Lore dump: the Dehkay Plateau

GhendGhend Member, Immortal Posts: 73 Immortal
This has been a pet project of mine and I would like to share some of the lore in total, rather than as a scattered handful of snippets fed in drips and drabs via delegates to Spinesreach; it doesn't seem very fair to restrict this information to a single city, and it may be interesting to see how much work goes into a large-scale project like an entire species. I also hope that it will be useful for the handful of people who play Grecht characters but found Arget Massai and Arget Efri to be lacking in content and information on the Grecht people. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them, but remember: spoilers are the enemy.

As a guide for using this information IC, anything in here would be known to a Grecht of the Plateau. A mainland-born Grecht raised amongst the refugees at Massai would know the vague details, but probably not be up to speed on any of the more recent happenings of the Plateau or the fine detail of living there. The average non-Grecht would know very little as travel to and from the Plateau is heavily restricted.

The Dehkay Plateau

A large area of land to the northeast of Sapience, straddling the border between Albedi and Sapient territory. The Plateau is the homeland of the Dehkay Grecht, spurned cousins to the Grecht of Massai, and covers hundreds of kilometers with icy tundra, sky-scraping volcanic mountains, and glaciers. The Second Imperium is just the latest iteration of one of the oldest cultures in the world.

Concept work


Government

Over the course of the last milennia, the Plateau leadership has been almost as fractured as the islands around it. Only in the last few hundred years has a stable government emerged, originally in the form of the bloody military dictatorship called Tolvhauk, or the First Imperium, and more recently in the more subtle form of the religiously oppressive and money-hungry Naru Vhauk, the Second Imperium. The Plateau is currently nominally ruled by a figurehead Exarch elected by a council of Talons, who are in turn representatives of military and merchant bodies across the Plateau. The position of Exarch is one of religious significance, as they are the intercessor between the common people of the Plateau and the Spirit of the earth beneath it - at least in theory. In practice, the priesthood is an entirely separate body of power to the Imperium government, and is largely helpless to prevent the powerful military might of the Talon Council from doing and saying whatever they please. The modern Talon Council is composed almost entirely of military leaders with a small handful of members of the priesthood, in part due to the coup that resulted in the formation of the current Imperium. The Talon Council also traditionally includes the Bearer of the Hundred Dead, the sole legitimate practitioner of Sun Drinker worship on the Plateau (see 'religion').

The Second Imperium has pursued a policy of aggressive internal unification, crushing dissent with military force and using the religious beliefs of the peasant and merchant classes, many of them based in objective fact, as threats. The Bearer of the Hundred Dead is actively employed as an enforcer and weapon by the Talon Council, a policy that is unprecedented in the history of the Grecht and may have serious ramifications further down the track if it continues. Historically this combination of military and religious power is unusual, and is a major part of why the Second Imperium remains stable despite serious unrest in the peasant population. The Second Imperium has accomplished a great deal and has turned the Plateau into a unified and productive body, but at the cost of hosting a ruling class that conducts ethnic cleansing, uses religion as a weapon against the peasants, and crushes uprising with brutal force.


Geography

As a note on the naming of Grecht cities, Arget means 'fortress' and traditionally referred to a large settlement built in the caldera of a volcano, but now refers to any constructed settlement. Places like the Ebon Basin, which is a sparsely settled volcanic lake, are not an Arget because they lack infrastructure and large-scale settlement.

The Plateau is broken into three main regions: the Cradle of Fire in the far north, the Dehkay Basin in the inner area, and the Daughters to the far south. The Cradle was the landing point for the first Grecht to reach the Plateau and is a desolate, blasted hellhole of a region, ringed by active volcanoes and constantly pelted with rains of ash. Farming is easy enough on a small scale but it wasn't until the Basin was settled that grain and vegetables became widely available to the majority of people on the Plateau. The Cradle is home to Neicel Arget, the religious and siritual capitol of the Plateau, and it is from here that the Exarch and the Talon Council administrate the Plateau as a whole.

The Basin, overseen by the city of Arget Tep, is the breadbasket of the Plateau. Historically an extremely war-torn and contested area due to the lack of widely usable farmland elsewhere on the Plateau, Tep has only relatively recently become a stable state with the advent of a powerful merchant cabal that leverages vast amounts of money and trade goods to stave off feuds. So far they have succeeded in keeping the Basin in one piece for almost a century, which is unprecedented. That said, their independence has come at the cost of a light military presence on the roads of the Basin, resulting in bandit activity, lost caravans, and numerous rebel encampments scattered about the tundra.

The Daughters are one of the more desolate regions of the Plateau. They are a series of glaciers that endlessly calve into the Great Ocean between the Plateau and the mainland, and were largely unpopulated before the rise of the Second Imperium. Now they are home to a military garrison at Kemau and a large population of outcasts, lepers and political dissidents who have been left to rot in the barren wasteland near Liek. The Daughters are geographically the closest Plateau region to Sapience, and can be seen from the coast of the Northern Tundra on a clear day.


Religion

For many years, religion on the Plateau was a quite simple and personal affair. Gods and spirits would vary in name, appearance and nature from settlement to settlement or family to family, with many larger clans carrying their gods with them in the form of symbolic altars or the bones of their dead. Ritual cannibalism is traditionally a very common part of Grecht peasant culture, both because of the harshness of necessity when living in an icy wasteland, and the cultural understanding that the strength of the dead should remain with their family. This has changed, or rather been changed quite violently, by the Second Imperium, which has put a great deal of effort into crushing the traditional religious culture of the Plateau and instituting mandatory worship of the Spirit, Halfat Naru, in its place. In this respect the Plateau is officially monotheistic, supporting a priesthood of non-Ivolnite, non-vampiric undead who are bound to the Spirit and are effectively immortal. The Spirit, or Mountain Sleeping, is depicted as a bright fire burning beneath the earth, or as the sun, depending on region.

A heavily restricted, heavily illegal counterpoint religious observance to the Halfat Naru priesthood is the cult of the Sun Drinker, also known as Sky Dreaming, who conducts sacrifices on the oceanic cliffs to beg the Heart of Winter to turn her gaze away from them. The Sun Drinker is depicted as a vast draconic figure, or symbolized with a broken wyrm's tooth as needed. Being found to conduct worship of the Sun Drinker if you are not the Bearer of the Hundred Dead is punishable with ritual drowning in the Ebon Basin as a sacrifice to the Spirit of the Plateau.


Notes on culture

A caste structure exists on the Plateau, and has informally for many years. The Second Imperium has elevanted it to a 'holy order' and uses it as a means of enforcing restrictions on travel, inheritance, rights and representation. The castes are divided into the teac, or peasant class, the nel, or warrior caste and military, and the neicel, the priesthood. A 'fourth caste' or 'bought caste' in the form of the merchant princes of Tep also exists, but technically falls under the teac as far as the Plateau government is concerned.

The practice of marking one's face with bright pigment arose on the Plateau as a method of identifying members of your clan in the near-darkness of tundral night or deep caves during the fractious early period of Grecht settlement. In modern times, it has fallen out of favour with many of the lower and middle class due to the relative expense of pigments and the extra time taken to apply the complex markings each day, but nobility, the priesthood, and many masters of trades who wish to appear cultured and refined will apply markings each day, with colour and patterns denoting their position, the nature of their work, and their familial bloodlines. Some of the pigment colours and their meanings are:

Red: religious leadership.
Orange: religious acolyte.
Maroon: military stock.
Teal: peasant stock.
Bronze: merchant family.
White: bound to Halfat Naru; undying; marked for sacrifice.
Black: alchemist or sorcerer; geomancer.
Green: medicine mixer; healer.

Creatures called Taerilans are very common on (and until recently endemic to) the Plateau. They have accompanied the Grecht throughout their entire development as a civilization, appear in all of the oldest and most respected stories and myths, and have recieved non-specific 'holy' status because of this; blood, bone, feathers and hide of Taerilans are used for the best ceremonial equipment, and the taerilan-mounted dragoons of the Plateau nel are an example of some of the finest cavalry in the world.


Language and Writing

Credit for the following section goes entire to Ignotum, who is essentially amazing.
An overview of differences between High Grecht (Grecht Galeb), Common Grecht (Grecht Teakeb), and Flatland Grecht (Grecht Abdaleb)

High Grecht, unlike the other two varietes of Grecht, has been preserved relatively unchanged by the undying priesthood; before the influence of the Ankyreans and Kalsu, Grecht was a language that required the extensive declination of nouns to serve grammatical functions. This dialect is quite archaic; even the warrior caste largely speaks Common Grecht. High Grecht features grammatical quirks that have been lost in the language's more modern varieties.

Common Grecht sees distinct influence from Kalsu; many of the sounds in the language were taken from flatland speakers, lending this dialect a much wider range of sounds by comparison to the conservative High Grecht. The default grammar of the language shifted to closer resemble the Ankyrean tongue, and many loanwords for things and creatures exclusively in the domain of the flatlands passed into the Grecht tongue.

Flatland Grecht, the furthest-flung branch of the Grecht family of languages, spoken in places like Massai, takes many cues from the southern Common tongue; in addition to a forward shift of many Grecht vowels, the grammar and the consonants have solidified into a form in closer resemblance of many Sapient tongues. Mutual intelligibility with the continental Grecht is still possible, but the adoption of various southern idioms into flatland Grecht presents difficulty in figurative translations.

A full pastebin of the technical details of the language can be found here.


Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it!
Three men walk into a café, take a corner booth, and wait for context.
KelliaraDristinBufordHadrakRevaAarbrokIsellePypoNeomaSarita

Comments

  • KelliaraKelliara Member Posts: 469 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2015
    This is awesome. Thanks so much. I'm really keen to see more of Reneshfi and the Dehkay Grecht!

    -Edit: Also, am I allowed to ask Dehkay Grecht related questions here? Because I've got a few :)
    Now with 253% more Madness.
    Chibi-Kelli by @Eleanor.
    AarbrokGhend
  • GhendGhend Member, Immortal Posts: 73 Immortal
    Go ahead! I might refuse to answer of course.
    Three men walk into a café, take a corner booth, and wait for context.
    Kelliara
  • KelliaraKelliara Member Posts: 469 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2015
    Eeeeexcellent.

    So, in the past Reneshfi has mentioned (offhandedly) that the Dehkay Grecht not only have Shapeshifters, but also implied that they are pretty much all berserk from the one go.

    My question, or at least the first and its two parts, is 1) Do Shapeshifters have any place in the Second Imperium, and 2) Is there a preferred form that they take?

    i.e. In Sapience Lycanthropes are associated with Spinesreach (Atabahi), Ursinethropes with Duiran/Ashtan (Bahkatu) and the Apranthropes, and Euscuchians with Ilhavon and Tortson respectively.

    I can rephrase that if it doesn't make sense, too

    -Edit: I forgot this: #shapeshifterpride.
    Now with 253% more Madness.
    Chibi-Kelli by @Eleanor.
    AarbrokGhendTeaniXenia
  • GhendGhend Member, Immortal Posts: 73 Immortal
    Shapeshifters who are born and change on the Plateau are near-universally mad according to folklore, and take the form of enormous white-furred predators similar to bears called a sakaraeletus. They're killed on sight everywhere on the Plateau out of reflexive fear - lycanthropes as a whole have no place in civilized Grecht society, though it's likely there are some living on the fringes in areas like Arget Kemau or the Ebon Basin.
    Three men walk into a café, take a corner booth, and wait for context.
    AarbrokKelliara
  • AarbrokAarbrok Breaking things...For Science Portland, OregonMember Posts: 1,405 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Thank you @Ghend and other Admin who are working on lore and language and...everything with this project. I really enjoy these threads, it was super helpful with the Albedos areas when Hadrak was giving us lore, and this is fantastically done and well written!

    Keep up the amazing work, and sakaraeletus....do want!

    Iselle
  • KelliaraKelliara Member Posts: 469 ✭✭✭✭
    Ghend said:

    Shapeshifters who are born and change on the Plateau are near-universally mad according to folklore, and take the form of enormous white-furred predators similar to bears called a sakaraeletus. They're killed on sight everywhere on the Plateau out of reflexive fear - lycanthropes as a whole have no place in civilized Grecht society, though it's likely there are some living on the fringes in areas like Arget Kemau or the Ebon Basin.

    I feel bad now. Every answer you give is just going to make me want to ask more questions.

    I may hold off for a day or so, to resist the urge to ask things that'll probably be considered spoilers.

    Much thanks in the meantime, and I reserve the right to ask more questions - Even if they may not get answered. (The Sun-Drinker and the Bearer of the Thousand Dead are particular points of curiousity for me.)

    Thanks a tonne @Ghend!
    Now with 253% more Madness.
    Chibi-Kelli by @Eleanor.
    GhendAarbrok
  • GhendGhend Member, Immortal Posts: 73 Immortal
    I actually really enjoy questions about this material, so please feel free to ask away.
    Three men walk into a café, take a corner booth, and wait for context.
    KelliaraAarbrok
  • KelliaraKelliara Member Posts: 469 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2015
    Ghend said:

    I actually really enjoy questions about this material, so please feel free to ask away.

    Oh, now you done did it.

    If worship of the Sun-Drinker is forbidden, why is the concession made for the Bearer of the Hundred Dead?

    Taking a guess by looking at it, it seems like a conveniently made politickal loophole to allow for the Imperium to use Reneshfi for things like stomping into Moghedu and taking back Talon Yorvhaset. At the same time the allowance seems to undermine (at least in small part) the forced worship of Halfat Nafru, in spite of the punishment leveled, since the Bearer of the Hundred Dead still functions as a living, breathing, destroying testament to the power of the Sun-Drinker.

    Edit: Jusy fyi, I know there's not supposed to be a 'k' in political.
    Now with 253% more Madness.
    Chibi-Kelli by @Eleanor.
    GhendAarbrok
  • GhendGhend Member, Immortal Posts: 73 Immortal
    That is a valid interpretation of it, especially given what it widely known! A lot of groups in the Plateau share the opinion that the position is just a tool for a ruler to use violently. However historically it has been a position that kills in the name of the Sun Drinker in order to keep them sated and prevent them from going out and ruining the Plateau. Whether or not this is valid, and whether or not the Sun Drinker even exists, is a matter of speculation. The Hundred Dead, a sword with the ashes of a hundred ancient volunteer priests beaten into the metal, might itself be the source of Reneshfi's power, who knows?
    Three men walk into a café, take a corner booth, and wait for context.
    KelliaraAarbrok
  • LimLim Member Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭
    Any real world inspiration? I'd guess Indonesia for the fragmented geography, merchant political influence and enforced monotheism vs numerous organic local religious beliefs. The ash storms is reminiscent of the ongoing haze crisis. Caste system and face would superficially be Indian. But that's just what the Dehkay lore reminds me of. What's the author's inspiration?
    Ghend
  • TozToz Member Posts: 2,153 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Thanks for this. I wish it had been around when I was making Toz's backstory, since there was kind of nothing to go on then except a hidden helpfile that said 'they live up north', it's awesome that future Grecht characters will be able to draw from real lore!
    (Oasis): Azzello says, "I'll still never forget the first time I saw Toz throwing hammers."
    (Oasis): Azzello says, "I freaked out and thought they had somehow managed to pull me into them."
    (Oasis): Azzello says, "So I tumbled away from my team and into theirs."


    AarbrokKelliaraGhend
  • PypoPypo Member Posts: 75 ✭✭
    What are some of the stories the grecht tell to their children up in the plateau? Mythos and religious history? Be nice or the human catchers might come an get yah? Skeletonian temple guardians bursting forth from closet to drag you under the bed?

    Everything so far gives lots of love and depth! I guess I can no longer say I can be purely a sanguivore as a mortal grecht. An alaskan diet alone is heavy meats fat and blubber, but when the cold season hits, I can bet their winters are far worse then what we see on our side of the basin. I bet their vials freeze when exposed to the elements for too long.
    Ghend
  • KelliaraKelliara Member Posts: 469 ✭✭✭✭
    Pypo said:

    What are some of the stories the grecht tell to their children up in the plateau? Mythos and religious history? Be nice or the human catchers might come an get yah? Skeletonian temple guardians bursting forth from closet to drag you under the bed?

    Everything so far gives lots of love and depth! I guess I can no longer say I can be purely a sanguivore as a mortal grecht. An alaskan diet alone is heavy meats fat and blubber, but when the cold season hits, I can bet their winters are far worse then what we see on our side of the basin. I bet their vials freeze when exposed to the elements for too long.

    I imagine the stories to be something along the lines of "Pray to the Spirit, or the Bearer of the Hundred Dead will come for you." Or, "Behave, or the dragoons will come take you away to be tortured." Or, "Hey, what happened to little Timmy? I don't know. We just woke up and he was gone."
    Now with 253% more Madness.
    Chibi-Kelli by @Eleanor.
    Pypo
  • GhendGhend Member, Immortal Posts: 73 Immortal
    Apologies for not getting to this sooner, real life intervened.

    Cautionary tales on the Plateau tend to fall into one of two categories. Modern ones, generally pushed by teachers aligned with the Second Imperium's priesthood, will stress obedience, respect for the holy order/caste system, and respect for order and prosperity - 'Little Timeshfa lazed about and didn't help collect cloudberries, so the Spirit sent a harrion that carried him off to the mountains and devoured him', 'Once a priest of the undying and a princess dallied together so the princess cut his throat and threw him into a volcano, which is the fate of all who disregard their place', that kind of thing. Older tales are a lot more varied, since they precede the prohibitions on spiritualism/native religion, and tend to deal with survival stories couched as attacks by malicious spirits. These are more along the lines of 'Little Timeshfa wandered outside the aerie after dark and a fell spirit of winter took him away to an ice palace where he slaved forever, don't go outside alone after dark' or 'Little Timeshfa neglected his taerilan but it turned out to be the first and eldest spirit of the taerilan so it ate his head, look after your mount'. A lot of the newer tales that still predate the Second Imperium cast a sakaraeletus as the terrible fate awaiting an unruly child, which hasn't helped with their image.

    It's worth stressing that absolutely no tales deal with the Sun Drinker, though, except in a literal or historic sense, and even then they tend to use euphemisms (of which the Sun Drinker is one of the oldest). Naming her has always been considered an exceptionally bad idea on the Plateau, as far back as anyone has ever cared to research.
    Three men walk into a café, take a corner booth, and wait for context.
    Pypo
  • GhendGhend Member, Immortal Posts: 73 Immortal
    Religious stories (rather than parables) are generally dolled-up historical accounts of Grecht migration and settlement across the Plateau. They are also often philosophical essays or lectures phrased as fiction, in the style of a lot of the Greek philosophers (Plato's cave and such), which are passed from temple to temple by couriers but occasionally end up in bars or in general circulation.
    Three men walk into a café, take a corner booth, and wait for context.
    Pypo
  • NeomaNeoma Member Posts: 92 ✭✭✭
    Thanks @Ghend, I really enjoyed the read. Way back when Arget Massai was first opened I tried getting information about the Dehkay Plateau ICly and was met with a brick wall and told only people of Spinesreach were allowed to know. So I totally agree with your comment..."it doesn't seem very fair to restrict this information to a single city". :)
  • GhendGhend Member, Immortal Posts: 73 Immortal
    Take a look at the most recent Public news post!
    Three men walk into a café, take a corner booth, and wait for context.
    Sarita
  • NeomaNeoma Member Posts: 92 ✭✭✭
    Kudos to the designing of the different foods, clothes and just the area in general. Enjoying myself! much <3
    GhendIselle
  • IselleIselle Member Posts: 64 ✭✭✭
    Agreed! I love all the flavor text and things to explore. Also, I dunno why, but this made me laugh. Those temple guardians need to stop talking my ear off!


    You greet a towering temple guardian with a sincere smile.

    A towering temple guardian turns an empty, candle-lit stare on you.
    [*] (say) Who are you?
    [*] (say) What can you tell me about the city?
    [*] (say) Heard any good rumours lately?
    [*] (say) Goodbye.

    You say, "Who are you?"

    A towering temple guardian offers no perceptible answer.

    You say, "What can you tell me about the city?"

    A towering temple guardian offers no perceptible answer.

    You say, "Heard any good rumours lately?"

    A towering temple guardian offers no perceptible answer.

  • NeomaNeoma Member Posts: 92 ✭✭✭
    edited November 2015
    Well the consorts don't talk much either.. all action! :o

    A few moments after you pass over your gold, a screen is drawn aside and a lithe Grecht seducer emerges. With a coy smile, he leads you away.
    A broad chamber between rooms.
    Slender and lithe, a Grecht seducer leans nearby, surveying the room.
    You have a quick tussle with a lithe Grecht seducer, leaving his chamber satisfied and with a few foreign hairs stuck to your clothes.
    You wander out to the foyer in a daze, feeling rather disheveled but quite satisfied.
    Post edited by Dristin on
    AnfiniGhendIshin
  • NeomaNeoma Member Posts: 92 ✭✭✭
    Damn the above was suppose to be set as a spoiler. Meh anyway that is just one example of the various different consorts, you can all check out the others for yourselves. :p
  • DristinDristin Member Posts: 585 Immortal
    @Neoma - fixed that for you.
    image
  • TozToz Member Posts: 2,153 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Sarita said:

    Neoma said:

    Well the consorts don't talk much either.. all action! :o

    A few moments after you pass over your gold, a screen is drawn aside and a lithe Grecht seducer emerges. With a coy smile, he leads you away.
    A broad chamber between rooms.
    Slender and lithe, a Grecht seducer leans nearby, surveying the room.
    You have a quick tussle with a lithe Grecht seducer, leaving his chamber satisfied and with a few foreign hairs stuck to your clothes.
    You wander out to the foyer in a daze, feeling rather disheveled but quite satisfied.
    Oh my.
    'Leathery flap leathery flap chitter chitter skree' is all they need to say!
    (Oasis): Azzello says, "I'll still never forget the first time I saw Toz throwing hammers."
    (Oasis): Azzello says, "I freaked out and thought they had somehow managed to pull me into them."
    (Oasis): Azzello says, "So I tumbled away from my team and into theirs."


  • PypoPypo Member Posts: 75 ✭✭
    Hahaha! I see what the sneaky dev's did....The reason the temple guardians and the citizens do not respond to you, is because you have to speak IN grecht. None of them have been to other side the continent to understand, speak, or generally comprehend aetolian language. So basic grecht is their common native tongue to speak with anyone. However I am sure there will still be those who speak a differing dialect still can't understand you, just remember to change your language to grecht when you go there to speak with people.

    Don't think I didn't notice some citizens even refering pc Gretcht characters as Cousin! :D That is just makes me feel all warm and gooey inside. Though I am quite sure by some the guards and low-brow poor folk they might stick a knife in my back when I am not lookin.
    Ghend
  • SaritaSarita The Pillars of the EarthMember, Guildmaster Posts: 675 ✭✭✭✭
    I tried talking to the guardians in Grecht too and got the same response, but there definitely are other mobs in the area who speak Grecht back if you talk to them in it. I feel like something else might be going on in the temple having more to do with religion (and maybe versions of undeath?) than race though.
    GhendPypo
  • GhendGhend Member, Immortal Posts: 73 Immortal
    It may also be that they are horrible undead constructs rather than people.
    Three men walk into a café, take a corner booth, and wait for context.
    AnfiniPypoNeoma
  • NeomaNeoma Member Posts: 92 ✭✭✭
    So the tarelian transport to the plateau is no more as it was only there during the celebration. I am curious if this will be an annual thing? Also wondering how the Sun Drinker killing off part of the talon council will affect this.
  • GhendGhend Member, Immortal Posts: 73 Immortal
    Neoma said:

    So the tarelian transport to the plateau is no more as it was only there during the celebration. I am curious if this will be an annual thing? Also wondering how the Sun Drinker killing off part of the talon council will affect this.

    To the first question I can say that I intend to release the area properly once I have done some more work on it and sorted out the repercussions from the summit and the recent events.

    To the second - interesting question, isn't it? :D

    Three men walk into a café, take a corner booth, and wait for context.
    AvishaiKelliaraNeomaHadrak
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