Andorians present a curious juxtaposition between being by turns both taciturn and passionate. In a society where the least slight could result in vendetta, Andorians are notably reserved in their manner and speech. They admire the ability to hold one's tongue, and despise gossips and long-windedness. Because of the disorder caused by disobedience, they can be sticklers for procedure and form. They believe strongly in a clear chain of command and adherence to rules. The breaking or bending of regulations leads eventually to (often bloody) conflict. Indecision can drive an Andorian crazy.
Hot-blooded romantics, the average Andorians have quick tempers and a willingness to kill or die for their ideals. When they believe they have been wronged, they drop their reserved veneer and spring into action. Andorians believe revenge should be something that is both passionate and immediate. When Andorians come to a decision, they stand by it regardless of the consequences. They do not give up easily, nor are they readily dissuaded from their objectives. It can be difficult to get an Andorian to change his mind. Outsiders typically see them as either pig-headed of belligerent, although Andorians themselves believe that they see the universe the "correct" way.
Andorians stand 1.7 to 2.2 meters tall, roughly the same height and build of the average human. Their skin tones range from pale to dark blue, and they have pure white hair (though it also can come in other light colors). Hailing from a frigid world with a thin, ozone-rich atmosphere, they have evolved a redundant circulatory system that allows them to survive comfortably in this environment. Andorians efficiently metabolize nutrients and regulate body heat. A sub-species of Andorians known as the Aenar have white skin; unlike the blue Andorians, the Aenar are blind and telepathic. Andorians and Aenar are genetically compatible and can produce offspring.
The most distinctive aspect of an Andorian is the pair of antennae atop their heads. These provide an additional sense that other species lack. Andorians obtain a great deal of sensory information through their continually waving antennae - such as temperature, changes in pressure, subtle variations in air flow, and sub-sonic sounds.
Andorians have on their heads two knobbed antennae which are used for balance. An Andorian is partially disabled and unable to fight immediately following the loss of an antenna, but is able to compensate within a day or so. The antenna itself can take up to nine months to regrow on its own, although the regeneration can be completed in around half that time with electrical stimulation and cranial massage therapy. The loss of an antenna is a humiliating experience for an Andorian to come to terms with.
These are highly sensitive, semi-rigid structures of muscle and cartilage, their tips containing directional hearing organs, the long-distance heat-sensing organs and the telepathic sensors which play an important part in the reproductive cycle. The antennae also express emotion, far more than do the facial muscles, and are the prime indicators of Andorian body language. They express polite interest by curving toward the object of attention, fear or excitement by standing rigid and quivering, weariness or depression by drooping, confusion or upset by wringing and lashing, sexual arousal by slow writhing, intoxication by wobbling unsteadily in different directions, and rage by pressing back against the skull. Andorians "kiss" by touching the tips of their antennae together. Antenna movement apparently expresses feelings as well. An Andorian will sometimes point their antennae at a potential mate to signify attraction. It is not known if this is a voluntary or involuntary response.
Because of the importance of the antennae, much of Andorian psychology revolves around these organs. Fear of damage to the antennae is deeper and more widespread than castration-anxiety in humans. Loss of antennae to an Andorian is the equivalent of deafness, muteness, castration and mutilation of the face to a human, and no Andorian will voluntarily survive such an injury.
Subsequently, the uninvited touching of the antennae is considered an unpardonable rudeness, and the threat of injury to antennae is legitimate grounds for assault and murder - as occasional, unfortunate incidents have shown. For example, in the famous tapestry The Assault on Yodina, one notes that Yodina is actually leaning toward the captor who has imprisoned her arms and away from the villainous baron who has clutched her left antenna. To the student of Andorian culture, it comes as no surprise that Yodina's relatives later tore the wicked baron into several pieces and fed the fragments to their hunting beasts before a cheering crowd.
Because of the telepathic organs and their relation to the reproductive process, the antennae are also considered proper sites for valuable jewellery, particularly gifts from friends, lovers and mates. The Andorian version of the wedding ring is worn on the left antenna rather than on a finger. To give an Andorian antenna-rings or antenna-bells is to make a gesture of great friendship, if not of courtship.
The single most important feature of Andorian physiology is the complex reproductive mechanism. It can be said that Andorians explain the facts of life to their children in terms of the birds, the bees, the seahorses and the kangaroos. Yet for all its complexity, it is a tremendously efficient system - so efficient, in fact, that over-population has been a primary social problem throughout all recorded Andorian history.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to determine the sex of an Andorian child at birth, with the result that children are raised without different treatment accorded by gender. This is one reason why Andorian society is completely ambiarchal. The child's genital organs remain dormant until first puberty, which starts at the approximate age of 12 and is completed by the age of l5, when s/he begins the neuter phase of adulthood. At this time, the sex of the individual first becomes apparent. The male possesses a retractable penis, subcutaneous testes, a uterus and a semi-extensible vagina; the female possesses a uterus and vagina which ends in a retractable ovipositor, a ventral pouch, and six breasts - flat and dormant in the neuter phase and arranged in pairs from chest to abdomen.
Since the sexual activity of neuters does not result in pregnancy, it is given little social importance and is described by the word "play" or "amusement". Neuters are allowed, if not encouraged, to experiment sexually in any way that interests them and are restricted by no taboos whatever. A neuter may "play" with its brothers, sisters, other relatives, friends, enemies, strangers and livestock; nobody cares, unless the activity results in physical injury, which is then treated as a simple case of assault. Although passionate, emotional involvement can form between playing neuters - and are celebrated in story and song - they are not considered in the same category with attachment to one's true mate. The resulting sexual liberality of neuters often puzzles outsiders and has led to some unfortunate misunderstandings.
Second puberty occurs when a neuter forms a serious emotional attachment to a neuter of the opposite sex and their normal empathic connection deepens into a full telepathic bond. This process, known as formal courtship, lasts several months, often a year and more. During this courtship, the telepathic bonding, by a method the Andorians are reluctant to reveal, causes physiological changes that bring on full fertility: development of the female's breasts and pouch, increased size and protrusion of the male's testes and the production of gametes. From the time of the first symptoms of change, the couple is considered betrothed, and they may marry at any time before the final bonding. Final bonding consists of male's-penis to female's-vagina mating between a male with distended testes and a female with distended breasts, while both are in full telepathic rapport for the first time, and results in first pregnancy.
In a "true" mating, the fertilized zygote divides into two to eight sub-zygotes, which then grow in the female's womb for 3.7 standard months. Here they develop into eggs, which are approximately the size and shape of large baseballs, having elastic, gold shells. At the end of this stage, the parents perform a second form of mating in which the female deposits her eggs, through her ovipositor, in the uterus of the male. The eggs remain here for an additional 3.6 months, absorbing fluid through the shells and increasing embryo growth under the slightly higher body temperature of the male. At the end of this time, the shells are broken by the fetuses and reabsorbed by the male's body, and the fetuses are then deposited in the female's pouch, where they remain for an additional 3.2 months, gaining their final growth. They obtain nourishment during this period by means of two hollow, bony protrusions (called pouch-fangs) located in their double navels, with which they pierce a large blood vessel running vertically through the posterior wall of the pouch, thus plugging their circulatory systems into the mother's.
It is not uncommon for females in pouch-pregnancy to have voracious appetites, especially if they are also carrying another litter in the primary womb - and doubly so if they are also nursing still another litter at the same time. For this reason, the Andorian fertility goddess is often described as The Great Devourer, or The Inspiration of Livestock Raids. Understandably she is usually depicted as the wife of the war god.
In the interests of keeping the couple together, the mating bond causes physical changes in the nervous system so that bonded individuals cease to have sexual interest in any save their mates, and literally cannot perform a fertile mating with anyone else. "Adultery" is an unknown concept among Andorians. "Illegitimacy" is barely possible (not counting the purely social disgrace of failing to undergo the formal marriage ceremony before the final bonding) and is extremely difficult. It consists of a female obtaining an egg which is not hers and introducing it into her husband's womb during the second form of mating. This is considered a horrid disgrace and the usual punishment is death for both members of the couple - the female for having deceived her mate and the male for having been so thoroughly deceived (which implies unbearable stupidity and imperfection of the telepathic bond).
There is no divorce among Andorians; the marriage bond lasts for life, and the death of one partner usually causes death for the other. This is especially true if the death of one partner occurs by violence; the resulting telepathic shock causes sudden and severe stress to the heart, often resulting in fatal coronary occlusion. A widowed Andorian who survives the initial shock is still prey to psychic disorientation, endocrine imbalance and savage psychological depression; these are often sufficient to cause the widowed partner to "lay down and die" in a fashion familiar to any observer of telepathic and semi-telepathic races. A widowed Andorian who does survive the breaking of the bond reverts to neuter phase and never becomes fertile again. There are so many well known ballads about this subject that it would be pointless to quote from them, and it is not surprising: that sentimental human ballads about lovers dying of a "broken heart" are quite popular on Andor.
Andorians may come from a cold planet, but their cobalt-based blood notoriously hot. They are passionate about their beliefs, and they are quick to take offense. If an Andorian feels that you have wronged him, you may find yourself looking at the business end of a hrisal, the traditional curved sword that many Andorians still carry as an item of dress. On the other hand, their sense of fairness runs very deep; if an Andorian believes that he has wronged you, he will be the first to admit it and he will not rest until he makes amends.
Ties of blood are central to Andorian life. Nothing is more important to them than family, although their unusual mating conventions can muddy up the matter of just what constitutes one's family. By tradition that stretches back to the far reaches of their prehistory, Andorians base each family unit on two, not one, male-female pair bonds. Couples seek out and court each other to form these "quads," just as individuals seek each other to form couples. Within quads, couples cohabit, raise their children together and share household resources. In about half of all Andorian quad marriages, marital relations cross the pair-bond boundary as well. Outsiders acquainted with Andorian society have difficulty seeing how such a passionate race can make such an apparently messy arrangement work, but they do. Very few quads break up because of divorce.
In the first half of the 23rd century, a fad for all things Andorian swept through the Federation, popularized in large part by the romantic fiction of Douglas Bell, whose Ghalev: A Novel of Andoria is still popular reading in the 2380s. Andorian literature, dress, food and drink (Andorian ales and edible tuber roots are particularly considered delicacies) and even their dueling rituals disseminated throughout the settled parts of the Alpha Quadrant. It was not unusual to see young humans of the era wearng prosthetic antennae and cheap knock-off hrisals strapped to their sides. Among the Andorians, may merchants profited heavily from the craze, but most were simply bemused by it.
The basic unit of Andorian society is the clan, or kethni. Originally, kethni were huge extended families, confederations of family units related to each other by blood. As Andor entered its Industrial Age and families were less likely to stay tied to the same location long enough for traditional clan ties to solidify, the definition of kethni changed. In time, it made more sense for individual Andorians to feel themselves bound to others based on economic, professional or ideological grounds. Over time, kethni came to represent major corporations, professional and trade associations, university communities and other groups based on the common interests of members. Even so, these modern kethni command from their members loyalty that is just as fierce as that shown to the old family-based clans.
National boundaries are unheard of on Andor. Instead, they divide their society along these complex clan lines. Each clan governs not so much physical territory as a web of relationships. The kethni serve as local governments, social welfate organizations, and loose guilds, as well. They assist their fellow members when in need and each kethni are known to specialize in certain areas of expertise (as a rule, but remember that kethni are not castes in the human sense). A strong headman or chieftain governs each clan, and speaks on its behalf in the Council of Clans.
All kethni send delegates to the Council of Clans - usually 300 in total at any given time - and they vote on legislation and matters of state. The Council elects a President from among its own ranks, but the office carries few executive powers; mostly, the President's duties entail presiding over Council meetings and attending to its administrative needs. The Council also oversees Andoria's autonomous military, the Andorian Defense Forces, which does not fall under Starfleet command.
Although Andoria has never wavered in its commitment to the Federation, the Kethni Council (as it is also known) also maintains its own intelligence service, which is so secret that the UFP knows of it only through rumors. It is called the Am Tal, meaning "Seeker of Secrets," and its mandate is to ferret out information (whether it be political, military or economic) that would help the Andorian government in any way and they also track the activities of kethni that have been censured by the Council. Am Tal operatives work deep undercover and are recruited from the ranks of laborers, merchants, diplomats, scientists - even leading politicians. They continue leading their daily lives while aiding the Am Tal. It is conventional wisdom with Council circles that 100 of the Council are Am Tal, while the other 200 want it shut down. Its existence is very controversial, but is also represents a romantic ideal of a great Andorian life. To many, the Am Tal are modern day warriors, fighting the good fight against Andor's enemies.
The following is a list of the major kethni (but it is certainly not exhaustive):
- Keth Aldin - many famous Andorian scientists in all fields have come from this clan.
- Keth Athrun - known for producing pilots and racers of all kinds.
- Keth Birev - this clan is well known across Andor for its many famed engineers across many disciplines.
- Keth Dara - this clan has earned (not unfairly) a reputation for sneakiness as they produce many members of various intelligence agencies on Andor and offworld.
- Keth Dovoro - members of this clan can usually be found engaging in commerce as they are prolific businessmen.
- Keth Idrani - known for producing many famed athletes as well as a large number of soldiers for security forces in Starfleet and elsewhere.
- Keth Idisha - members of this clan can be found in all forms of entertainment, from dancing and music to designing holo-games, but they tend to excel in dramatic theater.
- Keth Kor - members of this clan have earned a reputation as skilled negotiators.
- Keth P'Trell - members of this clan are known for their inquisitive nature; they are also famed for their medical practicioners.
Code of Vengeance, or Ushaan
A crucial part of Andorian tradition is the so called Ushaan, a code of honor demanding a duel to the death in which the combatants fight against each other with a ice miner's tool, the namesake ushaan-tor, but they may also use the chaka or the hrisal. An enormous body of rules and regulations exists around this code of honor, summing up to 12,000 amendments. The Ushaan can be demanded by someone as a means of personal vengeance, e.g. to avenge a personal loss. However, there exists a right of substitution, allowing each combatant to put up a replacement for themselves. Furthermore, each married combatant can postpone a duel indefinitely, if there are no children to continue his claim. Additionally, the fight may be called off, if one combatant disables the other in way so he cannot continue the duel.
This is how Andorians channel their aggression. This prevents conflict from escalating into a war of vendetta between clans and families. The Ushaan can only be invoked for personal reasons on the assumption that the correct person will win. The code mandates a single duel for each crime, to prevent an Andorian from facing several members of the same family for the same accusation. Once a duel settles a matter, it's considered closed. There are rules which, instead of a fight to the death, such as fighting to the first strike, the first blood, or until a participant yields, depending on the nature of the dispute. Only the most heinous violations of personal freedom, such as murder, are fought to the death. Andorians reserve the code for other Andorians, and only diehard traditionalists will invoke the code with other species. Starfleet, in fact, stringently discourages the practice even among Andorian crewmembers.
The passionate nature for which Andorians are known also contributes to certain aspects of their culture, in particular their music. Andorians share a love of music and song, especially opera and emotional songs and ballads. Many Andorian songs and compositions have become well known offworld as well. Andorian operas feature stories of passion ranging from intense love affairs to stories of war and of obsession. Besides opera and the more "legitimate" forms of Andorian music, Andorian blues can be heard in countless bars and lounges throughout the Alpha Quadrant.
- Bridges, Bill, et al. Star Trek Roleplaying Game Book 5: Aliens, Decipher, 2003. ISBN: 1582369070.
- Burns, Eric, Kenneth A. Hite & Doug Sun. Star Trek Roleplaying Game Book 7: Worlds, Decipher, 2005. ISBN: 1582369097.
- Cambias, James, et al. Planets of the UFP: A Guide to Federation Worlds, Last Unicorn Games, 1999. ISBN: 0671040065.
- Also See: Andorian Memory Alpha and The Files of Andor