Thursday, 21 June 2018

Punth: A Primer

An ongoing topic here has been Punth and the Qryth. A desert land, split by rivers, ruled by four-armed folk taller than men - who take the tongues of people for their own.

As other posts have explained, Punth operates rather like Ascia in Wolfe's Book of the New Sun. Language is purely the product of the Codes - as written long ago by the alien Qryth. A Punthite can only communicate in extracts from the Codes.

If this is to be made into something usable, some of those Codes need to be available for use on the tabletop. Whilst I do not presume to write anything meticulously complete as the books of propaganda, law and instruction that constitute the Codes, I can at least produce a comprehensive slice of them. I shall attach to these encounter tables for the land of Punth.

Firstly, the Codes' account of how Punth came to be as it is, the Statement of Being:

1. Let all who hear, attend.
2. In days that are no more, sorcerers had the keeping of the people. Let those days come no more!
3. The wicked man is he that seeks his own power.
4. The sorcerers sought their own power in many lands and drew to them the Sky Princes.
5. By this shall you know the just: intention. By this shall you know the mighty: success.
6. When the mighty are just, their intention will meet with success.
7. In falling, the spiteful seek tp confound their victors, but the Sky Princes can ever win through.
8. Yet a people long oppressed will be weak and weaker still when the cruel strike falls.
9. But the Sky Princes extended the arms of might and justice to them.
10. This was all recorded, so that the might and justice of people and princes, but ever renew itself.
11. From the days in which this was written, unto all other days.

Next, the Punthite creed, or Pledge of Allegiance: the Statement of Belonging:

1. Let all who hear, attend.
2. If a man has fallen to the dust, let his neighbour bend to him.
3. If two men fall to the dust together, they must bend to one another.
4. Who must rise first? The mighty. Who shall be raised up? The just.
5. The exile is ashamed of making his new home. The shipwrecked man is not.
6. The might of the scribe is in the pen, the might of the soldier in the sword, the might of the builder in the rod. What might do the Sky Princes lack?
7. The might of the scribes in our books, the might of the soldier is at our gates, the might of the builder is in our homes. What might do the people lack?
8. If there is wisdom in our books, who shall gainsay it?
If there strength at our gates, who shall come against us?
If there is peace in our homes, who shall afflict us?
The foolish, the reckless, the malicious.
9. When the Sky Princes speak, none else shall speak, for they speak wisdom.
When the Sky Princes command, none else shall, for theirs is might.
When the Sky Princes settle, none else shall, for in their gift is peace.
10*. From the days in which this was written, unto all other days.

*If spoken, "From the day in which this is spoken, unto all other days."

Ten Encounters in the Deep Deserts of Punth
1. Two young Qyrth, out on a hunt of their own. They are liable to be trigger happy and haughty.
2. A caravan of the Ka-Punth, picking their way over a blasted section of twisted rock. A covered camel bears the fragile spirit-vessel of an ancient sorcerer, and its nervous, twisted keeper.
3. A ruined tower, from the days of the Sorcerer-King. It is sandblasted and scarred - and likely long empty, though who knows what might be visible from the top?
4. Scouts from Kapaleron in the north. They are doing their best not to be seen. The Qryth would pay for news of them; they would pay for news of Punth. Who knows how complete their maps are - or how deep their 'discretionary funds'?
5. A djinn of the desert, once perhaps a sorcerer, circling in the heat haze. Below, a Ka-Punth initiate hopes to commune with it. He has been staked to the ground. The rest of his number are likely out of sight - and earshot.
6. Across a dry riverbed, a column of Punth gendarmes swarm. They are monitored by a stoic, muscular Qryth commander. 
7. A herd of Qryth behemoth-beasts passed this way - as the hoof marks and fewmets suggest. They must have broken the bounds of a reserve - who knows what else lurks out here?
8. A skirmish, atop the flat top of a high mesa in the pitiless sun: Ka-Punth tribesmen scurry to retreat as Punthite gendarmes advance on them.
9. A party of smugglers, lightly laden and watchful. Their packs might have weapons for the Ka-Punth or trade goods for remote, unsupervised Punthite towns. One veiled figure is in fact a priest from the north, hoping to carry the evangelical mission to the enslaved of Punth. 
10. The sand churns; there is a rush of wind - who shall withstand it? What is it that comes through the desert?

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