“Careful. Depending on who you ask, we’re conniving spies, genius researchers, or meddling scientists. We have to pack a lot of living into forty-odd years. Everything gets accelerated. Lines blur.”
Salarians possess a hyperactive metabolism; they think fast, talk fast, and move fast. From the salarian perspective, other species seem sluggish and dull-witted, especially the elcor. Unfortunately, their metabolic speed leaves them with a relatively short lifespan; salarians over the age of 40 are a rarity.
According to one source, eating salarian flesh is not recommended, because although they're one of the tastiest of all opponents, they have mild toxin glands in several major organ and muscle systems, making the effort versus edibility ratio fairly low. Most who make the mistake of devouring unprepared salarian spend the next few days ill and wishing they were dead. In a combat zone, you soon would be. Apparently, salarian body parts were considered delicacies by the Protheans. In addition to the liver, salarian kidneys were apparently best served at room temperature - preferably with the salarian still alive, as its fear supposedly added “spice”.
Salarians have large, almond-shaped eyes. The pupils are a wide slit, oriented horizontally, and the irises can be dark green, purple, or brown. Salarians blink upwards, rather than downwards like humans.
The salarian skeleton is almost entirely made of cartilaginous materials, stiffened at the hips, shoulders, upper arm and lower leg with ‘floating bones’ that bind to the skeletal material by tendons. They’re extremely flexible, all of the joints being either double jointed or complete ball joints, and the bones have considerable flexibility when put under pressure.
Salarians aren’t physically strong, nor do they handle physical damage very well. While they can flood their bodies with endorphins and natural painkillers when hurt, and adrenaline to boost their strength, even the toughest salarian can’t take more than one or two serious wounds before collapsing. Their high metabolic rate works against them when they’re hurt, and their ability to produce adrenaline in life-or-death situations can be exhausted in pitched battles.
Sex and Reproduction
The salarians are amphibian haplo-diploid egg-layers; unfertilized eggs produce males and fertilized eggs produce females. Once a year, a salarian female will lay a clutch of dozens of eggs. Social traditions with a power akin to law prevent all but a fraction of these from being fertilized. As a result, 90% of salarians are male.
It isn't particularly easy to distinguish males from females outside of the carrying period. Females do possess more pronounced hips but barely - a minimalist diet renders them virtually unnoticeable. The horns of males tend to curve inward more but this isn't a foolproof indicator.
As a general rule, the salarians have no concept of romantic love, sexual attraction, or the biological impulses and social rituals that complicate human lives. Male-female relationships are rare (due to the scarcity of females) and are typically no more than friendships. Sexuality is strictly for the purpose of reproduction. Ancient social codes determine who gets to fertilize eggs, so producing more daughters to continue a bloodline. Fertilization generally occurs after months of negotiation between the parents’ clans, and is done for the purpose of political and dynastic alliance. Very few salarians would imagine defying this code.
Salarian hatching is a solemn ritual in which the clan matriarch isolates herself with the eggs. The young salarians psychologically imprint on her and tend to defer to her wishes from then on. During the hatching of daughters, the Dalatrasses of both mother and father’s clans are present. This ensures the offspring have equal loyalty to both, ensuring the desired dynastic and political unity.
Salarians have photographic memories and rarely forget a fact. They also possess a form of psychological “imprinting”, tending to defer to those they knew in their youth.
See: Salarian Union.
Salarian clans unaffiliated with the Union include the Lystheni.
Salarians are known for their observational capability and non-linear thinking. This manifests as an aptitude for research and espionage. They’re constantly experimenting and inventing, and it’s generally accepted that they always know more than they’re letting on. They’re intellectuals by nature, constantly devising and implementing new plans, experiments, or studies to expand their already considerable knowledge pools.
When it comes to keeping secrets, salarians have two types of social and bodily cues. The first set is personal or guilt-based, and invites suspicion and exploration. The second type is for secrets deemed dangerous if discovered, and signals discourage curiosity for protection of the relevant parties. Reflexive body language conveys the type of secret and can rarely be faked convincingly; an analogue is that of a human faking a yawn.
Most salarians aren’t notably religious, but as free-willed sapients there are exceptions. One of the less favored salarian religions (which the Citadel Council deems a “cult”) worships a goddess, and claims that a certain pattern of overlapping craters in the southern hemisphere of Trelyn resembles her. More than a few salarians believe in a wheel of life, which Mordin Solus once likened to Hinduism, due to a shared belief in reincarnation. Salarians also celebrate Betau, the first day of the New Year. Traditionally, it marks the end of winter in the southern hemisphere on Sur’Kesh. During Betau, they repay debts, and petition favors from one another.
Within the Mannovai sects of the Union, salarians celebrate a holiday called Schaklass Day. It’s a holiday devoted to Dalatrass Schaklass, who willingly gave her life to prevent a familial civil war that would last for generations. On this day, salarians traditionally present each other with gifts of all sorts - though in memoriam to Schaklass, most are passed between Dalatrasses and their children. Another part of the Day, however, is spent in observance of the Otravan Weeping Branch, a beloved plant species that the Dalatrass considered the perfect metaphor for the Wheel. Since her death, families in Eredae grow such a tree near their family’s dwellings and prune off a branch every year to grow within their homes, to celebrate the cycle between death (the branch) and “rebirth” (the tree that grows from it).
Salarian proverbial expressions are either obscure or deliberately opaque, the meaning intended to be unravelled as a being matures. As one of them says, “If you understand everything, you understand nothing”. Unfortunately, this is often lost on impatient translators (particularly hanar), who render them as meaningless idiomatic phrases. For example, there are a lot of proverbs and koans about the nature of the universe. The crest of Eeldich University has the following emblazoned on it: “The Maw of Knowledge consumes more than any beast.”
Salarian languages include Bartuk, Covus, Eredraean (including the South Sievii dialect), Ja'Salar, Vresh.
Antictra: “Fused Metal”.
Dolik: In one language, literally "little boy", used as a name.
Lattesh: In one dialect, “it’s a still winter”. The word gave its name to a planet, which has an almost habitable temperature and abundant water but shows no signs of life.
Nephros: “Restless Sleep”.
Oslri: “Fire Maiden” in Covus salarian.
Sarapai: “Ever Upward”.
Tunfigel: “Hard heart”.
Wenrum: “White knight”.
Salarian names are complex. A full name includes - in order - the name of a salarian's planet, duchy (nation), barony or city of origin, fiefdom or district of origin, family/clan, and finally individual identity. For example, a salarian named Mannovai Goset Jisilik Fardan Narra Gosel is Gosel of the Narra clan, from the Fardan district of the city of Jisilik, in the nation of Goset on Mannovai. She will usually be known simply as Narra Gosel, or often Gosel Narra, mimicking the naming convention of the salarians' asari and turian partners, among whom given name comes before family name.
Food and Drink
Coort is a traditional drink for many salarian holidays and ceremonies, including the ritual meal held immediately following mating. Salarian consumers reportedly preferred wine over coort because it lacks the latter’s extremely bitter aftertaste, and sales of wine skyrocketed after it was endorsed as a substitute by several salarian religious leaders.
Kalinan’s Best: A salarian drink brewed with marsh grass, wintersalt and barley. It’s not technically a beer, but it’s the closest thing to be found on the salarian colonies. It’s noted for its strong, briny kick and a particularly smooth sulfur aftertaste.
Other liquors include ruxxia and titrin.
Salarian musical genres include Wet Skin.
Salarians at War
The unquestioned superiority of salarian intelligence services allows them to use their small military to maximum effectiveness. Well before fighting breaks out, they possess complete knowledge of their enemy’s positions, intentions and timetable. Their powerful intelligence network is spearheaded in the field by the Special Tasks Group (STG), who monitor developing situations and take necessary action, usually without the shackles of traditional laws and procedures. This may be as simple as scouting and information gathering, or as complex as ensuring a conveniently unstable political situation stays that way. The effectiveness of the STG during the Krogan Rebellions provided the template for the Council to establish their Spectre program immediately afterward.
From the salarian point of view, to know an enemy plans to attack but to let it happen is folly. Further, to announce their own plans for attack is insanity. They find the human moral concepts of “don’t fire until fired upon” and “declare a war before prosecuting it” incredibly naïve. In defensive wars, they execute devastating preemptive strikes hours before the enemy’s own attacks. On the offensive, they’ve never telegraphed their intentions with a declaration of war before attacking.