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(This article is part of a series on realistic and interesting aliens)
Many species believe that the Nophilians are a brutish and barbaric warrior race. They are known to be brusque and direct in conversation, and they have killed diplomats on several occasions and with no reason given. They make make no secret of the fact that they loath diplomacy. Their reputation as barbarians is further supported by their large size and enormous physical strength.
Strangely though, they rarely declare war. Most of the time, it is other species who declare war on them after one diplomatic incident too many.
But that is not the only oddity. You would expect a barbaric society to decorate their ships, but theirs are completely unadorned. You would expect their tech to be stolen or to be reverse-engineered from stolen technology. Instead, their technology is the marvel of engineers and physicists of other races, full of elegance and subtle intricacies. You would expect a culture that hates diplomacy to at least distrust scientists as well, but instead scientists are the people most likely to hold an extended conversation with a Nophilian.
The truth is that the Nophilians are savants. They have immense skill at all manner of technical analysis and rational thought, but their social skills are about in line with those of a human child. They have an intuitive understanding of mathematics and formal logic, but virtually no interpersonal skill. They prefer isolation and solitude over communality and social interaction.
This is based on their evolutionary history: They evolved as a solitary species that actively avoided each other outside of mating. They only formed a society much later in their history, based on the purely rational decision that a unified government is necessary in order for them to succeed as a species.
While their technical skills are a large boon, their social ineptitude poses a great danger to them: A single moderately charismatic human could easily manipulate their entire species using the simplest of rhetorical tricks.
This flaw in their neurology would almost have lead to their destruction, until the Nophilians adopted a species-wide policy to deal with the problem: Always assume that the other species are trying to manipulate you. Base your actions only on your own analysis.
If you talk to the Nophilians and use too many figures of speech, emotionally loaded phrases, or otherwise non-objective statements, then they will assume you are hostile and will ignore you at best, shoot you at worst. This is what happened to many diplomats sent to talk to them. The diplomats thought they were being sly and subtle, and they were, and that was exactly the problem.
On the galactic stage, they deliberately act barbaric in order to be left alone. They are afraid of what might happen once the galactic community at large realizes how easy they are to manipulate, and so they kill anyone who might know the truth, which adds to their reputation as barbarians. Only a handful of governments of other races know the truth, but they are keeping the information secret since there is no reason to let others know about it.