September 15, 2010

Gondwane: Peoples & Places

Quick ideas for fleshing out Gondwane.  I’m finding out that it’s easier for me to create a skeleton description with bullet points for each people or location, so I can go back to fleshing them out later.  I’m having way too much fun doing this, in fact I should be writing on another commercial project now but this idea just keeps hogging my brain cells.

People of Gondwane, Initial Ideas

The humans of Gondwane are related to the humans of Modern Earth only in the sense that they are the same species.  Man on Gondwane did not evolve naturally, but was bred by the Shapers in a continuing experiment to find out why human civilization survived and the Shapers did not. 

This experiment has been repeated more than once, each time allowing mankind to reach a height of technology equal or greater than Modern Earth, then wiped out as the experiment was 'reset.'  This means the human population of Gondwane consists of both the 'current batch' and the scattered, often secret, remnants of previous experiments. 

Because of the 'artificial' origin of man on Gondwane, and the many 'batches' so created, there are some interesting differences between them and Modern Earth humans.  First, the coloration: while all the skin and hair colors of modern man are known on Gondwane, there are additional variants and unusual combinations, such as green or blue hair, or green eyes and dark skin.  A small yet significant percentage of Gondwane humans are also born with Esper talent.

Antilleans

  • One of the most developed civilizations on Gondwane following the last Scouring
  • Classical Greek in style
  • Princely city states nominally ruled by a High King
  • Occupy the Antillean Islands and parts of the Saharic Sea coast
  • Domesticated some small and medium dinosaurs
  • Livelihood is mostly herding and fishing
  • Farming done on some pacified islands (i.e. cleaned out of monsters)
  • Populated concentrated in walled cities due to dangers
  • Frequently at war with Zyra
  • Searchers for knowledge
  • Premier seapower in Gondwane
  • Citizen-army of spearmen backed by archers and dinosaur-riding cavalry with javelins
  • Domesticated dryosaurs as personal steeds
  • Domesticated iguanodons as heavy draft animals
  • Frequent hunting and exploring expeditions to mainland
  • Practice slavery on a very minor scale
  • Overthrew their old gods, the Dragon Kings, and embraced the Shaper religion
  • Practice the Games, including gladiatorial combat, but rarely to the death

Zyrans

  • Highly militarized empire
  • Constant conflict with Antillea, Dilmun, and Makkar, and the barbarians of the north
  • Breakaway colony of Antillea
  • Classical Greek in style - but with more of a Roman flavor
  • Ruled by an Emperor
  • Domesticated large iguanodons as heavy draft animals and war beasts
  • Domesticated dryosaurs as personal steeds (let's make this universal)
  • Livelihood is plantation farming using slaves, hunting, herding and fishing
  • Because of their labor requirements, they raid for slaves frequently and widely
  • Obsessed with capturing Ancient technology especially from Antillea
  • Worship Sabellis, the Dragon Queen
  • Many lords are secretly worshippers of the Void Lords
  • Avid audience of the Games, and demand gladiatorial combat to the death

Dilmunians

  • Loosely based on the Phoenicians
  • Trading nation
  • Sources trade goods from the east via caravan, to ship to Zyra, Antillea, and elsewhere
  • Domesticated giant sauropods for long-distance caravans
  • Domesticated dryosaurs as personal steeds
  • Often at war with Makkar and Zyra
  • Worship the stars, which they believe speak to them through the Oracle of the Great Crystal
  • Melkarth is the premier Dilmunian trade city
  • Followed by New Dilmun
  • Old Dilmun was destroyed in a civil war; it lies across the ? River from New Dilmun

Elgabal, Sarkoris, Tarquin

  • Former colonies of Dilmun
  • Occupied by the Zyrans and considered part of the Zyran Empire
  • Bronze Bull cult served by 'minotaur' priests
  • Not true minotaurs, but wear bull masks with Shaper-created circuitry giving them powers

Belshazzarians

  • Loosely based on Assyrians
  • Fading remnant of a once-great empire
  • Archers and charioteers
  • A line of mad kings and disastrous campaigns and rebellions have weakened them severely
  • Life in the cities of Belshazzar is a living hell for its citizens
  • Laws are harsh and very slanted in favor of the nobility
  • The ruler is very capricious
  • Dur Ashrak, the capital, houses one of the best Shaper oracles known
  • The Shaper oracle is a major source of income from pilgrims who come to consult it
  • Zyran conquest stopped here, by a hair
  • Worship Zahur, the supposed father of the royal line
  • Also worship the Four Lords of Chaos: Vorax, Thamogorgos, Belerion and Maya

Samurrad, Tomaria, Harakpur, Askelos

  • Former Belshazzarian cities
  • Now ruled by a Zyran elite, after it was conquered and occupied by Zyra
  • Now independent kingdoms, having broken from Zyra
  • Samurrad is the 'city of mercenaries' - hanging on to its independence by a nail, using mercenary army
  • Harakpur and Askelos are now  Belshazzarian protectorates
  • Hybrid culture - inspired by Hellenic Central Asia and Syria
  • Conflict between local and Zyran religions
  • Locals worship Zahur and the Four Lords of Chaos

Makkar

  • Desert kingdom southeast of Dilmun
  • Occupies the Zahuran Desert
  • Traditional enemy of Dilmun
  • Ride protoceratops
  • Loosely Arab-inspired
  • Fight mainly with lances
  • Use ankylosaurs as living siege engines
  • Worship tribal ancestor deities - their religion is not under Shaper control
  • There could be a Watcher-led campaign to convert the Makkarans to another religion

Arwe

  • Great black kingdom
  • Secret cities carved from the mountains
  • Live on the great Arwe Mesa
  • Arwe cities line the sides of the mesa
  • Arwe usually fight with axes
  • The interior is held as common farming land, a secure place from dinosaur infestation
  • Worship the Sleeping Kings, the dead kings they have kept mummified in an ice cave high in the mountains
  • Shaper control is through a family of near-immortal witches, the Spirit Speakers of Gagool
  • The Spirit Speakers claim to speak for the spirits of the Sleeping Kings

Eshkor

  • Eshkorians recolonized the Ancient city of Eshkor and assumed the Ancients' mantle
  • Ruled by a Priest-King
  • Eshkorian nobles believe they are heirs to the Ancients and thus have the status of living gods
  • Highly militarized
  • Nobles go to war on chariots drawn by dryosaurs
  • Stegosaur 'tanks'
  • Eshkorian nobles wear masks to emphasize their supposed divinity
  • High percentage of Espers in their population
  • Always at war with Zakkar
  • The rest of the populace are slaves
  • Worship their own noble class!
  • There is a yearly demonstration of 'divine power' by the noble espers of Eshkor
  • Many slaves are incinerated by esper power for the occasion

Zakkar

  • Zakkar is a breakway colony of Eshkor
  • Ruled by a God-King
  • Zakkarian nobles wear masks and artificial wings
  • Nobles go to war on chariots drawn by dryosaurs
  • Stegosaur 'tanks'
  • The rest of the populace are slaves
  • Worship their God-King alone
  • The God-King demands a new bride every year
  • God-King's brides are sacrificed after a year unless they have conceived

Omnor

  • Neighbor to Eshkor and Zakkar
  • Ruled by a Priest-King also
  • But upper class here are the priests, not the nobles
  • Omnorian priests control every aspect of life
  • Hermit kingdom - no one comes in, no one goes out - on pain of death!
  • Thus very few people know of Omnor
  • Known largely through accounts of Eshkorian and Zakkarian sieges that have failed
  • Omnor occupies a whole mountain - it is a city of terraces
  • (Oops, I switched the positions of Zakkar and Omnor on the map!)
  • Food is grown on the terraces sufficient for the population
  • Worship the Ancients

Hargath (Neanderthals)

  • Occupy the Hecatoncheiros Mountains north of Zyra and elsewhere
  • Frequently band together to raid Zyran farms
  • Cannibals - or rather, man-eaters
  • Rapidly replacing stone weapons with metal weapons taken from killed Zyrans
  • Tribal society led by warrior-priests
  • Most seem to worship the allosaurs that are Gondwane's largest land predators

Sons of Gabbaras

  • A race of giants, averaging about 9 feet tall
  • Forge great armor
  • Live among the Dilmunians and the Eshkorians
  • They are the remnants of a fallen civilization
  • Their ancestors built great temple and burial mounds in the north
  • Renowned as dinosaur-killers

Pale Ones

  • Subterranean remnants of a technologically advanced civilization
  • Nonfunctional eyes - can only sense light, but not form images
  • Motivation - revitalize their race using captive women

Swampfolk

  • Degenerate humans
  • A failed experiment of the Shapers, abandoned to their fate
  • Retreated to the Bahanadon Swamps
  • Small in stature, tailed, hairy, and very strong for their size
  • So degenerate they no longer use tools
  • Very good swimmers and climbers

Valkeir and Urdryk

  • Inspired by the Goths - erk now they're Vikings, or Saxons ...
  • Large migrating tribes from Laurasia, pushed from ancestral home by earthquake and volcanic eruption
  • Seeking land free of dinosaur infestation
  • Savage fighters who have twice defeated the Zyrans
  • They have recently accepted Zyran subsidy in exchange for a military alliance
  • Valkeir warriors now join the Zyran legions
  • The Urdryk invaded Antillea and now hold some of the northern islands
  • Worship The Kraken and Aegir, two gods of the deep locked in eternal struggle with each other
  • The Kraken and Aegir cause earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic eruptions with their struggles
  • The Valkheir consider themselves Sons of The Kraken
  • The Urdryk consider themselves Sons of Aegir
  • There is a constant blood feud between the two tribes

Beastmen

  • Obscene hybrids of man and ape, with the worst qualities of both
  • Incredibly strong for their size
  • Warlike riders
  • Raid for human captives and herd them like cattle
  • Ceremonial cannibalism - butcher and eat their human captives en masse at winter solstice

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