Today marks the official release of the highly anticipated video game ‘Defiance’, a tie-in to the upcoming SyFy drama of the same name that premieres on April 15th. To celebrate the game’s release, and to get you ready for the premiere (and, let’s be honest, because I’m killing time before I can get to Gamestop to pick up my copy), I thought it would be a good idea to introduce all of you to the characters and races you’ll be meeting in just a couple weeks. All descriptions and photos from the official SyFy website.
First, how bout a little overview of the series itself to give you a jumping off point …
In the year 2046, it’s a new Earth – with new rules. Over thirty years after various alien races arrived on Earth, the landscape is completely altered, terraformed nearly beyond recognition. To the town of Defiance, on what used to be St. Louis, comes the mysterious Nolan (Grant Bowler) and his charge, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas). As they settle into town – overseen by the mayor, Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) and filled with residents like the powerful Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene), enterprising lounge owner Kenya (Mia Kirshner) and the ambitious, alien Tarrs (Tony Curran and Jaime Murray) – events begin to unfold that threaten the fragile peace this border town has fought for.
Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz)
Amanda Rosewater is the Mayor of Defiance. Every day, she uses her political wits to give this struggling town a chance for survival. Born in New York in 2011, Amanda shouldered a great responsibility at an early age, serving as a stand-in parent for her sister when their mother and father died during the Pale Wars.
Adrift in a post-war world, Amanda eventually heard of a town where humans and Votans were attempting to coexist. She traveled to Defiance and accepted a job cleaning the mayor’s office. Despite these humble beginnings, she so impressed then-Mayor Nicolette Riordon that, upon her retirement, Nicky appointed Amanda to finish out her term. Now, Amanda is determined to maintain peace in the community, an ambitious task in this deadly new world.
Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler)
Joshua Nolan is a former lieutenant in the Earth Military Coalition who fought in the alien conflict. Born prior to the Arks’ arrival, he saw his comfortable life turned upside down when the war between the humans and Votans began. The conflict took its toll, and in the aftermath of Arkfall, he found himself a wanderer in a dangerous new world. There he was joined by Irisa, a young Irathient he raised as his own, and who served as his lone companion in the lawless badlands.
Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas)
An attractive Irathient woman, Irisa is Nolan’s tacit second in command. Smart, independent and feisty, Irisa still struggles with the weight of her unusual upbringing. A drifter since birth, she only stays in Defiance due to the loyalty she feels for Nolan.
Nolan has encouraged Irisa to leave behind her traumatic past. He rescued her at a young age, and the two have been inseparable ever since.
Datak Tarr (Tony Curran)
Datak Tarr is the primary figure in Defiance’s underworld, running everything from gambling to weapons smuggling and organized crime. True to his Castithan ways, Datak is always on the lookout for opportunities that allow him to get his hooks into people so he can later manipulate them to his own ends.
Born into a lower caste on his homeworld, Datak was a survivor who found his way onto an Ark despite his low standing. There he met Stahma, who admired his instincts, and the two became husband and wife. Once they arrived in Defiance, he used brute force and wits to establish a powerful business interest in the town. More than anything, Datak desires legitimacy and a better future for his family.
Stahma (Jamie Murray)
The wife of Datak Tarr, one of the most powerful men in Defiance, Stahma is beautiful and loyal, the perfect picture of a Castithan wife. Beneath the surface, however, lies a dark side that is ready to break from the traditional roles assigned her by her caste.
Having met Datak during her voyage on an Ark, Stahma aided him in his business during the Pale Wars. When the fighting ended, the two found themselves among a group of migrant settlers and eventually settled in Defiance. There, Stahma plays the part of the dutiful wife while secretly harboring her own ambitions.
Kenya (Mia Kirshner)
Kenya is the beautiful spitfire who runs the NeedWant, the town’s bar and brothel. Self-assured and dauntless, she has an unwavering devotion to the town that has inexorably woven her into many of its complicated affairs.
Growing up, Kenya rebelled by making trouble and embracing her sexuality. When Kenya arrived in Defiance, she took up residence at the NeedWant, eventually becoming its proprietor. She has a keen insight into the needs of others, but a blind spot when it comes to her own emotions.
Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene)
Rafe McCawley is Defiance’s richest and most powerful human – a mine owner whose family has been in this territory for generations. Raised by a tough-as-nails father, Rafe disobeyed his father’s wishes and enlisted. After the Pale Wars, he took his wife and burgeoning family back to his home of St. Louis, now barely recognizable due to terraforming. He longs for the world as it was before the Votans arrived.
As one of the founders of Defiance, Rafe has amassed a considerable fortune in the mining business, and now seeks to exert his influence and champion the advancement of his family in the town’s political sphere.
Those are the major players, but they are by no means the entire cast. As with any society, the next generation plays a big part in the ongoing struggles of its people, especially a society as racially split as Defiance. To see the rest of the cast, and to take a virtual tour around Defiance, check out the SyFy page.
And speaking of racial tensions, I’ve mentioned quite a few new, obviously alien races which will be joining the humans on this brave new Earth. Let’s talk about them for a second. The seven alien races, as a whole, are referred to as Votans. They came to Earth in Arks when their star system was destroyed. They traveled for 5,000 years in hypersleep, and finally landed on Earth, where they are trying to make a go of things with the remaining humans.
The Castithans are the most humanoid of the races, though their pale skin is a dead give away that they are not, in fact human. They are a deeply devout and spiritual race, whose strict religious dogma largely defines and separates them from the other Votans. When they evacuated their planet, only the highest castes of Castithans were allowed to escape, leaving those of the lower classes behind to die. For this reason, they believe they are the rightful leaders of the Votan Collective.
The Indogene are the most technologically advanced of the races, and though they bare the closest resemblance to the Castithans, they couldn’t be more different. Where the Castithans believe in a single deity, Indogenes are largely athiests, due to their intense belief in science and technology. Also, unlike the Castithans, the Indogenes chose to save their best and brightest, those who would make the greatest contribution to their diminished society. They chose to stay on the Arks after the others had left to go to Earth. As a result, most of the Indogene race was killed when the Arks were destroyed, and so they are the smallest in number.
Another humanoid race, the Irathient people possess and affinity for nature, and a nature aptitude for tribal warfare. In fact, said tribal warfare was exactly how they chose who among them was worthy of survival (sort of like a Hunger Games-esque scenario). While their coloration is closer to that of humans than the Castithans, their facial proportions are distinctly different. They deeply spiritual, but their spirituality is much different, and far more personal than that of the Castithans. The Irathients tend to get along well with the Sensoth and Liberata, because they evolved on the same planet, and peacefully co-existed on it for many generations. The Irathients can’t stand the Castithan, whom they see as arrogant, as their rigidly hierarchical and ordered society and culture is the opposite of the chaotic, independent-minded society and culture of the Irathients.
The Liberata are slightly shorter than humans, with blockier facial features and long scruffy yellow hair. They are described as a servant-class race, though they were once economically very powerful in the Votan star system. Their own avarice led to the ecological and social collapse of their society. Present-day Liberata humbly consider their present-day status as menial laborers and servants as deserved atonement resulting from the mistakes of their ancestors. The Liberata have a polytheistic religion focusing on the basic needs of life, however, their social collapse while in the Votanis system, combined with their relatively low numbers in the evacuation fleet, resulted in very few of their religious traditions surviving on Earth. Instead, the Liberata ended up borrowing many religious traditions from their planet-mates, the Sensoth and Irathients.
The Liberata are the servants of choice for the hierarchical Castithans, who find that the Liberata’s labor-class work ethic and resignation to being servants in society fits well the the Castithan’s own attitude that they are a superior ruling class. Because they were not politically powerful when the evacuation fleet was being organized, many of the Liberata who were let onto the Arks did so in exchange for contracts of indentured servitude with the Castithans.
Slightly larger and taller than humans, they basically resemble a more humanoid orangutan. Their bodies are covered in reddish-brown fur, except on their faces, which have grayish skin. Their jaws protrude further forward than on humans, like apes. Like the Liberata and Gulanee, they were not one of the more powerful Votan races.
An energy based race. Like the Sensoth and Liberata, they were not politically strong when the exodus from the Votanis system was being planned, and very few were present in the evacuation fleet. The Gulanee are exceedingly rare on Earth, to the point that the Votanis Collective is officially considered to be made up of five races, excluding the Gulanee (who would have been the sixth). Instead, the handful of Gulanee on Earth are spread out amongst the other Votan groups.
A race of automatons, disliked by all of the other Votan races, and the closest thing to a straightforward “villain” race. During the Pale Wars, the aliens deployed these automatons to gain an edge on human militaries of Earth, robots who effectively make up the seventh Votan “race”. However, the Volge later came to see all life as a threat, and began to attack both humans and other Votans.
And that’s the basic gist. Defiance (the town in the show) exists in the remains of what was once St. Louis, MO, while the game is set in what is left of San Francisco. We’re not entirely certain how much, or in what way the game will affect the show, but I suppose we are soon to find out.
So, are you excited for ‘Defiance’? And what’s more, are you going to be playing along? Perhaps I will see you there.
P.S. – You can watch the first 14 minutes of the pilot episode RIGHT NOW over at the SyFy website. Go do it, and report back!