*FOR REFERENCE PURPOSES ONLY: Obsidian Fleet follows the premise that all the planets of the Romulus System, including Romulus and Remus were destroyed in 2387 when the Hobus Star went supernova (as occurred in the 2009 Star Trek movie). For history and guidelines regarding this and subsequent events relating to the destruction of Romulus, click here.*
The Romulan homeworld, Romulus, lies in the Beta Quadrant, anti-spinward of the Federation and coreward of the Klingon Empire. It is the third of ten planets orbiting the Romulan sun, a Type F1 V (bright, yellow-white dwarf) star. They also occupy Remus, the fourth planet in the system. Both worlds are considered home to the Romulan people, so much so that both are usually talked about together.
Romulus is a model Class M world, with a variety of ecologies and environments (similar to Earth) ranging from arctic to temperate to tropical. Its gravity, atmosphere, and climate are the same as Earth's. Remus, also Class M, is smaller than its sister world. Its gravity is slighter heavier (1.1g), its oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere has a slightly greater Earth-normal pressure, and the planet is, on average, colder than Romulus.
Romulans retain many of the character traits of their ancient Vulcan forebears prior to the teachings of Surak. They are vibrantly passionate, acting from the heart rather than cold logic. Unlike Klingons and Andorians, however, Romulans don't let their passions overwhelm them - they are crafty, patient, and deliberate. Unlike their Vulcan cousins, Romulans do not control their emotions; they love deeply, hate passionately, and give their warlike tendencies free reign.
Romulans believe their way of life is best; their culture, they feel, is superior to all others. And they seek to impose their culture on the rest of the Galaxy, at the point of a disruptor if need be. Their philosophy, the Way of D'era, tells them that they are destined to rule the stars. The belief that they are the "chosen people" of the Galaxy fills their thoughts.
The average Romulan is devoted to the Empire, feels a strong allegiance to the Romulan people, sacrifices his personal aims for those of the state, and remains steadfast to D'era. It is almost impossible to convince a Romulan to betray the empire, and even the shopkeeper on the street knows his duty and does it unquestioningly.
Only slight physical differences separate Romulans from their Vulcan cousins. Outwardly, the two are virtually identical, with the same pointed ears and upward-sloping eyebrows, though over the centuries the Romulans have developed a prominent brow ridge. The average Romulan stands 1.8 meters tall. They possess the same straight black hair and greenish-tinged complexions of their Vulcan forebears.
Romulans possess the same internal organ arrangement as Vulcans - their hearts are placed where the human liver would be - and the same copper-based blood. Yet the Romulans do not possess the same incredible strength (the result of continued evolution on a lower-gravity world), the inner eyelid (their sun is not as bright), or facility with the Vulcan mind-meld (as they lack the mental discipline).
Romulans like Vulcans live much longer than humans. The maximum Romulan lifespan that can ever be expected is approximately 250 standard years, with more typical figures ranging from 200 to 230 or so. Generally, the last 10 to 25 of those years is spent in a weakened state, as is common with most races.
History and Culture
Millennia ago, Surak sought to bring peace to the Vulcan people by encouraging them to reign in violent emotions and pursue logic. Some Vulcan disagreed. They claimed that the Vhorani created the Vulcan people at Vorta Vor, the wellspring of creation, and placed them in Vulcan's harsh environment to strengthen them for their ultimate destiny - to one day rule the stars. Those who believed in these legends saw the Time of Awakening as abandoning their birthright. At first, they persecuted Surak's followers, executing those who infiltrated their lands to spread his teachings, sending his followers to the arena to defend their lives with lirpa and ahn-woon. But as the tide turned against them, theses "true Vulcans" fled their world to preserve their way of life, the Way of D'era. Thus, the Romulans were born.
It was a student of Surak's, S'task, who determined after the deception of the people by a barbarous and cruel universe that logic and peace were not the answer. Thus, he lead a group of people out into the stars to create a new way of life. Based on the fundamentals of ancient Vulcan society, Rihannsu culture is a liberal mixture of old Vulcan traits and ideas evolved during their travels, called The Journey of Sundering in the ancient texts of both the Vulcan and Rihannsu people. There is an old Rihannsu proverb that sums up the culture rather well:
"Certain it is and sure: love burns, ale burns, fire burns, and politics burns. But cold were life without them."
The family, service to the Empire, and mnhei'sahe, the Rihannsu concept of personal honor are great values in the Romulan culture. A Romulan family is very close and marriages are for life because the bond between husband and wife is so close that divorces and separation are not known in Romulan society, and failed marriages are taken as a taint upon the mnhei'sahe of both individuals.
Every Romulan exists to serve and is willing to die for the Empire. A job in the military is one of the most prestigious jobs in the Romulan Star Empire and combat veterans are the most respected members of Romulan society.
Contrary to common belief, the Romulans as a people speak two major languages, Rihannsu (or Sav'lesta) and Rom'lesta (or Havrannsu). The former is more closely related to High Vulcan than the later and is the foremost language of the Senate, and the noble families and is predominant on Ch'Rihan. Most naval officers have at least a working knowledge of it, even if they are not native speakers. Rom'lesta is the language of the people, and is spoken by the majority of the Romulan people, and in particular by the natives of Ch'Havran.
Whilst most naval vessels, being primarily formed of crew from one of the twin worlds, will adopt the primary language of their world, but officers inevitably have a great working knowledge of both languages, and there are many loan words between the two. Typically the Rihannsu names for military ranks are of Rom'lesta descent, but Rihannsu versions of the Rom'lesta originals are the ranks in common use.
Most Romulans play games such as d'elo, which is a game of stones and sticks that can be traced back to ancient Vulcan. There are arena games, where athletes, both men and women, show their prowess with various Romulan weapons and fighting techniques, as is expected of the Romulan people. Romulans also relish nature and enjoy the beauty of it, and most are avid hikers and enjoy the typical outdoor activities.
Artistic abilities show the softer side of the Romulan personality, balancing their fierce warrior ethic with the sensitivity of an artist. Sculpting, pottery, and carving are the most popular media, as Romulans prefer to work in three-dimensional forms, although painting is a reasonably common artistic activity. In addition to the visual arts, the Romulans enjoy writing, literature, poetry, drama, and lhi, a game of wits and riddles.
Crammed into generation ships equipped only with impulse drives, those who fled Vulcan traveled at near-warp speeds looking for a planet to call their own. The trip would take the proto-Romulans decades to complete, as they searched for the perfect world. As time passed, some abandoned their quest, choosing to settle on other worlds. Some of these pocket empires would go on to be fairly successful, surviving for a few centuries, while others descended into barbarism. This may explain the origins of the Rigelians of Rigel V, who share a physiology similar to Vulcans, the proto-Romulan empire known as the Debrune, and the Mintakans.
After 190 years of searching the proto-Romulan colonists located the world that would become their home - Romulus. Uninhabited by higher life forms, they begin to tame the planet. They built their cities, cleared their farmland, and gradually put their imprint on the land.
Throughout their history, the Romulans demonstrate a pattern of deceit and tenacity as they probed their ever-expanding borders for conquests in the name of D'era.
After settling Romulus, they turned their eye towards Remus, the neighboring planet in the star system, defeating the native inhabitants and claiming it as their own. They continued to fan out from their home system, crushing any opposition and conquering dozens of worlds.
Astoundingly, the Romulans eventually made it back to Vulcan, this time with a battle-tested fleet. Though ultimately their efforts failed, the two sides fought a hundred-year-long war for control over the world of their birth.
By 2156, the Romulans become aware of humans, and Earth, and the Romulan-Earth War began. A bloody conflict fought with primitive atomic warheads, both sides fought to stalemate. In 2160, they concluded the Treaty of Cheron by subspace radio, which established a neutral zone one light-year wide to separate the combatants. Throughout the war and negotiations, neither side ever actually laid eyes upon the other.
For the next 100 years, the Romulans isolated themselves behind their border, until they developed a prototype ship combined two new technologies - the cloaking device and plasma weapon. In several sneak attacks, the Romulans tested their prototype by attacking Federation outposts along the Neutral Zone.
Suspecting the Federation of developing their own cloaking technology, the Romulans suddenly attacked their science colony in the Tomed Nebula. This Tomed Incident cost the Federation thousands of lives, and resulted in the Treaty of Algeron, which reaffirmed the security of the Neutral Zone and prohibited Starfleet from developing cloaking technology.
After the Tomed Incident, the Romulans once again retreated to their own territory. After 53 years of seclusion, they returned with a vengeance, ending their isolation to investigate the disappearance of several Romulan outposts for which they blamed the Federation (though it was later discovered that the Borg were responsible).
Four years later, they attempted a coup of the Vulcan government by hiding their invasion behind the veil of a reunification with their long-lost cousins.
Their relations with the Klingon Empire fated little better. In 2268, the Romulans entered into an alliance with the Klingons, trading starship designs for cloaking device technology. The Romulans use the alliance as a cover for sneak attacks on Klingon space, culminating in their humiliating defeat at the Battle of Klach D'kel Brakt in 2270. By 2292, the alliance collapsed, and a period of open warfare began, including attacks on the Klingon outpost at Narendra III and Khitomer. Finally, the Romulans attempted to overthrow the Klingon government in 2367 by supplying the Duras family in their bid for the Chancellorship of the Klingon High Council, in the hopes of then exerting influence on Klingon politics.
Way of D'era
Central to Romulan society is the Way of D'era. According to legend, the Vhorani created the Vulcan people at Vorta Vor, the Wellspring of Creation, and promised them the stars. They set the Vulcans in their homeworld's severe environment to temper them for galactic domination. All Romulans are taught to believe that it is their destiny to rule the galaxy. Whatever their accomplishments, Romulans believe there is always something new to conquer, and they plan to conquer it.
D'era forms their worldview, calling them to a higher purpose, encouraging them to put aside individual desires for the shared destiny of all. Social rites of passage, such as the Pylanazi, in which a Romulan reaffirms his allegiance to the state, and the Serona, a period of universal conscription, reinforce this message. Families teach their children of the sacrifices and heroic deeds of their ancestors. Through devotion to the Praetor, allegiance to the Romulan people, and obedience to the state, the average citizen takes part in the glory of the empire.
The ruling body of the Romulan Star Empire is the Senate. It determines public policy, debates and passes laws, and appropriates resources for the good of the empire. The Senate is the conscience of the republic, speaking on behalf of their constituents, who do not actually vote for their representation; the Senate appoints its members from a pool of worthy, and influential, candidates. The Senate is also a hotbed of intrigue, as senators vie to be seen as more loyal to the empire than their peers, while garnishing public resources for their districts and stone-walling the initiatives of rival Senators.
The Praetor is the leader of the empire, in whose name Romulan soldiers swear their oaths, and for whose honor they fight. He embodies the virtues of Romulan citizenship, and personifies the Way of D'era. Although the Senate governs the empire, the Praetor leads. Under strong Praetors, the Senate is a rubber stamp for his policies. Weak Praetors become puppets dancing to the whims of powerful factions. He (or she, for Romulans do not practice gender bias) commands the Romulan legions and their mighty Star Navy, and is expected the expand the empire's borders, or else.
The elite Romulan imperial intelligence service, the Tal Shiar enforces loyalty among the citizenry and military, while spying on the empire's enemies. Agents have broad discretionary powers and can overrule military commanders in the field without fear of reprisal. Aboard their starships, great and small, Tal Shiar operatives serve as "political officers" ensuring the captain follows his orders, and the crew remains loyal to the Praetor; it is not unheard of for Romulan captains to face arrest for failing their mission. In addition, they have the authority to commandeer vessels for covert missions. Meanwhile, rumors of agents hidden among them, reporting on their trustworthiness, keep Romulan crews in line. Often brutal, those citizens who express dissatisfaction disappear in the night. Alien operatives are quickly picked up for interrogation, and much worse. Lastly, Tal Shiar agents spread throughout the known galaxy, supplying rebels with weapons, and destabilizing governments. On at least one occasion, a Vulcan ambassador to the Federation Council turned out to be a Tal Shiar sleeper agent.
Family is important to a Romulan, most notably among the upper echelons, the pseudo-aristocracy that rules Romulan life. Family is a source of pride. It is a way to amass great wealth and power within the empire. Notable Romulan families control entire fleets and worlds, and most often send a family member to sit on the Senate. They are patricians in the classic sense, believing they have a right to rule, but caring for their subjects as though they were beloved children.
- Bridges, Bill, et al. Star Trek Roleplaying Game Book 5: Aliens, Decipher, 2003. ISBN: 1582369070.