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Campaign Creation => Homebrews => Topic started by: Weave on October 19, 2013, 11:11:00 AM



Title: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Weave on October 19, 2013, 11:11:00 AM
So, Mathremaya technically developed as an offshoot of Pinnacle which is why I haven't done anything with Pinnacle recently, but tis the nature of my mind to dwell upon that which holds my interest the longest, and Mathremaya won. It's a pretty rough setting idea, but here's the basic gist:

Mathremaya takes the idea of Incas with more modern technology (namely, guns) and runs with it into what I think might be an Andean re-imagining of Victorian Steampunk on a South American mountain people, with some obvious fantasy bits like sacrificial and celestial magic. I've got a pretty decent understanding of how society functions on a basic level. Obviously what follows is extremely open to change and criticism, and just represents what I've come up with thus far.

Technology - Firearms ("rayoruqya"), though fancier guns are shaped to resemble a feathered snake or stylized jaguar with its mouth agape to give them a more distinct appeal AND to emphasize their ideology of guns being more than just instruments of war but also representations of divine power. Gunpowder was accidentally discovered by priests mixing "magic powders" together to overawe onlookers and has since kept that semi-sacred feel. Religious officials would probably all be avid gun owners who keep their arms immaculately clean and wield them as one might a holy symbol of the faith. Naturally, more normal looking arms would exist for lower class entrepreneurs, but I don't think firearm ownership would be nearly as widespread due to its symbolic nature. Maybe.

There would also be airships/dirigibles of some design, and possibly even some form of motorized ground transportation, like a motorcycle. I can't imagine anything as large as a car coming about just based on the restrictions of living in a heavily mountainous realm, but something narrow, agile, and more maneuverable like a bike could definitely exist in my eyes.

Also, things like a printing press, agriculture innovations, a large textile industry, factories in general, lots of mining, etc, would all be present.

Social Structure - Mathremayan society is sharply divided between aristocracy and commoners. There is little in the way of a middle class, or bourgeoisie, primarily due to the existence of an “Aristocracy by Examination” system, which is a means to absorb commoners who attain wealth and education into the Aristocracy rather than forming a new Middle Class. This system tends to reinforce the dominance of the ruling class... the Aristocracy absorbs the best and brightest of the commoners, and the dream of the average commoner is not to overthrow the Aristocracy, but to become a part of it.

Since the Mathremayan industrial revolution, which led to the creation of airships and printing presses and such, industry life has converted many agricultural commoners into the grueling life of the factory. This has created an industrial working class that is radically different from other commoners because they are cutoff from their ayllus (basically, a collective state of families that work together in agricultural communities outside of the cities). Feeling isolated and exploited by the aristocratic working class, they’ve formed small societies for mutual support which have become unions and small political parties, some advocating radical agendas (to stir the pot, since I do love my little socio-economic conflicts).

Government - Mathremaya has an Emperor that rules by divine right (absolute monarchy), with a strongly hierarchical system of nobility and commoners. Though the Emperor was once considered a god-king among his people, he is no longer in the modern era (because, you know, modernity, but old habits die hard and he is popularly misconstrued as one, especially by lower class individuals).

Religion - I have some pretty radical ideas on what I could do for religion, but they would definitely alter the overall setting. The safest option is to have the gods be undetermined to exist but have belief be strongly present amongst the people. The other, perhaps more exciting option is something I've been mulling over a lot, and would love some added opinions to. Here it is:

In the beginning, there were only the gods. Primordial and insubstantial, they are the Ara, existing in all states at once. The sun is their palace, and it alone glows with the fervent light of their conjoined beings. In the heart of the sun were born the Huascara (“Born of the Ara”), Scions of the Ara who were fashioned from the glorious fire for the purpose of creation. The Huascara were tasked with creating Mathremaya and the world, but in time grew aloof and hubristic and in vainglory sought to challenge the Ara. Yet even their combined might could not best the Ara, and they were punished by them for their rebellious nature. Branded by the fires of the sun they sought to smother, their ruined flesh became marred with physicality and their leviathan forms crashed down to the material world from the realm of the divine, cursed to mortality.

The Huascara are mythic, tyrannical colossi that either wander the realm enraged, emblazoned with the cursed brand of the Ara to give physicality to their once inscrutable form, or slumber in their ruinous craters, still sleeping from their fall. Some walk as terrible, quivering masses of god-given flesh and churning muscle, their erroneous form given little thought or care. Others were gifted with the foreknowledge of the realm they were plunging to during their fall, and in their brief dissension from divinity were able to structure their form in a more ordered manner. Such beings clamber about in a more refined manner, but their hubris shows through their unhallowed appearance, for many took forms with several arms, bestial heads, or other façades to compensate for their unfamiliarity with mortality.

Countless Huascara are said to exist, for many a purpose was never given – only potential. There are those who fostered legendary purposes, such as the creation of man, the embodiment of fire, or the power of the storm, who are infamous for their power and feared for their wrath.

The idea here would be that the Huascara are definite, physical beings that walk the earth as monsters (Kaiju and Shadow of the Colossus come to mind). I like this a lot, because it adds a fantastical element that I think Mathremaya might need to avoid becoming just an alternate history of the Inca on some other world. So, I could leave it at that and just make them menaces to the people, buuut I'm an even bigger fan of adding other societal and technological repercussions, like this:

The corpses of the Huascara leak their divine, life-giving golden or teal blood, which (to keep with the loose theme of sacrifice) can be used to create "divine-technology" well beyond the scope of coal and steam. I really have no idea what these would be capable of, but they would have these fancy, glowing golden lines along unique, patterned stone carvings. Sort of like if you had the lines of this stone wall glowing:
(http://wwweber.marginata.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/incastonework-cuzco.jpg)
or made this awesome headdress/outfit glowy and magical:
(http://farm1.static.flickr.com/31/54228123_a22e719c1a.jpg)

This would have tremendous technological and economic impacts on Mathremayan society, since an economy based around the hunting of the Huascara would certainly come to exist if the Huascara were prolific and supplied enough divine blood to make such an industry worthwhile, but it's always easy enough to limit that with a hand wave. 

Magic - Magic is something I've been torn about. I know I definitely want to have some sacrificial based magic, where practitioners would use some ceremonial dagger to slice their palms to have their blood become fire or call forth some other power, but that's a fairly dark magic system, especially if it's centralized in the setting as the form of magic. I'd like to keep it as a fringe, cultish activity, I think, where even greater sacrifices (like an animal or the life of a person) grant greater, more sinister boons. In keeping with some semblance of "realism," I've also asked myself why such a form of power wouldn't be centralized, and why they wouldn't then just breed a certain type of small animal en masse, like a guinea pig (which were popular sources of food for Andean folk) and just carry them around for occasional offerings as a trade for power. Obviously I find that incredibly cruel, so I'm looking to abolish that possibility (plus guinea pigs are adorbs).

There's also the possibility of celestial magic, ala astronomy and stars aligning and whatnot. I'm not sure what to do here, but sparkletwist and I chatted on it and considered the possibility of each person getting a different set of powers they could use each month or season based on the changing of the heavens. Like, you have a deck of cards that represent certain powers, and you randomly draw seven cards from them. Those would be your powers for that month. Ideally they would be pretty versatile so as not to be too restrictive, but I'd need a LOT to keep it from being too repetitive and superfluous, which is tough. Mechanically, it's also kind of cool. I'm just not sure I can feasibly come up with a system that would work for it.

----------

Anyways, this has gone on for too long. I apologize for the scatterbrained layout, but I hope it's at least interesting enough to warrant some responses and suggestions. Even just saying what you like or don't like goes a long way. Questions, comments, criticisms; every bit is appreciated!


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: sparkletwist on October 19, 2013, 01:25:42 PM
Well, personally, you had me at "Steampunk Incas," but you already knew that. :grin:


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Ghostman on October 19, 2013, 01:41:35 PM
A very cool setting idea. I like the Ara & Huascara background, but find the idea of large scale hunting of the latter to be problematic. I think what would likely happen is that soon after means of industrially exploiting the blood of the Huascara were discovered, the creatures would be quickly hunted to near extinction, causing a flood of enhanced artifacts followed by a shortage - with prices for these goods swinging from cheap to exorbitant, all over a relatively short span of time (maybe tens of years?)

As for technology, they'd surely benefit from inventing cable cars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cable_car)! Probably other kinds of mechanized lifting systems would also be common fare. Printing press seems kind of strange if you assume that they began with a knot-based recording system like the quipus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quipu). Wouldn't they rather continue to improve on this system and eventually come up with a technology for mass-copying such records rather than invent an alphabet and paper?


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Seraph on October 19, 2013, 03:30:10 PM

Ghostman

A very cool setting idea. I like the Ara & Huascara background, but find the idea of large scale hunting of the latter to be problematic. I think what would likely happen is that soon after means of industrially exploiting the blood of the Huascara were discovered, the creatures would be quickly hunted to near extinction, causing a flood of enhanced artifacts followed by a shortage - with prices for these goods swinging from cheap to exorbitant, all over a relatively short span of time (maybe tens of years?)

As for technology, they'd surely benefit from inventing cable cars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cable_car)! Probably other kinds of mechanized lifting systems would also be common fare. Printing press seems kind of strange if you assume that they began with a knot-based recording system like the quipus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quipu). Wouldn't they rather continue to improve on this system and eventually come up with a technology for mass-copying such records rather than invent an alphabet and paper?
Unless the Huascara are just incredibly prolific/breed like rabbits, I agree with Ghostman about their being hunted to near extinction quickly.  If you wanted things to be kinda dark, you could have imprisoned Huascara who are kept malnourished, so that they can't fight back, but alive, so that mages, priests, or whoever makes magic items can have a constant source of their blood.  

Also, I love the idea of making an advanced version of the quipu.  Actually this gives me an idea....


I also want to echo that "Steampunk Incas" sounds really awesome.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Polycarp on October 19, 2013, 03:37:36 PM
Are you familiar with the panaqa?  Basically, it was an extended kinship group descended from a dead king; when an Inca king died, his palace would be occupied by his descendants save for the new ruler, who would have to go build a palace elsewhere (which would in turn become the property of his panaqa when he died, and so on).  The "founding father" of that panaqa would be mummified and treated as semi-alive by his descendants - they would carry the mummy around and feed it, have it perform rites, and even have it "speak" through an intermediary.  The mummy seems to have been worshipped as a deity.  A panaqa revered its founding mummy, in part, to assert the power and authority of their bloodline; these mummies might even "speak" through their representative on such matters as succession of a new king, so they held considerable political influence, and constituted centers of power within the kingdom apart from the king and the rest of the aristocracy.  Apparently panaqa houses sometimes raided one another and took rival mummies "hostage," presumably to extract tribute or gain concessions from the rival panaqa.

I realize that you probably don't mean "Steampunk Incas" in a literal sense, and thus aren't interested in merely appropriating all things Inca into the setting, but I thought that Inca ancestor-worship was interesting enough to bring up.  It could potentially provide an alternative to your "divine blood" idea - maybe rather than from monstrous gods, it might be somehow derived from preserved ancestral gods like these - giving further incentive for a panaqa or equivalent group to jealously guard their dead ("he's not dead, he's resting") ancestor-king.

(Also I hope to see potatoes here.)


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Ghostman on October 19, 2013, 03:49:47 PM
What if such mummies were actually able to act in some capacity, if not quite being lively enough to continue ruling as kings?


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Seraph on October 19, 2013, 03:53:27 PM
This whole idea sounds bizarre, disturbing, and really fun.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Weave on October 19, 2013, 08:00:51 PM

Ghostman

A very cool setting idea. I like the Ara & Huascara background, but find the idea of large scale hunting of the latter to be problematic. I think what would likely happen is that soon after means of industrially exploiting the blood of the Huascara were discovered, the creatures would be quickly hunted to near extinction, causing a flood of enhanced artifacts followed by a shortage - with prices for these goods swinging from cheap to exorbitant, all over a relatively short span of time (maybe tens of years?)

As for technology, they'd surely benefit from inventing cable cars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cable_car)! Probably other kinds of mechanized lifting systems would also be common fare. Printing press seems kind of strange if you assume that they began with a knot-based recording system like the quipus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quipu). Wouldn't they rather continue to improve on this system and eventually come up with a technology for mass-copying such records rather than invent an alphabet and paper?

Seraphine_Harmonium

Unless the Huascara are just incredibly prolific/breed like rabbits, I agree with Ghostman about their being hunted to near extinction quickly.  If you wanted things to be kinda dark, you could have imprisoned Huascara who are kept malnourished, so that they can't fight back, but alive, so that mages, priests, or whoever makes magic items can have a constant source of their blood.

Thanks. You're both right, it's one of the problems I've thought about with the hunting of the Huascara, though I was quite enamored with the idea of having some form of powerful monsters wandering around.

Also, you make an extremely good point about the quipus, which I had actually meant to incorporate in some way but completely forgot about them when I posted. The printing press wouldn't make much sense in hindsight. Cable cars are also a definite possibility, and I like the imagery that provides for an industrial mountain city. I wonder what sort of method they'd use to mass-copy quipus... I'll have to give it some thought.

Polycarp

Are you familiar with the panaqa?  Basically, it was an extended kinship group descended from a dead king; when an Inca king died, his palace would be occupied by his descendants save for the new ruler, who would have to go build a palace elsewhere (which would in turn become the property of his panaqa when he died, and so on).  The "founding father" of that panaqa would be mummified and treated as semi-alive by his descendants - they would carry the mummy around and feed it, have it perform rites, and even have it "speak" through an intermediary.  The mummy seems to have been worshipped as a deity.  A panaqa revered its founding mummy, in part, to assert the power and authority of their bloodline; these mummies might even "speak" through their representative on such matters as succession of a new king, so they held considerable political influence, and constituted centers of power within the kingdom apart from the king and the rest of the aristocracy.  Apparently panaqa houses sometimes raided one another and took rival mummies "hostage," presumably to extract tribute or gain concessions from the rival panaqa.

I am actually not familiar with panaqa. Very interesting. I definitely need to incorporate that in some way. Thanks for the idea!

Polycarp

I realize that you probably don't mean "Steampunk Incas" in a literal sense, and thus aren't interested in merely appropriating all things Inca into the setting, but I thought that Inca ancestor-worship was interesting enough to bring up.  It could potentially provide an alternative to your "divine blood" idea - maybe rather than from monstrous gods, it might be somehow derived from preserved ancestral gods like these - giving further incentive for a panaqa or equivalent group to jealously guard their dead ("he's not dead, he's resting") ancestor-king.

(Also I hope to see potatoes here.)


Well, you'd be right in that I don't want to incorporate every minute detail of Inca society, but I find the exploration of their culture to be pretty inspirational towards what I may or may not wish to incorporate or otherwise adapt for my own devices. I like this adaptive take on the panaqa ancestor worship as a magical source like you and, to some extent, Ghostman, suggest; I will definitely expand upon this.

There will be potatoes.

Seraphine_Harmonium

This whole idea sounds bizarre, disturbing, and really fun.

sparkletwist

Well, personally, you had me at "Steampunk Incas," but you already knew that. :grin:

PERFECT.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: SA on October 19, 2013, 08:19:04 PM
I don't like the huascara. The most fascinating thing about pre-Columbian cultures (not all of them) was their "willingness" to sacrifice their fittest, healthiest members for the sake of propitiating the divine. The huascara remove this coolest and most terrible of cultural horrors.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Weave on October 19, 2013, 08:28:08 PM

Sally Ann

I don't like the huascara. The most fascinating thing about pre-Columbian cultures (not all of them) was their "willingness" to sacrifice their fittest, healthiest members for the sake of propitiation. The huascara remove this coolest and most terrible of cultural horrors.

Fair point, but how do the Huascara remove this, exactly?

In any case, I wouldn't think such sacrifices would translate into a more modernized Inca culture (though the idea of it doing so is interesting), but I would definitely like to incorporate it in other fringe societies in Mathremaya.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: SA on October 19, 2013, 08:55:37 PM

Weave

how do the Huascara remove this, exactly?
Humans are sacrificed in order to please the gods, gain their blessings and deter their wrath. The huascara are killed for divine technology. The more technology humans possess, the less subject to nature's vicissitudes humanity becomes, permitting them to thrive without recourse to human sacrifice.

Weave

In any case, I wouldn't think such sacrifices would translate into a more modernized Inca culture
There is not only one road to "mordernisation". Human sacrifice cannot persist in our world because we see through the "ruse" of divinity: there are no gods, and they need not be propitiated. But in your setting the gods do exist. There, humans might sacrifice their brethren not out of benighted primitivism but calculated pragmatism. It might even be industrialised.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Rhamnousia on October 19, 2013, 09:00:44 PM
To my knowledge, the majority of Inca human sacrifice was the sacrifice of servants upon the death of an Emperor (similar to the sort performed by the Egyptians and Vikings) and occasionally ritually-prepared children during famines and other extreme circumstances. Nothing like the ritualized warfare and mass killings of the Aztecs, which also had the purpose of strengthening their political hegemony.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Weave on October 19, 2013, 09:05:44 PM

Sally Ann

Weave

how do the Huascara remove this, exactly?
Humans are sacrificed in order to please the gods, gain their blessings and deter their wrath. The huascara are killed for divine technology. The more technology humans possess, the less subject to nature's vicissitudes humanity becomes, permitting them to thrive without recourse to human sacrifice.

Weave

In any case, I wouldn't think such sacrifices would translate into a more modernized Inca culture
There is not only one road to "mordernisation". Human sacrifice cannot persist in our world because we see through the "ruse" of divinity: there are no gods, and they need not be propitiated. But in your setting the gods do exist. Here, humans might sacrifice their brethren not out of benighted primitivism but calculated pragmatism. It might even be industrialised.

That's a very good point, and one I had not considered. ...Actually the more I think about the cooler that kind of is. I will mull over this idea!

Anyways, the Huascara aren't very well-received, so I'll probably ax them, at least in the physical sense. They could certainly exist as a misconstrued form of belief, assuming the gods exist, or just as beliefs, if the gods don't.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Weave on October 19, 2013, 09:13:54 PM

Superbright

To my knowledge, the majority of Inca human sacrifice was the sacrifice of servants upon the death of an Emperor (similar to the sort performed by the Egyptians and Vikings) and occasionally ritually-prepared children during famines and other extreme circumstances. Nothing like the ritualized warfare and mass killings of the Aztecs, which also had the purpose of strengthening their political hegemony.

You're correct. Though I've been predominantly taking from Inca (Tawantinsuya) themes, the idea of borrowing from other Mesoamerican cultures isn't beyond me, which is why I had toyed with the idea of sacrificial magic despite a reasonable lack thereof in Tawantinsuyan practice.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: SA on October 19, 2013, 09:17:09 PM
I think the huascara are awesome, they just need an anti-nerf.

You've practically turned them into prey animals, when they could be so much more compelling as imperious, tempestuous free agents who must be bargained with like individuals or as city states unto themselves, or otherwise left alone.

When a huascara turns up at your city walls maybe you say "Please don't wreck any of our shit. Here, have a tiny child." If they do try to wreck your shit and you can't chase them away with cannonade you go to another huascara and say "This jerk won't quit bugging us. Please help us wreck his shit." Like siccing godzilla on King Gidorah.

Heck, these guys built the damn world. Maybe feeding one a thousand llamas will encourage it to mine your mountain for you.

Huascara could be very interesting.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Polycarp on October 19, 2013, 10:20:33 PM

Sally Ann

There is not only one road to "mordernisation". Human sacrifice cannot persist in our world because we see through the "ruse" of divinity: there are no gods, and they need not be propitiated. But in your setting the gods do exist. There, humans might sacrifice their brethren not out of benighted primitivism but calculated pragmatism. It might even be industrialised.

I'm not sure this is wholly accurate - the conquistadors and the society they came from did not see divinity as a "ruse" at all, but they were nevertheless disgusted by human sacrifice, considering it savage and retrograde.  The reason why human sacrifice is considered "primitive" today is probably less because modern humanity is ambivalent about divinity (many people, perhaps most, are not) than because the Christian ethos, which was subsequently propagated throughout much of the world by Europeans, explicitly rejects human sacrifice, arguing that a) humans are persons in the image of God and ought not to be used in this way, and in any case b) a divine figure has already been sacrificed on their behalf, freeing mankind from the necessity of that act.  That understanding of personhood also has its roots in classical thought, of course, but that itself was substantially included within what is now modern Christian doctrine.  Sacrifice and infanticide among people as diverse as the Norse, the Aztecs, and some Hindu societies were all forcibly suppressed by Christian conquerors and missionaries, who were certainly not acting out of religious skepticism.

If the dominant culture in the world today was that of the Mexica, and the belief that sacrificing people literally kept the world from ending had been spread throughout the societies of the world, then perhaps human sacrifice would be less associated with primitivism and "barbarism" than it is today, and you would have Aztec Richard Dawkins writing controversial books about how we ought not to extract the beating hearts of slaves to strengthen the Hummingbird-God in his eternal war in heaven.  Insofar as our fantasy-Inca remain a deeply religious people - and you are quite correct that the fact that the gods are actually physically present would reinforce that - there doesn't seem to me to be any reason why human sacrifice is incompatible with modern technology.  (Which I suppose means I'm agreeing with you, then, more than disagreeing. :) )


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: SA on October 19, 2013, 10:41:52 PM

Polycarp

I'm not sure this is wholly accurate
I don't think a single thing you wrote actually disagreed with what I said. Religious skepticism provides arguments against human sacrifice but of course those are not the only arguments. We are in one hundred per cent agreement.

On a related note, if there are actual entities demanding actual tiny children in exchange for actual miracles, human sacrifice is entirely compatible with a "secular" culture. Humanism is hardly a requirement for godless, ruthless, utilitarian efficiency. (This might just be my original point, reframed...)


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Polycarp on October 19, 2013, 11:11:33 PM

Sally Ann

I don't think a single thing you wrote actually disagreed with what I said. Religious skepticism provides arguments against human sacrifice but of course those are not the only arguments. We are in one hundred per cent agreement.

Thus the parenthetical at the end - I realized by the end of writing that, that we were essentially coming to the same conclusions.  I suppose my original issue was with the idea that skepticism, rather than a particular cultural view on personhood, is principally responsible for human sacrifice being passé today.  But as you say, there can be multiple arguments, and undoubtedly modern skepticism plays a role in more secularized societies.

It is interesting to reflect on how sacrifice a la Mexica would proceed in a more "advanced" society.  I suppose it depends on the doctrine - if there's some "blood quota," you might go the factory farming route and industrialize the process; on the other hand, if the rite is basically for popular consumption, as it seems to have been in world history, it might develop into an even bigger spectacle (think disembowlement on the Jumbotron).  In a "steampunk" society, maybe gathering around the radio for the broadcast of the daily world-sustaining sacrifice would be a family/community tradition.

If one goes the route of making the Huascara monstrous, I wonder to what extent they would be involved in their own cult - would they be self-consciously aware of themselves as gods (or powerful beings posing as gods) and establish their own loyal theocracies - and if so, for what purpose - or would these cults be formed by human initiative for Huascara who are basically ambivalent about humans and worship?  The example that you gave suggests that the people don't really see them as "divine" at all, just really powerful beasts that need to be dealt with tactfully.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Ghostman on October 20, 2013, 03:37:56 AM

Weave

I wonder what sort of method they'd use to mass-copy quipus... I'll have to give it some thought.
Maybe some kind of programmable knotting machine? Set some dials and/or switches to the right combination and feed string into the mechanism, which then outputs quipus, repeating the same pattern over and over.

Don't know how feasible that would be, but it's not like the steampunk genre is about technological realism to begin with :P


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Rhamnousia on October 20, 2013, 01:22:21 PM
Personally, I would try to avoid industrialized human sacrifice because it definitely smacks more of Aztec culture than Incan and I'm trilled to see a Mesoamerican-inspired setting that doesn't have a pantheon of perpetually-bloodthirsty gods. That said, I think you could very easily tie a capacocha-style practice of human child sacrifice to the hunting of the huascara; they offer the lives of their brightest and healthiest youths to the massive divinities as a sign of respect and (as Sally Ann suggested) to dissuade reprisals for the killing.

Also, do they have the wheel? If so, how did it come about? One of the defining characteristics of Incan society was that for all their staggering technological achievements, the lack of beasts of burden meant that they never developed the wheel.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Weave on October 20, 2013, 02:00:03 PM
I like the idea of capacocha-style offerings to placate the Huascara, and I'll likely take SA's advice on having them more feared than hunted.

That's a good question regarding the wheel. I had actually been unaware that the wheel was never something they developed, so thanks for bringing this to my attention. I've been picturing factories and cable cars and firearms with Mathremaya, which would all utilize wheels of various shapes and sizes throughout their design (assuming they're anything similar to what we're familiar with), so I'd be inclined to think they'd figured out the wheel at some point, somehow. Otherwise, I'd have to seriously rethink what an industrial revolution would even look like for them, or if it would even be possible.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Polycarp on October 20, 2013, 03:57:46 PM
That may be a bit of a myth - there are, as I recall, Inca toys with wheels on them.  It is true, however, that they don't seem to have applied it on any large scale (carts, pottery wheels, and so on).  It may be that, considering the environment they lived in, wheels were simply not that useful - wheeled carts are not going to accomplish much on steep mountain tracks.  It's not unreasonable that a more advanced Inca-ish society would have eventually applied the wheel on a larger scale or adopted it from its neighbors, if its neighbors had developed that technology themselves.  The pottery wheel, for instance, was unknown in the pre-Colombian Americas, but there's no reason that the societies in your world have to be equally ignorant of that concept.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: SA on October 20, 2013, 05:44:33 PM
I wanna hear more about the steam and the punks.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Weave on October 22, 2013, 08:54:04 PM
I am working on fleshing out the Huascara further, and I've considered a few ideas:

They could serve Mathremayan states as literal weapons of mass destruction, bargained with and placated by sacrifice, perhaps. Maybe it requires much to appease the Huascara, so they can only be called upon for so long, and even then the Huascara in question decides whether or not it deems its cause worthy of its time. This gives a certain modernity to them, but also keeps a decent amount of mysticism and power in their favor. It also kind of turns Mathremaya into a pretty sacrifice-centric place when the time calls for it.

-OR-

The Huascara are few and far between and treated more like natural disasters that can be, at times, bargained with. Monstrous and tempestuous, they act with little rhyme or reason, though their passing might not always be disastrous - sometimes they might simply wander as aimless titans, their purpose unknown. Maybe they're capable of displaying alliances with humans, maybe not.

Or something in between. They're not exactly mutually exclusive of one another, but some discrepancies would need to be addressed. I like them quite a bit, but I'm not sure how to paint them into the setting. I think one common element of steampunk is a sort of hollowness of belief, an abandonment of higher faith in favor of self-reliance and industriousness, which is why I had envisioned them being hunted in the first place for resources. However, the spirituality of the Inca is something I do want to replicate, but to nail that down I'd need to work on sorting out their mythic beings that walk the land scorned by the gods. Thoughts or suggestions?


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: SA on October 22, 2013, 09:39:52 PM
Perhaps Mathremayans have only recently begun dealing with huascara on relatively even terms. The industrialists and upper echelons of state power may well understand the mortal limits of the huascara, but the great unwashed still cleave to their old fears and benighted traditions.

How many civilians believe the huascara are actual gods, rather than deposed once-immortals? How many know the huascara can be harmed at all, even though more developed states have almost entirely repelled the creatures?

Our own industrial revolution produced disturbing and enduring images of children labouring in the midst of great machines. Transforming conscious agents into reflexive instruments, industrialism birthed a new kind of Moloch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moloch). Imagine that in Mathremaya the people deliver their children not to the gods but to the machines that will repell those gods. Children are exhausted and consumed in the production of weapons.

You could even include the "Aztecs" as a hyper-industrial northern neighbour that mercilessly devours whole generations. Slaves are rendered as tribute to the ravenous manufactories (http://warhammer40k.wikia.com/wiki/Forge_World), where their deaths are just as assured as if they had been driven up a temple's steps.

This is where the Punk comes in. Neither the gods nor the state* can truly be placated. Both are ultimately mechanisms of control. Freedom is to be found on the margins.

*The state here is transformed from an agent of the gods into humanity's defense against them


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Velox on November 05, 2013, 11:45:57 AM
Very cool! As one who was not sold at "Steampunk Incas" :D, I am becoming more interested the more I read about this setting. Good stuff.

Quote

There would also be airships/dirigibles of some design, and possibly even some form of motorized ground transportation, like a motorcycle. I can't imagine anything as large as a car coming about just based on the restrictions of living in a heavily mountainous realm, but something narrow, agile, and more maneuverable like a bike could definitely exist in my eyes.
Airships are a good call for mountain people. Between narrow winding trails, tall cliffs, and deep ravines, travel by ground would be a nightmare. Going by air (or by some sort of gondola-like cable-suspended trolley system, a sort of 'train in the sky') would be the easiest way.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Weave on November 11, 2013, 03:00:14 PM

SA

Perhaps Mathremayans have only recently begun dealing with huascara on relatively even terms. The industrialists and upper echelons of state power may well understand the mortal limits of the huascara, but the great unwashed still cleave to their old fears and benighted traditions.

How many civilians believe the huascara are actual gods, rather than deposed once-immortals? How many know the huascara can be harmed at all, even though more developed states have almost entirely repelled the creatures?

I would think many would believe them to be actual gods were it not for the great pains the emperor takes to ensure them that it is the Ara that are superior and true gods, embodied through the machine and industry. Mechanics, inventors, and tinkers of all sorts are perceived less as geniuses of their own merit and more as godly savants able to decipher the inscrutable precepts of the Ara (conservation of mass, the various relativities, gravitomagnetism, etc.) and use them to their advantage by creating advanced technologies and weaponry to deal with the huascara. To the average commoner, such gadgetry would be indistinguishable from magic.

SA

Our own industrial revolution produced disturbing and enduring images of children labouring in the midst of great machines. Transforming conscious agents into reflexive instruments, industrialism birthed a new kind of Moloch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moloch). Imagine that in Mathremaya the people deliver their children not to the gods but to the machines that will repell those gods. Children are exhausted and consumed in the production of weapons.

This is where the Punk comes in. Neither the gods nor the state* can truly be placated. Both are ultimately mechanisms of control. Freedom is to be found on the margins.

*The state here is transformed from an agent of the gods into humanity's defense against them

I really like this approach, and I've decided to adopt it in this setting. Children are "offered" to the factories to stave off huascara and other monstrous attacks by contributing to the grand, divine industry of the emperor and the Ara.

Velox

Very cool! As one who was not sold at "Steampunk Incas" :D, I am becoming more interested the more I read about this setting. Good stuff.

Quote

There would also be airships/dirigibles of some design, and possibly even some form of motorized ground transportation, like a motorcycle. I can't imagine anything as large as a car coming about just based on the restrictions of living in a heavily mountainous realm, but something narrow, agile, and more maneuverable like a bike could definitely exist in my eyes.
Airships are a good call for mountain people. Between narrow winding trails, tall cliffs, and deep ravines, travel by ground would be a nightmare. Going by air (or by some sort of gondola-like cable-suspended trolley system, a sort of 'train in the sky') would be the easiest way.

Thank you. Yes, airships would definitely be a must I think. Incan culture believed in the gods residing in the peaks of their mountains, which is why they offered up children in those places for the gods. Having a similar culture achieve flight would create groundbreaking ripples throughout common belief, probably upsetting the established status quo of the mythos.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Weave on November 11, 2013, 03:32:47 PM

SA

I wanna hear more about the steam and the punks.

Superbright, having brought to my attention the lack of the wheel and pack animals in Inca society, made me consider what sort of technologies would come about in an Inca-inspired setting. I've decided that they would've developed a wheel at some point, since I don't think what I have in mind for them would be possible without such a simple invention.

Mathremaya's mountainous location and environment leaves pack animals sparse - horses, elephants, aurochs and their ilk are all practically unheard of. Instead, large machines called haywa provide the power the industry needs.

Haywa are typically modeled after the likeness of local wildlife, but most common is the ram haywa, which is used to haul great burdens up steed slopes on treaded wheels; a small group of caretakers walk behind it shoveling coal into the open furnace to keep it powered. Passers-by on the mountain trails drape lucky khipu knots along them and necklaces of shells to ward off evil spirits as they pass. Spider haywa act as lifts and cablecars, elongated apparatuses pulled along thick ropes or chains to ascend in the city and peaks. Jaguar haywa zip around the streets and paths as the fastest form of locomotion - the narrow streets of the cities and villages has led to the jaguar's design as sleek and agile, operating on two treaded wheels and powered by controlled releases of pressured steam.

Likewise, haywa can be applied on even smaller scales, such as human augmentation. Though only in the earliest of stages, operable mechanical appendages are crude, if effective replacements for the real thing. The emperor, in all his sanctity, is most frequently augmented to lengthen his lifetime of rule, though such alterations are kept hidden (if possible) lest the public eye notice his mortal fragility. Mechanical limbs concealed in elaborate, feathered attire and tubes injecting a constant stream of life-preserving liquid hidden behind headdresses and massive cloaks are all measures the emperor's ayllu are more than willing to perform. In time, it is hoped that the very spirit of a person can be caught in some mechanized latticework to forever preserve their holy being.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Nomadic on November 12, 2013, 12:12:50 AM

Weave

Haywa are typically modeled after the likeness of local wildlife, but most common is the ram haywa, which is used to haul great burdens up steed slopes on treaded wheels; a small group of caretakers walk behind it shoveling coal into the open furnace to keep it powered. Passers-by on the mountain trails drape lucky khipu knots along them and necklaces of shells to ward off evil spirits as they pass. Spider haywa act as lifts and cablecars, elongated apparatuses pulled along thick ropes or chains to ascend in the city and peaks. Jaguar haywa zip around the streets and paths as the fastest form of locomotion - the narrow streets of the cities and villages has led to the jaguar's design as sleek and agile, operating on two treaded wheels and powered by controlled releases of pressured steam.

I was going to say that you could use something similar to a big mountain goat as a pack animal... but the idea of the Haywa is awesome (I may be slightly prejudiced as it involved awesome steam engine contraptions). On this topic though have you taken any thoughts to the economic environment of your system? Obviously mundane stuff takes a backseat to developing an interesting setting for players to toy with, however part of that interest can come in the form of a feel that there is a real world working behind the scenes (and indeed a world that can be drawn from for plot hooks).

Case in point, your Haywa are coal powered, this means that if they play any significant role in transportation/industry that coal is going to be an extremely important resource. Of course assuming that steam engine technology in general is fueling industry this is probably a given anyhow. This also goes for stuff like iron, copper, wood, textiles maybe (basically I'd take a good look at post-industrial revolution Britain for inspiration).


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Weave on November 16, 2013, 02:34:44 PM

Nomadic

Weave

Haywa are typically modeled after the likeness of local wildlife, but most common is the ram haywa, which is used to haul great burdens up steed slopes on treaded wheels; a small group of caretakers walk behind it shoveling coal into the open furnace to keep it powered. Passers-by on the mountain trails drape lucky khipu knots along them and necklaces of shells to ward off evil spirits as they pass. Spider haywa act as lifts and cablecars, elongated apparatuses pulled along thick ropes or chains to ascend in the city and peaks. Jaguar haywa zip around the streets and paths as the fastest form of locomotion - the narrow streets of the cities and villages has led to the jaguar's design as sleek and agile, operating on two treaded wheels and powered by controlled releases of pressured steam.

I was going to say that you could use something similar to a big mountain goat as a pack animal... but the idea of the Haywa is awesome (I may be slightly prejudiced as it involved awesome steam engine contraptions). On this topic though have you taken any thoughts to the economic environment of your system? Obviously mundane stuff takes a backseat to developing an interesting setting for players to toy with, however part of that interest can come in the form of a feel that there is a real world working behind the scenes (and indeed a world that can be drawn from for plot hooks).

Case in point, your Haywa are coal powered, this means that if they play any significant role in transportation/industry that coal is going to be an extremely important resource. Of course assuming that steam engine technology in general is fueling industry this is probably a given anyhow. This also goes for stuff like iron, copper, wood, textiles maybe (basically I'd take a good look at post-industrial revolution Britain for inspiration).

Thanks for the kind words, master Nom. I'm not an economist, so I'll definitely need to do some research here, though I'm glad it's giving the feeling that there's a real, functional world at work behind the scenes.

Also, a question for you guys: I was considering calling the ruler of Mathremaya "Inka," since that was the proper term in their culture, but do you guys think it would be sort of jarring given that it isn't supposed to be an actual Inca society? Should I stick with emperor?


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Nomadic on November 17, 2013, 03:55:51 PM
I suppose that's really up to you. Emperor will definitely be clear for almost anyone playing but it does have some connotations of its own. I can see though how Inka might be a little jarring, have you maybe considered just making up your own word? (perhaps something similar to inka)


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Weave on November 24, 2013, 09:44:18 PM
I drew some stuff!

(https://scontent-a-lga.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/1479309_10151811136401864_989805810_n.jpg)

So, the above picture is of a wealthier Mathremayan boy. It isn't really finished (I think his head is too big, his unfinished hands are too small, and some other proportions may be off but whatever), and I've gotten frustrated enough with it that I just decided to post it as is. I hope it conveys some idea of what a higher class Mathremayan citizen might look like.

(https://scontent-a-lga.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/1461528_10151811140241864_406585961_n.jpg)

This is a funeral rite of those who have fallen in battle (maybe?). Dressed in the garments of the sunbird, they spread fire from their flame-tempered cloaks and dance over the cadavers to cremate them in an elaborate ritual. Sometimes, the life of the dancer is taken in the process as their cloaks set them ablaze - this is considered an acceptable and noble means to pass into the spirit realm with the dead. I hoped to incorporate a hint of steampunk but predominantly stick with an Andean/Mesoamerican theme.

I'll be doing more drawings as I go. I hope you guys like them. :)

EDIT: Also, this is my first attempt at clothing wrinkles, so bear with me.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: Magnus Pym on November 24, 2013, 10:26:30 PM
Nice!


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: SA on November 25, 2013, 12:05:59 AM
I dig dat deathrite dance.

I like your clothing wrinkles more than mine.


Title: Re: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas
Post by: LordVreeg on November 25, 2013, 11:33:07 AM
Yes, I like these a lot.  They give a lot of 'feel'.