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Dice Inside the Great Maker - Exalted Lore

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Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Kamak
A funicular as large as an apartment block hums softly as it descends a precipitous eighty-degree slope of ice-crusted brass and steel. Its cloaked Populat passengers sit in warm, comfortable booths, lowering their muffling scarves to sip from mugs of hot kaff as they peer out through the funicular’s broad, tinted windows. Outside, beams of light leap from the funicular’s lamps to illuminate the veils of snow falling from above. Blue flashes flicker distantly, their source hidden in the icy mists—lightning, perhaps, or a firefight with Estasian raiders.

Of all the Eight Nations, Kamak may fall farthest from the norm. Its orbit through the Reaches is the most eccentric, taking it into the coldest zones of the Pole of Metal; this also gives it access to the largest deposits of the magical materials outside of Xexas and Loran, making it the richest nation in the Octet. The Kamaki are a people of extremes, ruled by their code of privacy in public, while privately obsessed with family and romantic love. They are an uncouth enigma to the other nations, isolated by wealth and pride. But they cannot survive alone. Kamak must come to terms with the changing world or fall with it.

LAYOUT AND LANDSCAPE
Where other nations are comprised of rounded or tubular chambers that run parallel or perpendicular to gravity, Kamak’s chambers are both unusually shaped and laid at odd angles, like a fistful of three-dimensional puzzle pieces tossed into a jumbled heap. Shapes range from regular polyhedra to kinked and twisted tubes to amorphous, irregular spaces. Sizes likewise vary, with shafts fifty miles long situated alongside cysts less than a mile in diameter. Their conjunctions often lead to mild temblors. Flat horizontal surfaces rarely occur naturally in Kamak. Most of those which exist have been engineered into that shape over the millennia. Some of the nation’s settlements stand atop slick metal summits or saddle-back ridges; others cling to narrow ledges or jut out from escarpments. Still others are spread across multiple ledges or outcroppings, connected by swaying metal bridges. But most lie embedded within the nation’s walls: networks of corridors and chambers built of concrete and steel, tucked away from the cold and the winds and the stark cliffs and chasms.

Sophisticated trams and funicular lines run across the icy slopes and through miles of illuminated tunnels, steam rising from their heated tracks. Obelisks of red jade three meters tall, their surfaces inlaid with convoluted thaumaturgical sigils of orichalcum, hover above settlements and stopping points, emitting zones of warmth to stave off the encircling cold.
WEATHER
Kamak is the coldest of the Eight Nations. Its course through the Reaches takes it through areas whose temperature often drops well below freezing. When combined with water vapor ejected from steam conduits, this makes it the only nation whose larger chambers are subject to snowfall. Unlike Creation, Kamak has no regular seasonal cycle. Temperatures change erratically as the nation moves through the body of the Machine God. Nonetheless, its people divide its climactic variations into three seasons. “Warm season” encompasses those times when the temperature is above freezing. Sometimes these periods are actually warm, or even hot, but they never last for more than a few months. “Snow season” encompasses times when the air is cold and dry; breath steams in the air, while frost crackles on metal and glass. Worst is “ice season,” when rime and freezing rain encrust every exposed surface with ice. In settled areas and along thoroughfares, red jade obelisks and steam conduits are employed to alleviate the worst of the cold. Surfaces that need to be kept free of ice—such as tram tracks, walkways, stairs, ladder rungs, door frames, and the like—are typically warmed with an Essence-charged mesh of red jade alloy embedded in a layer of corrugated artificial rubber.

AN ICY FACADE
Kamaki architecture is plain and subdued. Metal and concrete are left bare or painted in muted grays and blues. Structures go unadorned except for essential informational glyphs and simple, understated architectural motifs—stylized gears, huge bronze masks depicting the austere, emotionless visage of the Maker, and the like. The propaganda posters and murals found in other nations are conspicuously absent.
Only the ubiquitous red jade obelisks splash the scene with color. There are exceptions, such as grandiose administrative buildings and ostentatiously ornamented Sodality chapterhouses. But most Kamaki facades convey little and conceal much.
The same applies to the public face of the Kamaki people themselves. In public spaces, they wear dark, heavy garments even in the rare spates of warm weather. Sleeves are worn long enough to cover the wearer’s gloved hands; hats are large and shapeless, covering most of the traditional Kamaki hair-braids. Collars are trimmed with fur; boots are massive, with detachable cleats for icy weather. Most importantly, the lower part of the face is always hidden behind a voluminous scarf or half-mask, exposing only the eyes and soulgem.

INNER WARMTH
Entering a Kamaki dormitory commune is like going from night into day. The interior of a commune is a warm, brightly lit place, painted in vivid colors not to be seen outdoors. Furniture is ornate; floors are covered with plush carpet or elaborate parquet tile; walls are hung with jewel-toned reproductions of great paintings and murals from across the Octet. The Kamaki are as open in private as they are withdrawn in public. At home or in the workplace, away from inquisitive eyes, they can show their faces, smile and laugh, consume intoxicants and play games. Their personal space contracts markedly in private, permitting easy, intimate contact among co-workers, friends, neighbors and family. Indoor clothing is lighter and more brightly colored, marked with intricate patterns and precious metal embroidery.
RULES OF HOSPITALITY
Hospitality is vitally important in Kamak. Other than Sova, this is the only nation where travelers risk death from exposure. As a result, a citizen may sometimes have to admit a stranger to her home to save their life. The Kamaki have evolved elaborate social customs over the millennia to deal with such situations. Any guest in the home is escorted first to the hearthgem—a fist-sized mass of red jade set into the base of a wall niche, its flat upper surface radiating as much heat as a small fire. The guest is offered food and drink, an overture which is rude to decline. The meal is then warmed atop the hearthgem. Only after it has been served can any sort of business proceed.
Petitioning someone for hospitality is distinctly uncomfortable for many Kamaki. No matter the need, intruding on another’s private space—or having another intrude upon it—goes against the grain of their upbringing and culture. “Vethem’s Solace,” a classic song in the lector’s repertoire, narrates a traveler’s death as she, unwilling to trouble the strangers who live in an unfamiliar commune, succumbs to the elements just outside the commune’s door.
Of course, not everyone is thus troubled. Invoking the hospitality rule to maliciously intrude on a stranger’s—or enemy’s—privacy is a crime punishable by ostracism among the Lumpen.

THE ARTS
Singing and chanting are the most common sorts of Kamaki music, but instruments are used on occasion. Drums are beaten outdoors to keep time in work groups; though audible at long distance, the sound is pitched low enough not to be intrusive. Indoors or in communal courtyards, stringed instruments may be played softly. Storytelling and music are slow, sonorous and utterly formalized. Many tales and songs have remained unchanged across thousands of years. This has anchored their discourse against change, making the Kamaki dialect sound archaic and stilted to other Autochthonians, closer to Old Realm. Dancing is only performed indoors and in communal courtyards. Certain traditional dances are performed solely between husband and wife, and they are passed down to one’s children. Those who do not master the dances in childhood can ask for training from their lectors.
MARRIAGE
Personal relationships are lauded in Kamak in a manner alien to most of the other nations. Marriage—between members of the same or opposite genders—is a sacred union, said to mirror the relationship and love between mortals and the Great Maker. Wedding vows have the support of law; spouses can easily and effectively petition to share an apartment, and their superiors cannot reassign them to different locales or schedule them for incompatible work shifts. Marriage is a deeply personal bond, but it is a part of public life. Wedding vows are traditionally performed in the couple’s shared commune courtyard in front of their combined social circles. Afterwards, each spouse is tattooed upon the temple—a spot that’s always visible, even when dressed for outdoors—with an elaborate double knot symbolizing their relationship.
All citizens are expected to marry at some point in their lives. To be unwed past the age of thirty suggests a flaw in one’s character; unwed citizens face a glass ceiling, and all high-ranking individuals are married or widowed. For unmarried citizens, celibacy is less dishonorable than serial monogamy, and cheating on an unwed partner results in becoming a social outcast. Adultery is punishable by exile, while divorce is forbidden. Citizens in unhappy marriages receive counseling from their lectors. It’s not uncommon for a bereaved spouse to remarry after a year of mourning. Champions are not obligated to marry as mortals do.
This does not prevent them from trying. Occasionally an Alchemical marries a mortal, only to watch him or her wither with age over the decades. Still, there’s much to be said for the benefits of such a love. Marriages between two Alchemicals have traditionally gone far more poorly. There are few things more painful to a Champion than for one’s spouse to succumb to Clarity. Kamak takes an extremely dim view of false wedding vows taken just because workers don’t want to be relocated or reassigned. The couple to be wed must provide evidence of their union to the officiating lector. A child conceived by opposite-sex spouses constitutes automatic proof of commitment. Same-sex couples lack this option for obvious reasons. (Marriage has little impact on Kamaki child-rearing practices; offspring are raised in communal crèches as normal.)
Foreigners rarely understand the significance of Kamaki marriage. Most see it as a decadent practice, one both absurd and grotesque, in which individuals put their personal interests ahead of the needs of the state and the Machine God.

The two nearest neighbors to Kamak are the nations of Estasia and Yugash. Relations between Kamak and Yugash are excellent, and pneumatic trains full of goods and supplies are frequently sent out of Ein and other Kamaki cities to the struggling nation. Tensions are high between Estasia and Kamak, however. The militant forces of Estasia have made several incursions into Kamaki space, raiding supplies and taking hostages. It is only due to the wealth of Kamak granting the construction of many of the Maker’s Champions that have kept Estasia from mounting a full scale invasion of both Yugash and Kamak.

Sova, one of the farther nations from Kamak, is recovering from a brutal war with Yugash that has ended just ten years ago, and Kamak’s aid to their former enemy does not sit well.

Claslat, the largest and most powerful of the Eight Nations, is far enough away from Kamak that any contact with that nation is rare. Relations with Claslat are cordial.

Gulak is the farthest nation from Kamak at the moment, and as such, there is hardly any contact with the people or Champions of this country.

Jarish is the most religiously devout country in all of Autochthon, and they consider any nation that does not share their level of belief to be heretics that deserve to be struck down by the Maker. The only thing keeping the country of Jarish from full warfare is their lack of resources to be able to field an army.

Nurad is a nation on the brink of the Void, and all the neighboring nations are watching this country as a possible future of all the Eight Nations of Autochthon. Unless something drastic happens for this troubled nation, its people and great cities are doomed.
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Hanging in midair where a dozen mile-wide diagonal shafts come together, the metropolis of Ein resembles a starmetal egg snared in a steelweaver’s web. It’s anchored by slim, graceful buttresses that stretch out in all directions, with pneumatic trams and funiculars gliding silently atop them. Cables strung alongside crackle a brilliant blue as they carry lightning to and fro. In cold weather, the lightning burns frost away amid gouts of steam. Yards-long icicles gather underneath the buttresses and beneath the city-heart. Every so often, an icicle breaks free with a thunderous crack and plunges into the freezing fog that swirls through the abyss below.

Ein is the nation’s heart and its monument. As rich as the rest of the nation is, Ein is richer. Corridors are wider and brighter; housing is larger and better-appointed. The architecture is less subdued, more intricate, more baroque, with every façade gilded with flamboyant glyphs made from magical materials. Personal vehicles and automatons are more prevalent and more impressively built. Even the food is of higher quality, being prepared by Gulaki-trained chefs in a variety of styles.

The people of Ein are more cosmopolitan than their fellow Kamaki. Their speech is quicker and peppered with foreign expressions. Some of them talk to one another outdoors, occasionally even coming within arm’s reach of one another. The most daring and decadent young people wear mesh scarves in public that are positively see-through. Kamaki elsewhere hold such behavior to be arrogant and shameful. The city’s Sodality chapterhouses are a hotbed of theotechnical inquiry. Surgeons from across Autochthonia come here to study prosthetics design and implantation, while Scholars practice the craft of automaton design.

When Ein herself needs to act on the world, she opens the metal irises of her Synthetic Agent Assembly Sequencers to unleash swarms of remotely controlled biomechanoids—crystal flies, fix beetles, steelweavers and the like—programmed to do her bidding. They repair damage and perform maintenance, but in times of strife make an effective weapon. At Ein’s core is her Lightning Regulation Matrix. Coronas of blue-white sparks crackle around massive coils of orichalcum and starmetal, which are themselves wound about rotating shafts of crystal and white jade. Webs of copper mesh protect the workers attending the Matrix’s prayer consoles from stray levinbolts. This Municipal Charm normalizes the flow of electricity through Kamak’s lightning conduits, preventing dangerous energy build-up without interfering with the Maker’s neural pulses.

Near the city’s center is the Garden of Creation. It is among the greatest wonders of the Eight Nations, made in imitation of the pre-Autochthonian landscapes described in ancient texts and seen in relic dreamstones. Beneath a domed ceiling of lapis lazuli set with twin lamps of orichalcum and moonsilver, beds of vibrant-hued flowers sway amid a sward of viridian grass. Dragonflies buzz lazily through the air; rabbits and foxes peer from the shadows of an emerald leaved hedge. These things are not real—the flora and fauna are cunning simulacra handcrafted from metal and enamel, nothing more—but to a people who have not touched the earth or seen the sky for 5,000 years, they are a marvel beyond compare or understanding.

The city’s Tripartite Assembly is made of:
Autocrat Garret of the Olgotary is a former Regulator that has moved up the ranks to be the city’s chief law enforcement officer. He is a man in his fifties, and he is in the last year of his current term as Autocrat, and is currently beginning to campaign for reelection. His chief rival is an Adjudicator named Sandra, and the upcoming election is expected to be quite fierce.
Celebrant Mera of the Theomachracy is a woman that has just celebrated her fifty-fifth year of age, and has taken to her calling as Ein’s spiritual leader with gusto. Celebrant Mera can frequently be found spending time out and about in the populat, spreading the gospel of the Great Maker and stamping out heresy. She is driven to make sure that Ein is free from the scourge of the followers of the Void, and is the most feared member of the Assembly.

The five Sodalities of the Populat that make up the rest of the Tripartite Assembly are led by:
The Glorious Luminors are under the direction of March, a man in his late seventies and is much venerated by the people for the gift of light and warmth, and is by far the most popular member of the Assembly, and easily has the most influence in the counsel. He is the one that usually speaks for the five Sodalities in matters of state.
The Illustrious Conductors are led by Riku, a middle aged woman with no sense of humor that takes her work of gathering nutrients and other raw materials from the conduits that run throughout Autochthonia very seriously.
The Pious Harvesters are led by Hammon, a distasteful fellow that is resentful of the lack of respect that the Harvesters are given by the rest of the populat. In the wealthy city of Ein, he is seen as a lowly collector of garbage and the dead, and feels that he is underappreciated.
The Prolific Scholars work under the leadership of Romas, the youngest man of the Tripartite Assembly. Given his current position due to the influence of his wife in the National Tripartite Assembly, he is in the awkward position of trying to prove himself to be worthy of his post on his own merits and not just due to the political workings of his spouse. It remains to be seen just how well he can do.
The Meticulous Surgeons are under the control of Tuk’Tanorn, a visionary that has dedicated herself to devising a cerebral implant that can be used to rehabilitate criminals. Her encephalic web, a lacework of moonsilver alloyed with starmetal and soulsteel, irreversibly alters the recipient’s personality, compelling him or her to eschew undesired behavior and act in accordance with the mores of Kamaki society. Her prototypes seem to be having the desired effect on her test subjects, and Ein’s Tripartite Assembly is ready to approve their use.

The National Tripartite Assembly, while based in Ein, spends most of their time traveling about Kamak and to the various nations on diplomatic jaunts. They are:
Autocrat Moro, wife to Romas of the Scholars and the nation’s head lawman and the de facto general of the military.
Celebrant Ixias, the spiritual leader of Kamak and a man of great age and wisdom.
Luminor Akumyo, the newest appointee to the National Assembly, and she is also the youngest at the age of 50.
Conductor Kedemna, a very handsome man despite his 65 years, and a notorious womanizer.
Harvester Lio, he is the oldest of the National Assembly, and is in failing health and not expected to live out the rest of the year.
Scholar Jorst, a man in his early seventies, he has served on the National Assembly for nearly two decades.
Surgeon Rufiko, a woman with so many cyberware implants, some say she is more machine than human.

Being the capitol of Kamak, Ein is also home of the most Champions of any Kamaki city. They include:
Thrice Blessed Saber is the eldest of Ein’s Champions. A Colossus made of the Starmetal Caste that is nearly two thousand years of age, he is expected to lead a party out into the Far Reaches soon to establish a new Paratopolis for Kamak.
Thousand Gears of Industry is an Orichalcum Caste fresh from the Vats, and she is anxious to find her place amongst the other Champions of Ein.
Excellent Inquisitive Analyst is a member of the Moonsilver Caste, and he frequently works among the people in secret to root out Voidbringer cults in conjunction with Brilliance in Shadow.
Brilliance in Shadow is a Champion of the Soulsteel Caste, and he has placed himself in the position of chief interrogator of the suspected Void cultists that are brought in by Analyst.
Hammer of the Populat is a Jade Caste, and is the most popular of the Champions, spending much of his time helping the workers in their shifts in the many factories of Ein.
 

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