Physical Appearance and Other Characteristics of Vulcans
Note: anything in this or the rest of the page is just an overview. Whole wiki pages could be written about just about anything mentioned here. This is for the benefit of new players or older ones who want to learn something of Vulcan and its people.
Like many species in known space, Vulcans are bipedal with limbs, facial features, etc. in the same places as Humans. Outwardly, one of their most noticeable features is the pointed ears, evolved to catch sound waves more effectively in a thinner atmosphere. Thus, Vulcan hearing is generally much keener than that of Humans, and the frequencies they can hear exceed the Terran hearing range. They also possess an inner eyelid which serves as extra protection against intense light. Their genetics and evolution on a high gravity world also predispose Vulcans towards physical strength and endurance that surpass that of most Humans, though there are certainly stronger species in the galaxy.
Internally, there are many features that separate Vulcans from most other species. Their blood is copper-based rather than iron, and is green in appearance thanks to their version of hemoglobin. The Vulcan heart is located in the side and beats on average at just over 200 beats per minute. The Vulcan brain possesses active telepathic centers that enable the various arts of the mind that grew up on that world. Genetically, cross-species mating is generally possible, though difficult in many cases and may require some assistance. Finally, Vulcans bear many genetic similarities with the Romulans (or Rihannsu) who were once Vulcan themselves, but who left their homeworld following the ascendancy of the path of Surak.
Vulcans are touch telepaths. Unlike Betazoids, they generally cannot project their thoughts to another person without touching them, though a pair of bonded Vulcans in fairly close proximity usually can communicate without touch. The most well-known mental ability is the mind meld, which involves the sharing of thoughts and images between two merged minds and is deeper than a light mental contact. Between two willing Vulcans with even the minimum training in the disciplines, this is not hard to affect. Between Vulcans and non-Vulcans, it gets harder, and depending on the alienness of the mind to be joined, or the mental resistance involved, or the amount of care a particular Vulcan takes in the act of melding, it can be damaging. So it is not something Vulcans choose to do with others lightly or without forethought.
The Planet Vulcan
Vulcan was a class-M planet located in the 40 Eridani-A system. It’s climate was arid and hot by Terran standards. Its gravity was higher, and its atmosphere was thinner than that of Earth. Some Humans found it necessary to take triox when on planet for extended stays or while engaged in vigorous activity to combat symptoms similar to altitude sickness on Earth.
Although Vulcan had no moon, it was part of a double planet system. It’s sister planet, T’Kuht, was visible throughout much of the nighttime sky. T’Kuht was given various sobriquets by the people of Vulcan, The Watcher being one of the most common. It was said that T’Kuht resembled the eye that never sleeps and from which nothing could be hidden.
The surface of Vulcan was 96% land. Rainfall and surface water were rare, and the largest bodies of water on the planet were the Greater and Lesser Seas, the larger of which being about the size of Earth’s Mediterranean Sea. Mountain chains, desert plains, and more hospitable hill country and plains areas crisscrossed the planet. The most famous geographical features of Vulcan were Mount Seleya and Vulcan’s Forge. Mount Seleya, one of the tallest peaks on Vulcan, was home to the Hall of Ancient Thought, the resting place of the katra. It was not uncommon for Vulcans to make pilgrimages to Seleya, sometimes crossing the desert on foot to get there if the act was more spiritual or self-searching than practically necessary. Seleya appears in more Vulcan literature and song than anyplace else on the planet, and the name Seleya together with its variants represents one of the oldest known words in any Vulcan language to date.
The Forge was the Vulcan equivalent of Death Valley or the Persian Lut Desert, one of the hottest, driest, and most forbidding regions on all Vulcan. To become lost on the Forge was a death sentence even to Vulcans. Only the healthiest Vulcans, those with desert survival training, would stand a chance of surviving a trek across the Forge, and doing so was often a test of fortitude or a spiritual exercise.
The Physical Destruction of Vulcan
The planet Vulcan was destroyed near the end of the Borg War, after having been assimilated in 2366. While the Borg lost the Battle of Vulcan, as it is now known, the price of victory included the actual planet. More on that is included below. At Vulcan’s former location, the Rikon Defense Force is constructing a new starbase, known currently as the Megacity Project.
History and Culture
Before ‘cthia,’ the Vulcan word for what most people call logic, became a way of life, the Vulcan people were every bit as emotion-driven as anyone else. On Vulcan, this resulted in an exceptionally violent and blood-drenched history. Vulcan emotions are more powerful than their Terran equivalents, and coupled with a psy-capable people and the rise of high technology including sophisticated weaponry and weapons delivery systems, the results included wars beyond number, tribal feuds that turned violent more often than not, and more than one squabble that could have cracked the planet apart millennia ago. In this environment, many were less than scrupulous about their use of the mental disciplines. Acts of mental savagery or the ruthless breeding for particular mental talents to give advantage was not unknown. More than one Vulcan historian has argued cogently that without a massive and fundamental change, such as the one brought by Surak, Vulcan would have destroyed itself.
Surak’s life is one of the most biographied in the known galaxy, and the way of life he suggested is both one of the most well-known and one of the most misunderstood philosophies by outsiders. At the root of all the trouble, Surak argued, is fear, fear of the unknown, fear of others, and fear of oneself.
His solution was not to expel or suppress all emotion, though this may be what it looks like and that is what most think. He called the Vulcan people to mastery of their emotions. Therefore, a Vulcan will not deny that they have emotions. They will assert, usually truthfully, that they do not allow those emotions to dictate their actions. The Vulcan philosophy of emotion, ‘ariem’nu,’ meaning ‘mastery of passion,’ is a taught way of life that encompasses more than the use of logic as Humans understand the word, and it is a way of life that, while accepted by most Vulcans, affects some of them more profoundly than others. As one Vulcan of the 23rd century is quoted as saying, “logic is not a disease which all Vulcans have managed to catch.”
Modern Historical Events
Vulcan was a charter member of the United Federation of Planets, which was founded in 2161. Its people played key roles in exploration, diplomacy, science, exploration, and education within and outside the Federation until the Borg invasion of 2366. Following the fall of Earth, Vulcan was the next major target, and the planet was assimilated. Apart from the remnant of a billion or so Vulcans who were able to evacuate thanks in large part to the aid of the then Klingon Empire, Vulcan and its people were lost to the Borg. Most Vulcans today, depending on how old they are, either know of friends and family members lost at that time, or they have relatives who do. The planet itself was outright destroyed in 2371 in a pitched battle between Borg forces and the combined forces of the Alliance.
Vulcan People and Culture Today
The Vulcan people of today are scattered across known space. Apart from one or two larger colonies, most Vulcans reside on mixed colonies or on the homeworlds of species that have taken them in. From Bajor to Earth to Ferasa to Qo’noS to Romulus, Vulcans can be found. No new Vulcan homeworld has been established, but in recent years, efforts have been made in that direction.
By and large, the Vulcan remnant still holds to the philosophy of Surak, with most Vulcans today still striving to live out that philosophy. Some Vulcans question whether Surak’s philosophy is still livable in the aftermath of a catastrophe like the loss of the planet, but these are a minority in the population.
Well-Known Vulcans in WNO History
These people have had news articles written about them and are, to varying degrees, Vulcans well-known in the Alliance.
Following a career as a scientist and academic on Vulcan, Sanuk joined Starfleet and rose swiftly to command. Caught on a long-range exploration mission when the Federation was invaded, he was nonetheless able to get his ship, USS Omaha, back to home space in time to contribute to the fight against the Borg. Swiftly, he was promoted to the admiralty, ending up as Grand Admiral, the highest-ranking member of Starfleet. His post-military career included a stint as Alliance Minister of Defense and multiple terms as Chancellor of the Alliance during and after the Alliance civil war. Little has been heard from or about Sanuk since the end of his last term as Alliance Chancellor in early 2397.
Born in 2387 in a small Vulcan community in the Bolian home system, S'var joined Starfleet at the age of 18 and rose through the ranks of Starfleet engineering. She shot to prominence, however, when she was named commanding officer of the newly-designed USS Pathfinder in late 2429 and given the task of spearheading the Alliance's renewed explorations in the Gamma Quadrant. She commanded Pathfinder for three years, and in that time she and that ship were publicized in the news media several times. One of the most well-known of those events involved the discovery of a small Human colony on Yanius Prime and the treaty she subsequently negotiated with them that opened the door for Alliance colonization of that world.
Sometimes canon sources conflict, and non-canon, you take at your own risk. The following are my best suggestions for solid canonical and detailed and consistent non-canonical sources on the subject, depending on how deep you want to go.
- TOS, "Amok Time"
- TOS, "Journey to Babel"
- Star Trek III, The Search for Spock
- Star Trek IV, The Voyage Home
- TNG, "Sarek"
- TNG, "Unification," Parts I and II
- TNG, "Gambit" Part II
These are novels, some of them quite long, all of them rich with Vulcan detail.
- Spock's World
by Diane Duane
- The Romulan Way
by Diane Duane and Peter Morwood
by A. C. Crispin
- Vulcan's Forge
By Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz
- Vulcan's Soul Trilogy including Book 1, Exodus, Book 2, Exiles, and Book 3, Epiphany
By Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz
- Crucible: Spock: The Fire and the Rose
by David R. George III
- The Vulcan Academy Murders
by Jean Lorra
- The IDIC Epidemic
by Jean Lorra