatchlings of Skanaa, guarded by C'Knoor's majesty, shaped and grown under these gentle skies, children of known winds. Our world shall always be our first home, our first love. Yet all of us must in time leave the nest and take wing on this journey of life. So it is for all Baviir from slave to sovereign; so it must be for our flock as a whole. I have already commanded that an expedition be made to explore the cosmos. With new technology and a fine crew this vessel shall explore the stars nearest to us... I know some of you look on such an expedition with fear of the unknown. I share those fears. We cannot know what is out there. Perhaps nothing. Perhaps dark and terrible things. And perhaps sister and brother hatchlings grown under stranger skies but beings of grace all the same. It is a risk... but how can we not? We are a people of grace and wisdom, courage and passion. We were not built to dwell in our nest evermore...'
Following this Reetril issued a proclamation renaming the state from the 'Grand Principality of Skanaa' to the 'Baviir Stellar Principality.'


Skeru and her neighbours.jpg

Skeru and her neighbours in 2200. The galactic centre lies to the 'south west'.

It has to admitted that the 'conquest of the Heavens' was probably Reetril's least popular policy in the first years of her rule. At least it was not popular among the Hundred; the common populace seemed more taken with the romance of the idea. For the Princes and their families Reetril's drive to the stars was greatly at odds with what was otherwise seen as a properly conservative monarch. The idea of consolidating the minerals of the Skeru system was, by itself, appealing even if the members of the Hundred grew nervous at the thought of allowing mere Noble or Merchant families mining contracts (Reetril might have retorted - but for political reasons did not - that the Princely families had only themselves to blame if they had not invested in space mining during the period of official distant interest, while the lesser castes, locked out of society pressure had plied their credits elsewhere.)

What bothered the Hundred was the thought of sinking vast sums of treasure and resources into an unproven venture on scarcely understood technology on the possibility it might pay off. There had never in the entire history of the Baviir people been confirmed evidence of life beyond Skanaa. Alien beings were the domain of the fiction writer or the addled conspirator seeing shadows everywhere. Even discounting the likelihood of meeting unknowable creatures from the beyond the Grand Princess's dream depended on other star systems being as rich in minerals and energy as Skeru. If they were not and the only thing the explorers found was dead moons and gas giants so radioactive they'd fry any ship approaching them, the Grand Princess would be ruined utterly.

The Hundred Princes were not, for the most part scientists, though most of the old families had some in their pay. Instead they possessed all the hard headed skills of professional courtiers and dynasts: beauty, high (and low) cunning, self interest and caution. Kwiark had been so despised partly because he was so enamored with incompetent cronies and concubines and partly because he had been so weakminded that he had retreated from all forms of personal responsibility - anathema to the Hundred where intrigue was a richly admired virtue. The Hundred was always keen to wax it's own power against the ruling monarch but a strong minded Grand Prince or Princess was much more respected, and in some ways found less bullish opposition, than a feeble and pliable sovereign.

What if, far from being the return to strong rule Reetril had seemed she was just as flawed as brother but simply in a different way? He had been obviously, overtly foolish but Reetril's surface charm and politicking might have just have masked a romantic with a hollow cranium? Soon after her speech court and especially after the much mocked 'Stellar' renaming gossip reported that one (unnamed) Prince had been heard to mutter that 'Her Radiant Highness worries about the void between the stars. I worry about the one between her ears.'

Reetril was not entirely bereft of allies in her vision of stellar exploration. Those Princely families that owed their rise to her were supportive, sometimes out of feelings of debt but sometimes out of genuine faith in her borne of long familiarity. The Exalted Advisor also supported the plan, though his support was more complicated. Prince P'Konori was as clear eyed and self interested a cynic as any in the Hundred but he was in the happy position that a failed gamble would be as survivable as a successful one. If the Grand Princess fell in disgrace it would be unthinkable to give the Azure Throne to her son. At that point the Koriik dynasty would have seen two failed reigns in a row and the Hundred would turn to one of their own instead - very possibly P'Konori. Conversely if the gamble succeeded and Reetril won vast resources in the outer cosmos the Grand Princess would reward his loyalty.

P'Konori had not become the grandest grandee in the Hundred for nothing.

In the end the gamble did succeed, though not without disappointment and surprise along the way. In the first decade of Reetril's reign ten different star systems would be explored and half of them claimed. Perhaps not all systems were as wealthy as Skeru but there were more than enough riches out there to fill the royal treasury and silence the Grand Princess's critics. Most thrillingly life, both existing and extinct had been found and towards the end of that first decade the Baviir would discover they were not the sole sapients in the universe...


Baviir Space 2210.jpg

The Baviir Stellar Principality, 2210.


Footnotes:

[1] In game terms 'Governor of the Core Sector'. P'Konori is a Level One Governor with the 'Adaptable' trait.

 

RossN

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stnylan: Thank you. :) I suppose it might have been easier starting with a 'canon' alien species like the Tzynn but I'm having fun designing my space peacocks. :)

Bored Student1414: That is a wonderful overview and I certainly can imagine them encountering Picard! :D I suppose it is true that the Baviir are less 'alien' than they could be but i have a weakness for space opera and to be honest I wanted as a writer to have a species I and my readers can understand fairly well. I'm also happy you picked up on the Chinese Imperial Ancien Régime elements to the Baviir.

Nikolai: Thank you very much!. :) This new update effectively marks the start of the game proper rather than background.

volksmarschall: Hurrah! :D

loup99: Very much so. In many ways the Baviir are socially in an 18th Century mindset with much more advanced technology. Possibly not quite as stratified - like the Ancient Romans it is possible to adopt into a great house - but certainly aristocratic and court focused.
 

stnylan

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So the first flights have been made, and some intriguing possibilities in the neighhourhood.

I especially liked this line: "P'Konori had not become the grandest grandee in the Hundred for nothing."
 

Specialist290

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As always when it comes to your fine work, RossN, I will be following this with interest :) The Baviiri are a quite fascinating society; I'm rather chuffed at the level of detail you've put into fleshing out their environment, society, and mindset.

Her peers may debate whether or not Grand Princess Reetril has the wits to match her ambitions, but Her Radiant Highness seems to be made of some quite stern stuff indeed, and is undoubtedly more than a match for the most subtle intrigues of the most cunning of the Hundred.

I look forward to seeing who the new neighbors are, and especially whether they might be rather familiar...
 

Nikolai

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It seems to me the Hundred already will have to admit defeat. Space is indeed the future!
 

Idhrendur

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I generally don't enjoy Stellaris AARs, but I'm definitely enjoying yours thus far. Good work!