The Alteans are a chameleon-like people who can blend in with the local populations. It’s the ability that’s made us great explorers and diplomats throughout our history.—Allura describing the Altean race in Collection and Extraction.
Alteans are an alien race native to planet Altea and previously ruled by King Alfor. They were once thought extinct, with Allura and Coran as the sole survivors. However, Haggar and her son Lotor are both revealed to be Altean. Furthermore; a thriving colony of Alteans are discovered hidden inside the Quantum Abyss, preserved for Lotor's devious purposes.
Alteans' exterior appearance are nearly identical to humans of Earth. The have an adult height of 1.8 metres, have four limbs with prehensile fingers, human facial features like noses and eyes, and flowing hair localised on their heads. Their distinguishing features are tapered, elfish ears and facial markings. Ancient Altean facial markings are sickle-shaped, bio-luminescent blemishes located under the eyes, but over the course of time, modern Altean markings have diversified to include stripes and geometric shapes located on the foreheads, upper lips and jaws.
Facial markings vary in colour by individual, as does hair, eye, and skin colour. Known hair variants are puce, white, blond, green, burgundy, blue, orange, and dark gray. White hair is commonly seen among those of noble blood, such as King Alfor, his wife, Princess Allura, and the Galran-Altean hybrid, Emperor Lotor. Similarly, skin tones also vary. Light skinned individuals comparable to Caucasians from Earth have been known to exist, as well as individuals such as the royal family who appear to have warm tones of nut-brown and teak as their default skin color.
Alteans have a lifespan of more than 600 years. Coran explains that the Castle of Lions is 10,600 years old by the time the Paladins arrive on Arus, and states that he was alive when his grandfather was building the Castleship.Subtracting the 10,000 years of cryo-sleep, this places Coran's age around 600 years old. To expand on this, Alteans' relationship with quintessence may have enabled them to harness the life-force of the universe to increase their longevity. Lauren Montgomery explained that Lotor has achieved his impressive lifespan of 10,000+ years, due to being conceived by Haggar while she was suffering from quintessence poisoning. Her overexposure to quintessence allowed him to inherit 'extra' life-force. Conceivably, ancient Alteans performed the same procedure to increase their lifespan.
Alteans have the ability to manipulate Quintessence for healing, constructing weapons and conducting life-force. Using her body as a medium, Allura has demonstrated that she can heal wounds on a planetary scale, transfer consciousnesses from vessel to vessel, and create powerful energy blasts. Alteans with this ability are known as "Sacred Alteans" and treated with reverence. It is not known if this status runs in the royal bloodline, but both Allura and her father, King Alfor, were party to it.
It is possible for Alteans to shapeshift to alter their height and skin tone. They can only change one color at a time, and cannot transform into unnatural shapes. "Sacred Alteans" have increased control over their physical form. This chameleon-like trait is what has made their race as successful as explorers and diplomats over the course of their history. It also assisted with espionage and hiding from persecution.
Alteans also have enhanced strength, speed and agility. They can match human/Galran hybrids in terms of agility like Keith with ease, and their martial arts are designed to take full advantage of their overwhelming natural flexibility and grace.
The culture of Alteans remains largely unknown, but they appeared to be a morally-sound, pacifistic race that valued diplomacy, sheltering the weak, respecting other races, and peace. Their society was a monarchy based upon the undivided rule of a single person. The last known ruler was King Alfor, a war hero and alchemist.
Much of Altean culture was preserved due to members being off-world at the time of their planet's destruction, with thousands having been ferried to safety by Lotor. He created a new colony inside the Quantum Abyss to protect them from outsiders. However, unbeknownst to the colonists, he experimented on members of the new society, extracting their life force as part of his research on a new source of unlimited quintessence. One surviving Altean, Romelle, managed to make contact with Keith and Krolia, telling them everything and revealing Lotor's intentions.
While advocating for peace, Alteans were not above conflict. Alteans were trained in the art of war from a young age and warriors who possessed both a tactical mind and reputable fighting abilities were hailed as heroes. Melee weapons for Alteans were known to include the broadsword, polearms, and even a blade comparable to an urumi from the Indian subcontinent on planet Earth. Altea had a large military fleet of spacecrafts, equipped for battle with lasers and a protective particle barrier.
Before entering a relationship, it was standard practice on Altea for the man to ask permission from the parent/legal guardian of the woman. It was out of the ordinary for an Altean to engage in a relationship with someone who had non-Altean heritage or belonged to an inferior social class. Additionally, an elaborate ceremonial garb including shoulders pads, a cape, and a tall, cylindrical hat was customary to wear on a first date.
Like many cultures, Alteans placed symbolic importance on color. For example, cyan, gold, and white were colours commonly associated with by members of the royal family, while pink was worn during times of mourning and remembrance of fallen soldiers.
The Altean currency was the "grogery", which came in the form of crown bills and was used by a multitude of other races. The grogery was named for "King Grogery the Infirm" and had his face printed on the bills.
Altean technology is highly advanced, powered by quintessence and artefacts from other races. Their unique blend of science and magic is known as Altean Alchemy; a set of pseudoscientific rules and procedures used for chemical, mechanical, biological and electrical engineering. The qualifications for being a 'master' alchemist are unclear, but Alteans with the ability to channel quintessence - "Sacred Alteans" - are held in high regard. One of the races' most notable technological achievements was the development of Teludavs for travelling via wormhole. Their accomplishments also include, cryo-pods for prolonged stasis and healing, inter-reality travel, lightspeed travel, and overall just exceeding contemporary human science by leaps and bounds.
King Alfor had specific vessels for deep space exploration called Tel-Galax exploration shuttles. Battleships were powered by equally massive Balmera Crystals - blue, crystalline formations produced by the living Balmera planets. Owing to their respectful nature, the Alteans had a mutually-beneficial relationship with the Balmera: in return for extracting Crystals, they infused the planets with life-giving Quintessence.
- Galra Empire
- Alteans can suffer from a harmless condition known as "the slipperies", where their bodies excrete massive amounts of slippery, mucus-like fluid. The flow can sometimes be so intense that walking is impossible, as the patient will slip and fall instead. The condition is common for senior Alteans and usually only lasts a couple of days.
- "Sloven-day-ho" is Altean for "gone".
- In an Alternate Reality, Alteans created an evil Altean Empire.
- "Groggery" is spelt "Grogory" according to the official Voltron Twitter account, in contrast to the comics and Netflix subtitles. "Grogory Day" is an Altean holiday celebrated by Alteans complimenting each other, and is celebrated on December 8th.