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  • Avrjoe
    started a topic Interesting places in Exalted

    Interesting places in Exalted

    There is Two places I am trying to find out more about in Exalted. The first was I believe made by Dean Shomshak it was a Kingdom that had Alligator beast men and was nearly destroyed by the Eye of Seven despairs? Does anyone know there there is still a version of this? The other is If any more information on Ortense the kingdom in The Carnelian Flame. This was the land Grendis Lam championed after his exaltation. Even roughly where it should fit in on the map would be helpful.

  • Sunder the Gold
    replied
    Originally posted by Brilliant Rain
    I like how the reaction of the elder to meeting a Lunar was basically "meep!"
    If Lunars were properly presented in the setting, most people's reaction to meeting one would be, "Meep!" Even without Immaculate propaganda.


    Originally posted by Radiant_Beacon
    On threats:
    It sounded like the Wyld and the Lintha were the primary threats, from the perspective of the people, but you hardly mentioned interactions with the Lintha, just that they hated them. Similarly, you mentioned Wyld storms, but no specific Fae threats. Not that Wyld storms are not enough of a problem, honestly.


    I figure the Lintha manage to piss off just about everyone, so there's nothing special about their enmity to Warrakai.
    It would be more interesting if the Lintha had good relations with Warrakai, they way they have (relatively) good relations with An-Teng, but I didn't see much they could offer each other.

    Actually, the Lintha just don't interest me very much, but that's a different subject.

    I thought of writing up some Fair Folk antagonists. I like the idea of the blind Deep Fae that sometimes rise up to hunt souls in Warrakai. Then I tried reading Gaceful Wicked Masks again and, as usual, felt my brain start to bleed. So, no Fair Folk.

    The lack of anything interesting for the Lintha is sort of why I was surprised there was much interaction - though I guess there is always a chance for fresh meat or jade nodules.

    And I can understand the pain on the Fair Folk front - I keep trying to them cool in my campaigns, and they wind up not working out so well. Probably just going to have to abandon them for a while, which is a shame.

    Originally posted by Radiant_Beacon
    There was mention of migrating sharkmen bands...that is intriguing to me, and would have been an interesting counterpoint to the Oloniki. I am sure you have seen the pictures of the hammerhead aggregations off some of the pacific seamounts - that would be a stunning visual of beastmen.
    It would! If someone did a wider supplement of the Undersea West, sharkman gatherings and migrations could be an important threat that many cultures face.


    Also interesting that the Oloniki worship Siakal but no mention of Kireeki - not that you could be encyclopedic.
    Kireeki? <smack> I completely forgot about Kireeki. Of course the dolphinmen would honor Kireeki. But even now, I can't remember anything cool about Kireeki: I'd have to re-read RoGD1. Which is probably why I forgot.


    She is sort of a really bizarre goddess - my memory said she was god of cetaceans, turns out she is goddess of oceanic predators like "orcas, dolphins, and mantas" though she excludes sharks and siakas, and also the tentacled horrors of the deeps to avoid conflicts with Siakal and Zhuzhio. Yet she has tentacles. And apparently Exalted uses an ecologically correct but very broad definition of predation - mantas are filter feeders, which makes them predators in much the same way sponges are.

    Anyway, I can see why you would forget her - I hope whoever gets a chance to rewrite her in third edition takes the opportunity to make her make sense because, honestly, a tentacled killer whale goddess who is the patron of hunters from sponges to sperm whales, but not things with tentacles or sharks is really not actually really all that cool or memorable.

    Also is the double ii in the Ru-___aii names pronounced like Hawaii?
    It is. For a more Polynesian feel maybe there should be an apostrophe between the two Is, the way Hawaii used to be spelled Hawai'i, but I've seen too many bad fantasies where writers threw apostrophes in at random to look "exotic." H. P. Lovecraft did it once and everybody's gotta copy him.


    SUNDER THE GOLD says: That's it. That's all of Warrakai and Dean's recorded comments about it.

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  • Sunder the Gold
    replied
    Animals and Monsters of the West

    The people of Warrakai share the sea with many other creatures. From the Exalted Corebook, Warrakaians must occasionally deal with venomous sea snakes (use the coral snake), siaka and giant squid. Most of the beasts from The Compass of Terrestrial Directions, Vol. II — he West also appear in Warrakai. (Rock-rollers are a notable exception.) Here are additional oceanic creatures: some dangerous, some helpful.

    Armorfish, Large

    Strong bone plates cover the entire body of an armorfish, except for its eyes, tail and paddle-like fins. The horse-sized body tapers back from a globular, helmet-like head. Instead of teeth, the fish’s huge mouth holds two pairs of sharp bone plates that crush bones almost as easily as they tear flesh. Armorfish are among the least agile swimmers in the ocean, but they don’t care: Not much can prey on an armorfish except a bigger armorfish — which happens a lot, for these vicious predators attack and try to eat anything that moves, including each other. Western fishermen hate armorfish, which rip their nets and snap their lines as they take the fisherman’s catch for themselves. Still, Western folk occasionally get their own back by catching armorfish and carving implements from their bony plates.

    Armorfish, Gigantic

    The worst aspect of armorfish is that the horse-sized specimens are the small ones. Some species grow up to 30 feet long, with jaws that can swallow a rowboat. When Western sailors see these armorfish, they hope the fish do not recognize ships and boats as holding prey: The largest armorfish can sink any ship that people now build, biting through the hull in one chomp.

    Crawsteed

    The crawsteed somewhat resembles a shrimp the size of a pony. Instead of legs, though, finlike flaps for swimming run down each side of its body. Two barbed, segmented tentacles project from the beast’s front: The crawsteed uses them to grab food and hold it to the circular mouth on the underside of the helmet-like head. Crawsteeds have a Control Rating of 3. So far, these sea-beasts lack the agility and courage to use in battle, unless they are compelled by Charms. They eat just about anything, though, which increases their utility as beasts of burden.

    Houndfish

    Humans are not the only land creatures transformed by the Wyld. A few decades ago, pelagothropic breeds of dogs appeared at several regions in the West, and their use spreads rapidly among sea-folk. (Address all thanks to the Wardens of Gaia.) In Warrakai, the Lanotiri are the first to breed and train houndfish to assist in hunting squid and deep-sea fish. The Lanotir breed resembles a greyhound covered in silver-white scales, with gills, a finned tail instead of hind legs, flippers instead of forelegs and great dark eyes for seeing in the dimly-lit depths. Lanotir houndfish cannot breathe air. Other breeds appear in other parts of the West.

    Moray

    Moray eels grow about five feet long. They hide among rocks and coral, then dart out to seize small fish or other prey. While morays are proverbial for their speed and ferocity, they do not attack creatures much larger than themselves, and pose little or no threat to sea-folk.

    Ray

    Rays, skates and similar fish are notable for their flattened disk, diamond or triangular shape, tapering to a slender tail, and the way they seem to “fly” underwater by rippling their bodies. Most rays live on the sea floor, where they can hide in the sand or mud. The smallest rays are less than a foot long, while the great manta can stretch 15 feet across. All rays possess an Essence-perceiving “Shark Sight” as a natural ability. (See The Compass of Terrestrial Directions, Vol. II — The West, p. 152 for this Affliction.)

    Most rays are harmless, but the stingray and lightning-ray are notable exceptions. These rays grow five feet across. While rays can lash with their tails, these two species are dangerous for other reasons.

    Spines along the stingray’s tail inject venom. People sometimes catch stingrays and use their tails as weapons (equal to a knife, but carrying two to four doses of venom). While the venom is painful, stingrays seldom kill people unless the victim is so unlucky that the ray stabs a spine directly into the heart (i.e., both the attack and venom deal exceptional damage).

    The lightning-ray has the strange power to radiate a burst of the same Essence found in lightning, with which it kills its prey or stuns larger predators. This functions as an environmental effect, though it lasts only a moment. Lightning rays must wait 15 ticks between shock-bursts.


    [BEGIN ANIMAL STAT BLOCK]
    Name Str/Dex/Sta Per/Int/Wits/Will Health Levels Attack(Spd/Atk/Dmg/Rate) Dodge/Soak

    Armorfish, Large 5/3/8 2/1/2/3 -0/-1x2/-2x2/-4/I Bite: 5/8/8L/1 3/6L/10B
    Abilities: Athletics 4, Awareness 2, Dodge 1, Martial Arts 4 (Huge Mouth +1), Stealth 2, Survival 3

    Armorfish, Gigantic 10/3/15 2/1/2/3 -0x2/-1x4/-2x4/-4x2/I Bite: 5/10/13L/1 2/8L/15B
    Abilities: Athletics 5, Awareness 2, Dodge 1, Martial Arts 4 (Huge Mouth +3), Survival 3

    Crawsteed 3/2/4 2/1/2/3 -0/-1/-2x3/-4/I Clinch + Bite: 6/5/4L/1 3/4L/6B
    Abilities: Athletics 3, Awareness 2, Dodge 3, Integrity 1, Martial Arts 1 (Grapple +1, Hold +2), Presence 1, Resistance 2, Survival 2

    Houndfish 2/3/2 2/2/3/3 -0/-1/-2/-4/I Bite: 5/5/3L/1 2/1L/3B
    Abilities: Athletics 2 (wim +1), Awareness 3 (Dim Light +2), Dodge 1, Integrity 1, Investigation 1, Martial Arts 1, Presence 2, Resistance 3, Stealth 1, Survival 2 (Track by Scent +2)

    Moray 1/3/1 2/1/3/2 -1/-2/I Bite: 5/7/1L/3 3/0L/1B
    Abilities: Athletics 2, Awareness 1 (Join Battle +3), Dodge 3, Martial Arts 3, Presence 1, Resistance 1, Stealth 3, Survival 2

    Ray 1/3/2 2/1/2/3 -0/-1/-2/-4/I Tail: 5/6/1L/2 3/1L/2B
    Abilities: Athletics 2 (Swim +2), Awareness 1, Dodge 3, Integrity 1, Investigation 1, Martial Arts 3, Presence 1 (Seem Bigger +2), Resistance 1, Stealth 2 (Hide in Ground +2), Survival 2
    Stingray Venom: (3L, 3, —/—, -3)
    Lightning Ray Shock: (4B, 4L), 3 yard radius

    [END ANIMAL STAT BLOCK]



    Originally posted by The Chills and One Last Joke
    Dean, this is a very important question here.
    You mention that Armorfish are roughly the size of horses. Does that mean a sufficiently motivated or perhaps insane person could in face, ride an Armorfish?
    Sure could! Though they aren't a very good shape for riding and the Control Rating would be high (5-6). But that's what Ride Charms are for. Or just having a Ride of 5, with Specialties in fish!

    Incidentally, armorfish are inspired by the bone-plated fish of the Paleozoic, such as Dunkleosteus.


    Excellent. Now if you'll excuse me, I must go laugh maniacally.


    Hey, will you have a bunch of people riding a gigantic armorfish, like Dune Fremen riding a sandworm?
    "Fish sign! Fish sign, such as God himself has never seen!" Eh, maybe not.


    Originally posted by The Chills and One Last Joke
    also is it just me or do each of the races line up like they're perfect for the different roles of some kind of Gidget goes to Creation type story? Maybe I'm just reading too far into the fact that Sokavi play great music and Tiktakti can dance like nobody's business.
    Since I've never seen any of the Gidget movies, it's just you.

    Unless some entity with its own agenda is trying to speak through me. But I consider that unlikely.





    Sunder the Gold says: Going to be reposting more of Dean's Q&A.
    Last edited by Sunder the Gold; 04-13-2017, 08:10 PM.

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  • Sunder the Gold
    replied
    And now to wrap it up with an Exalt whom characters might encounter, some new magic, and the obligatory Block o' Beasts. And that's the end of the Land Under Waves. -- Dean Shomshak

    EDIT: Do I need to remind anyone that this writeup of Righteous Tsunami, and the new Sidereal Charm, is completely unofficial and not endorsed by the current dev team?
    Righteous Tsunami
    Chair of the Convention of Water

    Righteous Tsunami was born shortly after the Great Contagion and grew up in a tiny village in Wavecrest. Like everyone else in that chaotic time, she faced a constant struggle against hunger, geomantic disasters, Wyld-spawned beasts, and people even more desperate than herself. When she was 17, an outcast of the Fair Folk came to her village and demanded tribute of food, sex and souls. Righteous Tsunami avenged her sister’s defilement and ravaging by becoming the fae’s next servant… with a poisoned meal, and an iron blade hidden in a most surprising way. Her plan almost worked. As the furious (and gleeful) raksha attacked her, though, Righteous Tsunami suddenly remembered a great deal about knife-fighting. Once she stood over the raksha’s corpse, Righteous Tsunami realized she had Exalted as a Chosen of Battles. Then she remembered the Arcane Fate of the Sidereals and left her village without bothering to say goodbye.

    The young Vizier suffered shame and hazing because of her Exaltation’s previous host. The Shieldbearer Sarquamich died trying to murder a group of Lunars… who were fighting against the Balorian Crusade at the time. The Bureau of Destiny still derides this Bronze Faction zealot for showing Worst Priorities Ever. In reaction, Righteous Tsunami strove to show her pragmatism and sense of duty. She joined the Bronze Faction because she thought the new Realm and Empress were necessary, and the Gold Faction was delusional. Over the centuries, Righteous Tsunami campaigned with Imperial legions, participated in Wyld Hunts, assassinated an entire court of elementals for resisting the Immaculate Order, and helped found the Tya.

    As part of an internal affairs investigation, Righteous Tsunami used Ceasing to Exist Approach to assume a new identity as a newly-Exalted Tya. The trail led deep into the Wyld and involved a raksha freehold, a Lunar who briefly became her assumed identity’s lover, and tangles of Fate so snarled that they affected the Shieldbearer in a manner similar to the Arcane Fate that affects all Sidereals. Even though it is well known in the Bureau of Destiny that Righteous Tsunami is centuries older than the Tya, the Loom of Fate says she was Tya when she Exalted. This does not annoy Righteous Tsunami too much, because she takes her Tya membership seriously: While the Bureau of Destiny supported the Tya’s genesis as a way to spy on the Storm Mothers, the Shieldbearer also wanted the society as an outlet for Western women. What does annoy her is that she keeps running into that damn Lunar…

    The Shieldbearer is also the youngest Sidereal to survive fighting a Deathlord one-on-one, making her one of the Silver Prince’s greatest foes. Such deeds led to Righteous Tsunami’s appointment as Chair of the Convention of Water. She still engages in fieldwork as often as possible.

    Righteous Tsunami dislikes unnecessary violence and cruelty. She’s okay with necessary violence in defense of Creation, including the death of mortals who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time: The Chosen of Battles believes that in the long run, innocent lives are best saved through quick, decisive victories, however obtained. She tells her subordinates to make damn sure those deaths are necessary, though, or they’ll write their reports on parchment made from their own flayed skin. She’s done it herself when she screwed up. It reminds her to do better next time.

    The Shieldbearer brings this same hard pragmatism to her administration of the Western Convention. Her Convention is perpetually short-handed. As a result, she accepts any Sidereals willing to work in the West, so long as they are also willing to forego office politics on missions. While Righteous Tsunami has not exactly renounced Wyld Hunts, she won’t initiate one so long as a Solar or Lunar aims himself at Creation’s enemies instead of Realm interests. (She quite likes Moray Darktide, the Skullstone Solar, for his quest to exterminate the Lintha. The Shieldbearer recently had a rip-roaring adventure with him while posing as a Dragon-Blooded Tya.) Righteous Tsunami concedes that a second mass murder of Solars may become necessary, but she thinks it can wait until the Bureau of Destiny deals with greater threats.

    Righteous Tsunami now looks like a woman in her late 20s. She has golden skin, close-cropped green hair (currently shaved back to a spiky mohawk), and jagged black Tya tattoos on her face, upper arms and shoulders. After the third time she lost her right eye in combat, she started wearing an eyepatch preëmptively: The Shieldbearer currently has both of her ruby-red eyes. Righteous Tsunami has the lean, strong build of someone who does lots of hard work; she is more handsome than beautiful, with a wry smile. She wears starmetal chainmail when she expects a fight, or the sturdy, practical clothes of a fisherman when she doesn’t need to dress up for Heaven.

    Caste: Chosen of Battles
    Anima Banner: A clear, revealing, crimson light

    Motivations: (Dean seems to have not remembered this part)
    Virtues: Compassion 1, Conviction 4, Temperance 3, Valor 4

    Attributes: Strength 3, Dexterity 6, Stamina 4; Charisma 3, Manipulation 3, Appearance 2; Perception 4, Intelligence 4, Wits 4

    Abilities: Archery 4, Athletics 4, Awareness 3, Bureaucracy 4, Craft (Fate) 4, Craft (Magitech) 2, Dodge 5, Integrity 3, Investigation 2, Larceny 4, Linguistics 3, Lore 3, Martial Arts 5, Medicine 1, Melee 6 (Daiklaves +2), Occult 4, Performance 3 (Prayer +3), Presence 4, Resistance 3, Ride 1, Sail 4, Socialize 2, Stealth 2, Survival 3 (Oceanic +2), Thrown 2, War 5

    Backgrounds: Acquaintances 5 (Abalone Dockworkers, Emissaries of Perfect Water, Lowest Dive in the Neck, Onyx Dockworkers, Storm Mothers), Allies 3 (Ocean Father), Artifact 3 (Jade Long Powerbow), Artifact 2 (Starmetal Wavecleaver Daiklave), Artifact 2 (Starmetal Hearthstone Bracers), Artifact 1 (Starmetal Chain Shirt), Artifact 1 (Wyldsight Eyepatch), Backing 5 (Convention Chair), Backing 3 (Bronze Faction), Backing 3 (Crimson Panoply of Victory), Celestial Manse 1, Connections 5 (Monastery of the Deep Stars), Connections 3 (Tya), Connections 2 (Water Fleet), Connections 2 (Wavecrest Government), Manse 3, Manse 2, Salary 3, Savant 2

    Charms:
    Archery — Any Direction Arrow, Every Direction Arrow, Generalized Ammunition Technique, Opportune Shot
    Awareness — Expected Pain, Prior Warning, Wise Choice
    Craft — Destiny-Knitting Entanglement, World-Shaping Artistic Vision (On Water)
    Dodge — Absence, Avoidance Kata, Duck Fate
    Integrity — Heroic Essence Replenishment, Preservation of Resolve, Unhearing Dedication, Unwavering Well-Being Meditation
    Investigation — Auspicious Prospects for Battles, Auspicious Prospects for Journeys, Efficient Secretary Technique
    Larceny — Avoiding the Truth Technique, Dream Confiscation Approach, Masque of the Uncanny (Demons, Fair Folk), Masque of the Wyld (new Charm), Name-Pilfering Practice, Thought-Swiping Distraction
    Lore — Methodology of Secrets
    Melee — All Charms
    Occult — Mark of Exaltation, Telltale Symphony, Terrestrial Circle Sorcery
    Presence — Force Decision, Impose Motivation, Presence in Absence Technique
    Resistance — Shield of Destiny, Someone Else’s Destiny
    Sail — All Charms
    Stealth — Blinding the Boar, Ceasing to Exist Approach, Soft Presence Practice, Subordinate Inspiration Technique, Walking Outside Fate
    War — All Charms
    First (Ability) Excellencies — Archery, Bureaucracy, Athletics, Larceny, Martial Arts, Melee, Presence, Sail
    Second (Ability) Excellencies — Awareness, Dodge, Integrity, Resistance, War
    Fateful (Ability) Excellencies — Archery, Martial Arts, Melee
    Propitious (Ability) Alignment — Dodge, Martial Arts, Melee, War

    Martial Arts:
    Prismatic Arrangement of Creation Style — Charm Redirection Technique, Deadly Starmetal Offensive, Five Jade Fury, Flickering Moonsilver Approach, Four Magical Materials Form, Orichalcum Sheathing Stance, Spell-Shattering Palm, Water Aspect Exalt Ways, Wood Aspect Exalt Ways
    Scarlet-Patterned Battlefield Style — Fallen Ivory Defense, Glance and Stride, Impeccable Patterned Deployment, Scarlet-Patterned Battlefield Form, Unassailable Rebuff Position, Without Strategy Arrangement
    Violet Bier of Sorrows Style — All Charms
    Wood Dragon Style — Eyes of the Wood Dragon, Mind-Over-Body Meditation, Soul-Marking Strike, Spirit-Rending Technique, Spirit-Wracking Method, Wood Dragon Form, Wood Dragon Vitality

    Combos:
    Godslaying Arrow — Fateful Archery Excellency, First Archery Excellency, Any Direction Arrow, Spirit-Rending Technique.
    Impossible Firing Squad Protocol — Fateful Archery Excellency, First Archery Excellency, Any Direction Arrow, Every Direction Arrow.
    Rational Defensive Assumptions — Second Dodge Excellency, Blade of the Battle Maiden, Impeding the Flow, Joy in Adversity Stance, Unassailable Rebuff Position.
    Vanishing Killer Technique — First Melee Excellency, Avoidance Kata, Impeding the Flow, Life-Severing Blow.

    Sorcery:
    Terrestrial Circle Spells — Conjure Elemental, Disguise of the New Face, Emerald Circle Banishment, Infallible Messenger, Keel Cleaves the Clouds, Mast-Shattering Spell, Open the Spirit Door, Storm Rider Enchantment, Viridian Mantle of Underwater Journeys

    Colleges: The Banner 2, The Captain 4, The Ewer 4, The Gauntlet 2, The Mast 1, The Quiver 5, The Shield 4, The Spear 5, The Sword 4

    Join Battle: 7 (14 with Secrets of Future Strife)
    Attacks:
    Clinch: Speed 6, Accuracy 10*, Damage 3B Piercing, Parry DV —, Rate 1
    Kick: Speed 5, Accuracy 12*, Damage 6B, Parry DV 6*, Rate 2
    Punch: Speed 5, Accuracy 13, Damage 3B, Parry DV 8*, Rate 3
    Crimson Tide (Starmetal Wavecleaver Daiklave): Speed 5, Accuracy 19*, Damage 13L/3*, Parry DV 8*, Rate 2
    Elegant Green Falcon (Jade Long Powerbow): Speed 6, Accuracy 12*, Damage 8L**, Range 350, Rate 3
    *Includes bonuses from magical materials and hearthstone bracers.
    **Uses broadhead arrows.
    Soak: 7L/7B (Starmetal chain shirt, +5L/3B, Hardness 3L/3B)
    Health Levels: -0/-1/-1/-2/-2/-4/Incap
    Dodge DV: 11 Willpower: 8
    Essence: 7
    Personal Essence: 22 Peripheral Essence: 45(62)
    Committed Essence: 17
    Other Notes: Righteous Tsunami’s hearthstone bracer carries the Hearthstone of the Monastery of the Deep Stars, a Mind-Cleansing Gem (see The Books of Sorcery, Vol. III — Oadenol’s Codex, p. 96). Her wavecleaver daiklave carries the Gem of Starlight (ibid., p. 104) from her modest manse-bungalow in Yu-Shan. (The Shieldbearer spends too much time in Creation to want anything more.) The Cold Iron Bauble (ibid., p. 89) in her daiklave’s other socket comes from a manse that she found on a Bordermarch island. Righteous Tsunami and her fellow Sidereals use it as a base for expeditions into the Wyld. The Windhands Gemstone (Exalted, p. 382) in Righteous Tsunami’s powerbow comes from a manse in the Abalone interior, also used as a Western Convention safehouse.


    New Equipment and Charms

    New Sidereal Charm: Masque of the Wyld
    Cost: 5m + 2wp; Mins: Larceny 4, Essence 2; Type: Simple
    Keywords: Combo-OK, Shaping
    Duration: Indefinite
    Prerequisite Charms: Any Larceny Excellency, Name-Pilfering Practice

    Righteous Tsunami, Chair of the Convention of Water, requested this Charm from the Maidens when she realized how much of the West’s population consisted of Wyld mutants and beastmen… and Sidereals had no good way to impersonate them. Now, they do. Oh, they could make people think they were pelagothropes or other altered humans — but drawing gill-lines on her neck and saying, “I’m a Sea Person!” wouldn’t let her breathe underwater.

    The Sidereal tangles her fate with that of another human race. Engineered races such as the Tree Folk or People of the Sea are valid targets. So are beastmen and Wyld mutants who now breed true in Creation, such as the Varajtul cannibals or the Shadow Swimmers of Luthe. For that matter, the Sidereal could simply choose another ethnic group from baseline humanity.

    On activating the Charm, the character becomes a member of that race, with its standard package of Wyld mutations. She remains more or less recognizable as herself: Physically, she is now who she would have been if she’d been born a member of that race. Her Abilities, Charms and other Traits do not change, except as they are specifically modified by her new mutations.

    A Vizier can maintain Masque of the Wyld as long as she wants, but the Willpower points spent in using the Charm are committed: The Sidereal cannot recover them until she lets the Charm lapse and returns to her natural form. Depending on her assumed form, she may be a creature of the Wyld for purposes of other Charms.

    Characters select one offshoot race when they learn Masque of the Wyld. Additional races (each with its own package of mutations and new appearance for the Sidereal) cost 2 experience points or one bonus point each. (It’s steep, but Sidereals just can’t equal Lunars as shapeshifters.) A character can assimilate the fate of a race through a scene of personal contact with a member, or requisition its fate profile from the Bureau of Destiny.

    Should a Sidereal already come from an offshoot race, or otherwise possess a package of mutations, she may use Masque of the Wyld to assume the form of a baseline human, or a different offshoot race. For instance, a Vizier born as a furry Varajtul could select one human ethnic type — anything from a blonde Haslanti to an ebon-skinned Harborheadite— as her alternate form, or become one of the Dune People. Indeed, nothing forbids a Vizier of one normal human ethnicity from using the Charm to assume the appearance of another human ethnicity.

    Unlike the spell Disguise of the New Face, Masque of the Wyld creates real changes rather than illusion. All-Encompassing Sorcerer’s Sight and other forms of Essence perception do not detect the alteration to the Sidereal. As far as the Tapestry of Fate is concerned, this is the Sidereal’s true form until she chooses to end the Charm’s effects. Even if the Sidereal dies, she leaves a corpse in her assumed form.


    Oceansong Harp (Artifact •)

    This musical artifact ostensibly helps anchorites divine the future. The harp consists of a carved stone frame that curves in a rounded scalene triangle. Eleven strands of gut stretch across the frame. Tides and currents set the strings humming. Anchorites who perform their deep-sea meditations to the harp’s eerie susurrus experience strange visions that reveal secrets of other times, distant places and the dead. This in turn may increase the accuracy of their divinations.

    The Lanotiri mystics do not know who makes the harps: The instruments come from afar and the ocean is vast. The anchorites would not seek them so eagerly if they knew the pelagials wrought the harps in the City of Shining Reefs, and their song is the Whispers of the Neverborn. The pelagials use duped agents to place these artifacts where anchorites can obtain them, in hopes that exposure to forbidden knowledge leads the Lanotiri mystics to serve the Neverborn.

    Anyone who meditates on the oceansong harp’s song for an hour finds his mind opened to the dreams of the dead Primordials: He gains the benefit of Whispers •. The harp synergizes with the anchorites’ Oceansong Divination, enabling such characters to add the harp’s Whispers background to the dice pool for the Procedures. The character may gain additional information unrelated to her immediate query, but relevant to her wider concerns — all from the perspective of an entity that yearns for Oblivion. A good rule of thumb for Storytellers is to grant one datum per two threshold successes on the Whispers-enhanced divination, and to supply information that leads the querent to despair, alienation from her society and a desire for greater knowledge from the harp.

    Practice with the harp permits its owner to buy her own dots of Whispers, at the normal bonus or experience point costs for Backgrounds. From then on, the owner can gain a +1 die bonus to any Whispers roll by committing three motes to the oceansong harp and listening to it for an hour. The harp only works underwater.

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  • Sunder the Gold
    replied
    And now the Antagonists chapter!
    Gods and Monsters of Warrakai

    Mortals

    I meant to write up a sample Lanotir anchorite and sample Olonik and Takotik warriors, but I never got around to it. Left as an exercise for the reader.

    Supernatural People

    Koro Ahotéa

    Seventeen years ago, a nymph of Warrakai lusted for an exceptionally handsome Bragam warrior. Unlike land-dwellers, the young Bragam had no trouble surviving the torrid love affair. When sex resulted in reproduction, though, the nymph’s ardor cooled. She gave the baby girl to the father and told him to raise the little parasite and she never wanted to see him again. The rules were clear for the young Bragam: He gave his God-Blooded bastard daughter his family name of Koro and the nymph’s name of Ahotéa, and then gave her to the Warra-Ru.

    Ahotéa is now a sweet 16. She is stunningly beautiful, with deep blue eyes, golden-azure scales, slim from enthusiastic swimming once her gills developed but still gracefully curved in all the right places. Diligent study and good luck in inheriting the power to channel Essence brought her early to full membership in the Warra-Ru. Not only has the young God-Blood attained Initiate Degrees in two Arts of Thaumaturgy, she has made friends with her mother and from her learned her first spirit Charm. Ahotéa proudly wears the necklace, belt and headband of nacre and coral that proclaims her priesthood. The Warra-Ru expect Ahotéa to become a leading priestess someday, and she wants to live up to their expectations.

    In a fit of adolescent drama, Ahotéa swore she would give herself to no man except Warratoa, the great and generous benefactor of all Warrakai. So far, Warratoa still treats her like a daughter. Ahotéa finds her vow harder and harder to bear, given that she inherited some of her mother’s impulsive and passionate temperament as well as her capacity to channel Essence. The elder Ahotéa tells her daughter to enjoy the handsome young men she meets — and the Warra-Ru do not demand or enforce vows of chastity — but the young priestess thinks everyone else misses the point. She made a vow to her god, and how could she look Warratoa in the face again if she broke it? If she, a priestess, cannot be true to her god, how can she expect other people to do so?

    Motivation: Serve Warratoa and Warrakai with all her passion.

    Virtues: Compassion 3, Conviction 3, Temperance 2, Valor 1

    Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 3; Charisma 3, Manipulation 1, Appearance 5; Perception 2, Intelligence 2, Wits 2

    Abilities: Athletics 2, Awareness 2, Bureaucracy 2, Dodge 2, Integrity 1, Linguistics (Native: Seatongue, Others: Old Realm) 1, Lore 2, Melee 1, Occult 3, Performance 3, Presence 3, Socialize 1, Stealth 1, Survival 1

    Backgrounds: Backing 2 (Warra-Ru), Contacts 2, Inheritance 1, Patron 1 (Nymph mother)
    Merits and Flaws: Priest (1 point)
    Mutations:
    Racial — Gills (2 point), Scales (1 point), Water Adaptation (1 point)
    God-Blooded — Elemental Rejuvenation (6 points), Longevity (1 point)

    Charms:
    Measure the Wind
    Thaumaturgy:
    Elemental Summoning — Initiate
    Spirit Beckoning — Initiate

    Join Battle: 4
    Attacks:
    Clinch: Speed 6, Accuracy 3, Damage 2B Piercing, Parry DV —, Rate 1
    Kick: Speed 5, Accuracy 3, Damage 5B, Parry DV 0, Rate 2
    Punch: Speed 5, Accuracy 4, Damage 2B, Parry DV 2, Rate 3
    Knife: Speed 5, Accuracy 5, Damage 4L, Parry DV 2, Rate 3
    Soak: 2L/4B
    Health Levels: -0/-1/-1/-2/-2/-4/Incap
    Dodge DV: 3 Willpower: 6
    Essence: 1 Essence Pool: 26
    Committed Essence: 0
    Other Notes:
    Ahotéa carries a knife but has never used it for anything more violent than gutting a sacrificial fish.


    Coral Gods

    These small gods oversees the health and beauty of coral reefs. Coral gods take great pride in the appearance and prolific life of the reefs under their care, from the placement of sponges to the precise curvetting of schools of fish. Few of these gods are very powerful, so they may need the help of other spirits to protect their fragile reefs from pelagic Fair Folk, blundering sea monsters and other oceanic threats.

    Over thousands of years, coral reefs can become new land. Coral gods are immensely proud of the islands they create; and if a reef has not become an island yet, why, that won’t stop its god from boasting how white its sands shall be, the elegance of its shape and the grateful prayers the god shall receive (someday!) from mariners weary of the sea. Conversely, few sea-spirits match the coral gods in their hatred and fear of the waters of chaos that sweep out of the Western Wyld, for these eldritch currents can wash away their reefs.

    A coral god resembles a plump man or woman with the brightly-colored, scaled skin of a tropical fish. When they swim, their legs fuse into piscine tails. Coral gods wear diadems of living coral interspersed with tubeworms, shellfish and tiny sponges. Their teeth and nails are of polished pink, red or black coral. These gods adore jewelry and particularly value offerings of earrings, necklaces, bracelets and other treasures of gold and precious stones. Though not quick, coral gods are exceptionally steady on their feet — sticking to the ground as tightly as their coral sticks to its underlying reef. If these gods must fight, coral instantly grows around their fists to form massive, jagged fighting gauntlets; and once a coral god grapples a foe, the adversary finds it unexpectedly difficult to break free.

    Sanctum: A coral god usually keeps her sanctum within a cleft or grotto in the reef. Past the spirit door, the sanctum appears as a small palace made of living coral, shellfish and other sea creatures, with floors of white sand and furniture of coral-rock and mother of pearl.

    Motivation: Protect the reef and make it grow in size and beauty.

    Virtues: Compassion 2, Conviction 3, Temperance 2, Valor 3

    Attributes: Strength 3, Dexterity 2, Stamina 4; Charisma 4, Manipulation 2, Appearance 3; Perception 3, Intelligence 2, Wits 3

    Abilities: Athletics 2 (Swimming +1, Keep Footing +2), Awareness 3, Craft (Wood) 1 (Marine Life Topiary +3), Dodge 2, Integrity 3, Investigation 1, Linguistics (Native: Old Realm; Others: Seatongue) 1, Lore 1 (Oceanography +1, Marine Biology +2), Martial Arts 3 (Clinch +3), Occult 1 (Oceanic Spirit Courts +2), Presence 3, Resistance 2 (Resist Knockdown and Knockback +3), Socialize 1, Survival 2 (Coral Reefs +3)

    Backgrounds: Sanctum 2

    Charms:
    Affinity Coral Reef Control — Purge diseases and toxins from the life of the reef, or make it toxic; evoke zones of jagged coral, biting fish and other hazards as an environmental effect; shape coral and other sessile reef organisms; reef creatures shield the god from attacks, adding +2 to all soak values; animate the reef’s substance to attack, with a dice pool of 7.
    Call — Communicate with anyone on/in the reef.
    Domain Manipulation Scenario — Shape the reef’s growth and the behavior of its native life; often used to repair damage to a reef by speeding its growth or create a cleaning station.
    Hurry Home — Return instantly to his or her reef.
    Landscape Hide — A coral god can merge with the reef’s substance.
    Loom Stride — Disappear from one point on the reef, reappear somewhere else.
    Materialize — Costs 40 motes.
    Measure the Wind — Feel currents of Essence eddying around a creature.
    Sense Domain — Coral gods know the health of their reefs, and any damage done to them.
    First (Ability) Excellency — Martial Arts, Presence, Resistance
    Second (Ability) Excellency — Awareness, Craft

    Join Battle: 6
    Attacks:
    Coral-Fist Clinch: Speed 6, Accuracy 7, Damage 6B, Parry DV —, Rate 1, P
    Coral-Fist Punch: Speed 5, Accuracy 5, Damage 8B, Parry DV 4, Rate 2
    Soak: 4L/6B (2L/2B from Affinity Coral Reef Control)
    Health Levels: -0/-1x4/-2x3/-4/Incap.
    Dodge DV: 3 Willpower: 6
    Essence: 2 Essence Pool: 50
    Other Notes: The coral gods of Warrakai possess Charms that other coral gods usually lack. All Warrakaian coral gods know the Fortress of Creation and Wyld Armor Charms (see The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. II — The Wyld, p. 143 for details), but can use them only when Warratoa commands it. Also, Warratoa is a valid target for the coral god’s Call.


    Warratoa
    God of Warrakai

    The god of Warrakai began as a coral god of exceptional power. He has vivid yellow skin striped with black and electric blue, and wears a robe of shimmering blue silk embroidered with silver waves. His crown features coral branches and cockle-shells wrought in gold and studded with pearls.

    Warratoa permits no dissention in his spirit court, but he does not imagine himself as ruling his mortal worshippers. Rather, he regards Warrakai as a very large reef that he nurtures in the manner of any other coral god, with the five races as part of the fauna. He enjoys seeing the Warrakaians prosper, just as he enjoys the plateau’s abundance of fish and other marine life. If he values the Warrakaians more than he values the barnacles, it’s only because the Warrakaians’ worship provides the Essence to defend the plateau and keep the lesser spirits in line. Warratoa wants the five races to cooperate in developing the plateau, but if they evolve a shared government they shall do it without their chief god’s help or hindrance.

    In contrast to Warratoa’s easy-going attitude to mortals, he treats the Exalted warily. Partnership with Laughing Undertow made him leader of Warrakai’s spirits, but also brought a great deal of trouble from the Bronze Faction and its Shogunate pawns. Warratoa shall not easily forgive the Bronze Faction for the damage inflicted on his reefs in battle, or for humbling him in his own sanctum. Nor shall he forgive Leviathan for starting the war in the first place. His experiences left Warratoa feeling no reverence for the “Princes of the Earth.” Any Exalted who want his help must buy it with abundant help in return... or force it, and risk the enmity of one of the West’s largest and most disciplined spirit courts.

    Sanctum: A visitor first sees the god’s throne room, a chamber of wave-sculpted rock decorated with coral-encrusted pillars, huge shellfish and colorful sea anemones. A gigantic open scallop forms a back to Warratoa’s throne of nacre, coral and pearls. A nacre crescent above the throne shows Warratoa’s reverence to Luna, She Who Calls The Tides (though not to the Lunar Exalted). The throne room appears roofless, so sunlight fills it with a turquoise glow by day. At night, oysters open so that luminous pearls can supplement moonlight. Anyone who swims up and out of the throne room surfaces in the lagoon; the passage is strictly one-way. Tunnels behind curtains of living kelp and seaweed lead to other parts of the water-filled palace, such as Warratoa’s bedchamber, guest suites, a kitchen and other facilities.

    Motivation: Protect, promote and cultivate Warrakai. Warratoa’s Intimacies are to the Five Races (a gardener’s affection), the Bronze Faction (hostility), Leviathan (bitterness), Luna (reverence) and the Wyld (resolute opposition).

    Virtues: Compassion 2, Conviction 4, Temperance 3, Valor 3

    Attributes: Strength 6, Dexterity 4, Stamina 6; Charisma 5, Manipulation 4, Appearance 3; Perception 4, Intelligence 4, Wits 5

    Abilities: Athletics 3 (Swimming +1, Keep Footing +2), Awareness 5, Bureaucracy 3 (Oceanic Spirit Courts +3), Craft (Wood) 2 (Marine Life Topiary +3), Dodge 2, Integrity 5, Investigation 3, Linguistics (Native: Old Realm; Others: High Realm, Seatongue) 2, Lore 3 (Oceanography +1, Marine Biology +2), Martial Arts 4 (Clinch +3), Melee 4 (Daikalbar +3), Occult 3 (Oceanic Spirit Courts +2, Western Wyld +1), Performance 1 (Oratory +3), Presence 5, Resistance 3 (Resist Knockdown and Knockback +3), Ride 1 (Sea Beasts +3), Socialize 3 (Sea Spirits +2), Stealth 2, Survival 3 (Coral Reefs +2, Kelp Forests +1), Thrown 1

    Backgrounds: Artifact 3 (Teeth of Warrakai), Cult 3, Followers 3, Resources 4, Sanctum 2

    Spirit Charms:
    Affinity Coral Reef Control — Purge diseases and toxins from the life of his atoll, or make it toxic; evoke zones of jagged coral, biting fish and other hazards as an environmental effect; shape coral and other sessile reef organisms; reef creatures shield Warratoa from attacks, adding +6 to all soak values; animate the reef’s substance to attack, with a dice pool of 10.
    Amethyst Awareness — Warratoa perceives all supernatural forces and phenomena.
    Banishment — An unstoppable wave or current of water washes the god’s enemy miles away from the atoll.
    Call — Communicate with anyone on/in his atoll, or any subordinate spirit.
    Chrysalis of Preservation — Warratoa can encase defeated enemies in coral, or crystallize Essence into silver pearls for distribution to other spirits. Each pearl carries 10 motes that any Essence-channeler can access.
    Divine Decree — Set every spirit of Warrakai working toward a particular goal.
    Domain Manipulation Scenario — Shape the underlying reef’s growth and the behavior of its native life; often used to repair damage to a reef by speeding its growth, or to create a cleaning station.
    Essence Plethora — Extra 30 motes.
    Form Reduction Technique — Warratoa takes the form of a small fish, but keeps the same coloring.
    Fortress of Creation — Costs 10 motes, 2 Willpower to bar the Wyld from an area; see The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. II — The Wyld, p. 143 for details.
    Hurry Home — Return instantly to his atoll.
    Landscape Hide — Warratoa can merge with the substance of his atoll.
    Loom Stride — Move anywhere on or in his atoll.
    Materialize — Costs 65 motes.
    Measure the Wind — Feel currents of Essence eddying around a creature.
    Sense Domain — Warratoa knows the health of his atoll, and any damage done to it.
    Wyld Armor — Add +2 dice to rolls to resist the Wyld; see The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. II — The Wyld, p. 143 for details.
    First (Ability) Excellency — Martial Arts, Melee, Presence, Resistance
    Second (Ability) Excellency — Awareness, Craft, Integrity
    Infinite (Ability) Mastery — Martial Arts, Melee, Presence
    Divine (Ability) Subordination — Integrity, Presence

    Join Battle: 10
    Attacks:
    Coral-Fist Clinch: Speed 6, Accuracy 10, Damage 9B, Parry DV —, Rate 1, P
    Coral-Fist Punch: Speed 5, Accuracy 8, Damage 11B, Parry DV 5, Rate 2
    Teeth of Warrakai (Daikalbar): Speed 5, Accuracy 14, Damage 14L, Parry DV 7, Rate 2, 2, R
    Soak: 9L/12B (6L/6B from Affinity Coral Reef Control)
    Health Levels: -0/-1x5/-2x4/-4/Incap
    Dodge DV: 6 Willpower: 7
    Essence: 6 Essence Pool: 125

    Other Notes: Warratoa wields the Teeth of Warrakai, a daikalbar (see Scroll of the Monk, p. 159), as part of his spiritual panoply. One end bears a mass of twisting coral spikes; the other carries large, blade-like shells. The weapon has no magical material bonus or hearthstone setting, but any opponent struck by the Teeth of Warrakai loses one dot of Dexterity as both a Shaping and Crippling effect, as coral grows across his body to weigh him down and restrict his movements.

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  • Sunder the Gold
    replied
    by Dean Shomshack

    Here are the dominion stats and sample military unit that nobody ever uses. I was going to write up a sample Oloniki band and Takotikti scale, but there didn't seem to be much point once CoCD: Autochthonia officially dropped all that nonsense. I didn't bother writing dominion stats or military units for any other societies. -- Dean Shomshak

    [BEGIN BOXED TEXT]
    Warrakai, a Magnitude 3 Dominion
    Military: 1 Government: 2 Culture: 3
    Abilities: Awareness 3 (Pelagic Kin +1), Bureaucracy 1, Craft 1, Integrity 3 (Religious Edict +3), Investigation 1, Occult 2 (Spirit Dealing +3), Performance 2, Presence 2 (Divine Authority +), War 1
    Virtues: Compassion 3, Conviction 1, Temperance 4, Valor 3
    Virtue Flaw: Temperance Current Limit: 2
    Willpower: 6
    Bonus Points: 15 External Bonus Points: 9

    Notes: Though dominated by Warratoa’s spirit court, Warrakai’s population is mortal and it counts as a human dominion. Bonus points go to a dot of Valor and the Integrity, Occult and Performance Specialties. External bonus points, derived from Warrakai’s contacts with other marine societies and (to a much smaller degree) Wavecrest, give the dominion another dot of Awareness, the dot of Craft, and the Awareness Specialties. Warratoa rules the dominion, as much as anyone can be said to do so. There are no savants or sorcerers, though either Righteous Tsunami or Leviathan could function as sorcerers if they wanted. (And heaven help Warrakai if they both choose this role and act at cross-purposes.) In limit break, the pragmatic truce between the five races breaks down and the Warrakaians lose themselves in an orgy of competitive flattery and sacrifice as they try to secure the sole favor of Warratoa.
    [END BOXED TEXT]


    Sample Combat Units

    All Warrakaians fight if they come under attack, but the Bragamali, Lanotiri and Sokavi are not especially martial cultures. Most of these folk count as green troops, with a few regulars and perhaps one elite or mortal hero per community. Their usual strategy is to retreat to a cave or other place that restricts an enemy’s capacity to attack, or to scatter into the wide and empty sea. The Ru-Sokaiienjoy special flexibility: If attacked on land they retreat to the sea, and if attacked in the water they retreat to nearby land. The Ru-Olonaii and Ru-Takaii, however, all train for combat and their communities double as mass combat units.


    Pelagic Dragon Armada

    Description: In Halta, semi-intelligent animals are called san-beasts, but such animals did not appear first in Halta. During the Shogunate, the Lunar called Laughing Undertow bred a semi-intelligent race of pelagic dragons. (See Compass of Terrestrial Directions, Vol. II — The West, pp. 159-160 for description and traits of pelagic dragons.) Then she trained and conditioned her san-dragons to fight as military units. At least one such force survived the Shogunate, waiting for someone to say the word that awakens them from ageless sleep and calls them back to war. Pelagic dragons can capsize even the largest ships by acting together, or snatch sailors off decks and eat them. However, they cannot fight on land.

    Commanding Officer: Whoever awakens them
    Armor Color: Scaled green skin
    Motto: ROAR!
    General Makeup: 50 pelagic dragons
    Overall Quality: Average
    Magnitude: 2
    Drill: 2
    Close Combat Attack: 3 Close Combat Damage: 4
    Ranged Attack:Ranged Damage:
    Endurance: 11 Might: 3 Armor: 2 (-0 mobility penalty) Valor: 4
    Formation: Pelagic dragons are large enough that they cannot fight in any formation closer than skirmishing. The dragons have no heroes, sorcerers or relays.

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  • Sunder the Gold
    replied
    Making a Living

    Just like people on land, Warrakaians spend most of their time hunting, gathering or farming. They also make tools and implements for everyday use. However, the five races differ greatly in their aptitudes as artisans. The Lanotiri and Takotikti cannot leave the water. The Bragamali and Oloniki just don’t like to. As a result, they cannot use fire — and so they cannot smelt metal, make pottery or even cook food. Of the Warrakaian races, only the Ru-Sokaii spend enough time on land to perform these feats. Other Warrakaians make tools only from stone, bone, shell, animal sinew and seaweed fiber.


    Nascent Commerce

    For centuries, Warrakai saw very little trade. Communities fed themselves and made their own simple tools as best they could. The Ru-Sokaii traded baubles, beads and the occasional talisman in return for food and sojourn-rights, but such treasures were for chiefs and elders, not ordinary folk.

    A new form of commerce began with sacred feasts at Warratoa’s atoll. Each race wanted Warratoa to receive sacrifices personally, and this led to scheduling conflicts. Warratoa told the worshippers competing for his attention to combine their festivals. Eventually, devotees of every race tried to contribute food to every feast: They didn’t want their offerings made conspicuous through their absence. People back home wanted their own religious rites to imitate the prestigious feasts at the Sacred Atoll, and so Warrakaians began trading food as a way to show their piety.

    Only in the last 50 years did the Warrakaians move to commerce in other goods. Peace between the races gives everyone time to produce more food; food swaps between communities gives everyone a healthier, more nutritious diet. Trade in tools, weapons and ornaments has also begun, and communities develop their resources beyond what they need for themselves.

    The Ru-Bragamaii lead Warrakai in food production through their kelp farms. While they can’t equal Sokavi artisans, they can fashion implements and ornaments from stone, bone, shell and coral. Bragam family elders provide a ready market for the finer goods and foreign luxuries of Sokavi tinkers and traders. These patriarchs then squander their wealth in extravagant sacrifices to Warratoa and competitive feasts and gift-giving to increase their prestige.

    Since the Ru-Lanotaii obtained houndfish and Bragam-made nets, they have caught more squid than before. They trade the surplus. Western Ru-Lanotaii are also Warrakai’s chief source for chert, and only source for jade. The eastern Ru-Lanotaii find themselves left behind as their western cousins grow richer through commerce in stone.

    The Sokavi still act as intermediaries between the other races, and between Warrakai and other aquatic communities. Their crawsteeds carry packs loaded with foodstuffs, Bragam nets, Lanotir chert and other goods. They are also the only Warrakaians to interact with land-dwelling humanity: Troupes make regular visits to select villages in Wavecrest, where they exchange Warrakai’s nacre, coral and pearls for metal tools, glass beads and other goods.

    The clumsy Ru-Takaii cannot make anything the other races want. Nevertheless, they find a unique commodity for trade: their own chitin, cast off as they grow. Warrakaians fashion many implements from this lightweight, tough but flexible substance (just as land-dwellers make implements of horn). Some Warrakaians even fashion cuirasses from Takotik chitin. For many Takotiks, the sight of other folk wearing their cast-off shells seems… very strange, and a bit creepy. But, they have little else to trade for the tools and foodstuffs of the other races.

    Some of the immigrant Takotikti, denied a place in the native scales, trade their labor by working in Bragamali kelp forests. This is Warrakai’s first experience with hired agricultural labor and a servile underclass. It’s small yet, but some Bragams like it and want to import more foreign Takotik workers. On the other hand, some Takotikti decry the practice as a betrayal of their ancestors’ struggle for freedom.

    The Ru-Olonaii still live as nomads. When they return to Warrakai from the open sea, the dolphinmen trade the fish they herd for other goods and services — chiefly ornaments and weapons. Living on the move, they do not want to acquire much property. However, some dolphinmen now wear backpacks. When they see something small, interesting and potentially valuable, they bring it back to trade in Warrakai. In true nomad fashion, these Oloniki take a free and easy attitude toward other people’s property. No one yet is ready to abandon fish-herding for plunder, but a few bands plan to raid other marine and land-dwelling communities in passing.


    [BEGIN BOXED TEXT]
    Sokavi Commerce

    Sokavi trade is very profitable for Wavecrest merchants, as the Sea People pay far more than what the goods are worth to surface folk. By the Resources system, the sea-treasures given by the Ru-Sokaii are worth one dot more than the goods they buy. Any surface-made commodity has its Resources value increased by one dot in Warrakai, if it is available at all.

    On his troupe’s last visit to Wavecrest, the young Sokavi trader Tensui Waihoro met a strange merchant from a distant land. The stranger dazzled Waihoro with his tales of a commercial network called the Guild. The young trader now thinks the troupe should become the Guild’s agents in Warrakai, and take the other races for all they can get.
    [END BOXED TEADE]


    Clothing Undersea

    All five races are well adapted to living in the ocean. They face no hardship from salt water or the temperature of the sea (at least not in their mild climate). As a result, Warrakaians wear clothing only to protect certain sensitive areas of the anatomy (and the Takotikti don’t even need that, as chitin plates cover genitals when they are not in use). Typical garb is merely a breechcloth made from woven seaweed-fiber or finely scraped fishskin, with a harness of similar materials for carrying weapons or tools. Warrakaians may adorn such garb with shells, badges carved of nacre or coral, or Sokavi-made jewelry.

    On formal occasions, Bragam patriarchs don flashy and fanciful breastplates, headbands, armbands and other ornaments. These items circulate through the tribes as elders flaunt their wealth by giving them as gifts, and become ever more elaborate as each owner adds a few more beads or bangles. Ornaments that provably passed through all seven tribes carry immense prestige. Some ornaments are also designed to break into sections: A patriarch gives the pieces to different rivals and then tries to collect them again, just to prove he can do it.


    Hidden Hands

    As with most mortal societies, Warrakai just happened. Warratoa encouraged peace among the five races so they would breed more worshippers; the five races accept peace so they can share the god’s protection. No hidden hand pushed them together or guided Warrakai toward some greater goal.

    That might change. Two powerful Exalted now take an interest in the Land Under Waves.
    The first is Leviathan, one of the most powerful of the Lunar Exalted. Warrakai is less than 100 miles from sunken Luthe. No one in Warrakai knows about the sunken city, but Leviathan thinks the Land Under Waves falls within his territory. He simply didn’t care about its squabbling tribes, seeing them neither as useful nor dangerous. Then the five races became a nascent nation… and one race descends from Leviathan’s long-dead crony, Laughing Undertow.

    The ancient Lunar now wonders what he could do with the Oloniki and the rest of Warrakai. His young acolyte Swims-in-Shadow (see Scroll of Exalts, pp. 54-55) travels through Warrakai to learn about its mortal and spiritual residents. While Leviathan cares most about Warrakai’s potential use against the Dragon-Blooded and the Realm, Swims-in-Shadow pays special attention to Warrakai’s spirits. As a shaman and a member of the faction called the Seneschals of the Sun Kings, the young Steward hopes to remind Warratoa’s court of the Creation-Ruling Mandate held by the Celestial Exalted — and to convince them that the Seneschals inherit that authority over Creation’s spirits. He does not yet understand how much Warratoa resents Leviathan for dragging him into the Lunar’s war so long ago.

    As the young Lunar studies the Warrakaians, Righteous Tsunami, Chair of the Western Convention of the Sidereal Exalted, studies him. Some years ago, this potent Chosen of Battles realized that not everyone in the West lived on land. She also realized that the Bureau of Destiny had no influence among the marine races, while the Lunar Exalted did. That bothered her a great deal. The Vizier sees Warrakai as a view into pelagothrope culture, and a first step in building Sidereal influence below the waves. She also sees potential in spreading Warratoa’s system of Wyld-warding to other communities, and other spirit courts, on Creation’s rim.

    Righteous Tsunami knows that Warrakai can never become a satrapy of the Realm, or even an allied state: The Immaculate Order despises altered humans and Warratoa despises the Bronze Faction. The Vizier hopes to use Warrakai someday against the Lintha, the Western Fair Folk and other threats to Creation whether Warratoa likes it or not. For now, she would settle for preventing Lunar dominance in Warrakai. That Warratoa hates Leviathan does not give her any confidence that Warrakai could resist the ancient Lunar.

    As long as Swims-in-Shadow merely observes, Righteous Tsunami does not bother him. Should he seem likely to recruit Warratoa or bring other Lunars to the Land Under Waves, Righteous Tsunami might act against him and them — something that recently became more feasible, thanks to a new Charm the Maidens devised at the Shieldbearer’s request. Complacently, Righteous Tsunami does not think it possible that the Stewards could spot her attempts at social manipulation, and escalate in response.

    So far, neither Exalt thinks very much about the pelagials.

    A Shadow in the Deep

    Lomu ula Troano does not like the Takotik laborers hired by his village’s Banj-Ru patriarch. Who knows what they say to each other with their claw-clicks and gestures? And one night he hid near their encampment, half a mile and 100 feet downslope from the village. The young Bragam thought he’d spy on the clumsy creatures building a tube-home, which would be funny, or mating, which would be funnier. Instead, he saw several of them plodding further from the village. Troano followed, swimming quickly between rock outcroppings and patches of seaweed, barely keeping sight of the Takotikti in the ocean-filtered moonlight.

    Everything looked strange in the faint and wavering light. Maybe that’s why Troano didn’t recognize the mass of strangely regular stones where the Takotikti stopped. The laborers knelt facing one of the stones, gesturing… no, praying… Was it a trick of his eyes in the gloom, or did sparks of bruise-colored light move across the altar?

    But Troano’s gills were not fully mature. He ached with fatigue from using them so long. His lungs burned with the need to inhale. And he was afraid. The young Bragam broke and swam desperately for the surface, heedless of what might see or hear him.

    Back at the cay he shared with the village’s other young Bragamali, Troano huddled in his seaweed tent and panted in fear. Pursuit did not come… and as one fear faded, others replaced it. The immigrant laborers were false in their prayers to Warratoa. But who, or what, did they truly worship? Troano did not sleep the rest of the night.

    The next day, Troano tried to tell his parents and village elders about the secret rites of the Takotik workers — but he was just a boy of a low-ranking, minor family. Some grown-ups told him that other tribes had other ways and it was none of his business. Anyway, the immigrants helped the prosperity of the village. A few grown-ups accused him of making trouble for the leading families that employed the Takotikti. Others accused him of making up stories to get attention.

    Troano now stays away from the Takotikti. Whenever one of them sees him, he wonders: Do they know he spied on them? What will they do if they find out? He prays for Warratoa to protect him. To protect them all.


    The Pelagial Plan

    The Takotik hetman Greenurchin Secondson is right: The pelagials move against Warrakai. They held the Land Under Waves millennia before the People of the Sea settled. Moreover, their oracles foresee the nascent nation becoming a threat to the City of the Shining Reefs. If the alliance of tribes should prosper, it might spread to other communities of the five races; and five races might become six, or 10, or 20, in a vast and mighty federation. The Sleeping Princes command the pelagials to reclaim the plateau and enslave its people to the will of Whose Whispers Chain — or destroy them.

    The pelagials lack the strength to conquer Warrakai through a direct assault, so they attempt to subvert the sea-folk and turn communities against each other. Occasional raids by singers of the deep and other slaves keep Warrakaians thinking about small, short-term dangers instead of longer, subtler threats. The pelagials do not expect any single plan to seize Warrakai. They attempt many schemes, in hopes that enough of them succeed to forestall the future that the Sleeping Princes saw in the dreams of their Neverborn patron.

    And so the pelagials’ spies infiltrate Warrakaian society. Tempting Artifacts subvert or destroy the people best able to foresee or forestall the pelagials’ other plots. Leaders are set against each other, or are murdered and replaced. Ancient, long-lost fanes are found and consecrated anew.

    The net is being woven around Warrakai, and few even suspect its existence. Will the Warrakaians see the danger in time? Do they have the strength to resist the attack when it comes? Or will they need help from people and places they cannot currently imagine?
    At this point, I was going to have a guide to the pelagial schemes to subvert Warrakai, from recruiting dupes to reactivating Ancient Sites of Dire Magic, but it came out rather boring and conventional and I quit. I presume you are all skilled enough to handle such obvious material yourselves.

    Dean Shomshak "My business is to create." -- William Blake, The Four Zoas
    Don't like me on Facebook. Don't follow me on Twitter.


    Sunder the Gold says: More is coming.

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  • Sunder the Gold
    replied
    The Exalted

    Warrakaians never heard of most sorts of Exalted, but they know about the Dragon-Blooded. They admire the Terrestrials of Seahome for their prowess at killing Fair Folk and sea monsters. If Exalted blood ever passed to a Sokavi, though, the young Exalt must have left Warrakai and hid his true background. On the other hand, the Oloniki tell children to be good or the vile Dynasts will get them. It is doubtful whether any dolphinman has met a land-dwelling Dragon-Blood in the last century, but the Oloniki know that Leviathan hates them and that’s enough to turn Dynasts into legendary bogiemen.

    Warrakaians also know that the Lunar Exalted exist. They still tell stories about the nameless Stewards who battled the Demon Mists four centuries ago, and the Blood-Dimmed Tide more recently. The Oloniki particularly revere all Lunars as associates of Leviathan and their ancestor Laughing Undertow. No one, Oloniki or otherwise, expects to meet Lunars. Such awesome and distant demigods might treat with Warratoa, but not with ordinary folk.

    The Eastern Lanotiri elder Kopia kan Penang certainly didn’t expect to meet the Moon’s Chosen. He knew it was a great honor, but did it have to happen to him? When the hammerhead shark loomed out of the dim depths, Penang thought he was about to die. When the shark took half-human form and said, “Be not afraid,” silver caste mark shining, the Lanotir kept a brave face but his heart failed to obey. The Lunar asked many questions about Warratoa’s court. Penang answered as completely as he could, resulting in a long interrogation. Once the Lunar departed, Penang begged a nearby urchin god to Call Warratoa and warn him. The attention of the Exalted can only mean trouble.


    Other Essence-Wielders

    Warrakaians’ close connection to the local gods and elementals ensures a small but steady supply of God-Blooded individuals. Warratoa insists that these individuals join his priesthood, with brevet rank in his spirit court if they can channel Essence. The half-breeds work as his special agents among the five races and his ambassadors to other spirit courts and pelagothrope communities. To Warratoa’s annoyance, he cannot (yet) Endow the God-Blooded to turn them into new gods for his court.

    Ghosts are unknown among Warrakaians, because the Sea of Shadows quickly destroys any soul that rejects Lethe. Demons are associated exclusively with the Lintha, and are therefore hated without exception. A number of Fair Folk groups occasionally prey upon Warrakaians, and so are likewise viewed with fear and hatred.

    Warratoa has no interest in learning how to enlighten mortal Essence. Lanotiri anchorites, however, often enlighten their own Essence through their meditations. They do not know sorcery or any supernatural martial arts, but they employ Essence to enhance their thaumaturgy.


    Thaumaturgy

    The diverse interests of the five races lead to widespread practice of thaumaturgy. Few Warrakaians, however, progress beyond an Initiate Degree.

    The clever artisans of the Ru-Sokaii often study the Art of Enchantment — chiefly to craft Wyld watches and assorted talismans against the Wyld (see The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. II — The Wyld, p. 142). As Warrakai’s population grows, each new community needs a Wyld watch, ensuring a steady market for the Ru-Sokaii.

    The Warra-Ru often study the Arts of Spirit Beckoning or Elemental Summoning. These Arts help them to coordinate the lesser spirits of Warrakai, and to represent Warratoa’s power to the common folk. Priests also use the Art of Husbandry to attract edible or otherwise useful sea creatures, and discourage dangerous predators.

    The meditations of Lanotiri anchorites function as a form of the Essence-Enlightening Sutra (see The Books of Sorcery, Vol. III — Oadenol’s Codex, p. 139). While some anchorites study the Arts of Elemental Summoning or Spirit Beckoning (for which their innate power to see immaterial spirits serves them well), their chief interest is divination. By listening to the ocean-song while in a trance, anchorites may obtain omens about the future of a person or community.

    Lesser Oceansong Divination (1, Intelligence, 4, three hours)

    Oceansong Divination (2, Intelligence, 4, three hours): requires minimum Occult 1.

    Greater Oceansong Divination (3, Intelligence, 4, three hourse): requires Occult 3.

    These Procedures function analogously to the Lesser Divination, Divination and Greater Divination from the Art of Astrology (Exalted, p. 138) but exist as isolated Procedures instead of portions of a wider Art. Their Degrees merely show what Occult rating a character must possess to learn them. Enlightened anchorites fuel their thaumaturgy through Essence alone. Other thaumaturges must employ exotic drugs to fulfill the consumable Resources cost of the Procedures.

    Finally, anchorites can use their enlightened Essence to attune to demesnes and collect Essence tokens. They do not cultivate the Art of Geomancy, but may learn Bathing in the River and Pearl-Collecting Rite (The Books of Sorcery, Vol. III — Oadenol’s Codex, p. 138) as separate Procedures. Sokavi artisans sometimes partner with Lanotiri mystics in order to obtain Essence tokens as special ingredients for talismans and other minor artifacts.


    Artifacts and Jade

    Among Warrakaians, only the Lanotiri brave the lightless depths of the canyons to collect jade washed out by the waters of chaos. Warrakaians lack the skills or tools to smelt jade-metal alloys for artifacts. However, Sokavi artisans may fashion artifacts using pure jade, including slayer khatars and dire lances with jade spearpoints. Such artifacts never include hearthstone settings. (None of Warrakai’s demesnes are capped anyway.) The Warrakaians also fashion mundane ornaments from the precious stone.

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  • Sunder the Gold
    replied
    The Court of Warratoa

    Warratoa’s spirit court is actually the most important society in Warrakai, because it makes the mortal societies possible. By luck and the pact with Laughing Undertow, Warratoa gained greater power than usual for a local Terrestrial god. He used that power to force the submission of the plateau’s other small gods and elementals. They acknowledge him as their absolute master. His will is their will, to a degree unusual among spirits.

    As a result, all the spirits of Warrakai know the Fortress of Creation Charm (see The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. II — The Wyld, p. 143). Most of them lack the Essence ratings to perform the Charm on their own: They can force back the Wyld only when Warratoa commands them to do so and they can act as his proxies.

    When anyone on Warrakai detects an approaching Wyld storm, they immediately notify the nearest spirit. The spirit then uses the Call Charm to alert Warratoa. In turn, Warratoa contacts every other spirit in that area. These spirits signal nearby mortals to gather around their shrines or sanctums. If the Wyld comes, the spirit uses Fortress of Creation to shield a few square miles from the transformative power of Chaos. Thus do the Warrakaians endure on the fraying edge of Creation.

    Several varieties of gods and elementals dwell in Warrakai. They include nymphs, urchin kings, the baiji patrons of the dolphinmen, and numerous kelp gods — identical to dryads, but gods of kelp beds instead of trees. (The sirens left long ago because Warratoa wouldn’t let them prey on mortals). Warratoa’s court also includes many coral gods who speed the growth of reefs, particularly around the plateau’s western edge, in hopes of restoring territory dissolved by the waters of chaos.


    The Master of Warrakai

    Warratoa does not consider himself the head of a Warrakaian state. Neither he nor anyone else thinks Warrakai is a state, or should be one. However, the god does serve as the supreme arbiter among the five races. When communities suffer disputes that their elders or local priests cannot resolve, delegates put the matter to Warratoa. He lets them argue until somebody says something blatantly stupid or self-serving, and then supports the other side. His word becomes law because everyone needs his protection.

    Ironically, Warratoa never threatens to withhold his protection from a community that rejects his judgments. He never even checks to see if his word is obeyed… except in matters pertaining to the physical well-being of the plateau and the creatures living upon it. This onetime coral god still thinks of himself as tending a reef, ensuring its health and growth — only his “reef” is the entire plateau. He wants the five races to enrich the plateau: more life, more territory protected from the Wyld, and ultimately more worship for himself. The god takes great interest in the relative productivity of kelp-forests or oyster-farms, or whether a village occupies one reef or another. He does not care so much about human concepts such as rights, contracts or justice. Warratoa remains only dimly aware of the political power conferred upon him by his worshippers.

    As a result, law in Warrakai remains inchoate, a matter of custom rather than statute. Elders remember past decisions from their god and try to extract precedents and general rules from them — difficult, when the decisions so often contradict. Each tribe’s customs remain intact. The only clear rules the five races receive from their god are that they should not fight each other; that they should make life flourish on their plateau; and that they should reject the Wyld. Warratoa consistently refuses all pleas that he ordain a code of laws. He says, “If it matters so much, why don’t you do it?” So far, no such effort meets with wide approval among the five races.


    Foreign Relations

    Only the Ru-Sokaii ever deal with land-dwellers, but all the five races deal occasionally with foreign communities of their own and other aquatic races. Limited contact means that few friendships or enmities become intense.

    The pelagials are a notable exception. The Takotikti still hate their former masters, and the pelagials give other Warrakaians plenty of reason to hate them too. Slave-soldiers of the pelagials, particularly the weird creatures called singers of the deep, sometimes raid Warrakai in search of slaves and sacrifices to their dead Primordial patron. The City of the Shining Reefs is not too far away, and it looms large in Warrakaian tales as a pit of horror and evil.

    The most important foreign relations, however, may be between Warratoa and other spirit courts. Mortals rarely see this other dimension of politics, where gods and elementals jockey and scheme for prayer, prestige and favor in the eyes of Heaven. Warratoa understands this form of politics very well. He regularly sends large gifts of Essence to the Western censor Fakharu, ensuring his favor in the elemental dragon’s eyes.

    The storm mothers are Warratoa’s chief enemies. Some of them envy the abundant and steady prayer that Warratoa receives. Indeed, some of them would tear down Warrakai just for spite.

    Other spirits ally with Warratoa in hopes of gaining gifts of Essence or other backing in their own intrigues. Any mortal or Exalt who becomes deeply involved in the spiritual politics of the West must eventually notice the powerful place held by Warratoa. They easily could enmesh themselves in the spiritual alliances and enmities that surround him.


    [BEGIN BOXED TEXT]
    Undersea Hygiene

    Body parasites present the same health hazards to marine folk as to land-dwellers. The seas, however, offer an unusual hygienic service: Small fish called wrasses, as well as certain shrimp, scavenge parasites, algae and bits of dead skin from larger organisms. The fish or shrimp are brightly colored for easy recognition. They even cluster in regular “cleaning stations” on certain reefs. Here one may see fierce sharks next to bright angelfish, both receiving the same cleaning services, or wrasses busily, and safely, picking detritus from the teeth of barracudas that could swallow them in one gulp. Fish will even queue to receive the hygienic attention.

    [AUTHOR’S NOTE: The above paragraph is taken entirely from real life, including the polite queuing. So say the books about coral reefs that I consulted. Reality and fiction, man.]

    All five Warrakaian races use these cleaning stations and offer thankful prayers to the gods of the shrimp and wrasses. No one hunts there. As villages grow in size and number, Warratoa and his priests pressure and bribe these gods to permit new and convenient cleaning stations. While local gods can use Domain Manipulation Scenario to create such stations, Fastidious Rainbow and Ten-Legs Grace — the Animal Masters of these species — can use the same Charm to prevent them, if these gods feel they do not receive proper respect and gratitude.
    [END BOXED TEXT]


    Religion and the Supernatural

    Warrakaians worship Warratoa through prayers, sacred feasts and votive carvings of the god’s name into slabs of soft coral-rock. The most common rite is to gut a large fish on an altar of stacked stones, waft the blood over the god’s name, and then eat the fish. Sacred fish or crabs in a cage receive the offal. Warratoa’s subordinate spirits receive similar offerings, albeit on a smaller scale. (None of them can claim more than Cult 1.)

    Warratoa crystallizes the Essence he receives into small silvery pearls that he distributes as largesse to his subordinates. When Wyld tides assault the plateau, the lesser gods call on this extra supply of Essence to shield the Warrakaians.

    The Bragamali were the first folk to give their god a permanent cadre of priests at the sacred atoll, a synthetic “eighth tribe” called the Warra-Ru. The Ru-Bragamaii still donate all illegitimate children to the priesthood (making bastardy a mixed disgrace among the tribes). Before donation, the infants are force-fed a jellyfish that renders them incapable of having children. This prevents the priests from becoming a true, self-sustaining tribe: Warratoa thus needs the other Warrakaians to keep supplying him with new servants. The other four races now contribute acolytes to the Warra-Ru, and sterilize them in the same way, but the Bragam priests still supply the largest contingent.

    About half the Warra-Ru live at the sacred atoll. The rest circulate among the plateau’s communities. Sometimes, a community must make do with a visiting priest of a different race. Better a priest of another race, many Warrakaians think, than to insult their god by having a layman conduct the sacrifice.

    Warratoa does not demand that his people renounce all other gods. He endorses reverence to Tide-Calling Luna, though most Warrakaians think the Incarna is too great and remote to intervene in mortal affairs. Warratoa also acknowledges the Ocean Father (Compass of Terrestrial Directions, Vol. II — The West, pp. 133-136) as his superior, and the Warra-Ru mention that deity in their panegyrics and prayers. The priests honor other Western or maritime gods and elementals as seems prudent… but no more.


    Ethnic Rituals

    All five races sponsor rites and sacrifices at Warratoa’s atoll and conduct lesser sacrifices and prayers in their own communities. Each race also practices its own distinctive rites.

    Every tribe of the Ru-Bragamaii maintains a provincial shrine to Warratoa. Such shrines surround the standard altar with a ring of stone pillars topped with seaweed banners. The patriarchs use the shrines to assert their status within their tribes. All Bragam villages accompany their sacrifices with chanted tales about their ancestor Bragamah and the son who founded their tribe.

    On nights of the new moon, the Ru-Lanotaii swim to the surface and sing praises of Tide-Calling Luna into air they cannot breathe. On nights of the full moon, they huddle in their caves and pray for Luna to avert Wyld-tides from their homes. The Ru-Lanotaii also drop votive stones into the ocean depths to honor Zhuzhiao — but not as much as the High Princep of the Ocean Depths would like. Anchorites may additionally propitiate visiting spirits as seems useful, but take care to tell the spirit about the greatness of Warratoa. They sometimes recruit a new spirit to his court.

    Led by their baiji patrons, the Ru-Olonaii swim in dance-like patterns to honor Luna, Warratoa and the Ocean Father. As nomads of the open sea, they must honor their god without shrines. When they return to Warrakai, they build altars and call for priests to officiate at sacrifices. The Oloniki also occasionally propitiate Siakal, Western God of War and Sharks, as a matter of self-preservation. When the dolphinmen kill a shark or siaka that attacks them or their fish-run, they turn the potential insult against Siakal into a sacrifice by offering a prayer.

    The Sokavi give Warratoa ornaments of gold, glass beads, coral and pearls. It galls members of the other races that the Ru-Sokaii’s offerings are costlier and more beautiful than their own. However, the Ru-Sokaii cannot offer such baubles very often. The Sokavi also burn their food offerings, just to emphasize how they act on land and the other races do not or cannot. Officiating priests who must stay in the water find this custom obnoxious, but Warratoa refuses to condemn it as heretical: He likes a good clambake or barbecue now and then.

    The Ru-Takaii dance as they conduct their rites and prayers. Battle-dance drill often includes a prayer that Siakal may guide their claws and turn her fury against the pelagials.


    Literacy

    Warrakaians treat reading and writing as sacred. Priests learn to write Old Realm as well as speak it. They speak Seatongue, but do not write the profane tongue. Few other Warrakaians can read or write. They assume that literate outsiders must be priests.

    The Warra-Ru carve inscriptions on slabs of coral rock or strips of bone. For instance, Takotik scales mark the boundaries of their territories with coral steles, while Bragamali elders receive bone strips that commemorate especially rich sacrifices to Warratoa. Merely secular records are scratched on slabs coated with animal fat, which the cold water keeps hard. Such records are extremely perishable, as small sea creatures eat the fat. If any document is important enough to keep for more than a season, the priests commit it to stone or bone.


    Whale-Song

    Whales sing their strange, slow songs in special pitches and timbres that travel long distances through the ocean, at least if they are sung in the still waters and smoothly-flowing currents well below the wave-tossed surface. Other creatures can learn to sing in the same manner. Many sea-folk consider this art a spiritual devotion as well as a useful technique for long-distance communication.

    A whale-singer’s player must succeed at a roll of (Stamina + Performance) to send an intelligible message. For whalemen or Lunars in whale form, the difficulty is 1. Other cetacean or semi-cetacean creatures have a difficulty of 2. Anyone else faces a difficulty of 4. Trying to sing in any language except Old Realm or Seatongue raises the difficulty by 2. Singers who are adapted by mutation or supernatural powers to spend long periods underwater, such as dolphinmen or Water Aspects with attuned animas, suffer no further difficulty in whale-singing. Other singers find the rules for holding one’s breath (Exalted, p. 130) limiting how long they can sing. Dedicated whale-singers can develop Performance Specialties in the art.

    Hearing and interpreting a whale-sung message requires that a character be underwater, plus a successful (Perception + Performance) roll; the base difficulty of 2 increases by +1 for every 500 miles separating the singer from the listener. Crashing Wave has every confidence he can sing a message to Leviathan, though he does not know the location of sunken Luthe. However, he also knows that many other ears will hear his appeal as it echoes through the Deep.
    Last edited by Sunder the Gold; 04-13-2017, 07:15 PM.

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  • Sunder the Gold
    replied
    by Dean Shomshack
    Exalted has long lacked a well-developed undersea culture. (CoTD: West gave us the City of Shining Reefs and Luthe: I do not consider them well-developed.) So tried to write one up. Other people have, too. The great complaint about placing anything undersea, or about magic that lets characters function underwater, is that nobody lives there, so there's nothing to do. So, have somebody live there!

    As a secondary goal, Warrakai is another culture that's new to Creation. Fine, sure, roots stretching back to the First Age and the Exalted are cool and all, but I like to imagine that once in a while, Creation's mortals manage to build something new. Your PCs then can help them.

    But you came for the movie, not for the commentary. On with the show!

    Dean Shomshak
    Warrakai, the Land Under Waves

    Of all the Directions of Creation, the West has the least land area. For this reason, people in other Directions usually think it has the lowest population. They forget that not all people need land. But then, most land-dwelling folk do not regard the beastmen, Wyld mutants and other aquatic races of the West as people.

    Warrakai, the Land Under Waves, is one of the more complex societies of the Western Ocean. On this undersea plateau, fish-scaled folk trade harvests of kelp to dolphinman hunters of tuna and bonito. Men covered in crab-chitin, with pincers for hands, practice slow, underwater battle-dances to fight the creatures who enslaved their ancestors. Ghost-pale, one-eyed folk descend into lightless depths and return with prophecies and jade. People of the sea, indistinguishable from human save for the gills in their necks and the webs between their fingers, travel bearing land-made trinkets and tools.

    The five races do not love each other, but they worship together at the sacred atoll of the god Warratoa. In return, Warratoa and his subordinate spirits protect them from the Wyld. The federation, however, is still fragile… and an ancient evil already moves against it. Will the Time of Tumult forge the sea-folk into a great nation? Or will it wash them away in a riptide of forces beyond their comprehension?

    History

    Throughout the High First Age, Warrakai was nothing special. Neither was Warratoa — then merely the god of a single coral atoll. The engineered race called the People of the Sea first settled the plateau. Their fish-ranching communities never became very large or important. The Usurpation touched Warrakai by destroying the fish-ranchers’ market. Officers of the new Shogunate, armed with potent weapons and social Charms, obtained the Warrakaians’ submission without a fight. The Shogunate did not pay any more attention to the rustic fish-ranchers than the Old Realm did, once the Dragon-Blooded felt sure the Warrakaians did not live as rebellious puppets to a dead Solar’s will.

    Centuries later, the Lunar called Laughing Undertow — a dolphin-totem crony of mighty Leviathan — used Warrakai as a base where she bred pelagic dragons as part of her campaign to isolate the Outer Continent of Saigoth. Laughing Undertow’s dolphinman followers occupied the plateau. The Lunar also bought Warratoa’s cooperation with the worship of her followers and by arranging Warratoa’s promotion within the Terrestrial Hierarchy, to god of all Warrakai.

    The Shogunate slew Laughing Undertow and defeated her oceanic horde, though not easily. The People of the Sea continued to live in Warrakai, but they lacked the strength to resist continued incursions by dolphinmen and other beastman followers of the West’s Lunars, or the retributive raids by the Shogunate.

    The Great Contagion ended the war between Western Lunars and the Shogunate. Living under water did not protect sea-folk from the plague. Warrakai’s people scattered, hoping to quarantine themselves in the greatest depths and furthest reaches of the sea. The Fair Folk invasion then removed the Outer Continent. When the dolphinmen and People of the Sea returned to Warrakai, they found it still brushed by the Wyld. They also found that they shared the sea with many new Wyld mutants — the first pelagothropes.

    Over the centuries, several groups of pelagothropes and beastmen settled portions of Warrakai. The People of the Sea found themselves outnumbered and overpowered in the territory they still considered an ancestral home. The diverse cultures and races fought; some died out or fled, while others took their place. The plateau saw various other crises such as the Great Armorfish, the terror of the Demon Mists, and the migration of the sharkmen.

    In time, the survivors realized they all needed the god Warratoa to protect them from the encroaching Wyld. At the same time, Warratoa decided that he wanted the people of his domain breeding more worshippers instead of praying for his favor in their wars. Peace was slow to come, and only achieved after a war against the enigmatic pelagials (see The Compass of Terrestrial Directions, Vol. II — The West, pp. 123-127, 155-156), who likewise sought to take Warrakai for themselves. Whatever their differences, the Warrakaians agreed they could not accept pelagial masters.

    The Warrakaian federation has now lasted 150 years. Whether it lasts another five depends on how the Warrakaians respond to the tide of conflict surging throughout Creation. Other folk notice the Warrakaians and will not leave them alone.

    Oceanography

    Warrakai is an undersea plateau located west of Wavecrest, at the edge of the Wyld. The plateau extends about 120 miles north-to-south by 80 miles east-to-west. Most of the plateau lies 200 to 300 feet below the ocean’s surface, but ridges and hills rise to form reefs and shoals. Coral grows thickly on the rocky reefs, sometimes creating small, sandy cays. Other shallows support kelp forests or meadows of sea-grass. Most of the reefs and shallows are found in the Wa’akuna Hills to the north and the Wa’akorra Hills to the south. Smooth sand and mud cover the low Honowarra Plains of central Warrakai.

    The edges of Warrakai drop off to the lightless depths of the Great Western Ocean. Numerous canyons, some of them miles wide, show where currents of the waters of chaos (see The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. II — The Wyld, p. 87) sliced into the plateau’s western side. Fuana Canyon is one of the widest and longest. Patches of the plateau’s surface show Wyld-taint, especially in the western half, where other sorts of submarine Wyld storms swept over Warrakai. The plateau’s small gods work to reclaim remnant Wyld pockets for Creation.

    Warrakai’s tainted lands usually take the form of strange rock formations and alterations to the kelp, shellfish and other sessile life-forms. Most alterations are odd but harmless, such as the rapidly-eroding clay copy of Great Forks left by a recent Wyld storm. Some are dangerous, such as giant sea anemones or the permanent patch of near-boiling water. A few are useful or even valuable, such a field of flint spheres ready to be chipped into tools, or the vividly colored, gem-quality coral that grows on certain reefs.

    Beyond the edges of Warrakai, a number of smaller seamounts rise from the depths. Olotai Seamount is the largest, and rises the highest. None of these undersea mountains come close to the surface, though. The people of Warrakai usually stay in the sunlit surface waters, so they know very little about what might occupy these nighted peaks. Around them spreads the vast lightless Deep, unknown and unknowable abode of terror.

    http://s1227.photobucket.com/user/DS...5205c.gif.html


    Warratoa’s Atoll

    Warratoa keeps his sanctum in one of the larger reefs, an atoll 12 miles long and six miles wide. The surrounding cays are not much more than long sand bars with narrow strips of coconut palms and other vegetation running through the larger islands. Coral grows thickly along the inner edge of the atoll, and forms smaller reefs in the lagoon. Much of the lagoon is less than 10 yards deep.

    One interior reef, however, almost surrounds a pit half a mile wide and almost 100 yards deep, a sapphire gem in the turquoise of the shallow lagoon. Several caves extend from the walls of the “Blue Hole” in a drowned labyrinth that extends for miles; the pit is also a one-dot Solar demesne. A grotto 20 yards below the surface of the pit holds the entrance to Warratoa’s sanctum. The demesne gives its fauna unnaturally brilliant hues, and so living jewels adorn the coral grotto: brightly colored fish, starfish, anemones and sponges. Indeed, many creatures glow in the dark. At night, the Blue Hole twinkles back at the stars.


    [BEGIN BOXED TEXT]
    Treasures of the Sacred Atoll

    One engagement in the Battle of Warrakai took place in the lagoon of Warratoa’s atoll. Laughing Undertow sank two Shogunate warships. These Swift Midday Brilliance-class light warships (see The Books of Sorcery, Vol. I — Wonders of the Lost Age, pp. 39-40) still rest at the bottom of the Blue Hole, covered now in silt. One is an empty hull — all that’s left after the Lunar made the engine explode. The other is largely intact except for the gaping holes in the bottom of the hull. A sufficiently skilled artisan could kludge them together into a working First Age battleship. Warratoa has no use for the ships but he knows their value, and will not give them up lightly.

    The wrecked ships, however, are not the greatest treasure of the atoll. Laughing Undertow created secret Elsewhere dens that take the form of huge caves partly filled with water. Each den held 50 pelagic dragons, sleeping through the Ages until someone who knew the proper command roused them to war. The Bronze Faction destroyed some of these weapons caches and the Wyld destroyed others, but one cache remains in the flooded caves beneath the sacred atoll. Only Warratoa knows its location. Warratoa holds a grudge against the Bronze Faction, and keeps the sleeping dragons as a gift for some future enemy of the Sidereals.
    [END BOXED TEXT]


    The Five Races

    Warrakai is an amphictyony: a confederation of communities united by a shared center of worship. The five peoples of Warrakai all worship Warratoa and rely on the god to protect them from the Wyld. (More precisely, they rely on Warratoa and his dozens of subordinate gods and elementals, as the plateau is far too large for a single god to shield by himself.) Each race keeps to its own customs and social structures, though. The mortal population numbers about 120,000.


    Mutation Packages

    Each Warrakaian race shares a specific package of Wyld mutations. Characters of these races must buy the appropriate set of mutations at character creation, using bonus points.

    Bragamali (Pelagothrope): (4 Bonus Points) Poxes: Elemental Adaptation (Water), Scales; Affliction: Gills (progressive atrophy of lungs).

    Lanotiri (Pelagothrope): (6 Bonus Points) Poxes: Elemental Adaptation (Water), Night Vision, Skin Color; Afflictions: Chakra Eye, Gills (full atrophy of lungs); Deficiency: One Eye.

    Oloniki (Dolphinman): (5 Bonus Points) Poxes: Elemental Adaptation (Water), Enhanced Hearing, Large, Sonar, Wolf’s Pace (apply to swimming instead of running).

    Sokavi (People of the Sea): (4 Bonus Points) Poxes: Elemental Adaptation (Water), Increased Longevity; Affliction: Gills (no lung atrophy).

    Takotikti (Pelagothrope): (6 Bonus Points) Poxes: Elemental Adaptation (Water), Wide-Angle Vision; Afflictions: Gills (complete lung atrophy), Talons, Thick Skin; Deficiencies: Mute, No Fine Manipulation.

    New Pox: Wide-Angle Vision. The Wyld mutant’s eyes are set on the side of her head, on stalks, or otherwise arranged so she can see to the left and right. This gives a +2 bonus to Perception rolls involving peripheral vision or noticing someone sneaking up behind; depth perception might suffer, though (in which case, additionally give the mutant the One Eye deficiency, to represent this impairment).

    New Deficiency: Mute. The Wyld mutant lacks a voice, or at least lacks the equipment to speak in a form most people can hear and understand. Communication by sign language or other means might be possible.

    New Deficiancy: No Fine Manipulation. The Wyld mutant lacks fingers, tentacles or other manipulatory members capable of handling small objects precisely. Any sort of tool use calls for some sort of (Dexterity + Ability) roll, with at least a –2 external penalty — if the Storyteller allows the attempt at all.

    New Deficiency: One Eye. Apart from looking creepy, the Wyld mutant suffers greatly reduced depth perception. Double any attack penalties based on range.


    The Bragamali

    Members of this pelagothrope race have fish-scaled skin in shades of green and gold, webbed fingers and long, webbed toes, gills along the neck and a finned crest instead of hair. Except for their feet, though, these pelagothropes’ bodies are proportioned like those of normal humans. Land-dwellers might indeed consider the Bragamali a handsome race if they weren’t Wyld-touched. In Warrakai, these folk are also called the Ru-Bragamaii.

    Bragamali are born as air-breathers. Their gills develop slowly, so young Bragams live on reefs, sandbars and floating crèches woven from seaweed. Adolescents and young adults teach and care for the children. When storms and other dangers threaten the children, their elders carry them to air-filled underwater caves carved by the Bragamali or friendly spirits.

    Adolescent Bragams can breathe underwater, but this is strenuous activity (Exalted, p. 130). Bragamali come of age when they become truly amphibious. A mature Bragam’s lungs slowly atrophy, so breathing air becomes strenuous activity in middle age, while their elders must stay underwater all the time. Once undersea, Bragamali live in clustered tents made from seaweed fiber and the bones and skin of large sea-creatures, backed by reef walls. Large families may occupy a dozen clustered tents. Some of their tent-villages boast more than 500 inhabitants.

    These pelagothropes claim descent from Bragamah, a legendary figure who supposedly forged the race’s covenant with Warratoa. Their seven tribes take their names from Bragamah’s seven sons: the Banj-Ru, Bulun-Ru, Charasah-Ru, Faram-Ru, Manas-Ru, Nemos-Ru and Sherau-Ru. The leading families in the tribe retain the names of their ancestors, though each tribe includes many other surnames.

    The Ru-Bragamaii live around the reefs and kelp forests of the Wa’akuna and Wa’akorra Hills, and the scattering of reefs along the plateau’s western edge. They rarely venture below the sun-soaked top 20 yards of the sea. The seven tribes each claim a portion of Warrakai’s shallows. They harvest kelp and shellfish for food and raise fish in netted pens. Bragam adults spend as much time on farm labor as any land-dwelling peasant. The Ru-Bragamaii number about 40,000 in total.

    Within a tribe, some extended families enjoy greater prestige than others. The family elders jockey for status within their tribes and villages through displays of wealth in the form of jewelry, community feasts, tents made from the hides of rare or dangerous beasts such as pelagic dragons, and rich offerings to Warratoa. Elders also try to arrange marriages with higher-status families, whether within the tribe or across tribes. The most prestigious patriarch of the most prestigious extended family gains custody of the tribe’s provincial shrine to Warratoa.

    Manas Keo Matua is the patriarch of the Manas clan’s second-ranking family. For decades, this pious elder dreamed of taking possession of the Manas clan’s shrine — but to do that, he must raise his lineage’s status and change its rank-indicator from Keo to Polu. (Below that, a clan’s third family uses the indicator Mele; the fourth family uses Oma; and all lower-ranking lineages use Ula. Family patriarchs bear the title Kupuna, “Grandfather/Elder,” with their status-indicator.)

    To this end, Matua demands ever-greater harvests of kelp and shellfish that he can trade for pearls, jade and other treasures — so he can give them away in spectacular potlatches and offerings to Warratoa. He believes that as his clan’s religious leader, he can bring greater favor to his clan and elevate the Manas above the other clans.

    Matua has a lot of company in his ambitious piety. The Bragamali supply the most priests and the largest and most numerous offerings to Warratoa. The god appreciates the offerings, but does not acknowledge that the Ru-Bragamaii lead the other races. Agriculture also makes the Bragamali the richest of the five races, or at least the best-fed. On the other hand, the Bragamali have suffered famines when bad luck reduced the kelp crop. Folk in the other races tend to see the Ru-Bragamaii as snobs and pull together when Bragam tribes try to extort special favors through their wealth of food and worship.


    [BEGIN BOXED TEXT]
    Other Bragamali

    Various other tribes of this pelagothrope race live in the West and Southwest. Most of them farm kelp and raise fish and shellfish as the Ru-Bragamaii do. These other tribes do not claim descent from Bragamah and deny that such a racial ancestor ever existed. One large tribe, though — the Shimal-Ru — believes the Warrakaian tribes actually descend from the children of the younger of Bragamah’s two sons, while they descend from the elder. The Ru-Bragamaii regard all other tribes of their race with contempt, for these infidel lack the holy patronage of Warratoa.
    [END BOXED TEXT]


    The Lanotiri

    This race, also called the Ru-Lanotaii, lives in the slopes and canyons around the fringe of Warrakai. Here the plateau drops into the ocean depths and sunlight is filtered to a deep blue glow. The Lanotiri cannot breathe air and venture near the surface only at night. Lanotiri have hairless, silver-white skin, long, webbed fingers and toes, and a single large, dark eye. They number about 20,000.

    Plants cannot grow at the depths the Lanotiri favor. Every night, however, fish and squid rise from the ocean depths to feed near the surface. The Lanotiri catch this nocturnal bounty using nets woven from seaweed they collect at shallower depths. They also recently acquired houndfish — dogs mutated by the Wyld — who assist them in locating schools of fish or squid, and in chasing the catch into the nets.

    The Ru-Lanotaii live in caves dug into the slopes of Warrakai, or excavated naturally by the waters of chaos. Elders lead each phratrie, or extended family, of 50 to 100 members. They have no social structures extending beyond these small clans. Every Lanotir takes her mother’s name, a personal name and a gender indicator in between: Kan for men, Hin for women.

    Along the western face of Warrakai, Lanotiri settlements always stay near a god or elemental in order to gain protection from Wyld storms and the waters of chaos. This is the most dangerous part of Warrakai, but also the region with the largest number of caves. The Ru-Lanotaii also collect pebbles and cobbles of jade, chert and other hard stones washed from the cliffs. (All but jade will dissolve with sufficient exposure to the waters of chaos, but brief currents erode the softer stone first and leave harder stone behind.) The cliff-dwellers are Warrakai’s only source for jade. Once or twice a century, though, fast-moving currents of the waters of chaos obliterate dozens of Lanotiri families despite all precautions.

    The Ru-Lanotaii can see the currents of Essence and immaterial gods that move through Creation. Swirling, abstract designs carved on cliff faces and cave walls visually represent the currents of Essence they see in the ocean. Lanotiri artists also carve excellent bas-reliefs and sculptures, both abstract representations of Essence patterns, and figurative representations of spirits and ocean creatures. Some sculptures are both, modeling the Essence-structures of elementals, gods and — as teaching tools to warn their young — demons and Fair Folk.

    Mystics called anchorites enjoy great prestige among the Ru-Lanotaii, shown by a doubled gender indicator in their names. Anchorites lead their phratries in religious rites and treat with local or visiting spirits. Most importantly, anchorites swim into the black ocean depths to meditate and listen to the ever-changing song of the ocean: a melange of breaking waves, distant whale song, lobster clicks and the chirps, grunts and other calls of various fish. The anchorites hear omens in the ocean-song. Their divinations seem quite as accurate as those of any land-dwelling, mortal astrologer.

    Opa hin-hin Nembil is one of Warrakai’s most illustrious anchorites. This middle-aged Lanotir talked her phratrie into collecting a fortune in jade so she could buy an artifact brought from far away: an oceansong harp, played by the currents, which increases the accuracy of anchorite divinations. A fearsome and alien taint invaded Nembil’s visions and her ordinary dreams, though, and so she stopped using the harp. She does not say this, fearing ridicule after the effort she demanded of her phratrie to obtain it; but she also fears the inevitable crisis when her phratrie absolutely needs a successful divination.

    Many other anchorites also hope to obtain oceansong harps. A few who carried their harps into the depths came back mad, or did not come back at all. Nembil suspects that if she used the harp in a divination to find who crafted the instruments and what happened to her colleagues, she would succeed… and she would share their doom.


    [BEGIN BOXED TEXT]
    Other Lanotiri

    It is generally forgotten that a group of Lunars from the Wardens of Gaia faction bred the Lanotiri several centuries ago. The Lunars sought a race they could use as agents in dealing with spirits and hunting immaterial demons. (It’s a long story, but the Lanotiri did help nip an oceanic demon-cult empire in the bud.) The early Lanotiri also helped the Wardens of Gaia map unstable demesnes and dragon lines, as the first step in repairing the West’s geomancy after the Fair Folk invasion. When the Wardens no longer needed these pelagothrope followers, they encouraged the Lanotiri to forget their origin and seek their own destiny. The Lanotiri have now spread far throughout the West.

    All Lanotiri still worship Luna as the highest god. However, the god of most immediate relevance to them is Zhuzhiao, god of the lightless ocean depths and — more to the point — god of the squid upon which the Lanotiri feed. Zhuzhiao dislikes that the largest single group of Lanotiri now ranks him as merely third in their pantheon of worship, below Tide-Calling Luna and Warratoa. He tells other Lanotiri that the Ru-Lanotaii are apostate, and so the Warrakaians now have little contact with other members of their race. Nevertheless, they acquired houndfish from other Lanotiri communities some decades ago.

    Zhuzhiao also sometimes prevents the squid from rising out of the depths as a way to show his power over the race. The Ru-Lanotaii respond by seeking other sources of food, including trade with the other Warrakaians — thus increasing Zhuzhiao’s annoyance. The High Princep of Fuliginous Depths may try to hinder anyone who shows too much favor to the Ru-Lanotaii.
    [END BOXED TEXT]


    The Oloniki

    The dolphinmen who inhabi the Land Under Waves are also called the Ru-Olonaii. They claim descent from Laughing Undertow’s troops, and say that they share the plateau by right of the Lunar’s pact with Warratoa.

    Dolphinmen stand about eight feet tall when they venture on land. They avoid doing so, as drying irritates their slick, gray skin. The thick, bottle-nosed head of a dolphin emerges directly from human shoulders. A dolphinman’s arms and torso retain human shape, but their legs are too short for their bodies and their flipper-like feet give them an awkward, waddling gait. Dolphinmen swim with great speed, albeit not as quickly as their dolphin cousins. While dolphinmen must breathe air, their general adaptation to water enables them to hold their breath much longer than land-dwellers can. (See The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. II — The Wyld, p. 145.) These creatures also possess the sonar of their dolphin kin, which enables them to sense prey and foes they cannot see. Most dolphinmen live in bands of a few dozen males, females and children, which may group into loose-knit clans.

    Unlike other Warrakaians, the dolphinmen are transient. Each of the 12 Oloniki clans spends most of the year in the open ocean, nomadically following particular fish runs. They return to Warrakai for one season each year, when a particular species of fish comes to the plateau to feed and breed. The Ru-Olonaii number about 20,000 in total. Since the clans follow different fish, though, only two or three clans occupy the plateau at a time. Each clan has a baiji patron (see The Books of Sorcery, Vol. IV — The Roll of Glorious Divinity I, pp. 28-29) who protects it from the Wyld while in the open sea, but these particular dolphin-gods all owe fealty to Warratoa.

    The dolphinmen often make trouble for the other Warrakaians. They use their greater size to bully the other races, and they always travel in packs. Still, the dolphinmen know not to push too hard. If the settled Warrakaians united, they could easily defeat any single clan. On the other hand, the other races know the dolphinmen are their best warriors against the greater threat of marauding sharkmen or singers of the deep. It’s also ridiculously easy to set one dolphinman clan fighting another over supposed insults or rumors of fish-poaching, so there’s no chance of a united dolphinman front.

    The Ru-Olonaii still hear tales of mighty Leviathan, the greatest Lunar of the West and sovereign to Laughing Undertow. While they do not worship Leviathan, they regard the Great Whale God with awe.

    The Oloniki elder Crashing Wave hopes the old tales about Leviathan and Laughing Undertow are true. Crashing Wave is his band’s Reciter, chanting the dolphinmen’s histories, genealogies and other lore, and his voice remains strong despite his age. His eyes, ears and mind remain sharp as well. In the last few years, Crashing Wave has noticed many disturbing signs: artifacts traded from tribe to tribe without an apparent source; travelers who name false tribes of origin; beasts whose like no one has seen before; shamans disappearing or going mad; brave warrior-chiefs dying and being replaced by sly but well-spoken cowards. A shadow of menace moves in the Deep. Crashing Wave seeks further information in hopes he can sense the shadow’s shape, as he might feel an unseen school of fish with his sonar. When he can identify the danger, he shall dive to sing the whale-song, the voice the ocean can carry a thousand leagues, and invoke the ancient pledges of loyalty: Leviathan, thy people call. Remember oaths our fathers swore…


    [BEGIN BOXED TEXT]
    Other Oloniki

    The Ru-Olonaii are not the only dolphinmen in Creation, but they account for most of the dolphinmen within a thousand miles of Warrakai. Only a few bands refuse to join the amphictyony: They see coexistence with other races, and worship of Warratoa, as too high a price to pay for the god’s protection and access to the rich sea life of the plateau.
    [END BOXED TEXT]


    The Sokavi

    The first settlers of Warrakai are now the least numerous of its races, numbering only 5,000 or so. These People of the Sea, the Sokavi or Ru-Sokaii, have no fixed abodes. By the treaty of confederation, though, the other tribes must give the Ru-Sokaii shelter from Wyld tides.

    The Sokavi live in troupes of a few dozen members. They can call only a few small reefs their own. Like the Ru-Bragamaii, they live in tents. Unlike that race, all Sokavi can pitch those tents out of water, on sandbars and skerries. Ru-Sokaii spend most of their time traveling throughout the plateau and beyond as wandering entertainers, traders and artisans. Other Warrakaians rely on visiting Sokavi for much of their news.

    Most Ru-Sokaii can sing or play a musical instrument: drums, shell rattles, stone marimbas and other percussion instruments. A fortunate troupe owns a steel drum. Sokavi dancers accompany themselves with finger-cymbals or shell castanets. Bragam elders accuse Sokavi dancers of corrupting youth through their wicked sensuality.

    As the only Warrakaians who easily function on land, the Ru-Sokaii are also the only Warrakaians to forge metal. Their smiths work gold for ornaments and copper for tools; they lack the tools (and fuel) to smelt or forge iron. Anything metal, however, must be kept waxed so it doesn’t corrode in the salt water… or gilded, like the precious drums of Wavecres steel. Sokavi artisans also preserve the thaumaturgic lore of creating Wyld-watches and talismans.

    The drums and talismans, however, are not the Ru-Sokaii’s most treasured possessions. At their meager reefs and cays, the Sokavi keep engraved stone maps of Warrakai as it was in the Old Realm, giving the names of long-vanished towns and rural production complexes. These maps, copied and re-copied over the centuries, are the Sokavi’s last connection to the First Age: a pain they cherish with the pride of folk who have lost everything else.

    The Sokavi are keenly aware that they are the weakest race in the land of their ancestors. They also know the other races do not much like or respect them because of their weakness, their lack of settled abodes, their commercial dealings or some combination of these factors. The Ru-Sokaii honor Warratoa, but feel they owe nothing to the other four peoples.

    Aiko Fuseya, one of the Ru-Sokaii’s most skilled thaumaturge-artisans, certainly feels no need to share what she has learned. In her band’s long circuit through several pelagothrope and beastman communities beyond Warrakai, she acquired and sold oceansong harps and other small artifacts of uncertain provenance. Fuseya believes these artifacts are pelagial work, and probably cursed in some manner. So what? Let her customers find out for themselves.


    [BEGIN BOXED TEXT]
    Other People of the Sea

    People of the Sea live throughout the West. The community called Seahome (briefly described in The Compass of Celestial Directions, Vol. II — The Wyld, p. 90) is their largest and nearest settlement to Warrakai. The Seahomers, however, regard the Sokavi as rogues and vagabonds and treat them with derision. Indeed, Sokavi traders in Seahome run a risk of being accused of cheating and outright thievery, and driven out. The Ru-Sokaii return the dislike and in fact do cheat Seahomers whenever they get a chance.
    [END BOXED TEXT]


    The Takotikti

    Warrakai’s third pelagothrope race is also called the Ru-Takaii. These Wyld mutants resemble humanoid crabs or lobsters, with green-brown chitinous plates covering their bodies and heavy pincers replacing their hands. The Takotikti do not breathe air and cannot speak: They communicate by a language of gestures and claw-clicks that encodes Seatongue.

    The mysterious pelagials created the Takotikti as a race of slave-soldiers. Centuries ago at one pelagial outpost, the slaves killed their decadent masters and fled to the open sea. Some of their descendents live in Warrakai.

    The Ru-Takaii live in groups of about 50 adults — a scale. The pelagials still hunt their escaped slaves, so every adult Takotik trains to fight and their communities are military units. A hetman leads each scale as both community elder and commanding officer. The Ru-Takaii number about 35,000 in all.

    These pelagothropes dwell on the Honowarra Plains and between the hills. They gather shellfish, sea worms, seaweed and other foodstuffs. The Ru-Takaii recently adopted a form of agriculture, “planting” young clams in the mud and protecting them from other sea creatures.

    Takotik claws are innately clumsy. It usually takes two or three Takotikti working together to accomplish tasks that other folk could manage with their two hands. For instance, it can take a full week for Takotikti to weave and tie a net that a Bragam could make in a day. (Takotikti use teamwork and extra time to counter the –2 external penalty they suffer for any tasks that require fine manipulation.)

    Takotikti dwell in tubelike houses of loose stone covered with sand, aligned to the tides so currents flow through them and prevent the water from stagnating. Each family has its own house, but these structures are so small and narrow that Takotikti only use them for shelter while they sleep — it’s like living in a hallway, but that’s all they can build.

    The need for cooperation makes scales extremely close-knit. Outsiders do not form a relationship with a single Takotik: If any interaction with a Takotik lasts more than a day or so, the Takotik’s hetman takes an interest. What the hetman decides, friend or foe, the entire scale probably follows. If any significant difference of opinion develops, that scale splits and the dissidents choose their own hetman.

    Some scales avoid contact with other Warrakaians. They see how much other folk possess and can do for themselves, and find the comparison humiliating. Now and then, scales even leave Warrakai rather than risk becoming the scorned, poor neighbors of other folk — or worse, dependent upon others in the first step toward a new enslavement.

    The Takotikti are no better swimmers than are baseline humans. These pelagothropes spend most of their time on the floor of the plateau, rather than swimming above it. Despite their handicaps, however, the Takotikti rear and train a pony-sized, crustacean-like sea creature that swims very well — another legacy from the pelagials, who domesticated the “crawsteeds” long ago. Other Warrakaians now use crawsteeds, but the Takotikti do much of the breeding and training.

    When they do not gather food, train crawsteeds or craft their crude and simple tools, Takotikti dance. They perform some of these dances for recreation but most dances are drills for undersea close combat and small-group tactics. Because of years of battle-dance training, any mass combat unit composed of Takotikti possesses a minimum Drill of 3.

    The Takotikti need this practice. The pelagials still send squads of singers of the deep (see The Compass of Terrestrial Directions, Vol. II — The West, pp. 156-157) to raid Takotik communities. Attacks on Warrakaian tribes have slackened in the last few years — and the hetman Greenurchin Secondson doesn’t like it. The pelagials have hunted their escaped slaves for centuries. If they seem to have stopped now, he’s sure it’s only because the foul creatures plot some other form of attack.


    [BEGIN BOXED TEXT]
    Other Takotikti

    Takotikti who live in other parts of the Western ocean see the advantages the Ru-Takaii gain from trade with other races, such as Bragamali kelp, Sokavi tools and Lanotiri prophecies. A growing stream of foreign Takotikti move to Warrakai. Those who cannot claim their own hunting and gathering territories either become bandits or try to join the communities of other races: With no history of compairing themselves to other races, they feel less need to set themselves apart. Many Ru-Takaii feel besieged by these immigrants and worry about being supplanted in their own territory, even though the natives outnumber the immigrants more than 20 to one. But then, fifty years ago there were no immigrants at all.

    Some anchorites foresee great trouble coming to the Takotikti, or from them, but they cannot specify its nature. They have not yet asked the right questions of the ocean-song.
    [END BOXED TEXT]
    Last edited by Sunder the Gold; 04-13-2017, 07:12 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sunder the Gold
    replied
    I think I saw this thread back when it was created, and forgot about it despite a desire to answer. I regret that, and apologize. I must have believed someone else would answer, and the thread fell off the front page when no one did.

    I likewise apologize that I do not seem to have Shomshack's demon species, though I will keep looking, as well as posting the other cultures I have saved that he wrote.

    Also, it looks like I found the recorded pages of "Lunar-exclusive infrastructure", so I will be able to share those ideas in another appropriate thread as well.

    Leave a comment:


  • The MG
    replied
    Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post
    <1>DZIBILCHÁN, the Jungle Empire [5992 words]
    This is beside the point of the thread, but do you have any of Shomshak's other forum stuff? I'm particularly interested in those demons he posted (the Varanca and the Aelchinn).

    Leave a comment:


  • aluminiumtrioxid
    replied
    Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post
    <1>DZIBILCHÁN, the Jungle Empire [5992 words]
    You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar. (Unless, of course, your preferred noun isn't male, in which case the use of "gentleperson" may be in order!)

    May we humbly request the rest of the cultures mentioned in an earlier post?

    Leave a comment:


  • Sunder the Gold
    replied
    DZIBILCHÁN, the Jungle Empire

    Unknown to the rest of Creation, a strange kingdom lurks in the steamy depths of the far Southeast. In the land of Dzibilchán, Exalted alligator-men rule a population of human serfs. A powerful Lunar Exalt created this nation at the edge of the Wyld and ruled it as its god-king. A few years ago, however, a Deathlord slew the Lunar. Dzibilchán crumbles without the Lunar’s guidance, squandering its power though infighting. The kingdom of swamp and jungle seems likely to vanish without the rest of Creation knowing it existed — but in the Time of Tumult, who knows what the future may bring?


    History
    The Southeast had cities back in the First Age, but the Great Contagion wiped them out. The folk who lived around the shallow lake called Bilha Sap remembered how to grow rice, though, and so they preserved a few rudiments of civilization. For centuries, these folk — the Dzibilese — lived in complete isolation from the rest of Creation, interacting only with the nearest tribes. The tribes raided the Dzibilese; the Dzibilese fought back.

    Some centuries ago, a tribe of alligator-men appeared in the swamp of Acantún to the northeast of Dzibilchán. The gatormen drove out the exceptionally primitive tribe that formerly inhabited the swamp, but they rarely troubled the Dzibilese. Unbeknownst to the Dzibilese, however, the gatormen were progeny of a Lunar called Kinich Makar, a member of the Silver Pact faction called the Seneschals of the Sun Kings. What’s more, Kinich Makar bred only with a highly select human population: kidnapped Terrestrial Exalted.

    A century and a half ago, the gatormen boiled out of the swamp to conquer the Dzibilese, led by Kinich Makar and a cadre of Terrestrial Exalted gatormen. The Lunar installed himself as god-king, with the gatormen as the ruling caste. When Kinich Makar finished consolidating his kingdom, he sent the gatormen to subjugate the surrounding tribes. Dzibilchán grew steadily.

    Three years ago, Kinich Makar angered the Deathlord called Eye and Seven Despairs. The Deathlord slew him and destroyed Dzibilchán’s capital, Kinchilore. The consequences are still unfolding.


    [BEGIN BOXED TEXT]
    Kinich Makar
    The founder of Dzibilchán Exalted shortly after the Great Contagion, receiving the Exaltation of a Lunar who died in heroic battle against the Fair Folk. He joined the Lunar faction called the Seneschals of the Sun Kings. Kinich Makar’s spirit shape was, of course, an alligator.

    Though a Full Moon, Kinich Makar became an accomplished sorcerer as well as a practitioner of the martial arts. While he studied the arts of social engineering, he preferred simple, mundane technique of reward and punishment to the subtler influence of social Charms. His fellow Stewards noted his high Conviction and his low Compassion.
    END BOXED TEXT]


    Geography
    A thousand miles miles of dense jungle separate Dzibilchán from any other civilization, with rivers, swamps and small ranges of hills and mountains as extra obstacles. The Yellowbeard River flows through the nation; local folk name it thus for the exceptionally venomous snakes that swarm about is banks. The river begins in the vast swamp of Acantún and runs southwest, west and north through low floodplains. Many smaller streams flow hither and thither through the flat country before they join the Yellowbeard or find their way out of the region. After about 700 miles, the river ends in Lake Mogadore, the most remote of the Southeast’s great lakes, and itself so little-known in the Second Age that it does not appear on most maps. Lake Mogadore has no outflow. The lower reaches of the Yellowbeard are mostly a braid of muddy channels that only canoes can traverse. In a stretch where the river merges into a single channel, shallow rapids block even canoes. Getting to Dzibilchán is almost impossible if you weren’t born there.

    Most of the Dzibilese live in a central plain — Dzibilchán proper — where the Yellowbeard expands into Bilha Sap. The lake floods every season of Water, more than doubling its area (though the water is only a few feet deep). The streams that cross the plain flood, too. The jungle-clad surrounding highlands are not that high, nor rugged. To the north, though, a couple of smaller rivers run between ranges of hills.

    Dzibilchán’s capital, Kinchilore, was built near Bilha Sap. During flood season, its temples and palaces rose from the water as islands of carved wood, brick and stone. The strangely shaped, tree-clad manse that was the royal palace formed the city’s heart. Kinchilore is now nothing but heaps of scorched and shattered rubble, sinking into the soft earth. No one dares to enter the accursed ground.

    Acantún is perhaps the most important province of the empire. Certainly, it is the largest. Gatormen still live in the hundreds of miles of slowly-flowing water, mud and moss-hung water cypress forest. Gatormen still live in Acantún, much as they did before the conquest of Dzibilchán. Their settled colleagues think of them as country cousins. Nevertheless, settled gatormen often make hunting trips to rusticate in Acantún. Nowhere else feels so completely like home. They also like to pray at the temple-manse raised by Kinich Makar, where their race was born. The Wyld begins a hundred miles or so east of Acantún.


    Dzibilese Manses
    No one in Dzibilchán knows how to build manses. Kinich Makar built them all himself, using Raise the Puissant Sanctum (see The Books of Sorcery, Vol. II — The White Treatise, p. 79). To the Dzibilese and gatormen, this feat confirmed the Lunar’s divine right to absolute rule.

    Kinich Makar knew very little about manse design, though, and so he made little attempt to incorporate human conveniences such as level floors. His manses are strange, organic-looking masses of ribbed stone and Essence-fired clay, with trees and marsh-plants still growing in patches of earth. Interiors are dark, with windows few and small, except where spontaneously generated Essence-lights glow. Tunnels, twisting like intestines or branched like blood vessels, connect irregular, rounded chambers, resembling viscera cast in negative space. Pools and streams of water are very common. All his manses have one dot of reduced Habitability (see The Books of Sorcery, Vol. III — Oadenol’s Codex, pp. 65-66). The Lunar didn’t mind.

    Kinich Makar’s royal manse detonated in the cataclysm that slew him and destroyed his capital. The most important of the remaining manses is Makar Thom, also called the Birth Temple, where he bred the gatormen. The three-dot, Wood-aspected manse rises from a small island in the midst of Acantún. It resembles a thick-boled tree or the muscular arm of a giant, reaching out of the ground — only the branches of the tree, or fingers of the giant, are whole living trees growing from the manse’s summit. The Birth Temple has no intrinsic powers except for Essence lighting in its central chamber. It creates a Stone of Resilient Bamboo (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 100).


    Society
    The Dzibilese are serfs. Gatormen rule them as the nation’s gentry. Exalted gatormen form the nation’s nobility. They were answerable only to Kinich Makar, their absolute ruler.

    Lowland Dzibilese grow rice. The conquered upland tribes now grow yams, beans and cassava. For meat, people catch fish in Bilha Sap and the streams, and raise chickens, nutria and water buffalo. Most of the meat, though, goes to the gatormen. The Dzibilese also log the jungle and work a few mines and quarries.
    The Dzibilese speak a dialect of Forest-Tongue with a strong admixture of Old Realm. Characters who know both Forest-Tongue and Old Realm can figure it out with a simple success on an (Intelligence + Linguistics) roll, and get by from then on. A character who knows only one of the two source languages can barely manage after a successful (Intelligence + Linguistics) roll at difficulty 3: Players may roll for each day of intensive study, but the character will never attain fluency without spending the points to learn a new language (or using Charms, of course).


    Settlements
    Most Dzibilese live in small villages of huts woven from sticks and reeds, with roofs made of big leaves. Lowland huts are on stilts. The gatormen who own the village live in simple stone villas. Gatormen like water, so instead of lifting above floods, these villas are partly sunk into the ground with some rooms permanently awash.

    Dzibilchán has no real cities. Even its destroyed capital, Kinchilore, was more of a center for political and religious rituals than a self-supporting community. The nascent towns of Arupán, Ozcapura and Rakál follow a similar plan: a central manse for an Exalted lord, a surrounding complex of plazas, temples and government buildings, and a wider ring of villas for the gatorman aristocrats. The manse of Chichén Suríya, however, is a sculpted spire of solid rock that rises from the Well of the Sun, a perfectly circular, water-filled sinkhole (and Solar demesne) that gives the town its name. The fortified town of The Weir lacks a manse, as Kinich Makar built it to control travel up or down the Yellowbeard. Makar Thom consists only of a manse, a small community of gatorman priests and their human servants.


    The King
    As god-king, or Nizam, Kinich Makar owned everyone and everything. Even the gatorman nobles and gentry held their lands and serfs as gifts from him. The law was whatever he decided. The Lunar god-king bade his clerks to compile a digest of his decisions as an aid to his memory, so he wouldn’t need to re-think his judgments of similar disputes and provide some sense of fairness — but he never claimed he could not, or would not, reject a precedent if he thought some special factor made it irrelevant.


    Humans
    The human serfs, on the other hand, own nothing but their simple household goods. They cannot leave their plantations or villages without their master’s permission. Serfs must submit any disputes to their gatorman master. Their lives and meager property were protected only by their ownership by Kinich Makar: Anyone who slew or robbed a serf without cause took the Nizam’s property, and Kinich Makar harshly punished any challenge to his power. He also harshly punished any serfs who disobeyed their masters.

    Human artisans and clerks enjoy somewhat better lives. After all, someone has to build the villas of the gatormen and fashion their weapons, ornaments and assorted decencies of life, or tally up the produce of logging camps, farms and mines; such tasks are beneath the aristocratic gatormen. Clerks and artisans are just as firmly bound as any serf, however, to serve a particular gatorman or estate. The chief difference is that a sufficiently skilled worker might be plucked from her estate to labor for an Exalt, a temple or the king himself — whether she wants it or not.

    Humans do not speak to gatormen unless their duties require it, or the gatorman gives them permission. They do not say a gatorman’s name, ever. Instead, they use a gatorman’s title, possibly with a qualifier to indicate which gatorman they mean. Landholding gentry are Subahdar, or “Landholder/Officer”; the Exalted are Nacom-Makarha, or “Alligator Commander”; priests are Ujjal, “Holy One.”


    Gatormen
    Gatormen hold Dzibilchán’s plantations, logging camps and mines in direct fief from the king. Typically, a single family owns a single estate of some sort, with the eldest member acting as the king’s on-sight manager. A family can hold a parcel of land for generations, but a single family cannot own multiple estates except as a temporary, special gift from the king. Thus, younger offspring tend to break away to start their own families and seek their own fortunes.

    They do this through war. The gatormen’s chief privilege is to own weapons; their chief duty is to fight. Only after gatormen prove themselves in battle do they gain the right to marry and hack a new estate from the swamp or jungle. Gatormen take great pride in their role as Dzibilchán’s military elite, and feel contempt for the humans who support them.

    Gatormen enjoy many privileges compared to even the most favored artisan or clerk. They hold land in trust but may own any other property — particularly jewelry, heirloom weapons and other portable, valuable items. Gatormen may appeal to their superiors for judgment, but they prefer to settle disputes with a duel. Tournaments and duels give the gatormen a chance to flaunt their martial prowess. Duels are rarely to the death on purpose (for that would rob the king of their service). Death becomes a greater risk when they fight with weapons other than their claws and teeth… but of course, a gatorman who calls for a deadlier form of dueling makes a greater boast of her own courage. Gatormen bet their weapons, jewels and favored servants on their battles, as encouragement to fight more fiercely, and spectators often bet heavily as well.

    Gatorman Character Mutation Package: Thick Skin (2 points), Tusks (Alligator Jaws; 2 points), Claws (1 point), Tail (1 point). Total: 6 bonus points.


    The Nacom-Makarha
    All gatormen carry the blood of the Terrestrial Exalted, however strangely mixed, and sometimes it breeds true. Water and Wood Aspects predominate, but not by much; all five Aspects are represented among the Exalted gatormen.

    Before the king’s death, young Exalted gatormen went to the royal court to train under the Lunar’s sternly watchful eye. When they reached adulthood, the Nacom-Makarha battled the enemies of Dzibilchán: the surrounding human tribes, the Fair Folk of the jungle, ravening beasts, and more. As reward for their heroic deeds, they received tribute from subjugated tribes and stipends taxed from estates. The greater a Nacom-Makarha’s deeds (and favor with the king), the greater the number of estates that support him.

    None of these privileges, however, could pass to a Nacom-Makarha’s progeny. The king alone decided which estates paid an Exalt’s stipend; and the king did not choose estates managed by an Exalt’s descendants. Thus, the Nacom-Makarha did not split into gentes or Great Houses, as did the Dragon-Blooded of Lookshy and the Realm. All Nacom-Makarha were one family, the descendants of Kinich Makar, adopted as his sons and daughters, sharing in his divine right to rule as Princes of the Earth.

    Legally, being one family would make the mandatory matings between Nacom-Makarha incestuous. The Princes of the Earth, however, do not follow the same laws as ordinary gatormen, let alone mortals. They have a duty to keep the divine blood strong. (And anyway, being brothers and sisters is a legal fiction. Usually.) On the other hand, Exalted gatormen can gather harems from the gentry, as a further reward for their deeds.

    The Nacom-Makarha duel quite as much as their unExalted kin. Not only do they bet personal property on the battles, they wager sources of tribute, pledges of favors to come, access to manses and demesnes, and any other forms of wealth and power they own. Age, of course, brings power for the Exalted; and so the oldest Nacom-Makarha enjoy great wealth, prestige and promises of favors from younger Exalts. As a result, the one family has a definite hierarchy within itself, and factional divisions between the supporters of older Exalts.


    Kinich Makar’s Plan
    The Silver Pact has a plan called the Thousand Streams River. Participating Lunars try to create novel societies that can defend Creation without becoming dependent on the Exalted or other beings of power — not to live without them (for only the Exalted can battle Deathlords, raksha nobles and other potent threats to Creation), but to resist being ruled by them.

    Dzibilchán is about as far from the Thousand Streams River as one could imagine.

    Kinich Makar had only one goal. He wanted to breed a force of Terrestrial Exalted for the Silver Pact to exploit, the way the Sidereal Bronze Faction exploits the Scarlet Dynasty. He chose to breed Exalted beastmen as insurance against Bronze Faction subversion. The Immaculate Order’s propaganda about the Dragon-Blooded’s divine right to rule — so long as they follow the Order and the Realm — presents a powerful lure for outcaste Terrestrials, bringing them under the Bronze Faction’s sway. On the other hand, the Realm and the Order despise beastmen as vile spawn of the Anathema. Kinich Makar believed his Exalted beastmen would stay loyal to the Lunar Exalted, simply because they would find no other allies.

    The Lunar forged his nation from rape and bloody conquest and he maintained it through harsh oppression. He never pretended it was righteous. Dzibilchán existed only to feed, arm and train his Exalted beastmen, enabling their population to grow as quickly as possible. By now, the Exalted gatormen number almost a hundred. Kinich Makar hoped that by the time the Realm noticed his growing kingdom, it would be too powerful to crush.

    Kinich Makar did promise his Silver Pact critics that he would liberate his kingdom once he bred a large and self-maintaining caste of Exalted beastmen. Then, other Lunars could Thousand Streams River the Dzibilese to their heart’s content. Unfortunately, other people noticed him first — and Kinich Makar made no plans for his project to continue after his death.


    Religion and the Supernatural
    The Dzibilese worship the Unconquered Sun, Luna and Gaia as the highest gods, with Kinich Makar as their prophet. The religion’s symbol, a triangle with three lines from the center to the corners, symbolizes this arrangement. Kinich Makar also used the promise of worship to bribe various Terrestrial small gods and elementals into backing his project. Of these spirits, only Arilac the Unseen, goddess of the Southeastern jungles, possesses more than local power. Dzibilese also must worship the Exalted gatorman who owns and rules them. In addition to spoken prayers, the Dzibilese make burnt offerings of food, flesh and blood.

    Only gatormen can become priests. They gild their claws and wear elaborate headdresses: gilded sunbursts when they honor the Unconquered Sun, silver crescents to honor Luna, and confections of animal horns and bright feathers for rituals dedicated to Gaia and Terrestrial gods.

    In return for this privilege, priests give up the right to own plantations and serfs, apart from the hierodules of their own temples. In this way, Kinich Makar created a parallel structure of authority to balance his land-owning, military aristocracy. Only a few Exalted gatormen choose the priesthood instead of owning land and studying the arts of battle, but these few became the Lunar’s closest cronies.

    Gatorman priests become thaumaturges or sorcerers. In practice, only the Exalted or God-Blooded priests learn sorcery; other priests merely study thaumaturgy. The thaumaturges specialize in the Arts of Spirit Beckoning and Elemental Summoning, with some Enchantment (mostly for weapons and talismans) and Alchemy (the jungle provides a wealth of ingredients for thaumaturgical drugs and medicines). The sorcerers are limited to the Terrestrial spells that Kinich Makar knew. They follow the Salinan School of sorcery, but none have achieved sufficient enlightenment to pull knowledge of new spells from the Salinan Working. Still, the sorcerer-priests possess several of the most broadly useful spells: Emerald Countermagic and Banishing, Demon of the First Circle, Summon Elemental and a few other spells for attack, defense and communication. Kinich Makar made sure the priests did not learn spells such as Cirrus Skiff that would let them leave the jungle.

    The Exalted gatormen have largely developed their Charms on their own, guided only by suggestions from Kinich Makar based on what he knew of the Dragon-Blooded. As a result, the Nacom-Makarha know only the commoner, less specialized Charms. They rarely go far into Charm trees. Kinich Makar learned the Five-Dragon Style of Terrestrial martial arts, though, just so he could teach it to his progeny. That and Terrestrial Hero Style are the only supernatural martial arts practiced among the gatormen.


    Other Essence Users
    The Dzibilese do not know of any Terrestrial Exalted besides the Nacom-Makarha. Kinich Makar revealed the existence of other Lunar Exalted to his people, but discouraged his fellow Stewards from introducing themselves: He insisted on the exclusivity of his stewardship. The Lunar also told the Dzibilese about Solars, but only as glorious figures of a mythic past. He did not expect his people to encounter real Solars. The Lunar could not tell his people about the Sidereals; heard about the Abyssal Exalted too late to make any decisions about them; and never knew about Infernal or Alchemical Exalted.

    Kinich Makar did not want any God-Blooded arising among the human serfs. He and his priests told local spirits, most firmly, that if they wanted mortal lovers they should find them among the gatormen. God-Blooded gatormen had to join the priesthood. If any spirit disobeyed this command and bred a God-Blooded human, the child was born under a sentence of death and Kinich Makar punished the spirit to the best of his ability. Kinich Makar successfully prevented the birth of any Ghost-Bloods.

    There are no Fair Folk within 300 miles of Dzibilchán. The Nacom-Makarha slew them all. Kinich Makar considered this an excellent test of their prowess, as well as a service to Creation.


    Foreign Relations
    Dzibilchán has no relations with any other country. It interacts only with the neighboring tribes, and not in a very friendly manner. There is no hiding the national goal of conquest: Each Exalted gatorman wants a fiefdom as large as any other’s, and with the gatorman population growing that means taking other people’s land. Kinich Makar played a blunt diplomatic game of telling tribal leaders the surest way to avoid outright and immediate conquest was to pay tribute and join in conquering other tribes.

    Dzibilchán has established small colonies in regions more than a hundred miles beyond its borders, in order to obtain gold, silver, iron ore, building stone and valuable woods not locally available. The most important colony lies in the Chicbalam Hills to the north, where the Dzibilese mine gold. These fortified posts trade a little with the locals, but Dzibilchán has no plans to expand its zone of influence through large-scale commerce, missionary work or other forms of soft power. Kinich Makar bred his gatormen as a warrior caste, and a warrior caste needs war.


    [BEGIN BOXED TEXT]
    The Death of Kinich Makar
    Kinich Makar thought the Bronze Faction would not notice Exalted beastmen on Creation’s rim. He was wrong. Bronze Faction agents began watching Dzibilchán within decades of the gatorman conquest, and their astrological curses slowed the kingdom’s growth.

    Sixty years ago, Bronze Faction leaders decided the Lunar had become dangerous enough to fit into their overcrowded schedule. The Lunar slew two Sidereal assassins and a Wyld Hunt. This raised the Lunar’s profile considerably. Five years later, Chejop Kejak himself found time to deal with Dzibilchán. Kinich Makar woke one night to find the ancient Sidereal had already rendered him helpless. Kejak had not slain him simply because he saw a use for the Lunar.
    Kinich Makar bought his life with a pledge of five services to the Bronze Faction. They collected three times, using the Lunar and the Nacom-Makarha to destroy various threats to the Southeast. The third time, the Bronze Faction deployed the Lunar against a scheme by Eye and Seven Despairs. Kinich Makar destroyed the erratic Deathlord’s self-replicating necrotech horrors long before they reached Harborhead, but Eye and Seven Despairs traced the attack to its source. He dropped a Total Annihilation spell on Kinchilore, killing everyone except Kinich Makar. Then, he personally slew the Lunar. And then he went home, muttering about “vexing distractions.”
    [END BOXED TEXT]


    The Great and the Wise
    At least three supernatural factions now know of Dzibilchán: the Silver Pact, the Bureau of Destiny and the Deathlords. It remains to be seen who, if anyone, involves themselves in Dzibilchán’s fate.

    The other Deathlords merely know that their loopiest colleague blew up a town in some place they never heard of. Eye and Seven Despairs is not done with Dzibilchán, though, and his interest (however desultory) may lead the other Deathlords to pay attention as well.

    Knowledge of Dzibilchán is not exactly widespread among Sidereals, but the country’s founder was in the files as a Bronze Faction asset and potential long-term threat to the Realm. So far, the various threats to Creation keep the Sidereals too busy to pay attention to Dzibilchán now that Kinich Makar is dead. Still, if big trouble arises in the Southeast, assigned agents might find Dzibilchán mentioned in their briefings as a local power.

    Any Lunar more than a century old has at least heard of Kinich Makar. His methods did not earn him many plaudits, but a number of Lunars watched his results with interest. Rather fewer know that Kinich Makar is dead and his experiment is self-destructing. So far, no Steward seeks to take control of Dzibilchán: Like the Sidereals, they are kind of busy. Also, some Lunars feel it would be rude to meddle in Dzibilchán until the heir to Kinich Makar’s Exaltation decides what to do with the country.

    In the Realm, all anyone knew was that a powerful Wyld Hunt set out for the Southeast and disappeared. There was an inquiry, plans for a follow-up were made, and then… nothing. No one has read the file in decades, but an Immaculate zealot who discovered this loose end might want to tie it up.


    War
    Dzibilchán spent its entire history at war with the tribes that surround it. The directions of conquest changed every few decades, since Kinich Makar preferred to see tribes thoroughly subjugated and converted to agricultural labor before attacking the conquered tribe’s neighbors. Still, a year did not pass without Dzibilchán fighting someone.

    The jungle empire has never fought another nation — just small tribes or, occasionally, large tribes or Fair Folk freeholds. No one could muster large armies, and indeed the dense jungle makes it impossible to fight in large combat units: Jungle warfare concentrates on raids, ambush and traps (as described in Chapter Four of Scroll of Kings). Thus, Dzibilchán has not fielded an army since the gatorman conquest. Instead, gatorman commando teams, each led by a Nacom-Makarha, stalk a targeted tribe’s warriors, chiefs and elders. The goal is to remove everyone who could lead a resistance. That done, gatorman squads attack and burn any tribal villages, round up the survivors and tell them they are now subjects of the mighty Kinich Makar, Chosen of the Moon, Priest of the Sun and Prince of the Earth. Surviving tribal warriors are lamed in one leg so they can never run or fight again. The conquered tribal folk work with human Dzibilese trusties to build a new village, clear jungle and plant crops. Eventually, Dzibilese artisans come to build a villa for their new masters. Dzibilchán’s greatest battles have been against Fair Folk, spirits who would not submit, jungle monsters and such ilk, when Kinich Makar assembled sworn brotherhoods of Exalted gatormen and sometimes took the field himself.

    Gatormen are individually formidable fighters, and they have high Drill for small group tactics. In addition to their own claws and teeth, they wield spears, clubs, knives, atlatls and darts (see Scroll of Kings, pp. 135-136), plus nets and bolas (see Scroll of the Monk p. 158) for village attacks when they want to capture people and prevent them from fleeing into the jungle. Like many Southeastern jungle folk, they poison their darts, using poisons designed to put victims to sleep (i.e., dealing only bashing damage) as well as the usual killing toxins. Raiders also make frequent use of alchemical sleep grenades (see Scroll of Kings p. 134). Gatormen do not wear any armor except their own tough skin.

    Exalted gatormen use the same weapons as their merely mortal kin but they favor spears, as the only available form weapon they can use with Five-Dragon Style. As a result, spears carry a great mystique among gatormen. Spearheads are among the few weapons made of iron, a material whose ore they can obtain only from distant mines. Many families own heirloom spears with beautifully carved mahogany shafts, ornamented with feathers and animal teeth. Owners can recount the battles and duels in which each spear was used. Most weapons are made of wood, stone and bone.

    Swamps and flood plains are not good places to mine, and Kinich Makar had only begun prospecting in the conquered hill territories. Dzibilchán’s lack of mineral resources means it produces no artifact weapons or armor. A few of the oldest and mightiest Exalted gatormen possess jade hearthstone amulets and dire lances as gifts from Kinich Makar. These weapons are legends in their own right among the Dzibilese.


    Dzibilchán Falling
    One night, a flash of green light and a crack of thunder announced the death of Dzibilchán’s king and capital. The nation was left without a government. The gatormen, and especially the Nacom-Makarha, were left masterless. There was no one to resolve disputes among the Exalted, to assign estates and stipends, or to receive the tribute from conquered tribes. The gatormen who were closest cronies to Kinich Makar died with him, increasing the confusion.
    Some gatormen read the transcripts of their king’s decisions, looking for laws to govern them in his absence. They hope that Kinich Makar is merely absent, not dead, and that he shall return to set the nation in order. Rather more of them simply try to hold onto what they have and acquire more; only now, they do not have a Lunar god-king to set limits to their contests for wealth and power. They also do not have a king to set limits on how they treat human serfs.


    The Contest for the Throne
    It did not take long for someone to think of seizing the throne. Three Exalted gatormen declared themselves Nizam in the first year after Kinich Makar’s death, and all three died within a month, slain by each other or groups of other Nacom-Makarha. The other Exalted realized they could not take the throne through sheer force and audacity.

    Instead, a number of the older and stronger Nacom-Makarha try to gather enough support among their fellows that they can claim the throne and make it stick. They promise favors to possible supporters. They and their supporters fight duels, with pledges of fealty as the prize — or to the death, as a way to eliminate the supporters of rivals. Exalted gatormen demand that their unExalted kin support them with the proceeds of their plantations and villages, in defiance of their former obligations. Six major factions have emerged, comprising two-thirds of the Exalted gatormen and half the gentry. The other Exalted gatormen let themselves be courted, bide their time or vainly seek to stem the rising violence.

    While nascent warlords constitute the chief claimants to the throne, the gatormen in the priesthood have ambitions of their own. Dzalak Ahau, the only surviving Exalted sorcerer-priest, claims the throne on the grounds that she is now the nation’s most potent and experienced intermediary with the gods and the Incarnae. She occupies the Birth Temple in hopes of adding its prestige to her own. The other two God-Blooded sorcerer-priests support different warlords among the Nacom-Makarha. Half the mortal priests back Dzalak and hope to establish the supremacy of the priesthood; the rest follow the other two sorcerer-priests, back other warlords independently, or stay neutral.

    With each year, though, neutrality becomes more difficult for both priests and gentry. Factions already mount covert attacks on each other’s supporters and their estates, hoping to deprive rivals of backers and resources. The human serfs, of course, suffer most of all.


    Ancestor Cult Rebellion
    After long oppression, serfs make their own attempts to exploit the chaos. Some of them — especially tribal folk who remember how to live in the jungle — simply run away. The gatormen have little time to spare in recapturing them. Any humans they do catch in the act of escaping, they kill horribly, and sometimes eat, to terrify the rest of their serfs into submission.

    Other serfs take to outright rebellion, attacking their masters with whatever weapons they can find. Mobs of serfs have chopped up gatormen with hoes and hatchets, clubbed them with firewood, stoned them with bricks or torn gator-children apart with their bare hands. Poisoning has also proven effective. In one recent tale that spreads through Dzibilchán, a family of serfs first poisoned themselves — even their children — and then let themselves be caught escaping, knowing they would pass the toxin when their masters devoured their flesh.

    Leaders in the rebellion claim the ghosts of their ancestors demand vengeance for the long slavery to the gatormen. What’s more, leaders sometimes say they are possessed by these ancestors. While possessed, they fight in ways no serf should know, and wield eerie powers no human could possess. Awestruck serfs generally prove ready to follow any command from such a leader, no matter how foolhardy or cruel.

    And the ancestors are incredibly savage in their revenge. As the gatormen have eaten humans, so must humans eat gatormen, preferably after torturing them. The same fate must befall any serf who stays loyal to the gatormen, even if it’s only by refusing to join in an uprising. Such deaths must also be performed with prayers, as offerings to the ancestors. Indeed, all must offer blood to the ancestors, as much as they can: Sacrifice strengthens the ancestors, making them better able to help their descendants.

    If the serfs really want to strengthen the ancestors, though, nothing works better than sacrificing a baby. What’s one baby, now and then, compared to centuries of suffering?

    In case it need be said, these ghosts are not the ancestors of the Dzibilese. They are spectres who serve Eye and Seven Despairs. The Deathlord has other preoccupations these days (as described in The Manual of Exalted Power — The Abyssals, pp. 63-67). As a way to appease his Neverborn master, though, he sent a corps of nemissary spectres to see what havoc they could raise in Dzibilchán. The spectres report back to the Deathlord’s Abyssal seneschal, Red Famine, who hopes to drive Dzibilchán into an abyss of bloody horror. If no one powerful from outside intervenes, he shall likely succeed.


    Sample Combat Unit: Gatorman Raiding Party
    Description: This is a typical group of raiders sent to hunt a tribe’s warriors and leaders. Any outsider who finds Dzibilchán is likely to find several such groups stalking them through the swamp and jungle. Gatormen don’t know how to fight in larger formations, so an invader who reaches the Dzibilchán heartland comes under attack from increasing numbers of such small units, instead of one larger unit.
    Commanding Officer: Vir Pacal
    Armor Color: Green-brown scaled skin
    Motto: “For Luna, Sol and Gaia!”
    General Makeup: 20 gatormen armed with spears, clubs and javelins
    Overall Quality: Elite
    Magnitude: 2
    Drill: 3
    Close Combat Attack: 4 Close Combat Damage: 3
    Ranged Attack: 3 Ranged Damage: 3
    Endurance: 7 Might: 0 Armor: 1 (-0 mobility penalty) Valor: 4
    Formation: Gatorman raiders fight in skirmish formation. The party’s commander is a Wood Aspect. Two especially experienced warriors act as heroes who might lead a group of 5 gatormen in a flanking or rear attack, or in an attempt to lure opponents into an ambush by the rest of the party. Another two gatormen carry bolas: They function as sorcerers in attempts to immobilize and capture the leaders of the opposing force.


    [BEGIN BOXED TEXT]
    Dzibilchán, a Magnitude 3 Dominion
    Military: 4 Government: 1 Culture: 1
    Abilities: Awareness 1, Bureaucracy 1, Integrity 1, Occult 2 (Spirit Dealings +1), Performance 3, Presence 3 (Imperious Demands +2), Stealth 2 (Calculated Assassination +2), War 2 (Guerilla Fighting +3)
    Virtues: Compassion 1, Conviction 4, Temperance 2, Valor 4
    Virtue Flaw: Conviction Current Limit: 10
    Willpower: 8
    Bonus Points: 15 External Bonus Points: 0
    Notes: Dzibilchán’s bonus points pay for a second dot of Temperance and the various Specialties. The nation has no trade relations and no allies, resulting in no external bonus points. Dzibilchán currently suffers from a Limit Break in which, devoid of guidance, the Nacom-Makarha turn on each other in a blind struggle for dominance. Almost needless to say, the disintegrating nation has no savants or sorcerers.
    [END BOXED TEXT]
    Last edited by Sunder the Gold; 04-13-2017, 04:01 PM.

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  • Leetsepeak
    replied
    Originally posted by Epee102 View Post


    Er...this sent me to an endless stream of pop ups?
    LeTipex posted that in 2014. A different time. :P

    The link is probably dead at this point.

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