Friday, October 15, 2010

Beasts in the East

The Demon Isles is an archipelago to the east of Yian. In the ancient writings of the Yianese, it is known as “The Barbaric Eastern Land of Ugly and Ill-tempered Dwarfs.” Today’s unlucky visitor to the Demon Isles might quibble with the “dwarf” part, but would probably otherwise agree with those ancient scholars’ characterization.

The thousands of islands that make up the chain are mountainous and mostly volcanic. Prevailing archaeological theory holds that they are remnants of ancient Mu, or some other, nameless, lost continent. Some sunken, ancient structures have been found in the surrounding waters, though no ruins are catalogued on the islands themselves. The Demon Islanders don’t permit archaeologists--or indeed, anyone else--to visit unmolested.

The dominant species of the isles are humanoids with bright red skins, small horns, and somewhat bestial features. They are called “Demon-folk” in rough translation from Yianese--not as a reference to any presumed extraplanar origin, but to their temperament. Some scholars believe them to be distant relatives of the now extinct Ealderdish goblin. Others contend that they are an artificial race, synthesized by some elder culture, or perhaps the sorcerous (and sinister) Ku’en-Yuinn of Yian.

Whatever their origins, the Demon-folk are a race bred to violence and warfare. A warrior caste rules their society. It’s young are raised under harsh discipline and allowed to practice their war-skills upon members of the lesser castes with impunity. In adulthood, these skills are put to use against their caste-equals in other clans or tribes. Or, when the opportunity presents itself, against foreigners--whom they universally regard as inferior.

At its most organized, the Demon Isles are a military dictatorship under the iron fist of a warlord. It’s at these times the Demon Islanders are most dangerous to their neighbors, as they may coordinate raids by sea--though at best they are mediocre sailors. Luckily, their typical state is one of feudal warfare with various chieftains and their bannermen vying for supremacy. The swords of the Demon-folk are most often raised against their own kind.

The Demon-Islanders have a level of technology barely beyond the medieval. They have acquired flintlock gunpowder weapons from captured foreigners centuries ago, but even these are not widespread. Wisely, care is taken by their neighbors to ensure no more advanced weapon technology falls into their ever-belligerent hands.


Chris said...

This heresy against the 'Japan is superior' orthodoxy of the nerdsphere is refreshing and thought-provoking.

Slay more sacred cows plz. :)

Anonymous said...

Has anyone every rescued and recruited from the losing side of these ongoing struggles for use as personal troops? A businessman or retired general with a personal bodyguard of these demons could be fun.

Unknown said...

I really enjoy these explorations of the wider world of the City, and I agree with Chris.

While I was reading, I was thinking that gun-running to the Demon Isles would be a good career. What could possibly go wrong there, right?

Trey said...

@Chris - Yeah, I like a good samurai story as much as the next guy, but this world didn't need to to have any Lone Wolves or Cubs. I thought it was better to say: "What if I just let oni overrun the whole thing?"

@Seaofstarsrpg & Harald - Very good suggestions! Seems like exactly the sort of thing femme fatale a la the princess in Tales of the Gold Monkey might be up to.

Anonymous said...

Very well thought out post. Awesome.

Trey said...