Vulcans are humanoids with green, copper-based blood who have evolved greater strength and endurance to cope with their world's harsh conditions. All Vulcans have greenish-tinted skin of varying hues, dark hair, and pointed ears. They possess keen hearing and have an inner eyelid to protect them form the planet's higher level of ultraviolet radiation.
Vulcans possess telepathic abilities. While some Vulcans study the psychic arts and develop remarkable powers, most are capable only of performing a telepathic mind-meld. For most Vulcans, performing a mind-meld is a deeply personal act, usually only performed with lovers or close friends. Many Vulcans also train themselves to possess eidetic memories as well.
Vulcans exalt logic over emotion, and usually repress or sublimate emotions in daily behavior. Vulcans who deal with non-Vulcans on a regular basis often maintain an almost glacial calm, possibly as self-defense against so much unguarded feeling. Among themselves, Vulcans usually seem more relaxed; Vulcan ambassadors often cultivate a kind of distant good humor and politesse. Even Vulcan ambassadors, however, have trouble predicting or depending upon the behavior of more emotional species.
Vulcans closely resemble humans, with the same average height and weight. Their pointed ears are slightly larger than the human norm, and their slanted eyebrows sometimes give them a questioning look. The inner, or nicitating, eyelid is not visible (the nicitating membrane allows for nearly instantaneous adjustments to varying degrees of light, evolving in the Vulcans because of the harshness of the Vulcan sun.). Vulcan skin complexions range from olive to dark mahogany, with a green cast provided by their copper-based blood. The Vulcan heart rests in the lower center of the torso, surrounded and protected by highly efficient lungs. Their heart rate is several times faster than that of humans, beating at several hundred times per minute. Vulcans once had decreased distance in hearing ranges, but over the years they evolved pointed ears, designed to channel more sound waves into the ear canal.
The lifespan of a Vulcan is generally double that of Terrans. Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan was born in 2165 and lived for 203 years before his death in 2368. It is considered that he may have died a premature death due to a debilitating disease.
Using mental techniques and concentration, Vulcans can place themselves in many trance-like mental states and even control their metabolism. A Vulcan can concentrate all of his or her energy into repairing a physical injury when in one of these trance-like states. Most known forms of infection or illness are rejected by the highly developed Vulcan immune system. This fact, coupled with almost complete control of automatic responses such as those generated by intense pain, can allow Vulcans to go several days, or even weeks, without food or rest.
The brain of a Vulcan acts almost like a computer, for which they have been nicknamed, and is perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the Vulcan physiology. Vulcans can remember highly detailed information pertaining to events, people, and place encountered during their life. Mathematical equations and complex calculations can be done rapidly by Vulcans. Like the motherboard on a computer controlling the component, the Vulcan brain is in direct control of most of the bodily functions, going so far as to act like a control unit for many organs.
History and Culture
Approximately 5000 years ago, the Vulcans were once an extremely violent and emotional people who waged almost constant warfare on one another. Because of the increasing levels of technology, the Vulcans eventually reached a point where their violent nature threatened species extinction. During this time, a philosopher now known as Surak tried to keep this fate from affecting the Vulcan people. By developing a new philosophy, Surak established the truth that the uncontrolled expression of the peoples’ emotions was the cause of Vulcan’s problems. Much the same as the Federations members do now, Surak’s followers swore to live their lives by an ethical system created by Surak. His system, based totally on logical principles, called for all emotional expressions, negative or otherwise, to be completely forbidden.
A minority of the Vulcan people, who later became the Romulans, rejected Surak’s ideals. In order to avoid the total destruction that Surak had predicted by open conflict between the two opposing sides, those who refused to follow Surak’s philosophy chose to leave Vulcan, searching for a new home among the stars. They founded colonies elsewhere, the most noteworthy of them being on the planets Romulus and Remus, which grew into the current day Romulan Star Empire.
Acclaimed for being the first of the space faring races to develop warp drive, Vulcans have charted space long before the historical First Contact between them and Zephram Cochrane in 2063, when a Vulcan survey ship detected Cochrane’s first warp flight. Although a relationship quickly developed between the two races, the Vulcans did not aid Earth during the Romulan Wars of the 22nd century, even though it lasted nearly fifty years. Rather than aide the Humans, they declared themselves neutral in reverence to their pacifist principles. After the war, Vulcan and Earth formed an alliance to become the founding members of the United Federation of Planets in 2161 to deter future aggression and avoid further conflicts.
The Vulcans of the 22nd century are distant to humanity, seeing humans as a dangerously unstable, yet potentially tractable, species. Vulcans attempted to influence human policy and development during this time. Vulcans themselves, however, had not fully developed as a species; few actually lived up to the ideal of total emotional rigidity. Using subterfuge and their superior technology, Vulcans isolated other races and acted as intermediaries to control first contacts, specifically through their Interspecies Exchange programs. Human desire to explore and help other people winded up spinning out of the Vulcans' ability to control, leading to confrontations (and eventual resolutions) with nearby races. Still, the Vulcans' cool demeanor and tendency to withhold both technology and information based on their self-awarded "superiority" means that they are rarely trusted. T'Pol, the first Vulcan to serve on a Earth Starfleet vessel, seemed to embody this difficulty as Starfleet sent out the NX-01 Enterprise against Vulcan advice; she often worked at odds with human motives and goals early in the mission, until she developed an uneasy rapport with Captain Jonathan Archer.
With the formation of the Federation, Vulcans saw the logic inherent in the cooperation of many diverse species. Not all Vulcans agreed with the human ideal of total cooperation, especially with violent races like the Andorians. Nevertheless, the Vulcans of this era benefited from the Federation as much as any other member species. The philosophy of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination saw the acceptance of diverse ideologies, leading the Vulcans to improve their self-mastery, to abandon their subterfuges, and to lead by example as exemplars of logic, discipline, honesty, and peaceful diplomacy. The half-Vulcan Spoc, driven to excise his human "weakness" and emulate the Vulcan ideal, ironically came to bridge the gaps between humans and Vulcans; he served as an exceptional Starfleet officer and legendary paragon of self-control, even while he served as friend and counselor to Captain James T. Kirk.
The 24th century Federation holds hundreds of member species, but the Vulcans are one of the few founding races. This affords them a level of great respect among younger races, who see the Vulcans with something like awe. Human-Vulcan relations normalized to the point that the two species often fraternize and regularly learn to accommodate each others' differences. Still, even within logic, there is room for dissent; the Vulcan Isolationist Movement hopes to secede Vulcan from the Federation, even as legendary Ambassador Spoc attempts to reconcile the differences between Vulcans and their Romulan cousins.
When the Federation entered the Dominion War, Vulcans remained committed to peaceful solutions where possible but logically recognized that the good of all Federation members depended upon the full commitment of every world, including their own.
The Vulcans possess a sophisticated, ancient culture with customs dictated by their devotion to logic. Vulcan art forms are formal and precise, intended not to evoke an emotional response but to stimulate thought or help induce a meditative mindset. Vulcans also enjoy strategy games, formal debates, and similar activities. A Vulcan must apply logic to all situations he encounters and never give in to emotion (including violent emotions). The constraints of Vulcan reproductive biology, however, make this difficult. Every seven years beginning at age 14, Vulcan males experience Pon farr, in which the mating urge emerges with irresistible force. A Vulcan who does not mate suffers a fatal neurochemical imbalance. He may also experience plak-tow, when he loses all control of his emotions and can fight and kill without hesitation. Hence, Vulcans generally bond in their preteen years, to logically select mates before the madness of Pon farr. Vulcan marriages then proceed logically in the koon-ut-kal-if-fee ceremony, only rarely resulting in ritual combat to the death.
A commonly mistaken assumption is that Vulcans naturally lack emotions. This is not true, but it is rather a discipline taught during the earliest of childhood years. Emotions are part of the Vulcan people, but they choose to control and suppress them, rather than be prey to their devastating effects. In every generation, there are a small number of the Vulcan people who do not wish to follow the Vulcan way. Instead, like the Romulans before them, they choose to follow other goals that only emotional beings are capable of. Sybok, Spock’s half-brother, is the most famous for this. After taking control of the Enterprise-A, Sybok lead the crew to the edge of the galaxy in a search for Sha-ka-ree.
When devoted to logic, Vulcan’s are immune to fear, insults, and all other such attacks, but this does not hold entirely true when the blood line in mixed with other species. Half-Vulcans have been noted to have difficulty with keeping emotions in check when under moments of duress. The logical perspective is pursued by all followers of Surak.
Vulcans see violence as a waste of resources, time, and lives, and therefore illogical. If a Vulcan practices a martial art, he does so to hone his physique and discipline his mind. Above all else, Vulcans value peace and prefer to resolve differences - logically - through mediation. They are no fools, however, and when a Vulcan logically concludes that force must be met by force, he makes a formidable adversary.
Surak, the great teacher whose Awakening in 312 is the central event of Vulcan history, rejected violence in all its forms. He believed in total peace, pure logic, and ideal selflessness. Since all Vulcans know empirically that they possess a katra, or soul, ideologies of peace and life resonated with them even in Surak's era of global civil war. Vulcans applied his teachings to the formal logic of T'Plana-Hath and arrived at the philosophy of "infinite diversity in infinite combination," a delicate blend of studying the universe and aiding those who can add both diversity and spirit to it. Such motives caused Captain Sevak to contact Earth in 2063 to welcome humanity to the stars. Captain Sevak was a follower of the way of Jarok, who attempted to reconcile Surak's logic with the undeniable truth of emotional existence; followers of Jarok seek to embrace, understand, and thus tame their emotions rather than fighting to repress them.
Even more radically, some Vulcans have rebelled against the emotionless nature of Surak's ideal, from the warrior followers of Tellus (who left Vulcan in exile in 369 to eventually become the Romulans) to Tomaris' 22nd century group of disaffected psychic explorers to Sybok's quixotic 2287 search for God in the center of the galaxy. Emotional stress in Vulcan lives has even led to the development of opportunistic infections such as Bendii Syndrome, which leaves Vulcans prey to sudden emotional attacks and mental breakdowns. Like all members of the Federation, the Vulcans have not achieved full species maturity, or learned all the answers, even from their violent past and scientific present.
Since the Time of Awakening, all Vulcans have been taught how to suppress of control their emotions, as well as methods of controlling their physiologies. When injured, a Vulcan can enter a meditative trance which focuses all of his personal energy on healing. This training is an application of the study and practice of logic which was Surak's gift to Vulcan culture. There are many diverse schools and sects of logic on Vulcan. A worldwide devotion to logic has not produced a consensus about the proper approach to leading a logical life, or even agreement as to the proper course of action in any given situation. There are, after all, many logical approaches to any given situation.
While all Vulcans agree that emotions must be controlled to allow an individual to make carefully reasoned decisions, Vulcans have many different ways of dealing with emotions. Some train for the exhaustive Kolinahr ritual, which permanently purges all emotions from their minds. Others maintain strict emotional discipline by releasing their emotions in vast, extremely private bursts of passionate frenzy. Some seek to live their lives in a peaceful serenity where emotions are felt and acknowledged, but not allowed to sway or distract the mind.
The former mindlord Sanshiin founded the discipline of Kolinahr in 319, shortly after the awakening of Surak, and named it for the mountain on which he taught. The path of Kolinahr is the most rigorous and unforgiving of all the Vulcan disciplines. While most Vulcan thought attempts to suppress, sublimate, or harness emotion, the way of Kolinahr sees to purge it entirely. Using the traumatic t'san s'at process, postulants to Kolinahr must rid themselves of every passion, from base lusts to noble ambitions to innocent joys, leaving only the pure intellect.
- Bridges, Bill, et al. Star Trek Roleplaying Game Book 5: Aliens, Decipher, 2003. ISBN: 1582369070.
- Cambias, James, et al. Planets of the UFP: A Guide to Federation Worlds, Last Unicorn Games, 1999. ISBN: 0671040065.