Communities: city-states and nomadic cultures.   Posted by GM.Group: 0
 GM, 12 posts
Mon 29 Aug 2016
at 15:34
Communities: city-states and nomadic cultures
City-state: Qarag

Surrounded by fog, rain, and pine, at the merging of the Salqin river's tributaries, three settlements are joined by a network of bridges.  The western settlement houses woodcutters, woodworkers, and hunters for food and fur.  The central settlement, between the tributaries, adds to this shipbuilding and the seat of a consensus-driven government council, the Murosaga. Outside of the woods, the eastern settlement is the marketplace serving the farmers further east, and a safer place to build the furnace pits and forges.

Qarag trades many of its ships to Davlat for the right to ship its goods through the gulf.  They also send small groups of survivalists and adventurers (Oruton, singular: oruto) north to trade with Chet, or just to explore deeper into the woods to find candidate areas for new settlements.

Culturally, Qarag places a high value on interpersonal harmony and teamwork. The Qaragin are a musical people, with the widest array of instruments of any people of Vatan and frequently accompanying their work with song.

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:43, Tue 30 Aug 2016.

 GM, 13 posts
Mon 29 Aug 2016
at 16:18
Communities: city-states and nomadic cultures
City-state: Davlat

One of the initial landing places of the people that settled Vatan thousands of years ago, Davlat is a port and major trading center. Having thoroughly mastered the smelting of bronze, they have parlayed their access to a wide variety of natural resources into a position as the pre-eminent power in Vatan. With troops all along the Davlati river system, a navy occupying the center of the Gulf, and ownership of the Markaz Gate, they control trans-continental trade.

Culturally, Davlat has disdain for the nomadic lifestyle and views permanent settlements as an essential civilizing force. It would be rare for anyone to put the thought into these words, but the essential Davlati idea is that efficiency is one of the most worthy goals, best achieved by organizing people and making systems out of what works.

Davlat is led by one person, the Katta. The Katta allows and encourages the accumulation of wealth and business relationships, and usually cedes their title during their lifetime to another wealthy person they judge worthy of it.  Not every Katta has retired before death; in the resulting turmoil settlements previously controlled by Davlat (Ot and Dengiz) were captured by more pragmatic people open to dealing with nomads.

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:53, Tue 30 Aug 2016.

 GM, 14 posts
Mon 29 Aug 2016
at 17:51
Communities: city-states and nomadic cultures
City-state: Karer

At the headwaters of the Lagan river system, Karer is the largest mining settlement on Vatan and the perfect place to stock up on supplies before attempting the Janub pass*.  The dwellings of Karer are carved into the Mohiyat mountains themselves, connected with a sprawling network of stone staircases and rope ladders.

The Karerin pride themselves on their accomplishments, collectively and individually. They place some cultural value on appearing to do the impossible (even if, or perhaps especially if, there's a trick to it...).  A meditative pastime enjoyed by many Karerin and those who live in the surrounding countryside is creating improbable-seeming stacks of stones- either too tall and narrow, or balanced strangely. The curiosity and wonder that Karerin bring to their leisure is an antidote to the careful drudgery of the mining work itself.

Downriver from Karer lies the reputedly enchanted Sehr forest, and Karerin prefer to use Sehr wood whenever possible, as it has a reputation for having mystical properties.

*As an aside, the awesome mineral deposits that Karer is sitting on, the Janub pass, and Tagayong island were all created by the same geological process.  The plate carrying Vatan passed over a mantle hotspot, which distorted the Mohiyat mountains and forced heavier metals up from deep in the crust.  Millenia later, that same hotspot burned a hole in the lower-lying oceanic plate just west of Vatan and created the volcanic island of Tagayong.

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:56, Tue 30 Aug 2016.

 GM, 15 posts
Mon 29 Aug 2016
at 19:00
Communities: city-states and nomadic cultures
City-state: Darmon

At the mouth of the Hosildor river, Darmon is the port that connects the southern half of Vatan with the ocean.  Darmon is home to the society of Karabin- people that use magic for divination, clairvoyance, and telepathy. The Karabin use their talents to find and actively recruit others with the right potentials.

It is also home to the Shifokon ("brothers and sisters of wellness"), a sect that study healing. They make regular voyages to the nearby Balchik swamp to collect medicinal herbs and flowers.

While Qarag and Karer accept a somewhat subordinate position to Davlat, Darmon views itself as a full rival power in uneasy detente with Davlat.  Darmon does not extract tribute from its southern neighbors, but is in informal alliance with them, with favorable trade agreements and the expectation of military aid if conflict with Davlat were to erupt.
 GM, 16 posts
Tue 30 Aug 2016
at 03:48
Communities: city-states and nomadic cultures
City-state: Nihol

Over hundreds of years the Daryo river wandered across the flat plains searching for the path of steepest descent, enriching the soil in the process.  With its densest settlements nestled in the elbow of the Daryo, Nihol is the most successful farming community in Vatan.

Long ago, Niholin on an expedition down the Daryo river went into the Balchik swamp and learned from the nomads passing through those areas how to derive exotic materials from the living things there- everything from tree saps to frog excretions.  After learning how to harvest glues, poisons, extra-strong fibers, and even primitive explosives, the expedition crew brought this knowledge home. The Niholin started larger scale efforts to harvest these, keeping nomads out with dedicated troops on regular patrols of the Daryo.

The nomads repaid Nihol with devastating raids. There was nowhere to hide on the flat plains. Now Nihol dwellings are built from stone quarried from upriver, and they are grouped in walled-off clusters ("shakan", singular "shaka") of six or eighteen, with a tall central watchtower (the "korvala").

Now the Niholin supplement their sprawling farms with resource extraction from the Balchik swamp and the quarries to the northwest, sending most of what they gather in guarded caravans down the Tashish road to the Egizi river, where they can be shipped south to Egiz.

Niholin pride themselves in their resourcefulness and tenacity. A common belief among them is "if you are not exhausted by a fight, you haven't fought hard enough"- the implication being that if you won easily, you should have challenged a harder opponent. They govern themselves with direct democracy.

This message was last edited by the GM at 03:48, Tue 30 Aug 2016.

 GM, 18 posts
Tue 30 Aug 2016
at 05:50
Communities: city-states and nomadic cultures
City-state: Egiz

Egiz is the most diverse community in Vatan, as a port with travelers from Nihol, Qum, the eastern peninsula, the Zanjir islands, and the further southern reaches of the oceans beyond.  Egiz is the trade hub of southern Vatan.  The meeting of cultures here has produced the best artists and craftspeople on the continent.

A group of Karabin are stationed here to monitor the countless people passing through, looking for people with magical potential to recruit- or trade favors with in secret.

Culturally, Egiz is individualistic. In contrast to, say, the homogeneous Qaragin, Egizin cannot afford to expect others to implicitly understand things the same way. Egizi communication is explicit and direct. An Egizi is not insulted by being asked (and is not afraid to ask) point-blank for favors; they simply say (and expect) "no" if they can't oblige.

Egiz is governed by a council of representatives from the various artisan guilds and business interests.

This message was last edited by the GM at 05:52, Tue 30 Aug 2016.

 GM, 19 posts
Tue 30 Aug 2016
at 07:16
Communities: city-states and nomadic cultures
City-state: Dengiz

Dengiz is a small outpost built by Davlatin settlers to access the western seaboard. During a Davlati civil war, Dengiz asserted its independence. Now it stands as a modest trading hub serving the Odama nomads and Tagayong island. The area closest to the coasts is wet and cool enough for vegetation to grow; between the arrivals of ships or nomad clans, the Dengizin forage and fish.

Dengiz does not ostracize those who use telekinesis (Harakatan). It's not widely known, but the city is a sort of refuge for them. Harakatan, in turn, help build and maintain the Dengizi stone temples, and help manipulate the winds and currents to be more favorable for the boats traveling between the city and Tagayong.

Culturally, Dengiz values simplicity and honesty. Ever since a group of Orakin arrived, grieving the death of their Ora in the desert, death has occupied a special place in Dengizi thought.  If one leads a life consistent with one's values, it is easier to accept death. To Dengizin, helping another person resolve their values or inner conflicts is of great value, especially if the person helped is near death. A naive interpretation of Dengizi thought is that it seeks resolution to life's conflicts before death, but it would be just as accurate to say that it seeks acceptance of the inevitable lack of resolution.

This message was last edited by the GM at 18:08, Tue 06 Sept 2016.

 GM, 21 posts
Tue 30 Aug 2016
at 07:35
Communities: city-states and nomadic cultures
City-state: Chet

Chet is wedged between the northwestern coast of Vatan and Mohiyat mountains.  Tides, wind, and rain have carved the mountainside into cliff face rising above the beach.  Chet encompasses three settled areas: the beach and the nearby plains, the mountainside settlements above the cliff, and the caves under the mountain.

Each of these areas is used at different times, usually for weeks at a time depending on prevailing winds.  When storms approach from the north, the caves are often flooded, but the mountainside is habitable.  When storms approach from the south, the mountainside is dangerous, but the caves are safe.  When the tides are high and the seas are rough, settlements at a higher level are used.

The plains and mountainside settlements are built of stone sealed with a dried mixture of mud, sand, and straw.  All dwellings are adorned with hooks to hold portable bags in which people keep most of their possessions, ready to move if necessary.

Chet is visited by Odama nomads, travellers through the Shimol Pass (including Orakin) looking to stock up, and traders and oruton from Qarag.  Chet also trades with the sparsely-inhabited Baliq islands to the north.

Culturally, Chet has been influenced by the Odama nomads' and Orakin notions of cyclical time.  But anyone who lives in Chet long enough can see that every cycle brings with it some permanent changes, as well.  To Chetin, nature is repeated but cumulative change.  And the most striking demonstration of this fact is in the success of Chetin animal breeders.

The caves are often too narrow for humans to explore.  But cave rats can be bred and trained to retrieve the crystals and the bioluminescent gel left behind by worms that artists treasure.  The northern seas about the Baliq islands are often too congested with ice floes to safely send boats to trade. But falcons, bred for size, strength, and range, can make the trip.

This message was last edited by the GM at 17:49, Thu 01 Sept 2016.

 GM, 25 posts
Wed 7 Sep 2016
at 07:31
Communities: city-states and nomadic cultures
City-state: Ot

Ot is a scattering of settlements on the eastern peninsula, densest at the coast.  It functions as the eastern peninsula's port.

Here, otliqo from the Yarim steppe and vegetables (especially root vegetables, melons, and gourds) from the farms north of Lake Voh are traded for boats, lumber, and other supplies from Qarag. Aside from participating in this trade, many Otin fish- either in the gulf to the west (well-stocked, but risking encounters with the Davlati navy) or the ocean to the east.

Ot, like Chet, Dengiz, and Egiz, is very open to travelers of all kinds. It does not have a strong central government; even the term "direct democracy" implies a greater degree of coordination than exists. Inhabitants of different areas- farmers to the southeast, otliqo breeders and trainers to the southwest, and the seafarers and traders to the north- usually work out conflicts and plans among themselves, informally coordinating with one another when necessary.

There is a nascent warrior class- not serving militarily, but as privately-hired peacekeepers and bodyguards by landowners on behalf of their neighborhoods.