The Sullen Gulf
Inhabiting a region coreward of the Imperium, the Vargr were for years a puzzle to Imperial xenologists. The Vargr biochemistry and genetic makeup are almost identical with a number of terrestrial animals, but differ radically from most of the flora and fauna indigenous to Lair, the purported Vargr home world. Researches during the early years of the Third Imperium concluded them to be the result of genetic manipulation of transplanted Terran animals of the family Canidae, almost certainly of genus Canis. The obvious conclusion, supported by archeological evidence, is that the race known as the Ancients was responsible.
Physically, the Vargr are not very impressive. The typical Vargr is about 1.6 meters in height and weighs approximately 60 kilograms. They are upright bipedal carnivores, rear limbs digitigrade, with hands very similar in size and appearance to those of a human, although there are significant internal differences. They have approximately the same physical parameters as humans and are able to use the same equipment without modification or additional instruction.
On the average their reactions are slightly faster than those of the typical human, but individuals vary widely. The Vargr senses of smell and sight are superior to those of humans.
There is no central Vargr government; indeed, there is no governmental type that can be said to be “typically Vargr”. Every conceivable form of governmental organization can be found somewhere in the Vargr Extents. The only cohesive force in the Extents is a fierce racial pride which causes a slight tendency towards racial cooperation. The higher the level of the Vargr government, the more unstable it becomes because of the difficulty of obtaining consent of all Vargr involved.
The key elements shaping Vargr societies are a very strong centrifugal force resulting from an emphasis on consensus and informal lines of authority, and an equally strong centripetal force resulting from a deeply ingrained family-clan-tribe-nation loyalty.
Centralized authority is extremely limited at the upper levels of Vargr society, and action is based on broad coalitional concerns, with a constant splitting and rejoining of dissident factions. Traditionally, this has made it very difficult for more centralized and organized societies such as the Imperium to deal on a meaningful basis with what passes for Vargr states. The Vargr have little respect for formal authority, decreasing as that authority becomes more remote. Vargr generally have more respect for more informal authority figures, and are more likely to obey superiors who are better known to them.
The Vargr have an intensive racial pride and are easily insulted. They are prone to enter into fights without regard to possible consequences. Even among the most stable Vargr governments, a highly charismatic leader can attract followers for almost anything. The neighbors of the Vargr are constantly the subject of impromptu raids and scattered piracy by bands of Vargr (totally without government sanction, of course) who have been talked into a raid, a battle, or a war by a charismatic leader.
Vargr in the Imperium
While only a few planets populated completely by Vargr exist within the Imperium, there are millions of Vargr citizens of loyal subject planets. Additionally, Vargr adventurers, criminals, mercenaries and traders can be found throughout the coreward reaches of the Imperium.
Some Imperial Vargr live in Vargr enclaves. Others have adapted to living among Humans and other races. These are often referred to as assimilated Vargr. Assimilated Vargr have all the physical advantages and disadvantages of ethnic Vargr, but many of the typical Vargr mental traits are less pronounced and sometimes completely absent. Scientists disagree on how much these traits are inborn but suppressed by association with Humans, or not inborn and just not learned in the first place. The comparison between dogs and wolves is highly impolitic, if difficult to avoid. Assimilated Vargr react very poorly to the suggestion that they have been “tamed” by Humans or, even worse, are just “Humans in Vargr suits” — claims that ethnic Vargr are quick to make. Assimilated and ethnic Vargr often react very poorly towards each other.