RSE Player Guide
This page is an attempt to provide a guide for players new to playing Romulans. It is important to note that the following information is to serve as a generalized guideline to the status quo of Romulan culture and society here on WNO. By no way does this forcefully bind you to all of the beliefs described below, however is meant to serve as an aid to role play.
Romulans on WNO are, culturally, based on the Romulans of Diane Duane's Rihannsu series of novels. As such, they are a complex people, honourable and passionate.
When creating a new Romulan it's important to select a House and write a background.
Things to Remember
It is easy to fall into the trap of the "ubiquitous Romulan," or the stereotypical, green-blooded, plaster-haired alien. Rihannsu are typically cast as the villain or antagonist in canon Trek, and while this is for good reason, it makes distinguishing among different Rihannsu difficult -- much in the same way that distinguishing among different Klingons was difficult until they became "good guys" and we were thus allowed to see more things from their perspective. We have a little less help with Rihannsu, but you could also say that we have more freedom. In the end, you'll say what the Tal Shiar wants you to say. But on to creating your Rihannsu PC. (A single Romulan is called a 'Rihannha.')
Rihannsu society is highly structured. Nearly all positions of power and influence are held by members of the Rihannsu noble houses, or hfihar. Rihannsu born into powerful hfihar have a much easier time of realizing their ambition. Rest assured that there is always ambition to be realized. Low-born Rihannsu (or Rihannsu belonging to less influential hfihar) often enter into the service of other noble houses (hfirnn). The entire caste structure is one of opportunity; the more important your station, the more likely you are to get noticed. Nevertheless, social mobility is quite possible; the Rihannsu noble lines and their respective pedigrees are a source of of strict rules of etiquette, but the bondsman or servant who excels beyond his station or saves his superiors is tremendously prized and well-rewarded (even if they remain a possession). The first decision you must make for your PC is where (s)he fits into the RSE social structure. You may select a hfihar to join, and then you may decide whether or not your character was born into the hfihar or simply serves them. While it may seem an easy choice to select the more influential role, remember that it is a character's development that fascinates us: a prince who does everything well is boring, for he has only met expectations; the carpenter's daughter who joins the Tal Shiar is much more interesting. We strongly recommend that you speak with an RSE Royal (@royals) or staffperson (@wizards) and any RSE PCs about your PC's social status. It is much easier to get started if you can be related to existing PCs, because it ties you into things that have already happened and gives you an advantage over the player whose character must 'start cold.'
Once you pick your hfihar, you must determine your position within it (or outside of all the hfirnn). Again, we recommend that you speak with existing RSE PCs and establish your PC as a relative
Nevertheless, Rihannsu are a very spirited people and free-thinking; they are simply bound by their code of mnhei'sahe. For now, think about your character's past, present, and future; where does your character come from? How did your character get to where she is today, and where does she want to be in the future? We encourage you to put these sentences in your @bio (and to draw any other detail you put in there from them). Some Rihannsu are more xenophobic and mistrustful than others, while still more have ties to the elusive Tal Shiar. The traditional method of service to the Empire is in the Imperial Galae (the Navy), and the most distinguished hfirnn gained their distinction in this manner. Spacefaring, merchant Rihannsu that deal with other races are accorded considerably less respect, but they are often still valued assets of a family or house.
Finally -- and this may seem a little strange -- try to think of character flaws. What has your character always had trouble with? What are his or her shortcomings? What does your character consider really embarrassing? It is these things that define our characters much more than their abilities, for they are a source of wonderful humor and drama. Thank you for considering the RSE!
Noble Rihannsu have four names, of which three are generally known. The first name is the given name; the second name is locative, describing the Rihannha's origin. The third name is familial, used by members or servants of a hfihar. The fourth name is secret and known only to its owner.
First names (given names) are bestowed by a Rihannha's parents. Children will often grow into their given names in unexpected ways; having a particular name is more likely to influence a Rihannha's life than it might a human's (as evidence of both the power of Rihannsu tradition and the depth of their culture, as well as the human affinity for freedom and disbelief in fate). Given names are usually Rihannsu words with a slightly different bent as applied to a person. For example, the word "Ael," meaning "Winged," would mean "Winged One" as a name. Players have considerable freedom with the language here to come up with an acceptable given name. (All Rihannsu have given names, regardless of birth). Certain Rihannsu are granted honorific given names later in life as a mark of special distinction; these names are prefixed with S', as homage to S'task, a legendary figure in Rihannsu history.
Here are a few examples of Romulan first names; in brackets is the English meaning, where available:
Aekhifv (pain), Ahrm'n, Amin, Courhig, Ddoya, Deletham (defender), Dhiemn, Dis, Ejiul, Eveh, Ffairrl, Firh, Galan (seeker), Giellun, Gielo, Gurrhim, Hanaj, Hatham (predator), Havraha (voyager), H'daen, Hexce, Hhirl, Hhvaeh, Hvaid, Hvirr, Imin, Kalabam (storm), Kerih, Khaiell (atmosphere), Khoal, Khiy, Lai, Lhaerrh, Lhaesl, Llhran, Maec (tradition-keeper), Mahan, Maiek, Maiell, Mandukar (vigilant), Merik, Niysa, Nnerhin, Nniol, Nveid, Serinn, S'Harien, S'Talon, S'Tarleya, Stelam (star), S'ten (brave), S'Tokkr, Sulleen, Taev (humorous), Teleb, Terph, Terrh (darkness), Tmaekh (hot-headed), Vaebn (sneaky one), Urellh, Yhea (agile), Vrih (one who excels), Wraet.
Ael (wing), Aidoann (Moon), Ariennye (hell), Arrenhe (skilled), Arrhae (worth-in-cash), Dhael (bird), Ekkhae, Emmiad, Emni, Eviess, Felaen, Hannam (message), Hloal, Hwiamna, Jaeih (Element of Air), Jisit, Kul, Lais, Latta (death), Llaiir (flame), Llunih, Mheven, Mijne, Mirrstul, Mnheia (ruler), N'alae, Nuhir (favourable), Odirne, Rhean, Rrolsh, Saeihr (star), S'anra, Sienae (talon), Sindari (swarm), Ssaedhe (steadfast), Teelis (song), T'Eleijha, Thue, Tuhellen, Ussi, Verelan (graceful), Vriha (one who excels).
Second names are locative and describe the character's origin and have one of three prefixes depending on the specificity of the origin and the name of the city or region. A character from the ch'Rihan capitol city of Ra'tleihfi would use the prefix i-. A character from a more rural location or a suburb might use the name of the province instead of a city or town along with the prefix ir-; So Ael i-Ra'tleihfi would be "Winged One of the City of Ra'tleihfi" and Ael ir-Ra'tleihfi would be "Winged One of the Region of Ra'tleihfi." It is a small distinction, but important to Rihannsu. A Rihannha hailing from a province that begins with an 'I' like (i'Rammau) uses e- and er- instead of i- and ir-. You can use that as a guide to help you choose - most members of a hfihar will usually be from the same planet, though not always.
i-Mnaeha (ch'Rihan), i-Iuruth (ch'Rihan), i-i'Ramnau (ch'Rihan), ir-Gal Gath'thong (ch'Rihan), i-Del, i-Theijhoi (ch'Havran), i-Steilalvh (ch'Havran), i-Memmesh, ir-Davast, i-Tharawe, ir-Elheu, ir-Nn'verih (ch'Havran), i-Kh'reitekh, i-Rhehiv'je (ch'Rihan), ir-Kihai (ch'Havran), ir-Harthlei, ir-Korthre, i-Ra'tleihfi (ch'Rihan), i-Ihhliae (ch'Rihan), ir-Ihhliae (ch'Rihan), i-Mhiessan (ch'Rihan), ir-Aihai (ch'Rihan).
A rihannha's third name is the hfihar name. Males use the prefix tr' and females use the prefix t' (tr'Kheriov or t'Kheriov). The third name is generally used in polite forms address; aboard a Galae starship, Ael ir-Ra'tleihfi t'Kheriov would be referred to as t'Kheriov (unless several t'Kheriovs were present, in which case she would be Ael t'Kheriov). Only Rihannsu in familiar company (friends, families, equals) use only the given name. The exception to this rule is certain Rihannsu with honorific given names (see above), in which case the house name is only used if there are several Rihannsu with the same honorific given name present (a rarity!).
Finally, some Rihannsu develop a fourth name, a rehei, which is a deeply personal name selected by its owner and never bestowed by another. It is intensely private and shared only with intimate friends and family. A Rihannha only finds a rehei after tremendous introspection, and some Rihannsu never find one. The meaning of a rehei is that which best describes its owner. As such, the rehei is shared only with close family and intimate friends; to know another Rihannha's rehei is to know them more deeply than all others.
The hfihar (plural: hfihrnn) is the basic unit of Romulan family life. Every Rihanha is a member of a hfihar, and their hfihar is their family.
Hfihrnn are large: not every member of a hfihar is related to another, and they are often very spread out. Marriage between members of the same hfihar is not uncommon, so long as they are not close blood-relatives.
On WNO, there are five hfihrrn available to player-characters, if playerbase grows large enough, non-listed houses may become available to PCs. When choosing a hfihar, be sure to read the background information provided on them, and choose a hfihar which would best suit your character.
Etiquette is of paramount importance in Romulan society. Everyone has a position in the social hierarchy, and everyone is expected to know it and comport themselves accordingly. There are many nuances to etiquette that is very dissimilar to many other cultures. Titles, rank and general ways one would refer to another Romulan can be tricky as it can change simply based off of the location and context of the conversation.
For example, a house member in the Galae could be serving aboard a ship with a superior officer who also happens to be their house's hru'Hfirh. That superior, depending on the situation, could be referred to by either their Galae rank, hru'Hfirh or even rian (cousin). If one were speaking to that superior while serving Galae duty it is proper to refer to them as their rank or Galae title. If you were speaking to them formally outside of Galae service their title within the house would be appropriate, and lastly if you were speaking privately behind closed doors or in a very informal environment it might depending on how the superior referred to you, be acceptable to refer to them affectionately as one's rian.
Also and of most important note, first names are almost never used publicly. A Romulan's first name is reserved for very close family, close friends and lovers and generally even in those cases only behind closed doors.
"Certain it is and sure: love burns, ale burns, fire burns, and politics burns. But cold were life without them. -- Romulan Proverb
As briefly mentioned before, Romulans culturally hold things like honour, passion, pride and ambition in high regard. The Romulan race is a very proud and accomplished race, holding their Empire in the highest regards, believing themselves to be the most accomplished and perfect Empire in the Universe.
Romulans are also exceptionally untrusting and unwelcoming to outsiders. They eagerly defend their borders or really anything that is theirs. Romulans also hold deep disdain for 'Yikh' (a derogatory term for any creature of a non-romulan species) and generally only deal with them once they have proven themselves to be of use to the Empire.
The Mnhei'sahe, or ruling passion is a complex code of honour which rules most of Romulan life.
Romulan culture is not without religion, however, it is treated as a private matter and aside from declarative statements such as: "Oh Elements, avert it!", "What in the Element's name?", "Elements be thanked!", "Oh Fire & Air & Earth!", "Powers and Elements!", "Elements granting" and so forth, religion is not a greatly discussed topic.
While there is no 'one true religion' of Romulan, many consider the universe to have borderline sentience. Also an Elemental based religion is widely practiced throughout the culture, while the predominant religious belief it is not the sole religion of the Romulan Star Empire.
A typical Romulan family is made up of a mother and a father, with as many children as the parents desire. Each family unit is within a house, and houses as described above can be huge. The family unit does not look to one parent as superior, both the mother and father have equal status. In the cases of children neither gender are particularly favoured over the other.
Divorce and separation are rare with Romulan families, because the bond between husband and wife is extremely deep. Marriage, or bonding, is a life long promise. When a Romulan pair choose to life bond the male joins the female's hfihar as it is a promise or devotion to protect her and her family for life, therefore taking on her house name as his own. In some cases, the female may end up taking on the male's house name in the case that the male is either the hru'Hfirh or erei'Hrifh of his house. Bonding does not require the religious sect, but can be brought in for marriage or even to break or strengthen bonds.
Branches of Service
Most Romulans are driven to be of service to the Empire below are the various branches of service.