Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lost Projects: Shauubas

I was sorting through my old files tonight, and came across a few projects that I started but never finished. I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote this, but I thought I'd post it (since I haven't been posting anything on my blog lately).


The world of Shaaubas exists in a dimension related to but not identical to our own, beneath a dim, dying star. Hundreds of thousands of years ago by its own reckoning (which does not always correspond with our own), the Ones Who Came Before looked across the veil that separated our world from this one and, for reasons unknown, decided to bring Earth life to Shauubas. Being unconfined in time and space, the Ones Who Came Before plucked individuals or small groups of people from vastly different cultures and eras, placing the heterogeneous mixture in one isolated area or another to see how they would interact. Experiments were formed, evolution guided or sidestepped as the whim took them. Occasionally, they would bring in or create other forms of life that never existed on Earth.

Eventually, as Shauubas and its sun began to die, the Ones Who Came Before abandoned their millenia-long experiment, leaving behind tantalizing cyclopean structures that reveal their secrets to the brightest minds of the planet.  The sky-shield, which the Ones had placed to ward Shaubas from the many dangers waiting in its skies, began to falter; the crater-pocked terrain is the legacy of that failure.  The shrunken seas are a pitiful remnant of the once-vast, teeming oceans.  And Things have slipped down from beyond the stars, whose like had never been seen before.

Even today, though, by design or accident, the machines of the Ones Who Came Before sometimes reach across the void to Earth, to the time of Caesar or Napoleon or Lincoln, and pluck some unlucky (or lucky) individual who might be conquered by the strangeness that is Shaaubas... or conquer it.

Shaaubas is a world that often breaks the laws of nature as they are known on Earth.  Though the sun is dim and dying, Shaaubas has a largely plains or desert-like environment; the oceans are largely gone, but some isolated seas remain. There are pockets of surprisingly lush and exotic fertility. The landscape is pockmarked with craters from the fragments of shattered moons (pulled apart by tidal forces, collision, or destroyed by design or accident), though over a dozen small moons remain overhead. Shaaubas forever keeps one face turned towards the Sun, and does not rotate; at its coldest, the Dark Side is inhumanly cold, and the Bright Side is inhumanly hot where the sun is eternally at zenith; nevertheless, most of the planet is habitable after a fashion, even in the areas where the sun never shines. The broken remnants of nearly a hundred thousand years of civilization dot the landscape, buried under a veil of decay.

A very few of the cultures, races, and civilizations of Shaaubas:

The Travians: A human warrior race much like Barsoom's Red Men in culture. Divided into several leagues of city-states of varying sizes, their pediliction for warring against each other is proving to be their downfall as other races encroach upon them. Though maintaining a code of chivalry and swordsmanship, they go armed with pistols and rifles similar to flintlocks (though gunpoweder does not exist upon Shauubas; the physical laws of this world differ from those of Earth).  They are slightly telepathic, but only specialists develop this ability beyond simple sub-vocal communication skills. They maintain many of the planet's canals, aqueducts, and pumping stations, though they don't have the technological capability to create more. Individual nations often differ drastically from the generic cultural pattern. With their large fleets of dirigible-like skyships, Shanzahar and Tuspeen are the two dominant powers amongst the Travians, though many other nations try and dispute their status. Travians are made up of several different human ethnic stocks. Travian culture goes back several thousand years, though their traditions claim that they served in the armies of a godlike race that once ruled the world. Medically, they have advanced to the point where disease can be quickly and permanently cured, injuries short of amputation can be repaired, and youth and vitality retained for decades or even centuries.

The Khurshash: Large, horned, warlike, grey-skinned humanoids, with ridged plates of armor and other anatomical modifications. Their martial zeal outmatches even the Travians, and many Travian kingdoms have fallen to them in recent centuries. These are like Barsoom's Tharks in some ways. Many different tribes exist; they also have a propensity of untiting for a time of months or years under a capable leader and ravaging across thousands of miles. They ride the wooly mordak, which also gives them meat, clothing, leather, milk, and companionship.

Kravant: This small, isolated nation is ruled by an elite which transfers their brains into new bodies as their current bodies age. The best and most beautiful of their population is raised to believe that by giving up their bodies they are promised a perpetual afterlife of joy and plenty (which they do, as disembodied brains preserved in a drug-laced nutrient solution). Often decadent and cruel, they often use their prodigious surgical skills for amusement (transferring the brains of hapless victims into grotesque or surgically-altered bodies).

The Sodality of Engineers: A religious brotherhood that has unlocked the secrets of a few of the artifacts left behind by the Ones Who Have Gone Before.  They are regarded almost as gods in some parts of Shauubas. In fact, the Sodality has lost many of the secrets it once knew, and only its vows of secrecy keep that knowledge from the people who worship it.

The Bobolo: They claim they once ruled the planet, but are now a race of travelling traders and heralds and entertainers. Though nomads, they do not despise cities; they are similar to gypsies in some ways.  It is rumored that they are psionically more sophisticated than the Travians, and some claim to be mind readers, clairvoyants, and otherwise psychic.

Laomi: humanoid reptiles with the lower bodies of snakes. Often considered exotically beautiful and hypnotically seductive..

Ghaminar: A human race of twins who are always linked telepathically, often to the point of having the same identity in two bodies.

Goorthab: lumbering, nonhuman race that herds nonsentient humans.

Vroogs: a giant humanoid race dwelling mostly in the most habitable regions of the Dark Side.

Mordaks: resembling something like a cross between a small trunkless wooly mammoth and a large pig, these tusked creatures are used as draft animals and mounts by cultures all over Shaaubas. 

Yoops: scaled, hyena-like beasts.

Urthags: Armored, leathery desert molluscs, carnivorous, dwelling under the sand. They can hibernate for years until prey enters the range of their long, fibrous tendrils.

Vreeks: Large, feathered, flightless lizards, excellent hunters, often kept as mounts or pets .

: I don't know what these are, I just like the name.
Smigshanths,Thranks, Kelmats, Shmims

Sheggsmid, Fothrabs, Deshmut, Yoothar,  Fimmrish,  Oothab, Tolarris Fimnic,  Ashmiog, Tolnoothaa, Yibsig, Amlac, Bohsh, Folmoorb,  Muljang , Bitoorsh,  Glaumrab,  Pobmisketni, Abmatar, Kanjat, Utbeesh,  Megmathub,  Invish,  Retbaush, Glanq, Orshuft, Glauthak, Shadabant, Iphtiqushbur, Glimshibabth, Orocatarndoy, Yab, Holorg, Phidnash, Yammindrav,  Shung,Yishmeg, Yosh, Dush, Aosh, Shooshma, Daphthag, Nooshpreem, Advash, Phith, DJandowsh

Most Shaauban technology is the result of thousands of years of technological development. Skyships in particular are being produced by methods that were perfected before recorded history; their ancestors have always had them, as well as many other technologies. However, innovation is not prized by most Shauubans, since experien e has often taught them that it leads to disaster. If all skyships and skyship builder were destroyed today, they would almost have to start again from scratch.

Like armored balloons and dirigibles with sails, kept aloft by an antigravity gas not found in nature.  They range in size from one-man craft to the size of a small battleship.  They carry large cannon for ship-to-ship combat.

Most Shaauban cicilizations use guns, though most fighting men prefer the sword.  These guns are much like terrestrial flintlocks.  More advanced firearms do exist, but are regarded as unchivalric. 

Clockwork brains are known, but not used much. Nothing like electronics or radios or internet. Messengers and heliographic signals are the best means of transmitting messages.

Medicine and Biotechnology
Tissue vats are capable of producing animals and plants in whole or in part.

Regeneration of limbs and other organs is possible, though slow. In many places transplants are preferred.  In one society, slaves are bred especially for transplants.

Healing elixirs keep most people alive and mostly healthy.

Almost all creatures on Shauubas have been modified to survive in Shaaubas' harsh environment, many by a now-extinct civilization, the Vivimorphs.

Gao-vim-daowsh, the code of flesh and steel, is the term for Shaauban equivalent of chivalry.  This widespread code demands, among other things, that Shaaubans never use a weapon against an unarmed opponent, never use a firearm against an opponent armed only with a sword.  To Shaaubans, war is an opportunity to test one's skill against an opponent, not simply an opportunity to kill.

Archery is seen as a necessary evil, though the aristocracy disdains it. 

Aerial combat between military ships is permitted, though a military vessel may not fire upon a civilian craft unless they have been fired on first.

Shaaubans value social stability more than innovation, in part because experise nce and history show them that invention leads to disaster.  The invention of an jimproved firearm several generations ago led to the destruction of the nation that invented it; that was  a repetition of the events that had played outcenturies before that, and so on down through the millenia.  The same thing has happened in virtually every area of technology, to the point where invention has almost stagnated.  Shaaubans claim that their world's dwindling resources make innovation too risky.

On the other hand, Shaaubans do admire those who can wring newness from old forms, as long as the old forms are not destroyed.  Shaauban folklore is also fond of the hero-inventor who overcomes an evil overlord by  some weapon or secret he discovered or invented.  By the end of such stories, though, the invention or discover (or the hero himself!) often vanishes. At any rate, by the end of the story, the new and dangerous device or knowledge is destroyed and prosperity returns to the community, even if it has been conquered.

Most Shaaubans who have truly been bitten by the "invention bug" are thus either persecuted or driven to remote hideaways to pursue their vocation in isolation.  These are the stereotypical "mad scientist" type.

1 comment:

Risus Monkey said...

Nice Planetary Romance setting! Very cool.