Pikhans are small, rodent-derived sophonts possessing high manual dexterity, and noted for their mechanical and engineering aptitude. The typical Pikhan is approximately one (or slightly more) metre tall, and masses about ? kilograms. Excellent night vision and acute hearing are provided by large eyes and ears. Pikhans are lightly built, covered with soft brown to grey fur, and are equipped with a prehensile tail.
That Pikhan developed any technology at all is amazing, considering their home world, Pikhandaru, is one of the most inhospitable places in the Spinward Marches. The planet is known for fierce windstorms of hurricane force, frequent flooding and earthquakes, and a large variety of other natural disasters; this has had a pronounced effect on Pikhan culture.
Firstly, the main social and political unit is the cooperative. Because a "we're all in this together" philosophy permeates Pikhan society, along with the need to cooperate just to survive, the typical Pikhan is cooperative to the group effort, doing what is best for the group. Additionally, since adversity often strikes, the Pikhan is generous to those in need. No Pikhan will deny the needy food, shelter, or necessities.
The term "Pikha" derives from the race's original language, and means "builder". Pikhans are probably best known as engineers. Equipment designed to survive on Pikhandaru has to be tough and reliable in the extreme, and that tradition continues to this day.
With the introduction of Imperial technology, life on Pikhandaru has been moderated somewhat, and the Pikhan have for the first time, leisure. Rather than abandoning their methodical engineering, they have used the time to refine it. The Pikhan engineer seeks to perfect each device, seeking the ultimate expression, balancing simplicity of form with complexity of action. As a result, Pikhans are rarely ever satisfied with any device. Everything can be improved. The workaholic Pikhans will constantly try to improve almost any device that comes their way, often without regard to the wishes of the owner. A Pikhan who has improved a device to the point that it can no longer be improved is accorded the title "Master Engineer", and his name is forever linked to the "Masterpiece" he develops.
It should be noted that the Pikhan does not build for profit. Indeed, the communal way of life on Pikhandaru never fostered the concept of "money", or even private property. The Pikhan economy functions as a system of communism and hierarchy of needs incomprehensible to the outsider, and indeed to most Pikhans. What matters is that what has to be done gets done - somehow. As a result, Pikhans have no concept of money or value or the free market, and can be compared to male Aslans in this respect. With the introduction of Imperial institutions, some Pikhans are adapting to the free market system, but the external economy of Pikhandaru still has to be managed by non-Pikhan administrators. Perhaps the greatest strike against money, and the are that has prevented its incursion into Pikhan society, is the fact that, as the Pikhans say: "It doesn't do anything."
With regard to the social structure of Pikhan society - there is none; at least no apparent one. There is no social caste. Instead, the Pikhan who seems to know the most about whatever activity is underway is, by general acclaim, in charge. Life on Pikhandaru has taught Pikhans the value of knowledge and experience. A Pikhan respects another being for his ability, and will ignore, for the most part, reputation, and noble or military rank.
This has interesting applications to the Pikhan military. There are no officers or enlisted ranks, indeed no ranks of any kind. Instead, the chain of command is highly fluid, with the most able Pikhan in whatever particular endeavour being pursued taking charge. Consequently, Pikhan serving in Imperial units must be vigourously screened, and placed in assignments where their "insubordination" can be politely ignored or minimized. Pikhan will tend to listen to, respect, and obey the most able officer or NCO, not necessarily the highest ranking.
Pikhan are rare, but not unknown in the Imperium, but are usually seen in the company of a non-Pikhan "keeper". Pikhans love gadgets, and will frequently have many, most in the process of being "improved". The Pikhan's own equipment will be the best he can get. He will make as much of it as he can himself, the rest he will improve. Pikhan are highly discerning of equipment.
Notes on Playing Pikhans.
Strange, but not impossible. Some Pikhans have learned to appreciate the free market and what it can do for Pikhandaru. Imperial technology has helped moderate the torturous climate of the Pikhan home world, and provided new products and raw materials. These must be paid for in hard currency.
In order to provide this currency, several collectives have been formed to produce trade goods. All the products of these collectives are marked by PIKHAN TRADING UNION, INC.
PTUI was founded by a number of the retired scouts who originally administered Pikhandaru. PTUI is now administered by their descendants. PTUI markets a moderate variety of typically superb Pikhan goods, and is also the sole agent of PikCon - the Pikhan heavy construction collective.
PikChron Fine watches - Regarded as the finest mechanicals made. Prices range from 1,000 - 20,000 cr.
M.M. Shelago -Superlative one of a kind firearms. All are made of superplatinum. 10,000 cr. and up.
Turbine Technology - medium technology, high efficiency power plants. Incredibly reliable. One has been running non-stop for 31 years.
Fungus-Amung-Us Rare mushrooms, fungus, and related gourmet items.