The Devotion of Mikadosh

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The Charioteer

PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 2:43 pm   Subject: Re: The Devotion of Mikadosh

The Devotion of Mikadosh
After quiet centuries of reconstruction, the shattered Kobolts of Mikadosh have stepped once more into the affairs of Zanzibar. By some mysterious sundering, the Doshi satrapies of the inter-era Shadow Empire have rallied around their own standard, proclaimed their own risen nation… and the incontestable truth of a new divinity.

Nation name: Devotion of Mikadosh/Devoted Provinces
Demonym: Devoted/Doshi (religious/ethnic)
Race: Orcs
Deity: Yunva
Magic: Path, some combination of planar, gold, and possibly shadow and/or fire (combination pending final publication of paths).
Polity: Urban League
Government: Theocratic Confederacy
Languages: Lingua, Silhalin (Elite)

Kobolts have never resembled the orcish races of popular history. Far from hulking, muscled giants the Doshi take after lean humans in their build, with quick, nimble fingers and taught, wiry muscles. Their skin ranges through shades of brownish green, and much significance is attached to the tone of an individual’s pigmentation, although the meaning has changed somewhat during the Doshi’s long asylum in the silent empire of the Shadows.

Scholars or elder chosen will immediately identify marked changes between the re-emerged Doshi and their Epsilon ancestors: the brash self-confidence and conspicuous individualism is long gone. Where once top hats, waistcoasts and sashes in a hundred colours prevailed, the Doshi now sport the tight-fitting, practicable robes that are the national uniform of the Unification. Where these are dyed at all, the universal choice is a rich, deep crimson.

In addition to this, face marks are not uncommon. Chalk, charcoal dust and ashes are mixed into pastes and daubed into often intricate patterns, often swirling thorn branches or other forms which mimic the natural chitinous decorations of the Dahra.

Gone too is the carefree, chaotic and casually violent spirit of old Mikadosh. The new Doshi have had their hot spirits tempered in the chill waters of defeat and long centuries of asylum. Whilst not the near-silent machines that Shadow hives can sometimes resemble subjects of the Devotion strive to comport themselves in a calm, contained and purposeful manner, channelling their energy, ingenuity and emotions into work and prayer rather than wasting it in idle revelry.

The social structure of the Devotion shows clearly the strange fusion between the natural instincts of the Doshi and the alien strictures of their Dahric former masters.

At its core, Doshi society would be vaguely recognisable were one of their ancestors to be transplanted into a Devoted settlement. Despite having eschewed the semi-mendicant shifting suburbs of Mikadosh in favour of decidedly sedentary living, extended clans and family networks still serve to bind neighbourhoods and villages together as they did in ages past.

Yet there are no bosses now: city and especially religious authority is fiercely respected, the tendency towards independent gangs ruthlessly discouraged. Additionally local and clan loyalty is cut across by a new form of social institution adopted from the Unification: the castes.

Unlike those of the Shadows, the castes of the Devoted are not all-consuming facts of existence. It is not known whether they actually possess any legal weight at all in the Devotion constitution. Rather, they appear to be an affectation of sorts, a quirk of cultural mimicry.

Despite overwhelmingly favouring red if given the opportunity to wear coloured clothing, many Doshi accessorise or trim their clothing with items of white, black, or grey, and take these colours for their body painting. Members of the same caste appear to prefer to socialise and worship together, even partner, but this does not appear to be enforced as it is amongst the Shadows.

Skin colour
To Kobolts, the colour of one’s skin has always mattered. In the freewheeling city-state of old Mikadosh pale skin and especially albinism were taken as a sign of divine preferment, and with a handful of exceptions all the bosses of the old order were drawn from the pale faced echelons of Kobolt society.

This belief system is one that the Doshi have carried with them into their new society, where it has combined with the cultural mimicry of the conquered into a highly if inconsistently racialized social order.

Despite the absence of a formal caste system, Devotion society conspires to exert great pressure on children with markedly pale or dark skins to pursue the careers for which destiny has apparently chosen them. Exactly what destiny this is appears to vary depending on the superstitions of each city: to some pale skin marks the blessing of Hruyun, divinity of action, and heralds a military career, whereas to others dark skin that mirrors the armour of the Black Shadows surely portends this.
Whilst none of this is uniformly enforced, it is not uncommon to find that the great majority of a city’s military officers, sorcerers, administrators and priests tend towards the dark or pale.

For the most part, Kobolts speak Lingua. Most never had need to learn another, for life in their semi-autonomous refugee settlements did not require interaction with their Shadow hosts. The Dahric tongue, Silhalin, was first the preserve of those bosses who acted as colonial governors of sorts and then, in time, of the priests of Yunva and those skilled Doshi who left to ply their skills in the mythic, gleaming hive-capitals of the Unification.

This class distinction remains to this day. As a religious tongue Silhalin is the language of the priests, in which they conduct the grand communal prayers and rituals of the Faith. Urban Doshi, particularly but not exclusively of the self-styled “White”, will also be fluent. Amongst the rural population Silhalin is disseminated far less widely: the peasantry will know the prayer songs by heart, but for particular intercessions they depend upon the services of literate priests or other aids.

Aside from this, Lingua is the day to day language of government and commerce inside the Devotion.

The natural energy of the Doshi, harnessed and given focus by their newfound dour piety, has produced an industrious populace. Like the Dahra, Doshi craftsmen view their vocations acts of worship and meditation, as religiously significant as prayer and processions. Whether weaving, tea-making, smithing or farming, the Devoted attend to their allotted tasks with formidable zeal, and small shrines are almost ubiquitous in places of work.

Despite this, theirs remains a craft-based economy. Having built up from relatively isolated refugee camps, scattered like an archipelago through the Shadow demesne, the Doshi have no tradition of mass production and standardisation. Whilst some Doshi artisans may control large workshops and numerous apprentices, especially those involved in producing military materiel, the heart of Doshi industry remains the inspired individual, their assistants and their workshop.

To most travellers, the opening of the Devotion remains utterly perplexing. The Doshi prefectures had been as isolated and unobtainable as any portion of the Unification for generations, their green-skinned inhabitants equally mysterious – more so, to those who had resigned themselves to the unknowability of the Dahra.

Those who do venture beyond the watchful but permissive sentry posts encounter a guarded, cautious people. Greetings are rare, and field workers or townsfolk will often stop to stare at disconcerted outsiders until such time as they have passed from view.

Trade, and the Doshi do trade, is primarily conducted inside special and strictly controlled quarters of Devoted cities and townships. Contact with rural Devoted does not appear to be forbidden forbidden but is not encouraged, and in any event is seldom worth the trouble.

As best as can be made out, the Devotion is a confederation of semi-autonomous former Dahric prefectures, united primarily by religion. Each city of the Devotion bears what seem the obvious hallmarks of having been a centre of administration under the imperial government, and appear to have altered their responsibilities little.

Each city governs a hinterland of fortified towns, villages, hamlets and farmsteads. City officials collect taxes, dispense justice, and oversee the disbursement of Devotion money and resources inside their territory. Each is ruled, in the Dahric fashion, by a council of nine, nominated by ballot and approved by the priesthood.

It is the sorcerer-priesthood of Yunva that appears to provide the basis for the Devotion’s central government. Their hierarchy appears to transcend the borders of the various cities, and it is they who interpret the omens of earth and heaven to divine the will of Yunva, the god star, and direct the energies of the Devoted toward Its purpose. It is this priestly supremacy, symbolising how the Doshi have given themselves to their new godhead, that lends the new state its name: the Devotion.

For all the autonomy they were given inside the Unification, the worship of another god was not permitted the Doshi and the church of Pyrus was extinguished. In its place has arisen a new priesthood of the Faith, the religion of the astral divinity of Yunva.

The Doshi and the Dahra share a religion, rather than simply a god, and travellers through the Devotion would recognise many of the religious ceremonies and traditions described by those view visitors to the Unification. Shrines and standing stones are common, secluded meditative gardens and still mirror-pools a common sight. The Devotional calendar moves to the rhythm of the stars and seasons, dozens of significant events marked by processions, dances, recitations, holidays, pilgrimages and more.

Yet there are marked differences too. Many of these are rooted in Silhalin’s status as the divine language of prayer, and the fact that many rural Doshi speak no more than a few sentences learned by rote as a child. Thus every Devotion settlement will have at least one literate priest known as a prayertaker, whom pious Doshi can ask to assist with any particular and atypical prayer they wish to make.

Sometimes this priest will pray for them, on other occasions they will provide prayers written onto paper ribbons which can be burned at shrines. On other occasions prayers in Silhalic script will be carved onto gongs, and counted as recited when struck in accordance with certain meditative traditions.

The other means by which the Doshi religion stands apart is its emphasis on fire – a relic, no doubt, from the church of Pyrus. The Doshi illustrate the balance between light and dark with flickering, coloured firelight in shadowy temples, whilst priests cast hallucinogens into the embers to seek enlightenment in the smoke.

An interesting quirk of the Devotional religion is the legacy of the old Kobolt casinos, which survive today in the form of taverns which double as dice houses. Here the Doshi play a unique dice-game based on their religious mythology, with dice representing the higher and lower elements and crests on each face representing some form of natural event. The aim, by saving crests and re-rolling poor dice, is to collect a cohesive set of omens that auger a better future than your opponents. Some Doshi also use such dice in genuine scrying attempts

Technology was the dearest love of the old Mikadosh, with its ostentatious and highly competitive machine fashions. Yet a culture of unbridled invention is difficult to sustain when rebuilding a civilisation from a few thousand refugees, with only the resources harvestable from the forest or provided by your hosts. The role of technology in the lives of the Doshi has thus inevitably changed.

Where the prevailing culture of old Mikadosh favoured the big, the loud, the eye-catching and the ostentatious, Devotion technology bends towards the subdued, the efficient and the practical. Where once whole generations of engineers slaved over bigger rockets and clanking constructs, such talents now turn to designing watermills and medicines, harbours and the harvest. The disciplined application of ingenuity to the problems of the Devotion, rather than the indulgence of private passion, is now the governing philosophy of Doshi engineers.

With many of their old engineers lost in the war the Doshi have learned new skills from their Shadow hosts, and the ramshackle and half-nomadic tent districts of old Mikadosh have been replaced with sturdy stone construction and fortification, fuelled by folk memories of the utter destruction of their ramshackle former home.

Blackpowder remains, but the Devotional Host wield it in a manner reflective of the new culture.

There are few things as emblematic of old Mikadosh as its army, with its massed ranks of muskets backed by the screams of rockets and ironclad religious fanatics. But this army was drawn from and dependent upon the culture of the old city. When they had barely ten thousand subjects left, the remaining Doshi could not afford the resource-intensive wastefulness of musketry and rocketry. Over time, a new martial culture has arisen.

The Devotional Host developed from the troops who stalked the forests and wild spaces where the Doshi rebuilt their nation, and draws heavily if haphazardly upon the perceived methods of the Black. It centres upon tough, mobile units of professional infantry, armed with axes and crossbows and skilled in manoeuvre.

The Host is a professional army, paid for by the provinces but under the central command of the Devotion’s sorcerer-priesthood and ruling council. Soldiers of the host paint themselves with black pastes of mixed charcoal powder, and adopt dark toned armour and black accessories. They also carve the Silhalic fire glyph onto their shields and banners.

The Devotional army also provides a study in contrasts. For most, the way of the warrior is a means of harnessing the natural aggression of the Kobolts and controlling it, harnessing and focusing it. Hours of regimented and physically exhausting martial dances and meditation, combined with brutal military training, serve to create an austere and pious discipline in the ranks of the Doshi.

Some however do not embrace this approach. These fanatics, like the old battle-priests of Pyrus, instead embrace their natural ferocity, yielding to it in the belief that they are tapping the raw strength of their own soul, the essence of Yunva. Such troops, dosed in equal parts upon narcotics and religious fervour, are held in careful check by their brothers and sisters before being unleashed upon the enemy.

In addition to the Host each city also maintains a large militia, in stark contrast to the absolute distinction between soldier and civilian found in Shadow society. These can often be seen drilling in town squares or on common land, and calisthenics and martial arts are incorporated into the prayer-dances and communal rituals which appear to be a daily feature of life in Yunvaïc societies.

The change in their circumstances had an inevitable impact upon the nature of Doshi sorcery, although this trend had been present long before their final defeat in the long war against the Leviathans of Lo. In the course of that conflict the mages of Mikadosh had turned to the path of the planes in their desperate hunt for an edge over the navies and skyfleets of their enemy.

Although eventually defeated, this change in focus survived their flight to the Mistwood, and today the pursuit of the planes continues to entrance the imaginations of the sorcerers of the Devotion. However, it sits alongside other sorceries.

The path of gold remains well-trod by the Doshi, and although sleeker and more insectile in design the Host still marches out accompanied by the signature battle constructs of their race. There are rumours too that the Doshi call upon fire or shadow, although these have yet to be confirmed by reliable sightings.

Whilst not exactly friendly, the Devotion engages in the full panoply of international relations, being willing both to establish and to receive foreign embassies and ambassadors, as well as sending delegations to international summits. However they are by no means an open and expressive people, and their engagement is usually detached and observational in nature.

They also remain followers of Yunva and ardent advocates of the Faith, often seeking to proselytise and convert the followers of the Material deities. This often puts them at odds with followers of the Pantheon, especially Pyrusian nations. It also fosters a great deal of distrust amongst those familiar with Yunvaïc religion, for no outsider knows what the outer divinity wills, nor what meteorological or astrological event might be interpreted by the astronomer priests as a sacred call to action.
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The Devotion of Mikadosh

PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2015 2:56 pm   Subject: Re: The Devotion of Mikadosh

Profile: Gutta "Warty" Urbrikk

Player: Gutta
High concept: Yunvaic loyalist and Kobolt nationalist

Position: First Councillor of New Mikadosh, Most Devoted of Yunva, many smaller though important titles
Residence: New Mikadosh

A large and dark-skinned kobolt, in times past Gutta would have been reduced to the level of a serf by his swarthy green complexion. Not so under the Unification, and it was as a result of his colouring that Gutta was so eagerly recruited to train with the Black. Now somewhat aged, grey hairs streak through his previously jet-black top-knot, complementing the fine chalk lines which swirl across his skin in the Yunvaic fashion; decoration which detracts little from the prominent warts that have earned him his nickname.

Since resigning from formal military duties and ascending to the kobolt capital's council of the nine, Gutta has taken to wearing functional deep red robes. Rarely, when called upon to fulfil his religious function, Gutta will take on the white robes of that caste, though often it is combined with some familiar symbol of his warrior past, like a finely crafted black breastplate or a ceremonial axe.

In the complex and uneven system of governance which characterises Doshi society, Gutta lacks a rank which definitively entitles him to lead the kobolts. Once he returned from his apprenticeship in the Shadow legions, however, Gutta was eager to join the prestigious society of the sorcerer-priests and the cult of Yunva. Rising quickly through the cult's hierarchy in his native Mikadosh, Gutta came to hold the title of First Councillor. After a few years in which petty factional disputes dominated, Gutta additionally was ennobled as Most Devoted of Yunva, a title approved by the Unification's witch-priests as the symbolic head of the Doshi temples, and was pivotal in petitioning for the right to secede from the Shadow realm.

Strictly theological matters, however, occupy little of Gutta's time; he prefers to leave them to his army of pious subordinates, and in their place uses his post to reorganise kobolt society. Constantly busy, Gutta has found himself micro-managing the restructuring of the kobolt armed forces and attempting to mend relationships between the fiercely independent cities, drawing upon his own personal following and his numerous formal postings to bash the Devotion into shape.

In war:
During the early years of the Devotion's independence, Gutta was often seen at the forefront of the heavily armoured boar-riders regarded as the elite of the kobolt forces. Sometimes, even, he would appear as part of the magnificent Yunvaic Host, charging into battle with unrivalled fanaticism. Now, with his magical capabilities at their peak, and his physical ones on the decline, he is more prone to leading from the back, marshalling together the less prestigious forces at his command. Nonetheless, he is sometimes spotted soaring through the air on the back of his wyvern, Golden Klaw, harrying the enemy and challenging the most feared amongst the opposition ranks.

A decade or more dealing with kobolt factionalism- old grudges between former boss families, accusations of heresy, disputes over who invented the exploding ink pot- has made Gutta into an accomplished negotiator. Gone are the days when axes would be waved threateningly in the direction of foreign diplomats, and now Gutta welcomes ambassadors into his court. Of course by far the fondest diplomacy is reserved for his old masters in the Unification, but as the years drag on there have been increasing indications that the Most Devoted favours close independent relations with the so-called "young nations".

Trouble: Under Two Flags
Many who have heard Gutta's background- the years of Black military training, the ferocity with which he threw himself into the cult of Yunva- assume him to be a willing stooge for the Unification. Those in the south of the Devotion have been known to sneer at what is regarded as spinelessness, and long for him to throw off the subservience to which they have become accustomed. But this affection for the Unification stems not from cowardice, but from a deep understanding of what came before and the bad old days before the blessings of Yunva were accepted. The rivalries of the great bosses, the prejudice against the dark skinned, and above all the catastrophic military defeats, have inured Gutta to the calls by a tiny minority for a return to the Pyrusian idiocy.

Nonetheless, Gutta's awareness of this past is tied intimately with his trouble. The Great Red Tome, handed down through generations during the Prefecture and originally composed of oral histories which had persisted decades after the fall, recounts the many tragedies of the Kobolts of Mikadosh, albeit with a tendency to exaggeration understandable for its Yunvaic authors. Nonetheless, amidst the condemnations of Pyrus and the mistakes of the old system is a hearty recognition of where, however briefly, they succeeded. It was in this tome that the secrets of the dreadnoughts were kept alive during the kobolts' darkest hours, and the tiny fire of Doshi nationalism has found itself gently fanned. Gutta, the present owner of the master version of the tome, grew up reading its stories in the numerous popular editions distributed amongst kobolt soldiers. A powerful conviction that the kobolt nation will be mighty again, and a determination to preserve genuine independence from the Unification, is coupled with a sincere belief that this can only be achieved through Yunva.

Whilst these contradictory tendencies are present within Gutta himself, in kobolt society as a whole there has been a splintering between those for whom the former is king (primarily in the north), and those who wish for their leader to decisively snub the Dahrach (of whom by far the biggest trouble-maker is Borky Yezzin). By trying to be all things to all kobolts, Gutta has failed to reconcile the differences or effectively suppress dissent. Without his constant interventions to mobilise the masses behind his programme, it is rightly feared that the finely tuned unity of the Devotion would collapse.

Although he only began harnessing his true magical potential relatively late, after leaving the Unification's service, Gutta is an extremely accomplished mage. Although fully capable of deploying the planar magic so carefully studied by Doshi scholars during the Prefecture, and which is now essential to any battle-wizard worthy of the name, it is the Path of Gold that Gutta looks for the greatest pleasure. In private, the Most Devoted relishes the opportunity to engage in the pranks and inventiveness once common amongst kobolts, and once impressed a foreign delegation by having a dinner table clear itself.

Most of the time, Gutta dresses simply, albeit with at least a small ceremonial war-axe close to hand. A miniature copy of The Great Red Tome usually travels with him wherever he goes, whilst the original document sits in his private quarters. In war, Gutta wears a fully suit of chainmail and carries a large battle-axe, although he has been known to wield a delicately made arquebus when serving with the engineers.

Gutta is usually accompanied by a large number of Heavy Bruiser bodyguards, and a vast array of different functionaries and hangers-on. A sizeable crew of beast-handlers is inevitably to be seen in his party, allowing his wyvern Golden Klaw to travel alongside him.

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