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Prax. The Lunars and their Aldryami slaves.


Noita

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A player in my game @Byll pointed this out to me the other day.

Cults of Prax Appendix N: Varaneena Cow-Eye says "......An elf saw that and it led to friendship. Now we have worked out that they will return beast tails to us if we return elves we have freed from the Lunars."

"What are the Lunars doing with elves as slaves, and obviously enough of them that there's a trade going on with freed ones? This must be somewhere in Prax as it can't be out in the Wastes (can it?).

Intriguing to say the least. The elf that saw the singing to the narl flowers must have been at the Paps or Adari? Where is Varaneena's clan grazing? The story is just after Moonbroth correct?

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I would guess this was an early reference to "lunar elves", who I think were said to live on the moon and in Glamour. Many Aldryami probably think that these elves are corrupted by Lunar magic and separated from Aldrya, thus they need to be "freed" and returned to Aldrya's song.

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There might be a trade in Runners, too - they were a fad in the Jrusteli Empire, and the current mask of the emperor is diligent in his studies of depravities, and might have reawakened that one in addition to other idiocies like the Angazaban diet (pearls) or similar.

There are elves in the garden of the Big Rubble which might easily fall afoul of Lunar patrols. Many Pelorians (quite likely including the eel-Ariash) hate elves for their reforestation efforts (in the past, even though they are ignorant of their future plans to do so) and will take pleasure in capturing and enslaving such creatures. Sairdites may have suffered Moonburn retaliations by the Rist elves before they disappeared into the Hellwood forest of Dorastor, too, so both the Jasper phalanx and their peltast support might be active elf-haters.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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 Also remember some wealthy Lunar might want  Aldryami as slave just because they are exotic and different.  Remember in anciet time slaves that where Midgets or Siamese twins or just far off often commanded a higher price then Thralls from the local farm.

 I could see a brisk trade in Aldryami, Baboons , Morokanth , Agimori, pygmies,  and Kralorans slaves  etc into the Heart of the Lunar empire based just on the fact they are exotic  and rare.

 A Lunar Noble shows up to an Imperial event in Glamour in  a coach pulled by 4 Morokanth, His Baboon manservant opens the door to the carriage  and bows,  His  Agimori bodyguard scans the crowd behind him while  an Eastern Island Maid demurely carries his belonging . He has made a bigger impression then the Noble who staff are all locals.

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9 hours ago, Iskallor said:

Cults of Prax Appendix N: Varaneena Cow-Eye says "......An elf saw that and it led to friendship. Now we have worked out that they will return beast tails to us if we return elves we have freed from the Lunars."

There is another angle to this story. 

The Bison Riders have "freed" elves from the Lunars, sure. But obviously not so free that the Elves are then able return to their home forest on their own accord. I think the Bison Riders have the elves they liberated stashed away at some oasis deep in the Praxian hinterland. The elves might be free to leave, but know they can't - they'd shrivel and die trying to cross the trackless arid plains. So they're stuck there. Meanwhile, the Bison Riders put them to work tending the gardens, which haven't looked this lush and productive since the Green Age.

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I think the favorable response Vareena's tribe has garnered from the Aldryami (per CoP) suggests that most of the "abuse" (as seen by the elves) was on the part of the Lunars, and rather less from the Praxians.  I can see the Praxians carefully "arranging" to keep some elven gardeners in a few oases "Just until the Lunar patrols cut back to normal" or "Just until a caravan is going the right way" or "just until our migrations go back to Aldryami territory."

The elves get to rest and recuperate in an oasis; the Bison Riders get a better oasis... sure it may take an extra year or two (or four?)... but they are much BETTER years than under the Lunars, and the Nomads keep their promise to escort them onward (as "circumstances" permit); and what's a year (or four) in the lifespan of an Elf, after all?

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3 hours ago, MOB said:

There is another angle to this story. 

The Bison Riders have "freed" elves from the Lunars, sure. But obviously not so free that the Elves are then able return to their home forest on their own accord. I think the Bison Riders have the elves they liberated stashed away at some oasis deep in the Praxian hinterland. The elves might be free to leave, but know they can't - they'd shrivel and die trying to cross the trackless arid plains. So they're stuck there. Meanwhile, the Bison Riders put them to work tending the gardens, which haven't looked this lush and productive since the Green Age.

This is great and I shall roll with this in my game, with a mixture of Joerg's and jajagappa 's thrown in. 

Aren't all the Bison Riders out in the Wastes at this time? The wedding takes place in Adari, so the Flower Bison Clan must be back in their ancestral grazing grounds or actually at Adari, which makes sense for Aldryami having seen them sing to their flowers.

Edited by Iskallor
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2 hours ago, g33k said:

I think the favorable response Vareena's tribe has garnered from the Aldryami (per CoP) suggests that most of the "abuse" (as seen by the elves) was on the part of the Lunars, and rather less from the Praxians.  I can see the Praxians carefully "arranging" to keep some elven gardeners in a few oases "Just until the Lunar patrols cut back to normal" or "Just until a caravan is going the right way" or "just until our migrations go back to Aldryami territory."

The elves get to rest and recuperate in an oasis; the Bison Riders get a better oasis... sure it may take an extra year or two (or four?)... but they are much BETTER years than under the Lunars, and the Nomads keep their promise to escort them onward (as "circumstances" permit); and what's a year (or four) in the lifespan of an Elf, after all?

Since the Red Emperor is kind of liable for the burning of two major elf forests it's possible that the Redwood Elves are reaching out to those they see as the local enemies of the empire and deliberately (if not avowedly) 'helping' them to rebuild their strength after Moonbroth. In which case they have no problem with the 'refugee' elves working for their escorts during their escape. They may also be taking the opportunity to scout the parts of the Wastes and Prax that were once forested to test whether the ecology is still as bad as it is made out to be.

I'd still like to know why there are enough Elves around for the Bison clan(s) to be able to free some on a regular basis. Do the Lunars capture them in local skirmishes? or are they imported from elf friendly parts of Dara Happa?, Do the Lunars think that they can help grow the Grantlands? or manage the Zola Fel swamps (should be some Red Elves / goblins with something to say about that.)

( Finally succumbed to curiosity and the encouragement of the GM, and gave up my ambition of keeping my PC entirely uncontaminated from any of these musings )

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5 minutes ago, Iskallor said:

Must be Ronance's Well.

Wherever it is, given the Bison folk have not been able to stick around and keep things under control due to their exile in the Wastes, under the Aldryami influence the oasis could now be a wild profusion of abundant growth, full tangled thickets and impenetrable vegetation.

Could be an interesting (read: strange, terrifying, confronting) situation for a group of Bison Riders, sent out there to retrieve some of the elves in exchange for the tails. 

Were there Oasis folk living at the Oasis before the elves were deposited there? What happened to them? 

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30 minutes ago, MOB said:

Wherever it is, given the Bison folk have not been able to stick around and keep things under control due to their exile in the Wastes, under the Aldryami influence the oasis could now be a wild profusion of abundant growth, full tangled thickets and impenetrable vegetation.

Could be an interesting (read: strange, terrifying, confronting) situation for a group of Bison Riders, sent out there to retrieve some of the elves in exchange for the tails. 

Were there Oasis folk living at the Oasis before the elves were deposited there? What happened to them? 

This is getting better and better. My pcs are off to the garden now, seeking help for their own project. Being sent off to free some elves from an oasis makes for a great adventure. My players are Bison riders from another clan.

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42 minutes ago, Iskallor said:

Being sent off to free some elves from an oasis makes for a great adventure. 

Especially if they are just expecting to ride out to the Oasis (which they may remember from earlier visits as a lush, pleasant haven with well-tended gardens and pliant Oasis folk*), pick up the elves, and head back.

The PCs may think any danger they'll face will come when travelling across the plains, rather than at the Oasis itself. Big shock as they draw close get there and see that the vegetation has gone wild...

(*BTW, these are some shots of the Al Ain Oasis, which is in the heart of a town about 100 miles inland from where I lived in Abu Dhabi. People go there in the summer to escape the punishing humidity on the coast - it was once a week's journey across the sand dunes by camel, but now of course there's a six lane freeway. People have lived at the Oasis since the Bronze Age, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's got a really cool fort too.)

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al-ain-oasis.jpg

img_3352.jpg

Edited by MOB
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Where did the elves get the tails?

 

The hidden oasis might very well be a place without a well, but with sufficient underground moisture to support deep-rooting plants - perhaps skullbush.

The place might be better suited for High Llamas than for bisons (alticameli are browsers and only reluctant grazers, other than the grazer bisons). The Praxians (other than High Llamas) aren't interested in trees, they will take any low growing plant that doesn't cause colics or similar diseases.

 

I don't know about collective entities of grass steppes. There is no hay goddess among the daughters of Esrola, even though the hay harvest is essential for bringing the herd through Dark and Storm Seasons, and while I see a remote potential for bamboo aldryami, there are no runner or sprite equivalents for grasses (or grains). Beans and even salad or clover get covered by pixies because they flower. Grass doesn't.

Mosses and ferns have red elves and special dryads. Algae and kelp have blue elves, and possibly water nymphs. Trees have true elves (green, brown, yellow) and dryads. They serve the giant flowers in the Vale of Flowers, too.

Captured aldryami will communicate with plants other than their native ethnic type, as will gardeners of Aldrya. Their songs may be less effective than full gardeners', but they will surely beat anything humans could offer (except for grains). Dates, citrus fruits, figs and various types of nuts would be right up their ally, leaf or root vegetables only so-so,

 

Elves and their relationship to grains is almost similar to the relationship of the beast riders to horses. Would you hire or buy a Praxian-descended stable hand for horses (other than a Pol Joni)? The best thing an aldryami can do in a wheat or barley field is to direct the weeds to grow elsewhere, or to grow thorny hedges around those fields to keep beasts away.

We know precious little about the gardening of the oasis folk. From David Scott's discussions of Prax I would expect a much greater variety of plants than found elsewhere in the Wastes. Any farming would have to be done without the benefit of beast-drawn plows, though, because those draught beasts would end up as dinner whenever a praxian tribe takes possession of the oasis. Herd men as muscle for heavy work might last a little longer, possibly disguised as oasis folk (Praxians don't have any respect for the oasis dwellers and might be willing to believe that they are little above the herd men, even though the oasis dwellers are in all likelihood at least half beast rider in ancestry). Meat animals might be song birds or rat-sized rodents, beneath the hunting threshold of Praxians (except herd men), or termites.

 

 

While I am disgressing badly: Would Praxian beast riders feed horse meat to their dogs, or their herd men? Do they have any general taboos against eating goats, or the meat of predators and scavengers (other than hyenas)?

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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5 hours ago, Joerg said:

 ... Would Praxian beast riders feed horse meat to their dogs, or their herd men? ...

I don't believe Praxians would have HAVE "horse meat" ... Just because there's a dead horse somewhere nearby, doesn't mean you're willing to dress it out.

I expect that a hungry dog might be permitted to scavenge off a dead horse... but only so long as the nomads happened to be encamped nearby.

YGMV

 

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Everyone has done a great job of assembling the facts, and the question Iskallor raises is a really good one.  That Varaneena Cow-eye snippet deserves some scrutiny.

So lets go over where we find elves in and around Prax.

Do the Lunars range into the Paps?  It isn't necessary, they have their Sable allies keeping the peace there, no need to disturb them.   Torch and Shadows Dance?  Perhaps? We know there are Sartarite rebels operating out of Pairing Stone and environs, so perhaps the elves are in cahoots with them?  The Hidden Greens?  It isn't impossible that it is Sable clans who are enslaving the elves, then selling them to the Lunars, but I doubt Lunar patrols are a common sight out there.  Oasis elves in Prax?  I think there would be more of a mention.  The possibility of Stinking Forest or Heartland elf exports is interesting, but the cost of transportation and the death of slaves on the road seems prohibitive. 

Now consider the range of Lunar patrols, and the range of areas in Prax it is actually worth patrolling, and the risks in sending patrols when you have limited manpower and every time one fails to come back, how long it will take to replace them.

I think a pertinent clue here is that the whole Varaneena Cow-Eye conversation is taking place in Adari.  Adari is a place where elves, trolls, and humans come to do business. Now wouldn't the more logical place to be finding Lunars with elf slaves be at the big slave market at Pimper's Block?  Clearly Narmeed and Varaneera's bisons are grazing on their traditional Bison plains, and are friendly with Orlanthi which probably includes Pol Joni in the area, and that does place them on the shortest distance between Adari and Pimper's Block, but which way are the slavers going?  To or from Adari?

Of course this all begs the question of "Who in Lunar Prax is buying elves and why?"  Gobbleguts Thunderbreath Restaurant has a source closer to home.  Elves are not good prostitutes, they give you a rash, but perhaps depraved Lunars are more interested in Aldryami coprophagic proclivities?  No doubt elves make good gardeners and the market is probably the Lunar plantations run by newly minted and wealthy retired Lunar servicemen and the likes of the Patromas setting up Pelorian style plantations around New Pavis.  A few good Aldryami slaves could make all the difference, but slaves are expensive, especially novelty non-humans, so the local Pavis market for elf slaves will quickly saturate. That leaves the elf slave traffic (which would always be small) going out of Prax.

Now to the crux of things.  It occurs to me that we have overlooked the activities of the notorious elf bandit Koncherry, believed to still be at large in the Garden of the Big Rubble.

What does an elf do to annoy the Lunars THAT much?  In a pile of rubble filled with cannibalistic trolls and Sartarite rebels, the Lunars put a price on the head of an elf and call the elf "notorious".  Think about it.  Smacks of Robin Hood vs the Sherriff of Nottingham, doesn't it?  Koncherry has made someone's Eel mighty sore.

Now it might be that the Lunars don't want an Orlanthi/Aldryami/Praxian rebel coalition forming in Shadows Dance, and removing Koncherry might just be important for that, but frankly they would more likely be worried about more Sartar leaning Yelmalios like Rurik, so lets shelve that idea and revisit it.  Perhaps Rurik and Koncherry are friends?  More importantly, I think Koncherry has something the Lunars want, badly, and that they have been prepared to declare a quiet defacto war on the Aldryami to get it.  After all, the Aldryami would not feature prominently as a local minority that have lots of friends and need special diplomatic treatment in official dispatches and orders; in fact Praxian Aldryami would fall into a bit of a grey area from a Lunar officialdom perspective.  Now say the Lunars send their best people to catch elves, and are successful, they of course "debrief" them about Koncherry, but elf ransoms aren't large, and they are probably worth more as novelty slaves.  Now Koncherry is a Wood Lord, and the Garden has close ties with its nearest Alrdyami friends in the Redwoods, so perhaps Koncherry heads to the Redwoods to fence his rubble winnings?  That would mean the Lunar woodland specialists would now be catching elves in the Redwoods (poor beleagured bastards, as if they haven't got enough on their plate living next to Dagori Inkarth?).  Anyhow, that means Lunars catching Elf slaves in the Redwoods, and Adari is the closest human settlement where they can be sold on to Etyries merchants for sale at Pimper's Block.  It would also help the Lunars to have a highly skilled scouting force operating in that area to keep track of rebel developments, no doubt choosing their operating times in Adari very selectively.

Anyhow, that is how I would answer it.  This is a great topic.  Foodsong for thought.

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12 hours ago, Joerg said:

Captured aldryami will communicate with plants other than their native ethnic type, as will gardeners of Aldrya. Their songs may be less effective than full gardeners', but they will surely beat anything humans could offer (except for grains). Dates, citrus fruits, figs and various types of nuts would be right up their ally, leaf or root vegetables only so-so,

The captured elves might have brought their own seeds with them to the Oasis. That, and some aldryami magic, is all they'd need to transform the place to their liking. All the nasty strangler vines and such described in the Garden section of Big Rubble could be choking and swarming in profusion there too.

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One of the secret goals of the elves could be that during the Reforestation, the elves gardening the oases suddenly sprout defenses all around the oasis so that the Praxians are cut off from the water.  They could over strain the oasis ability to supply the sudden profusion, but that would be a feature, not a bug.  Not only would the defenses be more formidable, but the elves only have to hold out until the Praxians die of thirst.  While the oases that fall would be depleted by the time they were reconquered, making it more likely the elves could hang on elsewhere.

 

Even if the attempt ultimately fails, it would tie down the Praxians at a time when their aid might be requested elsewhere.

Edited by Pentallion
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11 hours ago, Pentallion said:

One of the secret goals of the elves could be that during the Reforestation, the elves gardening the oases suddenly sprout defenses all around the oasis so that the Praxians are cut off from the water.  They could over strain the oasis ability to supply the sudden profusion, but that would be a feature, not a bug.  Not only would the defenses be more formidable, but the elves only have to hold out until the Praxians die of thirst.  While the oases that fall would be depleted by the time they were reconquered, making it more likely the elves could hang on elsewhere.

 

Even if the attempt ultimately fails, it would tie down the Praxians at a time when their aid might be requested elsewhere.

That has happened in our campaign, The PCs brokered a truce whereby the Aldryami had a place, the Nomads had a place and the Oasis Folk had a place, so Prax is becoming a patchwork of forests and grazing grounds.

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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

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On 4/15/2017 at 2:48 PM, Pentallion said:

One of the secret goals of the elves could be that during the Reforestation, the elves gardening the oases suddenly sprout defenses all around the oasis so that the Praxians are cut off from the water.  They could over strain the oasis ability to supply the sudden profusion, but that would be a feature, not a bug.  Not only would the defenses be more formidable, but the elves only have to hold out until the Praxians die of thirst.  While the oases that fall would be depleted by the time they were reconquered, making it more likely the elves could hang on elsewhere.

Even if the attempt ultimately fails, it would tie down the Praxians at a time when their aid might be requested elsewhere.

That is pretty dependent on the Aldryami being able to do with Praxian plants what they do with their more familiar species.  Many of their best defensive species will not be acclimatized to aridity.  Of course there is a great exception; cacti.  The way I would do it is by creating a fast growing poisonous prickly pear.  Praxians will see the prickly pear as their normal species, and  a source of nutrition AND water, and so they and their animals will eat it and be poisoned.  The blood and bone of the fallen is then used to fertilize the growth.  The beasts will not know they shouldn't eat it, and it will spread across Prax.  Another alternative is to create poisonous feed grasses and intermingle them with the normal species.  If they taste the same, the beasts will die; no herd no nomads.  The only problem is that the Praxians are the part of the ecosystem that keeps Chaos down, and without the nomads, the broos may well start drilling holes in and buggering your cacti, as plants aren't known for being effective at running away, then you have a fresh problem.

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