Khepri

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Contents

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Lore

The Hive Mother Yuftaris was born blind, and could not look upon the universe that birthed her. She felt the warmth of the sun upon her freshly-hatched flesh, and knew that it must be beautiful. But Yuftaris was also born starving, and, overcome with a maddening hunger, blindly consumed everything within her reach. Yuftaris devoured stars; she devoured worlds—this was her dark aspect, given life: Aburame, the Swarm.

When Aburame-Yuftaris was sated, she fell into a deep slumber, wrapping herself in a cocoon through which no edge could pierce. When she emerged, her first sight was the remains of all that she had devoured. Stricken by grief and loneliness, she sought companionship in the rubble, and, finding none, set out to create her own. She crafted hollow shells, iron-hard so that they could be pierced by neither tooth nor claw nor earthly weapon, and filled them with the remains of broken worlds. And they were called Khepri—the insects.

And then she set them loose on the world, for like, funsies, and they’ve been going at it ever since.

Characteristics

The Khepri are an insectoid race that draw from locusts, beetles, termites, etc. (Subspecies based on other bugs don’t currently exist, but are encouraged! Any bug is a good bug.) They have the chitin, they have the mandibles, they have the wings and antennae and 2-4 arms (YMMV). Carapace color ranges from earthy tones such as black, brown, or yellow/orange, to iridescent blues, greens, and purples. Khepri stand anywhere from 3-5 feet tall, with drone-types leaning towards the smaller side, and soldier-types towards the larger. What they lack in physical strength they make up for with speed, agility, and sheer resilience, easily brushing off attacks and harsh external conditions. They love the heat most of all, as they are a desert-dwelling race, who rarely venture far from their hives. The ones seen in populated areas are typically scouts, exiles, or odd souls who felt drawn to something out in the world (though in recent years there has been a rise in the number of “travelling hives"—groups of Khepri who build their hives on the backs of massive desert-dwelling beasts, and steer them wherever they want to go).

Khepri consider other races to be slightly abominable, but also to be pitied, as they were built backwards and have their skeletons inside of their bodies. Khepri harbor a particular distrust of Deep Ones and Syrens, due to their general dislike of water. Water kills, so anything that lives in it full-time is probably up to no good. Among humans, they have a tendency to be viewed as threatening, if not downright disturbing, and as such throw their lot in with other monsters when given the choice. It is also not uncommon for Khepri to raid the farms and cities of humans they feel have encroached on their territory, consuming everything in their path.

In general, Khepri tend to be skittish around strangers of any race, having been around the same collection of people their whole life. For a non-Khepri to be invited to join a Khepri’s hive is a high honor.

Khepri live in communal hives, either in family units or groups of friends. Hives are built around a central hub which contain marketplaces and host revels and other festivals. Living spaces occupy the upper levels, and sub-basements dug down underneath are used as storage space and for farming fungus. General farms are set up in natural or artificial caverns just below the surface, with holes knocked in the roof to allow sunlight through. (These can be closed up during serious weather to prevent flooding). Veins of groundwater are tapped and used for irrigation. Some hives have terraced beds set up on the outside, for crops that require more sunlight.

The Khepri diet consists mainly of lichens, fungus, and the meat and eggs of smaller insects. They enjoy mushroom wine, and anything from an aquatic source is considered the highest of delicacies, due to the difficulty of obtaining it. They abhor wastefulness, and whatever cannot be eaten will either be reused or somehow recycled.

Pantheon/Religious Practices

  • Yuftaris, the Hive Mother: The Khepri’s primary god, in her Light aspect. She is the nurturing, creative force who created the Khepri and set them out to wander the earth and rebuild the world she destroyed in her madness. Often represented as a black beetle with the sun contained within her body.
  • Aburame, the Swarm: The dark aspect of Yuftaris and the Many to her One. It is mindless and destructive, consuming everything in its path—even other insects—and is considered a bringer of madness and revelry. Solar eclipses hold special significance for the Khepri, serving as a representation of the Swarm consuming the sun. Hives host celebrations full of frenzied revels and feasting (to avoid being consumed by the Swarm, you must convince it you are part of it) that begin on the dawn of the day the eclipse is to occur, and continue onward until after it is done.
  • Cult of the Swarm: Believe in “consumption for consumption’s sake” and view it as a cleansing process that strips the world of what is temporary (and therefore meaningless), providing a clear slate from which to begin anew. The act of consumption is the most important—wanton destruction is frowned upon, as it puts what has been destroyed to no further use.
  • The Drowned God: The god of death by drowning, considered one of the more horrific ways to die, as most Khepri cannot swim and avoid water whenever possible. Additionally, the remains of those who drown are often difficult, if not impossible to recover, rendering traditional funeral rites unperformable. The Drowned God presides over the underworld, which lies beneath the waves, and keeps the souls of drowned Khepri with him as company.
  • The Khepri view of water is twofold, much like their goddess. They recognize it as something necessary for life—it waters their crops, their livestock, and themselves. But in abundance, it kills, through flooding or unpredictable currents. Rain on the day of an important decision or birth is viewed as a bad omen. A child born on a rainy day (or, even more rarely, at sea) will be considered cursed, doomed to live their life perpetually drawn to the thing that would kill them.
Common symbols representing Yuftaris, and one representing Aburame, used primarily by the Cult of the Swarm. Art by Galen.

Death and Funerals

The bodies of Khepri dead are consumed in a ritual meal that serves as both funeral and wake. Organs are consumed one by one, in a specific order, with prayers said over each. Certain organs are typically consumed by certain family members—the heart is reserved for a Khepri’s spouse or partner(s), and the brain is divided among their offspring, to give them knowledge with which to continue living. The carapace is then either recycled or preserved.

Khepri do not have graveyards, but will construct shrines to honor the dead. Families may set up a small shrine in the home, centered around a piece of the deceased’s carapace that has been preserved in amber. Hives may set up communal shrines, and may have a singular shrine in place to honor a person of importance.

Some Khepri carry amber tokens chipped off the “grave” of someone they admire, or a piece containing a preserved part of a deceased family member, e.g. a scrap of their wing or chitin. Some even make a hobby of it, though this is generally frowned upon, as wearing copious amounts of amber is considered to be the mark of someone in mourning. Amber jewelry may be given as a gift to the family of someone who has died.

Red clothing is also a sign of mourning, as part of the post-mortem recycling process involves using the deceased's carapace to make dye. Along with those who wear amber outside of mourning periods, those who wear large amounts of red on the regular are considered unseemly or morbid. The closest pinkie approximation to this behavior would be the "goth" subculture.

Subspecies

Fungal Symbiotes

Fungal filter masks. Types A and B are garb-friendly and assume mouth-breathing Khepri. Types D and E function for a realistic Khepri build, which breathe through tracheae in the skin. Art by Galen.
Fungal woods. Images from Nausicaa, which is encouraged viewing!

A subspecies of Khepri that build their hives in dense fungal woods, feeding on the fungus and other insects that thrive there. Years of breathing in spore-polluted air has rendered them incapable of processing the purer air of the outside world for longer than a day. Fungal Khepri who travel long distances away from home must wear breathing apparatuses, which consist of a mask hooked up to a filter bag filled with spore-producing fungus.

Fungal Khepri develop symbiotic relationships with certain strains of fungus, allowing them to grow on or inside them in exchange for a heightened immune system. Parasites that might ordinarily infect a Khepri are repulsed by the presence of the fungus, or killed off by fungal toxins in the body. It’s not uncommon for elderly Khepri to drastically increase the amount of fungus they host, to eke out a few extra years of life.

Fungal Khepri eschew the typical funeral practices of their desert-dwelling siblings, instead allowing their bodies to be consumed by the fungus they hosted in life.

Racial Identifiers

  • Facial markings in brown or black to represent mandibles and antenna, drawn below the mouth and on the forehead.
  • Khepri dress in browns, tans, blacks, and orange/yellows, with iridescent or leather accents. Standard Khepri garb may be considered drone-type, while soldier-type garb is generally darker and incorporates more armor and leather pieces.
  • Commonly: insect wings on the back of your cloak or tunic. Strongly encouraged, ‘cuz it looks rad!
  • Optional: Eyes or mouth covered with wrappings, dark glasses, or face masks. Wrist/ankle wrappings.
  • For fungal Khepri: a breathing apparatus; fungal growths, either incorporated into your garb or painted on, e.g. as brown/green blotches on the skin.
  • The Khepri views on reuse/recycling are encouraged with garb! Get unused fabric and metal scraps from your friends! Accessorize with things found second-hand! Whatever!


The single existing Khepri is currently Galen (Galen Haecky on FB), who will happily answer any questions for interested parties.

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