Loremageddon 2019, Day Three: Hanirid Festivals, A Kiwodan Martial Art, Kechutsk Commune

Welcome, friends, to Day Three of Loremageddon! Some lovely variety this time, if I do say so myself–some festivals to raise your spirits first, a good spot of swashbuckling, and to cap the day in fitting fashion, a fiercer and more removed subculture from an otherwise-affable people. Now then:

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Full Entry #1: Hanirid Festivals (World: Canno)

Owing to its long association with Anseth, Hanir has become the most storied kingdom of the larger Murit ethnic group. While most famous for the Razors of Hanir and other militant cultural elements, the Hanirid people have a sophisticated peacetime culture as well. They were particularly active in adopting Nilabora’s tradition of using festivals to anchor the start of any major civic undertaking. Over the millennia some of the original inspiration has mutated; Hanir’s people have now affixed the festivals to certain times of year rather than adjusting their placement and themes on the fly, as remains the custom in Nilabora.

The reason for this was simple—Hanir’s climate has only partially stabilized since the Loar War, and only certain times of year offer weather suitable for the most strenuous parts of a major project. It’s all well and good to discuss transplanting soil and building canals to start restoring another area to verdance, but if some of Hanir’s infamous “scalding nights” make the work crews useless with heat exhaustion, it’s all wasted energy. This has also forced the festivals to become shorter than the extravagant multi-day affairs of their Nilaborn counterparts—every day matters.

In view of the above, the festivals’ exact nature has much to do with the sort of work being inaugurated. If the work will simply be prolonged rather than exhausting, the festival includes wild dancing and all manner of physical contests; acrobatics and gymnast’s feats are special favorites. In the Festival of the Ironmonger’s Folly, the two are combined, with teams of strongmen and acrobats competing to arrange ever-more ridiculous stunts. This can become perilous, which for the Hanirid participants is seen as part of the fun!

On the other hand, if the work is to be physically strenuous, the goal is generally to exercise the mind and exhilarate the spirit. The Dreamsieves’ Dawn is the best-known example of this. Starting, naturally enough, at dawn on the day of the festival, a simple encampment is thrown up to which all the best poets and storytellers of the area have been invited. Ample food and drink are a given, in itself a great luxury for some of the more remote Hanirid communities. Otherwise, the stories themselves vary wildly; some are simply excellent repetitions of a longstanding oral tradition.

However, the titular Dreamsieves themselves are a brand of cooperative storytellers who invite their audiences into the tales they create as active participants. The best are sought after by the wealthiest nobility and merchants of Hanir, and the fantasies they weave allow their audiences an escape from the strain of their own lives. In the last few centuries, a small subset have taken to using dice and developing their own rules for what these dice mean to give their stories more structure—the young Dreamsieve Mejwari Sekh has recently taken this even further for her own tales, inviting her audience to roll dice as well! Many of the older Dreamsieves see this as corrupting the craft, but its appeal for the audience cannot be denied.

Full Entry #2: Kiwodan Deckfencing (World: Canno)

As its name suggests, Kiwodan Deckfencing evolved specifically for shipboard fighting. This led the style to an odd mix of concepts found in few other Cannoan martial arts. It does adopt the emphasis on torquing body-motion common to the broader martial traditions of Northern Anseth, but eschews the heavy cuts and ambitious side-to-side steps of this inspiration—even the grandest galleon leaves little room for such maneuvers, especially if its deck is currently swarming with other killers!

A skilled Deckfencer is frequently a single mistake away from death—moreso than is already the case, of course—and many bear scars along their bellies or backs from the near misses created in constantly twisting away from strikes; more than a few have the marks of survived stab-wounds. Handled correctly, these torsal-twists allow a Deckfencer to create openings where they wouldn’t otherwise exist. Deciding when to risk one as opposed to a more simple, reliable parry is an early talking point for any good Deckfencing instructor.

Due to its context, Deckfencing mostly emphasizes one-handed weapons, though harpoons, boarding pikes, and the like are naturally included. Students learn how to fight with either foot forward and to build the flexibility needed for a full range of motion without many steps back and forth to readjust—a deck covered in debris, slippery with surf and blood, makes it far too easy for even the most graceful to lose their footing. For the same reason, Deckfencing only emphasizes simple steps—the front foot first to advance, the back foot first to retreat. Slipping the lead leg to avoid a cut at it is taught, but always with the caution that it’s easy to slip and put one’s head in the path of the cut instead!

The off-hand’s calculated use is another major point for the style. By default, it’s held at about the level of the head in a manner not unlike Firascan rapier fencing, and plays some of the same role—being prepared to catch a thrust or take a cut in order to save one’s skull. Over time, many Deckfencing sub-schools came to include the use of a thick bracer allowing the forearm to be quickly raised and turned into an attack. Some teachers, however, believe this encourages the student to take hits, and to think of the off-hand purely as a narrow, less-reliable shield, and refuse to include this option.

The off-hand’s other purpose in Deckfencing is far harder to summarize because it encompasses so many functions; it might be used to grab a rail or a loose rope for support—not to mention a retreat back to one’s own ship!—or to seize a loose knob for use as an improvised weapon. Some Deckfencing schools include a whole subset of techniques based purely around common shipboard objects. One could reasonably argue that having three different methods for using a broken piece of grappling hook to disarm one’s opponent is a bit much—whether that’s true or not is for sea, salt, and sword to decide.

Today’s Snippet: Kechutsk Commune (World: Creation’s Fringe)

The northernmost of all the Novgori Communes, Kechutsk has the debatable honor of being the most sparsely populated of the Communes. It occupies the utmost tip of the continent of Savber; the Kechutski settlement which actually fills that tip, called Zalav, houses just two hundred members and cannot be seen at all when approaching from the south; it’s built entirely into cliff-faces looking due north to conceal it from predators both feral and sapient.

This is harsh land dominated by tundra, ice-floes, and many ancient ruins so difficult to reach that even the Fringe’s countless intrepid adventurers have barely begun to plumb them. The Chemorsk makes its home in this region—a four-legged blubber-and-muscle carnivore infamous for its resilience and appetite alike.

The tundra is not so empty as one might expect. For miles around Kechutsk itself, frozen debris from strange metallic war-engines and long-forgotten battles creates dark, jagged islands in the sea of ice and snow. In a prior era, this region served an empire whose name has been lost to time as a naval base, and the remains of their shipyards may be unearthed by especially deep excavations—not all of them close to the coast as it now lies.

This happens every few months, for Kechutsk’s Novgori are of comparatively grim disposition when set against their southerly kin. The Kechutsk Novgori are stockier, yet otherwise less visibly otter-like than their kindred, often having paler fur and somewhat more defined teeth; in a few individuals, these are full-blown fangs!

These traits lead some travelers to mistakenly assume them for mutants or a different species; they are still perfectly compatible with any other Commune’s Novgori in a genetic sense, but the Kechutski have acquired a quasi-mythic reputation which makes them intimidating for outside partners. Unlike any other Commune, they invent their own weapons, and the skill to use them is a rite of passage for every Kechutski adult. It cannot be otherwise, for if they did not do so, each settlement would surely die off.

Owing both to the danger of leaving their homes without utmost need and that need’s nature, the Kechutsk train a higher percentage of scholars than any other Commune, and are especially renowned for their engineering prowess. Their most famous members include legendary figures such as Virovya Peskatria and Ilya Varilovyet, one believed to be the best trapper and the other undeniably one of the greatest inventors of the current era.

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That’ll take care of the public matter for Day Three–there’s plenty in progress behind the scenes, but I’m afraid that’s not for any of you to know! You know the spiel: let me know your thoughts in the comments, leave a like, and share this post with your friends. Otherwise, follow me on Twitter for more of my day-to-day musings.

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