Technology in the Ilthan is, in general, fairly primitive; They primarily make use of obsidian tools crafted from quarries in the mountains, and are fairly skilled at doing so. Axes, knives, spears, that sort of thing; Macuihuitl and similar weapons are possible as well. Atlatl and slings are often used for hunting, as well as bows. They know the secrets of the wheel and of farming, of crop rotation and stonecarving, and of irrigation and pottery; Their cities are built of wood with stone foundations, but temples and palace structures are built entirely of stone blocks. They do not know how to make paper, but do have a writing system Cloth is dyed with bright colors as writing, and so literacy is, while rare, not entirely uncommon. Metallurgy is uncommon and primitive, but they know how to work copper and gold and similar metals into jewelry and ornaments. Metal tools are uncommon, but not unheard of; mainly reserved for the rich and high-of-status. Occasionally far-roamers bring back tools from the old world, steel hammers and the like; these are quickly snatched up by the wealthiest craftsmen.
As for the pre-apocalypse civilization, that is purposefully ambiguous. Their cities look much like modern Earth's, but taller and vaster, with bizarre shapes and curved structures of steel and glass. Much has been reclaimed by nature, but the traumatic nature of the apocalypse led to many cities being virtually uninhabitable. Their technology otherwise is much more advanced and often biological or organic in nature, with genetic experimentation and biotech being extremely common. Your explorations will reveal more about the world If not to your characters, at least to you as a person.
Most of this advanced technology is no longer functional, but that which is often becomes confused with magic. The priest caste makes use of these in their rituals, scarcely understanding more about them than the average lower-caste; they associate them with the gods and spirits, praying to them and ritually making use of them. The most common mystic item are light-bringers; flashlights and the like, though their design, even to us, would be unusual and alien, many activated by body heat and giving off green or blue light. Some even need to be kept in sugar water or risk losing their ability to make light!
The Caste System / Religion
The foundation of the Valley peoples' belief is that they are part of a greater entity known as Ilthan, who is both god and beast, male and female, young and old. Ilthan created the Valley, and thus the valley is a sacred place; no member of a caste is ever to leave, and those who do must undertake purification rituals. Every caste therefore falls within some aspect of Ilthan, as it relates to some aspect of Ilthan's body.
Highest of the castes are the Eyes of Ilthan The Krina Ilthani
or priest caste. Even above royalty, they are the spiritual guides of the valley people, advising them in their daily lives and their actions, warning them of the ravages of vengeful fertility gods and how to avoid losing their crops, that kind of thing. They also are the only ones allowed to use relics of the past, with the higher ranked priests being allowed more and more dangerous and advanced items. Many priests have ritual tattoos around their eyes and on their face, while others wear cloth bandannas over their eyes, generally thin enough to still see through. Their clothing are long and flowing.
Below the Eyes is the Heart of Ilthan Tlaepr Ilthani
, or the chief caste. The smallest of the castes, it consists of each village and tribe's chieftain, who meet once a year at the valleymouth temples to discuss the previous year's events and plan for the next, unless a gathering is called. They are responsible for the physical leadership, planning the construction of structures and temples for the Eyes and leading soldiers and great hunts to drive out hostile elements. They're almost more a symbol than real leaders, as the vast majority of the decisions are made by the Eyes. Their clothing is general thick cloth or fur, brightly dyed and adorned with metal jewelry and feathers. They tend to eschew tattoos, but may have ritual tattoos on their chest or neck.
Below them are the Teeth of Ilthan Kikla Ilthani
, or the warrior caste. The Teeth of Ilthan have the responsibility of defending the people of Ilthan, whether from nomadic raiders or the horrific beasts that occasionally wander in from outside. They serve the Heart Caste as enforcers, guards, and police. They often wear necklaces of animal teeth, or otherwise incorporate them into their clothing. Tattoos are fairly common, often of snarling beasts.
Then comes the Arms and Legs of Ilthan Pauia
and Pagida Ilthani
, or the crafter and farmer castes respectively. They are roughly equal in rank, serving the higher castes and farming and working the land. They are the largest of the official castes, and generally work a wide variety of jobs. Within these castes are many ranks and hierarchies that are fairly difficult to fully grasp, but to put it simply The rarer the material and more prized the result, the higher status its crafter. A metalworker is in general a prestigious and lauded position, as their work is primarily used by the Heart and Eyes. On the flipside a potter would be a fairly low-status member of the Arms caste, as their work is comparatively 'easy'. They wouldn't much lack for business though. These castes wear whatever they can make, and tattoos tend to be simple and primitive.
Those who do not live in the villages Hunters and gatherers who travel with the seasons Are technically casteless. Practically, they are treated as members of a sixth caste, occasionally referred to as the Spine of Ilthan (especially amongst themselves) but 'officially' have no name. They are treated decently, but similar to how one might treat a hunting dog; thanked for the food they provide, but not as an equal. Many of the Spine are unsatisfied with this, but given that they are generally independent of the other castes they have yet to have real issue with it. The most skilled of the casteless may rise in status to join the higher castes. Outsiders who travel to the valley and settle there are also part of the Spine.
Among the casteless though are a group unlike any of the others, a group that bears no marking of caste nor aspires to join one The Far-Roamers. No mere hunter or explorer, the far-roamers are composed of those who willingly cast off their caste and life, becoming dead to the mind of Ilthan in order to be, in a way, its fingers and hands. They alone travel beyond the valley's walls, travel the hills of the countryside around and even go as far as the ruins surrounding this place, to hunt for new foodstuffs, new medicines, and relics for the Eyes to use. However their lives tend to be swift and painful, ending in violence or hunger in the wastes of the ruins. Few have gone too
far from the Valley, limiting their searches to the nearby ruins of smaller towns.
Culturally, the Ilthan are fairly relaxed. They worship Ilthan as the creator of the valley, but that has much in common with ancestor veneration. They also acknowledge the existence of other gods Who they characterize as vengeful, unpredictable spirits, cursing humans for the slightest insult and only being kept at bay by the services of the Eyes. They are fond of bright colors and long sleeves, but styles vary greatly depending on village and tribe. Genders are relatively equal there are jobs associated with women and jobs associated with men, but those who wish to take on the other gender's role are allowed to, though not without some complaint. Thus there are female hunters and male gatherers traditionally those who cannot bear children and those who are too frail to hunt dangerous game, respectively, but this isn't necessarily the case. The Arm and Leg castes are generally unisex, as farming in particular is a full-family job.
There is no 'economy' in the Valley, not as we know it. Trade between villages is done on a barter system, but the style is more that of a socialism. The Hearts of Ilthan are the ones who determine who does what; At the end of each year (which falls upon the Autumnal Equinox, as the easy times end and the harsh winter approaches) is a three-day festival known as the Empty Days, where the boundaries of caste are temporarily forgotten; On the fourth day is the Day of Labor, where each village's leader determines, based on the skills of those living therein, who is to work what duties for the next year, as well as what children are to be trained in. Generally an individual would keep the same duty year to year, based on his or her individual skills, and those who disapprove of their station may plead their case to the Hearts in hopes of being reassigned.
The Valley that the Ilthan people reside in is a large one, sheltered by steep hills that split into jagged mountains in time; likely a new valley formed by whatever ended civilization before. Wide and long, the valley is primarily accessible from its east and north exits, curving like a semicircle around the winding Sacred River that carved out the original valley long ago.
Its climate is mild and temperate almost the full year Winters are often long, harsh, and snowy, but game and winter resources are common enough that survival is possible, if difficult. Rain is less than common, but the river and its streams enough to keep the forests alive in dry seasons. The forests are deciduous with the general flora of the eastern Americas, but many foreign plants have taken up refuge and invaded; many different things can be found throughout the valley.
Animals are similar. Squirrels are common, as are other small mammals. Birds of every imaginable shape and size are found throughout the branches. These smaller animals are in general fairly similar to what we have today; looking very different, perhaps, but still familiar. Wild dogs, grown huge and vicious in the wastelands, often attack the smaller camp settlements. Other animals that we might recognize have changed their niche Raccoons have grown lean and agile, hunting in packs like small, suicidally brave wolves. Dangerous beasts often come down from the mountains to attack livestock, children, or even adult humans Some of them far stranger than simply a wolf or fox, loping beasts with human faces and whining screams, or bipedal things with arms too long and faces stretched like plastic. These horrors have entered the myth and legend of the valley, further cementing their fear of ever leaving its guarding mountains.
Also, there are bioluminescent fish, which in spawning season make the river glow in beautiful greens and blues.
Livestock is mainly centered around cattle, although their two varieties of cattle are fairly different. The first, known as Striped or Sacred Cattle, are medium-sized with massive curled horns, hard enough that they're often cut off and used in weapons or tools. Their milk is extremely nutritious, if a tad sour, and is a common drink in the villages, whether warmed up and made alcoholic or simply drank straight. Cheese is made as well, and butter. However, their meat is poisonous unless prepared extremely skillfully, and even then it tastes unpleasant. The other variety are Hairy or Plains Cattle, which have more in common with buffalo than what we think of as cows; They're huge, with abundant meat and thick, warm wool, but lacking much in the way of milk. A few of the villages use them as mounts, as while they're not the fastest it's very difficult to stop one running at full tilt. The villages also raise flightless birds which resemble kiwi more than chickens.
Dogs have been part of the Ilthan people's lives for as long as any can remember; generally serving as hunting or guard animals, almost every hunter has at least one hanging around. Ilthan's hounds are a hardy, intelligent breed, rather furry and with a triangular snout and twitching, expressive ears and tails. Living nearly twenty-five years astounding for a dog they keep growing almost their entire life; a full-grown hound is large enough to outweigh an adult human and are often used to hunt bears. They work well in packs and can coordinate with humans as well. The Ilthan people also raise hunting birds, primarily a species of forest eagle that's often used to hunt small-to-medium game, though it's not unheard of for hunters to make use of the large birds against wolves, and some use has even been made against human raiders from outside of the valley.
The Ilthan themselves are human entirely, generally medium height with dark hair and skin color averaging around a browned / tanned coloration, though variation exists. Casteless and outsiders may be any color of skin, and some even (through mutations, poisons or ancestry in genetic experiments) have skin colored blue, green, or red. These individuals are fairly rare, though.
edited 16th Oct '13 2:22:34 PM by Hydrall