Intelligent major race descended from Ancient genetic manipulations of carnivore/chaser stock transplanted from Terra ( Sol / Solomani Rim 1827) to Lair ( Grnouf / Province 2408) during the heyday of the Ancients approximately 300,000 years ago.
The typical Vargr is about 1.6 metres tall and weighs approximately 60 kilograms. They are upright bipedal carnivores, with rear limbs digitigrade and hands very similar in size and appearance to those of a human, although with significant internal differences. They have approximately the same physical parameters as humans and are able to use the same equipment without modification or additional instruction. On the average their reactions are slightly faster than those of the typical human, but individuals vary widely. Vargr still bear a considerable resemblance to their ancestral canine stock externally, though internally there are many important differences. The Vargr senses of smell and sight are superior to those of humans.
Inhabiting a region rimward of the Imperium, the Vargr were a puzzle to Imperial xenologists for many years. Their biochemistry and genetic make-up is almost identical with a number of terrestrial animals, but differs radically from most flora and fauna indiginous to Lair (their purported homeworld). Researches during the early years of the Third Imperium concluded them to be the result of genetic manipulation of transplanted Terran animals of the family Canidae, and almost certainly of the genus Canis. The development of intelligence and of manipulation was thus artificially induced, and not the result of natural mutations or other environmental factors. Considerable adaptation took place, although exact knowledge of the nature of this manipulation is scant.
Certainly the Vargr were never fully fitted for the environment of Lair . This has produced rigorous conditions which have caused the further natural selection and adaptation essential to the survival of the race. This may even have resulted in developments not introduced by the Ancients in their original genetic experimentation on Vargr ancestral stock.
Although gregarious, the group behaviour of Vargr is characterised by a constant struggle for dominance within the group. The ability to exert personal authority over others derives from an individual's prestige and force of personality. The Vargr have various words to describe this important personal characteristic, but humans call it charisma. Individuals with high charisma are likely to become leaders of groups, even if they do not have real leadership skills. Charisma and the struggle for dominance play a crucial role in Vargr society.
The Vargr have no centralised government. Inded, there is no government which can be said to be "typically Vargr". Every conceivable form of governmental organisation can be found somewhere in the Vargr Extents - often more than one exists on the same world. The only cohesive force in the Extents is a fierce racial pride, which can cause a slight tendency towards racial cooperation. The higher the level of the Vargr government, the more unstable it becomes because of the difficulty of obtaining consent of all Vargr involved. Vargr have long suffered from an inability to organise themselves (to any degree or for any length of time) beyond the star system level, and their empires rise and fall with unsurprising regularity.
While only a few planets populated completely by Vargr exist within the Imperium, there are millions of Vargr citizens of loyal subject planets. Additionally, Vargr adventurers, criminals, mercenaries and traders can be found throughout the coreward reaches of the Imperium.
The key elements shaping Vargr societies are a very strong centrifugal force resulting from an emphasis on consensus and informal lines of authority, and an equally strong centripetal force resulting from a deeply ingrained family-clan-tribe-nation loyalty.
Centralized authority is extremely limited at the upper levels of Vargr society, and action is based on broad coalitional concerns, with a constant splitting and rejoining of dissident factions. Traditionally, this has made it very difficult for more centralized and organized societies such as the Imperium to deal on a meaningful basis with what passes for Vargr states.
The Vargr have little respect for formal authority, and what respect they might have decreases as that authority becomes more remote. Vargr tend to respect informal authority figures more, and they obey superiors who are better known to them.
The Vargr have an intensive racial pride, and they are easily insulted. They are prone to enter into fights without regard to possible consequences. Vargr social organization is difficult to characterize in Terran terms, but it can be most closely compared to the Dakota Sioux of North America in the 1800s AD, if the analogy is not pressed too far.
Even among the most stable Vargr governments, a highly charismatic leader can attract followers for almost anything. The neighbors of the Vargr are constantly the subjects of impromptu raids and scattered piracy by bands of Vargr (totally without government sanction, of course) who have been talked into a raid, a battle, or a war by a charismatic leader.
(SUPP-3, 1105; ADV-3, 1106; ADV-12, 1107; ALIENS-3, 1111; MT-ENCYC: p43, 1120)
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