Joined: 08 Jun 2011
|Posted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 2:44 pm Post subject: The Planet Odun
(aka ‘Whirlwind’ or ‘World of Winds’)
This is the home of the Eremites, monastic communities of (mostly) near-human aliens famous for their great intelligence and discipline.
Odun is characterised by its unusual weather patterns, especially Storm, a huge, ever-moving, swirling cyclone (thus the Odun’s nicknames) which travels around Odun in an unpredictable manner, but rarely leaves any area untouched for more than a decade. This superstorm weather system, and that of the nearly 20 lesser storms (or ‘Storm’s Children’), have dictated recent history and living conditions on Odun.
Although the planet had native life, it had no sentient life-forms until it was settled by an order of ascetic philosopher-monks known as the Eremites, who sought its privacy and seclusion to lead their strictly disciplined, communal and hard lives. As the planet's climactic conditions made it very unattractive to other settlers and not at all economically viable for mining and other enterprises, the founders built their ‘houses’ (communities) in the confident hope that they were unlikely ever to be disturbed.
Odun is a world of roots - deep rooted plants and mountains - clinging tight in order to ‘make it through’ Storm’s visitations. The world’s plants are long lived, and repeatedly sacrifice all they have above ground, later to grow again out of the deeps roots that survived the storms intact. Huge areas of rock have been laid bare, scoured by Storm &/or flooded by the crashing seas, subsequently to be slowly re-covered by Odun’s hardy flora. Only the upper reaches of the tallest mountains are realistically habitable as anywhere else can become suddenly submerged with sea water as Storm’s influence reaches far and wide. Upon and around the peaks both the flora and the intelligent inhabitants cling to the mountain sides. Just as Odun’s plant life is forced to do, the settlers had to cut deep foundations for their habitations, fastening strong metal tethers to the very hearts of the mountains. No building has more than one story above ground, made of the strongest of reinforced durasteel, while nearly all have multiple levels dug deep beneath them. No roads exist on the planetary surface - how could one safely descend the sheer slopes beneath the mountain homes while violent winds threaten to toss you high into the air and dash you against the rocks? Some tunnels, however, do pierce through the mountains from side to side; long, dark passageways, which at their deepest points are said to offer the only true silence to be found on Odun.
Despite all this, the first settlers found Odun most suitable for their purposes, even thrived. Leading lives of hard work and strict discipline, but also enjoying undisturbed, mentally restful hours in which to think. More and more Eremite houses were created until it was believed (though never proven) that every suitably tall mountain had a community clinging to its summit. The work of building each new community formed a major part of the founders’ initiation into their new order.
The houses of Odun became spiritually peaceful places. Of course, the winds sang almost constantly about their walls, but inside the sage-monks lived out their simple lives. By chance, several houses settled upon mountains rich in gem-stone seams, and grew wealthy, usually storing the gems in cave-vaults. Other houses, in a spirit of generosity and as a chance to test their wisdom and discipline, began to accept tasks from off-worlders - problems to solve, works to compose, issues to resolve. Those who contracted them recognised not just their intelligence, but their fairness, calmness and incredible ability to focus their minds. It was often presumed that they were as incorruptible as they were inscrutable. These houses also grew rich.
Whatever they mined or earned, it was always more than the houses needed, and the Eremites’ wealth began to glitter very brightly in their coffers and vaults.
Centuries passed. Some houses retained their seclusion much better than others, although even those houses that failed in this respect would still be considered very lonely places by most beings. Some houses held on to their disciplined way of life better than others, and austerity remained a certain and strong feature in most communities. Several communities turned completely towards thought and contemplation, sinking into total obscurity while their minds were lifted ever higher into realms of imagination and philosophical wonder. Some of these houses, virtually ignored by the others, still exist today.
Other houses, however, began to use their highly developed minds for ever more worldly tasks, and began to spend their riches. A few houses became decadent as their power grew, although it was a very peculiar form of decadence in which they retained great control over specific parts of their existence whilst giving free reign to various whims, passions and desires. In these houses, the Eremites took the highest forms of Odun’s non-sentient fauna and "altered" them. They manipulated the animal’s genes through selective breeding and a variety of artificial methods, then added machine-parts and implanted data processors to enhance the beasts’ intelligence to the levels of simpleton slaves. At first, they did so in order to free up more of their own time for contemplation or recreation, for their new, obedient and better enabled servants could perform the mundane yet essential tasks and duties needed to maintain the houses. Having such servants led to further changes amongst the Eremites. Some began to live extremely slothful, indolent lives, while others enjoyed an existence of incredibly indulgent isolation. Accustomed to ordering lesser creatures whenever they required anything, the last vestiges of their spiritual humility diminished to be replaced by careless arrogance.
The more old-fashioned houses began to label their ‘modern’, corrupted cousins the "Slavers”.
The Slaver Eremites
These houses took a very different path to their cousins. First, they began to hunger for knowledge and information of a much more worldly, practical kind. The Eremitic way of life originally involved meditative enlightenment, a form of pure thought, uncluttered by information and facts - they had settled Odun in order to get away from distractions. They yearned to channel all their mental energies into philosophical speculation and attaining the highest wisdom possible through disciplined contemplation. The Slaver Eremites, proud of their intellectual achievements, wanted to demonstrate their wisdom and importance to the galaxy by influencing its affairs. By applying sophisticated methods of learning, organically inspired tabulation and storage of facts, and developing advanced theorems and formula for the handling and processing of information, they became of great use to off-worlders who wanted all sorts of solutions fast. As the Eremites successfully sold their findings and wisdom, they became ever more arrogant. In their experience, they were always the givers of advice, and all beings, from their own slaves to their customers, began to seem inferior to them in intelligence.
They became masters in the connected and collaborative use their minds, computers and artificial intelligences. They developed systems of thinking involving both organic and inorganic components: elaborate complexes and tangled webs of interactive components, through which information of any kind could be processed and nurtured in exponential progressions to attain solutions to complex problems ranging from science to architecture, medicine to trade, politics to psychology. Their houses held computers and interfaces of many kinds, and even the "up-lifted" native life-forms were melded into the process. Their organic slaves became both storehouses and terminals for information, as well as a means to process and analyse information.
Such houses began to develop new ambitions, craving power for themselves, believing that as the best, most intelligent and purposeful of beings, they themselves should surely rule. Eventually, one such house gained a new patron so perfectly ‘Eremitic’ that (despite any actual evidence that it was so) they believed whole-heartedly that he was one of them, perhaps returned from a very long, inspirational ‘quest’, or a brother so wise and strictly disciplined as to have moved entirely unnoticed among them until he was ready to rule. This patron is known as Carrad, and his house became the House of Carrad. He nurtured his house become the planet’s dominant house, with more off-world influence and power than all the others combined. His house could push any other out of any deal it wanted for itself, and efficiently and quickly prevent any interaction between houses and off-worlders it did not wish to occur. Soon, the other Eremite Slaver Houses fell entirely under Carrad’s rule, acknowledging that he and his house must be the wisest and best amongst them by far to have wrested power so completely, and became the adopted children of the House of Carrad.
Thus began the greatest series of changes in Odun society since the first settlers put down. The Slaver Houses, themselves dominated completely by the House of Carrad, came to rule the world, abolishing or destroying any larger houses which might possibly have competed, complained or hindered them in any way, even before they showed any signs of doing so! Several of the smallest Eremite communities did survive, especially those who were already in the process of ‘dying away’ naturally or were simply too minor to hold any interest at all for the ruling Slaver Houses.
New programs were initiated in which the Eremites learned far more aggressive ways to use their intelligence. Several hundred Eremites were even taken off-world, to set up a community upon the planet Nanyat-Kreed, where they designed and oversaw the construction of a variety new machines and vessels. An Academy House was built, in which the Eremites could be trained to be leaders, becoming highly skilled masters in politics and/or military strategy and tactics. New arts and knowledges were explored, which fitted well their inclinations to domination. Where once they had believed themselves superior in terms of intellect, now they were to become superior in terms of power.
There is no doubt that the Dark Side has influenced and fed this movement. Its leader, Carrad, is the kind of being the Dark Side nurtures, for the evil he can bring. His Eremite disciples are cruelly arrogant yet disciplined and subtle enough to channel their power in such a way as to avoid the crippling side effects that so often assail those who are manifest their evil more simply. The quick fix summoned by greedy, vengeful and violent force users is not the Eremites’ way. They have become corrupted not by their direct actions, nor do they stoop to giving vent to their own cruel desires, but instead manifest their malevolence through disciplined intent – an almost ‘holy’ form of evil. The dark side force flowing through them reasons as well as feels, cogitates its hatred and expresses itself through elaborate cunning rather than fierce anger and rage.
Very few Eremites are even capable of channelling sudden and immediate manifestations of the Dark Side, instead weaving its influence into their schemes and plans, into their cold cunning and their long-term mastery over their victim/slaves. They rarely strike someone down or advance their evil cause in one moment or action, for the evil they cause is almost invariably planted some time before it manifests. They use their powers to plan disasters, plant destabilising doubts and befuddle their enemies either into inaction or (confused and wasteful) action. Very rarely to they resort to sudden violence or actual command in battle. They have become the ‘powers behind (many a) throne’!
An Example Eremite House: Floorplans
Mostly near human in appearance, the Eremites have filled their houses over the years through various means. In the Slaver Houses artificial procreation and gestation is the preferred method, utilising foster-womb animals for foetal development after the initial cloning and artificially induced gene-crossover techniques. Those born of these techniques make up the majority of Slaver Eremites - and it is these who can be described as "near-human". Various different skin types (from fur to scales) and physiological differences feature among them, as they are the products of different lines of experimentation. The Slaver Houses do also receive initiates from off-world, as most houses always did, attracting able-minded initiates through their activities advising off-worlders in matters cerebral. These recruits are examined ruthlessly, and put through rigorous selection procedures, to weed out those who cannot contribute effectively to the Slaver Eremites’ schemes.
The few traditional houses remain still receive initiates from off-world, although now rarely and in ever dwindling numbers. Of course, they only receive those very few who have a very strong conviction in their hearts to live such a hard, monastic, speculative life; the intelligence to even know of the non-slaver Eremite’s existence; and possess the talents required to locate and travel safely to the non-slaver houses.
Attribute dice: 12D
Height: Up to 2m
Special Skills: See the world background. Highly trained minds capable of great feats of intelligence, and repositories of great swathes memorised information. Great with numbers, patterns and puzzles, having sharp mental reflexes. Yet bigoted and arrogant.
Servants of the Eremites
These uplifted animals take a variety of forms, usually consisting of life-forms indigenous to Odun. Such animals tend to be heavy, solid in nature, with armoured plates to withstand the buffeting of the whirlwinds and the air-born debris of the ever-storm. Many are hunchbacked, able to roll into an armoured shell to protect themselves in the worst of climactic conditions. They often have grasping limbs terminating in large-clawed digits, and tough, sinewy or scaly skin. Somewhere upon their bodies, usually partially embedded into their craniums, they will carry implanted machinery. These are ‘uplifting devices’ - cybernetic constructs which give them a strictly limited sapience and vastly improved memories, allowing them to understand simple oral commands, perform programmed tasks very efficiently. The devices can also feed new information and instructions into their brains from comm receivers.
The most common types of uplifted Odunite animals are of four categories:
(1) Tunnel and Construction workers
(3) Domestic Workers
(4) Information processors amnd depositorie.
The first category includes the largest of the uplifted beasts, with some huge animals able to perform bulldozer-like functions and work with great weights of rock. The second category includes the most terrifying of the uplifted servants - animals which in their natural, unmodified form were already dangerous predators and very effective killers. The third category contains a great variety of animals, each uplifted to perform a specific range of tasks for which their bodies are best suited. The fourth variety tends to include animals of a more docile nature, the slothful or quiet types, but ones which have enough cerebral matter in their largeish brain-boxes to make their uplifting worthwhile. These sedentary creatures are thus turned into walking, talking, semi-organic, computers and data storage devices.
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
Example Uplifted Slaves
… [Ground Vehicle Ops 2D]
… Lifting 8D
Juthgar Beast Warrior
A sturdy beast with green, scaly, reptilian skin and no neck to speak of. One large, oval blue eye, thick lip, three fingered hands. Usually wearing an ablative armoured-cloth suit in one piece, with straps, belts, pouches and clips all over, as well as attached sensor devices. Their uplifting units are semi-buried in the rear of their skulls, protected by an armoured plate.
… Blaster 4D+2
… Dodge 3D+2
… Brawling 5D
… Brawling parry 4D
… Search 2D+2
Height: 2.2 meters
Ytran Floor Slave
The most humanoid of the slaves, somewhat akin in appearance to Sullustans - indeed so much so that it is speculated that they have not so much been uplifted as effectively lobotomised!
… Hide 3D
… Lifting 3D+1
Sollyf Data Handler
Docile, four legged, two armed creatures with large heads. Slow moving. These each have up to three related specialised functions
Various at 4D-6D
… (eg) Alien Species, Bureaucracy, Business, Cultures, Languages & Planetary Systems
Various at 3D-5D
… (eg) Astrogation, Gunnery Skills, Piloting, Communications, Veh.Op., Sensors & Scan
… Hide 2D
… Various ‘Repair’ skills of all kinds at 3D-5D