Thursday, 12 July 2018

Punth: A Primer Ch. 2

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' set up on the borders of Punth:

1. All that pass here must halt. All that halt must read.
2. To those who do not, a mutilation is due. To those that are mutilated, death is due.
3. This is the dwelling of the Sky Princes and all those who co-prosper with them.
4. Such lands are called by some Punth.
5. All men should live in peace, form which comes plenty.
6. Thus, the Sky Princes raised these stones.
7. Thus, the Sky Princes and the Servants of the People will the tend the ways of peace.
8. Those who do not attend to correct teaching shall leave these places by such means as are best.
9. To learn peace is to learn wisdom. To the wise will come plenty.
10. Might and Justice shall be theirs, by which peace shall ever reign.

Next, the Codes' Statement of Coupling.

1. There must be two for creation, but many for rearing.
2. Two may meet, but the many must grant their abiding.
3. To abide in peace and plenty, there must be might and justice.
4. The two may meet, but the Sky Princes must grant their abiding.
5. But no voice speaks against this. None of the Codes is against this.
6. Therefore joy is the grant of the many, of the Sky Princes.
7. Let those raised in peace and plenty ever heed and honour them!

A few notes on Qryth infrastructure in Punth

The Qryth were, in their first days in Punth, possessed of much foresight about the future. They planned accordingly.

It is a shame they were wrong. Wrong about the society they were building;  wrong about their chances for technological progress.

The Qryth maintain, in a semi-Medieval Near East, the sort of administrative tools that would better suit a state in the 'Western World' of 21st Century AD Earth. Border checks; extensive records of comings and goings. There are roads everywhere, carefully maintained - a great advantage in war, but a great expense (there is often less in the way of immediate funds to spend on a campaign). Moreover, they go everywhere. Not just between cities or along trade routes. They do not appear to have come about naturally.

Some seem to head out to dead ends, terminating in desolate valleys or contaminated springs. The first generation of Qryth extensively scanned Punth; doubtless somewhere beneath the sands is a great bounty of petroleum or the minerals needed to make DVD Players - but this means nothing in contemporary Punth. But the Qryth must maintain the great monuments of their ancestors. So long highways to empty places are sweated over by workgangs, guarded by Sky Princes and Gendarmes.

This is indicative of a lot of Punthite administrative practice. It is worth reading this blog post. I've not read Seeing Like a State myself, but Patrick Stuart does an interesting review. Consider also Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France - though the Qryth could rewrite so very much more than the Constitution, the Calendar and political geography (indeed, they were positively obliged so to do).

[It occurs to me that there is something reminiscent of Warhammer 40,000 in the Qryth. Tradition-bound Orwellian maniacs, stronger than anyone else in that polity, trapped within the structures - physical, political, cultural - of another, greater age.  More aesthetics of ruin, for those who care for them - but the tragedy and loss, the dislocation, of 40k's Imperium of Man has a disticnt likeness to the Qryth.]

The Gendarmes

Nominally, the Qryth are the only military of Punth. One advantage of this is that they are bigger than anyone else (they struggle with Half-Giants, but Half-Giants don't like the heat). But ultimately lesser forces were required. Sentries, quartermasters, teamsters, police forces. Therefore, a gendarmerie was created. It was even called by a word equivalent to 'Gendarme' in the Qryth tongue.

The gendarmes are the most visible military and police presence in Punth. They have some human commanders, but none above what we should think of as regimental rank. The Sky Princes monitor them closely.

Among other things, the gendarmes conduct regular border patrols (even along the desolate stretches of Punth's deserts). They act as a first line of defence - but a line of defence that is expected to fall back in good order and get one of the Qryth if attacked by a serious threat. Not that they are absent from Punth's campaigns or the order of battle.

They wear strange garments of a mustard-like colour, tight fitting and with several pouches, a little like modern police uniforms. Armour can be placed over this; it is padded at several spots to help accommodate this. There are two traceries in red braid on the flanks - roughly where the second set of Qryth arms would be. The officers sport peaked caps. Urban garrisons tend towards truncheons and lathis - at least, in most places. Outside the walls, they are armed well, often with pikes and crossbows. A cavalry contingent is maintained, as are supply trains for the outer garrisons.

[Aside from echoing the dislocated modern-world tendencies of the Qryth, this is deliberately reminiscent of the extensive interior guard or state security forces of totalitarian regimes. To refer again to Recluce, Natural Ordermage and Mage-Guard of Hamor are worth referring to. ]

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