Species Profile: Sharl

Physical Characteristics

Sharls are small furry rodents with a slightly elongated, thin snout and quite large ears. Their most notable feature is a smooth, round shell on their backs that come in a range of colors from magenta to scarlet to red to orange to yellow, lined with a small white ridge. This shell is big enough to hide their whole bodies in. A short, hairless tail pokes out the back, and their hands and feet are also hairless. They only stand at about .4 meters high.

Sharls only live for about 40 years, maturing at just age 5. Usually they go into service by that age. Past age 20 you’ll usually see a sharl’s facial features begin to droop, with the fur thinning after 30. Many who live past 40 lose their teeth, but after death their shells remain well-preserved for a long time. They give live birth and are born without a shell—their backs harden and the shell grows after about three months.

Sharls can run faster on four feet, but this is seen as undignified and done mostly by lower classes. So let’s talk about that!

History and Culture

Sharls have always, almost every single one, worked as servants in some capacity or other. There is no record of them ever being in leadership positions—they are all servants, butlers, maids, lower employees, pawns, stooges, and toadies. Due to this they can be found all through Zhop, always following other species to work under them. Their culture is largely one of subservience and adapting to whomever employs them—for example, most sharls profess the religion of whomever they follow. Those who don’t follow anyone often report no religious affiliation.

Throughout history shell color has determined a sharl’s ranking, with higher ranks working for royalty or the wealthy and lower-ranked ones being employed by commoners, engaging in manual labor or even sold as slaves depending on where and when. The color hierarchy was never consistent from place to time until the Zhopian Guard spread throughout the planet, at which point it was standardized, from lowest to highest, yellow, orange, red, scarlet, magenta. Notably, a sharl isn’t considered part of a color class until a year after birth despite the shell coming in after a sixth of that time.

Most sharls are naturally subservient, especially the higher-ranked ones who have a better deal. Even the lower-ranked ones are often content with their lot, though increasingly those of a lower rank have called it unfair, usually due to being unemployed—or are they unemployed because of it? Historically sharls mated regardless of shell color, high and low-ranked sharls mating indiscriminately, but recently it’s been more common for higher-ranked sharls to scorn the lower ranks, and often now the only other color that will mate with yellow is orange.