Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The First Kingdom

The World So Far: The world is flat. On one side of disc is the exhaustively explored and urbanized home of humans, where cities, countries and nations vie for too little land to support their expanding populations. On the other side of the disc is an uncharted and largely oceanic world, dotted by islands and coastlines, full of strange wonder, abundant resources and tropical beauty.

An incoming force of humans, from a number of distinctly 15th century-feeling cultures, have sailed over the edge of their world and come to colonize the world below. Some have come to seek asylum, refuge or more converts to their maligned faith. Some have been exiled over, punished for crimes committed in the world above. Still, others come over to set down stakes in a new world, to exploit the natural resources and expand their conquest.

The new world's inhabitants, however, are four powerful undersea kingdoms, full of dynastic struggle, ancient tradition and military might. With cultures far older and far more intricate than those of the human colonists, the undersea kingdoms are as unprepared for this sudden clash of cultures as the unawares humans are.

(Housekeeping: I missed last week. This week, let's do a double, fully flesh out the First Kingdom, and that should keep us on track. Apologies, hypothetical readers.)

A little refresher course on our People, the inhabitants of the undersea kingdoms. They're ten feet tall, live on the bottom of the ocean, can spread bioluminescent bacteria with a mere touch and have a bizarre ecology, wherein instead of reproducing, they're simply reborn at the end of their life cycle with a new consciousness.

A little refresher course on the First Kingdom (or Kingdom A). Their rough analog of is the nation of Japan; isolated, self-sustaining, traditionalist, militarist and opposed to the influx of these Colonists. To the eyes of the First Kingdom, the Overworlders are invaders, trespassing on their sovereign territory.

In order to specify how and why the People would have fractured into these diverse ethnicities and political entities, we'll need to know a good deal more about their actual racial history. In keeping with their life cycle, let's assume, at some future point, there was some massive event that all the extant People originated from. Where they came from, I'm not sure, but I even like the idea that there's a nice round number of them. Wanna say a million? Let's say a million.

So, at the beginning of their recorded time, one million People are brought into existence. Well, let's say one million eggs that will eventually hatch into the first generation of People are brought into existence. Eggs are interesting, actually, because it precludes the idea that they're immigrants or something. If the People all began as eggs at the same moment, they couldn't have been responsible for their own creation.

Really actually reminds me of like, fish or sea turtles, that lay dozens or thousands of eggs at once.


What about like, a patron animal? What if the People were legitimately spawned from some manner of sea creature, one they now revere as effectively their god? Would answer some religion questions and creates an interesting bond. My brain is imagining some massive leviathan, whale-meets-world-serpent creature. I like this direction.

So, a massive sea creature spawns all the People X number of generations ago. Imagine they begin as one big happy family, all hatching at once, all exploring their environment at once, all children at once. Well, maybe some eggs didn't hatch right away. You wouldn't want everyone to be the same age. if they're all one cluster of eggs they all would have hatched at precisely the same time.

That's exactly it. They're different clusters of eggs.

The four kingdoms were hatched out by different massive sea creatures, different patrons to each nation. Each kingdom reveres a different member of the same god-like species, one that lays these strange eggs that hatch into People. They even potentially all hatched at different times and their corresponding life cycles would be somewhat off-set. Maybe while everyone in the First Kingdom is a teenager, everyone in the Second is a venerable elder. That's interesting to me.

Rolling a d4 (I use dice to randomize worldbuilding details all the goddamn time), I've determined that the First Kingdom were the most recent to hatch. It makes a certain degree of sense – so isolated, maybe their clutch of eggs was hidden or presumed nonexistent by the other Kingdoms. (Side note: The Fourth Kingdom is located deep, deep within a sinkhole, I've just decided.)

How would hatching last, when presumably these other societies have already arisen, have shaped the First Kingdom into the traditionalist, warlike people they would become?

I mean, it still makes sense to me that they'd be extremely isolated anyway. If the three eastern Kingdoms more or less assumed that there was no civilization to the west, they wouldn't go exploring in that direction and both societies could more or less arise without knowledge of each other. (Natural barrier would help that – Mariana Trench, maybe? The same fucking trench the Fourth Kingdom lives at the bottom of? BOOM.)

So separated from the rest of the world, it only makes sense they'd blossom in a different direction. In this case, a more Japanese direction.

Japan classically adopted a feudal caste system and, on the surface, that seems to make sense. I want military authority to be supreme, which would seem to favor the dictatorial approach. The Japanese equivalent would a shogon, the Mongolian equivalent would be the khan.

They'd need a martial tradition, which would seem odd, unless there's an enemy for them to fight against. Isolated as they are, it would seem to suggest inner conflict more than external conflict. The classic example, the Temujin example, is that they were once fractious nobles, fighting against each other for territory, until a great and warlike leader united them. This could easily be repurposed and work for my First Kingdom. 

A powerful military, possibly the most powerful military in the Underworld, led by a strict, authoritarian shogunate who views all outside influences as corrupting and invasive. How come they haven't annihilated in the incoming Colonists by now?

The immediate suggestion seems to be that they lack the technology. Maybe they've enough technology to know of the existence of the Colonists, but actually lack any real means to engage in a "shallow war", where they'd fight a landlocked enemy? Hell, I imagine the other Kingdoms have that technology, but the strictly isolationist First Kingdom, much as they'd like to make war on the Colonists can't bring themselves to trade with the other Kingdoms to achieve that?

I actually like that. The feeling that, right below the Colonists, there's a massive military force, spying on them, unable to strike but swiftly innovating towards the right technology that could bring war upon them. Very ominous.

How's that for a catching up? There's obviously tons more to develop (like a name), but I think that's probably good for now!

Next Wednesday (I Promise) on Worldblogger: The Exodus!

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