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The name or term "Skinny" should not be confused with Skinner.

The Skinnies in Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles

As the name suggests, the "Skinnies" are extraterrestrial species with skinny, thin appearance. Originally, the Skinnies are the allies of the Bugs, they later switched side to ally the humans. They are referred to in singular noun form (or things pertaining to them adjectively) as Skinny.

Starship Troopers novel[]

The "skinnies" during the Arachnid War are a tall, aptly skinny humanoid species initially allied to the Bugs. After several raids on Skinny cities, the skinny government begins to feed information to the Terran Federation on the Pseudo-Arachnids, which the Federation uses to its advantage in offensive operations.

Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles[]


Skinnies' Powered Suits.

They are freed from their Arachnid brain-controlling overlords and their leader, Colonel T'Phai, then fights alongside their new human allies. The Skinnies are tall methane breathers with dark skin and three clawed appendages.

The Skinnie race was first discovered on Tophet when the Roughnecks encountered a Skinny village on a recon mission. At first it was believed that the Skinnies could become a new ally in the war against the Arachnids. However it soon become very apparent that the Skinnies were allied with the Arachnids. SICON launched a campaign on Tophet against the Arachnid-Skinnie forces. During this campaign it is discovered that the Arachnids had been brainwashing the Skinnies through using control bugs inserted into the back of the Skinnies necks, and that the Skinnies are being enslaved by the Arachnids. With the help of Colonel T'Phai SICON forces were able to locate the Arachnids Slave mines and liberate its Skinnie population. Shortly after this the Arachnids are defeated and retreat from Tophet.

After being freed from the Arachnids many of the Skinnies decided to join the war against the Arachnids. However, they did not possess any spacecraft and so joined SICON's military instead. Many Skinnies were then fighting alongside humans in the Infantry. It is very possible that Tophet is the home world of the Skinnies.

Starship Troopers: The Miniatures Game & Roleplaying Game[]


The Age of Tribes[]

Before the Skinnies developed the technology to lift them from their homeworld of Ptolemy, a multitude of tribes dominated their society. The Time of Peace put an end to millennia of world-wide warfare and counter-conquest, though it would never completely unify the Skinnies.

The Age of Hegemony[]

Once the Skinnies started exploring their nearby worlds and star systems, the Age of Hegemony came upon them. A centralized government was put in place, representing every tribe, clan and other faction, though this was quickly destabilized and replaced with the current system – no tribe or nation is automatically guaranteed representation within the Hegemony and must instead seek to consolidate its power base.

While outright war is not unknown between nations or tribes, Skinnie society is, at whole, at peace with itself. Their governmental system, however, often makes them appear primitive or even barbaric to humans who enjoy a unified political body. Many violent rituals are practiced among the Skinnies, such as gladiatorial combat that harks back to ancient wars and struggles for power. While Skinnies still compete in these contests, and can gain a great deal of personal power by doing so, most are forms of entertainment that use the slaves of various tribes to fight one another to the death. The use of slaves is widespread throughout Skinnie society, be it for entertainment in the arena, back-breaking manual labor or cannon fodder in battle. During the Age of Tribes, it was common for slaves to be taken from defeated enemies but since the rise of the Hegemony, the practice of using other Skinnies as slaves has grown into a repugnant practice, only seen rarely on border worlds. With the advent of space travel and the acceptance of their own morality, the Skinnies found many alien races that could be used as slaves instead. The first appearance of Skinnies in Federation space were raiding parties on missions designed to capture humans alive, to be sent back to their respective nations within the Hegemony.

The thought that sentient races should not be subjected to slavery simply does not enter the mind of a Skinnie, any more than a human can accept the concept of a ‘bug that thinks’. Morality in a universe with no over-arching god of all races is an artificial construct and though the Skinnies can seem purposefully cruel or wicked to human eyes, they are better described as alien and inhuman, in the traditional sense. Gifted of a similar intellect as humans, they have reached different conclusions.

When held up to the Federation, the Skinnies are, ultimately, a parallel culture of comparable (but incompatible) intellect, scientific understanding, technological development, moral standards and social organization. They have not had the same burning desire to dominate the galaxy possessed by humanity but necessity has propelled them forwards as the Federation and Arachnids slowly draw them into the galactic war.

The Time of the Headless Tribe[]

When the Arachnids arrived, the Skinnies fought. Like the humans, they initially underestimated their enemy but when their most powerful ruling tribe, the Gen’Tak, were wiped out by a single invasion, they retreated the bulk of their armies and fortified their most valuable worlds. This had the effect of turning the Arachnids towards weaker human systems but the damage had been done. Without the centralized core of power coming from the Gen’Tak, the Hegemony has become destabilized and a period of fractious rule now exists, with many tribes competing for power, some desperate enough to stoop to assassination or starting wars in order to rule.


The Nations[]

Beyond the division of tribes and clans, there lie the Skinnie nations. There are perhaps a hundred such nations, all nominally united under the banner of the Hegemony. However, the nations are not a simple stratification of Skinnie society, nor are they always defined geographically or by allegiance to a single leader or set of ideals.

A nation is usually a collection of tribes or clans that have a common set of interests – normally, these interests revolve around the city, continent or planet they inhabit but this is not always the case.

A powerful religious movement, for example, may form its own nation and yet have constituent members strung throughout the entire Hegemony, living within the geographically defined nations of others. This can, of course, create a truly chaotic state of affairs with a single Skinnie belonging to a tribe that may have its power base situated light years away, owing its allegiance to a nation that defines the entire Hegemony as its territory. Yet this Skinnie may live and work within another nation based in his home city that could be hostile to his own nation. In theory, each Skinnie belongs to one tribe and one nation, though convenience and practicality often takes precedence.

The one thing all Skinnie nations have in common is that they can all be defined by an ever-shifting balance of power. A single very powerful or very remote tribe can form a nation unto itself, while another nation may be ruled by a king whose role is decided by single combat among champions. The differences in the structure and rulership of a nation can be as varied as that of an individual clan.

Every nation has the right, in theory, of representation in the Hegemony’s Council. However, as is the case with much of Skinnie politics, this is rarely clear cut either. A nation may dispatch a champion or set of delegates to the Council in order to speak for its people, while others send their overall leader who will both rule the nation and speak for it within the Council. There has never been a clear ruling of whether a nation has one voice in the Council or many and so some nations, at times, have sent dozens of delegates, while others believe that a single voice is ultimately more powerful. It has even been known for a nation to relinquish its representation in favour of another, either through bribery or threat.[citation needed]

The Council[]

At the heart of the Hegemony lies the Council. The Federation often assumes that the Council is the Skinnie equivalent of Citizenship or, sometimes, SICON, but this is afallacy. Comprising representatives from most nations within the Hegemony, the Council is more of a forum than a rulingbody.

All nations have, in theory, a right to representation though how large a voice they have usually depends on their overall standing and status within Skinnie society. Small nations may have a single, insignificant, representative while very large ones tend to have either dozens of delegates or a single, renowned individual speaking for them. Small nations are leaned upon by the strong while past alliances can cause friction as a nation moves from one camp to another. The nations, therefore, tend to form ‘clusters’ within the Council, often ultimately ruled by a single, very powerful nation.

Additional power can be gained by a nation within the Council by assigning representatives to multi-national bodies, such as trade organizations, scientific delegations or legal panels.

While these are often titles of convenience, temporarily created to solve a single problem, real power can be wielded within, as this is where many of the decisions that affect the Hegemony as a whole are finally made.


The spoken word of the Skinnies is difficult to comprehend even in concept. Formed by alien mouths, the speech has never been successfully duplicated by human interpreters of the Federation and even computerised translators have had only limited success.

This is compounded by the fact that dialects can vary wildly across nations and tribes, making them appear as completely new languages and further throwing human study of the tongue into confusion. Among themselves, Skinnies seem to have no problem with communication, even between tribes normally situated light years apart.

The current Federation theory is that the Skinnies have a psychic capacity that overlays the spoken word, forming a context that humans can never understand. Some SICON scientists have begun to postulate another theory, however. It is suggested that Skinnies have an understanding of the core of their language that enables them to integrate with one another. On first encountering a new tribe, some time will be spent communicating only in base concepts which, in itself, is usually enough for a Skinnie to get what he wants. As time goes on in the company of other Skinnies, he will gradually pick up the nuances of individual dialects by instinct so that communication becomes seamless.

Throughout this study of Skinnie society, culture and military capability, human equivalents have been substituted for real Skinnie terms in order to better familiarize the reader with the concepts covered.


Skinnies are tall, grey-skinned bipeds with thin limbs and knobbly hides. Ranging from seven to nine feet in height these wiry humanoids are covered in a hide with occasional greenish blotches, this coloration seemingly either shifts throughout the Skinnie lifecycle or are a sign of racial variation, similar in nature to the skin tones of humanity.

Their leathery epidermis is pierced in places by protrusions of bone, most commonly on the shoulders, elbows and the length of the spine. Skinnies are completely hairless and do not appear to require surface respiration. Skinnies have a much higher body temperature (45°C/113°F), a temperature that can be fatal to humans. This higher body temperature causes a naked Skinnie to show up on a pair of Federation snoopers like a neon sign.

The appendages of a Skinnie are elongated and, as mentioned above, bear numerous bone protrusions. These protrusions come to distinct points and suggest that while they may not exhibit any pugilistic tendencies now; their ancestors may have been physical hunters at some point in their evolution.

The combination of their long limbs, thick skin and height requires a remarkable efficient cardiopulmonary and respiratory system to ensure proper circulation of gas and fluid to the structures of the body.

Sex traits are almost completely concealed inside a Skinnie’s body and though there is certainly a gender difference as of the dozens of specimens taken during their unprovoked attacks, nearly 50% have been what SICON researchers have determined to be ‘females’. SICON scientists are still not prepared to confirm, however, whether or not Skinnies reproduce sexually.

Skinnies have four joints in every one of their three fingers, improving their manual dexterity by an estimated 12% when compared to that of a human. The most prominent feature of the Skinnie hand is the sweeping talon on the back of the palm, which appears to be similar in nature to the dew claw of a neodog. This fearsome spike is typically between six and eight inches in length, however, some rare specimens have exceeded ten inches.

The unusual traits of the Skinnie hand are mirrored in the pedicular array of this race. While each ‘foot’ has five toes, these are jointed in three places. Skinnie toes splay our in a wide fan with the third or central toe being the longest, at almost 12 inches in length. This fan of toes elevates the ankle joint, as the Skinnies appear to lack any form of heel. As with

Skinnie fingers, each toe is tipped with a sharp cuticle. Skinnies have the same sensory capabilities as human organs; they smell, sight, hear, touch and taste, with the tongue appearing to aid both consumption and communication. Scientists have so far been unable to attribute any function to the mandibles that lie to either side of the Skinnie mouth, filled with a wide row of large incisors. Their other four senses are presumably as sharp as a human’s, though their sense of smell may be far less acute due to the reduced size of a Skinnie’s nasal passages, the nostrils of which are situated between the bulging, close-set ocular organs. Also, given the slightly caustic effect of methane on scent receptors, this would not be a surprising biological adaptation.

It is likely that a Skinnie can see only in the red spectrum, in much the same fashion as dogs; this would certainly explain their proclivity for gaudily colored garments. Hearing is similarly no more acute than a human’s audio sensitivity.

Surprisingly, the structure of their ears, the five jointed appendages, similar to fingers that crest the elongated skull of the Skinnie, does not grant the same ability to sense vibrations outside their normal hearing range. It is possible that their humanoid evolution has robbed them of this capacity or that on their homeworld such a feature was never part of the forebear race they came from originally. Regardless, these ‘fingers’ serve as the Skinnies aural organs, capable of receiving the vibrations of sound waves across their surfaces before transmitting them to the brain. Their tactile senses are in no way limited by their dense layers of skin that covers the Skinnie body. A Skinnie has a thinner layer of skin over his hands, feet and face, while this is still noticeably thicker than the epidermis of a human, an advanced nervous system and a greater propensity of nerve endings seems to have adapted to this. SICON scientists are, however, at a loss to explain this apparent adaptation, as there does not seem to be any biological reason for this degree of sensitivity, suggesting that this adaptation is environmental in nature. It is likely that if the Federation could answer the tactile riddle of the Skinnies, they would learn a lot more about their homeworld.

SICON medical staff have been able to closely examine Skinnie cadavers and in doing so have uncovered a number of microscopic lacerations on the back of the neck. These lacerations have been the subject of special investigation, as the small incisions and discoloration surrounding them form a distinct pattern that match other cadavers autopsied by SICON scientists.

While Military Intelligence would have preferred to perform these examinations directly, it is their opinion that these marks are a form of cultural patterning, much akin to ritualistic scarification seen on Earth before the Disorders. They may indeed have some racial importance, but SICON scientists have made the assertion that these lacerations indicate the presence of a piece of equipment or some other foreign object that ‘disengages’ from the user immediately upon death.

Internal Anatomy[]

While cadavers have been captured for study, only very little is known of Skinnie internal physiology. The Skinnies display a reflex that permits a Skinnie to die at will by activating a gland or organ within their bodies to self-destruct, releasing some kind of putrefying agent into their bloodstream. Indeed, this acidic chemical has made it almost impossible to determine anything substantial about their organs and blood chemistry, as so little of it remains uncorrupted after this toxin has been released. Theoretical anatomical models indicate that Skinnies share many basic biological traits with humanity, but the full extent of that similarity is impossible to accurately gauge. It has been determined from the recovery of Skinnie power suits that the Skinnies are methane breathers, the nature of these suit’s respiratory systems imply that this must be supplied at a constant rate suggesting rapid, shallow breathing is normal for this race. Their respirators cycle pure methane and carry a typical supply that, at the assumed rate of breath for a Skinnie, lasts roughly two hours. This is probably because of the heavy nature of methane and the amount of space it requires for storage. This may explain the rapid nature of Skinnie raids; they do not have time for protracted battles given their limited methane supplies.

Bones and cerebral matter have both been difficult to study as neither is sufficiently intact after Skinnie putrefaction to promote analysis. In the case of a Skinnie brain, decapitation and hydrogen freezing are required to preserve a useful sample, as the decomposing chemicals will work their way into the skull and liquefy it within minutes. Bones will also eventually decay if permitted, but this process takes long enough that even without external preservation they can be examined in detail.

The skeletal structure of a Skinnie is intriguing in its basic yet elegant design. Every joint in the body of a Skinnie is omnijointed through the same uniquely shaped open socket and even their spinal columns are free moving to a certain extent, making them nearly impossible to immobilize. However the constriction of their own muscle mass, which is severely limiting and the thickness of their skin impair their ability to move many parts of their body in alternative directions.

Skinnie bones are not built in layers by their bodies as with human skeletal systems. They are a form of permeable but insoluble organic calcium growth, strong yet uniform in composition. As a Skinnie grows, it is theorized that they add density to their bones through a chemical rebuilding and transport process researchers have yet to fully comprehend. It is known that Skinnie bones are not as resistant to injury as those of a human would be, though they are theoretically also easier and faster to heal.

The brain of a Skinnie is as complex as their bones are simple. Four lobed, as opposed to the human two, and extremely well developed, its overall composition is still very much a mystery to SICON scientists. Through laboratory analysis, it has been determined that every Skinnie dissected at the cerebral level shows no evidence of psychic capability. This thinking has so far been borne out by the fact that Skinnies have never been witnessed exerting any form of mental ability on the battlefield. The Skinnies’ lack of psychic potential, however, makes this race no less worrisome to the Federation and they require continued investigation.


Space Travel[]

The Skinnies have possessed the ability to cross the light years between stars for some centuries, using a star drive similar in concept (though radically different in design) to the Federation’s own Cherenkov Drive. Content to live in their own region of space, they have only travelled to the worlds of other aliens for trade and raiding, depending on the tribe sent on the voyage.

Skinnies, like the Arachnids, have avoided the development of huge starships capable of winning entire wars by themselves. The Federation’s Fleet, therefore, is arguably the undisputed master of space. Instead, the Skinnies tend to build lightning fast raiding craft, the largest of which is capable of transporting an entire tribe to a combat zone. Possessing advanced stealth characteristics, Skinnie craft are designed to avoid combat and approach unseen upon a target, deploying troops and then retreating until needed.

For a Federation that invests so much self-esteem in the building of massive warships, this philosophy seems like a backwards step but the frightening speed by which the Skinnies can attack and dominate a world suggests much that remains unseen by human eyes.


  • The name "Skinny" is a nickname like "Bug". What the formal name of the race "Skinny" is never mentioned.





  • Skinnies Army Book