Reality: TirimaitEdit Edit
Cultural Timefames: Well States resemble the American West during the late 1800s, Theological Cities are culturally similar to Arabic cities in style of the same time period.Edit Edit
One of the few inhabited realities in the Dust Worlds sector of the B-Sphere, rain is extremely rare, but not unheard of on Tirimait. Generally rainfall on any of the temperate zones is about 5 days a year and measures no more than 8 centimeters for a year. At the poles and equator, even less. The terrain can range from rocky, mountainous formations to flat, powdery sand flats. Water in large concentration is only found deep underground. The only other sources of water are succulent plants (cacti and the like) and the ice crystals that form as the thin atmosphere releases what water vapor it holds near sunrise each day.
Tirimait is a world ruled in most places by the Rune Priestesses. They alone have the ability to call water to the parched surface of Tirimait. The priestesses consume a ground, crystalized form of Aether and transfer it into runic scripts of power to work their magik. The other option to gain access to water is drill deep wells (some almost a kilometer deep) into the rocky places and pump the water out. Few cities have succeeded in this as it requires drilling into an underground river or lake in a rock formation to keep the pumps from clogging with sand slug. In these Well Cities, males are allowed to have positions of rulership, some even being democratic city-states. These few cities are where the Order has made inroads into the governments of Tirimait, as the priestesses do not share power willingly with any other faction. To maintain their grip on the magik forces controlling the water, and thus the lifeblood of the population, the priestesses require every female child to be tested once a year for signs of “the gift” until they reach puberty. If the child is found to have any trace of the gift, the Rune Priestesses immediately “adopt” the child and pay a dowry to the family. The family has no choice to accept, to refuse would be considered blasphemous and is punishable in the extreme by the scriptures. The practice is also used in the Well Cities in order to maintain trade relations and peace in the reality, although not nearly as stringently as it is not controlled by the Rune Priestesses directly.
In the wilder parts of Tirimait, tribal villages and nomads make their own law. Tribal shamans are sometimes leaders, but are also often found as advisors to a chieften or elder. When crossing the wastelands, many of the permanent cave settlements are willing to accommodate travelers and the nomads will allow trusted caravans to travel as part of their group for protection. It is advised that a traveler learn the customs of many tribes, or hire a professional guide from Tirimait's Guide Guild that knows the customs of the tribes when attempting a crossing between major cities.
Tirimait’s economy revolves around water. All major cities have water taxes that must be paid and ration water to the populations to try to reduce any black market fluid trades. All trades exist to support a population settled in various cities and trade between the cities is allowed. Most caravans are escorted by guards and a wasteland guide to ward off bandits and predatory wildlife. Black market trade to other realities does exist in the higher noble courts, as the majority of the population of Tirimait are unaware of the Multiverse as a whole. Trade goods include everything from artwork, mineral ore, and precious gems and metals, to food, worked iron, and machine parts. Quite simply, if it can be transported across the wasteland for a profit, it is. Human trafficking is outlawed by most civilized areas of the reality, but pleasure workers are allowed to practice their trade in most places as long as they pay the professional licensing fees like any other craftsman.
Magik and Technology: Edit
Magik is granted to females only in Tirimait. Male magik users will be oddly cut off from their powers in this reality, but regain them when they depart. The phenomenon has many of the magi of other realities baffled. Magik weapons still function, are rare and very expensive, and can be used by both males and females alike. Most are crafted in the Well Cities by female smiths and engineers with the gift whose family avoided the Rune Priestesses test. All magic weapons require crystalized Aether to function. Aether in this reality will change to its gaseous form if exposed to sunlight. For this reason, it is considered a crime in most places to disturb a smith or engineer working with Aether without warning AND permission.
Technology in Tirimait is based on steam. Most of the generation is produced by coal fired engines as Aether is considered necessary for other uses than power generation, such as magik. It is used in airships, but airships are extremely rare because of the costliness of the fuel source. The issue is how Aether is collected in this reality. Aether is not found in its gaseous or liquid form naturally anywhere on the planet. The only source of Aether on Tirimait is found by harvesting the nest-webs of the giant sand spiders.
Tirimait Giant Sand Spiders: Edit
Tirimait Giant Sand Spiders make lairs in caves and spin webs of crystalized Aether. The Spiders mate for life, but will take another mate if the current is mate is killed. The average lifespan of the spider is 50 to 80 years. The spider is considered “giant” as it is twice the size of a man with some specimens to have been observed to have legs in excess of 8 meters in length. The spiders behavior is aggressive if its lair is threatened and they are extremely territorial. The feeding habits are that of an ambush predator. The spiders will dig into the sand and lay in wait for prey to pass close enough and then surge out. Other specimens have been observed clinging to cave ceilings and dropping on prey from above. The spiders chitinous hide makes it well armored and it neurotoxin venom is deadly. The spiders will eat anything it can catch.
The collection of the Aether requires the spiders to be lured out of the caves while collection is taking place. Attempts to subdue the spider through alchemical compounds have proven mildly effective, but injecting the spider proves difficult as it takes a large amount of sedative which in many cases proves fatal to the spider and the fact that the armored hide has to be penetrated in such a way to avoid internal damage to the spider’s web making ability and life supporting organs. Because the spider is the only source of Aether to be known on Tirimait and therefore vital to water collection, it is considered a crime punishable by death to mortally injure the spiders, even if it means losing an entire caravan of trade goods. Bait is required the spider to be lured out of its cave, but the bait must be fast enough to evade the spider and keep it busy while collection of the nest is taking place. Most bait runners are paid very well for their speed, agility, and cunning. In fact, it is considered an honor and many times a spectator event (viewed through optical sites for the safety of the spectator) to “bait the spider.” Some spiders are kept in captivity for Aether production, but it has been found that the Aether production of captive spiders is markedly lower than their wild counterparts.