The red-blooded Gogleskans evolved from a sea anenome-like ancestor on Goglesk, a geologically stable world with a 12½ hour day lit by an orange sun. They resemble large, dumpy cactuslike plants whose spikes and hair are richly colored in a pattern that seems less random the more you look at it. They have a domelike, neckless head with two widely spaced recessed eyes in front and two additional eyes at the back, at about the same height as an Earth-Human on their knees. Their four legs are stubby and concertina-like; when in use, these increase the Gogleskan height by several inches. They rest in an upright position, sitting on a flat, muscular pad, and smell faintly of musk and peppermint.
The Gogleskan voice comes from four small vertical breathing orifices encircling the waist. They speak by producing minor variations in the quantity of air that is expelled through these orifices, and can eat and talk simultaneously. The language sounds like harsh sighing, and is slow, impersonal, and imprecise, using phrases such as "gratitude is expressed". Their names are used only once during a conversation for the purpose of introduction, recognition, or for identification, after which everyone is referred to impersonally.
Their erect, ovoid bodies are covered by a mass of unruly hair and spikes, which are less irregular in their size and placing than is at first apparent. The body hair has mobility, rising stiffly and then lying flat several times a minute, with some of the strands crossing at right angles to give a plaid effect. The spikes, which twitch, give evidence of specialization; some are extremely flexible and grouped together to form a digital cluster, others are longer and stiffer, a partially atrophied defense mechanism. The longest spikes are four stingers which ooze a yellow secretion from their tips; these usually lie flat on the head, partially concealed by the surrounding hair. There is a nerve linkage between the base of the brain and the muscles which raise these stingers and compress the venom reservoirs. The venom causes severe muscular contractions, strong enough to paralyse and even break bones. The Gogleskans instinctively sting anything they find threatening.
There are also eight long, fine, pale silvery tendrils lying amid the multicolored cranial hair, used for contact telepathy. These are connected to a small mineral-rich lobe at the center of the brain. The follicle structure is unlike the surrounding hair and also has muscle and nerve connections, giving them the capability of independent movement. They are much larger than the stingers, and more flexible. The tendrils are organic transceivers operating by induction. Unlike in most species, this telepathic link works with any other species. The telepathic function is and not under conscious control and is instinctively triggered by the presence of strangers or anything that is considered a threat. The tendrils give comfort to and educate the young, as well as intensifying the mating pleasure.
In order to avoid the joining (their racial psychosis) Gogleskans are intensely individualistic; personal contact, except for reproduction and child care, is dangerous for all involved. Their particular evolutionary background as food animals makes cooperation impossible, and solitude a prime survival instinct; as a result they know how to concentrate on a subject almost to the exclusion of anything else, and have the ability to withdraw and compartmentalize their thinking. In spite of this they are psychologically stable and have a careful and curious viewpoint. For some reason, they consider shapeshifters terrifying.
They give birth through the base of their body, and the parent must be awake during childbirth and for a short period afterwards. Parental physical contact is necessary for the maintenance of their mental coherency and occurs at a very early age. The young are almost hairless and can join together for comfort since they lack the physical strength to inflict major damage to surroundings.
They are technologically backward in the physical sciences and their progress is slow due to their lack of group cooperation. They have no archaeology, no long-distance radio communications, no evidence of visual or radio signaling systems, and no curative surgery. Anatomical work is only possible on cadavers that have been stripped of their stingers and residual poisons; for physical examinations on patients they use long-handled surgical instruments, due to their dislike of physical proximity.
When in situations of extreme fear or duress Gogleskans instinctively emit a loud, continuous hissing noise which sounds like a whistle, wavering up and down in pitch. The organ producing the distress signal is a membrane that can be vibrated independently of the respiratory system; it would have been more effective underwater. The noise generates an ancient genetic reaction in bystanders who join in making the noise, and the stiff hairs on their body link with those of the others in an almost weave-like arrangement. Joining this group entity is mostly involuntary, and the participants feel increasingly safe as their body hair weaves together. As the first few join and share their minds there is a pleasant and exciting feeling of increased intellect and awareness, but as the numbers increase it becomes more difficult to think until thought is completely submerged by an overwhelming need to attack everything in the vicinity. They then destroy everything in their path, although they may not realize that they are doing it; this was how they eventually drove their ancient predator (resembling a dark-skinned 80-meter wide manta ray) into extinction. When they are joined telepathically, they remember the pain of those who were eaten while still linked; this can only be forgotten by going into a berserker rage, blotting out all conscious thought.
ST 11, DX 9 [0 points].
Curious, Edgy and Reclusive are common.