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The ler are an engineered nonhuman race, living in a reservation on Earth. They sometimes refer to humans as "forerunners", and they are sometimes referred to as New Humans, or Metahomo novalis. Their creators happened upon them by chance, choosing them over other possible viable forms because of their greater resemblance to humanity.

Physical TraitsEdit

Physically, they are smaller than humans, with softer, childlike features. Females appear sexually underdeveloped by human standards, with reduced secondary sexual characteristics. They are covered with a fine, downy hair all over their bodies. Their eyes are almost invariably lightly and subtly coloured; strong colours are regarded as ill-omened. Lers' eyesight is more sensitive to colour than humans', but their night-vision is poorer because they have fewer rods.

Their hands have a narrow thumb on either side and three fingers in the middle. The inner thumb is smaller and more delicate than the human thumb; the outer thumb, developed from the little finger, is stronger. Ler do not seem to have handedness at all, being equally adept with both hands.

Ler are infertile in their adolescent phase. An adult ler is fertile twice, with some few having a third fertility, with a five-year estrus cycle. There are also occasional fraternal twins, but never identical ones. They have a relatively high mutation rate.

Mental TraitsEdit

Ler possess almost total recall. By the same token, they possess the ability to autoforget, to erase their memory completely, a process which any ler can begin, but only an elder can have a chance of stopping. They also have no equivalent to the human subconscious, that may act as a buffer for contradictory experiences.

Ler have stronger intuition than humans, though their deductive powers are comparatively poor. They are more comfortable than humans in crowded settings.

SocietyEdit

There are four determinants to the social position of a ler--Aspect, Phase, Class and Position. Of these, position, or birth order, is the most important. Social class--which is theoretically divided into Servant, Worker, Journeyman and Grower(from lowest to highest)--is the least important, and elders are completely classless.

Ler are organized into families called Braids, which consist of four ler each, two pairs with a five-year age gap between them. Third pregnancies and fraternal twins amount to a 5-6% percent population growth rate, doubling every six hundred years. One in five or six braids has an extra child, 80% of those being a third fertility and another 20% being fraternal twins. Extra ler must be organized in groups of four into braids whenever possible before they can mate.

The braid design is designed to minimize evolutionary change by spreading genetic material around. Often, though, braids end up in resonance with each other because their outsiblings are of the correct ages to marry into each other. The braid family structure was not settled upon until the 22nd century, though the earliest braids, Perklaren and Terklaren, began earlier.

The ler lifespan is divided into several phases, determined mostly by their age in Spans. A ler of less than one Span is a child(hazh)up to ten years, or adolescent(didh)up to twenty-nine. An adult ler is a Rodh(pl. rodhosi), or parent, until they reach age sixty. Ler in their third Span are considered elders, or starosi(sing. Starh). The last fertility, or hanh-dhain, is considered by some to be the end of parenthood, but in practice elderhood does not begin until one's children are old enough to "weave" into their own braids.

In their adolescent phase, sexuality and experimentation is strongly encouraged, as part of growing up. They learn then to interact and get along with others in an atmosphere of freedom. The line between friends and lovers is not distinct, and friends of opposite sex often have sex as a matter of course. The shoulders are considered an erogeneous zone. There is no incest taboo among braid members. Fertile adults, on the other hand, often seek privacy because of the intensity of their desires.

In elderhood, all family ties are essentially broken, and the next generation of the braid take over the family holdings. Elders may live alone, as a mnathman, or remain with former Braidmates, or join a communal lodge. They are forbidden, by the Basic Arbitrations, to enter a yos, having left their own to their children. Ler may live to 120 years or older, so more than half of their lives are spent in elderhood. Relationships among elders are highly structured. Elders often wear their hair in long double braids. A spirit-lamp--a small paper lamp with a single candle inside--is sometimes hung outside a lodge as a sign of mourning for the dead.

Ler names have different forms, depending on their relationship to the speaker. The full name consists of {aspect} {sex-title} {use-name} {clan} {family position}, e.g. "Kanh Srith Fel Liryan Klan'Deren Klandormadh". The use-name is always three syllables in length, though it may be written as two words("Fel Liryan" instead of "Fellirian"). Fellow braidmembers will use a shortened form, as "Eliya", eliding the starting and ending consonants, and the children in the braid will use a form like "Madheliya" with the term for father or mother added. The first two syllables, e.g. "Fellir", is an adolescent love-name and never used thereafter. The first syllable alone is a child-name, generally used only by siblings, and rarely in adulthood. Each name is unique, which some consider to place an effective upper limit on ler population, before they would run out of usable names.

Ler on Earth live in an area called the reservation.

CultureEdit

The ler numbering system uses base-fourteen. Their equivalent to 100 is perzhan, or 196. Ler speak a language called Singlespeech.

Ler have generally eschewed human technology, preferring to live primitively whenever possible, and not to change their environment more than necessary. They take the human tendency to introduce new technologies willy-nilly as a cautionary example.

Because of their primitive lifestyles, they are too busy to have much use for human-style entertainment, but they do have some free time. Ler are aficionados of drama, though they do not present it on the stage, but read it directly or hear it from a storyteller. They have imported many human plays, especially tragic ones, sometimes with no change, but sometimes changing the human names to more ler-ish ones. They also make up their own, with complicated rules. They also form friendships and make enemies, and have other games and pastimes. Ler usually retire early in the evening.

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