The Islands: Fǔshùn and Kébéme
by, 09-09-2012 at 03:08 AM (2049 Views)
The ruler of Fǔshùn (pronounced foo-SHOON) is the Celestial God-Emperor in the Ninth Sunrise of the Jade Forever Majestic, Xuzfei (pronounced SHOOZ-fy) the Eternal Warrior. He is a lich who, until three months ago, consumed a soul a day to maintain his corporeal form. Now he must consume ten, and it is rumored that soon he will need a hundred or possibly a thousand. No one knows what brought this about, but the weather in Fǔshùn has taken a turn for the worse: it rains all the time everywhere. Floods are constant. And Emperor Xuzfei sits silently on his pedestal, hand outstretched, surrounded by the Celestial Bureaucracy, who supplicate themselves in a desperate attempt to avoid being Emperor Xuzfei’s next snack.
The Fǔshùnese are always at war with the orc hordes to the west, and continually involved in suppressing pointless uprisings in the north. The Celestial Bureaucracy downplays the importance of these events, but everyone knows the orcs could strike at any time, and that rebels are little better than the Emperor, wanting nothing more than the destruction of a way of life that history records for over ten thousand years.
If you’re Fǔshùnese (pronounced foo-SHOON-ees) you’re from evil fantasy China ruled by an uncaring, undead overlord. You’re a peasant farmer who lives in constant fear of the Emperor turning his hungry gaze toward your village and devouring you and everything you hold dear to prolong his horrible unlife for a month, tops. It’s either that or you make your way on the streets, peddling your wares by day and returning after a 12 hour day to your cramped dwelling shared with six generations of your family to split a handful of rice and a pinch of salt. You’re an elf (and meeting an old elf would be a new experience for you), half-elf, very sad and abused half-orc, or human. All sort of goblinoids are off to the west so you could be that, too.
You better worship at the Celestial Temple of the Jade Sunrise, which has Emperor Xuzfei at its center. Obviously.
Fǔshùn is the second-closest nation to the islands but hasn’t needed them until recently. The Celestial Bureaucracy has started quelling certain wealthy merchants who fear revolt by importing the Emperor’s meals.
For Fǔshùn, the islands are food. For the Fǔshùnese people, the islands are relief.
Pick a Cantonese or Mandarin given name you can pronounce as a first name; make sure it means something cool. Then pick a city in China with fewer than a million people that you can pronounce as a last name.
There is no ruler of Kébéme (pronounced keh-beh-MEE). There are, however, a thousand chiefs of a thousand tribes, each with his own needs and desires. But they all fear She At Night, the Witch.
The Witch eats children. The Witch steals food. The Witch burns down villages, kills farm animals, breaks pots, soils clothing, harms your sister while she’s sleeping, and takes your money when you’re not looking.
And everyone is the Witch.
Your mom is the Witch. Your best friend is the Witch. Your dog is the Witch. The only way to avoid the Witch is to keep your eyes open and be always alert for Her. Or have nothing She wants. Or appease Her. And She is not easily appeased.
That’s not all, of course. There are the shapechangers. The ones who can become animals or take the shape of your best friend by eating his finger. You must be always wary.
If you’re Kébéme (same pronunciation), you’re from fantasy Africa. You live in a village with your family, waiting for the day when they will inevitably betray you and say it’s not their fault. Or you live as a member of a nomadic jungle tribe, failing miserably to stay one jump ahead of the Witch. You’re an elf, halfling, or human.
You don’t worship any god. Instead, you pacify the Witch and your tribal spirits so they stay away from you. The last thing you want is them actually around.
No Kébéme comes to the islands by choice. They have either been taken by or sold into slavery by their family or tribal elders to Clenchwart or Waclavian traders. It’s possible for a Kébéme to have made his way to Mastoorah and then joined a ship’s crew, but that would be a long trip through the world’s darkest jungles. That’s not a background; that’s a goddam miracle.
For Kébéme, the islands are where there is no Witch. This pleases them greatly.
Pick an African name; I suggest a Senegalese one. Confirm you can pronounce it. Make it mean something cool. You don’t have a last name unless you get one from another culture.
Next: Langwarrin and Other Places (spoiler: there aren't any)