The typical Phod can be best described as a short, stocky humanoid with bird-like and pig-like features. Fur-like, downy soft feathers, which are usually shades of brown, black, gray, white, pink, or a mixture thereof, cover almost the entire body of the Phod, with the exception of their talon-like feet.
The pig-like head sports two beady eyes, a large, flat snout, and large, floppy ears. Their body resembles that of an owl. Their hands and arms are reminiscent of wings, being somewhat flat, but the hands still branch off into fingers and thumbs, which are reasonably agile, as Phods can use most mechanical tools fairly easily. Their feet have the texture of talons, and their toenails are sharp if not trimmed often, but otherwise their feet are no different from human feet in function. Phods usually have very strong chest muscles, a feature that hints at a flight-able evolutionary past.
It is very hard for a human to tell male and female Phods apart without a good amount of knowledge regarding Phodian clothing and jewelry styles. They wear shorts and armbands with their national colors, and adorn themselves with jewelry to display their social status. The typical Phod is about 1.4 meters (4 feet 7 inches) in height.
The Phods are a humanoid race with technology on par with that of 1960s Earth. There are two dominant states on their homeworld, with competing political and economic ideologies, and thus in a continual state of high diplomatic tension.
Until about 60 years ago, Ohara had no countries to speak of, only a large number of feudal city-states. The climate was temperate and was ideal for agricultural production. Food and wealth were plenty. Technology and industrialization were advancing at a pace that was slow enough to be safe to the environment. Conflicts were few, and mostly of the saber-rattling variety. The citizens were content.
Then a plague struck out of nowhere, wiping out the most of the planet’s crops for several years in a row. The more corrupt among the feudal lords and their subordinates began hoarding food for themselves. In desperation, their citizens revolted against their former liege lords. Under the red banner of revolution, the Lage Republic was founded on the principles of equality and governmental accountability. The republic brought several of the more powerful city-states under the same flag. Other city-states soon found themselves at the mercy of the red republic.
But a major schism developed among the revolutionaries as soon as the young republic was founded. While they all agreed upon the principle of a government for the people, major disputes started over who should have the power to rule, and how the economy should be run.
Some believed that only those with education and dedication to the founding principles of the revolution should rule, while others asserted that the people should decide such matters.
Some believed that the government should maintain strict control over the economy, with accountability laws to make sure that atrocities such as food hoarding never happen again, while others declared that only a free market economy can ensure that civilization survives another plague.
A mere two months after the founding of the republic, several city-states broke away to form the Haton Federation, the first democratic government in Phodian history. The Lage Republic became a socialist authoritarian government. Most of the city-states that had managed to remain independent until then aligned themselves with either the Lageans or Hatonians.
60 years later, the revolution, and the plague that started it, are nothing more than a memory and a rather interesting chapter in history textbooks. Diplomatic tensions between the republic and the federation have steadily increased over the years. Some say that the hundreds of nuclear missiles the two nations have pointed at each other are all that’s keeping the planet from all-out war.
Like a typical human, a typical Phod is friendly, optimistic, gentle, and forgiving when encountered alone. Very much like humans, the intelligence and kindness of a group of Phods seem to decrease exponentially as their number increases. Nevertheless, compared to other alien species, the Phods are a reasonably civilized species in terms of morality and decorum.
Culturally, the Phods are very epicurean, if not downright hedonistic. Food is considered a major part of Phodian culture. Contests of culinary skills are accorded with the same passion and obsession that 20th Century Terrans held for soccer. Learning how to cook is a major part of a young Phod’s upbringing and education. In fact, the main rite of passage for a Phod into adulthood is cooking his or her parent’s favorite dish for them. It is therefore not surprising that obesity was a major health concern until recent years, as doctors finally began convincing the general population that moderation is the way to longevity.
In contrast, clothing plays only a minor role in Phodian society. As the vast majority of the planet’s surface enjoys a temperate climate, and Phods are well-endowed with heat-trapping feathers (an evolutionary feature from the last ice age), clothing are usually worn sparingly, and mostly used to cover up certain parts of the anatomy as modesty demands, and to display one’s gender, status, and station in life.
The family is the basic unit in Phodian society. However, a Phodian couple will usually raise a few more children than human couples do. This, combined with their shorter life-span, makes the Phodian population growth rate higher than those of human populated planets.
Why is Ohara not overpopulated? Phods have not always been the dominant species on Ohara. Predator species hunted them to near extinction before their Stone Age, when they discovered things like fire and metal-smithing that slowly turned the tide.
However, the priests of the Order, a religion based around the first human visitors to Ohara 150 years ago, are different. They raise their children, and orphans that they adopt, in communal creches. Children who grow up in these creches usually become priests and paladins, although they're free to choose other paths in life.
Most foodstuffs in a Phod's diet are native to Ohara. Their fruits, vegetables, and grains would look very alien to a human. However, like the foodstuffs that humans consume, the foods that Phods eat come from vegetation that are still oxygen-breathing, carbon-based lifeforms. So Phodian foodstuffs are different from human food only in form, not function.
The vast majority of Phodian fruits and vegetables can be safely consumed by humans. A few do produce toxic compounds when digested by the human digestive system, however, so Nepleslians are advised avoid consuming Phodian food for the time being.
Due to their anti-toxin immune systems, Yamataians and Nekovalkyrja can consume Phodian food with little to no side effects.
Humans had made contact with the Phods earlier in their history, and a few of the hardier plants they had brought have taken root in Ohara. Of them, corn, barley, and cotton are abundantly planted and harvested here. Corn can be ground into powder to make a variety of foods. Barley is a good source of starch, and also good for brewing drinks. Cotton is Ohara's main source of cloth.
Meat and dairy are not a regular part of a Phod's diet. While they're omnivores, they have never domesticated any other species, like the humans did. And until the age of gunpowder, they were poor hunters as well. A Phod would not go out to hunt for food unless his crops are ruined, which happens very rarely. The climate of Ohara has been kind to them for centuries, and they're skilled farmers.
Nevertheless, Phods are far more adventurous than humans when it comes to food. Now that trade lanes have been established between Yamatai and Ohara, they look forward to incorporating human foods, such as meat and diary products, into their dishes. The results should be quite interesting.
Alcohol is most used as a source of safe drinking water during long journeys. Phods know how to ferment fruit juices and grains into mead, ale, rum, or wine. These liquids can be easily transported via barrels on long journeys, and can even be taken aboard ships. They’re then drank straight out of the barrel on sea voyages. During journeys over land, they’re usually mixed with water found locally, into grog, so that they last longer.
While Phods are very fond of food, they are not big fans of alcohol. Phodian physiologies react in strange ways to alcohol, and mostly just make them sleepy. Being sleepy is rather desirable on a boring sea voyage, but it’s usually a bad idea to sleep the days away when there are crops to be planted and harvested.
Phodian evolution has not kept pace with their changing climate. The typical Phod has an insulating layer of feathers such that it can be dangerous to even wander around outside during daylight. They built most of their cities on the coasts, and this alleviated the problem somewhat, but about half of their world population still live in rural areas.
Thus, Phods mostly enjoy calm, sedate activities that can be enjoyed indoors. They have a rich tradition of card games and board games. Some of these games were passed on to them by Freya and her crew. As for the rest, they either invented them by themselves or derived them from those the humans had given them.
Phods also enjoy cooking, of course, although any heating of foods usually take place after sunset and the temperature has cooled down. During the day, they would pass the time by drying fruits and preserving vegetables in salt and spices. Due to the heat, their food spoil very quickly unless refrigerated or preserved.
They also enjoy spending time near the beaches, since the weather is usually cooler near the seas. However, Phods are very poor swimmers and generally avoid the water.
Necessity, however, dictates that trade between the cities must carry on, and Phods do conduct commerce on the seas. This situation attracts morally-challenged opportunists: Piracy is still a problem on Ohara. Phods, both merchants and pirates, sail for business, not pleasure.
Phods do realize that a dip is the water is a fast way of cooling off. The more wealthy Phods have small, shallow swimming pools. Those with smaller budgets use baths and showers to cool off in the evenings.
There have been only a few major wars in their entire history, so their military technology has not developed as quickly as ours. The Phods have a general tech level comparable with that of 1960s Earth. However, their ground and naval military tech is much closer to what we had during WWI, while their aerial military tech is around what we had during the 1950s. Most military efforts in recent decades went into developing the atomic bombs.
While Phods are very peaceful by nature, the state of high tension between the two dominant states has caused both to build up their military. The Lage Republic and the Haton Federation each maintain several dozen divisions, consisting of infantry, tanks, primitive fighter jets, and naval warships. In addition, several hundred long-distance nuclear missiles are pointed at the planet’s various military bases and major population centers.
The Free City State of Everspring, on the other hand, maintains no official army, but their paladins serve both as a police force and a self-defense force. Everspring also maintains a small naval force and an air force, which it directs against the pirates that operate in its trade routes and fishing waters. Everspring is neutral in the current state of cold war between Lage and Haton.
It is interesting to note that, in all Phodian military units, all the cooks are of ranks lieutenant and above. On the smaller naval vessels, the Head Chef is the third-highest ranking officer.
The Lage Republic is a socialist authoritarian republic, with one dominant political party and a strong central government. The majority of power is concentrated in a 12-person bureaucratic committee known as the “Boop”. A Grand Assembly, consisted of representatives of local governments, also meet weekly to debate upon and to ratify (or veto) legislation proposed by the Boop. Instances where the Assembly refused to ratify certain legislation are rare, however. Although citizens are not given the right to vote for their leaders, they are allowed to anonymously register complaints against government officials or government policy.
The Haton Federation is capitalist representative-democracy, with a decentralized federal government and several political parties. Most Phods have trouble telling the parties apart, however, as most of the parties share similar platforms. Corporations hold major sway in the political arena, as few elections to the Grand Congress (the main legislative body of the federation) are won without donations and other forms of support from corporate sponsors. In fact, many Hatonian politicians proudly wear jackets with the logos of their corporate sponsors emblazoned upon them. The people still have the final word over the federation’s political policies, however. Unpopular politicians do not stay in office for long.
The various satellite states are politically aligned with either Lage or Haton, and are usually ruled by no more than mere puppet governments.
Ohara has exceedingly high agricultural production capabilities, most of which goes unutilized, and the recent military buildup is increasing its industrial manufacturing strength. It exports no products to other planets, as it has yet to develop interplanetary travel capabilities.
One of the major religions on Ohara is the Order of Freya. Freya was apparently a female Nepleslian captain who, along with her crew, crash landed on Ohara around 150 years ago. Their exploits and deeds during their lifetime remains unknown, but Freya's philosophy has had an obvious and profound impact on the Phod's world view, as they worship her as a Goddess. The base of the Order is the Free City State of Everspring.
Before Freya's death (the Phods would call it her Ascension), she prophesied that humans would one day return to Ohara. This prophecy was fulfilled when the Third Expeditionary Fleet, led by former Taisho Henry Chen, made “First Contact” with the Phods at around YE 28.