PHYSICAL & SOCIOCULTURAL CHARACTERISTICS
Average Height: 2.1 Meters
Average Mass: 125 kg (male), 100 kg (female)
Skin Colour: Gray
Hair Colour: Different shades of black, brown, and white in varying combinations
Eye Colour: Blue, Green, Yellow, Gold, Brown, Red
Distinctions: Tall, hair-covered, retractable climbing claws, long lifespans
Average Lifespan: More than 400 years
Language: Shyriiwook, Xaczik, Thykaraan
The Wookiees, whose name for themselves translated to the People of the Trees, were a species of tall, hairy humanoids that were inhabitants of the planet Kashyyyk. A race of arboreal mammals, the Wookiees lived in treehouses nestled in the canopy of the towering wroshyr trees. Despite their fearsome appearance, they were usually gentle, although they were prone to devastating fits of rage when provoked.
A race of towering, hairy bipeds, the Wookiees were one of the most recognizable species in the galaxy. They were renowned for their great strength, their intelligence, their loyalty and their short temper. Due to their appearance, they were sometimes referred to as “walking carpets.”
The Wookiees of the jungle planet Kashyyyk were shaggy sentient beings whose countenance was considered impressive by many other species. They were humanoid, with a head, a torso, and four limbs, and they stood 2.1 meters on average. Their upper limbs, or arms, ended with hands sporting four fingers plus an opposable thumb that allowed them to grab things. Being a species of tree climbers, Wookiees had a strong back, dexterous hands and thick calf muscles. For the same evolutionary reasons, they also possessed curved retractable claws that sprouted from hidden sheaths in their fingertips with the flex of a muscle. Their heads featured a pair of forward-facing eyes, the color of which ranged from blue to brown, with some individuals having green, yellow, golden or red irises. The Wookiees’ nose was very sensitive and would provoke some sort of olfactory delirium in the presence of meat. Their mouths were filed with sharp fangs that could puncture even the durable scaly skin of the Trandoshans, their ancestral enemies. The Wookiees were also good swimmers, which was reflected by their powerful thighs.
But their most striking physical feature in the eyes of the non-Wookiees was their uniform coat of water-shedding hair, the color of which ranged from black to brown according to the subspecies. In fact, the word “Wookiee” was a catch-all term referring to a number of related races that could be distinguished primarily by their fur. The most common subspecies were the Rwooks, who came from the region of Rwookrrorro and whose hair was typically brown, red and chestnut. Although albino Wookiees were rare, they were not unheard of. However, such a birth was generally held to be a bad omen, as white hair did not blend in with the earth tones of their forest surroundings.
They breathed oxygen from Kashyyyk’s atmosphere through their lungs, and were among the variety of species that could develop asthma. Their immense lung capacity allowed them to blow their Kashyyyk clarions, a feat that a Human could not accomplish.
The Wookiee’s natural habitat was the canopy of the wroshyr trees. Those towering vegetals existed in over 1,000 different varieties, most of which reached kilometers in height, while some only attained 300–400 meters. Wookiee families lived in treehouses nestled in the crowns of the wroshyrs. Those dwellings often consisted of circular structures of unpainted wood mounted around the tree trunks, sometimes with several stories and a veranda. The most luxurious and elaborate houses were built directly into the trees. Villages were held up by branches only, without the help of repulsorlifts or any other modern technology.
Like many other humanoids, the Wookiees had two sexes, male and female. Female Wookiees had six breasts and gave birth to live young, with their gestation period nearly a year long. Wookiee pups were large at birth, averaging slightly less than one meter. After birth, a Wookiee grew very fast, fully conscious and able to walk unassisted within one standard year. During the course of maturation, the individual would grow to about 2 meters, with exceptionally tall individuals attaining 2.3 meters. However, cases of nanism were rumored to exist, and very old Wookiees tended to shrink, becoming as short as 1.70 meters.
Wookiees were long-lived, with a lifespan of several standard centuries. While they outlived many other beings, the Wookiees did not live as long as other species such as the millennial Gen’Dai. Infant Wookiees would remain in the nursery rings, where they learned how to interact within their society and were taught to appreciate Kashyyyk’s wildlife. At the end of each school day, the parents would take their pups home so they could create and maintain a sense of family. Later in life, the children would stay home full time with the rest of their kin, and were given their first responsibilities in life in the form of housekeeping chores.
Around the age of twelve, the males would perform an initiation ritual that made them enter young adulthood. In most parts of Kashyyyk, incumbents to the coming-of-age ritual had to gather silk fibers from the center of a carnivorous syren plant. In other regions of the planet, young males took the Test of Ascension, known as hrrtayyk in Wookieespeak. During that ceremony, the youth was expected to unlock his rrakktorr, or inner strength, by learning how to survive in the Kashyyykian Shadowlands, the dangerous ground level of the forests.
From the age of 18, the Wookiees were viewed as full-fledged adults, and were considered in their prime around the age of 200. Throughout this lengthy period, Wookiees were expected to embrace a career and find a regular source of income so they could marry and found a family of their own. Subsequently, Wookiees were qualified as “middle-aged” by 301–350, “old” by 351–399 and “venerable” at 400. Elderly Wookiees were normally cared for and admired for their accumulated wisdom.
Wookiees were usually calm, gentle and mild-mannered, but not when they were provoked. They were also known to be sore losers. A Wookiee who lost a bet, or a game, might have torn off the limbs of the person who beat them. It was usually considered wise to avoid upsetting them.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE
Wookiee marriage was based on sexual monogamy. Once married, the couple mated for life and would usually raise two or three pups, although there was no firm rule on that matter. It was uncontroversial for a Wookiee father to leave the planet for long periods of time and entrust the education of their offspring to their mate and older kinsmen. The Wookiee society was a patriarchal one, with a complex lineage structure. Nuclear families were regrouped in clanic structures, and a system of inter-clan alliances and enmities existed.
Wookiees greatly valued honor and loyalty. Therefore, their notion of “family” encompassed much more than just blood ties. A part of that most sacred tradition was the social institution of life debt: when a Wookiee’s life was saved by someone else, regardless of the species, they would frequently devote themselves to a lifetime of service to their savior and their family. Through the mechanism of the life debt, the People of the Trees used to develop unbreakable bonds with their boon companions and true friends, forming a “honor family.”
As regards politics, the numerous cities scattered across the surface of Kashyyyk were each led by a Chieftain, who oversaw the civil and military matters of his community. Those Chieftains, also referred to as Elders, occupied a high position at the local scale, and they were entitled to cancel the celebration of sacred holidays. At planetary level, the entire world was ruled over by a King coming from a patrician family and whose court was held at the Royal City. One of the Wookiee monarch’s roles was to determine Kashyyyk’s stance in time of interplanetary war.
Life Day was a Wookiee holiday celebrated by the inhabitants of Kashyyyk every three years. It was a celebration of the planet’s diverse ecosystem and the many forms of life it encompassed. It also was a time to remember family members who had died, and the young ones who continued to bring new life to a family. Life Day was a sacred holiday, and many Wookiees considered it their duty to return to Kashyyyk in order to celebrate it. Life Day was held once every three local years for many generations. Over time, the holiday found its way into various other cultures. “Life day” was also used as a term to describe the anniversary of one’s birth.
The People of the Trees were omnivores. While they were perfectly capable of gathering wild plants (like the wasaka berries) or even cultivating domesticated varieties (such as the onion-like chyntuck), their lives in the canopy of Kashyyyk prompted them to consume essentially meat. Wookiee cuisine relied heavily on spices. Because of this, many dishes were not suitable for Humans as they could damage their gullet and stomach. Like many other species, Wookiees consumed potent alcohol-based beverages, including the accarragm, the cortyg brandy, the garrmorl, the grakkyn and the Thikkiian brandy. Those spirits were too strong for Humans, who would become severely intoxicated after consuming them.
TECHNOLOGY AND TRADE
From an early age, Wookiees were trained to use their dexterous hands for carving. They would learn to fashion everyday objects such as tools, musical instruments and household items. Some would also carve wooden toys, either as gifts for their younglings or just for leisure. An old saying stated: “Give a Wookiee a knife and send him into a forest in the morning, and by evening he would have carved you a table to eat dinner on—and a house to put it in.” Whereas some outsiders qualified their works as art, the Wookiees viewed their innate talents as mere survival skills, and they had no word for “artist” in their various languages.
While they appeared to have a low technology level to outsiders, the Wookiees were in fact quite comfortable with modern technology. In fact, their ability to fuse modern conveniences and natural resources was second to none. They could easily mend and maintain modern starcrafts, and were even known to effect temporary repairs of hyperdrives with pieces of hardwood. The wood of the wroshyr tree was so flexible and strong that it could be used to build starship hulls—although in conjunction with deflector shield skins.
Throughout history, the outstanding technical ingenuity of the Wookiees aroused covetousness. Additionally, while distant from Coruscant, Kashyyyk was close to hyperspace routes known only to the Claatuvac Guild, a group of Wookiee cartographers and navigators whose knowledge was a source of envy.
COMBAT AND WAR
Unlike other species like the neighboring Trandoshans or the Yinchorri, the Wookiees were not warlike. When peaceful, they had the reputation of being gentle and benevolent. However, their tempers were fiery, and an infuriated Wookiee could erupt in a fit of berserker rage that only ceased when the source of their anger was damaged to their satisfaction. Though they were feared as opponents, Wookiees did not use any well-defined style when fighting unarmed. To outsiders, it seemed they simply charged forward, swinging their arms and crushing their targets with their massive fists. Even more terribly, Wookiees also had the justified reputation of ripping the arms of their enemies out of their sockets, which was known to occur in instances of losing a game. That state of racial rage served as the basis of the deal-slang expression “wookinate,” which referred to the rendering harmless an enemy using excessive force—obviously referring to the great physical strength that provided the essence of Wookiee combat. In addition, an exhausted Wookiee could be considered even more dangerous in a fight than a fully rested one.
However, despite their great physical strength and ferocious tempers, the Wookiees were not willing to fight for trivial pretexts. When arguing in public, two Wookiees would engage into a duel of stomping and posturing. Whichever of the two fighters made the strongest impression was considered to have won the argument. Still, the influence of the crowd taking sides would sometimes infuriate the contenders, turning the otherwise harmless stomping competition into a real fight. Even when engaging in real combat, the Wookiees held true to their code of honor, under which claws were never to be used for fighting. A Wookiee who used his or her claws for combat would be labeled a “madclaw” and exiled. Some were also charged by tradition of killing those members of their kind that engaged in the practice of using their claws in combat, as the act dishonored their race.
Contrary to their rudimentary methods of hand-to-hand combat, the Wookiees used their craft to produce unique quality weapons. They typically eschewed standard blasters and grenades in favor of bladed weapons, such as ryyk blades. Their trademark, however, was the powerful bowcasters—a crossbow-like, single-fire weapon, which physically weaker species could not use effectively.
The Wookiees spoke an array of dialects collectively known as Wookiee language, all of which consisted in a combination of barks, roars, moans and growls. The most common was Shyriiwook, often nicknamed Wookieespeak in Basic, the literal meaning of which was tongue of the tree people. As a trade language, Shyriiwook was the most well-known Wookiee dialect outside Kashyyyk, and most strangers assumed that there was only one Wookiee tongue. Other known dialects were Xaczik, spoken on the Wartaki Islands, and Thykarann, which was richer in technical vocabulary. The construction of their vocal apparatus, however, prevented the Wookiees from speaking Galactic Basic Standard, or any other language that involved a high degree of vocal nuance. Nevertheless, they were quick learners and could easily grasp the various foreign languages they encountered.