The Stonecarvers (probably needs a better name)
[Pithy Summery] An entire race of deranged paranoids who only function because form mutual protection groups against eachother. If backed into a corner they'll become a functioning unit and extreemly dangerous. I imagine that they'll get wiped out repeatedly only to turn out they were just hiding and plotting an intricate revenge from the shadows.
HomePlanet: an unremarkable Terrain world
Post or Pre fall: A bit of both, they were encountered right before the Orions vanished, but cut them selves off from all contact, the Orions vanished before they could forcibly install themselves as benevolent dictators. The undisputed proof that aliens exist is the only reason the Stonecarvers stopped their frequent wars.
Why they left for the stars: more living space, more resources, more money, standard stuff.
Physical description: Biologically a Stonecarver has a spiral shell with 3 complete loops and half of a 4th, the spiral twists anti-clockwise and the forth ends so that the opening is pointing towards the ground, more or less depending on the individual. There are two sub-races of stone carvers, one has a brown shell, one has a greenish brown, there are no differences other than colour.
Internally the shell is filled with standard organs with the brain at the centre, followed by the second half of the digestive system. Next is the heart as well as two specialised organs that produce blood (they don't have bone marrow after all) and finally the outermost organs: the respiratory system and the first half of the digestive system.
Extending outside the shell (at least historically, they still have these but they keep them inside their shell) are two very flexible eye stalks, and a bunch of tenticals that more resemble a snake's body than anything else, these tenticals are strong enough to serve as legs.
Because Stonecarvers have no way to purge themselves of indigestible food save vomiting (about as unpleasant as to them as to a human) they are extremely fussy eaters. While they could get a large amount of nutrition from cooking meet and vegetables they can't use all of it so its pretty much off the menu, except in some subcultures (It happens when young rich kids throw the worse kind of “wild teen party”, and rather more frequently in a specific subculture dedicated to eating solids (or chew and spit for the light version). Both are extremely frowned upon by mainstream culture, the first is the only one that really deserves it) Traditionally they dipped their tenticals into water and used a special secreted glue to trap huge amounts of plankton equivalents for their food. More recently they use technology to create digestible soups, since then Stonecarvers are notably larger and longer livied.
The Stonecarvers cybernetic enhancements consist of two hydrolic legs bolted to the side of their shell, two spindly 3 fingered arms bolted to the front and a CCTV camera on the front. All three are wired to what looks like a miniature power plant, chimneys and all, on the top of the shell (it actually is the power supply). Some richer Stonecarvers have extras such as clip on engine powered wheels, or armour plating.
Stonecarvers rarely if ever emerge from their shells these days.
Society Ask any alien who has had contact with a Stonecarver and you'll get the same response: “Paranoid nutcase”, and this is mostly accurate. Stonecarvers are paranoid to the point of ridiculous, at a stretch one may trust their mother, but that's about it. However they're missing the whole picture, yes the Stonecarvers are paranoid nuts, but they don't just sit around quakeing in their shells, they Prepare: The average Stonecarver has a bomb shelter, self trained immunity to most poisons, several chemical and gas testing kits, plenty of weapons and is fully trained in numerous survival and combat skills. They also have plans ranging from surviving floods to time travel accidents and zombie apocalypses, and not just any plans, but well thought out and highly detailed plans. Sure you can laugh, but when your 10 years back in time and desperately need to contact your past self, or knee deep in the undead you'll be singing a different tune.
Despite this all consuming paranoia the Stonecarvers actually manage to have a functional society, (to the puzzlement of most aliens), the secret is based on the varying levels of distrust. Society is composed entirely of marriages of continence with people you don't trust, against people you Really don't trust. On the very local scale people don't attack their neighbours because the neighbours have a mutual defence pact against the Brown/Brown Green Stonecarvers a few streets over (Stonecarvers are immensely racist). Cities don't descend into riots because they're worried about the next city over, on the international/interplanetary level they're all standing together against aliens.
A very military and espionage oriented race, they make good turtles.
Combat bonuses for both ship and ground – they're all highly trained
Super ground combat defence bonus – the entire planet is well armed and well trained, if possible capturing a planet should also kill most of its population since they joined the battle. They also never integrate with conquering races, enslave or nothing. Expect lots of sabotage from the remaining population.
Planetary defence bonus: They're really really well funded.
Colonisation bonuses: all those survival skills really help overcome the early troubles of colonisation, easiest to represent this with some free population and buildings.
Espionage defence bonus: you try spying on the most paranoid species in the galaxy without them getting suspicious.
Espionage bonus: all that paranoia helps here too, and sending a birthday card back home is good practice for sending the documents back from foreign space.
If possible some sort of bonus when they're up against the wall - it actually stops them from plotting against each-other.
Sadly they have penalties on just about every area of civilian life, they may have a functional society, but they're not good at it.
Ship design outline
The stereotypical Human ship also works for the Stonecarvers, look at Human ships from starcraft, or the Trader Emergency Coalition from Sins of a Solar empire for good examples. Guns feature prominently. PD dosn't want visible weapons, weapon mountings are ok though[/edit]