Art by, Frog
Common Jobs: Farmer, Live Stock, Chef
Likes: hospitality, grain, sharing/trading wool
Dislikes: wastefulness, hostility
Attack Method: Smeepers have very little methods to attack when unarmed, and will reach for any nearby objects to aid them. Otherwise, they will flee.
Smeepers once worshipped a god by the name of Staefuff, a kind goddess of the Harvest. As their numbers have dwindled, so have those who follow the word of Staefuff, however the small sects that still practice worshipping the goddess fiercely hold fast to their beliefs. The rest of the population, as few that there are, have quickly turned to limboism or obmilism upon introduction.
The common smeeper is a rotund, featherless biped. They sport a pair of small, flightless wings, a short tail, and an upturned beak-like snout. Although shaped like a bird, smeepers have less in common with avians and more in common with warm blooded mammals. Smeeps have very little differences between sexes, none of which are immediately identifiable visually but instead are told apart by the specific hormones they give off. Smeeps have a very tenuous grasp on the idea of gender, and most will respond to any pronouns unless specified.
All smeepers grow 'wool', which is essentially a layer of fat that is grown on the outside of the body. This wool is unlike feathers or hair, instead it is a very spongy, dense material that may be shorn off the body and regrown. Smeeps thermoregulate with far more ease with a full coat, but must sheer regularly to keep their wool from becoming overgrown. A smeeper produces a full coat of wool in roughly a week after being shorn, provided that they have been fed enough and properly cared for within that time. Such as, a smeeper will usually sheer or trim their wool weekly.
Although the wool of a smeeper is the most famously edible, every part of the smeeper is edible, from their meat to the bones. The wool itself is a fantastically versatile food item, as just about any method to cook food may be applied to smeeper wool. While not all methods have proven to make something worthwhile, it is very difficult to produce something inedible when cooking with smeeper wool. When preserved properly, its shelf life can last for years on end, and is generally very filling and nutritious, making for the perfect emergency rations. The rest of the smeeper, although less versatile, has been regarded as 'the most succulent, delicious meat ever known to anyone'. Even their eggs, only laid in a clutch of one or two eggs once every 20 years, can be melted down into a tasty paste like substance that is similar to chocolate.
Baby smeepers are born covered in down, which is much softer and less dense than the adult's wool, as well as being entirely flavorless for the duration of their childhood. Baby smeeps will mature over the course of 10 years, and will begin to grow in their adult wool coat by age 9, gradually losing their down coat over time. Elderly smeepers will also begin to lose the intensity of their flavors and colors in their wool as they age. An older smeep is easily identifiable by the length of their comb and wattle. The eldest smeepers will have a brightly colored comb, contrasted against their greyed with age wool.
Smeepers are often very soft spoken and quiet individuals, however will vocalize often with a unique call, a nasally 'smeet,' when excited or frightened.
Sweet and simple folk, smeepers are characterized as being a very peaceful species. They are rare to judge a cover by it's book, and have historically welcomed other species with open arms and naivety. Smeeps are excited by the prospect of meeting new species, as it is a chance to learn of the worlds outside of their humble home planet, as well as a chance to offer or sell wool to foreigners.
Wool is of high cultural importance to most, if not all smeepers. It is seen as a common courtesy to offer a piece of one's own coat to strangers, and an obligation to give one's full coat of wool to feed those closest to you. Smeepers that are hesitant to share their wool are seen as greedy, and even more egregious is to let wool go to waste. In smeeper communities, no bit of wool may go to waste, as even the excess is often used to make fabric and/or building material. Above all else, smeeps value the ability to use all that is given to you, and to be grateful for what you are given.
While most smeepers do not openly oppose the idea of new technology, many are frightened by high tech and are hesitant to use such products. This is especially true for those still living on Althaea-O, whose technological development has been stunted by their low populations. These smeepers are comfortable living their gentle, rural lives, more than half of the population being farm owners. Smeepers that have been moved to Helmutzi have shown to be more willing to try tech more advanced than trucks and plows. Although their ability to learn how to use this technology is a little slow, once they're comfortable, they strive to use it to its fullest potential if possible.
It wasn't until the explorer era that the smeeper race was discovered. Up until that point, Althaea-O had been a hidden paradise that was nestled in a hostile, lawless sector. While the planets and races around them would butt heads with one another, the smeepers lived in a quiet bliss, agriculture and technological advancements blooming at its own steady pace. If it were not for the inevitable discovery of the smeepers, by what historians would later come to understand was a group of slayrm first, they may of had a chance at reaching the space age on their own.
Upon discovery, it was quickly learned by those who hunted down Althaea-O's natives that smeepers, the soft and sugary beings they were, were quite possibly the best thing that these newcomers have ever eaten in their lives. Years of openly poaching smeeps for their meat and wool would follow, as the news of a wonder food, the 'greater sugar fowl' existing in a lawless zone with no one there to defend them. Smeeper numbers dwindled sharply as demand for their meat rose. Some would choose to capture and attempt farming the poor creatures rather than hunting them down to extinction, but early attempts at farming smeepers ended as patience thinned. Smeepers breed far too slowly to make keeping them worth while, and the demand for wool was just as great for the demand for their meat.
After the events of the extinction era, it was thought the smeeper race too was just another victim to add to the list of species forever lost. However, despite all odds, the remains of the smeeper race persisted in hiding, away from the horrors of war and the hunt of their people. By now, the tales of the universe's best tasting creature was all but a memory, and the remaining population climbed out from the ashes.
More time would pass. Smeepers, in spite of holding on through the worst of their history, continued to drop in numbers. Althaea-O was no longer the lush and lively planet that they had come to know. Whilst in hiding, those who had once hunted the smeeps had then stripped it of most of its resources, leaving Althaea-O near permanently scarred. Before they could succumb to extinction, it would be their luck that one last explorer would find them, one knowledgeable to the wonders of smeeper meat and wool but was not here for the hunt. It took just one uutzi soldier to settle an agreement between the dying race and the Risen, that they would take the smeepers under their wing to save them from imminent extinction. All they asked for was their wool, not their meat nor eggs. The last of the smeepers eagerly agreed to the proposition, one that would hopefully lead the path to the eventual recovery of the smeeper race.
In present time, smeepers are a protected species under the care of the Risen. Their population increases little by little with every new generation, having nearly doubled in numbers since their initial agreement with the Risen forces. Although smeepers are meant to stay within the regulated communities that they have been placed in, there are some even smaller communities that exist outside of them, and a growing population of smuggled smeepers has been accumulating within Cavity since their introduction to Helmutzi.
Althaea-O was once a planet flourishing with life. In a fledgling universe, the humble planet grew with plants and fauna alike, with very little strife found while researching the planet's history. After it's inevitable discovery, most of the planet's resources have been stripped, leaving all but a single patch of oasis on the planet's surface. Due to the heavy protection status placed upon the smeeper species, accessing Althaea-O is extremely difficult for just any passing ship. The zone in which it is located in is lawless, all but for Althaea-O itself, so not only is it very difficult to land on the planet, it is equal parts dangerous to travel to it as well.
Those who do somehow make it past the heavy regulations and background checks set in place by the risen uuzti occupying the planet, they'll find a small number of very peaceful, rustic villages.
Meringue: The meringue smeeper, also known as a Gander, is a variation of smeeper known for being more aggressive than the common smeep. Meringues are taller and more muscular than the average smeep, some growing as tall as 9 feet upon reaching adulthood. Meringues produce less wool as well, and as a commodity are seen as 'less desirable' than the other two breeds of smeeper. Where they lack in producing wool, they make up in brute strength and a slightly higher intelligence score. The meringue smeeps are more likely to be construction workers, and work other labor intensive jobs that normal smeeps would otherwise struggle with. They may also be employed as security or bodyguards where deemed necessary.
A good portion of all existing meringue smeepers exist outside of the Risen implemented compounds. Their wool coats are too thinly layered to justify transporting any to Serenity, and even if they attempted, the communities of meringues that live outside of the established villages are too distrusting of the risen for them to willingly do anything without a fight. Meringues, unlike their gentle cousins, are almost fearless and foolhardy when met with opposition. While their technology is still rather primitive compared to many other species, these outsider meringues are well armed and unafraid of chasing a threat down with a loaded shotgun in hand.
Zefir: A breed of smeeper developed on Helmutzi, specifically in Serenity, the zefir smeeper is an especially soft and fluffy variation of smeeper. Bred almost solely for the quality of their wool, which has a very light and airy in texture, making it less filling of a food product, but makes for an excellent clothing and insulation material. The wool of a zefir traps heat in it much easier than regular smeep wool, and is used for all manners of wool lined coats and pants, bedding material, even in home insulation. As a draw back however, zefirs are dangerously prone to cold weather once their coat has been shorn away, and it takes twice as long for them to grow back their wool to a full and sustainable coat. To the uuzti, this invaluable resource is one worth putting all their effort into keeping alive, which can prove difficult without the right housing.
Zefir smeepers, due to being bred and born almost exclusively on Helmutzi, are largely ignorant to common smeeper behavior and courtesies. It's still heavily encouraged to share one's wool with others, but many do not know the life of farm work or the fear of new technology. Zefirs are even more susceptible to following authority blindly, having not known much else.
You Are What You Eat: Smeepers are highly affected by the environment that they live in. Specifically, their wool will take on the properties of whatever their regular diet consists of. Depending on the food or Foods that the smeeper consumes the most, their wool will change color, taste, smell, and sometimes texture accordingly. For example, smeeps from their home planet primarily will eat a native crop that has a high sugar content, and as a result, these smeeps will grow an off white colored wool, that is sugary in taste and smell. A smeeper fed exclusively raw meat will become as such, and will have a red and white marble patterning across their wool. A smeep fed a very specific type of cake will eventually taste of it, and may even take on a bready, cake-like texture. As this flavoring method works with about any food, feeding a smeeper a more diverse diet will result in multicolored wool, the different tastes mixed across their coat. However, this mixing doesn't always produce a pleasant flavor, as it takes a very careful section to make a harmonious flavor in the wool.
When not used for culinary purposes, smeepers will practice specific eating habits as fashion. Most smeeps are not particularly flashy, but do enjoy showing off in the form of colorful and patterned coats. A smeep with a thick and colorful coat is one regarded as highly attractive between other smeepers.
• If you come into contact with a smeeper who's wool is similarly patterned to any other sentient species and/or their meat, contact your local authorities immediately.
• The entirety of the smeeper population is exclusive to two areas; Althaea-O, their home planet, and Helumtzi. However, it is hypothesized that as much as 1% of the entire smeeper population does exist outside of the compounds controlled by the risen and the villages located on their Althaea-O. Given their numbers, finding a smeeper that has escaped these areas is considered a once in a lifetime experience, and their wool to be enjoyed to its fullest if one is lucky enough to be offered some.
• Docking the wings of a newly matured smeeper was once a more popular practice, mostly in the religious circles that worshiped Staefuff. With the last of the worshipers growing old and others dropping the worship of staefuff in favor of limbo/obmilism, the practice becomes more and more scarce, but not entirely defunct. While originally seen as an offering to the goddess, it had its practical usage, as the wings of a smeep are prone to infection, or breaking as the bones in them are very small and brittle. Priests would gather the matured smeeps and dock them all on the same day, and as smeeper tradition would have it, would cook the wings and serve them to the rest of the villagers.