Compass Rose Aliens

Imagine an alien species which developed no concept of relative direction – that is, no equivalence of up, down, front, back, left, or right. Instead, their planet has a magnetic core similar to Earth’s, and they refer to everything via cardinal directions. For example, if I am facing north, my left foot is now my “west foot,” and my right foot my “east foot.” However, if I am facing east, the left is now my “north foot,” the right my “south foot.” They have a sense of magnetism that allows them to operate this way, and any affliction which blinds this sense gives them a sense of disorientation which makes speaking difficult, and creates nausea. If and when they become space faring, they heavily magnetize their ships to create artificial poles, and this magnetization is as integral to a crew’s functionality as the ship’s life support. In addition, the structure of their crew includes a special class of crewmen who are specially trained to operate without their sense of magnetism, with a specialized language and protocol designed to operate completely independent of magnetic assistance. In a crisis where no magnetic assistance is present (whether the systems are disabled or the crew is somehow unprepared on a planet lacking a magnetic core), these crewmen (and the captain, who is required to have this training) are the only individuals who have not descended into panic. Obviously, any crew member could have the training, but to overuse this could result in a “You didn’t know I know Kung-fu?” trope, which should be avoided. 

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