|Leeder Ecological Network|
Setting: Galactic Crucibles
The complexity of Life shall endure and ever grow
|• Size||1 system|
|• Estimate||2 million|
(summary) THIS PAGE WILL BE CLEANED UP SHORTLY
The Leeder's society is led by four distinct bodies whose Chieftains and higher ranking members meet up regularly to discuss the processes throughout their species (though no formal legislation has ever been recorded or set in stone). Those bodies are the Members Conduit, the Members Nursehold, the Members Ambassador, and the Members Nomad. Law as a distinct system is alien to the Leeders but rather each individual lays their trust in other members of the species, as has been forced due to the 'closeness' of their relations in their complicated physiology. All Leeders belong to one of the four bodies, their placement based upon an agreed evaluation of their skills and history from growing up in Leeder society. Each body is wholly representative of an aspect of Leeder society but none takes over precedent from another, their society is reflective of the complicated gestalt that is their biology of indistinct ownership of the parts within. Elders are generally considered to be higher ranking than Younglings (the Eldest being known as the Chieftain in their area) though as with most legal quandaries in Leeder society this is a loose rule. The Members Conduit are largely found in select areas on the homeworld, Alduor, and as individuals are almost completely immobile. This 'legal' body is responsible for the evaluation of ethics, agreements, and general enquiry that any individual Leeder may have. To deal with this responsibility they raise a large amount of creatures called 'messengers' and 'thought farms'. Thought farms are made up of large bulbous fungi parasites which can take over a part of a Leeders brain, which the Members Conduit purposefully use to organise information by letting their brains be partially eaten and replicated before severing the bulb and planting it in a farm to be kept. Messengers are specially bred smaller semi-sentient creatures with two layers of skin, the first of which opens up to contact with a Leeder's tongue in order to place pheromones another Leeder can read. The Messenger then follows a given sent and delivers itself to the recipient usually as an answer to a question or an invitation to the Thought Farms. The Members Nursehold meanwhile are found wherever there are other Leeders or inside specialised swamp-like environments that function as hospitals for the newly born and the soon to be dead. They are trained by Elders to remember the remedies for every disease and the function of every smaller creature that inhabits their bodies. Whenever a new creature or fatigue is discovered the Members Nursehold are to be alerted, who go on to discuss their ramifications and evaluate with previous knowledge before experimenting further with how the new element functions in relation to other parts of the Leeder's physiology. Other races have criticised the Members Nursehold for animal cruelty but in the eyes of the Leeders this would be considered self-experimentation. They check every safety feature of a technology before it goes into general use.
The Members Ambassador live the furthest away from the homeworld, either orbiting other planets in bioships or if possible integrating themselves into the local culture of other alien races. Due to the gestalt-perspective the Members Ambassador represent a sizeable chunk of the population who not only send out one delegate to another polity, but attempt to recognise as many possible different cultures and aspects of other polities and send out an individual for each one, alongside Nursehold and Conduit members who keep them healthy and organised. In their history of first-contact they have sometimes been mistaken for invasion forces due to the scale of their diplomatic missions.
The Members Nomad represent the miscellaneous 'rest' of the Leeders; the explorers, artists, thrill seekers, builders, and lovers of society. General Leeder lifestyles require a vast amount of change in scenery and social crowds and there are often mass circulations of groupings constantly moving about their homeworld and few colonies. The Nomad's express purpose is to be the preservers of culture in society, and as such they often seek to share their forms of art and utility with anyone they can find to mention it to. Makeshift hostels are found throughout the large forests and swamps on Alduor, and the Nomads are often very unrelenting on their social pressures to be a part of the community and world around them. To be an introverted Leeder would be thought of as a grave debilitating illness in their culture. In summation; four groups within society, each holding to general rankings of Chieftains > Elders > Younglings on a political sense, with the Chieftains holding regular (seasonal) counsels, and the Elders teaching the Younglings, whilst all intermingle with each other. Law is very loose for the Leeders, but crime is also very rare due to how their physiology relies on a larger community.
QUESTIONS Q: Is each caste biological, or simply a reflection of their societal role? Can you move around between these groups, or are you set for life? A: Each caste has a biological distinction, but these are manifested later in life after you’ve chosen your role. So, both. But more in line with what I think you’re asking; it isn’t from birth. Individuals can move around between these groups however it will take some time for you to fully ‘adapt’ to a new role as doing so effectively requires several ‘transplants’ of creatures housed inside of the Leeders themselves. Q: Suitably very alien and very different from other government types I've seen here. It does seem a bit difficult to put my finger on what type of government this might be best classed as, but I don't necessarily see that as a detractor. A: I think this form of government comes closest to a kind of tribal-esque clans system, with the exception that there’s free movement between all of the four clans. Q: It's not my place to judge the administrative skills of the Leeders, but despite the rankings the society doesn't seem very hierarchical. How exactly do they co-ordinate collective action? A: Collective action is organised through the Chieftain Councils sending commands out to the other Members. As they are considered the wisest they are usually listened to, but some may decide not to follow, and this won’t be punished. As a whole, collective action is rare and done usually out of necessity as they don’t see a need for it otherwise. This is one of the reasons they haven’t spread very far despite existing for quite some time. Q: On that note, I noticed positions such as the Members Nuresehold care for the soon-to-be-dead. Does all members receive such services as a right? A: The Nursehold care for all who come to them, unless the Chieftain or trusted Elders say otherwise. However this isn’t as much of a problem as people might think due to the low population of the Leeders, their long lifespans, and the many available ‘replacement parts’ from others willing to donate their organ-creatures (as often happens without Nursehold involvement). Q: What about other things such as general healthcare and defence? Are there particular members who specialise in that? Do the councils ensure such members are provided for? A: General healthcare is maintained by the Nursehold and all they teach. In a struggle the Members Nomad would be the first to take to the line of fighting, but the Leeders have seen little wars in their time and a ‘police force’ is just as alien to them as distinct law is. The Members Conduit would assure the allocation of resources in such events and will also send out messages of when a particular Members clan is low in numbers. Q: The low crime rate. I feel like even very communalistic societies will have deviants or people forced (or who feel forced) to go against the community; perhaps even more so, since a communalistic society would have a lower bar for what constitutes deviation. But as I alluded, I may be thinking about it the wrong way. A: I indeed think that this is the wrong way to think about it. The Leeders have an extremely communal society yes, but this is based on extraversion and shared biological components. ‘Law’ is very loosely defined and basically comes down to what the Members Conduit outline and who chooses to follow it and how closely they do so. The bar for ‘deviation’ is extremely high in most cases and it’s a bit of a culture shock to other civilisations in what is considered ‘okay’ to do. Even murder is allowed as long as the killer is achieving something by it and takes on part of the deceased’s organs/organ-creatures in order to remember them. The closest to a true crime would be entrapment and environmental destruction, which goes against almost all lifestyle aims in Leeder society. Q: Is the summary accurate? If so, I have a similar question to Rob's. Who fulfills the other elements that a modern society requires, such as engineers, education, defence, etc.? A: The summary is accurate, but it’s missing things. The Conduit are also philosophers and judges. The Nursehold are also parents. The Ambassadors are also archivists (just about other cultures). The Nomad are also the builders. Areas like engineering will be within the Nomads. Education is done by the ‘elders’ in their specific areas, rather than a formal communal system. Defence is an area they generally lack in, as ‘wars’ haven’t happened to them on such a scale. They have a biological harmony with nature and so don’t fight for resources or territory, and no large ideology has ever taken hold further than the embracing of themselves as part of nature.
In their evolution to mega-gargantuan sizes the Leeders themselves have braced themselves against the elements naturally, and so have no outright need for shelter. This comes across as an odd way of life among the rest of the galaxy's inhabitants, as any tourists coming to their homeworld need to bring camping equipment instead of being shown a hotel, or anything remotely comfortable. But although they don't have strict homes they do have some infrastructure, in a sense, but these are far spread due to the low population and the nature of their often travelling lifestyles. If one were to map a 'city' they would see incredible distances and patches where nothing but the forests and jungle and cliffs are between them, hardly 'urban' to an outsider.
Across their world they form large wide footpaths of down-trodden earth (sometimes these swell into small rivers) where the vegetation is compressed into compost. These footpaths interconnect to every other point of interest, and so a map or region of a Leeder 'town' or 'city' looks like nodes on a highly interconnected network.
Previously mentioned 'thought farms' made up of neuro-mushrooms growing half a Leeder's height and continuing in plots take up long distances, meanwhile swamp-like basins containing the nests of many other creatures are made for the Nursehold to help with their operations and care. Obelisks, sometimes taller than themselves, are made in conjunction with drum-panes on the ground, to make what are effectively 'music' centres that can be heard from the horizon. And beyond this individuals, usually Nomads, create intriguing sculptures or designs that others may mistake for buildings. Other than the buildings listed above the only note-worthy exemption is of the recent space-ports where the Ambassadors come and go, often made in expansive deserts to not effect the surrounding ecosystems. These are more similar to a traditional Senate space-port due to their affiliation with space travel and other cultures, but the Ambassadors encourage each polity and race that visits to lay their own mark on the port to show themselves as part of a wider culture and history. Q: How might they accommodate for visitors who cannot naturally survive in the environment?
As the space ports themselves have been built up for as long as the Second Senate has been in power there are many parts that have been built as pressure chambers and heat sinks and other ventilation requirements. These living areas are usually quite cramped and only a small number (say, 150 to each specialised environment at each space port) can stay there indefinitely if they do not have suits or other gear for environmental protection. However the Ambassadors do make a point of attempting to continuously build extensions to these buildings and ordering suits from each race's polity that provides them, allowing some guests to stay in these conditions for much cheaper than the more 'authentic' camping experience that Leeders try to entice people towards. These suits and things often have to be rented out on a booking schedule due to their limited supply, but as time goes by these space ports become more accommodating to a wider number of races, with already over 250 sentient species accounted for in these specialised accommodations. A Leeder spaceport probably feels a fair bit more tourist-y than most. Ave06/21/2018 Q: How much of the planet's surface is covered by these cities? How much is left to nature?
The planet's surface itself is around 80% landmasses and 20% water (though a good portion of those landmasses are flood plains and swamps). The cities have been made to cover around 40% of the landmasses, which makes about roughly a third of the planet that could be considered part of the Leeder cities. Though that isn't to say that the Leeders don't stray further from these parts. The second part of this question doesn't make a lot of sense from the Leeder perspective though. These cities are very low density and the Leeder mindset is of being one with nature. The buildings they make often very much involve the nature around them and any purely artificial aspects are very much pinpoints on a map. The average Leeder would say that all of the world bar the space ports have been left to nature, but the space ports are placed in barren areas anyway. If you were to ask if there's any areas unaffected by the Leeders presence, then you might get an answer closer to "just under half of the landmass of the planet", but it's an awkward question since they are a vital part of an extremely complicated ecosystem. Ave06/21/2018 Q: How are visitors asked to leave their mark on the Space Ports?
When anyone travels to the planet they often have to plan ahead, rather than just popping up randomly, due to the specialised accommodation limits mentioned in response to Kray's question. In this planning the Leeders often request that the visitors bring some item of their cultural heritage (major or minor it doesn't matter) or just something personal to them to be added to a large collection that decorates the entirety of a space port. There are many walls that are placed up purely for painters and graffiti to be made, meanwhile most items get placed around the corridors and entrance ways making the place look like an extremely diverse market where nothing is (strictly speaking) for sale (though visitors are allowed to trade items so that the space port isn't at a loss for these marks). There is also a museum section to the space ports where certain artifacts can be preserved with more care if the visitor so desires, as while vandalism is frowned upon due to it messing with the cultural import it isn't made illegal and represents more of the change that nature brings. These are the typical ways in which Ambassadors ask visitors to leave their marks, although they do get very excited when visitors suggest something different to the usual marks that people leave and will try their hardest to accommodate for these 'oddities'. Ave06/21/2018 Q: What is Leeder industry like?
Leeder industry is a very slow process. Low population combined with a kind of 'Live and let live' demeanour combined with generally nomadic lifestyles means that individuals come and go as they please from various projects, sometimes very absent mindedly. Progress does get made by the most determined individuals, who sometimes form groups, and generally individuals will conform to the orders set by Elders and Chieftains, but this is far from the quick and hardworking industries present in most societies. It is rather expected of everyone to give something to society, but what this is in particular doesn't matter and is entirely up to the individual. Some thought farms can probably track back a few tens of thousands of years but most of it looks the same to an outsider due to the slow nature of their progress. The only exemption to this is the space ports where other races often lend a hand to the production of not only the space ports themselves but the Leeder's own bio-spaceships that were at first carried into space by other polities lending a helping hand. Cargo shipping would be a bit of a different matter that comes and goes regularly since they aren't staying for prolonged periods of time (usually) meanwhile larger passenger transports would still be by appointment, it's just that the appointment made is on a more company level rather than an individual/small group level that being said, those that do have camping equipment who don't require the specialised environments are more free and numerous to come and go, but the Ambassadors like to keep track of who visits and for how long and what they leave behind I imagine travelling to the Leeder homeworld is a lot like visiting a national park to some degree, with all the signs asking people not to mess the place up, except that the people who run it literally sleep in the middle of the forests
ENTERTAINMENT As a general rule it’s easier to outline what Leeders don’t enjoy rather than what they do enjoy: -When it comes to musical tastes they find pieces with more instruments to be inherently more calming. This comes from their environment within which they notice each of the distinct parts adding to a whole. Listening to a cacophony of nonsense instruments banging together would soothe a Leeder, whereas listening to single instruments play would be unsettling and morose (no matter how well it’s played or in which way). -Active physical sports often aren’t tailored to the huge slow-moving bodies of the Leeders, and so it’s generally given that they don’t themselves play sports. However, they can train their organ-creatures to take part in those sports, to which other cultures are often disturbed and confused at the rulings of how a ‘Team Leeder’ would work in their competitions since the ‘whole’ individual is never competing.
It is a bit easier to say what they enjoy when it comes to the separate cultural bodies, however; -The Members Conduit will often enjoy reliving past memories in the Thought Farms and be awash with nostalgia and linking thematic points together across the mushroom fields, whilst also taking pleasure in massages over their nearly-immobile bodies. -The Members Nursehold will take enjoyment out of studying the smaller creatures in their ecosystems and how they interact with each other. Observing the smaller creatures hunting or playing with each other will bring the same amount of fascination. -The Members Ambassador are where the ‘foreign export’ equivalents will be. They would enjoy each facet of fashion, cuisine, sport, and information as long as it’s born of another world. -And finally the Members Nomad try to enjoy and appreciate every aspect of life, though the individual Nomads get incredibly invested in particular niches of arts and crafts and often continue in their particular hobbies for years at a time.
How unusual is it for members of each caste participate in the preferred entertainment of another? Is this more common among Nomads? It is not unusual by any stretch, but rather the 'preferred' is just what is most popular between them each. Though the Nomads will make a point of including forms of entertainment that appear to be waning.
What autonomy do the organ-creatures have? How does this effect sports and such? This depends on the specific organ-creature; some are completely dependent on Leeders for their higher functioning thoughts and drives (usually the scavengers) in a kind of uplifting-mind-control, while others are left mostly to their own devices which just so happen to be beneficial to the Leeder as a whole, and between them a middle ground of creatures that are beneficial and kept to the Leeders side by pheromone-addiction. In sports it is mostly the Scavenging types that are used, in a manner similar to dog-talent-shows with a higher degree of control.
What are Leeder instruments like? First and foremost, they are loud. If a Leeder is celebrating then the whole forest around them will know. Nomads often construct large drum-like structures that the Leeders themselves walk onto to produce loud booming marching effects. Though also in turn there are craftsmen who construct large obelisks with many tiny holes to produce a chorus of whistles of any tone, with higher pitches requiring more skill. And then of course they add their vocals into the mix, which often sounds horrendous. And via pheromones they attempt to make all the animals around them sing along. Is their musical taste tied to survival instincts? Yes, very much so. Leeders cannot survive without the abundance of nature and other animals that makes up their inner-ecosystem, and as a result of this the subconscious lesson learned is "move to where things are making noise", especially as they are the largest beasts of the land and have no predators to fear.
Would pitch/tone/timbre effect enjoyment? The main factor in enjoying their music is how hectic, noisy, and full it can be. What those noises are specifically doesn't really matter to them. Though if using instruments and noises they haven't heard before then they will find it odd, but nonetheless soothing. The less going on in a song, the more concern there is that nature is not with them. Ave05/29/2018 Is there any degree of cultural separatism among the castes? It seems that these are sort of co-equal societies forming a meta-society, as opposed to different facets of one large culture. I wouldn't agree with this assessment. For one thing, each of these castes performs roles that the others rely on to keep their society going. Further, they each intermingle with each other very often. The castes define what they are on a more partial-biological and career level but beyond this they share their interests and goals with each other. If any Leeder were to resign themselves away from interacting with another then this would be seen not as impolite but as concerning illness due to their interdependence, and so any kind of cultural separatism would be seen as a mass pandemic by either side.
UTOPIA/DYSTOPIA Stemming from their highly complicated and intricate ecosystem and their societal and individual needs for immense interdependence, the Leeders often like to envision this complexity brought about on the scale of the entire galaxy. The appreciation not only for nature but for being a part of it is often seen by the Leeders as the highest of form of enlightenment. In some discussions between Ambassadors and other races they have posited that the super-species ecology formed on their own world is only like a third step up the 'higher evolutionary rankings' towards a full blown perfection in a 'galactic-ultra-ecosystem'. In their far flung futures they see every world being terraformed, not into the same terrain as theirs, but as something that plays a part in the higher functions of a system where biological starships pollinate the sky and every world (or every star, for the more fantastical) if populated with beings that exchange in terms of nature every day. Though through their knowledge of nature they understand that such a utopia is a very far flung future indeed, possibly a billion years away if things go smoothly, but they are very content with being the current furthest step on the way, and they would love to see some form of their successors take hold (in particular, their bio-ship projects). On the other side however, they see great existential threats in the artificial and isolationist natures of many races they have contacted. Many polities give off an eery and unnatural aura to the Leeders due to the minimal parts of fauna and flora that are found in spaceships and orbital stations, and if this were to stay the standard, or sway even further to the artificial, then the Leeders would be very concerned. Any race that separates itself from it's biosphere, in any way rising up or disconnecting from it, is the living embodiment of their nightmares.
These higher values and threats have played heavily into their political relations, with many attempts made to get themselves closer to the likes of the Zambarau, meanwhile every attempt to bring the Estin back from the perceived brink. It should also be noted that they are not specifically against the notions of robots and AI, they just want them to be integrated into nature somehow rather than be disconnected. And they also see no need for re-populating extinct species, with a similar attitude to "they had their chance" and that if by law of nature they went away, then by law of nature they should stay away.
UESS/Leeder Common Ground?
The Leeders aren't opposed to smart/true AI or robotic labour as long as they serve the biosphere in some way. So on this issue it would depend on the specific case of whether the opinions are shared. As for the naturalistic vision of the universe, though they might share the broader categories of beliefs a good many of the specifics are vastly different; they don't believe in a life energy or star gods or anything of the kind, and while they are indeed open to learning about such things they rarely take it beyond an Ambassador's fascination. There is also much about the UESS that is rather beyond the Leeders' ways; the massive infrastructure and military capabilities are something which the Leeders don't really comprehend at this point in time and so when these topics are brought up they can be anywhere between confused to nervous.
As I see it, the Leeders don't have a lot of common ground with the UESS, but this isn't to say that they're against anything the UESS stands for. Ave07/29/2018 How obnoxious is the average Leeder with respect to "naturalizing" artificial species?
Back on their home planet the Leeders usually greet each other formally through the swapping of an organ-creature or two. When this came to greeting alien races who are rather "singular" in their biology on the macro-scale this originally became a problem as a Leeder would leave one of it's organ creatures to run around a ship that couldn't take care of it. Since then they've come to observe more complex behaviours and with that understanding they instead leave "less messy" creatures around; plants of some sort, usually. They will /always/ try to deposit a plant somewhere on a ship, though they do make it known and they don't try to hide them anywhere. Refusing this offer is quite disrespectful in Leeder culture, but if you insist they won't do so, but that will create a reputation among the Leeders for the individuals (and possibly who they represent) for being harsh. If a race has a reputation for being more artificial than naturally inclined then more ambassadors will attempt to contact and visit them more often, but they don't force their way onto ships or leave tens of plants and creatures behind each time. - Ave07/29/2018 To what extent would a planet be considered terraformed by the Leeders? Do they have to be lush forests and jungles or would underground ecosystems beneath wastes be considered acceptable?
Referencing back to the 'higher evolutionary rankings' that I mentioned in the post, I think that the Leeders would never see terraforming resulting in a completed state, but instead a process that some ecosystems are further along than others. Whether that ecosystem is within jungles or deep ocean or sky-bound I don't think they care, but they take into consideration how advanced the life is (single celled, multi-celled, scale, etc.) alongside the coverage of the planet with that life. A surface-barren asteroid with an underground ecosystem would be acceptable, but it'd be even better if the surface could have life as well, but they'd also think that about any planet where's there's an inhospitable patch. The terraforming is never finished for the Leeders, and that's why they're attempting to become part of a more complicated ecosystem with the bio-ships. - While the Vaikan would be happy to accept terraforming they lack a budget to be capable themselves, and rely on nanovaccines to survive in some places. I could see some split here with Leeder philosophy.
I can as well, but not where I presume you're thinking. While it would be disappointing for a Leeder to hear that you lack a budget for terraforming (after all, it would be their main budget if their economy worked like that), they definitely wouldn't despise you for using nanovaccines and still going to those planets. Leeders would still consider the Vaikan themselves to be part of a biosphere and if they're capable of bringing themselves to other worlds then that's already a start. They wouldn't be against the robotics because they're helping in that cause as well. The place I see the split is that the Leeders would say they have some priorities out of order, something along the lines of "you don't need to get yourself there as long as the life begins to flourish there", but the Vaikan are still achieving part of the Leeder aims in even colonising other worlds. Ave07/29/2018 - What would be the Leeders stance on genetic engineering?
I think they would be very unsure of it. Leeder technology has a very odd skewing as while they have (to an extent) managed to create STL travel and radio towers to contact other races with, most of their technology would seem extremely primitive by comparison since they use mostly organic components found in nature to deal with things. They've discovered smelting and various construction techniques but microscopes are beyond them (though they were aware of micro-organisms due to other discoveries through natural methods). They would see genetic engineering as a very powerful tool and I imagine there is vigorous debate over it's usage. I imagine that officially they'd be against it's use as it's interfering far too much in the inherent nature of the ecosystem and could mess things up a lot if things go badly, though I also see a number of proponents for it in the cases of populating previously uninhabitable areas with new species that are adapted to the new area.
I see that as the coming stance that's slowly overtaking; genetic engineering can be used to create or adapt species to new environments, but that species as they are should be left in existence and not replaced artificially with the new breeds. As for livestock I think it wouldn't be any more of a problem than usual livestock; as long as the conditions allow then to interact with the environment and retain connection to the ecosystem then things are good. - What if a species doesn't go extinct 'by law of nature'?
In the cases of pest control, extermination, and other disastrous artificial attacks on the biosphere (ie, nukes, climate warfare, pollution) the Leeders would see it as fitting that any species which died of the incident should be returned to their place with the cost of such efforts belonging to the party which committed the actions leading to the loss of the species. In the case of where the environment has changed so much that the species cannot return (such as radiation, heat, cold, or further extreme changes) then the Leeders admit that there isn't much they can do in such a case, but insist that the parties which caused such things should be held to helping the biosphere continue or advance in some way. Ave07/29/2018 - Are there any particular Senate/Diplomatic programmes the Leeders pursue in relation to their vision of utopia?
Terraforming and colonisation efforts are usually pursued by the Leeders for this purpose, as are programmes which promote the sharing of cultures and resources across the galaxy. The Leeders are also avid promoters of uplifting primitive civilisations to galactic status and giving help so those societies can join the Senate, especially as the Leeders themselves have benefitted from a partial uplifting on behalf of the Senate which gave them more ready access to FTL spaceships and further communications and research into previously unseen parts of their homeworld.
When it comes to matters outside of ecosystems the Leeders stand anywhere between neutral and avidly protesting which has caused some concern when the Leeders have effectively 'set back' some matters in relation to piracy and slavery because of their "live and let live" morality, which gives them an initial annoyance at formal mandated and enforced laws that people have to abide by. - Is the regression of the Zambarau a cause for concern? What's their view on the defunct Mbili?
I can't recall the information on how the Zambarau fell from their peak and what happened (or the state of the mbili), but it would definitely be a cause for concern since the Leeders view the Zambarau as a more integrated ecosystem than their own. The Leeders would be seeing the downfall of a polity which they regard as largely superior to their own in terms of morality, ecology, and biology. It isn't a situation which inspires hope in the Leeders, to be sure.
The specifics may alter that opinion a bit, especially dependent on what the purposes of the megastructures were.
It has been said of the Leeders that their culture 'lacks even the potential for religion' due to their language lacking any words that could isolate the meaning of 'spiritual' and the thorough absence of systemised and formal celebrations or behaviours beyond the caste system. Though these facts are true, those who claim that the Leeders are simply empiricists who only believe what is physically perceived, or nihilists who think that life has no meaning, are definitely wrong.
Although there are no routine celebrations they engage in or collective cultural landmarks (besides the space ports) there are researchers who equate religion in Leeder culture to being the behaviours and stances they have towards ecology and biology. They believe that life is meaningful for-itself and should be spent nurturing and exploring life in some way (which opposes the nihilist claims), whilst also believing sans-evidence that life is present, and if not then possible, on all scales from the subatomic to the extra-cosmic. Though whether this truly is religious and not just cultural is up for debate.
Where other cultures would have festivals for death, birth, seasons, or remembrance, the Leeders instead are much more likely to have a 'live in the moment' attitude, often resulting in laidback attitude that can come across as disrespectful to those cultures which honour the past or the future and developments within them. The notable exception to this may seem to be the Members Conduit who do effectively live in the past for their constant memory-gazing, but the motivations behind this are usually for fun or figuring out current problems rather than respecting the lives of the once-lived. Are the above values universal among Leeders?
It is extremely profoundly rare to find a Leeder who does not conform to the beliefs above, though saying they don't exist would be incorrect. There should also be a point made that while there are no formal celebrations in Leeder culture that this does not equate to there being no celebrations, it's only that those celebrations are on a much more personal rather than social level.
Are these beliefs necessary for fully participating in Leeder society?
This is a bit of a grey area, in a way. It's technically possible to adhere to Leeder behaviours and society between the functions of the four castes and so on whilst not believing in their values, but their values are what motivated this kind of particular society. I would say that it is possible to participate in Leeder society without them, but that it would be akin to having a set of hobbies you do which "aren't in your heart".
Have Leeders been known to participate in other religions?
Only the Ambassadors have really taken the time to go so deeply into another race/polity's way of life. Though again the difference between whether they are merely participating without belief for the sake of culture or if they truly believe the practices has not been seen. The assumption is that they mostly imitate the followers of those religions, which has led to some disputes of whether they should be allowed onto the holy grounds of some other religions. What is the Leeder view on death from a spiritual perspective?
Leeders view death not as an end to one's being entirely, but as a continual transfer of which they are only one part. Some say this is akin to a less mystic form of reincarnation, but the key difference is that they have a different view of 'self' to the other races. Their organ-creatures go on to live in others of their species, their main 'husks' decompose into nature, their actions reverberate throughout history towards their dream of utopia, and often their memories and personalities are kept in some way by the fungi (though this is more of a repeating-shadowy-memory rather than any kind of personhood, at least most of the time).
If pushed to answer what they feel about a personal death then they might answer that they die on the existential level every time one of their organ-creatures is swapped out. Their answer to the 'ship of theseus' problem is that the ship should be renamed every time a plank is swapped out. How does their view on death fit into the meaning they give to life?
They see it as part of the necessary cycle of change and advancement. If prompted you would hear that while it is all and well being alive, if one being were to be immortal then they would be somewhat separated from nature itself, which is in no way a good position in their values. They would point out to the many extinctions that allowed for further advancement of other species, and how each effects the environment differently which leads to the further propagation of more interesting life forms.
To them, life and nature without death is static, and may as well not be nature in the first place as things won't be changing at anywhere near the same pace, or experiencing them in at all the same way. To see a Leeder grieving would be almost as odd to see a Leeder who is introverted; a grave concerning illness not befitting them. That isn't to say it's something naturally hidden away though, most Leeders just move on extremely quickly with these things due to prior mentioned views on the self.