There is more to come, but have this for now. In advance, thanks for reading, and happy gaming.
THE CHURLIAN TRIBES
NAMES: Always ending in a vowel. The higher-status someone is, the more syllables they have; being addressed by one syllable is practically a dehumanization.
DRESS: Somewhere between a Diesel-age pilot and Native American regalia.
1 Well-worn denim overalls embroidered with clay beads
2 Fur-lined bomber jacket with fringed sleeves
3 Fanny pack made from a hollowed-out crow
4 Jeans with wildlife patterns embroidered on the knees
5 Bomber cap with feathers sticking out of the sides
6 A suitcoat woven from serape fabric
1 A mineworker’s Imperial punch card; despite looking like swiss cheese, it doesn’t meet the criteria for “sufficient labor”
2 A clay amulet with the icon of an eagle, its eyes sparkling amethyst
3 A doll woven from dead grass; three blue beads are tucked away in its chest
4 A tarnished ankh bracelet scratched silly and bent in half
5 A small red pouch of warm-smelling spices
6 A jar of beatified liquor, clear and bitter and burning, labelled with angular animal designs
7 A hand puppet of a comically villainous Imperial enforcer
8 A ring of rusted iron in the shape of a propeller
APPEARANCE: Skin like rich tanned leather, hair like the earth after a rain or silver as startuff, eyes like brilliant tigereye. Some (5%) are born with blue eyes, clear as crystal, marking them as clairvoyant Seers.
ACCENT: Like a British person trying to impersonate an American.
CUSTOM: When there’s a feather lying alone on the ground, you must burn it as soon as possible, or that feather will tether the bird’s spirit to the material world after death, and no one wants a Phantasma infestation.
RELIGION: Spirits emerge from an undifferentiated mass of being, each expression of life in the material world simply one facet of that great beyond spirit. The older a creature is, the closer to the One Spirit it becomes- immortal, mythopoetic creatures like Yellow Bison and the Moonshine Crow are said to be near-pure avatars of the One Spirit made flesh.
CURRENCIES: Bead strings- yellow beads are used to buy necessities like soap and candles, blue are used to buy frills like massages and murals, red are used to buy dangerous equipment like weapons and chemic, and purple are used to buy luxuries like jewelry and buildings. The type of work someone does determines in what bead they are paid; a common laborer gets 3 yellow beads and 1 blue bead a day, while a notorious mercenary would get 3 red beads and 1 purple bead per mark. (3 beads of one color and 1 of another is a good estimate for small potatoes payment.)
REGION: The Churlian Fields are primarily rolling hills (40%), dry grasses (50%) and wetlands (10%), dotted with hulking, rusted antediluvian relics (30% on a given mote) of technologies decommissioned well before the Age of Aerodynes.
ARCHITECTURE: Simple geometric shapes and elemental designs melding closely with the landscape and terrain features; Churlian architecture is characterized by its simplicity and an almost symbiotic relationship to the surrounding landscape and symmetrical circular designs. In colonized regions, the aesthetic difference between Iodinian and Churlian design is very stark, some sociologists calling the incongruity symbolic.
FOOD: Standard Fare: A honeyed cut of yeabu* along boiled tubers. Fine Dining: Eagle’s blood pudding and berries served in the hollow of a melon. Travel Fare: Yeabu jerky and tack.
*Yeabu: a spotted, tripedal beast of burden native to the Field most notable for its protruding forehead. Female yeabu ritualistically headbutt each other when squads come in conflict. Behind the cranial protrusion is a wall of fat to protect the brain, frequently utilized by Churlians for long-burning candles, food preparation, and preservation.
MUSIC: Meandering and out-of-time vocals accompanied by plucked/bowed chordophones like Kagus and Vilas, traditionally with little to no percussion and/or one or multiple sustained pitches that move to create harmony. One of the best-known songs is the Ballad of the Skymonger, a culture antihero who stole the gift of flight from a falcon.
THE SACCHARINE DYNASTY
NAMES: Flowing, overwrought, sounding as if a group with a hyperbolic spirit played Telephone with archaic European names. House names are typically two vaguely Asiatic syllables, serving as surnames (Tsollinarit Vo-Tran) just as often as titles (Mirilando de Prisstil of House Ye-Khar).
DRESS: All of the following are gender and class agnostic.
1 Ball gown covered in orbs (1), flowers (2), bows (3), knives (4), bells (5), or hats (6)
2 A fine ruffled suit coupled with a coin veil
3 A leotard covered in glittering quartz
4 An animalistic masquerade mask with genuine matching furs
5 Half of an ocean-blue silken gown sewn to half of a crushed red velvet suit
6 Nothing but a thick coat of paint
1 A music clef-shaped locket containing a sliver of antimony
2 A darkwood Kithremba (like a cross between a sitar and a banjo) named Ethel missing two strings, one of which is being used as a garrote somewhere
3 A gold-on-black scroll containing saucy messages in impeccable calligraphy; both the sender and addressee are married nobles of rival Houses
4 A badge of watch from House Do-Rahck in the shape of an 11-pointed star
5 A cotton candy-pink iron stiletto carved with the name of a fallen House
6 A bill for ‘a buggy covertly laden with sufficient explosives to destroy a small house’
7 Three turquoise octahedral dice stained brown with blood with pips in the shape of butterflies
8 A bowl carved from a Crystal Crab carapace and mended a la kintsugi
APPEARANCE: Crazy bod mod, a sign of both discipline and wealth, is the norm (80%). Underneath are pale, diamond-eyed folk who tend to the tall and lanky side despite their diet.
1 Entire body bleached/tattooed cotton candy pink
2 Entire body bleached/tattooed baby blue
3 Entire body bleached/tattooed lavender
4 Entire body bleached/tattooed stark white
5 Entire body bleached/tattooed some other color, or with swirling designs
6 Eyes are an unusual color (1-4), have a strange pupil shape (5), or are monochrome (6)
7 Crystal implanted into forehead as “third eye”
8 Poems carved into foot-long fingernails
9 Pointed, elfin ears laden with gauges and piercings
10 Forked tongue, frequently tattooed with alchemical symbols
11-12 Roll d4 times and combine
ACCENT: On a class spectrum from Italian (lowest of low) to French (highest of high). There is much social stigma around speech impediment, lisps and stutters most common in this region; if you want to make a killing, covertly advertise yourself as a linguistic therapist around a lesser-known noble house.
CUSTOM: You must eat all food you are presented with in its entirety (crumbs are frowned upon), and take care to avoid any sort of mess. To do otherwise is a great disgrace, you slovenly slob.
RELIGION: The head of each House is divine, their power corresponding to their position on the socioeconomic hierarchy. The Emperor (praise be) is the autarch-god-lord of the Dynasty. The Saccharinians live in a world where a god can be stabbed in the back and replaced; it’s no surprise that Viadolphus Machiavelli’s “the God-Prince” was such a hit.
CURRENCIES: An uncountable myriad of bills, each representing a very specific, concrete asset that one can claim and use. The “grain-store” is the most common (enough grain to make a week’s worth of bread), while the “arsenic-vial” is among the most coveted. Making new bills along with new pieces of technology is common; the “printing-press” caused quite a stir when it hit the market.
REGION: Dominated by chromatic spires of pure sugar crystal (80%), the remainder covered in crushed rubble and crystal dust (20%), the deforested litter of centuries of excavations. Pools of sugar-water in and around which Crystal Crabs congregate are common (30% on a given mote).
ARCHITECTURE: A mash-up of the mythic European castle aesthetic and Islamic/faux Arabian architecture. All hyperbolically grand and splendorous; often optical illusions are employed to make them look larger and more boastful than they really are, frequently resulting in Neuschwanstein levels of nonsensical geometry. Tempered sugar-mortar and ‘concrose’ (sucrose concrete) are construction staples.
FOOD: Standard Fare: Candied poultry with a side of sparkling sugar water and a bowl of cold pinto beans. Fine Dining: A main course of breads and rich Crystal Crab* and tuber stews followed by up to fifty courses of desserts. Travel Fare: Rock candy and dried turkey legs.
*Crystal Crabs: crustacean creatures who have evolved shells of sweet salt to dissuade predators. Nest in hallowed-out warrens within crystal spires next to bodies of still liquid. Develop hive minds under duress, but always a sucker for shiny baubles.MUSIC: The Saccharinians invented the symphony orchestra and are emerging into a Baroque period, filled with candlelit opera, prickly counterpoint, and ever larger and louder ensembles commissioned by the bored patriarchs and matriarchs of the upper crust Houses.