Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Traveller Tuesday: Being Hiver

The following is a collaborative guest post by fellow gunblogger and Traveller fan Angus McThag, and Fuzzy Geff (one of his players).  Similar to my Droyne Thoughts post, McThag and Geff provide a viewpoint on a race I haven't quite been able to grok. 

Being Hiver.

It's actually not as hard as it seems even though they are the most alien individuals in the entire Traveller universe. Hivers just see the world differently than Humaniti; it comes with their all-around hexocular vision.

You ARE a special snowflake. The universe surely exists for your delight, no? It'd be Buddhist in outlook if you didn't recognize that everyone else is a special snowflake as well. That makes it wrong to wantonly destroy other sophonts. This is regarded as pacifism by other species, but mere good manners to you.

Cowardice is in the eye-stalks of the beholder, because you are special and unique the universe would genuinely diminished by your departure from it. Should not one take all precautions to prevent that from happening prematurely? Hiver are extremely prudent, not afraid. Avoiding danger is the hallmark of intelligence!

The existence of firearms tailored to fit the Hiver “hand” should put lie to the idea that they will not fight. It's never the first option they consider and they'd prefer to avoid it altogether when it's not absolutely necessary especially since they really aren't very good at it. They have a tendency to freeze in combat situations; but if pressed hard enough long enough a Hiver can implement a fatal solution to their predicament. Besides, it's far better to get someone else who enjoys fighting to do it for you; preferably as far from you as possible.


You are convinced that you are the pinnacle of evolution. Your culture alone is mature. Yes, it's racist; why do all of the less evolved races say that as if it were wrong? No, you don't mind talking about it at length. Why wouldn't you talk about it with other races? It's nothing to be ashamed of, and adults should educate the children...

Because you are special and the universe is enhanced by your existence, you should do everything you can to share your experience and knowledge with others and to absorb and learn from their experiences too. There is so much to learn and experience, yet so little time. Being active in a topical club is just a small part of being a good citizen of the Federation. By sharing your experiences you are insuring that a part of you lives on forever and by learning from others do you enhance your special status while also aiding them to live on past their lives.

Manipulation? Manipulation is the national pastime of the Hiver. How else would things get done? Trust a giant impersonal bureaucracy? Manipulation is at its core the long con taken to epic proportion. Planting ideas into minds with whispers that ultimately lead to the desired action is the height of civilization. Being caught in such a game even if one is duped by it is an honor!

If you were a biped you'd have “I was manipulated by M. Gondorff!” t-shirts printed up. Everyone involved takes some pride in being associated with a well realized manipulation. Manipulators keep score and compare their accomplishments.


Because so many things are claimed to be the result of manipulation, it's critical that a manipulator record their goals and processes before they begin. There are rules for doing so, like all games. Because the crediting of the manipulation does not occur until the goal is accomplished, virtually anything and everything going on around you could be happening because a master manipulator has set it in motion. Isn't that exciting?!?

All of this score keeping and recording ensures that nobody takes credit for happenstance. However, it's very likely that many failed manipulations are never mentioned and the records are destroyed.

The key to any Manipulation, regardless of whether the target is an individual, a small group, or an entire population, is twofold. First, you must accurately determine what motivates the target. Once you have identified the target's motivations (and all targets will have multiple motivations, both tangible and intangible), you must lead the target to the conclusion that doing what you want the target to do will help address the target's concerns, wants and/or needs.

They are goal oriented and willing to take a very long view of things. The Ithklur took over a thousand years to manipulate from savages to the happy warriors they are today, that takes patience. This is not to say they cannot manipulate on the fly in an ad hoc manner, it's just there's far less prestige for making small manipulations which aren't very elaborate or far reaching. There's nothing wrong with quickly convincing someone to do something for you so that you can remain safe.

The economy of the Hiver is baffling at times, but it's really market capitalism. The perspective shift is that a nest, not an individual is the smallest economic actor. Nests own property and wealth not individuals. The strange part is that an individual can, and often does, change nests frequently; taking little if any wealth with them when they depart. Occasionally an honorarium is paid to convince an individual to change nests, but that is paid to the nest they are leaving, not to them personally. There is a great deal of individual prestige associated with being worth such an honorarium though!

They are not an emotional race compared to Humaniti. Their emotions are curiosity, parental-instinct and personal survival. They come across as emotional, pragmatic and cold. In some ways this seems to conflict with the good manners of not harming the other special snowflakes, but in their numerous eyes it's about being a good parent. You have to let them learn the stove is hot in a visceral way; so you let them burn their fingers. “What did you learn?” is almost a Hiver reaction, although they're more likely to proactively express it as a successful manipulation whereby the subject was brought to enlightenment through a painful but non-lethal application of injury.

The Hiver seem to lack what other races would deem a “real” government. For the most part it is the topical clubs that handle tasks normally given over to government. It only makes sense to do things in this manner, who is better equipped to handle something than genuine experts and specialists? But don't think there's an automatic deferment to expertise, debate is welcome and allowed; among fellow Hivers within the nests and topical clubs. "Don't let the kids see mom and dad fighting" is a good way of putting it.


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