The colony ships have long been forgotten, which was the intent of the
original members. The technology aboard, however, has lasted. Even in
the first few generations, conception technology was needed to give the
population a foot up into the ecosphere. Always, the colonists (hereafter
called Zekirans) have had a very low birth rate, compensated only by their
long lives. Average lifespan of a Zekiran is one-hundred ninety, with
some recorded to have lived two-fifty. For game purposes, assume two hundred
thirty years is dead of old age.
A Zekiran woman who is fertile is rare, and as such she is treated with
care and expense. Most semi-fertile women will only bear once, and never
more than a single child at a time. Twins are unknown save for in clinical
settings or under heavily Bred conditions. There is a condition known
as 'hyperfertility' which bears a striking resemblance to rut or estrus
in lower animals, where a female is able to attract and mate with - and
successfully conceive with - whoever she damn well pleases: it runs in
very few bloodlines, but all the females of that line and about half the
males are of this type. They are known to come into fertility about once
a year, remaining so for two days or until conception has occurred, and
in this time it is almost impossible for them to act normally. Many males
are normally fertile, but care is taken for them to remain so. It is a
mystery why the women are infertile, but they are studying the problem.
It clearly doesn't have anything to do with their current planet's ecosphere,
or the pollution factors (nearly nonexistent), it's just the way they
are. Breeders are a welcome notion to the Zekirans, though most of the
Bred stock are Slaves, or Bonded to their breeder. See the character generation
section for both these factors (age and fertility).
Another highlight of Zekiran culture is their love of competition. They
do not war on one another, preferring to best each other in challenges
of speed, thought, power and money, or trickery. They also love to race
steeds, one reason they brought along specially bred horse stock.
The horse race is a long-founded tradition, and most people would pay
greatly just to watch a good race. The horses are different from our world's,
many being winged, but the concept is not so different. Special races
are held for those non-flying horses, and even for the domesticated native
grazers, coming into popularity with the extremely rich.
The lack of warring nature has left the Zekirans with a small gap in
their social structure. There is still crime, so a police force is necessary.
But they do not believe in capitol punishment, preferring to humiliate
rather than to resort to violence. Crime is usually restricted to Slaves
trying to escape or live on the streets without getting caught, thievery,
and occasionally treacherous murders. The murders usually go unsolved.
Everyone has a motive. This is a side effect of a finance-driven world.
There is always someone who is owed land or money, and once someone is
taken out of the power structure, someone else moves in. There are whole
other power structures, those of the elusive psionics and their ilk who
compete for their own take on the world, barely scraping by the normal
people and their problems without notice.
The economy rules, the richest prevail. Only the very rich land-holders
may hold high office, with smaller holders running local government. The
official vote of who rules whom is always cast by whoever can purchase
Their population is spread thinly across the four previously non-inhabited
lands of Zerin, Kiran, Tana and Curra. Neres is considered little more
than an island, and is not valued at all by most, but is certainly prized
by some extremely rich and extremely bored individuals. They consider
squatters rights to be inviolate, so the natives will mostly continue
unfettered by the colonists.
The small population allows each Freeholder individual to own a little
land, be it on their home continent or on another with wild lands available.
Freeworkers, Bonded and Owned people cannot own any land or 'hard' property
(sentient), this is detailed below.
The Cities of the world are few and far between, but there are lots of
small villages and unZoned towns which cannot add their votes but they
may eventually petition for that status. Many farming villages comprise
a zone, much of the world's food is grown in unZoned and unincorporated
lands by simple folk usually not higher in Status than Membayar. Most
tools used on farms are Steed driven, or very similar to those found on
Within the cities the technology level rises dramatically from the fields
nearby. Computers are used largely as a tool, for mathmatics and schematic
uses, rarely for entertainment or writing, but is gaining in those departments
as some FreeWorkers develop popular technology. Another dichotomy: working
with hands-on is greatly preferred to working in a sterile non-human environment.
Breeders are the only exception, and even they prefer to use visual cues
rather than medical ones. The highest Breeder Degree is the only one that
involves purely technological means of reproduction, as it also involves
Zekirans are notoriously lousy swimmers. So much so that they have not
in the least attempted to conquer the oceans on Zekira. Trade routes exist
between the continents, but leisure activities are nil. It is not that
they are afraid of the water, exactly, but they float like rocks. Most
Zekirans have very little in the way of body fat, and are generally thin
and tall to begin with. Since there is little salt water there, also,
buoyancy is just out. See culture and Land use, for more about this. And
on the leisure note, as mentioned before, the Zekirans love to race. Every
year, after a series of preliminary races, a world-wide competition is
held and a large sum of money awarded to the winning steed Owner, their
Animal Master, and the rider of the steed. Most Owners will try to have
a Free Worker riding if they themselves cannot, but some have allowed
their Slaves to ride. Being good enough to ride a steed to the world competition
is an honor enough, but often times, the Slave is able to purchase themselves
out of Ownership and into Free Worker status. (Yes, the prize money is
that big. This is saying nothing at all about the size of the betting
pools going on for the same event...!)
Most Slaves that work on Steed farms are better treated than others say,
in factories or mining towns. Since there is always a chance that they
might ride, they usually try to do their best. If they have a hand in
treating a winning steed, they are given a little more than normal. Likewise,
and as everywhere, if their steeds are uniformly losers, they lose too.
Other sports than horse racing include jousting (!), world-wide treasure
hunts - for the very rich only, and mutant ability contests.
Most of the lands on Zekira are unexplored physically. The entire globe
has been mapped through satellite photography and other means, but much
of the landscape is wild and open. The first people to land on Zekira
did so in historically noted spots on each continent, with Zerin being
the first. The job of exploration is a dangerous one, and one which very
few brave souls attempt. The riches found that way, however, are vast.
Most City areas are compact and are described elsewhere, but the wild
lands in between can be settled by anyone.
The hardier FreeWorkers and Slaves are best cut out for the wildland
exploration, but there are many Breeders and Animal Masters who are made
to do so: environmental survival is a bred feature in some. It is felt
that some day, every piece of the world will be Owned by someone; but
at the moment less than 5% of the land mass is actually cultivated!
Zekirans are able to adapt to many temperature and climate ranges, but
as said above, there are survival mutations which might become stock if
they are to populate in areas near the poles or in the extreme deserts.
The world of Zekira is designed to be playable for most styles: humor,
high-tension politics, superheroics, explorations, long-term campaigns,
single-night adventures. What it cannot do is keep high-intensity combat
players entertained for long: sorry but it's not a combat game.
After being removed from their original Homeworld, the people of Zekira
have all but abandoned their former ways. The possibility exists that
they will some day meet up with their Homeworld forebears, but that is
very unlikely, and they might not recognize them if they did. A deep hidden
secret: the Zekiran generation ships were sent out with their population
not as a way to ease population overage or because of the desire to explore,
but because they were exiled. Politically and physiologically: they differ
from their ancestors considerably.
It is not known how long the Generation Ships had been traveling before
reaching their destination. Many scholars think it must have been at least
eight generations, more Breeders have said up to twelve. Able to trace
traits back several generations, they are able to estimate that their
forebears were less varied and more single-powered than currently. The
kinds of mutations that appear due to inbreeding and limited space to
work in on the ship are described below.
The most obvious physical properties of Zekirans is their height. The
normal male Zekiran is usually 6'4" or thereabouts, normal females
rate a few inches below that. Their tallness is not coupled with bulk,
again thanks to the limited space within the Generation ship, and the
light gravity found there. There are few 'stocky' people, and those might
have been largely the result of Breeders' interest in making decent farmhands.
Zekiran bones are thinner and much more brittle than Earth humans'. Because
of this they try to avoid lifting heavy things, and falling from any distances.
The main problem, therefore, are their heads. Since they are larger and
their bones are thinner, any damage to their head could be fatal. Blows
to the skull do not ever just 'knock out' a Zekiran: it kills them, or
at the very least, depending on where the injury occurs, they might lose
the use of a sense (sight at the back of the head, motor control elsewhere,
a natural lobotomy at the forehead) or become a mindless zombie. Injuries
from falls always at least make hairline fractures. Fortunately, Breeders
who specialize in such things may set the bones back or even use a power
to heal them. Only the deepest wounds scar for more than ten years on
Zekiran skin, bone fractures are with you for life unless they are healed
by a Breeder.
The people of Zekira, as said above, are humanoid, but are not human,
or else they are very far removed from the original concept. Due to diet,
and an overall mutative ability, their skin, hair and eyes all come in
a full spectrum of colors, quite unlike humanity. Colors are passed on
from generation to generation, but many things, like animal-tuning mutations
and baldness, are on the X-chromosome, and female colorations and mutations
tend to dominate male ones. There are no problems, as the Breeders insist,
with the colors of people having to do with fertility rates: any red-skinned
green-haired woman can have a child with a yellow-skinned orange-haired
man, with equal chance as with one of her very same colorations. There
are no color-based prejudices, since no one color of any skin-hair-eyes
type has appeared to dominate any class or situation. There are too many
permutations of their colorations for such things. Most colors tend to
stay closely related, and Naturally Bred Zekirans have been tending to
stray closer and closer to a monochromatic line. (This is the basis of
the generation ship exiles -- they were getting into the three color variations,
they weren't staying within the 'legally acceptable' color ranges and
breeding mutations came along with this factor. None but the most learned
Breeders know this at all, and very few Zekirans today would consider
it anything less than ridiculous.) People who have red skin, for instance,
will tend to have red-related hair and eye color, but not always. People
with patterned skin tend to have either complimentary or completely opposite
colors in their patterns.
Field workers will tell you that tanning is one of the most important
things about the skin, and along with the general coloration genes come
strong melanin-like properties. The actual color of the skin or hair does
not change, but the intensity or depth will. Eyes do tend to shift colors,
much like some humans'. They do not, unless some mutation allows it, control
these changes; they are all natural. Hair does seem to be a little different
than Human: it is thicker and more colorful than earth types and it is
actually alive rather than being an extrusion as Earthly hair is. It has
no nerves (unless specified by a mutation), but it does come in all styles
and textures. When it starts to get old or strands have been broken, they
will stop changing color, or become brittle. Fashionable hairstyles range
from sculpts and clips, braids and plaits, to fully orbital impossible
to sleep on stunt-hair. Again, it's money to be blown on frivolities that
causes these things.
Typically around big cities, there are more bizarre Breeder's experiments
and locales where mutants congregate - not all of them have the nice normal
look that Zekirans are known for. Some of them are truly strange or even
frightening to behold. Normal people tend to look rather Human (and all
references to the word Human is meant to say "zekiran" as a
race, not Earthly human beings) so those mutants are often stared at,
run away from, and pointed at by children. Mutants of obvious physical
types appear only once in about 200 or 300 births, at most. It isn't like
they're "typical" in any way.
Speaking of mutants...
The probability of being a mutant is very high, given the typical mash
of Zekiran genetics. However, the useful mutations come around only about
one-fifth of the time (the difference between having an extra pinkie or
toe, a minor and pretty much benign mutation, and a second thumb that
can make your dexterity shoot up... that's useful). Most of the strongest
mutations occur on the x chromosome, and must usually be reinforced by
the second x, so more women are mutants than men. This is not excluding
men from being powerful, it simply means more dilution and variety rather
than single strong powers. It also means that men tend to have their mother's
mutations rather than their father's. Doubly inherited mutations tend
to become much stronger with use than those found singly and used more
Once a line of mutation is started in the population, it's likely to
continue to mutate from generation to generation. Non-mutated people tend
to stay that way, and mutants tend to get more and more mutated.
There is a number of predictable abilities associated with mutations,
and with a Breeder at the wheel, so to speak, these are soon the only
mutations to occur. There are recognizable strengths of any given ability,
from a small weak amount to an overbearing and often debilitating sum.
Many jobs have sprung up for mutants, as mentioned above, Animal Masters
are the most obvious, however, farming and metallurgy are increasingly
found to have mutations that can help. There exist in nearly every large
city, and at most Breeders' offices, a directory of Mutants on the world
computer files. At a moment's notice, a Breeder can match any two genes
together, but after they find the match, they must still deal with the
legal and social implications of buying or 'renting' the mate. Also, there
is a coherent gene map of all Bred individuals, which can allow certain
tagging procedures and keep strains from producing negative results.
Rarely but more often recently, in legal circles telepathic mutants are
used to test the statements of people in criminal trials. Mutant Bodyguards
also are popular choices for Owners or High Holders who have a lot of
The side-effects of psionic or telepathic mutations are physical ones:
ranging from odd skin conditions to extra limbs. Any of these could be
considered an additional positive ability, but there are near-fatal sicknesses
and conditions which end many lives before they are mature. Breeders of
6th Degree are often found with their experiments, and those are often
wilder than nightmare creatures. Less than sane, Bred for specific duties
or conditions, these Slaves (most often Owned by the Breeder or their
closest associates) are rarely seen outside of their job setting, they
are unable to cope in real society and are rapidly becoming a problem
legally. Most have never been properly educated beyond their basics and
the job they're in. They cannot be let free, they cannot be re-titled
if the Breeder changes Status, they are simply stuck in their job for
the rest of their life, regardless of their ability to learn how to cope:
they're tools that happen to be sentient. If they are fertile (rare at
best) they are even less likely to be found outside their Breeders' camps.
Typical Physio-Social Lifetime of a Zekiran
With or without Breeder assistance, Zekiran children are born after a
12-month gestation period. The extended length of their gestation allows
the child to develop further than a human child would. Breech births are
common, but they are not much of a problem, since Zekiran babies are very
soft-boned and easily squeezed out... Zekirans are born with their eyes
open, a full head of hair and a certain amount of limb strength. They
are still unable to speak or lift things, but at the age of two months
they can stand without assistance. Zekiran infants have little in the
way of grasping instinct. They are not primates in the same manner as
humans, therefore their base instincts are different. Teeth begin to erupt
at the age of five months, and continue to be replaced by harder teeth
for the rest of their lives, usually around once every twenty years or
so. It is common to see adults waiting for their front teeth to come in!
(The teeth of Zekirans are the very hardest bones they can produce, if
they could lose their inner bones, they would be extremely strong.)
Children usually begin speaking in recognizable patterns when they are
nearly a year old, with very little in the way of 'baby talk' in between.
Children between one and three years old are very attentive, unless their
Sanity or Intelligence are lower than 20. (Meaning that they have the
same problems in attention span that most human children have.) While
in this stage, even Owned children are given a baseline education. Owners
are not obliged to educate their Stock beyond literacy and basic mathematics,
but depending on what they are expecting from their Stock, they will offer
more education as it becomes necessary.
From the age of three to about ten the child is trained for their Status.
This usually involves an amount of advanced education or physical training.
Also at this stage, they must be brought before a Breeder for testing
(unknown mutations, fertility, Animal tuning, etc, or diseases or deformities
that may come along in the future), and if any Animal tuning mutations
or other helpful anomalies are discovered they may be kept for training,
adjustments, or counciling. Females who are found fertile are educated
immediately as to their informal status. Since they are prized more than
any other single thing on Zekira they are expected to prize themselves
as well. By the age of twelve or thirteen most Zekirans are at their adult
height but still of smaller build. The teen years of awkward growth are
similar to earthly humans, however this stage tends to last only for three
or four years beginning at age ten.
Childbearing age for females begins at twenty, but usually the woman
is not ready for birth physically until she is thirty. Males are able
to sire children at the age of around sixteen, but again are usually not
used for that purpose until they are in their twenties. The act of sex
triggers ovulation, but Breeders have discovered the hormones and pheromones
involved so they may trigger it in a laboratory setting. (Unpleasant as
this seems, sex is still seen as an enjoyable thing, and recreational
sex is as popular with infertile men and women as it is for earthly teenagers.)
Both sexes reach physical stability at the age of twenty or so, and their
maturity continues for about one hundred twenty years after. At about
age one-eighty females become infertile, usually. Some remain fertile
until they die. A Zekiran woman may bear as many as fifty children in
her lifetime, though only certain women have ever been forced to do this.
(The earthly problem of incest and/or inbreeding are unknown for the Zekirans,
their genetics are stable even with inbreeding.)
Nearing the age of one hundred eighty or two hundred, most Zekirans begin
to slow down, their body functions shut down. They lose their hair, teeth
are not replaced, they stoop and begin to get wrinkles on their skin.
They tend to live a long time after these things, however, depending on
their families for support. Without spoon-feeding, elder Zekirans would
not be able to eat after their teeth fall out. Death follows a short coma-like
state, and if the death is a natural-by-age one, it is usually a peaceful
one. Most Zekirans of Owner Status or above tend not to reach their ripe
old age, FreeWorkers and Free Land Holders do, while Slaves and Generation
Bonds tend to have stunted lifespans. As a character, assume you'll live
out your maximum unless you screw up royally along the way...
The main dichotomy in Zekiran culture is between Rural and Urban life.
Most people (FreeWorkers or 'LandHolders, that is) who do not directly
need to travel for their work, rarely do so. They can see most races and
such on the vid, bet that way, and never bother to enter a huge Race arena
as found in any big city. Farmhands, local craftsmen, jobs requiring a
lot of time in the wilderness (trapping and forestry, for instance) and
most mining jobs keep the Worker in the same Hold most of their life.
There are no major cities without an airfield or hoverport of some kind,
in some high-peaks mining towns this is the only access at all! But unless
the Worker is really devoted to a particular Racer or absolutely needs
to go to the next L2B&M concert in Kua, they have little or no desire
to leave their Homeland and Area. The pace of life in the rural cities
is slower and more deliberate than that of the larger and more metropolitan
ones. There are always exceptions, but for the most part, when you're
born in the boonies, you stay there.
City life is indeed faster and more hectic than in the rural zones, again
with exceptions, but there are good reasons why the country folk call
the city dwellers snobs and worse. Used to the easier life of buying pre-packaged
food and conveniences of Betting parlors and such, city folk normally
couldn't kill a chicken to save their own life, much less recognize one.
Again, we're referring to the working class here, not anyone normally
required to travel or buy and sell Holds in different Lands. City folk
usually refer to their country counterparts as hicks and rat-chasers,
at least the polite ones do.
Quick and dirty: Victorian era cities full of high-tech industry and
life, clashing with dustbowl '30s rural towns. Zekirans know they could
all have the ideal lifestyle, if one considers indoor plumbing all the
rage, but there is a bit of spirit left in their people, and some of them
just enjoy roughing it. And the people with the technology, while not
unwilling to share it, are also not out to make sure everyone wants it,
Marketing to a Zekiran is a quirky prospect at best. It is not on the
top of every marketing executive's list to lie to the public and tell
everyone that their product does something it does not. What is at the
top of the list is usually to make that product better and worth looking
into by the general public. Their competitive spirit is prevalent in all
aspects of marketing, but the effect is that of having the really best
products competing because of their quality, rather than their advertising.
This, friends, is a side effect of their long lives -- when a product
is said to last 'a long time', they mean it. Built to last, that's the
only phrase that counts.
Zekirans love to watch everything, seem to take pride in even blowing
an afternoon watching the clouds make patterns. Priorities for a Zekiran
usually run: keep money coming in; pay the rent!; keep the boots polished,
gotta impress the wife's family; paint the Homestead this year, the paint's
almost half a shade off what might be starting to fade!... etc. In rural
settings, or towns which have a very low and highly specialized population,
it is often expected that the inhabitants do their work and pull their
weight before screwing around, but when they take a vacation they're also
expected to enjoy it. A perfectly valid excuse for not having a piece
of furniture delivered on time might be, "our hover van driver is
still on vacation, he's got the kid and they're fishing in the Yol valley."
And the response might be, "well, hell, hope he catches something
Oddly, this value of personal rights and freedoms stops dead at Slaves.
Of course this varies from Owner to Owner, but there are thousands of
Slaves being treated like furniture right now, and will continue to be,
until the day they discover their hidden mutant talents or other valuable
trait. Likewise, there are some that are so close to family heirlooms
that their Owner would never consider making them do degrading or difficult
work, simply because they are treated more like friends than possessions.
Zekirans are highly social, but those who are 'loners' are often fiercely
so. They tolerate each other's close presence in large crowds but require
space for privacy: another dichotomy and another reason Zekiran Homesteads
are made the way they are. Many inner city apartments and homes are squished
together and are function over aesthetic, but the farther away from major
populations (or the richer you are within those settings) the larger homesteads
may be allowed to grow. An average Homestead for a moderately wealthy
Owner or Membayar is about 50 units in size. This is a sliding scale and
detailed elsewhere, but the upshot is that 50 units in Telva might mean
a three room flat; while the same 50 units in Nekani, about 800 miles
south-west of Telva, might be a two story eighteen room sprawl with a
farm beside it.
They also love to see each other's work, so that Telva Hold must be clean
and neat, the Nekani ranch house must be well kept so that if your High
Holder friends show up, it's always going to make a good impression.
Not all Zekirans are neat freaks, but most could qualify. They do not
have a throwaway society, most packaging -- when used at all -- is of
the biodegradable or recyclable types, and most products don't need it.
Large Holds that require lots of food or pantry items usually have a larder
and walk-in cold unit, or import fresh goods daily or weekly. The streets
of most large cities are clean and neat, buildings are kept shiny and
washed, even the industrial areas of major cities are considerably cleaner
than any earthly industrial-revolution site.
Music of all types is found on Zekira, from 'tribal' beat drums
to 'tribal' techno, what equates to 'classical' music on Zekira is similar
in nature to 19th century Russian style compositions. Rough, somewhat
choppy and very bold can describe their classical selections. "Modern"
music most greatly resembles earthly 'rave' music. The trend toward loud
but smoothly orchestrated music is on currently (around 10350), but all
styles seem to be enjoying a comeback once in a while. Notably missing
from their music scape is what could be considered 'gospel' music, though
only in intent. There are pieces made by varying composers over the centuries
which sound very similar with the full-voice harmony and the uplifting
quality, but the nature of the music is not religious.
Instruments vary from century to century but since Zekirans are an essentially
technological society there have always been a mix of electric or powered
and acoustic instruments which are equally considered 'traditional'. It
is entirely possible to find a group using programmed keyboards and computer
assisted drum kits with wooden flutes and banjoes right next to them.
They have had time to develop unusual instruments as well, some which
are used only in certain areas of the world due to climate or conditions:
wind chimes are not the little objects known on earth. Whole symphonies
have been made (by an admittedly mad composer) involving the use of huge
metal and wood constructions that when wind blows over them they vibrate
-- loudly. Nature sounds play larger roles in Zekiran music than they
ever could in earthly songs.
Architecture on Zekira varies from site to site, and at most times,
necessity is the mother of Art. Some architects have a distinct flavor
to their work, ala Frank Lloyd Wright, while some simply suit their designs
to the needs and locale. Structures are made -- as all objects -- to last,
if you're Inheriting a house up in Emer, you definitely want it to be
weathertight and warm in winter! Heavy woods, stone and metal, and concrete
are definitely 'in' for construction materials, but brickwork and adobe
work perfectly well in the warmest climes. Each Area has a different need
for particular kinds of housing, the World section details more of that.
A good designer is often revered in Zekiran society, within circles who
have contact with their work, as much as a Breeder. For don't they do
just that, to the environment that one must live in?
Clothing styles... Are subject to whim, and subject to change
almost as much as hairstyles. This society has little stigma attached
to a particular sort of dress, there are just as many men wearing robes
and skirts than women wearing muscle shirts and cycling shorts. Any and
all materials are used for their clothing, these Zekirans love to feel
things. A design for Steed racing and other high-speed use is called a
SlickSuit, a rather softer version of a wetsuit: used to keep the rider
clean and cut down on friction during a race. These have become popular
with certain sets, just because they look excellent on the right body,
and at times they're cut so close that if they were colored in anything
other than black (which they're not) they might be considered a second
skin. Frills are necessary, in Higher sets, the more bangles and layers
the better. Shoes stress form over function, mostly destroying the toes
of the wearer but if they look good - they look good. Equal numbers of
Animal Masters and Membayar prefer the opposite, functional shoes are
essential for working around animals of any kind, and of course you don't
want to get stuck behind a desk wearing 6-inch heels... Any given party
will have a cross of Edwardian elegance and Sports Illustrated panache.
Colors in fashion tend to be subdued, though since Zekirans come in all
colors it's nearly impossible to determine what 'neutral' really is. Tending
to pale, white or washed out colors brings out the wearer's colors, while
displaying the neons and bold prints in public shows off the flair of
the person for 'style'. It's all in the wearing.
Art, photography, sculpture, all of these are considered High
arts. Modeling, posing, people who have time to do this are in demand.
Your Product on Her Body is essential: the only tie-in to advertising
is the level of the Artist involved. Mirage is clearly the best photographer
in the world, right now, and could pose for anyone perfectly as well,
but no one would be able to capture her image as well as she could! Lower
status' rarely have the appreciation of these things as they ought, with
the exception of craftsmen. Making a good piece of porcelain is indeed
valued. Buying one and putting it in the designer shelving with the proper
lights is just as important, to the right people.
Movies, Entertainment, Television are all available in every Zekiran
city. However, some smaller locales (those perhaps with fewer than 2000
people on a regular basis) might not have a theater or even its own local
news or information channel on the video. Many genres of movies are in
production at any given time, however most Zekiran films greatly resemble
either "reality tv" or "Hindi Musicals" in their scope.
Every decade sees a new style or flash in the pan as far as themes go.
One decade it might be 'westerns' (with a white hat and a black hat and
this Hold ain't big enough for two High Holders), the next featuring brutal
survival stories (lost in the wilderness between Eftel and Fi'ir with
only a spork and spiral binder...), and the next, grand tales of mythology
and bizarre powers (there really was a girl put to sleep by her wicked
step-Breeder for a hundred years, to be awakened by her handsome Lord
by his healing kiss... And Mirage played that girl's role when she was
in her Acting classes...). Music plays a huge role in all entertainment
on the video or big screen, and especially on the stage. Theaters are
popular with all age groups, and everything from "Cats"-like
(imagine all those spliced mutant cat-people...) musicals to serious,
one-act-wonders. Musicians often get their careers started playing in
Stage orchestras or in background music for television shows.
The attention span of most Zekirans is much longer than Earthly humans,
so most shows are around three to four hours long with some amount of
intermission in there (if you're lucky).
Beauty contests and sports events are also quite popular on video. Breeders
show off their works, Steed races, golf, long-winded political arguments,
even re-inactment movies about the Landing or events in history.
Sports which don't involve a lot of direct contact are popular. Those
which do require physical danger are more often than not performed by
specially created Slaves, Animal Masters or generally 'big' people. Ball-sports
similar to basketball, golf, tennis and cricket exist, but more popular
are those which involve some kind of artistic merit such as ice skating
or dancing, gymnastics and prowess-proving stunts.
Any time Steeds appear on the vid ratings skyrocket. So, pretty much every
race, show or event is televised either locally or globally.
Those people who manage to get themselves on televison or in the movies
on a regular basis often find themselves on the higher-end of Land ownership,
rather quickly. So long as they are in the public eye, their worth is
Networks are all privately Held, and most have their own satellite up
in the atmosphere. Commercial breaks occur only between full shows or
during intermission periods of long programs. Most Network owners are
extremely picky about the advertising that they allow on their airwaves.
Many just advertise their own services, if they are Bond agents or party
Parties are a huge part of Zekiran lifestyles. Even those people
who aren't among the rich or famous throw parties that their friends attend.
Lower status parties might just be a "let's meet behind the milking
shed in the evening and sing songs"; mid-level status parties are
usually a lot like birthday events or office gatherings with people getting
drunk, eating too much and possibly embarrassing themselves; while upper
status parties vary heavily as to who is throwing it and why.
Membayar parties... Are rather boring to those used to Owner gathers.
Coctail parties and stately dances, organized birthday events and the
like are all the realm of Membayar. Owner parties... Well, let's say they're
all that and a bag of chips. Owners thrive on party atmospheres, and if
there isn't live music or a good beat on the stereo system, they just
up and leave. Owners like to show off to one another, so a lot of their
gathers involve money, land, or their new investment in Hard Stock.
Suzerain hang out at both Membayar and Owner parties, but prefer the High
Holder set to theirs. Dignity aside, there is something to be said about
being able to hire the latest bands and have them perform for your daughter's
High Holders and High Owners would have you believe that their parties
are vastly different. However, the only real difference is where they're
held, and how often. High Holders are still usually Membayar at heart,
and they have some reason for throwing a party. Now, admittedly that reason
could be "I got my violets to bloom two weeks in a row". They're
more often than not held indoors, among secure setting and with a professional
staff on hand to clean up or cater. High Owner parties are often held
outside or in strange indoor settings (got that cavern under Anilis Crater?
Cool! Can we misbehave there?) and with a multitude of servants to provide
all the necessary food and such. Otherwise, there is drinking, backstabbing,
rumormongering, politicing, flirting, and perhaps even a duel now and
Animal Masters rarely have time to throw parties. But they love to attend
them, especially when they're the guest of honor!
"Say, isn't that High Master Tain? He just won the Telva Stormfront
Steed race! Who bred his Steeds?" "They're right over there..."
"I gotta talk to that guy!"
Breeders throw parties with such depth of ulterior motives that they're
often painfully obvious. They have gathers and get togethers to find new
breeding material. Almost every one of them has thrown at least one party
in honor of themselves getting a new Degree, and to properly celebrate
that they need ... What else, but new blood?
A party without a Breeder at it is lacking. Most Free Worker or Land Master
parties are therefore found striving to someday have the local clinician
or 1st Degree Breeder on hand just in case someone has something more
than they seem to.
Toys and simple games are popular among children and few others.
There is nothing called a 'collectors' market for things, toys are to
be played with and enjoyed for their immediate value. While one toy might
be of excessive value to a child, they rarely try to one-up their neighbors
and have the latest craze in action figures before everyone else.
Play is greatly encouraged in children, particularly competitive play,
but often acting out is just as important. Rather than the simple mammalian
desire to learn, Zekiran play is a highly refined object in their minds.
Playing and enjoying ones self are essential to balanced minds. If you're
not enjoying yourself, you need to learn to play, right?
Small pets and animals are popular as toys, many children have
had insects in airy cages or small tame birds on strings in their rooms.
Even the lowest Status have pets, the desire to tend to things is pervasive
in Zekiran society. The richer pets include large animals such as Hern
Rats (equivalent to husky-Doberman mixes as guard dogs), hunting birds
brought from the wilds and trained, and fish -- hey, they don't go out
into the water much, fish are dangerous pets in their minds.
The breeders of Ferilons (shown at left) have always had a spot in the
hearts of children everywhere - along with cats and puppies the ferret-like
creatures can be an enjoyable childhood-into-adulthood pet.
Insects make great gifts, since they come in so many different packages.
From beetles the size of a pea to those which seem to make bird-songs
and are the size of Your Head, moths and butterflies, dragonflies, and
such, most bugs are interesting to Zekirans, and few people have trouble
with them (they're not 'icky' to most Zekirans).
Steeds are the most Important Pet. The ability to keep and ride a Steed
can mean someone's livelihood, if they are a courier or transportation
worker; but it can also be the utmost in style to have Bred just the right
tint of pink across that black Steed's mane. Much more on them later.
Transportation is as mixed as musical instruments: Steeds provide
most of the day to day and local transportation, while advanced hovercraft
and jet aircraft do the larger and longer-range work. There are actually
very few roads on Zekiran soil - at least from City to City. Inner city
areas and those which connect the outlying Zone with a City usually have
wide, carefully made roads.
Single Steed riders include couriers and messengers. Dual-steed carts
are most common for public transportation in rural areas and smaller cities
(or larger, trendier ones). More Steeds, Larger Carts. Carriages and wagons
are the most commonly seen method of transportation, many FreeWorkers
or 'LandHolders who work in transportation have a couple of good horses
and a carriage ready to rent and ride wherever their fare will ask. Heavier
duty and longer term requests (such as moving companies and construction
outfits) use mechanical vehicles.
Small personal vehicles are rare, and usually are of the motor-bike variety,
mostly with three wheels. Family vans and such are expensive and hard
to come by, except in larger cities. Wheeled vehicles are just as common
as hovercraft, but all of them are made with clean energy in mind, most
Heavy duty hovercraft and jet vehicles are capable of crossing the large
oceans in between the continents of Zekira, and up to the highest peaks
where some cities have been settled. There are a very small number of
anti-gravity craft being produced, but those are still prototypes and
are certainly not to be trusted.
Zekirans, when they are doing so, love to travel as a rule. The journey
is usually as important as the place they arrive to, though depending
on why they're traveling of course, this might be different for some.
Only those who must be in one Hold one hour and across the world in the
next, really don't like the time it still takes to travel. Otherwise,
to the uninitiated, the first flight across the Rainbow Sea from Telva
to Astel is the most beautiful thing they'll ever see.
Philosophy and religion: yeah right. There is nothing in the way
of religion in Zekiran culture. They do still use terms such as 'god'
or 'goddess', because so far as they know their original people did believe
in such things, but they've come way beyond that even in the 12 thousand
or so years they've been around on this world. They know too much to believe
in such things, but obviously they can also explain things differently
than their ancestors. Witchcraft and such can easily be attributed to
the stray mutations and psionic powers which pervade society today, and
certainly there were the precursors to the major powers which exist today
- something like the earthly parting of the Red Sea could have been done
by one of Zekira's eminent weathershapers or those with telekinetic control.
Much exists regarding philosophy, but it is confined to the elite and
theoretical-use departments. Since Zekirans live a very long time, naturally,
and their deaths are usually calm ones when they are natural, they have
little to worry about in the way of mortality. They have no concept of
'living for the better afterlife', no concept of heaven or hell as such,
but they do have 'ghosts' and other 'supernatural phenomenon'. The fact
that they are an essentially telepathic society indicates some kind of
split between body and mind, or physicality and soul if those terms are
appropriate. Speakers with the dead can usually be proven accurate: a
mind exists as a power source, and can still be seen and grasped as a
personality until it has no reason to exist any longer. There are a few
powered mutants who are exploring these venues, some as the facts of 'afterlife'
are revealed, some because there is a tremendous power source out there,
ambient and unused!
Philosophy usually equates to 'morality' in Zekiran discussions and little
else. They are concerned with how they appear to others, at all times,
and usually the only concern to most dying Zekirans is how their estates
will be divided, and are they going to look funny when they're dead. Morals
and ethics are extraordinarily complex for Zekirans, they make exceptions
to everything, particularly with regards to Slaves. Rare indeed is the
High Holder who would spend time fawning over the latest Hot Fashion and
then try and raise awareness to the problems of striking Slaves when they're
bad. They exist, but they're really really hard to find. One word: Mirage.
Morality includes whatever you can get away with and still not get in
trouble when you're found out.
Taboo, yeah right again. There is surprisingly little in the way
of taboo subjects to Zekirans. Possibly the one stunning example of Taboo
is to mention someone's physical deformity before they announce anything
regarding it. Scars are usually gone within several years, but some deep
damage might stay with someone for decades or their lifetime, and mentioning
it at a party would be death to a social life. Since mutations play such
a large role in their society, it's always best to ignore them and get
on with it. That's why people with wings can still actually function in
Higher society. The lower one goes, the more apt to gawk and point, rarity
brings out the best - and worst - in people as always.
Sexual taboo is even less obvious than clothing and fashion. Zekirans
often are found in groups, and while it is not unusual for a couple to
pair off for a while, marriages don't usually last more than a few decades
at most. People may have up to two married mates at one time, above that
is pretty much a bad idea and against most laws. (It is the complexity
that provides the need to limit, more mates can spread Inheritances out
like crazy, and you don't want that.) The one important facet of sexuality
that does remain constant: know your parents, or know your offspring.
The Bred individual doesn't usually have to worry about their Inheritances,
but casually mentioning that you're pregnant and you don't know who the
father is can ruin someone. It can also provide endless hours of entertainment
when attempting to establish paternity, too.
It is just as common to find a pair of same-sex partners as it is male
and female, but the rarer category of bisexuality is more or less popular
by the century. The difference from Earth culture being that opposite
sex partners are just as likely or unlikely to be able to have children
as their homosexual counterparts in this society! Also, if fertile, they
may be involved in Breeding as normal, who they pair with socially is
utterly separate from who they're mated to by Breeders. Marriage is a
social expectation of people who love one another, while childbearing
is an obligation that people seem to worry about, you know, keeping the
population going and all.
Jealousy is rare, but present, in Zekiran lifestyles, with regards to
who is seeing whom. But it's easier, they feel, to share with their friends
and not worry about it, than to be unhappily sitting by while the rest
of the party gets in and sweats. Yes, those kinds of parties exist and
are for the brave of heart only. It's common to find, at large High Holder
parties, smallish rooms and areas devoted to private enjoyments. It is
considered extremely rude to pry into these places when found, unless
invited. Who you're seeing and who you're seen with are important, within
the constraint: who you're seen with going to one of these little rooms
rather than who interrupts you while you're gettin' busy...
Accents and slang vary from Area to Area. Harkening back to the
beginning of this chapter, the most remote locations and most steady peoples
will have more of an accent if they have any, while those required to
be on the move will also be required to keep up with the slight differences
in slang in each of their Holds. There is ONE language actually spoken
by Zekirans, but there are sixteen major and close to seventy minor dialects.
They will never evolve into different languages, but there are indeed
Cities which have an awful time understanding each other.
"How y'all doin' up there, pardner?" "Vhat are you to be
Naming children on Zekira can be as simple as combining the parents'
into one, or as complex as randomly assigning syllables. Most often, either
the higher Status parent's first letter or sound is used for a single
child, or the sex of the child determines which name theirs will take
An example: Suzeraan Vrang Haital has a pregnant wife, mistress and
Slave. Each of them bears a child: his wife's a High Holder, so his
Legal son is named Voor Haital, after him. His Slave also has a boy,
named Vanan -- but he takes the Slave's last name of Vlask to indicate
that he's not of the Haital line. His mistress Besch bears a girl, and
they name her Botan Haital, female following name, with the Inheritance
Another example: Raanatani and Vanya accidentally ran into each other's
Hyperfertility Zone (chasing butterflies, what else? Well, he'd say
to tear their wings off...) so in attempting to make up their daughter's
name, either of them were rather dominant about it: Vrtanya is about
as close to perfectly combining their names as possible, an average
so to speak.
Last names are rare, but being used more and more often by people who
either think they're 'all that' or have some heritage they'd like people
to recognize. Even Slaves can do this: Kenya Dahash is Slave Dahash's
daughter, and though he won't be dying off and leaving her lots of stuff,
he is a very striking and well-tempered man, so the name became her
family name. Indicating who you're Inheriting from is clearly of importance,
and also serves as a warning:
Extremely nice Velvet Chanay meets up with extremely disturbing Vlad
Sengihr. They have two children: Vendetta and Veil, either of them take
both last names, but both reflect the refinement of one parent, and
the madness of another, or in this case the grandfathers.
Most names are simply sounds, mostly meaningless otherwise. There are
lines which tend to stay with descriptive or meaningful names, however,
and usually one can tell where they stand with these people: Mirage, her
daughters Amaranth, Shatter and Myst; her sons Pasha and Haze, their offspring
reads like a list of items and events: Shadow, Dusk, Velvet, Vendetta,
Delirium. Usually naming a child after an event (Shatter) or a substance
(Essence) is going to get them noticed in public. They often live up to
their name, if given half a chance.
The most Inheriting character currently running is Calico, daughter of
Tekata and Chaos, granddaughter of Kyl and Tylee Kshau, and Beaoschkahva
and Shadow; great granddaughter of: Raanatani (inheriting), Beden, Ksai
(Inheriting), Amaranth (inheriting), Shatter (inheriting), Ten (inheriting),
Aeroch, Engell, and Savistahni (inheriting); with the extending Inheritances
of: Kshau (Aern is Ksai's father), Sengihr (Ksai's notable ancestor),
and Mirage who's just everyone's mom this time around.
In case you're still wondering: no, breeding back to already related genetics
isn't a really bad thing. The mutations and powers tend to get reinforced
by this, rather than screwed up as they do in human genes. Didn't we already
get over this? Calico's gene pool has five repeated grand-ancestors, and
several above that by at least three generations. The rule of thumb: if
the relation is farther than two generations back, it's perfectly acceptable
Breeding procedure. If it's closer than that, it's not a good idea --
but only because it's confusing and somewhat embarrassing. Not unheard
of, particularly with Slaves to be Bred into their own line, but still
difficult to describe why your half-sister is also your great aunt. You
know that song, "I am my own grandfather?" Well, it's happening
right now, genetically speaking anyone can make themself up with a clone
-- but it won't be exactly the same since most Zekiran's genes are apt
to just up and mutate, have the sex changed, and there you go.
Steeds, Streets and Status Symbols It is mentioned in the Steed
section as well, but it bears repeating several times... If a Zekiran
can use a Steed for something, rather than a machine, they will. With
very few exceptions, Zekirans just love the animals, like being around
them, and generally would rather watch them than a machine. Carriages
and carts are the most popular method of transportation on Zekira within
Cities and small urban Zones. For longer transports, usually vehicles
powered by something other than a living creature are used, simply because
of the distances involved being greater. Most streets in Zekiran cities
are wide, well-maintained and fit for either Steeds or vehicles but seldom
both. The largest cities are in fact made for both kinds, some even having
single-Steedways nearer the pedestrian traffic, two- or three-wide carriage
lanes in general, and those set aside for purely engine-driven vehicles
somewhere in the middle of the street itself. Don't misunderstand: there
are dozens of towns which don't have paved roads, let alone set-aside
areas for engined vehicles beyond the airstrips which must service them!
The moment a FreeWorker is able to buy a Steed (even an old, worn out
grounded one) they immediately take on the expectations of the whole world:
Steeds make the world go around! They must shelter it, which requires
either Land Held or rental, and unless the Steed is used to work for that
goal as well, say hello to "Bond Agency". The higher Status
buyer often becomes inured to the thrill of having Steeds, while their
Slaves might be allowed a thrill themselves, how many Slaves get to work
with Steeds, where FreeWorkers don't? Sure, they don't get paid to do
it, but they get to. That in itself is worthy of some small amount of
jealousy. A racer starting off as a FreeWorker (rarely), who wins moderate
amounts of races might edge themself up into High Holding if they are
wise enough to invest early and not blow their own wages on betting! It
is rare that a Slave will race, but many who do often clear the respect
of their Owner when they win, work their way into Bayaran, and from there
Betting is the single most pervasive event in the Zekiran world.
It is a matter of course that anyone in a Steeding town will place bets
on their steeds or those of their friends. Betting parlours exist darn
near everywhere and are found with all sorts of Membayar to run them.
Mainly because if you start losing on those bets, you're going to be Bayaran
soon. That hasn't stopped the millions of people placing hundreds of millions
of Creds on races. Zekirans bet on anything, not just racing. They will
bet on the outcome of a duel, they'll bet on what color the sunset might
turn in two minutes. Not everyone is apt to do this, however around 70%
of the population has at one point had enough money to put a couple Creds
down on something and have it come back to them twofold.
Betting can be done almost anywhere, but the most common locale is the
Betting Parlour. Some Steeding towns have large numbers of them, others
open only during the Circuit travels, and some people prefer to use their
home vid/link to do it. Most betting machines have the look and feel of
an Earthly slot machine, combined with a subway-train-ticket dispenser.
Some people can be prevented from betting. Similar to the Breeder's Network,
there is a kind of "Bettors network" which alerts agencies and
Parlour employees to potentially bad credit problems. Recurrant Bayaran,
those who have stolen merchandise and have a police record, or those people
who might be Renegade or Rogue will all be on that list, so when someone
comes to the betting parlour's release window they're going to have to
prove they are allowed to bet.
It's never clear which set is risking more: the High Holder who has a
steed farm just coming into its prime, or the Free Worker who bets everything
he holds on one fifty-to-one longshot...
Above and Below: Which Parlour would YOU rather place your bets? Equal
numbers of both types are found everywhere across the world.
Dueling and Ritual Combat It is uncommon in these days to see
people carrying weaponry such as dueling swords openly, more often than
not they're seen at parties and events or as parts of costumes. Some areas
of the world are known to produce better or worse weaponry. Lantu, high
in the peaks ot Altem, is often called the best forge in the world, whereas
the Zucan mines produce the most blades in the world. Defin is also a
surprising source of fine tooled blades, and the island of Hast off the
Kan coast has its share of metal-shaping mutants who can bend the metals
into shapes that no machine could, fitting the hilt to its individual
user. City by city, there are laws regarding actual duels, most of which
are ignored. Certain cities have schools which teach particular dueling
techniques, Stetil for instance has three known dueling specialties, each
taught from Beena, Fabe, and Xnet, and all of them seem to be superior
to others in the world.
Dueling openly on the streets anywhere is usually frowned upon, particularly
if a duel just suddenly breaks out. Formal dueling most often occurs when
two people have an argument which is highly opinionated (whose Steed is
better looking, which school of dueling is superior) that can't be settled
any other way (supposedly). Rather like Earthly dueling in the last century,
a time and date are set, seconds chosen if need be, and a healer is on
site, in addition to a law official. Most rituals involve endless circling
and posing, feinting and false strikes to test the reactions of the opponent,
and few result in death unless one of the players really has it in for
the other. Dying in a duel is considered far superior to being shot in
the back, or otherwise murdered.
More on Rituals While most day-to-day activities on Zekira are
not structured, in formal settings they get very formal. Judiciary training,
dancing, even eating at banquets and having business meetings are all
things which maintain a high level of ritual.
Judging and law is certainly the most structured of all rituals. They
are still far from the stuffy British court system on Earth, but it is
about half again as complex as American court systems. All rise... All
recite a statement of truthful intent (yes, including the witnesses!),
all do this, all do that.
Dancing is the next most pervasively ritualized activity on Zekira, there
are dances which have been maintained in the entire ten thousand year
history of the world! The only way to do this is to have a very deep understanding
and expectation of the meaning of the individual dance. The Tree-Flier
dance is one which always requires three participants, usually one female
and two males, all of whom must cooperatively simulate the fluttery dance
of the small rodents; a waltz-like dance called Spring Flowers Turn involves
crowds of up to two hundred, each person paired off; there are versions
of what we know as square dancing, break and hip hop dances, can-can,
all sorts of interactive and overtly festive dances which have long-standing
traditions which are maintained by everyone who attends any kind of dancing
class. That is not to say that untrained people can't enjoy themselves
in public by just dancin' away to their heart's content, but they won't
be taken seriously at High Holder events!
Business meetings and fund-raisers are occasions which are more formal
than festive, and most times the meeting site, the food provided, and
the structure of the meetings are organized by professionals whose job
it is to know which forks must be set out and removed at the right times.
Often run by Membayar for the purpose of serving others, but there are
always sets of Slaves trained for it for High Holders and Owners. Many
business meetings resemble Earthly Japanese meetings, with the sedate
and very formal people aided by their slightly more colorful but often
ignored attendants, followed by very festive singing or dancing, foods
and drinks, and other "services" which the most indulgent Holders
Making mistakes in a ritual environment is not fatal but it is terribly
embarrassing and can destroy potential business contacts out of lack of
respect. Depending on who is attending and what kind of event it is, anyone
can save face by being seen with someone else who is still of the better
variety. In other words, if Mirage still likes you, you must be okay!
Food Each region of Zekira has its own expectations of food and
drinks. The most extensive courses and exotic meals can be found in Zuca,
spicy foods are largely found in the Emosah grasslands. Wines are made
everywhere that fruits and grapes might be grown, and admittedly the best
wines are made from grapes grown in Curra along the mountain range edges.
Unusual fruit drinks and ciders made from the dark cherries of Ablan (a
tiny town n-w of Aet) are well known and continue to be considered the
"best" for several thousand years, well into the 14000s! Beers
and other spirits are regional, and maintaining the Earthly parallels,
Stetil mountainlands often produce the finest, heaviest darkest beers
(like Germany and Sweden, of similar atmospheres).
There is no "legal drinking age" on Zekira. All children usually
have had wine by the time they're about 6 or 7, but most people know not
to sell a young child hard liquor. Unless it's a Slave or Bayaran sent
to fill up their Lord or Master's liquor cabinet before their next party...
Food is the main way that Slaves interact with their Lords and their friends:
by appearing with trays of it, mugs of wine, and removing it when it's
gone through. A good chef is prized anywhere, but particularly by High
Holders and High Owners, and particularly if they're Bayaran or Slaved...
why pay? FreeWorkers who manage to distinguish themselves by food preparation
means (and I don't mean at the local Rat Burger...) often are able to
work for hotels, banquet services, and other easy ways to get in with
higher Status crowds!
Age Categories and Rites of Passage
The only rite that most Zekirans go through is that of attaining their
Status, passing their exams. That usually happens between the ages of
10 and 20. Depending on their abilities, they might experience another
if they Raise to a new Status, thus passing another Exam, the Breeder
might get their new Degree, or in a sad case they might mark the day they
were Lowered into Bayaran or some such.
There is no legal age for anything other than voting if they are of the
appropriate Status, and that happens of course right when they've passed
The only other time which might come in handy to mark on that calendar
is that of an Inheritance. Which, sadly, means that some relative or close
friend has passed away. "Sniff. ... Hand over that map. I wanna see
where that Holding I just got is at..."
Assorted Laws, Regulations and Examples
With the exception of High Holders, Breeders and Animal Masters, anyone
who becomes Bonded cannot vote or hold office after they have paid back
their debt. Owners are not particularly disturbed by this, but Membayar
Everyone can Race for a living. If they have the talent, and the availability
of Stock, why not? It is not uncommon to see High Holders and Slaves racing
against one another, simply because High Holders like the thrill. However,
betting on races involves a certain skill that not everyone has. It also
involves the bookmaker being of at least Membayar Status. Anyone of lower
Station found making books for races will be fined (although in certain
Zones where racing is quite common, and where someone can expect to be
raised among these activities, many laws are glossed over or completely
ignored - if a Free Worker is making those books, and doing a good job
at it, they might eventually be Membayar). Actually betting on races is
okay for anyone who can provide the open cash at the time, and can prove
it's theirs (or their Owner's, if they're betting for their Lord).
It is a good idea to keep track of all the moneys that the Character has.
Like in Monopoly, it is a fine thing to hide away a bit of cash just in
case. There is a detailed description of how to determine the value of
everything the character holds, just a little later.
As mentioned in the Status descriptions, an abused Breeder's Slave will
be Freed. She becomes a Freeworker immediately, with all the rights and
privileges as if she had been born into it.
Slaves have no rights, as above, but sometimes they become the turning
point for a story. What happens if a Slave is desired for Breeding by
two different people? She can only have one baby at a time, and the next
might be her last! What could she do about this? Sometimes Slaves hear
and see things that are best not known. But they also might be running
errands for their Owners. What about when they see something happening
that they know is wrong? Well, on that, if it is proved, they will be
rewarded based on the severity of the offense they report. Up to and including
financial compensation to free them.
Of all the Stations, Bayaran are the worst off. Some Slaves might say
different, but at least they have a roof over their head and food in their
bellies. Bayaran can go in and out of freedom constantly, back and forth
to FreeWorker. There are habitual Bonds, and there are laws in the works
to prevent them from this behavior, but enough Workers vote them out every
time they come up.
Weapons in public are forbidden in most Areas, but as defined later, there
are exceptions. (See the Skills section for slightly more on this.) There
is a police force (composed of FreeWorkers and specially trained Slaves)
that is allowed to carry projectile weapons as well as swords, billy clubs
or whatever they will. Brutality is not common, but the force is small
War is something unknown (mostly) in civilized Zekira. If the people of
Neres ever get off their own backs and begin attacking the other folk
on the planet, the 'Rainbow People' as the Nerisians call them will be
totally unprepared. Zekirans generally never learn to fight. Most Slaves
learn to hold their own in a tussle with each other over whatever meager
posessions they might be given, many Bayaran, FreeWorkers and even a number
of Owners and Animal Masters have the talents that allow for hand to hand
combat, but... No one really has a structured method of teaching tactics,
let alone self defense. (No one but ... Say, Alabaster or Blackstone?)
There are individual studios of martial arts type classes, but they are
rare, and usually go with the ownership of a particular weapon.
When a member of a Status higher than Bayaran dies, and leaves a family
behind, that family is entitled to their legacy: both their Holdings and
their Debts. Unsettled Debts go to a Membayar agent to be examined, Holdings
get split evenly among all the individuals in the family. If there is
no family, the Holdings revert to their unHeld state until the next person
comes along for Buying. Debts that are left to no family are dropped,
you can't make something from nothing. In the case of a greater Debt needing
a family member to Bond, as many members as allowed by local law or need
may join the Bayaran, to finish off the Debt and clear their names. When
a generation Bond happens, and the Debt is repaid, the family member has
no record of Bayaran, and will always have their full set of rights, unless
they themselves become Bonded later.
Any Agency may reject a Debt. If the Debt is too great for the Membayar
to take on, they pass it to someone that can. If a Debt is passed more
than two times, it is examined by a lawyer. If it is seen as a monumental
debt with a reason, the Bayaran must opt for Permanent Bonding: Slavery.
If it is found not to have reason, or there were circumstances beyond
the Bayaran's control, it must be dropped, and the Bond returned to their
original Status and rights.
Facts about politics...
Once your High Holder manages to secure a certain amount of Lands in an
Area or City Zone, they're immediately entered into that magical competition
of Area President. If they like it that's nice. If they don't it's just
too bad because the size of their Land is all that counts. As mentioned
elsewhere, a person must be voted in by an election to gain the post or
any other elected type of duty, however Area or City President is the
one time that their Held Lands are used to determine who can and cannot
run. Other types of elected posts such as Mayor, Area Representative and
Dog Catcher - in other words anything less than President - anyone with
the proper Status may run for and be elected.
There are distinct advantages to being elected to any sort of post: the
acclaim, the fact that everyone must love you so much since you got elected
in the first place. And of course visibility often brings Breeders, job
offers, money attracts money. Naturally, there is a down side. It is required
of the post (Area President, specifically) that the holder in question
be present for any and all meetings, not just "most of them"
or "occasional" meetings. If they cannot hold that down, they
are removed from the post and replaced with the runner up. That does not
prevent them from running again and winning - and doing the whole thing
over time after time! Usually, this technique is enacted by those of less
scrupulous means and is used to delay votes, to render decisions untimely,
and generally to muddle things for that poor sap the runner up.
There are disproportionate negatives to being an Area President. The fame
comes at the cost of that very thing: visibility. People know where you
will be and when, for voting purposes, you must be made accountable for
votes cast, and people might not have loved you all that much - either
they voted against you in the first place, or your methods of securing
their votes were shall we say less than legal. It is possible to buy your
way into office, that's most often how it's done in very large cities
and heavily populated areas, less so in rural settings. However you are
a name and a face, not just "that president person" to most
in the Area. And as such, you can become a target.
The best way to stay out of the seat is to not actively pursue it. Keep
a close eye on your enemies, however, because if they can get you elected...
Only 3 out of 10 Area Presidents are actually assassinated in office.
However, 7 out of every 10 people who have been Area Presidents are eventually
assassinated. High Holders (and eventually High Owners) comprise 75% of
the Area Presidents, about 10% are Suzerain, and the rest are split between
Breeders and Animal Masters.
The post of Area President is held for five years a term. There is no
limit to the number of terms one person may be elected. It is possible
to be elected to more than one Area's seat, however when multiple seats
have been secured all votes cast by that person count the same way each
time: they can't vote against themself!
Lower posts support and vote with the Area President and occasionally
may veto their decision. A veto must be unanimous to succeed but if it
is, the veto completely negates the effect of the President's vote. The
lower posts include representatives from each City. Those people are often
on their way up to Area President running, but can only afford to be seen
in a smaller context. The posts cannot be held at the same time, those
of Area and City President. As mentioned briefly in the Social Systems
chapter, a higher post is available: the Land President. It is highly
unusual to need or even want such a post, but if it is necessary the Area
Presidents vote among themselves to decide who that will be.
People are represented on the basis of population only. ONLY the voting
public is counted in this amount, Slaves and Bayaran, as well as Habitual
Bayaran who are currently Free Workers, do not count toward the population
for this purpose. They are counted for population density reports, Holding
re-evaluation, and if they squawk loud enough, for purposes of enacting
laws which affect them.
Voting is as follows: Free Workers vote only in their Homeland
and only on those items pertaining to their City of residence. Free Land
Holders vote based on their Holdings in each City or Area and apply to
each of those respectively: less than 50 Units in an Area and they can
only vote for City matters, over 51 Units they may also vote in the Area
election. Membayar and Owners who have less than 100 Units of Land in
an Area only may vote in the City that the land is situated in, above
101 Units they may vote in both the City and Area elections. Suzerain
amount is 150 Units and above 151 Units for the same effect. Animal Masters
vote anywhere they have Land Holds, for both City and Area events regardless
of how much or little land is actually Held (there aren't that many of
them, but they're proportionately more important). Breeders vote as per
their other Status. High Owners and High Holders may vote wherever they
have more than 100 Land Units, either City or Area or both. Those who
have more than 400 Units in one City Zone actually may vote twice (their
votes may not conflict, and they do not have to use multiple votes), those
who have more than 800 Units in one Area also may vote twice in those
elections and again their votes are simple duplicates.
Worker Del living in J'ren may cast his vote during an election for
the City President, the lower representatives, and on any ballot initiatives
and laws being decided.
Habitual Bayaran Worker Tareada, however, cannot vote at all in her
Area or City (she really doesn't care, either).
LandMaster Greigor who has Holds in Kiran in Defin (33U), on Tana in
Lendau (3U) and on Curra in Verl (5U). Since none of his Holds are over
50 Units in any of them, he may vote once in each City.
LandMistress Vrtanya Holds 30U in Curra/Altem/Frea, 53U in Zerin/Ka/Emer,
and 37U in Kiran/Wo'ad/M'lork; she may vote in City elections in all
three, but may also cast Area votes in Zerin/Ka.
Mistress Aynatchavay Singe Holds 81U in Curra/Altem/Frea, 50U in Curra/Mi'a/Nir,
110U in Tana/Imaa/Kvora, and 200U in Tana/Difar/Osini. She may vote
for all City elections, but only for Area elections in Imaa and Difar.
Lady Shatter holds 60U in Kiran/Wo'ad/Dramo, 35U in Kiran/Le'ret/Telva,
159U in Tana/Difar/Osini and 63U in Tana/Difar/Geses, and 160U in Tana/Imaa/Lendau.
Shatter can vote in all those Cities, and in both Difar and Imaa.
HighMaster Avlen Kstet has 160U in Zerin/Ka/Kyree, 1328U in Kiran/Wo'ad/Muyar,
340U in Kiran/Emosah/Baniist, 1346U in Kiran/Le'ret/M'lork, 1089U in
Curra/Altem/Ist, 344U in Curra/Altem/Ri'iri, and 230U in Curra/Polaen/Umtl.
He votes all over the world, but also has two City votes in Muyar, M'lork
and Ist, as well as two Area votes in Wo'ad, Le'ret and Altem.
It doesn't take much to see that those with more can also slide their
wealth under the table to alter the way the lower masses tend to vote.
It is not a terrible thing to have your vote swayed by a higher authority,
cash in the hand may often be worth far more to those getting than giving.
Those having only a Worker status one election might be a Land holder
Communication technology is certainly the most useful tool in the
box for Zekirans. Everyone knows how to use a comm-link, turn on a vid
unit, and most know how to use a betting station. Very rare is it that
someone is not exposed to some form of small personal electronic equipment
- even a pager can be of great importance to someone who works in the
field or wilderness. In fact, sometimes it's the only way to find errant
Owners who get lost in the hunt parks...
Paper technology will never be lost on Zekira - newspapers, fliers, magazines,
education materials, and all other forms of paperwork are always in use.
The first time someone accidentally deleted a century's worth of electronic
records by waving a magnet around the room was the last time that happened.
Hard copies of darn near every transaction - especially Hard Stock sales
- must be kept for varying amounts of time (per Area and purpose, usually).
Paper money is not used - but that doesn't stop people from writing IOU's
or Cheques. All reciepts and such are kept for ages. Packrats, all of
The art of handwriting has not been lost - in fact the Zekiran alphabet
is a beautiful, if complex, thing to behold. Letter-writing is an important
tool especially for lovers or educators. However, most people prefer either
to have their correspondence re-copied by professional scribes, or done
on personal 'pads'. Very similar to the "palm" items of today's
Earthly electronics, these datapads store lists of items, recognize either
voice commands, typewritten information, or script. They can then be used
to print out more official looking documents.
One small legal tidbit: any person entering a contact - at least in the
years after around 4500 or so - must be able to read that contract and
be capable of signing their own name by their own hand, or leaving a voice-recognized
data chip. Otherwise, no one trusts a lawyer with a big red "X"
for a signature...
Musical notation varies considerably through the years, but is generally
recognizable from century to century - plus most music or media from the
Landing to present is available in some format usable at any time. Permanent
records of speeches, musical events, dance competitions, sports, and other
such popular things may be kept but some may be quite hard to find after
a while. A collector's market certainly exists for some particular items
- a specific dance troupe, a collection of different musicians performing
a well-known piece throughout the millennia, 'how High Masters usually
address people right before being assassinated', etc...
Values of Things, Places and People
The standard unit of money on Zekira is the Credit. Sensibly, it's an
equitable amount to a Dollar US, depending on how much that dollar is
really worth... Just assume it's an equal value because that's easiest.
The actual Credit Chip is quite a lot like a poker chip, but it's made
of metal, refined ore or permanently altered crystal and is actually valuable
like dollar coins aren't. The usual Credit has been minted more than ten
years before, they only actually mint coins about that often, and depending
on where they're minted, they have the Area, Land and City logos, as well
as the current Area President and date stamped on them.
A Credit Chip is not subject to change in value, they are their worth
no matter what. Made of platinum, Credit Chips are pretty small, about
the size of an US nickel and thinner, but they're still worth just a Credit.
Credits are divided into only two lower units: hac, or Half Credit made
of silver at just smaller than the Credit, and quad or Quarter Credit
made of gold-stamped silver (smallest, thinnest, and usually the prettiest).
Larger denominations are the duo, or Two-Credit unit, made of silver and
ringed with plat; tres, the three Credit unit with all three metals in
its composition resembling a target, and dec, the Ten-Credit chip which
usually has a heavy rim of silver framing a thin unbreakable crystal (about
the size of a quarter).
Above that are the fifty Credit Jarin (another crystal but framed in plat
and larger), the Hundred Credit Zhosh (which is a donut-shape solid metal
-- can be made of anything as long as it weighs the right amount), and
the Thousand Credit Kik (a rod of solid plat about as long as your hand
and thick around as two fingers, very nice to look at and extremely bad
to lose in the laundry). These are the Standard, tradable and usable on
every Area of Zekira, Coins. But there are more, believe it. Each Area
may mint whatever it wants, for any reason. In fact, each City might do
the same some day, to pretty much represent the different values of basic
Land and Work in each place. The values, if you as Game Holder decide
to do so, vary with the Land Unit multiplier, and can be exchanged anywhere
for their ratio straight out.
Zekirans do not use paper money, ever. It just doesn't exist. They use
personal check-type statements between buyer and seller when the amounts
are such that having that kind of hard cash on your person is stupid and
noisy. An individual may not mint their own coins. Counterfeiting coinage
is a crime worthy of Exile, okay?
Determined for FreeWorkers and LandMasters by their profession and their
ability to work. See Skills for this list. For Membayar and above, the
Year's Worth is that of not only you but your Bayarans' jobs as well.
As per normal, if you've got a Steed and a really nice carriage, your
Stuff is worth something. If it's in shit poor condition, it's worth less.
Family heirloom Stuff is worth its own price and then some, of course.
That's role playing right there if you have to sell that painting or carving,
but you really don't want to... At the very least, Stuff is worth about
the same to everyone, depending on the condition it's in.
Furniture: from 10c (a desk lamp or alarm clock) to 10k (a classic Astan
Hardwood dinner set for 12 -- table and several slats all carved perfectly
from ONE piece of wood, and the attendant chairs with their really beautiful
hand-embroidered silk and lace cushions, to say nothing of the actual
Stuff: music recordings (of any type -- they've got digital chips and
8-tracks, and everything in between) and small toys, playthings and generic
Junque are usually valued around 15c; small pets and their habitats (beetle
and his box, snake and his slitherpit) around 25-50c; hardware and tools
(a screwdriver for 2c, a steel refiner for around 700k...); vehicles range
from a 200c bicycle to a 300k personal hoverjet, business planes and boats,
construction vehicles and such all range in the 6-900k, the bigger or
more seats or larger amount of weight the more it costs.
Food is a variable depending on climate and local harvests for the smaller
Cities and Zones, but usually all things are available to the larger Cities
as they are more used to importing everything anyway; but expect a CheepoRama
ratburger and fries to cost about the same as a McMeal, and a 7-course
Defin Extravaganza to run the same as a Beni-Hana burn-it-at-your-table
Personal computers and electronics are about 30% more expensive compared
to Earthly sources since they are pretty uncommon right now; books, games
and anything written for entertainment purposes run a little less than
here. Steeds are covered in another section.
Typical Employment Rates
Expect that a FreeWorker (like you and me) is making anywhere from 14-80k
a year (be it as a computo-geek at Qualcomm or as a comic store manager)
doing typical work. More exotic professions such as spy work or hired
killer can be upwards of 200k a job, let alone per year, but you must
understand that these things are still illegal and your boss might suddenly
back the hell out of any deal when they think you're running too close
to being found out. Mundane things, such as working at McRats or tightening
screws in the production line at the Telva Television plant can be as
little as 10k but as much as say 17 or 18 thousand a year.
FreeLand Holders often have more stable jobs, family inheritances and
skills to deal with the yearly wage-assessment. Craft working, importing
and transportation, small businesses (such as that comic store), anything
that can be used as a base of operations or can be qualified as a workplace
all are viable occupations. Most FreeLandHolders make around 55 to 90
thousand creds a year at their chosen profession, more if it involves
either a lot of craftsmanship or expensive tooling or even danger, less
if it is confined to a very localized buyership or market.
Membayar can do whatever they want to, but usually since they have more
in the way of Lands held, they might have a home to go back to at the
end of a day at the office. Their office. Small business owners, millers,
transportation executives (who don't actually have to drive their clients
around unless they want to), marketing people, betting agents, plain moneymaking
Bonding, all can be earning anywhere from 36 to 70 thousand creds a year.
High risk investments, dangerous travel arrangements or exotic locales
(anywhere on a boat), unpopular but necessary jobs (power plant ops, sanitation
ops) may make considerably more, up to 100k.
Owners just have it made for them, don't they? Their money is mainly inherited
so they have a lot of time to invest in the interesting jobs like singers,
performers, racing jocks, Steed sellers. Much of an Owner's money can
be seen in the Land they have, regardless of their profession, that's
pretty much the icing. If they have the talent, an Owner can become quite
the celebrity, or just be happy with owning that airfield or set of hovercraft
for the annual racing swarm. Highly subjective, most Owners salaries will
range from about 25k to upwards of 500k, it just depends on how many people
they have to give them their due, and how much that Land is worth. High
Owners are about triple to quadruple as nasty as Owners, since they really
are in it only for the money.
Suzerain as stated before have the business attitudes of Membayar and
the cunning and desire of Owners. Mix and Match.
High Holders usually just sit on their money and watch it pile up. Not
always: Mirage as a good example works her butt off (oh, she'd be in trouble
if she lost that feature) doing her photography both in studio and on
the track, her skill and natural talents pay off for it, but even her
son Juvon has to do something to keep his mind off boredom. He's got Land
with a series of caverns and twisty tunnels which he is marketing as "Dungeon
Crawl Central", taking people's money and scaring them into believing
they've just escaped a fate worse than death. Thrill rides, high-ticket
exploration, dangerous sports and hunting expeditions in the local wilds
are popular professions - if one can call them that. Any given High Holder
won't accept less than 50k a year from a job, no matter what they decide
to do with themselves. Usually they can afford to educate themself into
oblivion and triviality, so go ahead and give them an interesting job.
They'll have a great time showing it off on their friends.
Animal Masters garner wages in the usual fashion, but all have something
to do with animals: in the field, on the track, in the food gardens, selling
and buying, fixing them up or having them removed from a house. Their
income is often more or less equitable to their Breeding and their powers,
the more power they have or the more useful their mutations, the higher
the wages. Assume a good Animal Master who actually works with regular
animals can make up to 45k a year (in the vet department, or on a farm);
those who work directly with Steeds can make up to four times that, depending
on if they've got Steeds breeding and winning races. Those Animal Masters
who don't actually work with living animals, for instance a Feed grower
or a manufacturer of harnesses or suchlike, treat as a Membayar or FreeLand
Holder: from 55-90k a year.
Breeders. Ah, yeah. Breeding. It's covered in its own section, okay kids?
Assume that each Breeding Degree is about 100k, plus per-job payments.
Health clinicians, doctors and nurses in hospitals and emergency rooms,
field medical techs, all garner around 10k per job (setting broken limbs,
less for pulling bad teeth). Psyche and Dream Healers, psychologists,
hazard-duty med techs, long term medical techs usually gain around 15k
per job or around 9k per year of the job (in the case of Psyche or Dream
Healers especially). For any given Contracted Breeding job, not higher
than Degree One, a couple can expect to pay up to 30k for a successful
birth. For 2nd Degree couplings, expect around 25k, since this may be
only one parent siring or being impregnated by an already-Owned member
of the Breeder's Holds. 3rd Degree Breeding usually is paid by the feature,
want to select for a color? About 15k. How about an inclination toward
Animal Tunings? Around 25k. Oh, you want to keep your offspring rather
than have the Breeder Own it? Double it. (Most Third Degree Breeders don't
actually get business, they're in it for themselves.) Fourth and Fifth
Degree Breedings of any kind usually cost around 60k to complete, and
are popular with Owners who want particular kinds of Slaves. Sixth Degree
Breeding is in a class all its own and can be expected to cost up to 300k
per job, but is not always the case. Yeah, Breeders are the filthy-richest
people on the planet, even most High Holders can't compare to the 'wages'
these guys get. And if they didn't get them, Zekiran life as we know it
would probably come to a halt in about 4 generations.
Assigning Monetary Value to Bayaran and Slaves
Bayaran are valued as You are, by their profession, but assigned a 50%
multiplier for their actual Worth on the character sheets. If you're trying
to value a Generation Bond who hasn't yet started paying off their Bond,
they're worth what their parent was when they went into Bayaran, or what
they plan on (what their Membayar plan for them) being as a profession.
Otherwise use the information below for Slaves, since the Breeding information
stands, but not the Fertility nor the Owner conditions. By the way, siring
or offering to mother a child is big money business, but you've got to
be a BREEDER to do the contractual stuff! You can't buy your way out of
Bayaran by just getting pregnant! Well, you can try. It's happened. 'We'
don't talk about those things in better Social circles.
Most and the least. In general, the rules are this: Find the job they'd
be doing as a Worker, and apply the formula below.
· Generally speaking, the jobs are the same, but the value is less.
For a Slave, any given job is worth about 1/10 that of a Free citizen's
· High risk and danger, or desirability raise this amount considerably.
· For every Station above Owner that the Slave belongs to add one
to the multiplier.
· For every Degree of Breeding (including One), add an incriment
as follows: B2 - 0, B3 - 0, B4 - 00, B5 - 00, B6 - 000.
· Females are worth twice what Males are, after all mods, double
· Fertile of either sex doubles that.
· All Slaves less than 10 years old have a value of 10k and then
their modifier, regardless of their actual payment value. Most re-evaluations
count those above age 12 as per their jobs, like Bayaran, but children
under that as a base amount.
For Instance: Zhick Darrn is a Bodyguard for Tain, a High Holder. Zhick
is a young Slave, only 14 years old, so if he were a Bayaran he'd only
have just started paying off his Bond money. He has a very good gig
being with a High Holder like Tain, who is not only a politician but
a Steed racer in his off time. The Bodyguarding status is a nicely visible
spot, most Slaves are never seen unless they're personal attendants
of their Owner. Zhick was Bred by Lene Rosh at a Degree of 4 and is
an infertile male. A normal Bodyguard might hope to make around 60k
a year, more or less. 1/10 of 60k is 6k, but the Bodyguarding is probably
worth around 1/5 of normal instead, so his base amount is actually going
to start at 12k. Owned by a High Holder gives him a 4 multiplier, then
he's been Bred 4 levels so his actual multiplier is 400! Zhick Darrn's
value to Tain is around 4.8million Credits! It's a good thing Zhick
is darned loyal to Tain, he doesn't want to lose this investment.
For another Instance: Ayla is Lord Micri's typical field hand, who
does ploughing and harvesting and will continue to do so because she's
infertile. She was born into her Station and was not Bred, and Micri
is just an Owner. Typically, a field hand (should FreeWorkers need to
be doing anything of the sort) would be earning about 18k a year for
this. Start with 1800c and x2 for being female, but she's got no other
modifiers at all, so Micri's Slave Ayla is worth about 3600c to him
This is why Slaves are both the highest of value and the lowest: some
are simply a dec a dozen, while others have been so prized they are worth
more than most Citizens ever will be! Breeding multipliers are about the
most important factor here: each step of Breeding requires a certain amount
of effort, time and occasionally complex machinery, and certainly skill
to produce. Also why the most complex of Bred people, at Degree 6, are
not only the most rare but the most highly valued at all. If someone had
to actually go to the effort of splicing genes together, that's, what,
about a 2k/hour job? Not to mention the extraction and insertion devices,
clinic time, and chemical treatments to enhance the survivability of the
cells once they've been used?
This is also why Bred 6 Fertile individuals are extremely worth it. If
you don't have to go through all that effort again, you've got yourself
a Natural Bred 6 offspring if you can manage it, without all that muss
and fuss, and dealing with the 'sinister' element of Gene engineers. Also,
the psionic powers of Slaves must be taken into account, if they have
powers that are being utilized. This is an eclectic and somewhat sticky
calculation, pretty much dangle that carrot and see what you can get for
the power. Someone with the ability to sense through objects could be
of immeasurable use to a detective agency, but utterly useless to a hair
Status, Money and Land
"Health and Knowledge and Wealth and Power, Passion and Poems and
Sex; I wear a smile like a leather glove, I won't shut my mouth for less."-
Shriekback, Oil and Gold
Who can and cannot raise and change their Status is limited only to money
and education. There are cases (as above in the case of Owner et al altering
their own Status and changing that of those below them) where someone
must change status unless they've got a really terrific lawyer working
And I'm talking about changing their Status up, not down.
When a FreeWorker decides to invest their hard earned money in some Land,
they must find some to buy first. And be able to afford it, next. Most
Membayar and Land Lawyers would argue it's the other way around, but usually
if you've got the land set up, you look like you really want it, and you've
got cash in your hands, they'll take it.
The amount of first Held land is usually pretty small, unless the 'Worker
feels like investing in some boondocks no-Zone land or settling the wilderness.
As evidenced by the character generation charts, Free Land Holders don't
get much out of their land, unless they know what they're doing. UnZoned
land is a great value to those 'Workers who can build their own Homestead,
because whatever they settle is THEIRS and cannot be taken from them.
Once a floor and foundation has been put down on land, the value pretty
much doubles. A Unit of land with some pleasant trees and maybe a pool
and stream through it is nice. A Unit with a watermill and fishing pond
or tourist attracting statue park is nicely worth at least three times
its original state.
Aesthetic Value Equals Monetary Value.
There really isn't a good way of increasing the value of land that's already
built, or an existing office building or complex, unless you put something
in it that's attractive. (Okay, Mirage's tiny portrait studio in Imaa/K'vora
is spaced at about 1 City Unit, or around 600 square feet. Normally a
space like this would be useful only as a storage unit or a small homestead.
But for Mirage, and her abilities, it's currently netting its own value
about once a month for her. Nothing at all like investment in skills,
is there kids?)
Once a second floor has been added to a building, its value keeps going
up and counts toward the total Holdings of the City, Zone or wherever
it is, just as if it's flat. There are building codes around that make
certain that if you don't have the money, you don't get the addition.
But usually it's okay to start out with a five story plan and force the
hand of the local Land Lawyers, if you fill that building with good office
workers and make a profit, who are they to judge?
When a Free Land Holder wishes to re-title, or when they have a lot more
land than they know what to do with, or even money coming in from that
land sitting around... They must re-evaluate all their Holdings, including
their possessions and working value (yearly wages and potential), and
if they've got enough they title to High Holder.
Yes, you read right: High Holder.
That includes the ability to Bond, Own and vote all over the place. It's
quite a step. Rather unnerving without the planning to do so, but utterly
fulfilling if that's all they ever wanted to do. They don't have to Own
or Bond anyone, by the way. But when you've got as much Land as High Holders
are required by Title to Hold, you might need them.
· Jumping from Free Land Holder to Membayar is by skill and education
only. If you've got the money and talent, you can do it at any time.
· Going from Free Land Holder to Owner requires at least 400
Land Units, and a seller who's willing to go in with you by selling
their Slave to you. This can include attending Estate Auctions, which
are clearly the best way for 'cheap' sales, but also finding someone
you just want and who needs to be sold inexpensively or soon is just
· The jump from Land Holder to High Holder is pretty simple:
600 Land Units and you're in. In fact, with that kind of land, it usually
adds up much more quickly than people think, and divesting is fastest
by taking Bayaran or buying Slaves. Which increases your yearly potential.
It's all a spiral into oblivion from here.
· Moving from Membayar to Owner requires 200 Land Units, and
the buying of a Slave.
· Changing Owner to Suzerain requires 300 Units, the ability
to invest in six more Slaves OR Bayaran, and some paperwork.
· Raising from Membayar to High Holder needs 400 Land Units,
and a yearly potential to support the purchase of at least 200 more
Units and two Slaves or adding four Bayaran regardless of whether you're
buying them or not.
· Membayar retitling to Suzerain is a matter of pure paperwork,
and usually needs a good reason to do so, most often buying more than
one Slave for the business, this requires NOT MORE than 999 Land units
to start, but Suzerain may Hold up to 1200U.
· Owners who wish to become High Holders need only 300 Land and
value of Stock (Slaves and/or Bayaran) to buy 300 more Units and the
two Slave, four Bayaran routine as Membayar.
· Animal Masters may title to Breeder with the right education
only, they don't need to worry about Lands and such, but getting that
education might come at quite a cost in time and money.
· Breeders at any time might wish to change their current alternate
Status, at the Owner's rate. Many Breeders,- even ones who are Membayar,
can afford this at any given time, but why would they need to? There
is no upper limit to either Breeders or Animal Masters for their Lands
Held, so it's always possible for a Breeder/Membayar to have 1200 Land
Units and 30 Slaves, who just isn't interested in becoming a High Holder
because of the hassles it causes: voting and having to run for office
if that Hold is worth enough...
Starting at the top, High Holders don't always want their Status to get
in the way of their lifestyle. They can have as much money in the bank
or invested in Bonds as they wish, but once that Land goes over a certain
amount, they're in the political arena whether they want to be or not.
The presence of a new name on the list of available Area Lords or Masters
is cause for alarm for many existing Area Lords. They must be voted in,
by their peers, so if this new Lord or Master is anything other than apathetic
they've become a target.
Nasty business, this.
So, to avoid this problem and still be at whatever level they seem to
like, a H'Holder may attempt to adjust the amount of Lands they've got
in any given Area, down until they have spread it out over the world.
They might sell off Land to buy Slaves, or fill Bayaran.
Or they might Divest Completely. Doing so means they sell just about everything
in excess of a certain amount, as below. They might be able to reinvest
and gain back their Status later, again, but often if they've gone to
the effort on purpose, they won't care.
· Divesting from High Holder to Suzerain requires not more than
999 Land Units be kept, and any Slaves over a value which varies from
Area to Area, and Bayaran of not more than 20 per year.
· Divesting from High Holder to Owner requires not more than
600 Land Units be kept, Slaves (usually no more than 10/year value)
and Bayaran be dropped to about half that of Suzerain.
· Divesting from High Holder to Membayar requires the outright
sale of all Slaves, and not more than 600 Land Units kept, but the Membayar
now can Bond up to 20 or more because they usually do gain quite a lot
more money from not having Slaves. -- This only works for the first
year after Divesting, by the way, after that they're on their own.
· Divesting from High Holder to Free Land Holder requires the
sale of all Slaves, the payment of all Bonds, and reduction of Land
Units to no more than 600 -- though this is inconvenient, usually that
Land goes right back up in value, so the effective method is to drop
it to around 300 Units, just in case.
· Halfway Divesting: High Holders can dual-title to Breeder or
Animal Master with the right skills, education and talents, placing
no restrictions on the amount of Land or Stock of any kind that the
Breeders or Animal Master's classes require.
· Divesting from Suzerain to Owner only: not more than 700 Land
Units must be kept, and any over 10 Bayaran must be fully paid off,
cannot any longer Bond or Own more than 10/year.
· Divesting from Suzerain to Membayar only: not more than 600
Land Units must be kept -- this is because they're technically still
High Holders at that point anyway, FYI -- and all Slaves must be sold.
As divesting from High Holder, the number of Bayaran may increase over
20 during that year, reflecting the influx of money from Slave sales.
· Divesting from Suzerain to anything else, is as High Holder.
· Dropping a dual class Breeder to their original Status requires
that the Breeder stop working in that field entirely. There aren't many
people who have ever done this, usually they just 'retire' and keep
the Status, if they're too old to work or anything silly like that.
If they cannot do the work -- or should not, they might be required
to go back to their other Status, but mainly this just makes a lot of
paperwork and legal spying. Keeping a Breeder from their work-love is
· Dropping from Animal Master to any given lower Status is as
· Owners who wish to drop to Membayar must sell off their Slaves,
this is becoming a more popular move by people who don't agree with
the Slavery issue at all, but still more of a job-related thing. They
don't have to drop their Land Units specifically in this case.
· Owners can (but seldom do) drop to Free Land Holder exactly
the same way as everyone else does, by selling off their Slaves and
not taking any Bayaran. They have killer amounts of money for this,
but they've got to keep their Lands down. As long as they don't go over
that magic 600 Land Units, they're still only Land Masters.
· Membayar can lower to Free Land Holder by getting the heck
out of the Bonding business, as long as they don't take any new business
that's their title! They, like Divested Owners, often have more Land
than the other Land Masters.
· Membayar or Owners who wish to drop to Free Worker are just
· Free Land Holders who cannot support their Land Units usually
go back to their old ways and Free Workerdom, if that's where they started.
Otherwise can you say looooser?!
· Going lower than Free Worker is dire, but happens more often
than you'd think! Bonded Breeders or Animal Masters are the most frequent
of this type, but they're not required to remain Bonded for any other
length of time. They might voluntarily stay there, if they're personally
of the opinion that it's needed, but usually that is not the case.
· Selling yourself into Slavery has happened, still happens,
and is really either a last ditch effort (Eshy) or a measure against
future loss (Beden). There really isn't much hope for you if you've
Divested into Slavery, but that may just be the point (Dahash).
Technology on Zekira
The most obvious aspects of a society like Zekira's is that it is voluntarily
able to lower its level of technology to suit its needs or desires. While
it is true that over the 10 thousand year history the technology has varied
considerably, they have never "lost" any important aspects of
The most clearly advantageous tech that the Zekirans use is for their
medicine and genetics. Those things are covered quite extensively in all
other portions of the book, so we'll move on to other things now.
Transportation Technology is certainly the next most important feature
of Zekiran life. They are entirely mobile so they rely on having adequately
maintained, comfortable and safe transportation available at all times.
Jets and hovercraft, helicopters, even boats and personal craft are all
certainly used and even required in some parts of the world. Safety standards
must be adhered to for any of these items.
Energy is one of the most widely varied technologies on Zekira. Every
form of collection of it is used: from wind farms to solar collectors
to safe fusion and nuclear plants, wood burning and coal, oils, and even
peat. Psionic energy is also used, but very rarely, to power single items
or large objects such as boats or heavy machinery.
While oil wells are almost entirely unheard of (the oil spoken of above
is plant or animal fat) hydroelectric and geothermal are the most commonly
used for powering the larger cities. Any city with a pollution problem
on Zekira would soon find itself empty of people and bereft of funds!
Energy sources must be clean in most Zekirans opinions, and renewable
at the very least. Fossil fuel use destroyed their home world - that much
knowledge has been kept in the public eye for centuries. (Okay, the wars
and crime had something to do with it too, but what do they know? That
was more than eleven thousand years before the current timeline!)
In different climates, certain expectations are made of major city Zones.
In already-existing housing units, heating and cooling are provided along
with a minimum of power-draw from the main Zone power plants, usually
at a very low cost which may be settled individually between Holder and
Renter. Single family homes, those which have been built by a company
for sale at a later time, are also subject to strict controls when they
are well within the Zone of a population center. However, the farther
from "downtown" a home is placed, the less likely it is to be
subject to or benefitting from those same rules.
If a Homestead is made by hand, it's entirely up to the person building
it, to what sort of energy use is put in. High-altitude areas often come
supplied with double-paned windows, thick bricks or insulated simulation-stone,
or other such materials. The Holder of the building is certainly not required
to use these things. But if they know what's good for them - in any clime
- they will take a good look around at the Homesteads near their Holding
and see who's looks best off. Connecting to the power grid is often expensive
but worth it for faroff Homesteads.
Otherwise, a good supply of firewood or coal is essential. Running water
is another expense entirely of course!
Nuclear powered plants often run for long periods of time supplying cities
with their energy. Since they have long since known how to harness this
energy properly and without danger to either the employees or the environment,
no one bothers to protest or try sabotaging these areas - unless they
have a competitive product somewhere in the wings...
Wind, water and thermal energy sources are very common in "second-tier"
Zones - those Zones on the population charts which aren't entirely devoid
of 'downtown' but aren't in dire need of a more serious type of permanent
power. Obviously, areas near rivers or volcanic fissures benefit from
these more natural sources.
One distinct, notable and important item that may be on the minds of
many typical sci-fi fans is "where are the cyber-parts? What
about the hackers and hardwires and implants and bionics?"
There aren't any. Not one. Perhaps a replacement foot here or there, plastic
eye or ear reconstructions... But not one single electronic or biomechanical
implant is available on Zekira.
Why?! Why would I do this to a world with otherwise so much going for
Because the very presence of an electric or mechanical device, in most
cases - and certainly in all cases other than with those people of 'mechanical/electric
psionic' bent - destroys every ounce of potential psionic energy.
In effect, an implant disrupts the normal chemical/energy flow of a Zekiran's
body so much that they effectively become "vacant" on the psionic
radar. They can still be affected by attacks or powers which apply to
more than the user, but they can never use psionics.
That is not to say that if your mutant gets one of his four arms lopped
off that he can't find someone to manufacture him a new one which might
respond to non-invasive nerve commands or have a few gears and servos
in it that work by flexing now-cut muscles. However, if something is attached
directly to any nerve in the body, EVERY psionic ability that that mutant
had will stop working.
Sucks, don't it?
Of course, as with every other portion of the rules of this book, if that
doesn't sit well with you and your group, feel free to change it. However,
there won't be one single rule about it.
Not until the "post apoc" suppliment comes out, which will in
fact deal with it extensively. Not on Zekira mind you, but on Suul-Sat,
their homeworld. Where they have all but destroyed their psionics with
implants and bionics. Go figure.
There exists a substance found in certain mountain ranges and in rare
mines, which actually nullifies the psionics near it. It is possible that
this material is charged with some kind of bioelectric energy, but few
Zekirans get close enough to it to find out. It so far has gone unnamed,
though it has been used extensively in certain buildings owned by the
Paveh and Alabaster families.
This is no accident on their part, either. In some cases, it is required
to keep people from going quite insane as their mental senses overwhelm
Using this substance is extremely dangerous - to those with powers. It
does not affect any power or mutation which has already or continually
affects the character, however any psionic which requires activation may
be unavailable for the duration they are near this substance.