The Tolani maintained a firm grip on their homeworld when the Vaq attacked. This is due to the fact only 15% of it contains any land above water, and doesn’t hold any useful minerals for war. Most of their food and technology comes from resources in their vast oceans. Many believe the Tolani were invaded simply to increase casualties rather than any real push to control territory.
The Tolani are ruled by families. The largest usually reign, but smaller families with strong influence often rule. All family members have equal influence within the family; however one member is elected by consensus to be the head. This Tolani has the final say on any disagreements. Most Tolani feel claustrophobic if they don't have room to spread to full wingspan, or if they have no room for flight. Any vessel that intends to carry a Tolani crewmember must contain sizable spaces for them to stretch out and glide.
The Tolani see the skies as their sole domain and expect visitors to seek their permission to enter their controlled space. They may seem stern but underneath their tough façade they are quite friendly. As long as you respect their customs they will treat you with the utmost respect. For a Tolani, family comes first and if you are welcomed into it you will have the joy of eternal friendship and protection. As Tolani family members number in the high twenties you will have many allies to assist you. Many races don’t see this side of them however as they don’t instruct other races on the correct etiquette, expecting everyone to behave according to their high standards as a matter of course. Thus, they are often surprised at the lack of manners from most other races. The Tolani refer to everything based on avian terms, such as a nest or eyrie for a house, an updraft for a road etc. It doesn't take long to acclimatise to their wording but can cause initial confusion.
The Tolani vary widely but all have a core appearance. They are humanoid with large wings emerging just below the shoulders. Their head resembles a type of flying animal which is where the variety is keenest. Heads can vary from something like an eagle, swallow, owl, flying fox, seagull, bat or many other flying creatures found across all the AFS homeworlds. Rarer Tolani resemble flightless birds like emus, penguins and kiwis. Some have feathers all over their body, others only on their wings, others still (mainly bat-kin Tolani) have smooth leathery skin. Some rare Tolani even have large tails similar to a peacock. Whatever the case their bodies resemble a humanoid version of the animal they share their appearance with, so an emu-kin Tolani would have a long neck and long powerful legs. Their bones are lightweight to accommodate better flight capabilities. Tolani range from 165cm to 225cm and weigh between 50 and 95 kilograms. Their resemblance to the various avian beasts of multiple planets has sent scientists into a frenzy to discover a common ancestry or influence. None has been found thus far.
All Tolani are physically strong from flight through strong winds. They also can stay aloft for most of the day. They are very nimble in the air, and can spot obstacles to dodge at a moment's notice. This trait extends to when they are on the ground. All Tolani feel they are superior to land based races and look down on them - socially and physically when airborne. All Tolani have wings of some description though not all enable flight (refer to outcasts below).
All Tolani have changes to their vision, depending on the type of avian creature it resembles. A Bat Tolani would have Echolocation. An Eagle Tolani would be able to see clearly at great distances whereas an Owl Tolani has improved night vision.
The Tolani are skilled at the Air Element, making it an integral part of their education system. The equivalent of a University Doctorate is required for true mastery however.
Outcasts and Champions:
The majority of Outcast Tolani are based from flightless ‘birds’. They are used to being ground-based and need to climb everywhere and obtain the same strength as their flighted kin. They have not had the constant flight to build up agility, though in rare cases they may be able to glide for a few seconds to slow a fall. Their rock climbing - and falling - has toughened their skins, and the constant strive to prove themselves results in a tough mental hide. They still feel inferior to their flighted brethren and retreat into the background. Some once prominant Tolani have been reduced to Outcast status after becoming social pariahs. Even the natural born Outcasts steer clear of them for fear of association.
Champion Tolani are physically impressive and usually resemble birds of prey. They constantly aim to prove themselves in contests and always push beyond their limits. They however are highly arrogant and expect everyone to treat them special. Other Tolani look to these people for combat leadership and as a stable influence. These Tolani are usually the head of their family, government and organisations.
The Tolani are fairly tolerant of other races as long as they don’t harm the Tolani physically, mentally or environmentally. They get on well with the Korana for their views on nature and strong racial ties similar to a family unit.
Lands and resources:
Most Tolani cities are in mountains and caves, with a few on ground level for off-world visitors. The cities run round-the-clock as when the daytime Tolani finish for the day, the nocturnal Tolani wake up and take over. This also means that their cities are always fully guarded from assault. Many AFS members utilise this fact and hire several diurnal and nocturnal Tolani as security. Tolani also make fantastic scouts, as many enemy races don’t look to the skies for eavesdroppers.
The Tolani don’t have a religious belief system, and tend to be morally guided by what their families will think of their actions. How a family is seen by others is of great importance and the social decline of a single Tolani will often impact his or her family unless rapidly resolved. This may propel a family or individual into Outcast status.
Without exception, all Tolani names can be linked to avian, weather or family terms. Tolani delight in using names that are difficult to trace back to these concepts however. There are even competitions for these ‘unusual’ names with winners often receiving increased family stature.
Male names include Brutha, Flash, Gust, Pest, Soaron, and Weston.
Female names include Ariel, Bawk, Ciss, Malta, Qualls, and Winny.
Nearly all Tolani that have enlisted to the AFS military did so to help protect their families in some manner.