The Paracosm and Conlangs of Thaddeus Troi-Riker (2381-2396)


The imaginary world that came to be known as Ardani began as a language, Kelu, invented by Thaddeus Worf Riker-Troi circa 2384, when he was about three and a half. From a very early age, Thad became interested in the different native languages spoken by non-human personnel on board the USS , a starship under the command of his father, William T. Riker. Born on , taught Federation Standard, Thad was fascinated by the idea of a “native language” and how it was intimately associated with the idea of “home.” Home — a homeworld — became a source of intense longing for the boy Thad, growing up rootless on the , constantly on the move. Employing a child’s logic, Thad decided that the first step toward having a homeworld of his own would be to speak a native language of his own. And so Kelu was born.

It was a fairly simple and arbitrary language at first, just a few simple words and phrases. But crew members took an interest in the precocious little Kelu-speaking boy, to the point that they learned to speak it too. Kelu eventually became a kind of shipboard slang on board , with many terms of Kelu reportedly still in use to this day, long after Riker and Commander Deanna Troi’s retirement to Nepenthe. The crew shared the grammatical peculiarities of their own native languages with Thad, and encouraged him to study linguistics. In time — certainly by the occasion of Thad’s second meeting with Jean-Luc Picard, in 2385 or so — Kelu became a sophisticated language.

It was a natural leap for Thad to go from inventing a “native language” to devising his own personal “homeworld” — and thus Ardani was born. (The word , in Kelu, means “home.”)

Beginning with the Ukelu Empire, a five-thousand-year-old archipelago kingdom based on the giant southern island of Ukelu, Thad began adding kingdoms, continents and languages to the map of Ardani until, by the time of his death in 2396, at the age of fifteen, there were seven great empires or lands, in various stages of vigor and decline, and eleven fully worked-out languages in all.

A hand-drawn map of the imaginary planet, Ardani.
A hand-drawn map of the imaginary planet, Ardani.
Fig. 1. Ardani, as mapped by Thad Riker, circa 2395

The islands of the Ukelu Empire have a lush, jungle climate and topography that Thad based on his mother’s homeworld of Betazed. The vast conifer forests and jagged snow-peaked mountains of the great northern continent of Darshandok he based on his father’s memories of growing up in Alaska, and later on the landscape of Nepenthe where the family moved after Thad received his diagnosis. Having established this pattern, Thad went on to base the other primary lands of Ardani on the reminiscences of various crewmembers of their respective homeworlds, such as the Kingdom of Karvanno, with its arid, volcanic wastes, which he based on the memories of a Vulcan officer whom Thad considered his best friend on the ship.

The final “land” that Thad added to the topography and history of Ardani was the Woods of Viveen, a remote expanse of lakes and dense forest at the far northeastern tip of Darshandok. Created to acknowledge, to celebrate and to make room, in his private realm, for his beloved baby sister, Kestra, the Woods of Viveen are home to those staunchly matriarchal amazons, the Viveen, who speak their rough-and-tumble language, Viveena — in which the same word, means both “girl” and “fierce.”


At the time of his death, Thad had constructed seven languages for the modern humanoid population of Ardani, and had just embarked on “reconstructing” Aivain, parent language to both Viveena and Yzidu.

A table showing the seven lands of Ardani, their climates, inhabitants, and the names of the principal languages.
A table showing the seven lands of Ardani, their climates, inhabitants, and the names of the principal languages.
Fig. 2. Humanoid Languages of Ardani

Thad also devised a language for each of Ardani’s four non-human sentient species. These are referred to by the names of their nearest Earth analogs (raven, dolphin, bear, butterfly), but Thad’s notes make it clear that these “animals” were distinct species, either native to Ardani or remotely descended from stock brought by the original humanoid settlers.

A table showing the four animal languages of Ardani and their names.
A table showing the four animal languages of Ardani and their names.
Fig. 3. Animal Languages of Ardani


The Ukelu are the oldest surviving civilization on Ardani. Built on its fleets of dragon-prowed ships, the subtlety of its Emperors and the enchantments of its wizards, the Ukelu Empire peaked a millennium ago or more, and is now in decline though still potent. Its denizens appear human. The style/culture of Ukelu reads as a mixture of Byzantine and ancient Khmer.

The Shandok are a young kingdom, viewed as barbarians by their rivals. They ride horses and live in tents, but also take to the sea in raiding ships with prows shaped like horse’s heads. Their gods are bloodthirsty and war-loving. Their design/culture has echoes of both Viking and Mongol civilizations.

The Isquiti are a mysterious people, said to be able to change their gender from male to female and back, or to live between genders. Shy and unwelcoming to outsiders, they keep to their swamps, living in enormous kinship groups of hundreds of people, in cities on stilts, ruled over by their famous Witch Kings, whose magic is the most powerful in all Ardani. Their design/culture incorporates ancient Celtic/Gaulish elements with traditional Japanese.

The Karv are a highly civilized race who build cities in deep volcanic tunnels and caverns, and have perfected methods of cave agriculture. They value art, learning, and philosophy and their use of magic is confined almost entirely to healing arts. ZaKarv doctors are prized and sought after all across Ardani. Their design/culture is austere and geometric, with elements of Native American and Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Yzid are humans, descendants of the Ukelu who, many thousands of years ago, branched off from the Ukelu Empire and went to live on a far eastern island called Yz. There they practiced magic so powerful it caused a cataclysmic disaster that sent Yz plunging to the bottom of the Eastern Sea; but they used that same magic to enchant themselves, altering their bodies so they could live underwater, where they flourished, and learned much from the denizens of the Empire of Dolphins. Their design/culture is influenced by seashell/aquatic imagery and the Rococo.

The Niktlin Empire is currently the most powerful, extensive civilization on Ardani, wealthy and mighty. They build great cities and fortresses, mighty roads, navies, temples, and palaces. Their use of magic is heavily rooted in their worship of hundreds of different gods and goddesses, to whom they dedicate awesome temples and in whose name they conquer. They view the Ukelu as decrepit and the Shandok as barbarian upstarts. Their design/culture is influenced by classical Hindu and Roman.

The Viveen, the Wild Girls of the Woods, are a “barbarian” people, reputedly aboriginal to Ardani, who live in the deep forests of the Northeast, on the shores of great lakes. They are not just matriarchal; they are, by some secret magic, all female. Great hunters, archers, runners, and boat-women, they keep aloof from other humans and largely associate only with each other and the Grondif, or Bear Lords, a “civilized” culture of bears whose cities from the boundary between Viveen and Shandok.

(Researched and prepared by MC for the Props Department, 6.29.19)

Berkeley, California