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Author Topic: The Great Curse setting- The Empire of Bukdek  (Read 2677 times)

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Offline CaptainPenguin

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The Great Curse setting- The Empire of Bukdek
« on: August 09, 2006, 06:11:13 PM »
I'm slowly going to be constructing a portrait of Bukdek here; this is my reservoir of info so that I can create a comprehensive but manageable "world-reader" and FAQ for my players (essentially, one of Moon's world-packs).

-The Bukdek People (The Bukdek and their regional variants, the Earth Jjekki, the Western Mani, other tribes and people)
-History of the Empire (the Great Curse, invasion of Temak Buk, establishment of the first "land of Buk", conquering of the petty kingdoms)
-The Imperial Regime (Emperor Daitgok, the Bureaucracy and the Law, the Military and the Circle of Generals, the All-Seeing Eye and The Yolarng Masters)
-Religion (The Sublime and Holy Council of Heaven's Worthies, the Temple of the Names of the Gods, the Southern Temples)
-Temak language

-The Northwest and the Dragon Province
-The North and the Steppes
-The Northeast
-Central Bukdek and Yogol Buk
-The East and the Mountains
-The South, the Southern Temples, and the Inner Range
-The New Provinces and the Coastal Republics

And to answer questions of why I'm putting this here- because I find it convenient for now, and I'd rather have it here than in a word document which I will write in once and then forget about.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2006, 06:32:01 PM by CaptainPenguin »
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Re: The Great Curse setting- The Empire of Bukdek
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2006, 02:40:56 AM »
Clans
Bukdek society is organized into clans. These clans are not strictly familial organizations- they are more akin to business organizations or guilds; one can be born into a clan, or ask for/purchase membership into a clan. Once one is a member of a clan, all other members of a clan who are not blood related or who are too distantly related to be called "kin" are known as "clan cousins".
Each clan is led by a clan head and has a clan headquarters (generally in their original homeland). In the regions of power, clans often have a clanhouse in each town or located along roads.
Clans are generally involved in a specific trade or general industry (though not all members of a clan may be involved in this industry).
There is a heirarchy of clans, from the ancient noble clans to the wealthy business clans to the middle-class clans all the way down to the menial clans of the poor, involved in such trades as sanitation, tanning, and begging.

However, clans do not have significant power in the cities. The anarchic and disorganized nature of the Bukdek cities makes the familial structure of clans fall apart, to be replaced by smaller, more fluid groups such as street gangs, brotherhoods, and mafias. The exception to this rule is the lowborn clans, such as the sweeper clans and the tanner clans.

Major Clans
The major clans are those derived of two groups- powerful tribes of the pre-Bukdek days, or the noble clans of ancient kingdoms and empires, particularly of the old Yorae Dynasty. These are the top of the top of Bukdek society, rich and powerful, some (such as the Dragon Clan) often acting as tributary states to the Empire rather than entities within it. Some examples:

-The Dragon Clan: Centered in Um Jar in the Northwest, the Dragon Clan is the most powerful and independent clan in the empire, effectively acting as a tributary nation (much similar to the Southern Temples and their clans). The Dragon Clan was a powerful nascent nation and tribal entity, a rival to Temak Buk's Bukdek confederation. Even when the First Emperor had subdued the remainder of the north, the Dragon Clan continued to battle on for over a hundred years. Eventually, the clan was defeated, and the Dragon Prince (a title the leader of the Clan holds to this day) was made to bow before the Emperor (at that time, Urchok Buk, called Urchok the Dragon-Tamer).

-The Might of Gangar Clan: The Might of Gangar is centered in Kurngchait on the edge of the Steppes. The inheritors of one of the first states to be conquered by Temak Buk, the Might of Gangar were gifted by the First Emperor with the lands which their ineffectual rulers lost, to hold and to defend. They now form the first bulwark against the (uncommon but mighty) invasions of the Northern Barbarians (including the fearsome Jjekki).
« Last Edit: August 14, 2006, 12:50:05 AM by CaptainPenguin »
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Re: The Great Curse setting- The Empire of Bukdek
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2006, 07:55:20 AM »
Hmmm... Even though your settings change name and theme, I do think that they share many mutual traits!
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Re: The Great Curse setting- The Empire of Bukdek
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2006, 12:49:04 AM »
Of course they do! Why let good ideas fall by the wayside?
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Re: The Great Curse setting- The Empire of Bukdek
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2006, 02:13:41 AM »
Religion of the Empire

The religion of the Empire is a syncretic, heno/polytheistic one, combining the thousands upon thousands of local gods and spirits of the Empire's regions, as well as elements of ancient Yorae Dynasty principle-worship. The major elements of this religion (the Great Gods, the High Rituals and Temples, the ecumenical understanding of the nature of the world and the position of human beings in it) were codified over 800 years ago by the Priest Gokar, and laid down in the Books of Incomparable and Effulgent Wisdom, also known as the Books of Gokar. The religion of the Empire can thus be described as an overarching framework of beliefs, with some shared common gods, but with each region having its own deities, spirits, and rituals. The great rituals and gods of the Empire, as well as much of its symbolism and moral content, that is, the material codified by the Priest Gokar, is uniform.

Each of the gods and deities of the Empire, except for small local gods (such as the divine boulders revered by the clans of the Kroaig Hills), has its own priesthood and administrative temple. In accordance with the Priest Gokar's Doctrine of Sublime Ascension, almost every priesthood is arranged in a strict heirarchy of priestly ranks called Circles, ascending from 1st Circle to the 10th Circle. Each temple generally has its own additional titles, stations, and positions of honor.

No deity in the empire or its temple is recognized as anything more than a heathen barbarian idol or heretical incarnation until its temple and divine nature are recognized in the highest temple of the Empire, Temple of the Names of the Gods in the capitol of Yogol Buk. The priesthood or supplicants of the select deity must submit an ecumenical petition to the Temple known as a Statement of Revealing Greatness. This petition is reviewed by the Priests of the Names of the Gods and if it meets the strict theological specifications written down in the Books of Gokar (and, generally, if the Priests recieve a suitable bribe or political benefit), the petition is proclaimed from the heights of the Temple, and the god (as well as their temple and priesthood) are initiated into the official and orthodox religion of the Empire.

Yanyu and Wuryu
Yanyu and Wuryu are the central and unquestioned ultimate deities of the Bukdek religion. They represent the two opposing principles of the universe in the Bukdek consciousness, to wit, Stability and Change. Neither is good, nor is either evil, though the doings of both may be considered by some evil or good. Stability supports the eternal order, the unchanging eternal and divine heirarchy and the smooth and unquestioned function of the godly engine of civilization; Change supports the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth, the eternal dissolution of all order down into nothingness to rise again anew and then perish once more, the revolution and the destruction of all order and the decay of the social construct.

Yanyu
Yanyu is the Lord of Eternal Light, Master of the Principle of Stability, The Unchanging Ruler of Illimitable Radiance.
He seeks light without darkness, eternity without endings, an ultimate presence of Changeless Radiance throughout the cosmos.
He is the distributor of blessings, and engenders in mankind the desire for stability and eternity. The maintenance of the universal order is the product of his hand, as well as the natural heirarchies and orders of nature and of human existence.

Wuryu
Wuryu is the Lord of Ever-Changing Darkness, Master of the Principle of Change, The Shapeless Ruler of Evanescent Nonbeing.
He desires all-consuming darkness, an end to choate form or time, the end of our world of phenomena and the birth of a new world out of the Nullity which results, and then the continuation of this cycle of dissolution for all of existence.
He is the dispenser of calamities, and engenders in mankind the desire for change and inconstance. The breakdown of all heirarchies and the destruction of all orders are his doing; the finite, fleeting qualities and endless cycles of nature are also his as well, to glory in the incandescent metamorphosis and ending of all things.

The Great Gods
Yanyu and Wuryu, while being the ultimate gods, are also the most distant and inaccessible of the deities of Bukdek; their monolithic temples and priesthoods are vastly removed from the world of the muddy Bukdek peasant, and their philosophies are too mystical to appeal to grounded common minds. The Bukdek uphold many thousands of gods; a few among them are so powerful and widespread (including Yanyu and Wuryu) that they are called the Great Gods.

Mazu, the Rain Dragon
Originally worshipped among the rice farmers and the Western Mani of the Northeast region of the Empire, Mazu is one of the most popular and benevolent deities. Mazu is the Rain Dragon ("Manchu Gobkek"), the Northeastern Goddess (that is, the diety who holds the worlds edges in the northeast direction), Serpent of Clouds, Divester of Rain, the Lady of Plenty, She Who Makes The Earth Bloom, the Concubine of the Sun, and Provider of Rice. She is the goddess of water, of plenty, and of luck; she is the patron deity of rice-farmers and of the Northeast. To the good, Mazu is a benevolent, loving mother and protectress, but to the enemies of good, Mazu is a terrible devouring dragon, full of righteous wrath.
Mazu encourages benevolence, generosity, and attachment to the family and the land. She is a reinforcer of Stability, and her doctrines uphold the natural heirarchy of human society.

Shinn, the Moon God
Shinn is one of the most ancient of all the gods of Bukdek; his worship stretches into the immemorial past, in the days before the Empire, before the Great Curse, in the days before even the mighty Yorae Dynasty.

-Onkur, God of Death
-The Sow of Destruction
-A god of nature yet to be named
-other gods to come...
« Last Edit: August 15, 2006, 01:00:41 PM by CaptainPenguin »
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Re: The Great Curse setting- The Empire of Bukdek
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2006, 05:32:01 AM »
Really, I like them! It had just not occurred to me before. Let us call it a sudden glimpse of insight ;) Keep working your wonders man!
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Re: The Great Curse setting- The Empire of Bukdek
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2006, 03:10:18 AM »
this will all get more and more fleshed out later

The North
The land of cold stones and red earth, the steppes of the north are a hard landscape of infinite skies and stiff plains-grass. It is also a land of nomadic barbarians and small walled towns, the furnace which forged the original confederation of tribes known as the Bukdek.
The region known as the North stretches from north to south from the Great Steppes (immediately north of the Empire) into the Hills of Tuangorok (just north of the Plain of Glory and the Lake of Temak, which are roughly in the north-middle of the Empire); east to west from the cold and rocky shores of the Deeps of Mrugok to the cloud-scraping Ujr Amug Mountains. It encompasses (mostly) rocky dry steppes and rolling plains, the "land of the red-walled towns" described by the poet Jundum the Crane.

Peoples-

northern Bukdek- they dress in loose trousers just longer than knee-length, as well as long, fur-lined cloaks; checkerboard patterns and headbands; women in coverall cloaks, typically with (relatively) short hair;

Earth Jjekki (descendents of Jjekki tribes who ceased their nomadic ways and settled down)
 
the Dragon Clan (close ties to their old barbarian past; traditionally fierce warriors; Dragon Clan bravos chop their hair into strange, wild messes and die it bright oranges and pinks with duzchok-root, tight silk trousers and short gold-embroidered boots, ornate clothing, huge swords and weapons; Dragon Clan colours are bright red and bright green together; they favor swastikas as an emblem of good luck and divine fortune; their capitol is Um Jar)

Tejitei tribes
Mualung tribes
White Dog tribes (their famous white dogs, dog-travois)
« Last Edit: August 17, 2006, 11:44:12 PM by CaptainPenguin »
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Re: The Great Curse setting- The Empire of Bukdek
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2006, 03:23:28 AM »
The Northern Bukdek

"And in those days, I dwelt in Um Jar, some one-hundred and ninety djurng distant from Yogol Buk; when removed from the hot air of the capitol into the rareified, cold air and comfortless, ancient lodgings of the unfathomably-antique Dragon Clan seat, I found myself amazed; it must be that the hardness of the North has in it's way forced our northern populace to be equally hard." -Tungrun Hsurbuk of the Purple Forefingers (of the Clan of the Scribes of the Golden Pavilion, and a Scribe of the Imperial Throne)

The Northern Bukdek are those most closely related to the blood and culture of their ancient nomad ancestors. Even to this day, the Northern Bukdek, unlike the other branches of the imperial populace in more southerly climes, do not settle into the densely-packed, massively-crowded cities and metropolitan districts which characterize those regions. The Bukdek of the north retain the wandering temperament and restless spirit of the ancient people of Temak Buk; they are more comfortable sitting a horse and wearing fur and leather than lying astride a palanquin and wearing the ornate fashions of the capitol.
The northern Bukdek largely retain a philosophy which has been called the "Way of the Bukdek Rider" (so called because it was the way of life of the original Bukdek nomads)- this is the path of living life moment to moment, espousing absolute honesty, kindness to friend, holding to family and clan, and mistrust of outsiders. To the northern Bukdek, life must be lived now to be enjoyed- they are a hard-riding, hard-fighting, hard-loving people, who drink to excess and, when they can, feast upon tender lamb. They remarkably close-tied to friends and family, but strangers will find only cold comfort in the North, where doors are shut to those who cannot boast family or clan ties, or bonds of friendship; this tradition of mistrust and closed clannishness is a product both of the history of the North (in which raids and ambushes against travelers and towns by bandits and nomads were and still are common) and a sense of "trueness", that is, the quintessentially northern opinion of being the "one true" and most faithful follower of the traditions of one's forefathers.

The customs of the North are based around family and clan. The most important part of Northern Bukdek culture is the home; the family is a revered institution. Loyalty to clan is desired over all things- in fact, loyalty is the most admired virtue for Northerners, a quality which makes them patriotic citizens of the Empire to this day (though they are also closed-minded, conservative, and disdainful of the "decadent" ways of the capitol and the Southern lands).
Northerners, like the Bukdek of old, are not inclined towards the ways of organized religion. Though they do submit to the heirarchies of the Imperial religion, and are beholden to the Priests of the Names of the Gods, the gods and temples of the North often retain a more shamanistic, highly personal feel; the theologies of the North owe much to the endless skies which rise over the plains. Most Northerners go to temple only at their leisure- few are pious in a traditional sense, and almost none are fanatical. The exception to this rule is based in ancient Northern tradition- the tradition of "spirit-marriage". Nearly all shrines in the North (save those of more southerly gods not connected with the tradition) have a spirit-wife or spirit-husband, a child chosen from birth by the priests to be symbolically married to the god; these spirit-spouses live their entire lives as a special kind of priest, used by the shrine as a speaker for the god and a voice for the proclamations and sermons of the priests essentially, their position is that of a "mascot" for the shrine or temple.

The northern Bukdek bear great resemblance to the other peoples of the steppes. They are tall and broad; their men are wide-shouldered and often bull-necked, while their women are heavy-breasted and wide-hipped. They have broad facial features with high cheekbones and arrow-shaped, aquiline noses. Their eyes are narrow in shape, with slight folds. They generally have an impressive, jutting jawline. They have extremely straight, glossy hair, generally a very deep brown or chestnut color (dark auburn is sometimes seen, but is rare); they have a medium pale-gold skin tone, unlike most other steppefolk, such as the Jjekki, who have a brown-red skintone. Northern Bukdek are known for aging gracefully- the weathering of the harsh winds tends to make them look leathery and aged, but not dessicated or frail; they rarely lose their hair with age.
The northern Bukdek, like most steppefolk, do not have the great traditions of body art which are common in more southerly nations. Tattooing is uncommon (though the baorngjuk sacred tattoo traditions of the Southeast are spreading northward); body-painting is more common (body-paint is very common amongst the tribes and nomads of the steppes), though due to it's temporary nature, it has become a thing for special occasions. The most common body art in the north is scarification- the most recognizable version of this is the triple-cicatrices which are scarred upon the cheeks of the men of the clans in the Kroaig Hills, or perhaps the arm-scars of the clans of Trurnguk and Obuj.
The dress of the northern Bukdek tends to reflect that of their ancient ancestors.
Men dress in loose trousers which are bound just below the knee with cord, and long, heavy fur cloaks; they may wear leather sleeves which cover from the wrist to the shoulder and are laced. While it is more traditional not to wear a shirt, in the more southerly regions, most also adopt a tunic in the fashion of the south. Mens' hair is cut short and held back from the eyes with the ubiquitous accessory of the north, the headband; the wearing of headbands, especially chequered headbands, is so synonymous with the north that it is practically cultural shorthand. In more fancy situations, men may adopt a leather pectoral adorned with clan-symbols, as well as special beadworked arm-sleeves; they may also place silver and iron rings in their noses and ears.
Women of the north dress in the traditional Bukdek paiulbuk, women's-robe. The northern paiulbuk is much more conservatively-cut and traditional than those of other parts of the Empire, essentially resembling a shapeless, cone-like draping robe and overcloak. Women usually decorate their robes with clan symbols and familial pictograms; a fancier dress-robe may be decorated with beads and bits of carven bone and worked iron. The women of the North cut their hair in a short bob-like hairstyle, shorn off straight around just below the ears. Typically, they adopt large, pendulant earrings and traditional Bukdek makeup (eyesockets dusted with bsugok-paste, lips brightened with duzchok-root).

 
There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. The clans of the Kroaig hills draw from different traditions- men generally wear a pleated leather kilt rather than trousers, and Kroaig women rarely dress in more than the traditional bright red cloak. The clans in and around Manchudek, the lands of the Dragon Clan, draw from their own, separate Dragon Clan traditions (which will be described later). The scattered Clan of the Painted Breast dress generally in the same manner as most northerners, with the exception that women bare their breasts and paint them with colorful mythological scenes (from which the clan recieves its name). In the city of Undorok, the people favor intricately-folded tunics and robes, with large fur hats. Almost all Northern clothing favours chequered patterns, the colors orange, red, and green, and fur, all manner of fur.

The Dragon Clan and Other Clans of Manchudek

"I am struck by the uncouth and outrageous manners and appearance of the People of the Dragon- they and the other clans which dwell therein have a most barbaric ways, hardly worthy of the appelation of Bukdek. They are the most uncivilized but also quite among the strongest of our peoples." -Lady Dasok the Radiant, of the Might of Gangar Clan (in her seminal travel work, Travels In The North And Beyond Our Empire)

Centered in the astonishingly-old city of Um Jar, the region of the North known as Manchudek (land of the Dragon) is home to the most powerful and independent clan in the entire Empire, the unique and mighty Dragon Clan. During the age of Temak Buk, they were a nascent nation, a very powerful tribal entity which was the Bukdek tribes' greatest opponent for rule of the chaotic North. Even when the First Emperor and his riders had subdued the rest of the North, the Dragon Clan continued to hold Manchudek against them, a vicious thorn in the Empire's side for over a hundred years afterwards. After the Second War In The North (during which the armies of the Empire, led by the then-favoured Legion of the Brilliant White Tree, defeated both the invading Jjekki and the insurgents  of the Dragon Clan), the Emperor Urchok Buk (called Urchok the Dragon-Tamer) crushed the Dragon armies at the Jarchuek River and rode into Um Jar. The Dragon Prince, leader of the Clan, was forced to bow before the Emperor (legend has it that he then died in battle against nineteen men alone and unarmed in order to make up for this shame).
To this day, the Dragon Clan remembers that defeat. They are the constant black sheep of the Empire's clans, adhering loosely to Imperial law but contrarian and rebellious, loyal to Imperial edicts but snide and mocking, fierce warriors, soldiers, and supporters of Imperial power. As it is said, the "best Romans are often northern barbarians"- in this case, it is an apt metaphor.
Thus, the People of the Dragon are known to be rebellious and contrarian, wild and volatile, full of barbarian humour. They love to fight and love to drink. They are pious to their strange Dragon Gods, as well as to various war gods and gods of strength and change- Wuryu, the Sow of Destruction, and many others. Dragon clansmen will often go out of their way to disagree and be a nuisance to tamer citizens of the Empire. Though they consider themselves Bukdek, their customs differ so largely that they often do not seem it.

The Dragon Clan's capitol is the ancient city of Um Jar. The leader of the Clan is titled the Dragon Prince; it is not a hereditary position- the Prince is instead chosen from a field of contestants (any who wish to compete) who battle for supremacy.
The most exalted position amongst the People of the Dragon is that of warrior. The bravos of the Dragon Clan train their entire lives for battle- frequent fights and competitions of strength between the Dragon warriors are a common sight in Manchudek. The warriors of the Dragon have a strong and complex code of honor- this code includes complete honesty (even at the expense of bluntness or appearing rude to delicate manners), strength in battle, never fleeing and never submitting. If their honor is transgressed, they will seek to be repayed in blood. If they break their code themselves, they will seek redemption through ritual suicide in battle or through servitude.

Clans of the Kroaig Hills

Undorok and the Tiukog River Clans

Clans of the Lake of the Mirror

Other Clans

The Clan of the Painted Breast
The Northern Foolish Dog Clan
The People of the Cold Stone
The People of the Orange Dawn
The Clan of Whirling Hand
The People of the Red Fortress


The Earth Jjekki

Other Tribes

Tribes of the Tejitei
Tribes of the Mualung
Tribes of the White Dog
« Last Edit: August 22, 2006, 03:10:54 PM by CaptainPenguin »
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Re: The Great Curse setting- The Empire of Bukdek
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2006, 02:30:00 AM »
Edited the description of the northerners
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