Thursday, June 23, 2011

Profile: Ooria

Ooria (also spelled Uria) is a mountainous nation in the southwest of Contel, on the planet Draco in its First Age. It contains almost no meadows or pastures for commercial farming, and conducts a great deal of trade with Seyona in the east for food. Its principle exports are stone and metal; however, these exports are largely from a few mines and quarries. Most of the population of the nation is spread out in relatively small townships, many of which are unreachable by normal means.

However, Ooria is not a nation of normal means. Its military is divided into two divisions: The Valkyries in the sky and the Earth Monks on the land. Each has a special form of magic that is unique on the continent; the Valkyries store weapons in extradimensional pouches, leap into the sky with air magic, and rain down blades on their enemy, while Earth Monks eschew the normal limitation on earth magic and manipulate stone and dirt at long distances.

Adding to this dichotomy, the Valkyries and Earth Monks face a sharp gender divide; the Valkyries are a female-only military branch, and the Earth Monks are a male-only branch. Institutionally, both are fully recognized and respected by the government, and both are respected and somewhat feared by the populace. There is also a grudging mutual respect between the two, but it is a respect that often comes with doubt, petty arguments, and other friction. The Valkyries are the only all-female military on the planet, and are given commensurate respect.

The Valkyries and Earth Monks both travel through the mountainous nation in order to hold it together. They intercept bandits, find missing people, deliver supplies and mail, assist those who need medicine, etc. For this reason, they are typically trained in many such tasks. The Valkyries are used more for carrying supplies, although the Earth Monks take over in particularly bad weather; the Earth Monks are better at tracking, foraging, medicine, and other tasks, although the Valkyries are trained in such things as well, and can be employed to cover very wide ground at once.

Ooria was by all accounts founded by an Offworlder, one of the few places where they're historically recorded. It is assumed that they came from Terra, but the details are lost to time. In addition to forcibly equalizing gender roles in the country, the founder also made a pact with a peculiar evoloid species, the Laras. Laras are winged humanoids that seem to gain energy or nutrition from wind or altitude; although they can survive at ground level, staying long causes them to waste away and die. Additionally, they are an aggressively empathic race, such that being touched by another living being--especially without permission--is very close to traumatic. They remain humanoid in appearance, and intelligent, but as a species have little interaction with humans.

The pact between Ooria and the Laras is one of necessity for the Laras; the Oorians agree to give them what food, material, and care they need, with minimal contact, in exchange for scavenged goods. Laras, not needing to rest, circulate around the entire continent; they tend to pick at battle sites, abandoned houses, and other untended places, picking up anything that seems valuable and returning it to some central storehouse only they know of. When they must trade something with the Oorians, they trade from this storehouse, or from their own individual stocks. They tend to trade a lot of armor and weapons (not knowing, or perhaps caring that the Oorians manufacture such, and value them less than most), but also may have rings, necklaces, books, bags, etc.

Cino, the capital of Ooria, is on a hollowed-out mountaintop, and is one of the few places on the continent high enough for Laras to live comfortably for long periods of time. It has many floors, all of stone and metal, with the monarch living at the very peak. The monarch's floor is triangular and has supports at its three corners, each leading to the roof of a building below; one building houses the Valkyries, one the Earth Monks, and one houses the civilian government. Although this was clearly done for philosophical reasons, everyone involved admits that the arrangement is exceedingly unpopular and impractical.

Cina more than most is a city that fears both weather and seismic events. They do not have much glass in the city, and the high winds allow rain to get through wooden walls or shutters if they are poorly made; they are also in excellent position to be struck by lightning, although they have sufficient grounding that it's not a problem most of the time. The biggest fear is an earthquake; they are high enough up that any shaking of the earth below creates great torque, quickly becoming powerful enough that no magical support is sufficient to prevent damage. For that reason, a great number of earth mages and Earth Monks are dispatched to the base of the mountain to constantly monitor, ward, and protect the city. By the end of the first era, the city had still been nearly wiped out twice by seismic events, but was rebuilt both times.

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