Saturday, 24 February 2018

Qryth Questions

OR, What's a nice four-armed green thing like you doing in a place like this?

For those new to all this, or who want a refresher: I've been floating Punth and the Qryth for a while now, giving a somewhat fleshed-out introduction alongside a specific hexcrawl.

So, I shall go over the questions about Punth and the Qryth that might ask for an answer - and haven't quite been answered elsewhere.

What surrounds Punth?

To the North: A mountain range*; beyond that, southern provinces of the Nirvanite Imperium.
To the East: The Mountains of the Spine of the World.
To the West: The Inner Sea; beyond the sea, the Coastal Emirates.
To the South: ...well, I haven't written this yet. But let us say that it is divided between Zanzibar-style East Africa  Emirate-influenced trade ports and the tribal kingdoms and confederacies of the interior.

What's the terrain and climate of Punth like?

Fertile Crescent-Mesopotamia, with Arabian Empty-Quarter regions and a single coastline. Settlement is centred around the rivers, but the more deserty regions have Qryth occupancy and thus distort the typical model of population (as in the Hexcrawl).

What's the history of Punth?

See here.

How's Punth governed?

As the hexcrawl article above suggests, the Qryth rule. To take this a little further, this resembles an aristocratic republic like Ancient Rome or Carthage, but with the sort of domination by the Qryth that utterly crushes any democratic influence. There is a 'tribune of the plebs' equivalent for human Punthites, but this is not a position of power. An emergency powers role - a Shogun or (Roman Republican) dictator - can be granted, but has rarely become a cross-generational feature. Qryth cultural strength restrains it.

All this is without taking into account the Codes and the power they offer. That very clearly puts a new light on things, whatever the parliamentary practices might be. It becomes much more reminiscent of a one-party state in the Twentieth century. But the Qryth have been at this for centuries. A position in the Assembly or the Codification Group is politically fraught, but a disgraced Qryth Assembly member is going to be to be sent off into the distant provinces or to an estate than to be executed without trial. Parliament, not Politburo. Oligarchical collectivism? Not quite.

Is there a Punthite religion?

Not really. The Codes are a pragmatic device for working in the world - though they are so all-consuming that they might be said to have the status of a religion.

Is there a Qryth religion?

Again, not really. As space-farers, the original shipwrecked Qryth had the sort of faith that had become rather abstract. However, Qryth culture is an obsession: keeping the torch burning, sticking together, rather than becoming a scattered people, permanent exiles.

...the features of Qryth culture being?

Of course, if the ancestors of the present-day Qryth or their people beyond the stars saw all this, they would be deeply confused. The most foreign element is the interpretation of the Codes and the leadership of the Punth: this is part of the life of each Qryth. Magisterial scholarship and jurisprudence dominates the academies of the Qryth. But this is acknowledged as duty distant from their essential 'Qryth-ness'.

The Qryth culture in Punth, then, involves learning a great deal of history, learning and living in a traditional Qryth manner (the greatest of the Qryth tread a fine line doing this: the more they spend in Reserves or Retreats, the more they embody their culture, the more status they gain - but their own power and influence may suffer). The crew of the Qryth ship that crashed were adventurous explorer types, pseudo-military even - hunting and athletics pursuits are typical. This has a distorting influence on Qryth art, as if a predominant theme of sculpture was Rugby Union and the Venus di Milo wore a scrum cap.

Hang on, Terrae Vertebrae has magic and clerics and so forth - do the Qryth have souls? What happens to the Punthites after death, given their moral status?

The Faith of the Eight debate this intently. They have come to the notion that some sort of Purgatory is provided for the less malevolent of the Punth. The Qryth are damned for their tyranny or complicity in tyranny. The various Crusades into Punth are a consequence of this.

So, can the Punthites do magic? And the Qryth?

The Punthites can, but it's an up-hill struggle given the thought-dominating status of the codes. The Qryth are outsiders to this 'magical biome'; it is a real struggle for them to master even the basics. This is exacerbated by the lack of a Qryth magical tradition, both pre- and post- shipwreck.

What size are the Qryth?

Ten foot or so. Green-ish skin, four arms. Slim corded-muscle bodies. Pretty much Tharks. Twice as strong as a strong man.

So, like Tharks, they have males and females? Do they bear young like mammals, or hatch eggs like natives of Barsoom?

Yes to males and females. They are similar in appearance is most respects, more so than humans. Social division along such lines is present though limited: Qryth women can live like Spartan females, propped up and supported by plenty of helots.  Eggs are hatched, as Barsoom - but individually by families and without the Green Martian natural selection element. Child rearing is very important to the Qryth, to sustain their culture - and to make sure the children aren't going become like the Punthites. Contact between Qryth juveniles and humans is limited.

Does Punth trade a great deal?

Not really; it has had to be self-sustaining at many points in history during wars. Even pre-Qryth, it wasn't a seafaring state and the deserts and mountains make trade difficult.

Ports exist on the coast, but the economy of Punth, while not as such centrally planned, puts a great deal of stress on coordination for the purposes of the Qryth; there is no regular trade deal due to Punth's status as an outsider on the international stage and those traders that do come to Punth are rarely greeted warmly. This is due to being outside the Codes, a mercurial commercial policy and Qryth snobbery.

It might be compared to Western merchants travelling to the East Indies in the Sixteenth Century. While there isn't so far to travel, there is no established diplomatic link or trade policy in place; who knows what the Local potentate or governor will think of you; the culture shock is acute; and making a deal, let alone a profit is shaky proposition at best.

What's the architecture like, what with ten-foot folk living besides five-foot folk?

All public buildings are Qryth-sized - compulsory under the Code (besides being useful in places that function-wise have to accommodate plenty). Some private buildings are regularly sized, but a Punthite of wealth will have a Qryth-sized home or reception space.

The prominent feature of Punthite architecture is the ziggurat: a defensible citadel, a reminder of their history, a court for the Qryth officialdom. Qryth cultural impulses on the part of the shipwrecked crew preserved smaller things than buildings - just as stranded humans might preserve the Iliad with more ease than Classical architecture. The oldest and grandest ziggurats were built with advanced technology and thus are the best examples of Qryth architecture. The original crash site was also heavily fortified - but the pre-fabricated huts that the spaceship carried have long since gone and the walls alone remain from those days.

Speaking of advanced technology, what's left among the Qryth?

The occasional ray-gun and communicator. A few medical devices, with ritualistic instructions and limits uses (the automatic doctor can reattach legs good as new - but it takes time to set it up, during which time the patient might bleed out and it can only reattach legs).

The sort of standard of these things is indicative in one of those old machines that has been maintained to this day. It makes armour from ingots of iron and with plenty of time to charge up the solar panels. But what it can make is very close fitting pieces of metal, perfectly weighted and shaped for a given individual, of a very high quality steel. But a team of craftsmen has to attach straps, buckles and pads to these pieces of metal and make the whole thing workable.

What do they eat?

The Punthites can eat what humans eat. Their diet is perhaps limited and functional rather than extensive, but is not utterly bleak.

The Qryth spent some time doing genetic modification to make local plants edible and nourishing for them, as well as generally more healthy, bigger &c. They have applied this to a number of beasts as well (hence the game reserves, though some Qryth-beasts can be reared for food rather than just hunted).

Are there any further questions?

*I quite like the idea of the presence of a beleaguered Armenian or Georgian equivalent in these mountains, sandwiched between empires (IE, Byzantine and Persian) - though without the Black Sea. But to give Medieval Colchis and Lazica and so forth their due, this really needs a little more research. Also, there are Dwarves which I want to do something with, mentioned in the Beyond Vertebrea post.

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