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Terrall in Depth

Terrall in Depth

Terrall In Depth: The Brac’tai

If you haven’t yet seen the Sandworm Rodeo cover, here you go. While there is a giant sandworm, the focus of the art is, of course, the cute tentacle things on its back. Meet the brac’tai,(pronounced Brack-Thai) the “cute furry mascots” of the K23 Universe. These creatures are not exactly easy to miss, as Dave 237, the main brac’tai character, is introduced third in A Clear and Feathered Danger, after Eluna and Quintanelle.

Bodies:

Brac’tai are round balls covered in a dozen tentacles, six arms, four feet and two eye tentacles. In the center of their body is a large gaping mouth. Brac’tai are sponges, soaking up water through their mouths and permeable skin. They suck out the nutrients and then expel the water in the form of slime, which keeps them from drying out and move on land. They breath air which can also be absorbed through their skin. A brac’tai has very special eyes which allow them to see normal light, UV and Infrared spectrums at the same time. This helps them spot predators in all conditions.

It’s worth noting that brac’tai do not grow old. Still, all brac’tai will eventually die due to predators, disease or injury.

Natural Behavior: 

Brac’tai are highly intelligent and curious creatures who love to explore.  They cannot speak naturally, though they can be highly expressive.  As long as they have nutrient rich water, they got up to twenty hours before needing to rest, which is just quietly floating and relaxing. They don’t sleep like others do since they have to be on alert at all times, especially when out on the open ocean. There theyare  quite vulnerable, especially to Mer and giant sharks.  To non-predators, however, brac’tai are kind and friendly to them.

Reproduction:

Brac’tai reproduction is odd is certain respects. They reproduce sexually, but nothing gets inserted into anything. Male and female Brac’tai are identical and nearly impossible to tell apart except when mating. A pair will float a few feet apart. A male will spit white goop, a female will spit grey goop. The goop will merge and congeal into a tiny brac’tai in five minutes. On that’s done, everyone floats off, the tiny brac’tai is completely self-sufficient. While the brac’tai mate endless in the waterways of their native Elemchi, the numbers of kept in check by a myriad of aquatic predators, some of whom have evolved specifically to eat little brac’tai.

As far as tentacle sex goes, I deal with it through an organization I introduce in Sandworm Rodeo called the Deltan Adult Female Brac’tai Love Association, or DAFBLA for short. They believe that love between an adult hominid female and a brac’tai is natural and should be explored. Parallels to a certain sick and twisted organization in our world are  intentional….

Brac’tai and Ashram-Uriah 

All brac’tai in New Delta are handled by Ashram-Uriah, who employs them in large numbers for data entry positions. The megacorps assigns all brac’tai in New Delta  designations, which are generic American names followed by a number: Dave 237,  Jill 485, Bill 299 ect. If a brac’tai signs an employment  contract – and the vast majority do – they become property of Ashram-Uriah, who reserves the right to dispose of them if they become sick or injured in any way. Still, being an employee of Ashram-Uriah is something brac’tai flock too  as they are otherwise taken care of very well, with a resting tank to use, unlimited nutritional fluid, a monthly stipend and even a moist work environment.

Brac’tai can only leave Ashram-Uriah employment only if they have another job to go to. The reason for this is Ashram can make money by selling the employment contracts to the second party. What the new employers does with brac’tai after that is left to their discretion.

Want to meet Dave 237? Pick up the books.

Terrall in Depth

Terrall in Depth: Hominia Part 3: Currency, Calendar and Measurements

The Exchange Treaty of 9211 was initially signed by New Delta, Teolos, Brocenback and Alkhan and was later directly ratified by Tirkvah and Siquan. The City of Sands ratified it via the J’harderith because the residents needed to negotiate import and export prices. The only city state to never ratify the treaty was Gruck, which never really needed to. The treaty determined the human language, renamed Common, as the official business and diplomatic language and set up a standard currency, calendar and measurements.

Currency:

The standard unit of Hominian currency is the Credit, a purely electronic currency that can be exchanged physically by currency cards issued by various banks. Keep in mind the credit is really several different currencies going by the official designations New Delta Credit, Teolian Credit and Brocenback Credit. This is just like the dollar, which is used in several countries but isn’t the same currency. For example, the US Dollar and Canadian Dollar are not the same thing despite both being dollars. Each city-state manages the credits as they are used in the city-state itself. Therefore, the credit has several different exchange rates, one for each city-state. The reason is due to each city-state’s vast differing economy. Trying to secure a single exchange rate between New Delta and Tirkvah or even Brocenback and Alkhan without causing a collapse is impossible.

The advantage to the credit is that because it’s purely electronic, exchange is instantaneous and automatic. This means your money is good anywhere credits are accepted, no hoop-jumping required.

Calendar:

Terrall is a planet orbiting a star called Alpha Solaris. It has a moon called Umbra and three sister planets called Rognark, Grognark and Shognark. This is important because Hominia uses the elven solar calendar which I based on Earth’s solar calendar for ease of use. There are 365 days in a year, divided into twelve months of 28, 30 or 31 days, with a leap year every four years adding an 29th day to the second month. The current novellas and Sandworm Rodeo take place in the year 10021. The year zero was the date of the first elven records, the start of recorded history.

Note that I don’t give names to months or even have weeks. There are three reasons: First, I found making up month and days of week names would just be tacky, especially since I’m using our calendar as a base. Second, in Terrall there is no concept of a week because there are no weekends. As weekends are based on real-world religious traditions, they do not apply in Terrall. Unless you take days off on the weekend, weekdays become meaningless anyway (and I’m speaking for personal experience) Third, when drafting the exchange Treaty, nobody could agree on what names of the months would be. Instead, they just ditched them.

So when somebody wants to express a specific date within the same year, they say the month and day. For example, “Would you like go out with me on 4/3?” 4/3 is pronounced like it looks: “Four three.” When expressing  a day within the same century, they’ll say “What were you doing 8/12/19?” pronounced “eight twelve nineteen.” Outside of the century they’ll just say the full date: “On 6/12/9982.”

When stating relative days, things we week use weeks for, people on Hominia just state the numbers of days ahead or behind you’re referring. “What are you doing next week?” becomes “What are you doing in about five days?”

Measurements: 

In the real world, most of the world uses the metric system except the United States. I’m a United States resident. Therefore, in order to keep measurements straight in my own head, Hominia used the imperial system: feet. miles, pounds, ounces, quarts and gallons. Temperature is measured in Fahrenheit. In universe, this was, again, the elven system.

Rest of the world:

Orcs and trolls on Elemchi, while not part of the Exchange treaty, have adopted a similar calendar and measurement systems. They, however, use a hard currency because constant warfare can knock out electricity. Uthirans on Uthira have no use for measurements or currency and live so long that calendars are pointless.

Terrall in Depth

Terrall in Depth: Hominia Part 2: Political Organization

For this article, I’m reposting the Hominia map because it’ll help for reference:

Hominia is divided into city-states and protectorates. Each city-state has varying degrees of jurisdiction over its protectorate, which for the most part are wild and sparsely populated. For example, Teolos’s protectorate is the Forest of Illwyn which it maintains with ruthless efficiency. The City of Sands’ protectorates are the Alamaro Wastelands and Highlands, though it exerts no control over either. Residents in the protectorates can chose whether or not they want to be citizens of their respective city-states. The reason for this can be traced back to when the goblins tribes were wiped  by the goblin plague in 9822. Before this, the tribes moved between protectorates freely.  Not making them citizens avoided potential warfare.

The eight city-states are:

New Delta: The largest, most advanced and most powerful city-state. It is comprised entirely of mile-high towers built of mile-square plots.  New Delta is Terrall’s only democracy; its Mayor and City Senate are elected by popular vote. Its exact population is unknown but generally considered to be upwards of two hundred million. This is more than the rest of Hominia combined and therefore New Delta consumes more resources than the rest of Hominia. It is  estimated that humans, along with half-humans, make up about fifty percent of the population. Deltan elves account for around thirty percent. The rest  is made of every other hominid race along with most other sentient species (Avians, brac’tai, Uthirans etc.) Even the fully-aquatic Mer have a presence as they maintain the vast sewer system under the city. Finally, New Delta primarily uses its protectorate, the Deltan Plains, for farming in order to feed its massive population.

Teolos: The second most powerful city-state and home of the Teolian elves. It is a totalitarian oligarchy ruled by the Mage Council and exerts supreme control over its few million residents. It’s divided into the crystalline section, home to only a few hundred thousand residents and the government, and the wooden suburbs, home to the rest of the population. Teolos’ protectorate, the Forest of Illwyn, is protected fiercely by the Teolian Rangers. They keep the forest wild and safe from poachers and loggers. Despite being small, Teolos is very influential thanks to its knowledge of magic and self-righteous attitude.

Brocenback and Alkhan: Brocenback is home to dwarves and ruled by the Dains. Alkhan is home to gnomes and ruled by the Deep Kings and Queens. They are two distinct city-states with distinct cultural differences and were once bitter enemies. However, in recent times, they’ve grown quite close to the point where they’re considered one political entity. Gnomes and dwarves are interbreeding to the point that the races are merging into gnarves. They’d be second poliitcally, but since they’re both underground they tend to focus on their Cromag Range and Underground protectorate instead of getting involved with others. They do interact with the City of Sands due to its close proximity to Alkhan.

The City of Sands: Technically fourth on the importance scale, the City of Sands is literally a giant metal box sitting on top of the only oasis in the Alamaro Wastelands. It is the “Mos Eisley” of the K23 Universe, a lawless hive of scum and villainy. It has no official laws and its ruler, the Sultan, is largely a diplomatic figurehead. This is where fugitives escape to and where various organizations conduct banned research away from prying eyes. The only organization bringing order to the city is the J’Harderith, a religion of hominids who worship Harderith. They regularly feed criminals to the Uthirans who park themselves inside the temple. Finally, the city sits in a mystical vortex where the wall of reality of thin and the divine presence is felt more strongly. The city regularly gets shaman pilgrims due to this. While the city technically has the Alamaro Highlands under its jurisdiction, it doesn’t have the power to rule over it. The native Komodo are completely autonomous and do not consider themselves under the jurisdiction of anyone.

Tirkvah: This is a large tent city used by the kobolds in the winter to create cooked gelatinous cube gel, an expensive delicacy enjoyed by all. During the rest of the year when the cubes and other livestock are being herded on the Kobold steppes the city is lightly populated and is mostly used for commerce with various merchants.

Siquan: Like Tirkvah, its existence is mainly economic as is the major vacation destination for all of Hominia. It was literally carved out of the trees in the Mederwari Jungle by the purrs. The purrs are all too happy to suck tourists’ bank accounts dry as Siquan can be quite expensive. With resorts perpetually expanding as the trees grow and the environment kept pristine, however, it’s well worth the money.

Gruck: Not really a city state, just a collection of dwellings sitting in the mud in the middle of the Ogunlands, home to ogres and goblins. It has no government and no economy. All of its residents are considered the poorest in Hominia. 36 Hours in Gruck explains everything one needs to know about Gruck in detail.

In the next article, I’ll explain Hominia’s trade and economic set up as it has a standard currency, calendar and measurement system.

Terrall in Depth

Terrall in Depth: The Uthirans

Mordridakon: Fantasy dragon and private detective

Uthirans are what I call the K23 Universe’s magical and intelligent variety of dragons.  Named after the continent they come from, Uthirans are a departure from your standard fantasy dragons for two very big reasons: I attempt to explain how giant magical and intelligent flying lizards would live and I integrate these dragons fully into hominid society and not as fancy horses.

Uthirans are known as The Children of Harderith, the Dragon Mother (they aren’t the only Children, there are also the Komodo, or drakes, but that’s another post) .  Note this isn’t literal but figurative, as every Uthiran is naturally able to channel Harderith’s divine energy and it manifests itself through breed abilities.

First,  all Uthirans have the ability to transform into a hominid. However, Uthirans can only transform into one specific hominid. For example, when Mordridakon transforms, he’ll always transform into the same human form every time.   Uthirans can also learn other forms of magic if they choose to.

There are seven Uthiran breeds, each corresponding to a particular scale color and breed ability that governs how they hunt for food.

The breeds are:

  • Red Uthirans: Breathes fire and has scales as hard as diamonds that allow it withstand high temperatures.  Love living in geothermically active areas.
  • White Uthirans: Opposites of Reds, they breathe ice and can withstand freezing temperatures. They love high elevations and the northern finges of Uthira.
  • Green Uthirans: Breathes sulfuric acid and secretes a virulent poison via their scales. They prefer living in swamps and other wetlands.
  • Blue Uthirans: Breaths lightning and generates a heavy static charge. Prefers costal areas.
  • Black Uthirans: Can meld into shadows and disappear. Can also generate darkness in a limited radius. Blacks like forests, because they have the most shade.
  • Silver Uthirans: Can break the sound barrier. The sonic boom created by this stuns their prey. They love canyons and steep mountainous areas.
  • Gold Uthirans:  Golds can transform into any animal they want. They literally become that animal, their smell even changes to match. So if they transformed into a goat, they’d look, smell and act like a goat. The uses for this when hunting are obvious. Blend in with a herd of goats and when the time is right, transform back and chow down. The most powerful Golds can even transform body parts completely, so they can have a human body but a clawed hand, for example. While all breeds can do it – Mordridakon does it in Deltan Skies – they can only do it partially for very short periods of time. Finally, while Golds can tranform into other Uthiran breeds, they are unable to mimic their specific breed abilities. Golds will live just about anywhere.

A Brutal Life

Violence begins the moment Uthirans are hatched, where they fight with their few dozen siblings for dominance in the nest. Almost immediately, the weakest hatchlings and any that are deformed are eaten by their fathers, who do so on instinct. Fathers who eat more than they should generally wind up killed off by mates, as females are more powerful precisely so they can defend their brood from overly hungry and/or violent males.  Then the offspring are put through a series of tests to weed out the weak. The three tests are the sun test, the flight test and the breed power test. Hopefully, this will leave between two to five of the strongest offspring, at which point they are named. Those that pass all three tests will spend the next century growing. They’ll learn to speak Dragon, harness their powers and survive the clan system.

The clan system is how a continent full of giant carnivores doesn’t run out of prey. A clan controls who can live and hunt in a particular area. Clan size is determined by number of dwellings in an area (Burrows/caves/forest glades/desert oases etc) and the amount of prey in an area. Desert and glacier clans have the lowest number of members, sometimes as low as a dozen, and plains clans have the most, with hundreds or even thousands of members. Joining a clan is simply a matter of moving into a dwelling, usually by killing off the current resident or waiting for a catanonic resident to starve. Whiles in the plains dragons can dig themselves a dwelling, that prey number becomes really important. If dragons dig themselves a burrow in an already packed area, their burrows will collapse with the resident usually inside.

Once out of the parents’ dwelling, young Uthirans are on their own to find their own dwellings. They will almost never have any contact with their parents ever again, unless an offspring moves within the clan, which is rare. Siblings will stick together for a century or two until they too split up. Adult Uthirans generally live alone until it’s time to mate. Note that breed type is determined solely by the father. Dragons that have lived exclusively on Uthira with generally mate with their own breed. Those that have spent time on Hominia or Elemchi are less picky. Females will generally lay about 24-36 eggs in a circular nest made up of rocks or earth and lay on them for the next year. During this time, the females are completely dependent on males for food as they don’t leave the nest except to drink and to “go to the bathroom.”  Once the eggs have hatched, the pair will spend the next century with their offspring. Once their children are gone, pairs quickly split up.

Now, in order to explain the end of a Uthrian’s life, I need to introduce an important aspect of K23 dragons: the fact they all go insane.

 Insanity:

The biggest problem I have with the way most fantasy dragons are portrayed is the ridiculous lifespans they have. Dragons routinely live for ten thousand years without an attempt to explain how they manage to do it. The most recent example I can think of is in Skyrim, where you encounter  a dragon called Paarthunax who casually mentions that he’s waited around for nine thousand years for the big baddie dragon to return. I did a double-take. Really? And what did he do for all the time? The game doesn’t really explain it beyond “running the Greybeards” and leaves it at that.

How are you not bored out of your mind?

The easy answer to “what does a dragon do for ten thousand years?” is sleep, but sleep for what? The hero to come along and slay them for thier treasure. But why would a dragon hoard treasure in the first place? Its not like they have any use for it… unless they’re hoarders, the neurotic kind featured on Hoarders.  Besides, Uthirans can’t snooze for eons in order to protect their precious dwellings. A hibernating Uthiran is a dead Uthiran.

The Uthirans of K23 do not get weaker as they as age, their bodies continually grow stronger with time, sometimes becoming thirty feet tall and hundreds of feet in length . Their minds, however, do degrade.  After they reach maturity at one hundred,  Uthirans are completely sharp and mentally sound for the next two hundred years or so. Starting about three-hundred years of age, Uthirans begin to develop various neuroses. These disorders run the full range from various kinds of addictions and obsessions, like being a shopaholic (the addiction of  Mordridakon’s sister Selkath) or voyeurism, common among blacks, to serious illnesses like schizophrenia, most common among golds.

They are able to keep their neuroses in check for centuries and lead healthy and productive lives generally until between eight hundred and a thousand years-old, at which point most will start to mentally deteriorate, becoming crazier and crazier, generally becoming babbling lunatics. Assuming a Uthiran manages to live long enough, they’ll end up catatonic, their mind completely fried. Unless they’re lucky and have a offspring  to care for them because they live in the same clan and still talk to them, a Uthiran will be left to starve to death helpless and alone.  But even with care, a Uthiran will still eventually die, even if it takes a few more millennia.

Uthirans Elsewhere:

In most fantasy, when dragons aren’t trying to kill our heroes or snoozing, they’re either glorified horses or hidden within society.  The horses part I can take care of with riding-dragons, which were bred from an extinct Hominia-dwelling dragon genetically distinct from the Uthirans. I’ll go more into them when I eventually discuss the Teolian Rangers.

Unlike the dragons of Pern, no self respecting Uthiran will carry people around unless its convenient or profitable to do so. And if they do have riders, the Uthirans are still in charge.

The hidden part, on the other hand, took a few tries. In the Cybermagic novels, Uthirans lived apart from hominids, only becoming part of Hominian affairs in secret. The overarching arc was an Uthiran civil-war over how to integrate into Hominia, either living in harmony with them or eating them for dinner. Then in Hidden in Plain Sight, my failed attempt at rebooting Cybermagic, the plot revolved around a schizophrenic gold Uthiran serial killer. In that draft Uthirans lived secretly among hominids, always remaining transformed. But as i got farther along in that draft, I found the idea that dragons living among hominids perfectly content to remained transformed with only a select few hominids even knowing they were there completely absurd. I decided to trash that draft because I couldn’t make the Uthiran serial killer plot work with Uthirans as they were. For K23 Detectives, I just decided to make them fully integrated, which made things creatively much easier and more interesting.

Uthirans outside Uthira can  keep their dragon identities and are free to live and move about as long as they don’t do two things. First, they must abide by all local laws; this includes eating the local sentient hominids, purrs, kobolds, komodo etc. which is generally forbidden except in certain instances. Second, they can’t breed on Hominia or Elemchi, period. Since Uthirans generally stay on Hominia and Elemchi for a few centuries, they’ll find future mates, essentially boyfriends and girlfriends except that they don’t spend much time together before they mate in order not to kill each other.  Uthirans are kept in check by a multitude of organizations going under various monikers like the New Delta’s Department of Uthiran Affairs.

On Hominia, Uthirans are found in large concentrations in two places. The first is the City of Sands, where the J’Harderith religion feeds a revolving group of Uthirans convicts in their temple. Uthirans are allow to dwell in the temple for five days at a time, at which point they leave so new Uthirans can gleefully feed. Those that won’t leave are killed. Even if they aren’t allowed to dwell in the temple, plenty of Uthirans remain, feeding off the endless stream of riffraff that show up.

The second is, of course, New Delta, where there are a multitude of services that cater to Uthirans and their needs. The most famous of these is the fly-through eatery, large fields at the top of towers filled with livestock that Uthirans are allowed to pick off and eat for a fee. Uthirans love them as  only live prey provides the nutrition they need to be in their natural forms. While Uthirans can survive transformed eating a hominid diet, they don’t like to live that way.  Uthirans in New Delta live in specially modified warehouses so they can sleep in their natural form.  While the Medical Center does not have a Uthiran Wing, Cybrix does because they are largest employer of Uthirans in New Delta outside of the Department of Uthiran Affairs. Uthirans can become citizens and vote, though no Uthiran Senator has ever been elected because getting thousands of Uthirans to agree on anything is impossible.

Terrall in Depth

Terrall In Depth: The Hominid Races

I should’ve done this months ago but I wanted to wait until I had original artwork. I need to do this anyway, though, so as a result,  I currently  have no original drawings  for any of this with the exception of the goblins. I’ll add them eventually as they get drawn (if anyone wants to draw fan art I could use, I’d love you forever and ever!)

There are 8 traditional Hominid races, though as in our world racial divides can be murky. Not everyone speaks common, so I denote the language they traditionally speak. When it comes to naming conventions, they only hold for new characters. Cybermagic holdovers can break them (Glenn Lowry, Derrick Hatrigan).

The Hominia Article may prove useful here.

Humans

Native Reigion: Southern Deltan Plains, a hot dry savannah.

Appearance:  Think Afro-Hispanic.

Life Expectancy: 75 years, 100 with age extensions.

Native Language: Common

Attributes: Humans in K23 are not jack of all trades. They excel in technology and can only use hand magic.

Patron Deity: Elohim, The Holy.

Major Settlements (with large populations): New Delta, City of Sands

Naming: I take a Hispanic name and pair it with a random surname.

Teolian and Deltan Elves

Elves are split into two groups.

Native Region: All Elves originated from the Forest of Illwyn. Deltan elves were Teolian elf immigrants to New Delta who darkened over the generations due to UV radiation.

Appearance: Think your standard High Elf for Teolian Elves and Dark Elves for Deltan Elves. Both elf types 5 to 5.5 feet tall.

Life Expectancy: Teolian Elves, about 135. Deltan Elves, about 140(due to not being a bunch of  back-stabbing bastards).

Native Language: Elven for Teolian Elves. Deltan Elves mostly speak Common(but do learn Elven).

Attributes: The strongest homind magic users in K23 outside of Uthirans, this applies to both Teolian and Deltan Elves. The Teolian elves are meager technologically but Deltan elves are strong technology users because of where they live.

Patron Deity: Illwyn, The Lifebringer

Major Settlements: Teolos(Teolian Elves) New Delta(Deltan Elves).

Naming conventions: I generally use elven name generators, and will shorten names if a little too long and unwieldy.

Dwarves and Gnomes 

Native Region: Cromag Underground.

Appearance: Again your fantasy dwarves and Dungeons and Dragons style gnomes

Within K23, the two races look even more similar that these pictures indicate. Really, K23 Dwarves are slightly taller, bulkier and hairier than the K23 Gnomes. They look so similar, most gnarves could be mistaken for one or the other and identify as such.  Both are 4-4.5 feet tall, with dwarves averaging closer to 4.5 feet than gnomes.

Average Life expectancy: Around a hundred years.

Native Languages: Gnomish for both. While Dwarves do have their own language, nobody ever speaks it outside of formal settings.

Attributes: Dwarves are expert miners and industrious. Gnomes are 2nd best in technology and magic. Gnarves are, to quote the Impending Darkness: “…magic-using little people who mined using giant steam-powered machines.”

Patron Deity: Breunor the Undergod

Major Settlements: Brocenback(Dwarves) and Alkhan(Gnomes).

Naming conventions: Generally use name generators for both.

Ogres

Native area: Ogunlands

Appearance:

Life Expectancy: 60 Years

Attributes: Really, really strong but really really stupid in general.

Native Language: Really terrible Ogun.

Patron Deity: Thagnar, The Dead

Major Settlements: Gruck, New Delta

Naming Convention: 3-6 letter name with a “The (Adjective)  surname.

Goblins

Native: From Hominia but nowhere in particular as they were nomads for eons

Appearance:goblins are short(4.5-5 feet) little grey dudes (or dudettes) with stringy black hair brown eyes and non-pointy ears.

Life Expectancy: Varies, but generally 30 for males, 40 for females.

Attributes:  Most mistreated and maligned race. Very intelligent, and known for Shamanism (and can learn other types of magic too, but generally don’t).

Native Language: Ogun.

Patron Deity: Thagnar, The Dead

Major Settlements: New Delta, Gruck

Naming convention: 3-7 letter names, they have short 2-3 letter clan/family names, but rarely used.

Trolls

Native region: Southern rain forests on the continent Elemchi

Appearance: Your male trolls are big blocky and green. Trolls females  look like She-Hulk.

Life expectancy: about 80 years.

Attributes: Males trolls are sex machines and natural porn talent. Female trolls are rulers of traditional Troll society. Both sexes are very strong, second only to ogres.

Native Language: Banwatle

Patron Deity: Thagnar, the Dead.

Major Settlement: None in particular. They only have a relatively small population in New Delta. On Elemchi, they live spread out.

Naming Convention: Same as ogres, 3-6 letter name with a “The (Adjective)  surname.

Orcs

Native Region: Metillywn (Jungle of Illwyn) on Elemchi.

Appearance: Your standard Warcraft Orc

Life Expectancy: 65 years(due to constant fighting).

Attributes: Exceptional warriors and are very “street smart.”

Native Language: Banwatle

Patron Deity: Illwyn, The Lifebringer

Major Settlements: Thakkenhul, The City of Bone (on Elemchi)

Naming Conventions: Use the standard name generators.

Terrall in Depth

Terrall in Depth: New Delta Era Timeline

This is a rough timeline of major events since New Delta’s founding. Note for the first thousand years, not a whole lot was going on outside of tower construction which was very slow. Here is the timeline for before New Delta.

8001: Elohim ordains creation of New Delta, Order of Elohim and Cybrix Technologies founded.

8002: Aquillia ordains Mers to help in construction.

8009: Foundation Completed.

8013: Tower A-1 constructed.

8076: First Deltan elf born due to mutations caused by sunlight radiation.

8100-ish: First avians arrive. Like nesting on very tops of towers, rest of city annoyed. Marginalization begins.

8339: Seed Corp founded.

8423: Teolos and New Delta signed non-aggression treaty.

8579: Deltan Elves now considered race separate from Teolian Elves.

8900: Purple Deltan avian breed declared distinct from Elemchi avians.

8933: Private Detective Deputizing Act passed as NDPD unable to keep order in city, still only at about 495 towers. Ashram-Uriah founded as first private detective agency.

9001: Tower A-1, still in decent condition, is mysteriously condemned. Uthirans instantly seize control for site of the Department of Uthiran Affairs.

9002: Adonai Property Management spun off from Order of Elohim due to revelations the Order Cardinal was bribed to condemned the tower. APM owns all towers and leases space within.

9010: APM loses megacorp status due to scandal involving allowing managerial autonomy to human-majority towers. Private entities allowed to own towers, prompting faster expansion as OOE gains vastly more resources and money to construct.

9036: Original Armagdan Acolytes founded by Anton Crowley in New Delta.

9042: Armagdan Acolytes commit massacre in Tower A-5, killing hundreds of thousands. Anton Crowley killed by Ashram-Uriah. Armagdan Acolytes disappear.

9211: New Delta, Teolos,  Brocenback and Alkhan sign Exchange Treaty, adopting same currency(Credit), calender and measurements. The Human language, renamed Common, was set as standard business and diplomatic exchanges.

9232: Ashram-Uriah granted megacorp status due to monopoly on private detectives.

9233: Ashram-Uriah attacks NDPD. Ashram-Uriah loses civil war after three months. Barred from employing private detective, but allowed to keep megacorp status due to immense information gathering infrastructure.

9464: Gene writer invited by Biogenomics founders.

9477: Biogenomics granted Megacorp status.

9501: Tower A-1 Massacre. All avians presumed dead.

9507: Avians reappear in New Delta.

9510: The Prophet Paco leaves New Delta, goes to middle of Alamaro Wastes to an oasis, has revelation from Harderith and founds the City of Sands.

9543: Ryland Aerospace and Fusion Communications  founded

9544: Tower-mutants appear inexplicably

9548: Fusion charter revoked.

9650: First version of Legaltron becomes operational.

9691: Education For All act passed. Required city to educated all citizens for “free” stating immediately.

9692: City instantly on verge of bankruptcy. Senators who voted for it thrown out in elections.

9693: Act repealed. Education Department spun off into Academics Incorporated.

9783: Weeds in Deltan Plains gain resistance to weed killer developed by Seed Corp, causing food shortages due to crop loss.

9784: Seed Corp loses megacorp status and collapses. Remains bought by Biogenomics.

9789: A porn producer (re)discovers the “talents” of male trolls on Elemchi. Porn producer brings trolls back.  Adult industry booms. Trolls establish permanent population in New Delta.

9822-9826: Goblin plague occurs, wipes out goblin tribes and half of goblins overall. Massive numbers of goblins refugees arrive and settle in New Delta slightly above avians on the bottom of the social hierarchy.

9896: Athletics Complex completed. Hominia Athletics founded to maintain complex.

9902:New Delta Medical Center completed.

9945: Hominia Athletics completes construction of the Flight Track outside of city, allowing for professional aircraft and Uthiran racing.

9984: New Delta University completed.

9988: Legaltron Tower completed. Legaltron 7500 took complete and total control of court system.

10001: City Center Pyramid completed. Ashram-Uriah, Cybrix Technologies, Biogenomics and The Order of Elohim move in. All New Delta towers built.

10002: Jose Abernathy elected mayor.

10017: Legaltron 9000 operational.

10018; Avian Syndicate secretly bribes way to megacorp status; solidification of power on top of criminal underworld.

10020: Alfonso Deegan discovers Syndicate status. Massive scandal and backlash against avians occurs. Syndicate loses status.

Terrall in Depth

Terrall in Depth: Technology

Technology is as essential to understanding K23 as deities and magic are. After all, the first sentence in the A Clear and Feathered Danger’s description is “In the technological dystopia of New Delta…” In fact, my use of technology is one of the things that I believe sets K23 apart from other fantasy series. In most fantasy series,  progress is stuck in the middle ages or the industrial revolution at best. Then there are always the mysterious vanished civilizations whose technological progress was always greater.

The central idea of K23 is taking a high fantasy world and progressing it technologically so far into the future you can have a cyberpunkish dystopia sitting in the middle of it where many of the gargantuan towers are falling into disrepair, the government is dysfunctional, large portions of the population are living in poverty and giant autonomous corporations are running rampant. While Terrall has its very own vanished civilization, who will be formally introduced in Sandworm Rodeo (and expanded upon in a future novella) the one thing I will make very clear is that they were barely above the cavemen stage before they disappeared along with all life on their continent.

How I define technology in K23 is achieving the effects of magic (or even exceeding it) without harnessing divine energies (with one notable exception I’ll go into below).  Technology is developed through the science, or the empirical means through which the universe is observed and documented. Science is used by everyone, even the elven mages, because its one thing to use magic, its quite another to know how magic works( how the divine energies affect the physical).

There are multiple technologies at play in Terrall(Hominia specifically).  All are introduced within the first three novellas.

The “Cyberpunk” Technologies:

Silicone Tech: The standard cyberpunk array of giant buildings, computers, “the internet”, flying cars (aircraft) and cyborgs. Cybrix Technologies is the main developer of this technology in New Delta, though it’s used worldwide by everyone because of its versatility.

Biotech: Harnessing of living things via genetic engineering for a variety of uses. The main means by which this is achieved is via a machine called the gene writer which put Biogenomics on the map. A “four letter keyboard” attached to a console attached to a machine which writes genetic code that is implanted into a cell of anything you want. So is genetic engineering so easy anyone can do it? Not a chance – you need to have advanced degrees and years of training before you can use it successfully.  Mostly used in New Delta and the City of Sands.

Biotech also allows healing that exceeds what is capable via magic. Biotech allows for the healing of “natural diseases” ranging from cancer to infections.  Even elves go to the doctor.

The “Steampunk” Technologies:

In K23, I’ve divided up steampunk tech into two distinct technologies both used mainly in the Underground by dwarves and gnomes(biologically merging, but culturally distinct).

Steamworks: Hydraulics and steam engines. Developed by the dwarves for mining  and military use.

Clockworks: Brass gears, keys and springs used to make automatons and other devices. It was developed and is used by the gnomes. Clockwork can be infused with divine energy by tinkerers. Doing so makes automatons smart and clockwork prosthetics turn into flesh and bone.

As a side note, while Biotech can regenerate limbs and reattach it to you, hand magic cannot be used in the a biotech regenerated arm or hand. Only magical prosthetic allow a magic practitioner to use magic in a new limb.

Crystalline Tech: Used almost entirely by elves in Teolos. It is the use of crystals as building material and a few other specific use such as illumination. Crystalline tech is only used outside of Teolos for use in laser weapons (crystals magnify light into a deadly laser blast).

Terrall in Depth

Terrall in Depth: Pre-New Delta Timeline

The conceit about K23 and the world of Terral was that at some point in the past, Terrall was your generic high fantasy universe where knights and mages ran around killing things. That does occur, with most of their killing directed at goblins. This timeline will not detail any of that. Instead, this timeline will detail important wars and events that shape New Delta prior to its founding in 8001.

1: First elven historical record written in Teolos. Start of recorded history.

1507: Elves cross Toxulic Ocean, discover Elemchi and orcs. First recorded battle between them.

1509: Elves revisit Elemchi to destroy orcs, get lost,  discover trolls instead. Jealous of troll females’ beauty and male trolls’ “prowess” but too disenchanted to fight they twist the meaning of “troll,” which means “One who is pleasing” in the orcs and troll’s Banwatle language, to mean “one who is ugly” when they bring news back to Hominia.

1599: Elves cross Uthiric Ocean and discover Uthira and the dragons that live on it. Most get eaten. One manages to return and tell her story. Elves end world exploration.

1652: Humans attempt world exploration to discover what’s to the east of Homina. Discover existence of Mers the hard way when they get sunk in Backwater Bay.

1655: Humans cross Meran Ocean and discover a completely lifeless continent filled with vampires. Call it the Barrenlands. What’s between the Barrenlands and Uthira unknown for eight millennia.

2000: Teolian Mages, Rangers and Warriors start three-way civil war that will last on and off for millennia. Elven-orc hostilities paused.

3582: First gnomish historical date referenced on the Alkhan Dome (made much later) Refers to the overthrow of a despot by a rebel. The rebel becomes king and his son becomes a despot in turn.

3904: Brac’tai (tentacle things) arrive in Hominia for the first time after they swim across the Toxulic.

4500: Mages take full control of Teolos. Elven-orc hostilities resume with 559 recorded intercontinental clashes in the next two thousand years.

5421-5423: Elven-Dwarven War: Dwarves try to log forest of Illwyn. Elves kick them back underground. While dwarves would continue to attempt to log the Forest continually from that point on, the war is the only time of the formal declaration of war between them.

6199: Mage Council spun off from Teolian Mages and given control of city. Teolian Mages are subservient to the Council.

6207: Ranger Mistress and Warrior General added to Mage Council after revolt.

6402-6403: First Elven-Human war. Started when humans migrated to the edge of the Forest of Illwyn and tried to log it. Humans lose, get kicked out.

6505: Elves and orcs attempt to settle differences in a massive battle in the middle of the Deltan Plains. Humans powerless to stop them. Illwyn intervenes and tells to them to stop fighting and make nice or she’d be forced to smite them both to oblivion. Elves and orc strike uneasy peace treaty.

6950-6951: Second Elven-Human war. Started after humans attempt to settle in Forest of Illwyn.

6958: Third Elven-Human War: Humans march on Teolos, get wiped out. Elves massacre northern humans, march to Vera Cruz, site currently occupied by New Delta, and burn it to the ground. Humanity completely lost and irrelevant for next thousand years.

7760: Gnomes starting digging Alkhan Dome on the eastern side of the narrowest point in the Cromag Range.

7787: Alkhan Dome completed.

7804: Dwarves settled in Brocenback on the western side of the narrowest point in the Cromag Range, unaware of Alkhan’s location.

7810: Dwarven miners break through to Alkhan. Great Underground War begins.

7910: Breunor the Undergod intervienes Great Underground War ended. Period of drawf/gnome friendship begins.

—-

New Delta Era Timeline

Terrall in Depth

Terrall in Depth: Magic Part 2

In Magic Part 1 I gave a general overview of magic including the types of magic, the deities connected to each type and who can use magic. In this post, I’ll go into a few types of magic and explain the rules that govern their usage.

Shamanism and divination: The main aspect of shamanism is divination, where a shaman can know anything he or she wants provided Ulax will give it to them and it exists in the present reality. By present reality I mean the shaman cannot see into the past or the future, only what exists now. For example, a shaman can read minds, but only what the subject is thinking about at that very moment. A shaman won’t know deeply guarded secrets, unless the subject is thinking about it at the very moment. Also, a shaman can only tell you where someone is, not where they’ve been or where they’re going to be.

Divination, unlike every other form of magic, requires active participation on the part of the deity. For every other type, the energy is there and if you can harness it you can do what you want with it.  But for divination, the deity can choose whether or not to provide what you want, tthough Ulax is pretty lax about giving it to his shamans in good standing. In Tiny Ads and Shaman Juice (which chronologically takes place after the Impending Darkness), it’s mentioned that  Eluna, K23’s main shaman character, cannot divine anything regarding her employer’s cases. That was a choice made by Ulax. Is it a cheap way to avoid plot holes? In some ways it is, but in-universe it makes sense.

New Delta has something called the Shaman Rule: Evidence gained via divination is not admissible in court, period. A shaman can’t even point you in the right direction without the case running into a trouble if it comes out. I’m not going to explain how or why Eluna works with the K23 Detectives (read the books) but in order for her to remain employed, losing some of her divination ability has to occur to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

As a side note, I mentioned last time that elves have to go through Illwyn to practice divination and are therefore less powerful. Elven “shamans,” called seers, cannot divine at will. Their divine connection only goes one way. With shamans, the connection goes both ways. Seers can only receive, shamans can ask and receive.

Healing: Healing magic can only heal physical injuries and poison. Basically, if it can be to done you by others, magic will heal it. But there are a few exceptions.

  • Magic can’t cure disease, since microbes are living too, and Illwyn won’t kill them simply because she can.
  • Healing can’t regenerate missing limbs and organs.
  • Healing magic can’t bring you back from the dead. Nothing can.
  • Magic can delay the effects of aging and extend life, but it’s not forever and only works if someone undergoes regular “treatments.”

So if you get shot, magic can heal you. But if you’ve got heart disease, go to a doctor. I’ll go more in depth when I get into technology in a later post, but this is one of the few places where science outperforms magic in every way.

Necromancy: Every living creature has a soul, from the smallest microbe to the largest Uthiran. When a creature dies, its soul goes away and the creature becomes lifeless. Therefore, the dead cannot rise on their own except with the help of a necromancer.

A necromancer places a part of their soul into a vessel and the vessel comes back to life. The vessel is under complete control of the necromancer and retains nothing from its previous life. The number of corpses an individual can raise depends on their skill. Souls are not infinite and a necromancer must have some of their own soul in their bodies to remain alive. Less adept necromancers need more soul per corpse to raise and control them and therefore can only raise a few. The most powerful are able to create rampaging hordes of the undead because they can control them with very little soul in each vessel. One only learns to do this with practice. Finally, if a necromancer dies with undead under their control, the undead go back to being dead.

Dead Periods demonstrates necromancy in action.

Summoning: Item summoning, which creates items out of Alpha’s divine energy, has a few rules attached to it:

  • You can only summon inorganic items. This means no food, no natural fibers and no living creatures.
  • Any item summoned must have a real-world template available. For example, early on in A Clear and Feathered Danger, Quintanelle summons on her mage robes. She can do this because her actual robe is kept in a sealed, temperature-controlled vault in Teolos. Her robes are made of an inorganic cotton substitute.
  • Summoned items have a lifespan of exactly 24 hours before they are dispersed.

Teleportation: Teleportation requires a portal, either made from stone or crystal. The further you need to teleport, the more mages you’ll need to open the portal and keep it open.  You also can’t teleport off-planet.

Terrall in Depth

Terrall in Depth: Magic Part 1

As I explained in the Deity article, magic in Terrall is the harnessing of divine energies to affect the physical world in various ways. Magic practitioners, as I call them, are similar to D&D clerics but everything is divine magic. There’s no such thing as arcane magic in the K23 world.

Magic is comprised of several distinct schools:

  • Incantation or Spell Magic:  In order to tap into this magic, the user must “pray” to a deity whose domain the spell falls under to grant the effect. The user must correctly say an incantation and perform a hand motion in order for the effect to be achieved. If it’s used in D&D, you can find its equivalent here or in shamanism for divination. Necromancy is a subset of this rather than a distinct school.
  • Non-Incantation or Hand Magic:  Magic that is achieved solely through the use of hand motions. Simple effects are achieved this way. Think Jedi Force powers.
  • Shamanism: Comprised of divination and a few other general components along with a special talent which is kept within shamanistic family lines.  Only Goblins can become proper shamans because Ulax the All-Seeing wants it that way. Elves have their own version of Shamans called Seers. Seers work through Illwyn and are much less powerful as a result.
  • Tinkering: Combing magic and clockwork to create things such as intelligent automation and prosthetic limbs that turn into flesh and blood.
  • Chaos magic: Only harnessed if one survives attuning with Armagda with their life and sanity intact. Chaos magic mainly amplifies other forms of magic. They have have the ability to mind-control others, an ability known as entrancement.

—-

There are  five races which can use magic:

  • Uthirans: They are magical by thier very nature as they harness Harderith to use their breed specific abilities. They can learn all other forms of magic. Their distant genetic cousins, the Komodo, can also use magic if trained but generally don’t as a rule.
  • Elves: Both Teolian and Deltan (dark) elves can use magic. Magic usage is highly revered in Teolian society.  The term “mage” refers to the elven practitioners who rule over Teolos. Becoming a mage is a long and difficult process and takes decades.
  • Gnomes: Created tinkering but can learn other types too.
  • Goblins: Goblins only use shamanism generally but can learn all types.
  • Humans: Humans can only use hand magic. It was for this reason the elves kicked their asses twice!

These races are able to use magic because they are able to attune their bodies to “pick up” divine energy and channel it. The easiest analogy is that of a radio. They can tune to the divine frequency and broadcast magic as a result.

Each deity is associated with a certain form of magic:

  • Elohim: All hand magic
  • Ulax: Shamanism
  • Armagda: Chaos magic
  • Harderith: Uthiran abilities
  • Illwyn: Nature and healing spells.
  • Bruenor: Earth and fire spells..
  • Alpha: Summoning(includes teleportation).
  • Thagnar: Necromancy
  • Aquillia: Air and water spells

—-

In part 2, I’ll discuss individual styles of magic

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