- Narn has other uses. Please see Narn (disambiguation) for other meanings.
"What is left for Narn if all of creation falls around us? There is nothing: no hope, no dream, no future, no life. Unless we turn from the cycle of death toward something greater... if we fail in this then none of us will be saved, and the Narn will be only a memory."
- – Kosh to G'Kar, 2260
Though somewhat reptilian in appearance, the Narn actually have more in common with Earth marsupials and felines than reptiles. As with many species, Narn sexual reproduction is heterosexual and viviparous, beginning with a direct male-to-female mating in which the female carries the young until birth. After this they are transferred to the male's abdominal pouch where they are nurtured for the next three months, until they are strong enough to survive outside of their father's body. From this process comes the terms "pouchling" and "pouchbrother/sister" which can culturally be used as an insult when directed at an adult, insinuating that they are too weak and helpless to survive by themselves. Typically Narn may conceive two or three children in a single brood and have a relatively low infant mortality rate. Narns usually only take single partners with whom they mate for life, though this is purely cultural and not a biological necessity.
In terms of appearance the Narn are humanoid, hairless, generally taller than most humans and of a stocky build and have a yellow-orange complexion, distinctly mottled with patterns of brown and/or green spots. Narn eyes are, for the most part, tinted red and gift them with very acute vision encompassing the infra-red spectrum.
A supple yet tough bone structure and thick skin endows them with a higher degree of resilience to physical harm than most other humanoids, a trait the Centauri "pain technicians" have tested to its limit. Aside from mere protection, their tough, leathery epidermis not only manages both the internal and external body temperature but also stores quantities of fluids and energy that allow Narn to hibernate for several days at a time. This ability to regulate their bodies' water also means that common alcoholic intoxicants have little or no effect, except in considerable quantities.
The Narn DNA structure is open to genetic manipulation and as such Narns have become adept at gene-engineering, both of their own genome and that of other humanoid races. One common modification comes in the form of gill implants, a painful but efficient way to process non-standard foreign atmospheres. Narns have also researched into the possibility of inter-species breeding with Humans, though with the aid of extensive genetic adjustment.
Though the Narn were among the hundred or so races genetically altered by the Vorlons to breed telepaths (referred to as "Na'fariki", or "Mindwalkers" in the Book of G'Quan), they were all wiped out by the Shadows during the First Shadow War. Since the end of the First Centauri Occupation of Narn, the Narn Regime became obsessed with gaining whatever advantages they could and openly attempted to acquire the telepath gene. Biologically, the telepathic gene is present, but since the pogrom that wiped out the ancient telepaths the gene was too weak to naturally breed viable specimens with their own eugenics program. This led to several attempts by the Narn to buy the DNA of telepaths from other races in the hope that it could be combined with their own and begin breeding new Narn telepaths.
In 2257 Ambassador G'Kar proposed just such a deal to Babylon 5's Human Commercial telepath Lyta Alexander and in 2258 his aide Na'Toth made a similar proposal to Alisa Beldon, a newly manifested P10 Human. In 2260 then-Citizen G'Kar purchased a small quantity of Dust in hopes of using it as a weapon against the Centauri occupation. Though a small sample was able the activate the dormant telepath gene, the result was unstable, and with the intervention of the Psi Corps the drugs were seized before the purchase could take place. The Narns' perseverance finally paid off in 2262 when Lyta Alexander, now a leader of a group of Rogue Telepaths, agreed to supply the Narn Regime with DNA from as many Human telepaths as they wanted in exchange for an undisclosed but extremely large sum of money, at least five deep-range starships and an agreement that the transaction be made in absolute secrecy.
Culture & Society
Narn society is based on the traditional family structure where Narn males and females mate one-to-one for life, with the female joining the male's family group or "brood." Narns were once a peaceful and agrarian people, though after a century of slavery under the Centauri, the once peaceful people had become bitter and hostile, turning more to their warrior traditions than they once did. Among those traditions is the Chon-kar, a Narn blood oath sworn by a Narn against one who has wronged them or their family. An individual Narn is expected to not rest until the target of the Chon'Kar is dead. If the individual Narn fails, the rest of the family continues the Chon'Kar until the target is killed.
Even before the Centauri occupation, life on Narn was hard and often very short. Out of this grew the tradition of giving newborn pouchlings temporary names until the age of ten, when he or she decides which of their religions to follow and to choose their "true name" from that faith. Narn pride themselves on physical perfection and even a minor disability such as poor eyesight is considered a source of great shame. As a result there's no market on Narn for physical aides as they would advertise weakness, though some Narn are able to procure items such as glasses from alien sources and adapt them for their own use.
Among Narn males, large dark head spots are considered particularly attractive. As such, Exfoliation Stands are a common sight in Narn cities and are where Narns go to get their head spots buffed by an instrument that has the look of a very large nail file so that they grow back larger during the next moulting period. When a male Narn seeks a mate, one courting ritual includes the passing of fruit to the prospective paramour.
The Narn are a deeply spiritual and socially conservative people who have several major religions, though being a practical and pragmatic people, atheism is easily tolerated. Most Narn religions are based around a central prophet figure as most Narns believe that the words of these prophets are guides to the will of the higher powers of the universe. As such all Narn holy books are copied in every detail from the original, with every note and line drawn exactly, with even the imperfections in the paper reproduced exactly as it was when the author hand wrote the first copy. While the Centauri occupations destroyed many of Narn's libraries and academic centres, their own beliefs meant that many temples were left standing. As a result many of the historical writings of the ancient Narn prophets survived. The most prominent of Narn prophets include G'Quan, G'Lan, Na'Kili and G'Ston.
- G'Quan: One of Narn's more recent Prophets was G'Quan, who lived around 1260 (Earth calendar) in a time when Narn was being used as a base by the Shadows, of which there are numerous mentions and diagrams in the Book of G'Quan. The symbol of the G'Quan religion is the G'Quan Eth plant and is used in a ritual observance that all followers of G'Quan must perform yearly during the Holy Days of G'Quann in which the faithful must burn the plant as incense when the sun rises behind the G'Quan mountain on Narn. This ritual must be done correctly or not at all.
- G'Lan: The most ancient of all Narn prophets, dating back to before recorded history, so it's uncertain when exactly his writings were first recorded. Such is the age of these writings that it is uncertain if G'Lan was a real Narn or a Vorlon that is said to have swooped down from the sky.
- G'Ston: A major Narn religious figure and prophet. He lived circa 1500 standard earth years before the Third Age of Mankind.
- Na'Kili: Another prophet whose teachings form the center of a major faith in Narn culture.
- G'Kar: Considered to be the newest prophet of the Third Age, his popularity drastically increasing after he returned from the fall of Centauri Prime unscathed. Unlike most prophets, G'Kar became a center of cult worship in his own lifetime, much to his own distress. So disruptive was his presence on Babylon 5 in the latter half of 2262 and so great his frustration with the way his followers chose to interpret his words that he elected to leave and go out among the stars to explore the unknown. Such was his popularity that the Book of G'Kar (which was appropriated without his consent) outsold the Book of G'Quan in just a few short months.
Glossary of Narn Slang & Terminology
- Midnight on the Firing Line - the annexation of Ragesh III took place over 100 years ago
- The Official Babylon 5 Magazine: Volume 1, Issue #3 (Nov 1997) - Page 26 (A Brief History of Narn)
- The Gathering
- Ship of Tears
- Dust to Dust
- Darkness Ascending
- No Compromises
- JMS post on GENIE - 2/23/1994 5:30:00 PM
- True Seeker (Short Story)
- Armies of Light and Dark - (p.197)
- Soul Mates
- The Official Guide to Babylon 5 (CD ROM)
- By Any Means Necessary
- The Fall of Night
- Babylon 5 Scripts - Other Voices: Vol 3 (Babylon 5 Alien Guide)
- Dining on Babylon 5
- The Hour of the Wolf
- The Parliament of Dreams
- Signs and Portents
- The Ragged Edge
- Acts of Sacrifice
- The Long, Twilight Struggle
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