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 Post subject: [Plane Guide] Matahouroa
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 11:55 am 
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***

“Long ago, mankind lived in Sawaiki, the northernmost island in the vastness of the sea. It was the Paradise that we’ve lost, and the Paradise that we will reclaim.”

- Raiti, the Tohunga Ahurewa

Matahouroa is a plane covered by vast, fathomless oceans. These oceans are dotted by many islands and archipelagi, forming patterns on the fast waters. The largest and most notable island system is Hinawahine, the “gray haired woman”, so named due to the mists that slide across it from the ocean to the mountain peaks, and it is the center of the plane’s human civilisation. For the sake of brevity, and because the vast global ocean has many secrets not yet revealed, this is where our story lies.

Hinawahine was not the plane’s original “center”, so to speak. Long ago, in temporal fogs so thick as the real ones, legends say that humanity lived in the northern island of Sawaiki, a place described as an earthly paradise. With time, however, mankind’s abuse rendered the island a hostile wasteland, and humanity begged the gods for help. As their answer, many a gigantic Hōkūleʻa showed up on Sawaiki’s shores, to deliver the starving and desperate humans from Sawaiki. One, steered by the shark god Lālākea-kupu, carried the ancestors of Hinawahine's people. When arriving to their new home, and seeing an opportunity to start anew, the human survivors built five Moai on Hinawahine’s most sacred areas, to celebrate their gods as well as to prevent the same disaster from happening again. Sawaiki is still widely sought and remembered, however, being considered the soul's final location in the afterlife.

When all of this happened is not clear, but the current civilisation, a vast Empire that has expended well beyond Hinawahine, has been going on for about 3000 years, and the Moai have been influencing Matahouroa for so long that they shaped their sacred locations into the most massive mana pools on the plane. These sacred spots are much seeked for the benefits of such powerful magical essences, but the price is more often than not high.

Geography


Hinawahine is the largest known landmass on the plane, surrounded by smaller islands often reffered to as its “daughters”. Hinawahine has a slightly curved shape, with a ragged, inwardly-curved northern shore puncted by cliffs, a mangrove and delta dominated eastern shoreline and predominantly sandy beaches on the south and west, and is basically divided into two main areas: the Lowlands and the Highlands.

The Lowlands are Hinawahine’s ancient, untamed forests, punctuated by the occasional savanna. A very large portion of the southern Lowlands is also occupied by the river Ingikiwai and its mouth, the enormous Wairepomangu swamps. Several settlements occur along both areas, the largest being Koronitiwa, in the middle of the Wairepomango, and Karatakara, where the Ingikiwai approaches the Highlands the most. The Lowlands as a whole are generally safe, the major settlement areas being ironically the most dangerous, where conflicts over the land and its resources are frequent. Two of the Moai are located here, one in the depths of the Wairepomango and the other at Ingikiwai’s source. The former is well known and sought after, while the latter remains a secret well protected by the Pirita Kahuna.

The Highlands are Hinawahine’s enormous Central Plateau, dominated by extensive montane prairies and crowned by a circle of high, often furious volcanic mountains, covered by scrubland. While the Lowlands are tropical or subtropical, the Highlands are exposed to extreme fluctuations, with hot summers and frigid winters. Crossed by the pristine, silvery Kapongatakere river, it is the center of civilisation, with the great city of Hiruhāramānia occupying two thirds of the southern area of the Plateau; several smaller settlements occur in the plateau’s north, forming a line. As the center of civilisation, the Central Plateau is the base of operations for the human Empire, where its head resides. Like in the Lowlands, two Moai are present in the Highlands, one in the center of Hiruhāramānia and the other in the highly active volcanic region in the northwest of the Plateau, both frequently visited and held with much religious fervor.

Outside of Hinawahine, there are many smaller islands, harbouring numerous settlements, from cities covering entire islands to small docks on otherwise wild areas. The most strategically important of these is Hiriwa, a fully civilised island that is the center of Hinawahine’s naval force as well as a massive information bank. It holds the only Moai outside of the mainland.

Lowlands


Ingikiwai

Matahouroa’as largest known river, the Ingikiwai is considered to be the Plateau’s shadow, its source in the westernmost mountain slopes. It runs parallel to it, bordering the southern slopes and running to the northeast, the mouth being the Wairepomango swamps. Many rivers on the mountain ranges bordering the Plateau flow into it, thus at its prime the Ingikiwai is very wide and deep. Its name comes from its inky black waters, and its shores are generally filled by extensive, dense forests. Numerous settlements and associated farmland occur alongside the Ingikiwai, the great but calm river providing an easy route for commerce and nourishment. The river itself is also a powerful source of mana, thanks to the Murmuring Moai hidden in its source, and thus the source of pilgrimage for many a mage. The Moai itself is hidden zealously by the Pirita Kahuna, whose existence in itself is made as esoteric as possible, and defended viciously.

Karatakara

Ingikiwai’s largest settlement, Karataraka spans an entire valley between the river and the Central Plateau, with a series of smaller settlements connecting it to Hiruhāramānia, forming a near perfect corridor for civilisation in otherwise wild lands. Karatakara is a commerce hotspot, one of the largest in the world, obviously due to its connection to the center of civilisation and the to Ingikiwai. It is also one of the largest food production areas in Hinawahine, with a relatively small, but extremely productive patch of farmland bordering it. This unfortunately placed it at conflict wth the Patupairehe, which claim the area as their home, and are growing more vicious as the farmland expands.

Karatakara is run by an Ariki, a position currently held by the young woman known as Aherenika. The Ariki is supported by an extensive council composed of the mercantile elite, generals and a representative of the Pirita Kahuna. The Pirita Kahuna in themselves have immense political power, some claiming that they are the true rulers of Karatakara, though in reality their actual political position is a rather complex affair. It is in Karatakara where they have their “official” base, Pounamuhoro, and where they recruit and train new members, though their true headquarters lay deep in Hinawahine’s forests.

Wairepomango

These immense swamps occupy most of Hinawahine’s northeastern territories, from the slopes of the Plateau to the sea. They are literally the darkest place on the island, as its massive trees and ferns form a dense canopy and the mists are thicker there than in anywhere else. The area is almost completly aquatic, the ground entirely covered by black water, sometimes quite deep in some areas. It is the home of the Kawau, as well as several aquatic monsters that lurk in the shadowy waters, and thousands upon thousands of shades, the highest concentration in the known world. In spite of all of this, humans regularly pass through Wairepomango's channels, and some live permanently in the swamp, easily making a living by farming the Wairepomango’s fish, shrimps and other resources. Conflict is common, Kawau or rogues stealing from the commercial vessels or engaging in power struggles, and the generally silent monsters and shades stalking either. Most deaths in the Wairepomango lead to the corpse’s desecration, either becoming part of the necromantic market, or devoured.

Wairepomango is protected by the Taniwha known as Pango. Rarely seen, this old beast lurks in the darkest depths of the swamps, hunting and dominating the monsters that cruise those waters. Many Kawau and humans dare to make deals with Pango in exchange for power, at a high cost. Those few that do manage to satisfy Pango are greatly rewarded, however, and are the most powerful black mages of the plane.

Koronitiwa

In the middle of the Wairepomango lies the rotten city, a series of floating settlements atop a deep, tree-less lagoon. Sustaining itself on commerce, it is frequently raided by the Kawau, and attacked by aquatic beasts. Nevertheless, Koronitiwa's relative hospitality, as well as its resources, ensures its prominence in the trading routes of all over Matahouroa. It is also the center of necromantic trade, where the butchered remains of the dead are sold for dark magic rituals. Even ashes and bones fragments are worth a lot in this trade. While necromantic trade and necromancy are official illegal, the law turns a blind eye to Koronitiwa, where enforcement is pointless. Ususally more legally, Koronitiwa also provides large supply of fish, shellfish and edible mushrooms, as well as fertiliser for more conventional farming.

The center of Koronitiwa is the location of the Grieving Moai. The statue’s tears are well sought by mages of all kinds, from necromancers to healers, but they are well guarded by ravenous spirits of the dead, which will gladly dismember anyone who comes near the statue, and add the to their own. Only a few mages can dispell the angry shades, usually taught by Pango to do so. These few become known as the Ataata Kahuna, Matahouroa’s dark priests, and by default Koronitiwa’s "righteous regents". The position of the city’s top dog is widely contested among these ambitious mages, though not all desire to be so limited. Currently, the city is ruled by Teone Miritene, Koronitiwa’s unofficial Ariki, who answers directly to the mysterious Ataata Kahuna known as Pō.

Highlands


Hiruhāramānia

The great and massive city of Hiruhāramānia is the center of Matahouroa’s human civilisation, occupying two thirds of the southern area of the Plateau, from the base of the mountain tops to across the Kapongatakere river. This massive settlement is fundamentally a single building that spans several miles, a single platform upon which are built houses and other installations, nearly all connected to each other. In some areas, the streets almost resemble roof-less corridors, the houses simply chambers of a building, and the open spaces roof-less hallways. It is overall shaped more or less like a small mountain, with the tallest center being the Palace. The Palace acts both as the military citadel, the headquarters of the government and the largest temple complex. The city houses the Empire’s monarchical ruler, the “Prince”, a position currently held by Whēuriuri. Hiruhāramānia’s priest caste, the Pūhihi Kahuna, has historically bore immense political power, as has the military, both forming the government body right beneath the monarch. Politics in the great city have become submerged in an atmosphere of perpetual and intense tension, with Whēuriuri favouring the secular body that is the military, and Raiti displaying extreme distate for the “Prince”, being the first Tohunga Ahurewa to openly denounce the monarch’s rule in centuries.

Hiruhāramānia is a city where law is holy. It is in the topmost chambers of the Palace where the Invoking Moai is located, in the royal shrine at the center of the Palace. There is a series of plates in front of the Moai, each bearing the holy laws supposedly dictated by the gods. They change, in theory in accordance to divine will, but most often secretly manipulated by Pūhihi Kahuna to suit their agendas. Traditionally, these laws were enforced by the military across the Empire, but elsewhere the complex bureaucracy has ensured that few of these laws see enforcement outside of the Plateau. And within the walls of Hiruhāramānia, the government has become largely more pragmatic and secular, laws now extensively discussed before approval or rejection, instead of simply accepted as divine mandate without question. While this has increased the standards of living within the city, the Pūhihi Kahuna perceive this as the signs of corruption and moral decay.

As the center of the Empire, Hiruhāramānia is fed by commerce, especially with the hotspot that is Karatakara being rather close. Farmlands have largely been consumed by the expanding city, and the other settlements of the Plateau usually can only provide for themselves, though trade with Hiruhāramānia does occur during Spring and Autumn months. The standards of living in Hiruhāramānia are among the highest in the Empire, second only to Hiriwa, all citizens able to afford food, water and medical care. Education is a free service, though extensively controlled. No public libraries exist in Hiruhāramānia, and information trade is painstakingly monitorised. The government’s basic policy is that of a dictatorship, where the needs of the average citizen are tended as to be as confortable as possible, but any disruption to the now precarious stablity is swiftly acted upon.

Kapongatakere

The Plateau’s perpetually pristine, clear-watered river, Kapongatakere almost perfectly bisects the Highlands, being born in the westernmost ranges, not that far to the north of the Ingikiwai – which is considered its “sister river” -, and ending at the easternmost end, falling into massive, perpetually misty falls. These falls supposedly add to the mouth of the Ingikiwai, their waters flowing into the Wairepomango, though the mists are so thick and light-reflecting that nobody can actually witness the bottom, and indeed many suspect that the water simply never actually touches the sister river, evaporating into the air and rising into the skies as clouds. Regardless, Kapongatakere is of poor use for the commercial trade outside of the Plateau, vessels being unable to climb the falls, and indeed the only vessels that cross the river are small boats that simply aid locomotion within the vast alpine steppes.

Kapongatakere passes through Hiruhāramānia, the city having expanded to a small area of the river’s north shore, contained within one of Kapongatakere’s few curves. The river, usually only a few meters deep, increases in depth immensely here, and it creates massive underground lakes that occupy most of the city’s area. These lakes, which provide the necessary water for the inhabittants of Hiruhāramānia, are infused with minerals that keep it perpetually pristine, clean and drinkable, and provide it with medicinal qualities. These caverns are the main home of the river’s Taniwha known as Kiwitea. The guardian of the Plateau, he once also acted as an oracle for Lālākea-kupu, but this function has waned as Rāo gained favour among the Pūhihi Kahuna.

Kōmarumaunga

The tallest mountain in Hinawahine, and the whole of known Matahouroa, Kōmarumaunga is located on the eastern margins of the Plateau. Rising miles above even the already extremely tall mountains that sorround it, it is rightfully known as the “sky mountain”, its peak perpetually covered in white clouds, and obscured from the lowlands. The peak looks as if cut, a disc-like, flat mountain top instead of ragged cliffs or deep craters. Most of it is occupied by a lake of molten gold, which is basically the tip of a volcanic channel, keeping the mountain always warm and snow free. Eruptions do occur with some frequency, basically resulting in the liquid gold flowing down the mountain slopes, covering it in a crust of precious metal after it cools down. For some reason, the slopes never have a permanent gold covering, the metal always falling down towards the valleys and washed away by the Ingikiwai, deposited in the murky depths of the Wairepomango.

Kōmarumaunga is most infamous for being the main residence of Matahouroa’s militant eagle-like Aven, the Pouakai. The mountain’s height and hostile conditions offer a perfect base for the flying warmongerers, a nigh impenetrable fortress to which the Pouakai can retreat in failed excursions. And in recent years, Kōmarumaunga has become a citadel for an army that grows steadily in number, and more lethal than ever before.

Rinomaunga

Located to the northwest of the plateau, Rinomaunga is an area of extensive volcanic activity, the numerous peaks and craters blackened and bare, excepting for the toughest, fastest growing plants growing from the crags. Rivers of lava frequently flow, and black clouds almost always darken the sky. Toxic gases permeate the air, and temperatures oscilate quickly, ranging from geothermic releases that cast fire on everything, to frigid winter cold spells. Few animals live here, but people frequently journey to this hostile land. The richness of the ashes is too vital to ignore, and most importantly this is a sacred place, where mana pools the most in the whole of Hinawahine, drawing elemental mages from the whole of the plane, and planeswalkers as well.

As such, a temple, Tīrarae, sits well in the center of Rinomanga, a vast crater dug well into the earth, always lit by the orange glow of lava flows that pass nearby. The temple is for the most part a series of enormous steel bars, connected by a large, pyramidal roof, under which lays a geothermic lake of boiling water, the island at the middle being where the Chanting Moai is seated. The temple is the place of residence for the Tahepuia Kahuna, who alone are capable of some of the finest metallurgy in the Empire, and thus widely sought and funded in exchange for producing powerful metallic blades and armour, as well as commissoned art. The Tahepuia Kahuna are renowed as great artists, many statues and other drafts laying around littered across Rinomaunga, usually not for long as the lava reclaims what was from it extracted.

Settlement Line

A line of settlements dots the east and north of the Plateau, from Hiriwapā at the falls to Maitaikāinga a few miles to the east of Rinomaunga. These settlements are largely farming communes, growing plantations of sweet potato and other vegetables for substinence and occasional trade. One of these, Mangokāinga, is also a significant military outpost, both serving as a training center as well as a defense measure against the perils of the mountains. Otherwise, most of these small settlements are either ruled by a local Ariki and/or the Pūhihi Kahuna. Both the strength of the military and the clergy in the area are rather recent developments in response to previous continuous independence by these settlements, which had previously gradually diverged from Hiruhāramānia in terms of culture. Tensions are high.

Surrounding Islands


Hiriwa

About a mile to the east of Hinawahine, Hiriwa is one of the most important islands outside of the Empire’s center. Having been colonised by humanity about 2500 years ago, it had previously already been established as the homeland of the Parekareka, which surrendered the island in exchange for luxury. Since then, Hiriwa has been completly civilised, its wilderness being entirely consumed by human habitations, some of which the most sophisticated in the world, sans patches of sterile grassland. Hiriwa is of immense importance to the Empire for several reasons: originally the most productive fishing grounds known, it is currently the headquarters of the navy, producing the most advanced ships Matahouroa has to offer, stored in well protected bays. It is also a very powerful center of communications and commerce, always taking a role in strategising new colonies.

More importantly, Hiriwa has become the Empire’s research and development center, where technology is investigated and developed, being the birthplace of sophisticated weaponry, naval or otherwise. The island is also a massive information bank, containing Matahouroa’s largest libraries, in theory without the level of censorship present in Hinawahine. Education is pratically mandatory and literacy most widespread, and historically it has been known as a safe haven for philosophers and scientists. This, combined with the development of a well established wealthy elite, has earned Hiriwa’s people the reputation of pretension, arrogance and cowardice elsewhere in the Empire. The general disregard for tradition has also equated them with ammorality and insencerity, a sentiment that has evolved to considering terms associated with Hiriwa and its people as pejoratives and even profanities in certain areas. Nonetheless, some are the admirers of the island’s progressive tendencies, and certainly apreciate its valor in naval warfare. Hiruhāramānia itself is ambivalent on the matter, with “Hiriwa’s caress” being an euphemism for cancer and other fatal diseases, but widely respected in the military. Karatakara is the biggest opposer, in part due to competition it terms of commerce and production as well as due to the constant preaching of the Pirita Kahuna, who observe similarities between the stories of Sawaiki and the “nature-disregarding”, militaristic Hiriwa.

Hiriwa is the only island besides Hinawahine with a Moai, the Scolding Moai, emerging from the waters in the bay of Tapukokoru. The Moai is tended to and protected by the Karetai Kahuna, which keep it well enough a secret that even only a few of the island’s human residents are aware of its location. The Karetai Kahuna, alongside the Parekareka, are the true rulers of the island, but entertain a pseudo-aristocratic elite originating from merchants and the Empire’s long gone nobility, using them as puppet rulers. This has been suspected by Hinawahine’s authorithies, and the navy, which operates under direct orders from Hiruhāramānia, most distrustful of the clergy and the Aven.

Inanga

Located to the north of Hinawahine proper, Inanga is the largest of the sorrounding islands, extending by about two thirds of the length of Hinawahine’s northern coastline, and with about a fourth of Hinawahine's thickness. Punctuated by settlements, Inaga is still dominated by forests, inhabitted by the Hoiho, the Kākāriki, the Pīngao Taika and local Kahuna that declare themselves to be Pirita Kahuna. A small volcanic area known as the Kapapuia also harbours it’s own Tahepuia Kahuna group, as well as a large population of Whirotātea.

_________________
Matahouroa
Planeswalker's Guide
The Story

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 12:52 pm 
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Human Culture


Mankind's history before the Empire is poorly understood, largely due to the absence of writing prior to it. Legends from time immemorial state that humanity once thrived in the island of Sawaiki, the ancient paradise, where men lived without the fear of disease, old age and other ills, where food was plentiful and the gods always favourable. However, legends say, mankind grew proud and warlike, desecrating the sacred forests until they were nothing but ash, killing off the plentiful birds, waging war on fellow men and giving in to violence, cruelty and cannibalism. It is said that the gods did not even need to lift a finger, as mankind ruined itself, destroying Sawaiki and reducing it to a wasteland. As hunger and disease arrived like the sea mists, mankind wept and begged the gods for help, for at least the soothing embrace of death if nothing else. The gods took pity on mankind and sent five massive Hōkūleʻa, full of food and medicine to last for months. Five gods, one for each Hōkūleʻa, were the captains of these life ships, Lālākea-kupu steering the Hōkūleʻa that carried the Empire’s ancestors. The fate of the other Hōkūleʻa is wrapped in mystery, their final fate unknown to all, but Lālākea-kupu diligently and faultlessly drove his ship to the south, until he found an island with great mysts. It was named “the gray haired woman”, Hinawahine, and was offered by the shark god to mankind, under the promise of careful management and peace.

The colonisers formed many tribes, spreading across the island, domesticating its animals and carefully creating farmlands. After centuries of developing in isolation, tensions began to form, and it is said that the tribe that dominated the Plateau, once ruling where Hiruhāramānia is now, took over Hinawahine “without shedding blood”, unifying the tribes under an Empire, which would afterwards expand into the sorrounding seas, preserving Hinawahine’s resources whilst finding new ones. By about five centuries after the Empire’s birth, all islands of Hinawahine had been conquered, and other archipelagos were found just decades after. A few insular tribes had been found, one of which a minor island-spanning civilisation as well, all assimilated or conquered.

Because of Sawaiki’s tragedy, the concept of Tapu has become very important to the Empire. Generally speaking, something that is Tapu is considered inviliolable or sacrosant, and it should not be touched, should not be meddled with, and in some cases not even spoken about. A superior’s personal items, for example, are Tapu, and cannot be touched by an inferior; religious relics are Tapu, and should not be touched unless by the Kahuna or the Prince. Many animals are Tapu, and thus cannot be hunted; Tapu applied to areas is distinguished as Rāhui, and is a very important method of preserving the Empire’s sacred spaces and natural resources, effectively rendering them untoucheable to all but the Kahuna. Tapu can even extend to abstract concepts and actions: not honouring the gods is Tapu, for instance. Tapu is such a strong concept that there is an inherent magic to it: violating Tapu enforces by default anything from a visceral sense of shame to outright death, depending on the gravity. The longer something is Tapu, the more inviolable it will become.

That said, Tapu can be omitted and dissolved, in the form of Noa. Noa, or blessings, lift Tapu from something, allowing the enforcing magics to be evaporated and the prohibition thus removed. Noa occurs whenever gifts occur, lifting the reservation and prohibition, and in everyday Tapu simply a genuine desire to give that blessing suffices. When it involves the norms of the society, the higher the authorithy, the more effective the Noa is, and even enchantment charged Tapu can be dispelled easily if the thing in question is under his/her authorithy – a general instantly removes the Tapu inherent to his food in regards to lower people if s/he so wishes to offer it to a starving child, for example. Rāhui cannot be so easily dispelled, however, with even the Kahuna normally powerless to remove it.

For obvious, many a person desires to have entire mastery over Noa, or else be able to bypass Tapu in other ways. In some practises, violating Tapu is actually the whole focus, misdirecting the curse to empower instead. This is a very dangerous gamble, especially when violating Tapu usually does not entirely remove it, but those successful in this technique have become excepionally powerful mages. The Kahuna are the most powerful in delivering Noa, their blessings removing Tapu from everything but Rāhui. Removing or blatantly violating Tapu is not always necessary, however: many people try to weasel their way around it, doing things of questionable nature by rationalisations and technicality. So long as the conviction is strong, bending Tapu to one’s will is possible, to the point that the breaking point may never be reached. This is how the Empire’s ancient system caste system has gradually eroded away, the Tapu that kept them distinct gradually being weaseled out as the “lower class” managed to find ways to ascend socially, particularly in regards to the relevance of commerce.

Government


Historically, a caste system seperated nobility, the Kahuna, the “lower class” and war captives/slaves. As the Empire grew, the needs to oversee more and more settlements, the merchants’ increasing importance, the reforms of the military and the progressively more esoteric tendencies of the Kahuna dissolved this caste system into a more pragmatic ruling body:

- “True” nobility has been reduced to the royal line proper. The current royal line is considered to be the descendents of Ākala, sharing his unusual grayish-golden eyes, and in the last two millenia this emphasis has dictated the monarch’s bloodline in particular regard, becoming the focus of conservation on the part of the Kahuna. Because of the absence of more royalty, the monarch was traditionally allowed to marry from within the nobility, but with its dissolution the issue has become more complicated. Generally, an Ariki consort is selected, the marriage ceremony now involving extensive purification rituals to allow for the blood of Ākala to be preserved.

The monarch is the ultimate authorithy, though they are strongly influenced by the subordinate government body. Once seen as the connection between the gods and mankind, this role has largely been usurped by the Kahuna, but the divine blood still grants the monarch authorithy over them under usual circumstances. In the span of the Empire’s history, the Kahuna almost never intervened with the monarch’s rule, until now, where the conflicts with the current “Prince” and the Tohunga Ahurewa have become progressively more severe. The current monarch is “Prince” Whēuriuri, with his cusins Mura and Hatiti being the next in the line for the throne.

- The military, always recruiting members from all walks of life, has had an increasing political influence for the past few centuries, embodying a face of social potential and ascension in the face of previous rigid caste systems. Already frequently the ruling power in external colonies, it entered in vicious competition with the Kahuna in terms of political power, a secular government body against a theocratic one. Now, both groups have utterly displaced other factions/social grades at the position secondary to the royal line, forming the actual government body with the monarch as the figurehead. And “Prince” Whēuriuri came to favour the military out of the two, rendering the Empire almost entirely under martial law.

The military has a well organised system of ranks, on which the members are prommoted or demoted in accordance to performance and honour[s]. The top rank is that of the Tianara, now held by the man known as Aata, which many consider to be pratically equal to the “Prince” in every way. The patron god of the army is Lālākea-kupu, though several gods are called in the battlefield. Regardless, the military is fundamentally secular, as it is Tapu to cloud strategy with delusions of exacting divine will. Consequently, these same “logical” strategies translated into the battlefield of politics.

- Outside of Hiruhāramānia, individual territories are general ruled by an Ariki. Originally Hinawahine’s non-royal nobility, the Ariki is a position generally elected or prommoted to, usually from the military, the merchant elite and, more rarely, the Kahuna. An Ariki does not usually answer to democratical vote: the population’s favour is usually meaningless to place a person as an Ariki, as it is the government body that does so, though an exceptionally unpopular Ariki will be placed under trial and demoted. More often than not, the Ariki is simply a figurehead, the military, merchants and/or Kahuna being the true power in the individual territories.

- As the Empire has expanded beyond Hinawahine, merchants have also gained relevance. Karatakara, Koronitiwa, Hiriwa and several external islands have developed well established mercantile elites, which compose most of the localised government bodies. They are almost never in an “official”position of power, with an Ariki, the military or the Kahuna serving as the political authorithy, very often puppets for the most influencial of these elites.

- And finally, there are the Kahuna, the Empire’s clergy, that always project immense authorithy whenever they are.


Kahuna


Matahouroa’s most relevant priestly class, the Kahuna were originally the caste secondary to the nobility, concerning themselves not just with religious duties, but working as the carpenters, merchants, medics, entertainers and generally the operators of civilised society, above the farmers, hunters and the rest of the low class workers. Gradually, the population at large began to fill these roles as society shifted from its rustic roots to full blown civilisation, and the Kahuna in turn began to focus on their role as mediators between mankind and the gods, as the self entitled guardians of nature and civilisation alike, as well as supervisers and caretakers of morality, traditions, the populace, and above all magic. The Kahuna are some of Matahouroa’s most powerful mages, said to be blessed by the gods and to have acquired sacred knowledge from them. They are highly esoteric and secretive, and just as easily mistrusted as they are awed and venerated by the populace. Once hereditary as a caste, the Kahuna as priestly orders are welcome to any exceptionally talented mage, whereas they're willing or not.

Many orders of Kahuna exist across the Empire, but Hinawahine’s Kahuna are divided into five main orders. Unaligned Kahuna exist, but they are exceptionally rare within Hinawahine and Hiriwa, where the orders have a strict policy of adherence or penalty for “treason”, which more often than not includes either forceful conversion or death. The populace is widely warned to act against unaligned Kahuna, being Tapu to accept their services or offer them hospitality. All orders answer to the Tohunga Ahurewa, the head of the Empire’s clergy. In theory, all orders have the claim to this title, but the Tohunga Ahurewa’s position in Hiruhāramānia has ensured that only the Pūhihi Kahuna have occupied this position for most of the last millenium or so. The other orders for the most part only pay lip service to the Tohunga Ahurewa anyways. The current Tohunga Ahurewa is Raiti of the Pūhihi Kahuna.

While other sapient non-human races have priests and some even work closely with the Kahuna, only humans are considered to be Kahuna.

Pūhihi Kahuna

The largest and most pretigious order, the Pūhihi Kahuna have their headquarters in Hiruhāramānia, with most of the smaller settlements in the Plateau also being important operation centers, some of which entirely under theocratic rule. They also have large temples and political seats in Karatakara and Hiriwa – though there they are secondary to the Pirita Kahuna and Karetai Kahuna, respectively -, and throught the islands of the Empire, where they are often in charge of healing centers and public religion alike. With their base in Hiruhāramānia and being widespread and popular, they are often considered to be the “official” Kahuna order of the Empire, a claim with Tapu attached. Many feel that the Tohunga Ahurewa has effectively become simply a rank of the Pūhihi Kahuna, unofficially solidifying their dominance, though legally it still remains a title availiable to other Kahuna.

The original distinctive social role of Pūhihi Kahuna was to oversee morality and justice. Their stated purpose is to dictate the laws and supervise their enforcement, as well as to arrest and judge the guilty. The military has taken over these fields, but the Pūhihi Kahuna still have enough authorithy to intervene when corruption or ill judgement is perceived. They may also colaborate with the military, their battle magic a value asset. Aside from this, the Pūhihi Kahuna also work as the main healers, operating medic centers throught the Empire – though this role has often also been taken by the Pirita Kahuna, and by other Kahuna sporadically. More generally, the Pūhihi Kahuna are the Kahuna that most dutifully fullfill the civic cleric duty, being responsible for religious events and public celebrations, both to honour the gods and to unite communities, though other Kahuna, particularly the Pirita Kahuna, also do this. Whenever new conquests are made, at least one Pūhihi Kahuna is among the colonisers, being considered the most imediately useful of the Kahuna with his/her medical and combat skills.

The symbol of the Pūhihi Kahuna is the sunray, which sums up their original philosophy: rather than the solar sphere itself, it is the light that emanates from it that has importance, the divine emanation that nurtures the world and in turn connects mortals to their deities, carrying their prayers and joy in return. In turn, it’s not the Pūhihi Kahuna that matter, and not even their actions, but their souls’ metaphorical radiance. To this end, they spend a lot of their time on purifying the soul in various methods, a practise no other Kahuna does, the Pūhihi Kahuna being among the few people in Matahouroa with an unambiguous concept of spiritual purity. Nonetheless, the Pūhihi Kahuna have gradually taken the symbolism much more literally, and gradually came to herald Rāo, the god of daylight, above the other gods, as their patron and the deity whom their symbol honours, considering Them the source of their power, and the demonstration of their beliefs, a pure being made of beams that connects mankind to the divine realms and to each other.

Once, the Pūhihi Kahuna paid homage to all the celestial gods equally, but gradually their focus shifted on an utterly exclusive servitude of Rāo. Even while they pay lip service to most of the pantheon in public ceremonies, they try to subtly influence the populace to have similar henotheistic or monotheistic beliefs, a practise that displeases other Kahuna, which see this as superficial favouritism or outright delusion. The Pūhihi Kahuna believe fervently in a prophecy known as the Rāomārama, in which Rāo will not just overwhelm darkness and the night, but will also destroy the physical universe with Their immense light, aside from the ancestral island of Sawaiki, where the pure souls that survived the purge will dwell for eternity without ever fearing another calamity. This belief is held differently amidst the Pūhihi Kahuna, from being a literal sequence of events to a metaphor for the soul’s henosis, but regardless it has made them insanely ambitious, trying to prepare all for the Rāomārama. The Tohunga Ahurewa, Raiti, feels that the Rāomārama is near, and grows progressively more bold, chastising the “Prince” with an open and vicious belligerancy never seen before in the Empire’s history. The more the Pūhihi Kahuna express their desire to see Whēuriuri dead, the more Hiruhāramānia is divided. Tensions are extremely high, very near the point of breaking.

The Pūhihi Kahuna allow any person with talent in magic to join them, any person desiring to become one simply asking for it. Full initation occurs during sacred occasions, which which a purification ceremony prepares the new member, who is unwittingly mind altered as to make them complacent with the esoteric dogma and ambitions. All Pūhihi Kahuna travel to the Plateau for formal training, usually in the smaller settlements, visiting Hiruhāramānia for ceremonies. All Pūhihi Kahuna stand before the Invoking Moai at least once in their lives, the first moment being considered the moment of the individual’s full realisation within the order. Afterwards, they are relocated anywhere in the Empire, but are free to return to the great city whenever they can afford it.

Karetai Kahuna

With their headquarters in Hiriwa, the Karetai Kahuna are spread across most of the Empire, but absent from the main island of Hinawahine, under laws enforced by the Pirita Kahuna; their very presence there is considered Tapu, not helped by the general distrust of the main island’s population. Regardless, they’re widespread across the archipelagos under the Empire, second only to the Pūhihi Kahuna, their naval role being of utmost importance.

The Karetai Kahuna oversee knowledge, communication and the development of civilisation. Hiriwa’s great libraries are maintained by them, and they constantly add new information to these libraries. Their temples are not just libraries in themselves, but also laboratories, where experiments of all kinds are conducted. They work closely with the military, providing naval technology and designing ships, crafting protective enchantments and defensive battle spells and investigating methods of making long sea journeys more comfortable. The Karetai Kahuna are also important in regards to communication between islands, shrouding courier birds and ships, as well as being oracles. Finally, the Karetai Kahuna protect and safeguard the sea, rendering bays, entire coastlines and spanses of open water Rāhui. Some with expertise in elemental magic are also used as naval war weapons, while others can be employed as assassins.

Overseeing information and knowledge has predictably made them a double edged sword, controlling the flow of information and erasing it in accordance to not only their agendas, but also of the Empire’s. Controlling the Karetai Kahuna has proved an immense challenge, as not only the Empire sees itself reluctant to dispose of such a useful tool, but also because the Kahuna have mastered techniques to go around Tapu for centuries. As it stands, manipulation by the Karetai Kahuna has been rendered Tapu, continuously strengthened by wards upon wards, to which Noa is applied by the army or the other Kahuna wheen need be. In Hiriwa, the more experienced of the clerics can bypass the Tapu, being able to secretly manipulate information both in the libraries – public or private -, and messages.

The Karetai Kahuna have a close relationship with the Parekareka, which extends all the way to the order’s foundation. Indeed, it may be accurate to say that the Karetai Kahuna are basically the human attempt to respond to Hiriwa’s Aven, previously the most civilised race in Matahouroa. The Parekareka work closely with the Karetai Kahuna, aiding them in research and in their overseeing of the seas and information, many making their homes in the temples and living mutually in a shared community. Many believe that the Karetai Kahuna are more loyal to the Parekareka than to the Empire, a paranoia that appears to become more and more justified, the more the Karetai Kahuna’s elders devote themselves to Purūpī’s project.

The Karetai Kahuna bear as their symbol the reflection. Introspection is a complicated subject for the Karetai Kahuna: while it is considered to be of uttermost importance to understand and master oneself in order to affect the outside world, directly analysing the thoughts and emotions is considered counterproductive and ineffective, leading to false conclusions and veiled self righteousness. The Karetai Kahuna have a tradition of staring at their own reflections for meditation, seeking to improve themselves by looking at their own eyes, the true windows to one’s true self. Karetai Kahuna that have examined themselves in this way gradually learn how to scry by gazing upon their reflected images, being able to understand higher knowledge simply by examining the depths of their mind. This is a process that seems almost impossible to describe in words, being only understood by practioners. Many consider the Karetai Kahuna to be the most secular of the Kahuna, due to the few public religious ceremonies they hold – aside from funerary rites, when a Karetai Kahuna is in charge of preparing the “boat” which the soul uses to return to Sawaiki -, but in reality an individualistic, experimental sort of spirituality is a core concept in their philosophy, most of their spellcraft being exceedingly subtle divine invocations.

In Hiriwa, young mages study and train on the complexes adjacent to the libraries, and talented individuals may be selected to join. Otherwise, the Karetai Kahuna take a more proactive approach, youngsters with qualities considered to be necessary being selected and persuaded to join. Should they refuse, abduction ocurs, leading to a complicated process of indoctrination that involves careful brainwashing. Elsewhere, recruitment is done in a variety of forms, with the Karetai Kahuna being generally being controlling and/or discriminative in practise.

Ataata Kahuna

The most mistrusted and disliked of the Kahuna, the Ataata Kahuna are ostensibly the smallest of the orders, although this is hard to assess. They are seldomly officially employed, and in some areas outrightly persecuted. Nonetheless, they hold an important role as the appeasers of the dead, preventing the angry spirits from being a menace to the living, as well as the guardians of the world’s shadows and darkness.

Although officially considered an order, the Ataata Kahuna are too individualistic to be an organisation. Each Kahuna has their own agenda, goes wherever and does whatever they want. There are no ranks, there are no headquarters: each Ataata Kahuna fends for themselves. Nonetheless, most Ataata Kahuna feel attached to the Wairepomango, where the power of the Grieving Moai is strongest. This power is attractive to many black mages, but there is a catch: the blessings of the Grieving Moai can only be obtained from its tears, zealously guarded by hordes upon hordes of the spirits of the dead, which are ravenous and malicious, quickly dispatching any unprepared mage and spreading diseases across the swamps. Only a few mages manage to go through the spirit horde, and by using the Moai’s power they officially become Ataata Kahuna. Many of these mages are taught by Pango, the Black Taniwha, and thus owe him an oath of loyalty. Pango can thus be said to be the true master of the Ataata Kahuna. The Ataata Kahuna in turn are officially the rulers of Koronitiwa, and the Wairepomango as a whole, a role which they may choose to withraw from if they so please. The leadership position and thus control over Koronitiwa’s market is frequently and viciously contested among the Ataata Kahuna, centuries upon centuries of former rulers and unsuccessful contestants now lying in the depths. This position is currently held by Pō, a rarely seen woman whose interests seem to lie elsewhere, leaving Koronitiwa to be lead by the puppet-Ariki known as Teone Miritene.

The Ataata Kahuna, as powerful black mages travelling the land, have a role in overseeing the spirits of the dead. Other Kahuna have roles in regards to funerary rites, with the Pūhihi Kahuna purifying the dead, the Karetai Kahuna preparing the vessel for them to travel to Sawaiki and the Pirita Kahuna prommoting and appearently causing reincarnation, but not all spirits depart or are reborn. Many lay restless in the shadows of the world, in the domain of Hine-nui-te-pō, and become shades, pooling wherever it is dark. While not necessariy malevolent, the shades often lash at the living out of anger and resentment for various reasons, causing sickness and more direct deaths, and it is the job of the Ataata Kahuna to prevent this. The activities of the Ataata Kahuna limits and pacifies the shades: their very initiation rite further encourages the restless spirits of the Wairepomango to pool around the Grieving Moai instead of stalking the swamps, and soothes their anguish. Gradually, the Ataata Kahuna connect further with these spirits, even growing attached to the dark spirits, sympathising more readily with them than with the living.

The Ataata Kahuna do command the shades to do as they please, most of their magic being based on this spirit control, but instead of simply tools they view the spirits as extensions of themselves. Theirs is a strange form of spirituality, where ambition and desire for power lead to a communion and hollism with the dark forces of nature, just as with all the Kahuna. The Ataata Kahuna generally view or grow to view “normal” necromancy as abhorrent, though far too profitable to outright prevent it.

Many an Ataata Kahuna have left Wairepomango to travel around the word, seeking new opportunities elsewhere. They are rarely employed, though many seek their services as mercenaries and assassins, and many also seek them for services other Kahuna cannot provide. Other Kahuna orders respect the order for their role, with the Tahepuia Kahuna being the most sympathetic and the Pūhihi Kahuna at best paying lip service, but very often they too employ the Ataata Kahuna. The current Tohunga Ahurewa has all but stated to have disowned them as true Kahuna, something that has largely been extensively ridiculed by nearly all orders but the Pūhihi Kahuna.

Tahepuia Kahuna

The Tahepuia Kahuna have their sit of power within Rinomaunga’s temple, Tīrarae, and indeed Raiti and the Pirita Kahuna consider these to be the only members of the order. However, throught the Empire, many groups of Kahuna have taken the mantle of Tahepuia Kahuna, something extremely encouraged by the “original” order in Rinomaunga, stressing the foundation of the Kahuna orders by listening to nature and the spirits, and that true Kahuna are born from knowing universal truths, not esoteric dogmas. As such, the Tahepuia Kahuna are distributed across the Empire: wherever there is volcanic activity, there is a temple. Regardless, the Tahepuia Kahuna are free to wander off wherever they want, many travelling around the Empire to satisfy their wanderlusts, usually travelling along vaultlines out of comfort and a sense of safety. Travelling Tahepuia Kahuna are afforded a level of protection, though a priest’s destructive potential is often the subject of anxiety and extensive precautions.

The Tahepuia Kahuna on the Plateau are heralded as the greatest smiths of Matahouroa, fulfilling the army’s needs for metallurgical products with powerful and extensively refined blades and armours of various metals, crafted by shaping the liquid ores within the lava in the “pools” of Tīrarae, calling them forth into desired shapes. They are also greatly renowed as artists, and frequently commissioned by the wealthy to produce sculptures, either from materials in the liquid rock or from basalt and other already solidified stone. Many non-commissioned artworks are scattered across Rinomaunga, exhibitting the Tahepuia Kahuna’s sense of pride – or simple lack of concern – in showing even drafts and poorly executed pieces, though most of these statues don’t last for long, being consumed by the rivers of molten rock that flow from the volcanoes sooner or later. What comes from the magma will return to it one day, a “fact” that the Tahepuia Kahuna embrace and cheerish. Outside of Rinomaunga, blades and sculptures are also commissioned, though less so.

The Tahepuia Kahuna are the least politically involved of the Kahuna, generally preffering to avoid the meddling that other Kahuna engage in. They have no sit of power or management over any area, a fact that other Kahuna are more than happy to enforce just in case. Their policy of non-involvement obviously does not exclude them from civilisation, where they are just as easily respected and awed, their embrace of positive emotions and freedom earning them a reputation as wonderful, magnetic individuals… as well as hedonistic, ammoral and unconcerned with the consequences of their freedom by the Pūhihi Kahuna and mainland Pirita Kahuna. The military occasionally attempts to recruit Tahepuia Kahuna as battlemages, an offer more often than not refused, given the focus on positive emotions for the Tahepuia Kahuna, and incapable of being enforced. The extreme rarity of Tahepuia Kahuna in the military is much applauded by the Pūhihi Kahuna, Raiti claiming that “it’s the only form of decency they have, and the only right by which they can call themselves human, let alone Kahuna”.

The Tahepuia Kahuna have an absolutely open membership, any mage interested in their ways being invited to join their temples. They don’t have any stipulations for what they consider a “true member” of their order: as long as a mage listens to and connects with Matahouroa’s liquid rock blood, they are a “true” Tahepuia Kahuna. It goes without saying that Tahepuia Kahuna believe the heart and the earth’s whispers to be the foremost drivers, freedom to act as one pleases being the common right of all, though always with a special emphasis on the positive, more fullfilling emotions. The Tahepuia Kahuna are the only Kahuna that do not act in regards to the dead and the afterlife, believing that life and death alike are marked by the individual’s desires, and fundamentally not that different after all.

Pirita Kahuna

The Pirita Kahuna are largely restricted to Hinawahine itself; while a few groups on other islands do consider themselves “Pirita Kahuna”, the mainland ones generally regard them as delusional heretics at best. Nonetheless, the Pirita Kahuna are a rather large group, taking domain of Hinawahine’s vast forests. Their sit of power in the civilised world is Karatakara, where their “offficial” headquarters lie, the massive, vine covered temple known as Ponamuhoro. However, their true base is Karemauru, a massive natural fortress located on the montane forests in the highlands west to the Plateau, near the location of the Murmuring Moai. Karemauru is composed of several trees intertwined together, their branches connected together to form chambers and rooms, the center being an enormous Kauri tree. Recruits are found/join in Karatakara, and exact oaths of loyalty to the order and its secrets, before departing to Karemauru for formal training.

The Pirita Kahuna originally started mostly as rustic priests, helping farmers to grow their crops, warding off pests and enemies, prommoting favourable weather and fulfilling the normal duties as healers and overseers of religious events and traditions. While they regionally still fulfill these roles in Hinawahine’s lowland settlements – and indeed, the Kahuna who claim the moniker of Pirita Kahuna outside of Hinawahine still act exactly as this, having no consistent organisation to speak off -, the order as a whole has become a more secretive and esoteric organisation, moving away from civilisation aside from Karatakara, where their political center of power lies. They something of a double faced order: on one side, the Pirita Kahuna are the guardians of the wilds, tending to Hinawahine’s forests and rendering them and many of their flora and fauna Rāhui, while on the other they’re an elitistic political organisation claiming to preserve tradition and help manage the lowland settlements, controlling the “morally bankrupt” tendencies of the local ruling bodies and the integrity of the markets. In Karatakara, they’re more regularly and relevantly responsible for public religious services than the Pūhihi Kahuna, and are widely respected as the city’s moral center, but many suspect them of dark ambitions and conspiracy plots, conclusions that are not that far from the truth.

The Pirita Kahuna originally held a notion of simplicity as their core value, refraining from material goods if they interfere with their duty to the community and nature. They still at least technically subscribe to this ideology, refraining entirely from material possessions beyond instruments to channel their power, but in Hinawahine their duty has transfered to their order and its agendas almost exclusively. They are the overseers of the wilds, Hinawahine’s true voice; they believe themselves to follow the desires of Tāme, god of the forests and inspirer of the very existence of the Pirita Kahuna. The people’s common insterest is served by obeying to the divine will, and that goes without saying for nature’s well being. Kahuna that act in behalf of nature but to not devote themselves to this path are believed to be deaf to the murmurs of Tāme, and thus a mockery to the principles of the order. Renegade Pirita Kahuna, if not dead or defeated by breaking the Tapu of “disloyalty”, are hunted down and killed, their corpses desacrated in horrific ways.

The mainland Pirita Kahuna differ from both most other Kahuna and Hinawahine’s peoples in regards to their views of the afterlife. They believe that Sawaiki is forever out of mankind’s reach, and that Hinawahine, Tāme’s domain, should be mankind’s future residence. To this end, they enforce the reincarnation of the soul into people, animals or other races alike, preventing it from ever leaving to Sawaiki. They do this in a variety of methods, most blatantly by taking charge of funerary rite in many areas just as Karatakara. This rites are disguised as purification-of-the-body rites, but in reality they work to bind the soul to Hinawahine, preventing it from finding solace until reincarnating. Pirita Kahuna elsewhere also believe in reincarnation to be the best option, but generally simply guide and help spirits into this process.

Predictably, the “true” Pirita Kahuna also see any communities outside of Hinawahine as inherently blasphemous, a fact that they don’t bother to hide much…

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Matahouroa
Planeswalker's Guide
The Story

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Non-Human Races


Besides humanity, several other sapient races live on Matahouroa, and many non-sapient monsters. All these races have been the original inhabittants of Hinawahine and the other islands of the Empire, their interactions with humanity having evolved into cultural integration and ifluence, or vicious enemity.

Aven


Matahouroa’s islands are inhabitted by various bird races, whose history extends to immemorial times, thought to have flown in from faraway lands in the global oceans. Most of these have quickly adapted to the spread of the Empire, while others have become bitter enemies, or have preffered to cut off their ties altogether. A few have also seemingly gone extinct, a reminder that even the effords in the memory of Sawaiki don’t aways prevent exploitation and wars.

Pouakai

The Pouakai are Matahouroa’s enormous, robust eagle-like Aven, native to Hinawahine. With wingspans reaching as much as 5 meters and robust musculature and talons, they're naturally forces to be reconned with, being able to overwhelm large prey physically, subsisting entirely on wild game they hunt in the wilderness. Theirs is a rather simple society, living in egalitarian groups that gather in their strongholds like Kōmarumaunga, usually with no ranks stratifying their society.

In bygone times, the Pouakai had affable relationships with Hinawahine’s peoples, but they have become vicious enemies of the Empire. Immensely destructive wars were waged in the past, the scars of these battles still adorning the Plateau and its mountains. 2000 years ago, they almost ended civilisation, their armies at their peak and led by the infamous figure known as Te Hokioi, ravaging the Plateau and laying waste to Hiruhāramānia. Nonetheless, Ākala managed to defeat Te Hokioi, and the Pouakai armies were driven off. For two millenia the eagle Aven have remained fairly low key, mostly focused in their ancient residence that is Kōmarumaunga, though wandering off across the Empire’s lands, laying their vicious and destructive justice wherever they go. Generally regarded as wandering monsters, the Pouakai have been gathering in larger numbers in their ancient mountain, forming an army that is steadily growing in number.

The Pouakai also have somewhat strained relationships with other Aven. The most positive relationships are with the Kākāriki and Hoiho, which they regard with a level of overall indifference. They are partly hostile to the Parekareka, regarding them with general disdain but still willing to ally themselves with them opportunistically, sharing common enemies as they do. They have no tolerance for the Kawau, Kākākea and Alalā, largely considering them wicked pests and often resorting to genocidal extremes to deal with them, the favoured policy being to kill these Aven on sight.

Pouakai are coloured in golden or brown feathers, often with reddish head crests and white and black wings, and are generally adorned with gold armour that is made from Kōmarumaunga’s liquid metal lake. Without social ranks but that of a common leader – thought to be unoccupied for two millenia, since the defeat of Te Hokioi -, the Pouakai live in an ordered society where coordination is basically instinctive, and largely helped by its relative simplicity. Pouakai build immensely adorned and elegant, but structurally simple buildings, housing individual pairings; they are largely simply for the sake of resting and practising religious ceremonies, and are built to specifically never allow much privacy, as secrecy is at best frowned upon by the Pouakai. Worship is directed towards the celestial gods, with Rāo having particular promenience outside of public ceremonies and festivities. Like humans, Pouakai hold a strong sense of Tapu, though they believe that there is always an urgent need to physically and bruttaly enforce the violation of all Tapu, as opposed to the diverse and nuanced views humanity has on the matter.

The Pouakai form pairs, established through “marriages” out of common affection, that can potentially last for a life time, but very often don’t: challenging an individual for their mate is common in Pouakai society, and if accepted the challenger and the challenged fight to the death. If the challenger wins, they replaces the dead Pouakai as the new mate, and the former mate is given an honourable funeral, their body deposited in Kōmarumaunga’s gold lake. The one or two eggs and the subsequent chicks are raised by the couple, regardless of whereas the biological parent has been replaced – the Pouakai rarely consider blood relationships to be important for a family -, and then by the community as soon as down begins to be replaced by adult feathers. The same applies if one of the parents is dead, though given the general tendency for the dead spouse to be replaced this is not a necessariy common occurence.

Nearly all Pouakai magic is either oriented towards combat, empowering themselves or dealing severe damage to the opponent, or oriented towards healing. The former is inherent to the race as a whole, each individual Pouakai gradually specialising in various different forms of battlemagic, while the latter is learned by choice, often by consulting the gods during religious ceremonies. Divine inspiration is considered to be the primary drive for becoming a healer, and thus it’s considered a more refined type of magic.

Parekareka

The Parekareka are cormorant-like Aven native to Hiriwa, distinguished from their cousins, the Kawau, by their bright white feathers forming lines from the head to the chest along the neck, as well as their bright blue or green naked faces and their strange double crests. For the longest time, they were Matahouroa’s most advanced race until the Empire colonised Hiriwa, in which they freely surrendered and offered to share their technology and knowledge. Currently, they are widespread across Matahouroa’s archipelagos, though still favouring their homeland. Due to the extreme hatred expressed by the mainland Pirita Kahuna, as well as ther own self-inflicted conflict with the Kawau, the Parekareka are afforded extensive protection when in Hinawahine.

Originally coastoal fishers, most Parekareka nowadays preffer a more civilised lifestyle, working as researchers and information managers, more often than not in conjunction with the Karetai Kahuna. Many Parekareka inhabit Karetai Kahuna temples, and basically live as higher ranking members of the priestly class. It is generally thought that the Parekareka shaped the order into its current state, influencing its politics, practises and overall development. Even their emphasis on the reflection is an aspect of Parekareka philosophy. Many consider the Karetai Kahuna the attempt of the Parekareka to establish political control on the Empire, a semi-successful attempt as the Karetai Kahuna basically run Hiriwa in all but officiality. Regardless, the Parekareka are favourable towards their Karetai Kahuna peers, enjoying the intellectual sympathy. Gradually, several Parekareka came to favour the Pūhihi Kahuna instead, admiring their moral zeal and communitary instinct. Some Karetai Kahuna, in turn, have also turned to the Alalā, much to the general displeasure of the Parekareka.

The Parekareka have a more stratified society than most Aven, though these ranks mostly simply work to organise procedures, more analogous to the rank and file within an hospital rather than social castes. These ranks are flexible, disbanded and [re]formed whenever the Parekareka as a whole feel that such is necessary, being generally democratically discussed. Parekareka society is generally meritocratic, rewarding inovators and deligent workers. The top of the Parekareka hierarchy is currently occupied by Purūpī, which has risen to the top through both several scientific discoveries as well as his diplomatic work.

The Parekareka share a common ancestry with the Kawau, a poorly understood origin that has been interpreted in a variety of ways, the majority of the Parekareka believing the Kawau to be a stray population that colonised Hinawahine long ago. At any rate, the Parekareka have a common disdain of the Kawau, viewing them at best as crude and degenerate, and as abominations worthy of murder at worst. Parekareka have on occasion launched genocidal campaigns against their Wairepomangu cousins, creating a perpetual atmosphere of distrust and mutual hatred between both races. The Parekareka don't see the other Aven that much better, usually baring a contempt that occasionally manifests as bigoted murder. They have a special disdain for the Alalā, whom they compete with for information and influence, though they are more tolerant of them than of the Kawau.

Kawau

The Kawau are another group of cormorant-like Aven, distinguished by their black feathers, yellow face and throat patches and green/blue eyes. They dwell almost exclusively on the Wairepomangu, though some sporadically travel the world. Frequently assaulting naval vessels that pass through the swamp, as well as the city of Koronitiwa, they are often considered a nuisance, but the more skilled of the Kawau can be exceptionally dangerous, surpassed only by the Ataata Kahuna in terms of skill with the swamp’s darker magics. While a few do draw contracts with Pango in order to have acess to the Grieving Moai, many more draw quicker, but more perilous contracts with other entities in the swamps. Kawau are as a whole mostly specialised in necromancy, ressurecting the dead as their armies and using body parts to power their magics, but millenia worth different techniques have allowed a pretty diverse range of magical practises, from umbramancy to potion brewing.

Compared to the rest of Matahouroa’s Aven, the Kawau are generally pretty individualistic, preffering a solitary existence when not forming bandit gangs. They don’t have a solidified culture to speak off, pretty much doing whatever they feel like doing. Many exploit abandoned houses or wrecked ships to form their homes, though most construct tree houses on Wairepomango’s canopy. Kawau originally fished on the murky waters, and are still good swimmers and divers, but they now preffer to steal or buy their food. A few also eat human carcasses, but most preffer to not do so, as their stomachs are poorly equipped for rotten flesh, and many a Kawau would rather preffer to apply it in necromantic work.

In spite of their solitary tendencies, Kawau are, like all Aven, generally monogamous, and seek a partner. The disconnect between their self-centered tendencies and these romantic cravings is legendary, having originated several local expressions for contradictions and dichotomies, as well as euphemisms for domestic abuse. Alas, most Kawau pairings are brief relationships, but some couples manage to last until death departs them. A Kawau has no obligation towards his or her eggs and chicks, and abandonment is not unknown. Regardless of whereas a Kawau decides to raise the young, the siblings have instinctual hatred towards each other, and will try to murder one another at any present opportunity, and generally only one manages to survive to adulthood.

Kākākea

One of the two parrot-like Aven races, Kākākea can be found across Matahouroa's mountains, both on the Hinawahine Plateau and on other islands; "wherever a mountain has naked rock, the Kākākea have impregnated it". Curious and playful by nature, these Aven are the most chaotic of their kin, saboutaging and inspecting everything against other people's wills... and their own better judgement. Visiting planeswalkers often reffer to them as "bird goblins", and in all fairness this isn't far from the truth, for their antics are reminescent of those of goblins elsewhere. For obvious reasons, conflicts between them and the Empire are nothing short of common, though they are officially in peaceful terms. They are allied with the Patupairehe, and bear very positive relationships with the Tahepuia Kahuna, whom they view as their brothers in artistry and passion. Relationships with other Aven vary: the Kākāriki seem them as wild and unpredictable, though still bond over their mutual playfulness; the Parekareka and Pouakai are at best contemptuous and at worse launching the occasional genocidal campaign; and the Hoiho, Alalā and Kawau are largely indifferent, the former via rare contact and the latter two somewhere between legitimate alliance and opportunistic use of Kākākea chaos and destruction.

Kākākea gather themselves in massive colonies, with no leadership or structure whatsoever, being rather like huge gangs. They do know some agricultural techniques, and their expertise in craftmanship ensures a well established trade with the Empire. However, a vast proportion of their resources still comes from either hunting-gathering or from thief and piracy, looting and pilaging villages whenever they see fit. More often than not, this is just an excuse to satisfy their curiousity and/or love for destruction. Kākākea do share a common love for aesthetics and beauty, and much like corvids they like to steal "shiny" things. Their houses - built in a variety of ways, from simple caves in the mountainside to elaborate huts, more often than not prioritizing beauty over praticality - are usually filled with the trophies of their exploits, though whereas they are exhibited for all to see or hidden to avoid theft depends on the individual. The latter only provokes Kākākea curiousity and desire, however, so if anything possessions are safer on the outside. Though not by much.

Like all Aven, Kākākea are monogamous, and view romantic passion as a very serious business. Marriage rituals performed by other peoples are often viewed with contempt, seen as trivialising what only the heart can determine, and as such they don't bother with any ceremonies to establish their families.

Kākāriki

The Kākāriki are the smallest of the Aven, with a wingspan of around a meter-and-a-half. They resemble parakeets with green feathers and a red forehead, often with yellow areas sparsely across the body. Native to Inanga and Hinawahine, they have since spread across Matahouroa’s archipelagos; wherever there is a forest, a Kākāriki colony is almost certain to be there as well. The Kākāriki form their homes on the forest canopies, forming treehouse villages crafted carefully as to not distrupt the trees’ growth. Some of the more experienced crafters build tree houses from the trees themselves, creating shelters by intertwining tree branches and by expanding natural tree holes into vast chambers. A few groups also live in savannas and other plains, still building their homes in trees: in these cases, individual trees are enlarged and have their growth affected into forming formidable fortresses.

Largely peaceful, the Kākāriki have a policy of neutrality, though they are rather altruistic, and lend a hand to people lost in their territories. They have a positive relationship with non-Hinawahine “Pirita Kahuna” and the Tahepuia Kahuna, and they commune often with non-human races like the Patupairehe and the Hoiho. In turn, the Empire as a whole turns to them a blind eye, though their reputation and free spirited trickesters is the subject of much cultural fascination and depictions in storytelling. The mainland Pirita Kahuna have however an extreme hatred for the Kākāriki, having a policy attacking and murdering them on sight. The Aven take this threat rather lightly, though nonetheless all Kākāriki go through extensive self-defense training in case of Pirita Kahuna attacks.

The Kākāriki specialise mostly in plant magic, their natural affinity for nectars and sap having converted into an extensive knowledge of brewing potions, and their tree dwelling lifestyle having converted into biomantic carpentry. They gladly share this knowledge who whoever is friendly to them, and indeed the medicinal knowledge acquired by non-mainland "Pirita Kahuna" has saved many lives.

Hoiho

The Hoiho are [naturally] flightless, yellow-eyed penguin like Aven native to the island of Inanga, once widespread in Hinawahine’s coastoal forests, including Hiriwa, but now gone from these areas. A rather secretive society, the Hoiho make their homes in the dense forests of the island, only leaving to fish in the sea. They are thought to largely live in small communities, raising the young communally and tending to their ancient sacred groves. Inanga’s “Pirita Kahuna”, Pīngao Taika and Kākāriki interact with them on a daily basis, forming a shared, trusting community, and bridging the Hoiho's secretive ways with Inanga's local society.

The Hoiho are known for their ancestral knowledge. Many paint their plummage with distinctive tattoos, said to be Matahouroa's history written in strange, unique characters. Knowing the meaning of these designs is not a spoken or even taught affair, but rather the result of years of extensive spiritual growth and epiphanies. The Hoiho that bear these tattoos do not necessarily know the meaning behind them, but hope to keep this lore alive, encouraging onlookers to develop their prowess and come to understand their meaning. The Hoiho as a whole do know extensive elemental and aether magic, having a special connection with oceanic mists.

In recent years, Purūpī has attempted to enlist their aid in his project, for reasons only he - and some of the Hoiho - fully understand. Inanga's penguin Aven have consistently refused his proposals, hiding themselves from passing Parekareka. In turn, Purūpī has turned to more violent methods.

The planeswalker Maramawhā is a Hoiho, and in recent times has returned to her homeland of Inanga after a long period of absence. The island is now her base of operations, and the Hoiho as a whole aid her in her plans to bring peace to Matahouroa.

Alalā

The Alalā are a mysterious race of raven or crow like Aven. Once ruling through a chain of islands known as the Marutīni, their civilisation fell soon before the first invasions of the Empire some 600 years ago, for rather unclear reasons. Now, the surviving Aven are scattered throught the Empire, with a sizeable population in Hiriwa, where they associate themselves with the mercantile elite and, occasionally, with the Karetai Kahuna. They are almost never present in Hinawahine, fearing the influence of the Pirita Kahuna and competition with the Kawau, who are hostile to them as well.

The Alalā are operate mostly as mercenaries and spies, associating themselves primarily with the mercentile class and non-Hinawahine Ataata Kahuna. In particular, they share with the latter a spiritual connection with shades and the spirits of the dead, but though some Alalā pay handsomely to acquire tears from the Grieving Moai, they largely resort to stranger, more eldritch magics with no parallel in the rest of Matahouroa. Many are associated or even lead secret dark cults, leading to an overall distrust from the Empire and even regional attempts at extermination. However, the Alalā always remain one step ahead, rarely facing commeuppance.

In Hiriwa, the Alalā have managed to infiltrate the mercantile class, and compete directly with the Parekareka, leading a secret arms race against the cormorant-like Aven, who despise them almost as much as the Kawau. The official policy of the Karetai Kahuna is to stand alongside their Parekareka allies against the Alalā, but some have taken to secretly consult these Aven as well, particularly younger, more inexperienced clerics seeking to gain an advantage in their circles. Thanks to a combined effort on the part of the Karetai Kahuna and the Parekareka, the Alalā haven't yet gained access to the Scolding Moai, but many feel that it's just a matter of time.

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Last edited by Heliosphoros on Mon Mar 23, 2015 11:25 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:39 pm 
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The military, always recruiting members from all walks of life, has had an increasing political influence for the past few centuries, embodying a face of social potential and ascension in the face of previous rigid caste systems. Already frequently the ruling power in external colonies, it entered in vicious competition with the Kahuna in terms of political power, a secular government body against a theocratic one. Now, both groups have utterly displaced other factions/social grades at the position secondary to the royal line, forming the actual government body with the monarch as the figurehead. And “Prince” Whēuriuri came to favour the military out of the two, rendering the Empire almost entirely under martial law.

^This has quite a bit of potential in terms of plothooks.

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And in so doing, they will miss the whole **** point.”


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 3:45 pm 
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Thanks! Indeed, it's part of the main conflict that will kick off the storyline.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:01 pm 
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Just so you know, I probably won't have the chance to get to this until Monday. I'll try, but I can't make any promises.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:41 pm 
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That's okay. It's still not completed, I have the other races and the Moai and [DATA DELETED] to add.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 5:11 pm 
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Other Races


Manaia (Merfolk)

The Manaia are Matahouroa’s merfolk, their lower bodies those of seahorses and their mouths with a distinctive beak instead of teeth, akin to that of parrotfish, hidden by the lips. Their civilisation extends all over the plane, spread beneath the waves, but the sea around Hiriwa is an important location for the Manaia, drawn to the Scolding Moai’s power. While they have public good relations with the Empire and the Parekareka, the secret of the Scolding Moai is kept from them, something not helped by Purū’s rather cryptic presence. As such, the Manaia have taken this into their own hands, trying to manipulate their way into the Scolding Moai.

Manaia society can best be described as a self indulgent, constantly back stabbing aristocracy, served by octupus like servants known as the Wheke. Although very similar to the cephalids of other planes, they are non-sapient, being basically like a mixture between a pet and a slave, living to tend the Manaia’s every need. The Wheke’s dutiful servitude is only one example the Manaia’s extensively biomantic society, warping sea life like corals into forming their underwater cities. The Manaia constantly inovate their realm, creating progressively more bizarre organisms that are basically their tools.

Tipua (Demons)

Tipua are Matahouroa’s horrific demons, born from the immense concentrations of mana in the Wairepomango, and to a lesser extent other swamps. Physically they tend to have bestial traits, resembling grotesque amalgamations of rodent, bat, dog and sometimes human flesh, bearing disgusting appendages and many mouths and eyes. Most Tipua are basically malicious predators, stalking the swamps for prey they don’t need to consume, and suddenly and violently destroying and absorbing their prey’s flesh and soul. Some, however, have acquired a dark intelligence over the centuries, and tempt Kawau and humans alike with promises of power, always granted but with a fatal price.

Pango, Wairepomango’s Taniwha, hunts down and kills the Tipua, who live in perpetual fear of the beast, a delicious irony apreciated by many who live in the swamps. Several Tipua escape the Wairepomango, however, invading Hinawahine’s lowlands and sometimes even flying or swimming their way to other islands, though some are born in other, less notorious wetlands. Out of the Wairepomango their cruelty can go unchecked, spreading diseases as they please. Hunting down these Tipua becomes thus the task of the Taniwha and Kahuna in the vicinity, many elaborate rituals having developed over the centuries to ward off the demons and call forth the attention their killers.

Patupaiarehe

The Patupaiarehe inhabit the forests of Hinawahine, particularly the woods that border the Plateau. They strongly resemble the elves from other planes, being lithe, sharp-eared and agile, though with pale white skin and bright red hair. Their history is long lost to time, and some believe them to be the descendents of the passengers of another of the five Hōkūleʻa that came from Sawaiki, though the Patupairehe maintain that they are the older inhabittants of the whole plane. Regardless, most Patupaiarehe avoid contact with humanity, except for those that interact with Rinomaunga’s Tahepuia Kahuna, and those that live on the mountain slopes near Karatakara, who feel that the city has stolen their land, and thus have a long history of conflicts and assaults. In recent years, outright fighting has become more rare, yet more violent whenever it occurs. Occasionally, some Patupaiarehe lure people into the woods with their flutes, and blocking one’s ears is said to be of utmost importance when travelling alone in montane forests.

The Patupaiarehe live in small tribes, generally governed by a council of shamans, without any stratification below them. Music is an important aspect of Patupaiarehe culture, their favoured instruments being flutes, and it is through music that their magic is weaved; the greatest way to find sympathy from a Patupaiarehe is to offer him/her an exquisite instrument. While definitely not hesitant in using violent force, Patupaiarehe stress the value of trickery and humiliation of the opponent before applying violence, finding it to be more effective than raw strength. In spite of their conflicts, Patupairehe do have a strong value for hospitality, and will provide for lost wanderers that aren’t part of their grudges.

Taika

Large, anthropomorphic thylacines, there are three main groups of Taika: the Pīngao Taika, that inhabit Inanga, the Hāura Taika, that inhabit the mountain ranges in the north and west of the Plateau, and the Ware Taika, living south of the Ingikiwai, with several, lesser known groups living in between. It is thought that the Taika once had a unified nation spanning Hinawahine and the nearby islands, but gradually lost it or gave it away to the Empire.

Taika culture differs greatly between the individual groups, though a few traits do remain consistent. The Pīngao Taika have largely been incorporated into Inanga's human society, living alongside humans in the villages. They are particularly associated with the local "Pirita Kahuna", sharing natural wisdom with them, and offer a bridge between them and the more insular Hoiho. The Hāura Taika, on the other hand, interact agressively with the Empire, raiding the smaller settlements on occasion, and on occasion attacking the Patupaiarehe. The Hāura Taika is similar in some respects to that of the Pouakai, a warlike people that subsists primarily by hunting, though led by an “alpha”. These alpine Taika don’t see eye to eye with the Aven, however, both competing for resources and finding the other a mockery of their culture, solely not at open conflict because of their common enemity for the Empire. Meanwhile, the Ware Taika have a primal, matriarchical, shamanistic society, avoiding contact with all other races, reminiscing of times long gone.

All these societies have very similar traditions, preserved in spite of the isolation. All three Taika societies place an emphasis on a sense of morality independent from Tapu, to know what is intrinsically right and wrong by heart rather than enforced rules, though obviously this is expressed by vastly different philosophies, with the Pīngao Taika taking a humanistic approach, the Hāura Taika violently retaliating against offenders in a way no better than those who enforce Tapu, and the Ware Taika meditating and listening to the spirits. Regardless, all share the common trait of being the only sapient race on Matahouroa unaffected entirely by Tapu.

Dragons

Known as Tama-nuit-te-Whiro or Whirotātea, Matahouroa's dragons occur throught the plane's volcanoes and mountaintops, being most common in Rinomaunga. They resemble massive winged tuataras, breathing fire, lightning or noxious gases. With slow breeding rates – taking ten years to reach sexual maturity, and laying eggs that take an year to hatch – and unarmoured skin, they are generally content with remaining in the relative safety of the mountaintops, but every once in a while one descends to the lowlands, wrecking and burning everything in its path in search of prey, which can often be humans. The Tahepuia Kahuna have a particular endearment for these dragons, occasionally taming them as familiars, and indeed the Tama-nui-te-Whiro are a common motiff in the sculptures made by the Kahuna. The dragons tend to be rather cunning animals, and a perfect alignment between the beast and the Kahuna is necessary, lest the human become prey.


Taniwha

The Taniwha are large, aquatic reptilian creatures similar to mosasaurs, and by extent to leviathans and serpents from other planes. However, there is a strong divine component to their existence, being more akin to minor deities than animals. They are born from the spiritual essence of the waters all across the plane, mana gathering to form massive pearls from which they hatch. They can and do lay these egg-pearls themselves, though that is a rare event. They are technically immortal, but can be killed; murdering a Taniwha is severe Tapu, that usually results in instant death.

Being aquatic creatures, the Taniwha can either be bound to a specific area, or roam nomadically. Most Taniwha born in freshwater are bound to their lake or river, though many are instead bound to coastlines, deltas, bays and similar oceanic features, including portions of the sea bottom. Bound Taniwha are invariably beneficient guardians, protecting waters deemed as Rāhui and frequently acting in the service of the local people, though disrespect both for the Taniwha and their sacred space are harshly punished. Nomadic Taniwha are usually born either on the open sea, though some can be born in rivers. They roam about randomly and can be quite destructive, acting more as standard sea monsters. Both bound and nomadic Taniwha are nonetheless treated with respect, and offerings to appease them are the norm.

Five great Taniwha protect the waters around the Moai. They were all born when the stones were erected, spawning from the great concentrations of mana that accumulated soon after. Fed by the strong mystical energies emanating from the Moai, they are among some of the most powerful beings on the plane. They lend their efforts to protect their sacred posts, often working for the benefit of the local human communities.

- Kiwitea : Protector of the Plateau, Kiwitea dwells in the Kapongatakere river, blessing and purifying its waters, and rising in powerful waves when the Plateau is threatened by outsiders. Adorned with pearly, shining scales, Kiwitea once crossed the river every night, illuminating it like an underwater sun, but in recent memory he has seldomly done this, spending more and more of his time hidden within the underground lakes beneath Hiruhāramānia. Throughout most of Hinawahine’s history, Kiwitea served as a messenger for Lālākea-kupu, with the Pūhihi Kahuna and even commoners descending to the river’s shores and communing with the Taniwha in a variety of ways. But as time went by, the Pūhihi Kahuna rejected Lālākea-kupu, and while many citizens still venerate the shark god, Hiruhāramānia’s Kahuna have successfully made the possibility of speaking with Kiwitea forgotten. Nonetheless, the monarch, the Tohunga Ahurewa and a few other people still descend to the caverns to speak to the ancient being.
Kiwitea, historically remarked as a calm, radiant presence, is described by the few who interact with him on a daily basis as melancholic and austere. In recent years, he has warned of a coming threat, which he won’t fight against.

- Purū : Purū dwells in the seas around Hiriwa, supposedly guarding them. She is very rarely seen, spending most of her time in the ocean depths, between the coastoal coral reefs and the abyssal realms. Not even the Manaia see her frequently, Purū’s presence being exceptionally subtle, her normally cobalt scales reflecting and allowing light to pass through in a myriad of ways in order to make her invisible. It is said indeed that Purū has very little interest in fulfilling her duty, though on the rare occasions in which Hiriwa is attacked she manifests powerful sea storms and sends hordes of sea monsters.

The Karetai Kahuna, Parekareka and many other Hiriwa mages summon her on occasion, communicating with her via divination. Her answers are usually very cryptic and bizarrely structured, creating riddles that even the most experienced mages have immense trouble deciphering, testing thus the intelligence and worthiness of anyone who bothers to call upon her. Those who do successfully solve her riddles are rewarded handsomely for their trouble, not only acquiring the desired knowledge, but arcane secrets desired in even a subconscious level. The Alalā and Manaia both seek her, yet she refuses to interact with them, often even violently repelling their forces away.

- Pango : Guardian of the Wairepomango, Pango is a sinister presence that is rarely seen, but frequently felt. With pitch black scales, he is hidden in the depths of the swamp, only his milky white eyes betraying his enormous bulk. Pango faithfully does his job, hunting down swamp monsters such as the Tipua and other enemies of Koronitiwa, stalking them in the murky waters silently, before suddenly striking and crushing them with his jaws. However, he also serves another purpose, to protect and grant access to the Grieving Moai. To this end, he seduces mages with whispers of power, tempting them to make contracts with him. These contracts are often rather twisted and potentially rather cruel, but Pango does keep his word, and rewards the mages with the secret of how to bypass the ravenous hordes that protect the Grieving Moai. These mages become the Ataata Kahuna, who are at Pango’s ultimate mercy due to the strength of these contracts. Nonetheless, Pango does occasionally absolve a contract if it grows bored with that person.

- Hīwera : Residing in the geothermic lake in Tīrarae, Hīwera is a fickle creature, infamous for her temper. Whenever she feels like it, she floods forth the burning, bubbling waters of the lake, having little concern for who gets scalded. Often she leaves for weeks at a time: the geothermic lake is thought to be connected to a system of underground lakes and caverns, in turn connected to nearby rivers and streams, which she often floods over in scalding torrents. Nonetheless, she always returns, and turns these very lethal waters against any intruders who would desecrate Rinomaunga. Hīwera's passion is greatly admired by the Tahepuia Kahuna, who offer her crafts and food in return for inspiration, advice and precious gems and ores present in the depths of her underground lake system, which she generously offers.

When she leaves through the streams and rivers, she often makes her way into the sea. When she does, she almost invariably shows up in areas where there are local Kahuna identifying themselves as Tahepuia, before returning to her lake. This is taken as proof that external Tahepuia Kahuna are true members of the order, a fact that the Pūhihi Kahuna and the Pirita Kahuna have taken extreme dislike to, reffering to her as “the undutiful Taniwha” and “worthy of death”.

- Torouka : The Ingikiwai river is the home of the Taniwha known as Torouka, protecting the mighty river from its source to its mouth in the Wairepomango. Torouka prevents monsters from Wairepomango from swimming upriver, oversees the passing vessels, and exercises the life giving properties of Ingikiwai, blessing crops and providing healing knowledge to those that seek it. He also manipulates the natural cycles along the river’s shores, speeding up the arrival of nurturing rains and guiding the spirits of the dead in the cycle of reincarnation or departure. In turn, it’s a tradition by all in the vicinity of the river, from farmers to Karatakara’s high merchants, to offer sacrifices to the Taniwha, usually in the form of food, though the esmerald-scaled beast will accept anything given honestly. Usually easy to please and rather nurturing, Torouka has been growing restless and more temperamental in recent years, something that the Pirita Kahuna have observed with interest.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:20 am 
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Moai


When mankind arrived to Hinawahine, five great statues were carved, to mark and celebrate their own homeland and to establish holy places where the realm of the gods would be closest to mankind. These statues, the five Moai, have dotted on Matahouroa places where the power of the divine realms flows through, creating immense pools of mana widely sought after by just about any mage on the plane – and visiting planeswalkers. The individual Kahuna orders have their main headquarters placed in the vicinity of these Moai, and the five great Taniwha wander the waters around them, tending and protecting these sacred statues.

The Invoking Moai

Located in Hiruhāramānia, the Invoking Moai’s location has been progressively more elevated as the city grew, and now it is located in the royal shrine at the center of the Palace, where it is regularly visited and tended by the Pūhihi Kahuna and the monarch. The Invoking Moai is made of pristine alabaster, with its eyes made of gold, constantly radiating a white light from them, which can cure most illnesses. It is set on an expression of awe, and indeed it stands as the mediator between mankind and the celestial gods, which are said to speak through the Invoking Moai. A series of marble plates lay before the Moai, on which are written messages from the gods, normally taken to be divine law, though frequently manipulated by the Pūhihi Kahuna. Meditating before the Invoking Moai is said to open the mind to the gods, and indeed the Pūhihi Kahuna use it to establish a permanent connection to Rāo, blocking out other divine influences.

The Scolding Moai

The only Moai outside Hinawahine, the Scolding Moai is a bit of a mystery in regards to its origins, though it is thought to have been built by now extinct tribes that lived on the island. Made of a light grey, almost metallic looking rock, the Scolding Moai is located in the bay of Tapukokoru, a bay that stretches well inland into the center of Hiriwa. Its waters are calm, with only the most subtle waves, tinged with a bright cyan glow, thought to come from the minerals in the Moai’s rocks. The Scolding Moai’s existence is well known, but its precise location is kept as a secret, ensuring that only the Parekareka and the Karetai Kahuna have access to it. The Moai’s name come from its rather austere fixed expression, and those who tend to it and use its power claim that they feel as if reprimanded, scolded for not living up to their potential, driving them forward to do so.

The Grieving Moai

Rising from the Wairepomango at the center of Koronitiwa, the Grieving Moai is made from what appears to be lead, with a fixed expression of heartwrenching sadness, crying black tears that add up to the swamp waters. These tears are often thought to be noxious contamination, but in reality they are simply pure mana, which diffuses in the Wairepomango waters. For obvious reasons, many seek these tears, but between them and the Moai there are hordes of ravenous shades and other spirits that attack anyone who dares approaching, and add their disembodied soul to their own. Only those who learn from Pango can bypass these spirits and use the tears, humans who do so being instantly declared Ataata Kahuna. The Ataata Kahuna tend to this Moai, describing the feeling as provoking severe depression, but strongly empowering their magics.

The Chanting Moai

The Chanting Moai rises from the geothermic lake at Tīrarae, standing right beneath its pyramidal roof’s center. It is fixed on a grinning, joyful expression, and the Tahepuia Kahuna who tend to it claim that it prommotes happiness and other positive emotions, expressing themselves as excited hymns and powerful songs. Its chanting is said to inspire great sculptures and other artworks, encouraging the Tahepuia Kahuna to express their joyful and carefree lives to the fullest, overwhelming sadness and frustration. In return, the Tahepuia Kahuna through offerings to the lake, usually made from non-metallic objects like wood and bone. Unlike most Moai, whose sphere of influence, while wide reaching, is ultimately tied down to their location, the Chanting Moai is said to be felt and heard in all volcanic areas aside from Kōmarumaunga, influencing the Tahepuia Kahuna everwhere where there is techtonic activity. The Tahepuia Kahuna maintain that the same applies to all Moai, something considered by members of the other orders, but generally not expressed aside from non-mainland Pirita Kahuna.

The Murmuring Moai

Located at the source of the Ingikiwai, the Murmuring Moai, like the Scolding Moai, also has its location a secret, violently enforced by the Pirita Kahuna. Many do feel its influence, however, and often climb the river to try to commune with it, listening to its whispers. They are usually hunted down and viciously murdered by the Pirita Kahuna, though many consider the risk worth it. The Murmuring Moai is set on an expression of bliss, yet of a barely discernible worry, said to whisper urgent advice. The Pirita Kahuna commune with this Moai, learning the meaning behind these whispers, and delibaterely ignoring it. They consider the urgency behind the Moai’s whispers to be a necessary evil, and indeed the final test of loyalty for the mainland Pirita Kahuna is to test whereas the new recruits are loyal the order or follow the Murmuring Moai’s pleas. If the latter, they are treated even worse than the people who follow the river.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 5:07 pm 
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Something experimental this time, following the style of canon guides.

***

Planeswalkers


Maramawhā


The Hoiho mystic known as Maramawhā is native to the plane of Matahouroa. Like most of her kind she was a native to Inanga, where she lead a normal but unsatisfactory childhood, her desire to explore stiffled by the necessary secrecy of her people. One day, in her late childhood, she meditated under a Kauri tree, attempting to connect with its spirit. This lead to a momentous epiphany: she witness a glimpse of the Blind Eternities, and understood the vastness of the Multiverse, ripe for her to explore. She held herself back, however, not wanting to break her tribe's trust, and for several years this wasted opportunity would gnaw at her.

Eventually, however, she was forced to leave. During one fateful morning a Parakareka scout noticed her and noticed something about her. They darted off, but that same night Inanga was raided by mainland Pirita Kahuna, who brutally slaughtered most of Maramawhā's village. In the ensuing chaos, she was captured by that very same scout, intending to take her by force to Hiriwa. Seeing no option, and no longer having a home to return to, Maramawhā planeswalked away, evading her captor.

Since then, the Aven has been travelling the Multiverse, free to explore to her heart's content at last. For many years she deliberately strayed clear from her home plane, both to avoid drawing attention of that Parekareka and because she felt guilty over her tribe's death. However, she began to feel restless and anxious, realising that her past guilt had started to become a mental block. After a moment of introspection in Theros, she decided to put aside her own past, and return to Matahouroa, both to remove this block, to redeem herself, and to satisfy her own curiousity, since she only ever interacted with a small part of her homeworld.

What she found upon arrival was a world of possibilities she never before realised... and danger on the horizon. As tensions build from all sides, Maramawhā sees an urgent need to prevent utter collapse, to intervene before it's too late. Now, she has returned to the island of Inanga, which became her center of operations. Rallying the Hoiho tribes, she works to save Matahouroa, all the while still avoiding detection from the Parekareka.

Something easier said than done...

Panahihou


Another Aven planeswalker, Panahihou was born on the swamps of Wairepomango, as befitting his nature as a Kawau. He and his brother Pukehou were abandoned by their own parents, given to their mad uncle Hinuhou, one of the most infamous necromancers on the plane. Their childhood was nothing to be envied at: their uncle's complete slaves under the threat of death, at best they could hope to be his starved errand boys, and at worst whatever he could use them for profit. Suffice to say, neither of the brothers have very fond memories of their childhood, but both grew closer together than usual for Kawau siblings, seeing as there was no way to gain favor from their uncle.

Eventually, Panahihou's servitude to his uncle came to an end. In his mid-adolescence, he was sent to fetch corpses from a fallen village, when he run across a group of Parekareka enforcers. Driven by their ages old prejudice, the Parekareka immobilised him with an arresting spell and left him to drown in the swamp waters. In sheer desperation, Panahihou's spark ignited, and transported him to Kamigawa, where he'd be the slave of a gang of Nezumi for another year, before he was saved and informed of his nature as a planeswalker.

Following this, Panahihou lived life to the fullest, trying to make up for all the years he felt he lost. No earthly pleasure could satisfy his resentment, however, and gradually anger lead him to return to Kamigawa, where he slaughtered his Nezumi enslavers - and whoever got in the way. Feeling partly satisfied and confident, he finally returned to Matahouroa, with the intention of getting revenge on both his uncle, his associates and the Parekareka. He hopes to also find his brother, and if possible to free him and see his ascendancy to power on the swamps, though he doesn't expect a particularly warm welcome.

Upon returning to his homeplane, Panahihou run into Maramawhā. It was she who released him from his Nezumi captivity, and for this the Kawau acquired a degree of gratitude for her. The two planeswalkers established a pact of cooperation, trying to aid each other in their goals. Fortunately, these goals largely coincide: both want to see the Parekareka removed from power, and Maramawhā bears no particular fondness for the Wairepomango warlords.

For now, he too tries to remain under the radar, though taking a more proactive approach. Whenever Maramawhā needs someone dead, Panahihou complies.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 6:25 am 
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Fixing some gendered pronouns.

Anyways, last part to come today.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 11:25 am 
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Purūpī's Plan


Purūpī is the current leader of the Parekareka, and almost by extension Hiriwa. Through many years, he chose a carrier path as a diplomat and ambassador, rising in glory and authorithy in his society through external work. His work as a representative in fact ensured his eventual position at the very top of the Parekareka ranks, establishing alliances and support when Matahouroa's political landscape couldn't possibly be more unstable. Most noteworthy is his pact of alliance with the Tohunga Ahurewa herself, a feat almost miraculous given her previous denouncement of Hiriwa.

In more recent years, however, Purūpī has stepped aside from his former role, only taking part to represent Hiriwa's interests in audiences on the Plateau. As expected from someone in his position, he takes a proactive role in the management of Hiriwa's law and order; though the Parekareka and the Karetai Kahuna have generally established a puppet rule through the ruling elite, Purūpī has taken a more open display of his dominance, actively managing the law enforcement and other major civic systems within the island. This has earned him a level of respect from the Empire's military, but ignited previous suspicions about the true power of the Aven and the local Kahuna. If Purūpī cares about this, he clearly isn't showing, and actually seems to be encouraging hasty judgement, deeming an eventual confrontation necessary.

Rather, he has also dedicated his efforts to more clandestine operations. Using the power of the Scolding Moai, Purūpī has cast a mass enchantment that turned all of the Karetai Kahuna into his unwitting spies, instantly gaining a network of information suppliers throught the known world. Additonally, he was the first Parekareka leader in centuries to set aside his prejudice for the Alalā and hire them as spies and mercenaries, an operation no one within the Karetai Kahuna or his own species is aware of. This move has proven to be a strategic success, having caused the untraceable demise of hundreds of his enemies and the smuggling of resources for his research, though keeping his mercenaries in line has began to take its toll on Purūpī.

Both the open enforcement and the spy network are merely parts of his larger, broader project. This plan began soon after his alliance with Raiti, who is the only person in Matahouroa to know the full scope of his designs. His rank and file Parekareka and Karetai Kahuna know only the broad strokes, as research dealing with the study of aether and time. Very few earnestly believe this to be the true purpose, but Purūpī has turned his underlings' curiousity into an asset. Through the Karetai Kahuna, he has enough information to be able to manipulate the complex and ever-shifting hierarchy beneath him, knowing how to turn their deligent efforts to do whatever he deems fit. The Karetai Kahuna temples have become the spectacle for numerous aetheromantic experiments, as well as the hoarders of countless scrolls detailing Matahouroa's reccorded history. All knowledge is zealously guarded against the Manaia and the Alalā, though many of the latter do have a better understanding of his end goal than most of his official followers.

As part of his plan, Purūpī has been trying to enlist the aid of the Hoiho, Inanga's mysterious penguin Aven. No one is quite sure as to why, though it is speculated that it has something to do with their own culturally archived knowledge of Matahouroa's past, as well as their unique aether magic. The Hoiho have consistently refused his offers, hiding themselves from his Parekareka scouts and other envoys. In turn, Purūpī has turned to more violent methods, laying waste to Hoiho communities in the hopes of terrorizing them into joining him. Whenever his servants can actually find them, of course.

One particular incident happened several years ago, when one of his scouts noticed a particularly unusual Hoiho, bearing an unique aether signature. The envoy delayed this information to Purūpī, who understood it for what it really was. Manipulating the Pirita Kahuna, he laid waste to her home village, and his scout successfully captured her. However, much to his dismay - and fear -, she planeswalked away. Following this development, Purūpī has deemed any further attempts at her capture a wasted effort, and though he still works to persuade the Hoiho most of his efforts have been directed elsewhere.

Unknown to him, however, that Hoiho eventually returned to Matahouroa. Now, vaguely aware of his machinations, one of Maramawhā's main priorities is to stop him.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 11:25 am 
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Purūpī's Plan


Purūpī is the current leader of the Parekareka, and almost by extension Hiriwa. Through many years, he chose a carrier path as a diplomat and ambassador, rising in glory and authorithy in his society through external work. His work as a representative in fact ensured his eventual position at the very top of the Parekareka ranks, establishing alliances and support when Matahouroa's political landscape couldn't possibly be more unstable. Most noteworthy is his pact of alliance with the Tohunga Ahurewa herself, a feat almost miraculous given her previous denouncement of Hiriwa.

In more recent years, however, Purūpī has stepped aside from his former role, only taking part to represent Hiriwa's interests in audiences on the Plateau. As expected from someone in his position, he takes a proactive role in the management of Hiriwa's law and order; though the Parekareka and the Karetai Kahuna have generally established a puppet rule through the ruling elite, Purūpī has taken a more open display of his dominance, actively managing the law enforcement and other major civic systems within the island. This has earned him a level of respect from the Empire's military, but ignited previous suspicions about the true power of the Aven and the local Kahuna. If Purūpī cares about this, he clearly isn't showing, and actually seems to be encouraging hasty judgement, deeming an eventual confrontation necessary.

Rather, he has also dedicated his efforts to more clandestine operations. Using the power of the Scolding Moai, Purūpī has cast a mass enchantment that turned all of the Karetai Kahuna into his unwitting spies, instantly gaining a network of information suppliers throught the known world. Additonally, he was the first Parekareka leader in centuries to set aside his prejudice for the Alalā and hire them as spies and mercenaries, an operation no one within the Karetai Kahuna or his own species is aware of. This move has proven to be a strategic success, having caused the untraceable demise of hundreds of his enemies and the smuggling of resources for his research, though keeping his mercenaries in line has began to take its toll on Purūpī.

Both the open enforcement and the spy network are merely parts of his larger, broader project. This plan began soon after his alliance with Raiti, who is the only person in Matahouroa to know the full scope of his designs. His rank and file Parekareka and Karetai Kahuna know only the broad strokes, as research dealing with the study of aether and time. Very few earnestly believe this to be the true purpose, but Purūpī has turned his underlings' curiousity into an asset. Through the Karetai Kahuna, he has enough information to be able to manipulate the complex and ever-shifting hierarchy beneath him, knowing how to turn their deligent efforts to do whatever he deems fit. The Karetai Kahuna temples have become the spectacle for numerous aetheromantic experiments, as well as the hoarders of countless scrolls detailing Matahouroa's reccorded history. All knowledge is zealously guarded against the Manaia and the Alalā, though many of the latter do have a better understanding of his end goal than most of his official followers.

As part of his plan, Purūpī has been trying to enlist the aid of the Hoiho, Inanga's mysterious penguin Aven. No one is quite sure as to why, though it is speculated that it has something to do with their own culturally archived knowledge of Matahouroa's past, as well as their unique aether magic. The Hoiho have consistently refused his offers, hiding themselves from his Parekareka scouts and other envoys. In turn, Purūpī has turned to more violent methods, laying waste to Hoiho communities in the hopes of terrorizing them into joining him. Whenever his servants can actually find them, of course.

One particular incident happened several years ago, when one of his scouts noticed a particularly unusual Hoiho, bearing an unique aether signature. The envoy delayed this information to Purūpī, who understood it for what it really was. Manipulating the Pirita Kahuna, he laid waste to her home village, and his scout successfully captured her. However, much to his dismay - and fear -, she planeswalked away. Following this development, Purūpī has deemed any further attempts at her capture a wasted effort, and though he still works to persuade the Hoiho most of his efforts have been directed elsewhere.

Unknown to him, however, that Hoiho eventually returned to Matahouroa. Now, vaguely aware of his machinations, one of Maramawhā's main priorities is to stop him.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 11:29 am 
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I should probably mention that I also edited the Hoiho somewhat.

Might add a pronunciation guide if deemed necessary.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 8:11 pm 
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Okay, so I've now read this. As I like to try to do, let's start with the positive! (I'm still sick, so I'm still not commenting of typos, though I did notice several throughout)

Holy doughnuts, there's a lot here! You put some serious thought and effort into this world, and I applaud you for that. I think you do a good job of keeping the world together and on theme. You clearly have a very solid mental picture of the geography of the world, as well as the history and the culture. This does feel like a pretty interesting and fully realized world.

There are also a number of nice plot hooks you leave throughout, which is good. I like the idea of the sea serpent creatures and their color-specific personalities, as well as the whole concept of the Moai as strong focal points of mana. I like your raven/crow Aven, and I like nearly everything about your grand conspirator guy, with the singular except of how he basically controls every blue mage on the plane? I'm probably over-simplifying, but still, the way he just miraculously manages to exert his will over that entire group of Kahuna bothers me, from a story-telling standpoint.

Now, for the negative:

Spoiler

Sorry...

Anyway, you're very consistent with your naming conventions here, but I'm afraid I just can't access them. At all. I mean, I JUST read this thing, and don't think I can name a single proper noun. I remember Kahuna, if that counts. But seriously, I couldn't tell you the name of the plane if it wasn't in the subject line. Maybe other people won't have that problem, I don't know. But I feel as though I would need an encyclopedic atlas of this plane to have a chance as accessing any story set on it. I mean, I completely understand the desire to give everything a unique and culturally significant name, but speaking for myself, it just makes the reading process way too daunting. I seriously gave up with all the "X faction is allied with Y and Z, but secretly opposed N while openly despising M" stuff, because I just couldn't keep all the names straight, and I wasn't nearly invested enough to go look up each one every time it came up.

On the plus side, I did learn that "maunga" is Maori for mountain. So there's that.

I'm also mildly (just mildly, mind you) concerned about the sheer number of Aven on this place. There are a ton of them, and two of them are both based on cormorants, which I had to look up to be able to visualize (again, that might just be me. I'm not expert on birds.) I'm also not personally fond of the seahorse merfolk. It just seems to me like you're pushing the "weird" in a few too many places. Again, others may disagree, but that's my feeling.

So anyway, that's about all I've got. Like I said, world-building threads are not my favorites, but for what it's worth, I appreciate the effort you clearly put into this, and I do honestly think there's a lot of good stuff here. I just personally can't get past the names.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 9:56 pm 
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Thank for your time. I know worldbuilding is now sucking the joy out of you, but I'll produce more down to earth stories soon. As for the stuff that you liked, that great please my heart. For Purūpī, he didn't turn all Blue mages, just the Karetai Kahuna. By no means unimpressive, but still more down to earth than Big Brother.

I knew the names would be a problem. :(

Its kinda of too late now to rename everything, but again I can establish as pronunciation guide in order to ease things up.

The amount of Aven is kind of a point: Matahouroa is not only based on cultures were birds composed the bulk of all native wildlife, but also prommotes Bird Tribal!

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 10:12 pm 
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The amount of Aven is kind of a point: Matahouroa is not only based on cultures were birds composed the bulk of all native wildlife, but also prommotes Bird Tribal!

Well, like I said, it's only mildly problematic for me. It's not a huge deal, and I could see it as a "selling point," as it were. You know, "Birds everywhere, just like Dragons in Tarkir!" Okay, now I made myself sad...

I knew the names would be a problem. :(

Its kinda of too late now to rename everything, but again I can establish as pronunciation guide in order to ease things up.

It's not that I can't pronounce them (I mean, I can't, but that's not the problem) it's that I can't recognize them. They all blend together. Like, if you just threw out pretty much any one random proper noun, I don't think I could tell you if it was a person, a place, or a thing, and I certainly couldn't tell you what it was specifically. Unfortunately, I don't know a fix for that, unless you're will to use names interchangeably, or literally explain it to the reader as you go. ("The raven-feathered Alalā crouched." or something...)


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 11:57 pm 
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You do still have the seahorse merfolk and elven tribes, as well as the dragons and demons for your diversity. I like the seahorse/parrot fish appearance you've given the mer. If you wrote some stories on this plane, I would suggest a guide be included that clues the reader in on what's what. That lets you keep the description and detours into the meaning of your plane's unique elements to a minimum. Instead, you're dropping us into the middle of a scene where the people interact with one another and their world in a way that feels more natural.

This is what I aimed to do with that short story of mine about the efreet, so that's a bit of it in action. I throw out the efreet, the Tzhel, the nodes and let you see how they interact rather than unload it in a bit of exposition that breaks the pacing.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:27 am 
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I'm always willing to elaborate when it comes to narration, but as Cateran says pacing is quite a legitimate concern. Balancing between information and streamlining sounds like a fun challenge. May even help somewhat, as it could help in poetic language.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:28 pm 
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Xenofiction is a major challenge. When done carefully and with a masterful hand, it can be extremely evocative and interesting, but there is an inherent risk that comes with that. The alien nature of xenofiction means that it can be very difficult, if not impossible, for your Readers to engage with the work.

I think one trick with this particular world would be that, when writing stories for it, try to use as few of the proper nouns as you can so that you don't overload your readers with terms that they won't recognize and, in most cases, won't want to spend time on. Again, I'm mostly speaking from my own point of view, but if I need to have a world guide open in order to understand a story, I'm not particularly inclined to read that story, and I'm certainly less likely to enjoy it. Like I said, it's not that it can't work, it's just that you're setting up potential hurdles for your readers.


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