Penguins were one of the first creatures revealed in Starbound. Although cute, penguins are often mischievous rogues who deal in black market goods and space piracy.
An early boss players encounter is the dreaded space pirate Dreadwing -- a side-quest given by the bartender in the penguin bar beneath the Outpost. After defeating Dreadwing the bar will open up and penguins there can be hired as crew members on the player's ship using dubloons. Hired penguins will always act as mercenary soldiers, assisting players in combat.
There are two additional penguin merchants at the outpost, Penguin Bay sells illicit ship upgrades, and the weapon ship in the tunnel beneath the outpost sells special weapons. This weapon vendor also offers a side-quest to defeat the penguin boss Shockhopper Mk I.
Penguins have been a mascot for the game since the beginning, though they are not a playable race.