Shandari are an alien lifeform with human-like intelligence. Their bodies are very adaptable and will change to suit its environment within just one generation. They are native to the destroyed planet Shandae but can be found pretty much anywhere across all worlds. They have a single language called Resi. Nearly all history and culture of the Shandari was lost along with their planet, so it is hard to say what they used to be like.
Shandae & The Torn God
At some point, their sun collapsed and their planet was torn apart. It is only because of the sacrifice of the Torn God that anything can yet live on its shattered remains. The Torn God was named Amnulum, the same word used to describe the sun. As the sun of the solar system exploded, Amnulum used their powers to keep the shards of Shandae safely orbiting around the resulting black hole. It gave all living creatures the ability to need not breathe and imbued the shards with gravity. This made existence on Shandae livable, but much harder than it was before. After the event, portals to other worlds keep popping up on Shandae for short whiles. These portals connect random points in time on both sides, so two portals to Shandae could appear on one planet at the same time but connecting to a Shandae of wildly different time periods. No portal to before the shattering has ever appeared though.
A religion based on self-sacrifice around the Torn God was formed, called Sisstrianity. On the other hand, some doubt the existence of the Torn God, saying that the current siutation is due to lost old world technology or magic that they now lack the knowledge to comprehend.
Shandari have a humanoid size and stature, though the two species aren't related. Their most recognizable features are their horns and tail, which tend to come in bright colors. Some Shandari have wings that take on that color as well. The colors usually match across the three body parts but not always. This includes their eye color as well. Shandari all have white irises, with their sclera colored instead (the part that would be white on a human). Shandari are also naturally immune to poison. In consequence, they lack a sense of taste, as they don't have to identify if food is good to eat or not. Even non-shapeshifters have some baseline transmutive digestion, that likely neutralizes any harmful material. As such, their tongue is only used for talking and moving around food. This also means Shandari don't have a cuisine for other species to explore.
Shandari reproduce asexually. Child-bearing individuals will produce around 1-3 eggs once they have reached maturity (Age 19). This happens involuntarily and at least in their home world they have no way to stop this process. Though, birth is much less strenous on their body than it is on humans and it is socially acceptable to abandon the child before hatching. Shandari children hatch from the egg already able to live independent. They are born with basic survival and language knowledge. It is believed that Shandari genes can store and pass on information much better. Shandari are considered adults at age 19, which is about equal to age 25 of humans.
About half of all Shandari are able to shapeshift. This makes them able to easily repair broken parts of their body as long as they have enough mass to do so. Their bodies can convert various substances into additional mass, generally organic matter. To kill a shapeshifter Shandari, all their excess mass has to be severed until they can no longer form essential organs. Being a shapeshifter and being able to bear children is mutually exclusive.
Among shapeshifters is a condition known as Unianism and occurs in twins. Due to the malleability of their bodies, it can happen that twins don't fully separate and appear to be born as a single person. It can take some time for them to notice they are two consciousnesses in one body, as this condition is rare enough that no one ever expects it. Once them realize though, being shapeshifters, they can give each other their distinct half, though they can't fully separate.
Detousi & Denisi
Shandari bodies vary on a spectrum, with small, slender Detousi on one end and big, muscular Denisi on the other. Usually, Detousi are shapeshifters and Denisi are child-bearers, but some can be the other or neither. Detousi capable of giving birth are the rarest, as their body is too small to grow an egg to the size it could be expelled and they are doomed to miscarry. Non-shapeshifter Detousi are also known to have rather fragile bones to allow for flight. This deficit would otherwise be nullified by shapeshifter abilities. Detousi will often lack wings as they are too heavy to fly anyway. Their bodies have a thick layer of muscle and it is very hard to reach any vital organs through it, so they can take quite the beating in battle.
|Flatlands||Hylundian||White skin, thin tail|
|Mountains||Monian||light blue skin, stronger tail, bigger, stronger wings for long flights|
|Deserts||Dizerian||dark blue skin, thorned tail, bigger ears for heat regulation|
|Seaside||Cielan||teal skin, paddle tail, fin-like wings|
|Snow||?||white skin, furred wings, short tail|
Shandari don't ascribe any stereotypes to variants, aside from seeing Hylundians as pampered weaklings for living in such a dangerless region.
The Shandari society, as it exists after the shattering, is far less advanced as it presumably used to be. They live in simple villages across the shards of their dead planet, only able to live there thanks to the sacrifice of the Torn God. They live off whatever flora, fauna and natural ressources the Torn God was able to preserve in the shattered state. Their unhaltable birthrate is a real problem in a time where they have to very careful with their consumption though and Shandari will often leave their homes if they strain the supplies. Shandari are open and welcoming to others, so it's generally not a problem finding a home elswehere. After the shattering, their universe regularly bumps into other ones, creating portals between them for a few days. Shandari will often leave through these to new worlds as well. Shandari can pick up a fluid level of speaking new languages within hours, so they can fit in quite fast.
The Shandari have three genders, which are traditionally assigned based on body type and societal role. Aegil is traditionally assigned to Detousi and are stereotypically more asocial and aggressive. They are assigned the role of hunting and foraging for resources and killing prey. As such, frail non-shapeshifters are then seen as underperforming their gender. Terahl are traditionally assigned to Denisi and are stereotypically the ones networking with the villages and managing the social needs of the Aegil in their family. They remain in the village and protect it and its inhabitants from harm. The third gender is Firel, which is assigned to abandoned children, regardless of body type. While Shandari are open-minded towards almost all strangers, somehow a suspicion against Shandari not raised in a community has arisen. They are seen as untrustworthy and only interested in themselves.
These gender stereotypes are most prevalent in the time shortly after the shattering and easing up further in the future. Of course there are many transgender Shandari that would rather take on the expectations of another gender or purposefully subvert them. Some are so frustrated with gender culture that they choose to be a firel themselves. Everyone will have their own feelings towards this, so let's leave it at that.
Since Shandari relationships have no sexual component, it was never normalized to only have one partner. Often, Shandari will "marry" their circle of best friends, to put it in human terms. Shandari have no such thing as marriage though, but they do have a similar ritual. Their partners are called Caritami, and when a Caritami group performs the ritual, they traditionally give each other new names. Their birth name is given by their parents, representing their wishes for their child. Their Caritami name then reflects who they have since become. Occasionally, a Shandari's Cartiami will find their name still fits them and leave it. It is believed that the lack of a birth name is the reason Firel are maligned, as no one has placed their hopes in them and in turn the child was corrupted by evil forces instead, according to superstition. Being given a Caritami name can ease such fears. It should be noted that Shandari have no concept of a selective sexuality or romantic interest. They only discriminate based on their personal tastes and values.
Due to having no sense of taste and only limited ingredients, other species may find the taste lacking or even disgusting. Shandari dishes have their focus on visual and tactile sensations rather than taste. The goal is to provide interesting textures and chewing experiences.