A Bionicle Headcanon: The Fourth Steltian Species

Stelt, as we know, is a strictly hierarchical island-society. In some sense, it mirrors the structure of the Matoran: one’s (sub) species—Turaga, Toa, or Matoran—determines, with notable exceptions, the role and status of the individual within that society.

Turaga, supremely wise, occupy a leadership role. Toa, powerful and energetic, carry out necessary violence in the interests of Turaga and Matoran. Matoran, plentiful and diligent, do the labour.

Unfortunately, our knowledge of Stelt and its species is more limited. Sidorak/Voporak’s species—the Steltian Leader-Class (SLC), are clearly in charge, yet they do not all occupy positions of power. In Federation of Fear, an SLC is a simple trader; we do not see, in canon, similar instances of Turaga doing mundane work such as this. The proportion of Sidorak’s species which act in leadership roles, versus the proportion in mundane work, is unknown.

In part, it was the limited information on Steltian politics and social life which caused me to develop this idea; in part, it emerged from information we know well. In any case, here’s the idea itself: when the Great Beings created Stelt, Sidorak’s species did not occupy the uppermost echelon of the social hierarchy—they were subservient to another, now perhaps extinct species, the Original Leader-Class, before overthrowing it and seizing power.

The first inspiration for this, funnily enough, came in the form of the ‘fine-tuning argument,’ a real life argument often used to attempt to demonstrate the existence of a God; the argument essentially states that, as the existence of life seems so precarious and immensely unlikely in a purely chaotic or mechanistic universe, it must be that the universe has been intentionally, consciously fine-tuned to meet the demands of existence of earthbound life.

Of course, at the moment we aren’t interested in the value of such an argument in the real world… but the Matoran Universe, irrefutably, with certainty, has been designed in such a purposeful, particular manner. The Great Beings and Mata Nui created a world in which its life was fit to thrive and produce. The Turaga, Toa, and Matoran have a purpose, the Xians and Barraki have a purpose, the Skakdi have a purpose (and I’ll come back to the Skakdi soon), and, of course, the Steltians have a purpose.

Why, then, is Stelt described as “constantly on the edge of anarchy and total collapse”? Could it simply be that, unlike Metru Nui, Xia, Nynrah, etc., Stelt was poorly designed? More specifically, that the Ruling Class was poorly designed? After all, the full quote is as follows:

“The entire island was constantly on the edge of anarchy and total collapse, due to the constant infighting of Sidorak’s species.”

Or, this:

“The island was a desolate place, mostly due to the ruling species’ envy; whenever one of them managed to build any kind of structure, their neighbors grew jealous and united to tear it down.”

The blame is placed squarely on the shoulders of Sidorak’s species, and indeed, their traits seem not to be the traits of an ideal leader. Why would the Great Beings place this species in charge, especially when they have been so particular about this type of thing before (look at Orde and the Ce-Matoran!)?

Before moving on, I’ll address some counterpoints.

Counterpoints

(1) The Great Awakening: Some species were created, by the Great Beings, as a relatively limited consciousness—Matoran, for example, were intended to be much more robotic (though Toa, on the other hand, were always intended to be more independent), and it was Velika’s meddling which perhaps caused this disturbing and troublesome change in the personalities of Sidorak’s formerly reasonable species. They could have been suited for leadership before the Great Awakening changed them for the worse.

(1 Response): This is true, Velika did throw a wrench into the Great Being’s plans with the Great Awakening. However, this limited consciousness did not affect the Toa Mata, Hand of Artakha, and numerous other beings in positions of authority or decision-making. Matoran labourers may have been awakened by Velika, as, no doubt, were Krekka’s species, but the rulers of Stelt? Even if the great majority were, indeed, simple traders or workers, if some of Sidorak’s species held the levers of power on such an influential location as Stelt, their programming would need to be at least as dynamic as a Toa’s. For this reason, I don’t believe they were Awakened by Velika.

(2) Particular Species fail in their duty throughout the story—Makuta, the Barraki, and the Skakdi—and no similar theory can be applied to them. Why is Stelt a special case?

(2 Response): The Makuta are, of course, a special case, being built by Mata Nui—not by the Great Beings—to fulfill a role which might require or incite some bombast. They also differ in the sense that they do not possess the spirit of reckless jealousy or futile destruction; Sidorak’s species renders Stelt completely inert and a liability, whereas the Makuta’s turn did not, until quite later on, inhibit business in the same way. The turn was also a chance event, instead of an intrinsic characteristic—a human who kills, in premeditation, a trusted friend, is hardly comparable to the impulsive violence of a wild animal. I would apply the same rationale to the Barraki, who, coincidentally, were also Mata Nui’s doing, not the Great Beings’. An analysis of the Skakdi, once more, will have to wait; yet it can clearly be seen that Zakaz’s dysfunction flows from Spiriah’s influence, as opposed to that of their original creators.

(3) The Great Beings, in a more general sense, screw up all the time. They put the Element Lords in charge on Spherus Magna, made a mess of the Baterra, had faulty programming in individuals such as Karzahni or Tuyet… need I go on?

(3 Response) The most compelling qualm. The Great Beings are forever stumbling from one disaster to the next, so it is a reasonable point to make. Sidorak’s species’ complete inability to perform its designated function, of course, can be chalked-up as a result of the greater incompetence of the Great Beings; no concrete canon evidence points to the existence of a fourth Steltian species, and my intention is not to put forth an argument stating that this was the intent of the authors—it obviously wasn’t. The purpose of this argument is to provide an interesting, conflict-generating story idea which makes as much sense as possible. With that in mind, if we want this idea to be true—and I’ll provide some reasons why that might be the case—then even the most difficult cases can be simply explained away. Karzahni, for example, was an incredibly powerful and intelligent being bent entirely upon keeping his particular inadequacies hidden. Is it entirely implausible he managed to be successful in this endeavour, until the launch of the GSR? I don’t feel that it is. If, on the other hand, we wish to dispute this headcanon, cases can be explained against it: the Great Beings created Karzahni and he failed in his task; therefore, they created the Steltians with the same flaws. Anyone bent on arguing against it will be easily able to do so, as the argument is, of course, completely speculative.

Counterpoints (hopefully) addressed, here is the headcanon in more detail. The Great Beings created four Steltian Species—slave/gladiator/soldiers (Gladiator’s Species), Workers and Labourers (Krekka’s Species), administrators and specialists (Sidorak’s Species), and leaders (proposed fourth species). This fourth species functions as a sort of Turaga, one able to conduct Steltian affairs with wisdom and long-term strategy. Sidorak’s Species functions as a lower level administrator, but one which can nevertheless amass a fair amount of power and prestige. They are energetic and driven by an intense will-to-power, one which can generate necessary change and push the Fourth Species to its potential. This Species, in turn, tempers Sidorak’s species’ impulsivity with aforementioned wisdom and a sense of duty to Mata Nui. When the two are working together, Stelt is able to fulfill its task in keeping the GSR in operation; and for many years, the two species indeed work together to great effect.

However… the energetic and impulsive qualities which, under the thumb of wisdom can effect fantastic positive change, are the same qualities that, should they be untethered, precipitate political instability and societal disaster. Throughout the 100,000 years of history, the fourth species must remain vigilant to contain and direct this source of power. At one critical moment—invasion, bankruptcy, whatever— they falter. In that moment, the very-canon jealousy and treacherous nature of Sidorak’s Species takes hold, and the entire Matoran Universe is unwilling audience to an event (perhaps authored by you) known ever-after as the Steltian Revolution. Once-prosperous Stelt is plunged into civil war; the fourth species is annihilated in a genocidal frenzy, Sidorak’s Species seizes quickly disintegrating political authority, and, over the thousands of years between the Revolution and Stelt’s first story appearance, descends into the near-anarchic state for which it is known. All mention of this original leader class is scrubbed from history by zealous revolutionaries, in a manner not unlike the Barraki, and the machines which produced them are smashed beyond recovery. Various Great Powers—Metru Nui, Xia, Nynrah—grapple with the political implications of this upheaval (perhaps in a similar way the world reacted to news of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia), compare the downfall with that of Zakaz, and observe, as various conflicts in the centuries to follow can be traced back to this dark nexus.

Stories and Myths resound throughout the Millennia. Was the extinct species hulking monsters, styled akin to the other three physically intimidating Steltian Species? Or frail, small? And—most importantly—did any escape?

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Perhaps Lariska’s species? :eyes:

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An interesting take I could see working.

Though there are a few things that do not quite match my picture of things/my preferences.
I am for example not someone who likes introducing additional species. Though that’s definitely a very personal opinion.

Two things I’d want to adress, however, are:

  1. What exactly is Stelt’s function in the MU? Could not, for whatever reason, exactly this society have been intended? The only thing we know for sure is that Stelt’s inhabitants’ doings do not have an immediate effect on Mata Nui’s health.

  2. Making species creation machines accessible (and thus destroyable) would be a severe problem. Imagine people like the Barraki had access to them - they’d have been able to basically grow their armies indefinitely. Of course, we know the Matoran machines (at least in Metru Nui) are accessible - but the reason behind this is clear: not enough Matoran = immediate danger to Mata Nui.
    Hence I deem it problematic to say a species could actually go extinct.
    Though I suppose immediately seizing any new member of a species that appears in the neighbourhood would do the trick in effect.

Speaking of Steltian society, this is something we have put some thought into as well at RSG. Specifically, how to make this society as it exists in canon work. In case anyone’s interested:

Click to expand

Dahkini= Sidorak’s species
Kumopak = Krekka’s species
Lhomanu = Gladiator’s species
Excerpts are from the Doronai Nui 0.9 Species Index

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@Takutanuva Possibly! Using the template of an already existing species would reduce the number of excess, 1-off species already hanging around :stuck_out_tongue:

@Gilahu Thanks again for the insightful input! I have a few responses to some of your points; let me know what you make of them.
(0) In regard to the introduction of new species—I agree, generally. When I can go the route of synthesizing two species together—Tridax and Krahka, perhaps Trinuma and Brutaka, etc.—I do. The same can be applied to this Stetian Species; perhaps this proposed species is Brutaka’s species, or the Dark Hunter Devastator’s (with his story about emerging from a fiery crag in Karzahni being, like his boasts of strength, lies (or a cover story!)), or, in my mind, one of the Barraki’s species. This gives, say, Kalmah’s species, a pre-and-post conquest canon placement, and something important to do. How did different individuals associated with a Barraki respond to the conquests? And how did they manage to persist after the Barraki’s fall? Could create interesting story environments; again, though, this species could be one of many of the already known.
(1) This is a very strong point; my fundamental assumption that Stelt’s function was, like every other MU species I can think of, productive in some way, is not an assumption I properly backed-up. I suppose Steltian internal strife and overseas piracy could be its intended purpose, but a few things about that strike me as off. Gladiator rings, for one, are a central aspect of society and some of the only permanent structures, yet it seems difficult to connect Steltian blood-sport to Mata Nui’s health or maintenance in a really coherent way. I won’t be able to invent an uncrackable argument in my favour, unfortunately, as there just isn’t enough information about Stelt’s purpose, but I’ll do my best. I see Stelt as a very extroverted society: lots of imports, also lots of exports. Miserix’s comment about Nui-Rama on the Tren Krom Peninsula, or Stelt being a crossroads which attracts debauchery, or Greg’s statement, way back when the line was still running, that " Stelt is a major port, a lot of people go in and out of it" suggest to me that Stelt’s function in the MU could be distribution: moving the intense amount of wealth and goods generated by trade occurring between Xia, the North Continent, Metru Nui, Zakaz, etc., down into the reaches of the Southern Continent and various perripheral lands. Metru Nui, Xia and co. bring goods to Stelt to be shipped. This would explain the prevalence of the blackmarket economy that had generated within Stelt, explain why Stelt is considered such a crossroads, why their labourers are so physically powerful in comparison to Matoran, and even add to some of the RSG lore you’ve posted about Steltians being quite the seafarers. Perhaps this southern trade supremacy is owed to a luckily-placed naval chokepoint Stelt controls, or simply the supremacy of their vessels. If the former, was it seized/secured by Metru Nui following the chaos, as Great Britain once seized the Suez? If so, how did the Xians or humiliated Steltians respond?
In any case, I simply find it more interesting that Stelt is, in a similar but lesser fashion to Zakaz, not fulfilling its function properly, and that massive political struggles will emerge as other places fight to either take advantage or nobly compensate for the Steltian implosion.
(2) This brings into question a wider consideration than I had intended, with that line, but it is incredibly important. How are wars fought within the Matoran Universe? In what environment, specifically, are the peoplemaking machines operating?
Making them destroyable is indeed a potential problem. However, it can be moderated. How long does it take to build a new individual, and to train them in day-to-day tasks? It could conceivably take many years; before WW1 Britain and Germany increased their rate of naval expenditures so as not to be caught shorthanded in a war which they thought would be over before new ships could be laid and finished, and the battle in the pacific in WW2 took years, as the american naval buildup took time to develop. If the Barraki are growing their armies before a campaign, other political blocs are going to respond in-kind. Moreover, wars in the MU are industrial wars. Creating new individuals is not like a human population increase, its more like an industrial investment—instead of putting raw material and industrial capacity into building ships or tanks or whatever else, you’re putting it into people. As we saw famously with Russia in WW1, wherein troops were inadequately supplied and sometimes needed to pick up guns from fallen comrades to even have a weapon, there is a limit to the benefit of more people. This benefit is further capped if the ‘more people’ comes at the expense of ‘even less guns’.
Now, if people are actually destroying the machines instead of abusing them, it creates a different sort of problem. This is an event I imagine to be extremely rare—only in ideological struggles or wars of annihilation—and frowned upon by probably every status-quo power. The total ramifications of accessible and destroyable, perhaps even constructible, peoplemaking machines isn’t something I’ve considered from every angle, and am open to changing; yet, I think, it makes the MU a little bit more dynamic and conflict-ridden. Surely after a great depopulating war, the machines would need to go into overdrive—who could decide that apart from the (hopefully responsible) societies that work them?

I also want to say, I really like the worldbuilding I’ve read from RSG. I took a look at it after you posted your comment, and liked lots of what I read and saw (the map with details on the islands was quite cool). I’m doing a rather similar thing in my spare time, in terms of developing a world and history for lacking parts of the MU, and seeing what you guys have done, though it diverges from my own work in many places, inspires me to keep going (also makes me aware just how much artwork contributes to such a project). Any other stories you’d recommend from the project?

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My Bionicle lore knowledge is so intermixed with RSG lore and personal concepts at this point that I’m actually not always sure what is what, but I could venture a couple ideas:

Stelt’s function:

I like my quote “All roads lead to Stelt - at least the ones that go downhill” from the RSG map companion. Canonically, Stelt is this criminal haven with not much in the ways of government. A potential function in my eyes could thus be some kind of “Karzahni for non-Matoran”. It absorbs a lot of the failed and criminal individuals of the MU, and either retains them or eliminates them, so that the rest of the universe isn’t hampered by them. Or it brings out the true talents of these individuals, so that they might leave Stelt again and actually benefit the universe in some way. (As indicated in canon lore, “being fine” for the MU and “being morally good” are not necessarily the same, though, keep that in mind).
Though of course Stelt is also a major trading port. That could be more a cultural thing than an intended function, however.

I find it unlikely that Metru Nui seized anything in its history - Matoran make poor soldiers and are objectively inferior to any other species. Of course, it is not completely out of the question to assume Toa could be used for enforcing economical goals, but that’d be some Toa Empire level assumption.

This is something where I’m not sure if it’s canon/RSG/headcanon, but I believe Matoran at least can be produced rather quickly. Training in actual tasks is of course a thing, but assuming you only build Matoran when you really need them, it’s probably important that they can pick up simple tasks rather quickly. So I’d assume that for all species - in the context of war and soldiers meaning that it’s probably not too time-consuming to drill new recruits into basic fighting shape.
My perosnal opinion regarding reproduction rate via machines is that there’s some kind of scanner involved that somewhat adjust reproduction rate (maybe even tied to the Red Star), or that it’s a fix number per year, based on GB statistics. In the scanner theory, if the population of a species falls below a certain number in the MU, there are automatically replacements made. If the machines are inaccesible - which would indicate there is no reason to produce more of a species for the GSR’s functioning - this could result in the automated machines producing less new specimens than die under certain circumstances, though - for example in the Zakaz civil war. Thus the population of in this case Skakdi would drop.
If machines were accessible, that would mean the species are important for the GSR working and thus a production limit is harder to justify, since ideally they’d be built only when they GSR absolutely needs them this instant.
Plus, I’d argue, the creation machines draw from the GSR, not any MU systems. So investing resources is not really something to be considered.

You have to consider that a lot of beings are guns :stuck_out_tongue:

Mata Nui, of course, though I guess he wouldn’t have cared.
But I think it is also an interesting concept to say that over the 100,000 years of MU history, overall the population decreased. I am unsure whether the GBs intended wars to happen - or if everything outside the Matoran was just a social experiment, whether extinction might not even have been acceptable.
But that’s a lot of ifs.

Thanks!

If you’ve seen the Doronai Nui 0.9 species stuff and the Map Companion, I believe that’s most of the descriptive lore work that’s been published so far. But at some point there’ll surely be more.

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Uh, sorry… I might’ve misunderstood something (it’s currently 2am and I’m very tired), but BS01 says that there are at least four species living on Stelt. Don’t really know whether that changes anything, but the article says that the Matoran are socially higher ranked than Krekka, but lower than Sidorak/Voporak. Where Matoran are, there might be Turaga. Or were.