Questions about the Contemplatives


General Discussion


I had a few questions about the Contemplatives of Ashok for the sake of roleplaying one in Starfinder and for worldbuilding within the Pact Worlds.

A) Do the Contemplatives sleep? Do they enter a state of meditation like elves?

B) How long do Contemplatives live and when do they reach adulthood?

C) What do Contemplatives eat and how do they eat? Do they have mouths? A membrane somewhere that allows food to pass through?

D) Do the Contemplatives have any naming conventions?

E) Can and do contemplatives ever wear clothes, and can they physically wear armor?

F) How does a contemplative see with their darkvision? Do they have eyes?

G) How are new contemplatives born or created (not looking to get to specific)? Do they have sexes or are they sexually dimorphic in any way?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

What are Contemplatives of Ashok?


Damanta wrote:
What are Contemplatives of Ashok?

They're aliens that (I believe) first appeared in Distant Worlds. They're basically giant psychic brains with tiny, atrophied bodies. They're really awesome, but there isn't a lot of lore about them (hence my questions).


Archmage Variel wrote:

I had a few questions about the Contemplatives of Ashok for the sake of roleplaying one in Starfinder and for worldbuilding within the Pact Worlds.

A) Do the Contemplatives sleep? Do they enter a state of meditation like elves?

B) How long do Contemplatives live and when do they reach adulthood?

C) What do Contemplatives eat and how do they eat? Do they have mouths? A membrane somewhere that allows food to pass through?

D) Do the Contemplatives have any naming conventions?

E) Can and do contemplatives ever wear clothes, and can they physically wear armor?

F) How does a contemplative see with their darkvision? Do they have eyes?

G) How are new contemplatives born or created (not looking to get to specific)? Do they have sexes or are they sexually dimorphic in any way?

Judging by the mechanical info I've seen on the playable Contemplative race for Starfinder:

A) They do not have any special sleep-related traits.
C) They do not have any special food-related traits.
E) They do not have any special restrictions on wearing clothes/armour.


Mashallah wrote:
Archmage Variel wrote:

I had a few questions about the Contemplatives of Ashok for the sake of roleplaying one in Starfinder and for worldbuilding within the Pact Worlds.

A) Do the Contemplatives sleep? Do they enter a state of meditation like elves?

B) How long do Contemplatives live and when do they reach adulthood?

C) What do Contemplatives eat and how do they eat? Do they have mouths? A membrane somewhere that allows food to pass through?

D) Do the Contemplatives have any naming conventions?

E) Can and do contemplatives ever wear clothes, and can they physically wear armor?

F) How does a contemplative see with their darkvision? Do they have eyes?

G) How are new contemplatives born or created (not looking to get to specific)? Do they have sexes or are they sexually dimorphic in any way?

Judging by the mechanical info I've seen on the playable Contemplative race for Starfinder:

A) They do not have any special sleep-related traits.
C) They do not have any special food-related traits.
E) They do not have any special restrictions on wearing clothes/armour.

I'm more looking for answers or ideas in terms of roleplay. Like they obviously don't have any sleeping or eating traits per say, but their body seems fairly weak remain on the ground for extended periods of time, and there isn't any discernible mouth or eyes that I've seen.


There is no need for them to be on the ground at all, save for sleeping. I imagine they'd rather snooze in a mesh hammock, but napping on the ground is likely comfortable enough. They do eat though, the entry on them mentions that is one of the few uses of their bodies.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Stone Dog wrote:
There is no need for them to be on the ground at all, save for sleeping. I imagine they'd rather snooze in a mesh hammock, but napping on the ground is likely comfortable enough. They do eat though, the entry on them mentions that is one of the few uses of their bodies.

I've seen that. But how would a contemplative eat? Some food for thought (I'm only slightly ashamed of that pun).


Archmage Variel wrote:
Stone Dog wrote:
There is no need for them to be on the ground at all, save for sleeping. I imagine they'd rather snooze in a mesh hammock, but napping on the ground is likely comfortable enough. They do eat though, the entry on them mentions that is one of the few uses of their bodies.
I've seen that. But how would a contemplative eat? Some food for thought (I'm only slightly ashamed of that pun).

Maybe they absorb nutrients through their skin.


The art is probably a bit of creative license instead of 100% accurate. There is nothing in their stats that suggests they can simultaneously control dozens of individual pieces of paper either, but there they are, floating about looking cool as all hell. I assume there are mandibles in the chest area somewhere. Functional devouring organs that don't need any attention drawn to them.

Check out the alien race "Vegan" from the Traveller rpg for an example of that. They just have a chest hole that closes up almost completely and is only used for eating.


I'm planning to play one of these in a game starting sunday, and I'd like to know answers to all these too - at the least just to be able to put stuff like Name, gender, height, age on char sheet


Just a guess, "food" is dissolved in a liquid and the "race" is either sprayed with it or sits in a bath of it to absorb the nutrients.
Or by some sort of magic spell that transports nutrients into its "body" for absorption.
Note: I have not read the entry but simply going off people descriptions above.
MDC


And what about they doesn't needing to put their body on the ground, but just float in place as they sleep? Dolphins can swim and sleep simultaneously due not "deactivating" their whole brain, maybe the contemplatives have evolved something similar.


Archmage Variel wrote:
Mashallah wrote:
Archmage Variel wrote:

I had a few questions about the Contemplatives of Ashok for the sake of roleplaying one in Starfinder and for worldbuilding within the Pact Worlds.

A) Do the Contemplatives sleep? Do they enter a state of meditation like elves?

B) How long do Contemplatives live and when do they reach adulthood?

C) What do Contemplatives eat and how do they eat? Do they have mouths? A membrane somewhere that allows food to pass through?

D) Do the Contemplatives have any naming conventions?

E) Can and do contemplatives ever wear clothes, and can they physically wear armor?

F) How does a contemplative see with their darkvision? Do they have eyes?

G) How are new contemplatives born or created (not looking to get to specific)? Do they have sexes or are they sexually dimorphic in any way?

Judging by the mechanical info I've seen on the playable Contemplative race for Starfinder:

A) They do not have any special sleep-related traits.
C) They do not have any special food-related traits.
E) They do not have any special restrictions on wearing clothes/armour.
I'm more looking for answers or ideas in terms of roleplay. Like they obviously don't have any sleeping or eating traits per say, but their body seems fairly weak remain on the ground for extended periods of time, and there isn't any discernible mouth or eyes that I've seen.

They can walk but very slowly they mostly use their pyschic abilities to hover around and move in that way. There were no listed restrictions on clothing they probably have to shop around a bit to find something that fits their atrophied bodies. Some armors use forcefields for helmets so those would work fine for them.

It does not really talk about food it is assumed they still require it but I would assume they prefer pastes and things of that nature as most of their body is pretty vestigal.

If they have sexes at all it is not readily apparent. They procreate somehow but possibly by thinking dirty thoughts at each other. I would expect when the alien guide comes out there probably will be more info about them. I was also looking at one after getting the free RPG guide as they are really really unusual which intrigues me.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

A) They don't have anything written about not sleeping, so they sleep. Note that elves in Pathfinder sleep, too.

B) There isn't anything definite on their lifespan/maturation. As a default, it will probably be around that of humans or half-elves (as most playable races fall into that range).

C) They definitely need to eat and breathe: "...the rest of its body hangs almost vestigially, used for little more than breathing and processing food." Food is probably something they're willing to spend 245 cr (for a clear spindle aeon stone) to not have to bother with, though.

D) They probably have naming conventions, but I can't recall anything being published about it.

E) Clothes and armor may need some tailoring, but I'm sure they can wear them.

F) They probably have eyes of some sort (probably where the brain sac meets the body). They may be small, however.

G) They probably have sexes and procreate in some fashion. Their sexual dimorphism is probably not apparent to most observers (as the bodies have atrophied, variations have become less noticeable).

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

9 people marked this as a favorite.

The contemplatives are the creation of James Sutter, and with Starfinder, I've unofficially adopted them after writing their creature entry and other supporting material. There are certainly some *Official* statements that would best wait for a hypothetical "Ecology of the Contemplative" article—and certainly such an article could revise some of what I'm about to write—yet perhaps I can provide some best estimates based on your questions.

Archmage Variel wrote:
A) Do the Contemplatives sleep? Do they enter a state of meditation like elves?

Contemplatives would experience a rest state of some form, and I rather like the idea that they never fully shut down but instead demonstrate "logging" behavior similar to that of aquatic mammals. This is turn allows the contemplatives to sustain continuous psychic force to support their rather bulky forms, which I imagine could suffer if not properly suspended with telekinesis or similar buoyancy.

Archmage Variel wrote:
B) How long do Contemplatives live and when do they reach adulthood?

I don't have anything definitive here about their life cycles. In a pinch, I'd assign them approximately the lifespan and age categories of a half-elf. I'd expect them to have an extended period of cultural adolescence before they're considered adults by their society, even if they reach physical maturity rather quickly. It's similar to how human adults reach physical maturity at a certain age, yet their brains continue to grow and develop for several years after that.

Archmage Variel wrote:
C) What do Contemplatives eat and how do they eat? Do they have mouths? A membrane somewhere that allows food to pass through?

Although its body has atrophied through directed evolution, the contemplative still has many features (even if vestigial) that one would expect on an anthropomorphic species. Contemplatives have mouths and don't have any cited capacity to sustain themselves on a strictly mental diet (e.g. no feeding on brainwaves like a caulborn). No doubt a contemplative's jaw can only process fairly delicate foods, and contemplative society must thrive on a niche market of food processors to help grind food stuffs into a suitable form for ingestion.

It's also worth remembering that the human brain consumes a vastly disproportionate number of calories for its size, and were that true for contemplatives, they might have to eat a staggering number of calories to sustain themselves. With an atrophied body, that means very little stomach space to digest food and a limited intestinal tract with which to absorb nutrients. In order to meet their caloric needs, they would favor nutrient rich foods interspersed with calorie-rich supplements. That might mean your average contemplative drinks meat-shakes, pops vitamin pills, and instinctively salivates over candy bars.

Archmage Variel wrote:
D) Do the Contemplatives have any naming conventions?

Yes. They absolutely have naming conventions, and Starfinder #2: Temple of the Twelve goes into that practice. For the moment, suffice it to say that contemplatives have an early-life name that they replace early in adulthood.

Archmage Variel wrote:
E) Can and do contemplatives ever wear clothes, and can they physically wear armor?

I chuckle at the image of a contemplative soldier wearing heavy armor (Ooooo...or powered armor), though nothing mechanically would prevent that. As of yet, there's no indication that clothing or armor would interfere with a contemplative's mental or physical faculties, bulk limit permitting. I suspect most eschew clothing and would elect for light armor if push came to shove.

There's some fun art coming up that suggests contemplatives might decorate themselves with special pigments, though whether that's to impress and differentiate themselves to other species or whether it's a special mixture that somehow pings in a special way to their thoughtsense is not yet clear.

Archmage Variel wrote:
F) How does a contemplative see with their darkvision? Do they have eyes?

As noted, contemplatives have many features retained from their "early" forms, and sensory organs seem like one of the features that would have retained most of their functionality. I believe the eyes are low on the brainstem, effectively located near the neck region. That would make it rather vexing for a contemplative to see something atop its body, though with levitation, it's easy enough to simply rotate and change perspective—a literal practice that translates into their figurative thought processes.

Archmage Variel wrote:
G) How are new contemplatives born or created (not looking to get to specific)? Do they have sexes or are they sexually dimorphic in any way?

Current indications are that contemplatives express male and female sexes, though they could as easily express anywhere in the gender spectrum as do humans. With a species focus on academic, technological, and psychic pursuits, there could be a larger proportion of contemplatives that perceive gender as a secondary element of their identities. There's no indication of sexual dimorphism, though minor variations in patterning or the like might be indicative of a particular gender.

As for how they're born and reproduce, I don't have any data. Given the species's self-directed evolution and physical expression, I suspect that any logistical challenges introduced by their current bodies have since been overcome with scientific/magical developments.

And do contemplatives love? Sure, I imagine so. No doubt they write some fantastically dense and layered poetry.

Grand Lodge

Here's a mechanical question: Do player character Contemplatives get the spell-like abilities listed in their monster entry? Unlike with the Grays, those spell-like abilities aren't listed in their Racial Traits. However, they do get the Atrophied ability, which refers to their spell-like abilities.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Lead Developer

Rafilar wrote:
Here's a mechanical question: Do player character Contemplatives get the spell-like abilities listed in their monster entry? Unlike with the Grays, those spell-like abilities aren't listed in their Racial Traits. However, they do get the Atrophied ability, which refers to their spell-like abilities.

Although their entry was missing the limited telepathy power (fixed in a recent FAQ), the creature entry’s spell-like abilities are an extension of it being a spellcaster-type creature, all of which receive a handful of spells or spell-like abilities based on the Alien Archive creature building rules. As is, the contemplative grants flight, telepathy, darkvision, blindsense, and a potent knowledge-based ability. If you would like for your contemplative PC to have similar abilities, I recommend taking one or more mystic levels.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Superscriber
John Compton wrote:
It's also worth remembering that the human brain consumes a vastly disproportionate number of calories for its size, and were that true for contemplatives, they might have to eat a staggering number of calories to sustain themselves. With an atrophied body, that means very little stomach space to digest food and a limited intestinal tract with which to absorb nutrients. In order to meet their caloric needs, they would favor nutrient rich foods interspersed with calorie-rich supplements. That might mean your average contemplative drinks meat-shakes, pops vitamin pills, and instinctively salivates over candy bars.

Based on the art in the AA and AP2, I'd be really surprised if a large chunk of their diet didn't consist of a pre-digested liquid slurry of pure fat, ethanol, and glucose (with some protein or amino acid supliments).

That brain is huge. It would need a lot of fat to grow to that size (that's most of what a brain is, something like 60% after you remove the water). In a human, your brain is something like 20% of your daily caloric needs, even though it's like 2% your weight. In a contemplative, the brain is at least half the mass of the body (based on dimensions), so I expect that's more like 90% of daily calorie needs and that they'd need a LOT more calories than people (maybe 25x as much). Neurons typically burn glucose for energy, but I would expect that since ethanol and fat are about twice as energy dense as sugars, they probably either evolved or modified their cells artificially to use those too, and would need to, just to keep the mental lights on.

I'm totally head cannoning that Contemplatives are always drunk because a their diet is basically golden grain jello shots with honey and fish oil. That's why they're always a-holes. It's not just that they're super geniuses, they're drunk super-geniuses!


I'd expect they directed their own evolution to a point where they are more efficient with their energy and nutrient usage, compared to lowly humans.
But still, their diet is a funny thing to ponder - and whatever it is they eat, it has to be sickeningly rich for anyone else.


John Compton wrote:
I chuckle at the image of a contemplative soldier wearing heavy armor (Ooooo...or powered armor), though nothing mechanically would prevent that.

Why does that make me picture a small robot powered by a brain in a jar for its head?


Starfinder Superscriber
FirstChAoS wrote:
Why does that make me picture a small robot powered by a brain in a jar for its head?

I got the image of a robot with a brain looking through a window in its belly.

I think I watched too much TMNT.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

That awkward moment when you realize a short-lived and, some would say, mediocre cartoon had a CE Contemplative done perfectly!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

totally going to get a brain in power armor fig and make that concept :)

ah here we go
https://i.pinimg.com/236x/16/a3/fb/16a3fb9778b9b2a67db461a615a1fd41--in-a-j ar-cyborg.jpg

Grand Lodge

John Compton wrote:

"... which I imagine could suffer if not properly suspended with telekinesis or similar buoyancy."

and

"It's also worth remembering that the human brain consumes a vastly disproportionate number of calories for its size, and were that true for contemplatives, they might have to eat a staggering number of calories to sustain themselves. With an atrophied body, that means very little stomach space to digest food and a limited intestinal tract with which to absorb nutrients. In order to meet their caloric needs, they would favor nutrient rich foods interspersed with calorie-rich supplements. That might mean your average contemplative drinks meat-shakes, pops vitamin pills, and instinctively salivates over candy bars"
.

Given these two quotes might it be that they do the whole "brain in a jar" thing for sleeping/eating? Combine those two annoying physical activities together, let the ID take care of these "lesser" functions by sleeping in a jar full of a nutrient dense "bath"?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Regarding naming conventions, the contemplative in Dead suns 2 had a name like Ailabiens 21:32, (probably not quite right) which was explained to be a citation by his favorite author, and that this was the typical naming convention for contemplatives.

Taking that in a slightly different direction, I always wanted to make a contemplative character obsessed with mathematics that had an equation for a name.

"hello stranger, what's your name"

*telepathically beams a bunch of math into person's brain*

"but you can call me "cauchy-schwarz inequality" for short."

Paizo Employee Starfinder Senior Developer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Third Strongest Mole wrote:

Regarding naming conventions, the contemplative in Dead suns 2 had a name like Ailabiens 21:32, (probably not quite right) which was explained to be a citation by his favorite author, and that this was the typical naming convention for contemplatives.

Taking that in a slightly different direction, I always wanted to make a contemplative character obsessed with mathematics that had an equation for a name.

"hello stranger, what's your name"

*telepathically beams a bunch of math into person's brain*

"but you can call me "cauchy-schwarz inequality" for short."

I bet that would entirely fit, as could many other academic fields' important titles or works. Here are a few semi-flippant possibilities:

  • Xarglebrax's 5th Sonata, Minute 2:36
  • Kallion, Theory of Relativity
  • Eistor's Constant, Proof Three

  • Second Seekers (Jadnura)

    Third Strongest Mole wrote:

    "but you can call me "cauchy-schwarz inequality" for short."

    "Welcome to the party Four Shorts."


    If anyone's still interested, AA2 did give vital statistics for them, giving their age ranges. They reach maturity at 50 and can live between three hundred & six hundred years.

    Community / Forums / Starfinder / Starfinder General Discussion / Questions about the Contemplatives All Messageboards

    Want to post a reply? Sign in.
    Recent threads in Starfinder General Discussion