Ads

Pages: 1 [2] 3
  Print  
Author Topic: Mathremaya, a Setting About Steampunk Incas  (Read 11515 times)
The Holiest of Carp
Flail Snail
*


View Profile WWW
« Reply #15 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. smile )
Logged

The Clockwork Jungle (wiki | thread)
"The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way." - Marcus Aurelius

(Salacious Angel)
Flail Snail
*


View Profile
« Reply #16 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...)
« Last Edit: October 19, 2013, 10:46:09 PM by Sally Ann » Logged

The Holiest of Carp
Flail Snail
*


View Profile WWW
« Reply #17 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.
Logged

The Clockwork Jungle (wiki | thread)
"The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way." - Marcus Aurelius

Iä! Iä!
Yrthak
*


View Profile
« Reply #18 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 tongue
Logged

¡ɟlǝs ǝnɹʇ ǝɥʇ ´ʍopɐɥS ɯɐ I
Paragon * (Paragon Rules) * Savage Age (Wiki) * Argyrian Empire

WINGED NEMESIS
Owlbear
*


View Profile
« Reply #19 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.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2013, 01:24:52 PM by Superbright » Logged


So Warm and Cuddly
Giff
*


View Profile
« Reply #20 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.
Logged


The Holiest of Carp
Flail Snail
*


View Profile WWW
« Reply #21 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.
Logged

The Clockwork Jungle (wiki | thread)
"The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way." - Marcus Aurelius

(Salacious Angel)
Flail Snail
*


View Profile
« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2013, 05:44:33 PM »

I wanna hear more about the steam and the punks.
Logged

So Warm and Cuddly
Giff
*


View Profile
« Reply #23 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?
Logged


(Salacious Angel)
Flail Snail
*


View Profile
« Reply #24 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. 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, 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
« Last Edit: November 05, 2013, 04:22:21 PM by Sergeant Anarchy » Logged

Son of a Gun
Gibbering Mouther
*


View Profile
« Reply #25 on: November 05, 2013, 11:45:57 AM »

Very cool! As one who was not sold at "Steampunk Incas" laugh, 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.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2013, 11:48:53 AM by Velox » Logged

So Warm and Cuddly
Giff
*


View Profile
« Reply #26 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. 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" laugh, 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.
Logged


So Warm and Cuddly
Giff
*


View Profile
« Reply #27 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.
Logged


I always take 20
Administrator
Flumph
*


View Profile
« Reply #28 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).
Logged

So Warm and Cuddly
Giff
*


View Profile
« Reply #29 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?
Logged


Pages: 1 [2] 3
  Print  
 
Jump to: