The Hirogen are spacefaring and nomadic, resident to the Delta Quadrant. Hirogen no longer live on their homeworld, nor do they much care what happened to it. It does not even exist as a myth anymore, for the impetus to hunt replaced any concern about the Hirogen past. The Hirogen now live on their spaceships, traveling the Delta Quadrant in search of new prey. Their ships serve as living testaments to the hunt, complete with incredible arsenals of weapons of all sorts, trophies from their many kills, and shipboard equipment primarily oriented toward tracking and capturing foes.
The hunt lies at the center of Hirogen life. Nothing else matters as much as does the pursuit, capture and slaughter of prey. The Hirogen neglected every other aspect of their civilization in their obsession with the hunt. This obsession, beginning at least a millenium ago, goes to the very roots of what it means to be a Hirogen.
Hirogen value all things only in their utility for hunting - either as hunting tools or as prey. Hirogen base their own self-worth on how well they hunt and the quality of the prey they capture. Hirogen ships answer to a chain of hunting skill, with the most powerful hunters - the ones with the most trophies, scars and battle-stories, leading as alphas. Obviously, challenging an alpha for dominance isn't done lightly; Hirogen become leaders through their battle prowess, and crossing an alpha is typically a deadly experience.
Male Hirogen do everything that they can to make themselves better at the hunt. They train incessantly, seeking physical improvement over all else. Extremely aggressive, they have little patience for anything that might distract them from the hunt. They deal with most distractions by ignoring, threatening or destroying them.
Even Hirogen with less success at hunting do their best to improve the pastime for their more effective brothers. While the Hirogen scavenge much of their technology, Hirogen engineers show a great deal of ingenuity in anything related to the hunt. Some visionary Hirogen realize that their race declining, and fear that it may not last much longer. Even they do not want to eliminate the hunt. Instead, they seek ways to incorporate it in a more vibrant culture.
The Hirogen tower over most humans, using their size and strength both to intimidate and capture their prey. Their strength dwarfs humans just as much as their height does, and they constantly train their bodies for battle. They can move extremely quietly when they need to, and their bodies give off almost no scent. Despite their height, they can surprise most opponents with ease.
Hirogen have both mammalian and reptilian characteristics, leading some to speculate that their current form comes from significant genetic engineering. Their skin strongly resembles that of a reptile, though it bears little similarities to the scaled Gorns' hide, instead having a rough, pebbly appearance. Most have a tan or beige color, though this is not universal. They have no body hair at all. Warm-blooded like mammals, they also bear live young. Many of their internal organs, like their three-chambered hearts, resemble lizards'.
History and Culture
Hirogen culture degenerated to the point where most males travel the galaxy in two-person ships, seeking suitable victims. Sometimes a number of these ships team up when chasing an especially challenging or unusual quarry. Individually, the Hirogen prove more than a match for most opponents. Working together, they have little difficulty against any foe.
Betas usually serve under strong alphas willingly, though they look for any weakness or lack of hunting ability that signifies it is time for a new leader. They constantly test the limits of the alpha's authority. This rarely leads to a fight, since a smart beta knows enough to back down from a clearly superior hunter. Failure to do so leads to a symbolic roaring contest, in which the Hirogen who makes the most noise and roars for the longest time proves his dominance.
The Hirogen impulse to hunt colors every aspect of their culture, down to their religion, art and social behavior. Successful hunters earn great respect from their fellow Hirogen, and females see those who capture the most worthy foes. Failure as a hunter is unthinkable; a Hirogen with a desire to work in some other area of expertise, such as engineering, is seen as a deviant at best and prey at worst.
The Hirogen also demonstrate a strong species loyalty. Hirogen rarely hunt each other despite their own obvious advantages as prey. They have strong family ties, especially father to son. While fathers and sons rarely team up on the hunt, fathers take great pride in their children's accomplishments, which reflect glory on the parents.
As one might expect, Hirogen have little interest in other species except as prey. If another race makes inadequate prey, the Hirogen ignore it. If they find it worthy, they do whatever it takes to hunt it down and kill it. The more respect a given species or individual garners, the more likely it is to become prey for the Hirogen. As the hunters say, "Never underestimate your prey or disrespect its abilities. If you do, you will become the hunted." Still, Hirogen feel no compassion for other races, sentient or not, and like to take their prey alive for a last face-to-face confrontation. They are as likely to free a helpless for in order to hunt it down again as to kill it immediately. Hirogen also have the capacity for great cruelty, delighting in extracting trophies from living captives, especially while other captives watch.
Some believe the Hirogen began the trophy-claiming practice in order to inspire greater effort in their prey. If losing leads to both torture and death, then most foes will try anything to defeat the hunter, and the Hirogen relish this sort of challenge. They do everything they can to look most intimidating, hoping their nightmarish appearance may terrorize their foes to greater desperation. Hirogen armor, in addition to protecting them in combat and dangerous environments, also has design elements specifically to look imposing and intimidating. Some wear additional protection over their nostrils and mouths, as well as visors that allow them to totally hide their faces.
The armor is just part of the many ritualistic forms to the hunt. After choosing a target, the alpha smears his helmet with a blood red color, while the beta smears his with white color. Then they choose their weapons and begin the hunt. They prolong the hunt as long as possible and rarely accept help unless the foe proves especially dangerous or elusive - or if their new allies make it impossible to hunt their foes otherwise. They also enjoy hurting their quarry before killing it - the way a creature behaves when it is wounded is the key to its destruction, as they say.
After finally capturing his foe, the Hirogen takes whatever trophy most interests him, be it armor, weapons, heads, internal organs, or any combination of these. They often eat their prey as well, though this is not their only source of nourishment. They add their foes' weapons to their already impressive arsenals, always seeking the best weapon to use against each opponent.
Some Hirogen realize the inherent instability in their way of life, but none want to see the hunt ended. One visionary Hirogen obtained Federation holoprogramming in order to simulate hunts, allowing his race its traditional activities, but without the nomadic structure it forced on them. The Hirogen added this to a number of their training facilities, but many Hirogen still hunt the traditional way. Women and children remain at central points like these training facilities, but their ability to remain in communication has suffered a dramatic setback when a Federation ship destroyed the ancient communications array they used to stay in touch with the hunters.
Hirogen speak their own language but due to long periods of time that they spend away from each other, however, their language has no standard form. They also tend to learn their preys' languages in order to better understand them.
- Bridges, Bill, et al. Star Trek Roleplaying Game Book 5: Aliens, Decipher, 2003. ISBN: 1582369070.