The asari, native to the planet Thessia, are often considered the most powerful and respected sentient species in the known galaxy. This is partly due to the fact the asari were the first race after the Protheans to achieve interstellar flight, and to discover and inhabit the Citadel.
A mono-gender race distinctly feminine in appearance the asari are known for their elegance, diplomacy, and biotic talent. Their millennia-long lifespan and unique physiology allowing them to reproduce with a partner of any gender or species give them a conservative but convivial attitude toward other races. The asari were instrumental in proposing and founding the Citadel Council, and have been at the heart of galactic society ever since.
A typical asari individual has a blue to purple complexion; the gas giant Sharblu was named after a famous asari soprano with a distinctive skin tone that resembled the planet's atmosphere. Some asari can also have a teal complexion, but this seems to be a rarity. Some asari, such as Matriarch Lidanya, Matriarch Benezia, Liara T'Soni, and Tela Vasir have facial markings, which are unique color patterns that vary for every asari. Some of these facial markings are associated with eyebrows by humans, but the asari do not think of the markings as such themselves. In the place of head hair, asari possess semi-flexible, cartilage based scalp crests that grow into shape. They do not, as is sometimes believed, "flop around".
There is some conflicting information regarding the gender of the asari. Though they resemble females, at least to humans, asari are non-gender specific, with no concept of gender differences. The Galactic Codex: Essentials Edition 2183 says that "while asari have only one gender, they are not asexual like single-celled life all asari are sexually female", and according to many they also have maternal instincts. They are innately different from humans for asari can mate with other species and any gender.
A conversation occurs between a human, a salarian, and a turian who are watching an asari dancer. The men debate whose species the asari most resembles. Upon each forwarding their own race, the human theorizes that the asari might be using mind control to appear attractive to other species. It is more likely that the three men were merely focusing on characteristics their species shares with the asari (e.g., body shape for humans, skin color for salarians, head fringe for turians). All three men compliment the asari's flexibility and grace. This conversation implies that asari are considered attractive to many species, which would prove useful considering their method of reproduction. Mordin Solus postulates that the asari's cross-species attraction may be neurochemical in nature.
Asari have a robust cellular regenerative system. While they do not heal faster than other species, asari are known to reach 1000 years of age.
Although asari have one gender, they are not asexual. An asari provides two copies of her own genes to her offspring, which regardless of the species or sex of the 'father' is always an asari. The second set is altered in a unique process called melding, also known as the joining.
During melding, an asari consciously attunes her nervous system to her partner's, sending and receiving electrical impulses directly through the skin. A common phrase used before melding is "embrace eternity," presumably to help focus the partner's mind. Effectively, the asari and her partner briefly become one unified nervous system. This unique means of reproduction is the reason asari are all talented biotics. Their evolved ability to consciously control nerve impulses is very similar to biotic training. The partner can be another asari, or an alien of any gender. However, since the asari began encountering other sentient species, non-asari mates have become preferred for the diversity they provide. This reproductive process can lead to some confusion among non-asari, who might expect offspring with "mixed" genes. However, the offspring is always 100% asari as no DNA is taken from the partner, but is rather used as a "map" to randomize the genes of the offspring.
An asari's melding ability extends to a mental connection as well, which is described as being the true union between an asari and her partner. It allows the asari to explore her partner's genetic heritage and pass desirable traits on to any offspring. During mating an asari and her partner share memories, thoughts, and feelings. It is also possible for an asari to meld with another for the sole purpose of transferring thoughts, without reproduction.
Asari pass through three climacteric life stages, marked by biochemical and physiological changes:
--The Maiden stage begins at puberty and is marked by the drive to explore and experience. Most young asari are curious and restless.
--The Matron stage of life begins around the age of 350, though it can be triggered earlier if the individual melds frequently. This period is marked by a desire to settle in one area and raise children.
--The Matriarch stage begins around 700 years of age, or earlier if the individual melds rarely. Matriarchs become active in their community as sages and councilors, dispensing wisdom from centuries of experience. Their knowledge and guidance may be one reason why Matriarchs are rarely seen outside asari space.
However, it should be noted that each stage can be started whenever an asari feels that she has reached the correct level of maturity. While each stage of life is marked by strong biological tendencies, individuals do make unexpected life choices. For example, there are Maidens who stay close to home rather than explore, Matrons who would rather work than build a family, and Matriarchs who have no interest in community affairs.
The asari were the first contemporary race to achieve space-flight and discover the mass relays. When they found the Citadel in around 580 BCE, the asari also encountered the keepers, whose mute assistance enabled them to quickly settle on the station and learn how to operate its systems. Sixty years later, the salarians made first contact with them, and together the two species agreed to found the Council.
The asari continued their exploration. In around 200 BCE, the asari made first contact with the elcor and played a key role in their ascension into the galactic community. It is known that they were charting the Gorgon system at some point in Earth's 17th century.
Because of their long lifespan, asari tend to have a "long view" not common in other races. When they encounter a new species or situation, the asari are more comfortable with an extended period of passive observation and study than immediate action. They are unfazed that some of their investments or decisions may not pay off for decades or centuries. Matriarchs can seem to make incomprehensible decisions, but their insight is evident when their carefully-laid plans come to fruition. In interstellar relations, this long view manifests in the unspoken policy of centrism. The asari instinctively seek to maintain stable balances of economic, political, and military power.
Traditionally, asari spread their influence through cultural domination and intellectual superiority. They invite new species of advanced development to join the galactic community, knowing that their ideals and beliefs will inevitably influence the existing culture. The asari tend toward communal, consensus attitudes among themselves too: for example, they prefer to live in shared spaces aboard starships even if there are alternatives available.
Asari believe that their offspring acquire the best qualities of the "father" from the melded genes, but evidence is anecdotal. They frown upon intraspecies conception, since genetic traits and cultural insight is gained from mating outside their species, so it's considered wasteful for asari to reproduce together. The results of such unions are occasionally referred to as "purebloods", a great insult among contemporary asari. A rare genetic defect known as Ardat-Yakshi, which makes asari destroy the partner's mind during melding, occurs much more frequently among the daughters of purebloods.
Many human men admit that, when dealing with the asari, despite their political and military prowess their feminine appearance makes it difficult for men to accept them as one of the most powerful races in the galaxy. They feel that this isn't their fault due to thousands of years of human cultural bias. Asari are well aware they tend to be attractive, and are comfortable expressing their sexuality, as can be witnessed in places like Chora's Den or Afterlife with asari erotic dancers. Young males of all races tend to have a fascination with asari.
Because of their natural sensuality and ability to mate with any species, asari are sometimes rumoured to be promiscuous. These rumours are mostly a result of misinformation (or wishful thinking). In fact, asari have to accept that if they mate outside their own species, they will almost inevitably outlive their partner (with the notable exception of the krogan, who have a similarly immense longevity). Therefore, they have had to apply their philosophical "long view" to relationships as well, savouring the time they spend with their partners rather than focusing on their inevitable loss.
The asari celebrate the springtime fertility ritual Janiris, which marks the start of the new year. During this time, they create wreathes of flowers and distribute them among their friends and loved ones. As is the case with the holidays of some other Citadel species, the celebration of Janiris has been adopted by other species that operate in Citadel Space.
The asari possess the largest single economy in the galaxy. They have extensive trade and social contacts. Craft guilds, such as those within the cities Serrice and Armali, hold a virtual monopoly on advanced biotic technology. Given their political influence, an embargo by the asari would prove disastrous to the Alliance.
The pantheistic mainstream asari religion is siari, which translates roughly as "All is one." The faithful agree on certain core truths: the universe is a consciousness, every life within it is an aspect of the greater whole, and death is a merging of one's spiritual energy back into greater universal consciousness. Siarists don't specifically believe in reincarnation; they believe in spiritual energy returning to the universal consciousness upon death will eventually be used to fill new mortal vessels.
Siari became popular after the asari left their homeworld and discovered their ability to "meld" with nearly any form of life. This ability is seen as proof that all life is fundamentally similar. Siari priestesses see their role as promoting unity between disparate shards of the universe's awareness.
Before the rise of siari pantheism, asari religions were as diverse as their political opinion. The strongest survivor of those days is the monotheistic religion worshipping the goddess Athame. Like the asari, the goddess cycles through the triple aspects of maiden, matron, and matriarch. Asari often swear "by the goddess", though this may be a cultural legacy rather than reflecting an individual's belief.
The asari governmental structure, known as the Asari Republics, is relatively broad; the asari came late to the notion of world government. For centuries, their homeworld of Thessia was dotted with loose confederacies of great republican cities. The closest Earth equivalent would be the ancient Mediterranean city-states. Since the asari culture values consensus and accommodation, there was little impetus to form larger principalities. Rather than hoard resources, the asari bartered freely. Rather than attack one another over differing philosophies, they sought to understand one another. Only in the information age did the city-states grow close; communication over the internet evolved into an 'electronic democracy'.
Aside from their Council representative, the asari have no politicians or elections, but a free-wheeling, all-inclusive legislature that citizens can participate in at will. Policy debates take place at all hours of the day, in official chat rooms and forums moderated by specially-programmed virtual intelligences. All aspects of policy are open to plebiscite at any time. In any given debate, the asari tend to lend the most credence to the opinions of any Matriarchs present, nearly always deferring to the experience of these millennia-old 'wise women'.
In modern times, the asari normally act as the diplomatic arm of the Citadel Council.
The asari military resembles a collection of tribal warrior bands with no national structure. Each community organizes its own unit as the locals see fit, and elect a leader to command them. Units from populous cities are large and well-equipped, while those from farm villages may be only a few women with small arms. There is no uniform; everyone wears what they like. The asari military is not an irregular militia, however; those who serve are full-time professionals.
The average asari huntress is in the maiden stage of her life and has devoted 20-30 years studying the martial arts. Asari choose to be warriors at a young age, and their education from that point is dedicated to sharpening their mind and body for that sole purpose. When they retire, they possess an alarming proficiency for killing.
Huntresses fight individually or in pairs, depending on the tactics preferred in their town. One-on-one, a huntress is practically unbeatable, possessing profound tactical insight, a hunter's eye, and a dancer's grace and alacrity. Biotics are common enough that some capability is a requirement to be trained as a huntress; lack of biotic talent excludes a young asari from military service.
While fluid and mobile, asari can't stand up in a firestorm the way a krogan, turian, or human could. Since their units are small and typically lack heavy armor and support weapons, they are almost incapable of fighting a conventional war, particularly one of a defensive nature. So asari units typically undertake special operations missions. Like an army of ninja, they are adept at ambush, infiltration, and assassination, demoralizing and defeating their enemies through intense, focused guerrilla strikes. Asari huntresses were among the first individuals to be chosen as Spectres and played a key role in the Krogan Rebellions.
As a popular turian saying puts it, "The asari are the finest warriors in the galaxy. Fortunately, there are not many of them."
Biotic Masters: Asari are masters of biotics, and as such they gain +1 rank to any biotic power they possess.
Ability Bonuses: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma
Total Cost: 5 points