With the same pointed ears and converging eyebrows, Romulans bear a very striking resemblance to the Vulcans. For good reason: they are the descendants of a split from Vulcan society two millennia ago. So it is assumable that their physiology is nearly identical to the Vulcans, except in smaller aspects that are the result of evolutionary adaptation to Romulus conditions. The ears are less pointed than their Vulcan counterparts, and their features less severe. Though identical in almost every way to their cousins, the Romulans lack the rigorous mental disciplines developed by the followers of Surak. This and the more benign environmental conditions on Romulus have gradually worn away the physical capabilities of Romulans in comparison to their ancestors.SocietyIn Romulan society, military rank influences social standing. Because Romulans are militant civilizations who consider defending the Empire and their own personal honor of foremost importance, military service and accompanying rank are decisive factors in determining social eminence. It is a society with a clearly defined caste system. Every Romulan is accorded a social standing associated with the power and military rank he commands. The highest ranked Romulan is the "Fvillha", or chief Praetor, the Speaker of the Praetorate. He holds immense power, and those under him rank progressively lower to end with the lowest of the low, prisoners. Prisoners of the Romulan state are scorned as less than Rihannsu, as Romulans identify themselves. Without honor, they rank lower than even slaves. The pillar of the Romulan political organization is the House system. It is a clannish system with hereditary succession to continue the lineage. However, the House is not as narrow in scope as a feudal family, as it encompasses a larger cross-section of society. The servants of a House adopt its name as their own, and though they are not equals to their masters, they are considered part of the House. As with each individual Rihannsu, a House is accorded a social rank and status according to the culminative status of its members and its past service to the Empire. The status of a House can be generalized into two categories, the Greater House and the Lesser House. Both are integral to the social structure of the Romulan Empire. The most important person within a house is the hru'hfirh, or Head of House, and each member of the house is given a station to function in. As adoptions are common in Romulan society, adopted Romulans are accorded the same status and prestige they would have held within their own biological House. However, the adopted may have to bear responsibility to two Houses instead of one. The number of members within a House reflects its social prestige, with more being better. An unique form of revenge in Romulan society is done by kidnapping young children of the rival House and rearing them as their own. Children taken in this way are usually never seen again.
Respect and honor form the basis of Romulan society. A lack of deference to one's rank is to show a lack of "mnhei'sahe", or "the ruling passion", an appreciation of honor, duty, courtesy and strength. With Romulans, a successful negotiation must leave all parties satisfied that they were dealt with honor. Their status, their "face", must be acknowledged during the proceedings and remain intact after the encounter. To deny a Romulan appropriate mnhei'sahe, the offended Romulan may initiate a duel to restore his honor, or if the disgrace is too great, surrounding parties may decide to preserve the memory of his honor and kill him before further damage is done. Mnhei'sahe is not clearly defined in statutes, but it is a long-standing custom of showing deference and honor and guides the lives of all true Romulans. Every Romulan knows by the actions and bearing of another exactly what rank and social status he has. Subtle observed cues, previous reputation, current military rank, and past experience all determine the level of respect accorded to a Romulan.Though honor is as integral a part of their society as Klingons, Romulans are not so physically violent or interested in dying gloriously. They are however, extremely suspicious of all aliens and will believe only one of their own. Their words are kept with the knowledge that failure to do so will mean a fate worse than death: dishonor.The main force in Romulan life is honor, but they also acknowledge the reality of power. The goal of every Romulan is gaining power -- if not for themselves then for their House and the Empire. The loyalty of Romulans for the Empire is unquestionable, and the nationalism of Romulans can always be counted upon in times of conflict. It is their belief that if mnhei'sahe is with the Empire, glory will remain with Romulans.