Penguins are a friendly non-playable race of flightless birds. They are generally regarded as troublemakers of dubious moral standing, selling their services as mercenaries, mechanics, and merchants on the black market.
Players will first meet the Penguins at the Outpost. They typically hang out at the seedier lower levels and at the eastern "back" end, running shops of a perhaps less-than-up-and-up nature.
- Penguin Pete
Pete is actually Human, but his crew is made up of Penguins, and theirs is the first of the Penguin-run shops available to the player. Pete is integral to the mandatory "Become Space-worthy" and "The Erchius Mining Facility" Story Missions, which get your Ship capable of spaceflight. Afterwards, Pete sells Vehicles to make planetary travel faster.
This bar allows players to buy Penguin Dubloons, which can be given to any wandering Penguin to purchase their services as Crew (or given to the Treasured Trophies vendor for the Penguin Costume Cosmetic Armor set). The Beakeasy will not open until the player has beaten the "Dreadwing the Penguin" Quest offered by the bartender.
- Dr. Akaggy
This Penguin scientist's Mech workshop is available once the currently-played character has repaired their Ship. She offers a number of Quests to give the player Mech capabilities, and free use of the Outpost's Mech Assembly Station and Mech Part Crafting Table.
- Biggy's Reputable Weaponry
This stall opens once the player has beaten the "Penguin Weaponry Testing Site" quest from Dr. Akaggy. Biggy offers a variety of upgraded Unique Weapons in exchange for the components to make them, with the weapons offered changing every 24 hours (real time).
- Penguin Bay
The source of counterfeit ship upgrades. Is seemingly run not by a Penguin but a shady-looking Hylotl, but there is a Penguin helping out, so close enough. It will not open until the player has completed the "Fetch the Floran Artifact" quest, and will not be available to any new character on the player's account that has not completed the "The Erchius Mining Facility".
The player fights famed Penguin pirate Dreadwing and his crew of heavily-armed soldiers in the "Dreadwing the Penguin"Quest, offered by the bartender at the Beakeasy. Dreadwing assaults the player with his oversized UFO while his ground troops provide backup.
Friendly spaceships encountered in space have the chance to be Penguin Ships. Aside from the usual assortment of low-tier materials to make new mech parts, the chest in the cockpit contains the Shockhopper Mech Body blueprint.
Penguins feature in several Lore books.
The player can find fossilized remains of Penguins undergound on most planets by successfully completing a fossil mini-game. The prizes for completion are randomized, so it may take a lot of tries to obtain one.
The Penguin fossil is a singular piece, and once obtained can be placed in a Small Fossil Display, which can be placed a decor item. This also completes entry #7 in the Fossil Collections Library. Once the skeleton and display have been combined, they cannot be disassembled.
Beta development & differences
The following material was introduced in the Beta and has since been removed or altered. As such, it is no longer considered to be a part of Starbound canon.
Penguins were in the earliest builds of Starbound, and have slowly increased their role over the course of the game's development.
In the "Koala" Beta builds, Penguins only appeared in the original iteration of the Dreadwing boss fight, initiated by constructing and activating a Distress Beacon. The fight itself is largely the same as its current iteration, only with Dreadwing coming to the planet the player activated the Beacon on, plus Dreadwing's now-lost ability to destroy terrain blocks.
During this time, Penguins were said to be distant relatives of the Avians, in the Lore book "The Children of Kluex". Whether this remains true as of the 1.0 build is unknown, as this book was eventually removed from the game.
With the "Rampaging Koala" update (the last of the Koala builds), the Dreadwing fight was moved to the newly-created Outpost as the "Dreadwing (Part I)" Quest, part of a long (and unpopular) chain of Quests necessary to progress in the game. The fight itself was moved to the pre-made, un-alterable arena it currently takes place in. The Shockhopper Mk I "Mechanical Testing" Quest was also added to the Outpost as the last of the progression quests.
The "Cheerful Giraffe" update changed both Penguin fights to their 1.0-release versions, as wholly-optional quests to unlock new shops at the Outpost.