"Gloppy" is a generic term used by humans to describe a range of intelligent sea-dwelling races. "Glop" is not their actual name but a noise that they make, which humans have come to know them by. The most commonly known form of Gloppy are called by humans "True" Gloppies. They are shore dwelling and have co-existed with fishing communities for centuries.
Basically humanoid, True Gloppies stand, on average, 5'6" (168cm) tall and are quite slender but despite their small stature they are slightly stronger than the average human. Their skin, which is hairless and quite tough and scaly, ranges in tone from a deep mottled purple to light green-blue. Their fingers and toes are webbed, and fin-like extrusions extend from their shoulders to elbows and down their sides from mid-torso to knees. The males have short crest like protrusions from forehead down to mid-back, and that is the only visible difference between the sexes as genitals are kept inside the body except when mating. Their eyes (which are usually a darker shade of their skin tone with no whites) have no lids, they have no noses, their mouths are small rounded orifices and they have no external ears. Their necks are nearly as broad as their heads, with three gill-slits extending across their throats, and they use these organs to smell as well as breath. They can secrete a noxious liquid from glands in their wrists to ward off predators.
Gloppies have a fairly primitive society, organised at the village level, where the elders form an informal council with the eldest as spokesperson. They don't consider themselves to be a nation, indeed many groups pay taxes and are considered citizens of the local land-based group, for example Llaza. They live in caves and holes that are either fully or partially underwater. Some of these are artificially created.
They don't wear clothing but instead have one or two bandoleers with straps and pouches for equipment and goods. The like to decorate themselves by piercing scales with jewellery. Their weaponry is typically a harpoon or long dagger. They mate and lay their eggs on land and they will often negotiate with local villages to leave their mating grounds alone at certain times of the year.
Gloppies do not mate for life but instead change partners from year to year. Everyone in the local group gathers on a beach and the elders oversee the males in competitions of strength, agility, poetry and storytelling. The females then choose partners (occasionally fights break out between them but not often) and find somewhere private to copulate. A week later the females will return to the beach guarded by the males where they will lay one egg each and bury it. It is left to chance to decide which survive, and when it is time for the eggs to hatch the adults gather in the sea close by and the hatchlings are welcomed into the community as a group. Parents do not take individual responsibility for offspring. They use their sophisticated sense of smell to prevent interbreeding with close relatives.
They often work closely with fishermen and merchants and trade a number of goods like pearls, shellfish seaweed and "seabone" (see sidebar). The goods they particularly seek to trade from humans are gold and jewels for their body decoration, manufactured metal items and, as discussed above, privacy. They make valuable scouts for navies as they are capable of swimming long distances without stopping and some even work as shipwrights.
Gloppies communicate amongst themselves with dolphin-like clicks, whistles and "glop" sounds (see sidebar). These sounds are mostly incomprehensible to humans although some who live and work closely with them can understand simple sounds. The Gloppies themselves can issue only a few simple human sounds although they understand most human tongues. Most inter-species communication is done by sign language that has developed over many years but is far from standardised, a human fisherman from Llaza who can understand a local Gloppy fairly well would probably have no idea what a Gloppy from one hundred miles down the coast was signing.
They have no writing but they have a rich oral history and singing tradition, although Gloppy singing is not very easy on human ears. Despite their political disunity it is said that a song sung for the first time somewhere will have reached the ears of all Gloppies before the week is out. This is exaggerated but it is true that Gloppie song can be heard by other Gloppies miles away underwater.
In their own language they are simply "!()" - "The People", their personal names are awarded in the first few weeks as their individual personalities develop and some examples are: Bluestorm, Sharkmind, Happysong, Greencalm etc.