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The Shingouz (Valerian & Laureline)

The Shingouz


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

The Shingouz are a trio of alien intelligence experts (or “spies”, if you must insist). They are recurrent characters in the Valerian, Space-Time Agent graphic novels. The Shingouz first appeared in 1975, in the Ambassador of the Shadows graphic novel.

For more about the setting and context, see our character profiles for Valérian and Laureline.


Species data

The Shingouz people come from a single planet, name unrevealed. Their homeworld is technically habitable, but it’s difficult to be polite about it. The resources are nearly inexistent, the climate is atrocious, the atmosphere is difficult to breathe even for the natives…

There are but two vague resources :

  1. Small pockets of a potent, naturally-occurred liquor called gling. The Shingouz love gling – you would too if you lived there. But they have to export what they can to buy offworld food.
  2. The inhabitants, who are quite intelligent and well-organised.

Xenotype

The Shingouz species are small sapient  humanoids. They seem to be a failed evolutionary mishmash of several species with essentially useless wings, and trunk/snout used both to breathe and eat/drink. They have three different stomachs, each specialised in a type of alcohol.

Their main physical advantage is… mmm, good question. Their excellent eyesight, probably.

Shingouz can only fly if they have both near-null gravity and a sufficiently dense atmosphere. Which is unlikely to occur. But such conditions can sometimes be found, for instance in the gravity chute “elevators” between Point Central habitats.

Society

The Shingouz always operate as a triad – either three males or three females. These triads seem to last for life. Marriages in Shingouz society are between a male triad and a female triad. Reproduction is ritualised and occurs simultaneously, with each female always having three babies (for a total of nine births).

Shingouz maturity occurs within three years. Therefore, one assume that birth control must be rigorous not to overshoots the meagre resources available on the homeworld.

The Shingouz (Valerian & Laureline) narrating

Presumably due to this scarcity, Shingouz society is remarkably honest and strong on solidarity. The Shingouz are always ready to help each other, and they put everything they have in common so resources use is as efficient as possible.

Since their homeworld is only livable through remittances, the Shingouz have set up a services industry. Triads of males are sent offworld to make money. They all return to the homeworld at once with the money, which is when the Apominobas peddlers come set up their markets on the Shingouz homeworld. Then the Shingouz buy what they need to endure for another cycle.

Espionage

The Shingouz specialise in a single industry, to maximise their brand and competence. For unrevealed reasons, this industry is espionage.

The Shingouz has a robust reputation among intelligence experts, politicians, corporate leaders, etc.. They are reliable, efficient, likely can get the goods even when no one else can, and they never lie.

However, many people who do not need the Shingouz’s services despise their sneaky and mercenary way. Thus, it is frequent for even the Shingouz’s client to make a show of mistrust and contempt toward them in public.


In Valerian

Laureline and Valérian have a working relationship with a specific, highly accomplished triad of male spies. The two frequently collaborate throughout the series. Shingouz intelligence has repeatedly proved invaluable to the couple.

Among this triad, one has a huge crush on Laureline. On several occasions, this has resulted in the accidental confessing of free information to the Terrans. This is near-sacrilegious by Shingouz standards, since money is necessary for survival. But the others will always forgive their triad brother.

Another of the triad seems to have a marked weakness for gling, even by Shingouz standards. Or perhaps it is the other two who are unusually sober.

As their business relationship develops, the Shingouz can be counted as allies of Valérian and Laureline. Their intelligence is still to be paid for, but the two Humans get preferential rates and priority. And the Shingouz will go out of their way to warn Laureline when they have data she really really should buy.


Powers & Abilities

This trio of Shingouz aliens are remarkably adept intelligence experts. They wheel, deal, negotiate, pay off, pressure, blackmail, arrange, etc. to get access to an endless stream of seemingly unobtainable information.

They then resell this information for either money or more information. And the money is reinvested in getting more information, unless it’s time to go back to the homeworld. The Shingouz seem to prefer currencies when they deal with individuals, and information when they deal with agencies.

The Shingouz (Valerian & Laureline) negotiating with our heroes

Though the Shingouz are physically pushovers, they stay calm in dangerous situations. They have been through a lot of tense moments, and are confident in their ability to arrange an out. After all, they almost certainly will be able to provide useful services and information to whoever is threatening them.

They are also experts at corruption and manipulation, which greatly helps with their continued survival. Watching the Shingouz use social engineering to get out of trouble or penetrate security is impressive.

It is entirely possible that the Shingouz are elite hackers. Nothing of the sort is ever shown, but Valerian isn’t a techy series and wouldn’t dwell on that.

Gear

All Shingouz spies carry a grubby satchel of some sort. It and its content seem to be their only belongings. The bag typically carries :

  • A shotgun microphone looking like a small low-tech trumpet. This has a range of more than 300 yards and allows for following a conversation through thick, dense obstacles.
  • A pair of powerful binoculars with multiple vision modes, including “x-ray vision”.
  • A portable lie detector.
  • Cash in numerous currencies and small valuable objects such as gems.
  • A tikk’k from Tuk’k. A trained alien tick that injects a psychotrope that works as a truth serum. These tiny animals are very expensive and difficult to train (even for experts such as the Shingouz), and are thus used with great caution.
  • A flask of gling. This extremely potent liquor can also loosen tongues, and the Shingouz are far more used to it than most despite their low body mass.
  • The equivalent of a smartphone or phablet.
  • Something that allows them to speak an immense range of languages. We’ll blindly assume that this is the same sort of mnemotechnic tech that the S.T.S. uses, rather than instant translation.

Personality

The Shingouz are always, always working – acquiring and reselling intelligence. Their life isn’t easy, and they tend to kvetch  about it. But they do realise that things would be much worse on their home planet, and make do. Furthermore, they have family and neighbours to feed, and thus need to make as much money as possible.

Like all Shingouz they are reliably honest. They always honour their deals with the highest-paying client, their information is always reliable and their prices are always fair. At one point, a Shingouz takes money from an unconscious client but makes sure he only paws the agreed-upon percentage so as not to take unfair advantage.

The Shingouz always work a problem through multiple ends to maximise profits. For instance, if they are hired as fixers to set an operation up, it is likely that *everybody* involved will owe them a percentage of their gains for acting as intermediaries. Every shred of opportunity will be cunningly exploited for profit, several times if possible.

Being a triad, the Shingouz sometimes do the thing where one starts a sentence, the other continues it and the third ends it.

Being seen with contempt by many people, the Shingouz take pride in their professionalism and competence to compensate.

An example of the Shingouz working

The Shingouz are looking to infiltrate a secure location with multiple layers of patrolling guards around the core.

  1. Ask for a buhbuhl flower that Laureline is using as a hair ornament.
  2. Approach a guard of the first layer. Bullshit him that the second layer guard is their cousin and they’ll pay a small sum for the first layer guard to give him the flower, for familial reasons.
  3. At this point (the Shingouz have presumably timed the patrols) the second layer guard comes within a short distance of the first layer. So the first layer guard takes the money and brings the flower in, since it looks so simple.
  4. Outraged, the second layer guard punches the first layer guard. Shingouz research had identified his culture, where being presented with a buhbuhl flower is a grave insult.
  5. Right at this point (again, the patrols have been timed), the third layer guard come into sight of the second layer guard’s position.
  6. The Shingouz rush past the first two layers as the two guards are brawling. They accost the third guard. Acting as concerned citizens, they report that the first guard is corrupt and security is compromised. Which the third layer guard can plainly see is true.
  7. As the Shingouz have determined beforehand, the procedure is to report grave security failures like this one to the fourth layer. Thus the third layer guard has them taken to the fourth layer’s head of security.
  8. Within minutes the Shingouz have thus breached three levels of security and are in a superior position to feed bullshit to the fourth. Presumably they already have set something up.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Shingouz

Dex: 02 Str: 00 Bod: 01 Motivation: Responsibility
Int: 05 Wil: 06 Min: 04 Occupation: Intelligence expert
Inf: 03 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Wealth: 006
Init: 010 HP: 010

Powers:
Gliding: 00, Shrinking: 02, Systemic antidote: 04, Telescopic vision: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Shrinking is Always On and Already Factored in. The Shingouz’s movement speed is zero but their OV vs ranged attacks is 04.
  • Gliding is Winged.
  • Systemic antidote only to resist intoxication by alcohol.

Skills:
Acrobatics (Dodging): 03, Charisma (Persuasion): 06, Charisma (Interrogation): 08, Detective (Legwork): 09, Thief (Locks and safes, Stealth): 05, Vehicles: 03

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Known galaxy), Connoisseur, Expertise (Gambling, cards game and the like), Familiarity (Currencies of the galaxy, Liquors of the galaxy, Probabilities), Languages (Dozens of ’em), Scholar (Espionage, Corruption, Surveillance).

Connections:
Street (High), Underworld (Low), Intelligence agencies (Low), Mercenary scene (Low), Law enforcement agency (Low).

Drawbacks:
Creepy Appearance (Theirs is an unpopular species), MIA toward honest dealings. MIA toward Gling (except for the one who has a SIA), and one has a CIA toward Laureline. Possibly more than Catastrophic, in fact.

Equipment:

  • Acoustic amplifier [BODY 01, Direction hearing: 08, Remote sensing (Audial): 07].
  • Telescope [BODY 01, Telescopic vision: 06, Thermal vision: 09, True sight: 03, Ultra-vision: 09, X-Ray vision: 09, Limitation: X-Ray vision’s taboo substance is unrevealed].
  • Lie detector [BODY 01, Detect (Lies): 09, Limitations: Detect has No Range and requires putting the detector on the person’s head (or equivalent)].
  • Ti’kk [BODY 01, Charisma (Interrogation): 10, Limitations: the Ti’kk must be able to bite near the brain, Charisma can be resisted by Systemic Antidote, Misc.: a small, fragile animal that is expensive and difficult to train, Misc.: the subject is clearly under some sort of influence as they ramble on and on about everything that comes to mind.].
  • Omni-Gadget 9 APs ABC (Limitation: must be surveillance or intel-gathering equipment).
  • Pocket computer phone [BODY 01, Data storage: 12, Radio communication: 13, Superspeed: 01, Limitation: Superspeed only for tasks involving processing information]. There’s no data so I’m using Mass Effect omni-tool stats.

Design Notes

The Shingouz likely, but not demonstrably, have Scientist (Computers): 07 or more.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Valerian graphic novels and the expanded Les habitants du ciel sourcebook.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 8th of May, 2017.

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