Lantao

Lantao is the closest inhabited planet to Aire, at over three times the mass of Cytania it is also the most massive. It has one uncolonised moon named Almeria that orbits the planet every three days. The atmosphere of Lantao is dense and the climate hot; a vast blighted desert, the Carcado, stretches from 60 degrees south to 60 degrees north of the equator and the polar areas beyond this are covered in dense, steaming, tropical jungles. There are no oceans but large systems of rivers and lakes in the areas round the north and south pole, any water that flows out onto the Carcado is boiled into the atmosphere within a few miles. The planet’s northern pole is home to around 10 billion Lantao, a civilized humanoid race, long of limb and grey of hue, while the southern pole is the domain of mysterious clanless tribals and vicious feral beasts.

A Brief History of Society on Lantao

The Carcado used to be much smaller and the areas at the poles much cooler, temperate grassland existed and habitable space on the planet’s surface was far less limited. The eight Great Families of Lantao had near limitless land within their boarders and the world was peaceful. Several thousand years ago that began to change; when the Ruthar of Cytania arrived in their great spaceships the Lantao were in the closing stages of their iron age, rudimentary industry was being developed but society was still largely tribal, the gods of old were still feared and respected and the Families lived in harmony with the natural rhythm of the planet. The Ruthar found a planet of unbelievable biodiversity, every small region had a plethora of unique flora and fauna, the special properties of which could be blended using great skill by local shaman into elixirs capable of incredible things such as bestowing great speed, strength, endurance, dreams, resilience, insight, emotions, clarity in their people and docility/domisticity in their jungle’s vicious wild monsters. Clearly this was a valuable resource, but the native Families jealously guarded their secrets from one another and no amount of bargaining would convince them to impart any of their knowledge to the foreigners. The natives were initially suspicious of the Ruthar and their ways, but Family law being as absolute as it is on Lantao they quickly found acceptance through the luxuries they could provide those in positions of hereditary power. Academies were soon set up and the Ruthar passed on their scientific knowledge on to the heads of the Lantao Families. The influence of the Ruthar advisors soon became apparent in the behaviour of the Patriarchs, whereas the Families had previously acted solely within their borders a culture of competition and resource dominance began to flourish on Lantao, heavy industry was developed and border skirmishes were common as the familial leaders were gradually warped by Cytanian privileges. Along with the industrial technicques, the Lantao now had access to advanced medicine, soon Life Expectancy nearly doubled and the population burgeoned. Lantao society was progressing rapidly, but it did not take long for them to bear the costs.

As the families began to compete with each other economically, more and more heavy industry was developed and more mining rights sold off to the UAC. The pollutants emitted by this grand scale industry started to thicken in the dense Lantao atmosphere and create a greenhouse effect, year on year new record temperatures were measured and the already blistering plains of the Carcado became almost impassible. This effect continued until the intense dry and heat start to consumer the jungle at a rate of several metres per year, the weather systems and subterranean hydrology of the planet swept much of the pollution and radiation from heavy industry towards the southern pole, acid rain was falling and plants and animals were warping into strange and dangerous things that defied lantao shamanic law. The flora and fauna in the south could no longer be used in the preparation of the Families’ sacred elixirs, and they were not able to control the mutated beasts of the jungle. A great exodus began, and the vast majority of the population migrated to the north of the planet.

With double the number of mouths to feed the burgeoning Lantao population began a series of intense resource wars among themselves, this is known in Lantao history as the Age of Sagupaan. Cytania maintained a policy of strict neutrality throughout this age, although the UAC’s Controllers and corporate magnates made vast profits through arms and land rights and gained access to vital protected Lantao knowledge as the desperate people fought among themselves for territory. After 200 years of fighting the heads of the great families came together at the holy site Pagasundo, the Granite Father, a giant rock a mile high and dozens of miles across, it had been neutral territory since the dawn of time. Here they hammered out the Accords of Tumulak (an influential Patriarch at the time), border lands were distributed and the Syndicate was conceived. While each family would have complete dominion over it’s land and people there were certain ecumenical matters that needed attention, for all these the Tumulak Syndicate would decide on the just and proper course of action. Over the millium since it’s inception the Syndicate has grown exponentially and it’s various arms act all over Lantao, it is an institution bloated with bureaucracy and rank with corruption and patronage. It has various “Arms” including Trade, Justice, Transport, Audit and Extraplanetary; the health, well-being, education, employment, rights and environment are matters for the individual Great Families to handle for their own people (except in cases where they act directly or indirectly against the interests of another family, such cases are arbitrated by the appropriate Syndicate Arm). One other stipulation of the Accords of Tumulak was a huge catalogue of flora and fauna on the planet, some was decided to be universally accessible due to it’s commonality, but the vast majority fell under the control of the various Families. It was decided that it be strictly forbidden for anyone other than a Family member to have possession of these restricted plants and animals and from then onwards they would be knows as Falcao, or “heirlooms”, the preservation of which would be vital to the unique compounds that kept the Families’ status intact within Lantao society.

Lantao Today

Today the Carcado has stretched to 60 degrees north and south of the equator, claiming millions of square miles of habitable land and swallowing cities whole. Temperatures at the centre blister skin and evaporate liquid instantly, scans show no life exists on the surface and the blasted shells of old towns, cities and factory complexes dot the featureless landscape, battered by centuries of sand, wind and heat. It is rumoured that caverns exist beneath the Carcado and that the Families’ agents scour beneath it’s sands for resources yet untapped. One thing is for certain; it is still expanding.

The Great Southern Jungle is largely uninhabited by Lantao save for some patchy intelligence about tribesmen that have forsaken the old ways of the Families. Supposedly these are the survivors of the great exodus and have concocted new elixirs that fortify them against the acid rain and allow them to control the terrible mutant beasts that stalk those lands.

The northern jungle is now at an uneasy peace, the eight Great Families all exist within well defined borders and almost all trade outside Lantao (with Syndicate arbitrators on hand to ensure no foul play). They are still largely tied to their historical lands, plants and animals and observe their ancient paths and rituals. Those Families that did not lose much land to the expansion of the Carcado remain the most powerful, their lands are larger and they are still able to draw on the same diverse resources that they always were, along with the learned knowledge of their shamen. At the intersection of these three Families’ lands, in a neutral space of several thousand square miles lies the Syndicate’s capital, Sandakan, a vast, sprawling metropolis of several hundred million Lantao it is by far the most populous city on the planet and the home of the Tumulak Syndicate. Like all Lantao cities it is a mix of modern culture and ancient ways, industrial factories and shining tower blocks mix with bamboo buildings and mud huts, excess with deprivation and poverty. While many dress in Cytanian style business suits and working uniforms it is still common place to dress in traditional robes with Family and tribe tattoos and jewelry. Sandakan is the most cosmopolitan place on Lantao and a great many of it’s citizens live a life of peace under Syndicate law without the skirmishing of the Families or any adherence to tribal rites. Life is tougher for the five families who’s shrinking lands border the Carcado, they have to constantly rejuggle their resources to keep their knowledge and prosperity alive and preserve their Falcao. These families are the most prone to Cytanian influence, their desperation and comparative poverty means their Patriarchs are the most likely to broker deals for military or technological aid and it is from these lands that the majority of the illicit traffic that flows through the rest of the Aire system originates.

The Great Families

Family 1
Name: Karo
Summary: The arrogant Karo family are the oldest and one of the most powerful families on Lantao. Their strength draws from their stranglehold on the planet’s organised crime syndicates and they are never afraid to back down from a fight. The family is still very much tied to the traditions of old and the patriarch rules by decree, with all members of his bloodline wielding similar authority in the various districts of Karo homeland. Honour and the family name are everything to the pureblood Karo and duels to the death have often been fought over the slightest of insults. The family’s ruling classes are occasionally cunning, usually blunt and uniformly uncultured. Years of extortion has allowed the family to amass vast wealth but their respect for tradition and distrust of outsiders has led to them falling somewhat behind the technology bases wielded by other families. The Karo prize gifts highly and will spare no expense on celebratory occasions. The poor of the Karo by an large work in the farms and factories in the intense heat and have little choice about their industry of occupation. Bloodsports are common and many of the family’s poorer denizens try to make their way out of grinding poverty by competing in the pit.
Appearance: Thickset and short, the Karo are often powerful in build but their muscular bodies are often noted to go to seed in later years. Ritual tattoos are on the wrists, necks and ankles and commonly depict violent motifs including blades and flames
Land: The Karo homeland is a vast patch of stinking jungle in the centre of the northern polar cap. Much of the jungle is low lying which leads to intense humidity but there are more pleasant highlands that are strictly the domain of the rich and powerful. The land also includes 20% of modern-day Sandakan.
Falcao: Drugs that confer speed and strength
Relationship with other families: The Karo are feared by the other families and do not really have any close allies but offer protection for the Langkah
Relationship with others: The Karo’s relationship with other races is generally strained due to their arrogance in dealing with foreigners

Family 2
Name: Tumulan
Summary: Descendents of revered Tumulak and the main body of the syndicate, the cultured and urbane Tumulan form the main body of the political class on Lantao. They are successful merchants and are the wealthiest and most influential family on the planet, having good, or at least cordial, relations with all the other families and wielding a huge amount of power in the syndicate. They are the face of Lantao that most of the inhabitants of the Aire system first come into contact with, either as merchants or diplomats.
Appearance: The Tumulan tend to be tall and straight-backed. Ritual tattoos are an eye on each hand.
Land: 50% of the modern city of Sandakan falls into the Tumulan’s ancestral homeland with a mix of relatively fertile jungle and highland around the outside which includes the great rock that the Syndicate’s forming accords were signed on.
Falcao: Drugs for intelligence
Relationship with families: Good or cordial with all
Relationship with Others: Good with all except Helios, which they are distrustful of.

Family 3
Name: Brelok
Summary: Good natured, honest, sensible and pious, the Brelok are the farmers of Lantao. They are a prosperous family due to the sheer fertility of their lands and the respect they have from the other families. They are governed by a democratically elected government and taxes are fairly redistributed to the poorer districts. Charity is popular, as are visits to the local shamen of the bounty goddess, Vuvucia.
Appearance: Large, thick limbed, strong, and often dark skinned through a largely outdoor lifestyle. Ritual tattoos coil round their biceps.
Land: The Brelok land includes the great lakes of lantao, where numerous floating villages fish the teeming hordes of fish, and lush, slightly more temperate jungles, where fruits and crops are grown in abundance. Their land also includes 30% of Sandakan, much of which is given over to markets.
Falcao: Drugs for strength and stamina, chemicals for fertility in soil and numerous flora and fauna for export.
Relationship with families: Strained relationship with the Karo due to a general distrust of the way that the poor are treated in those lands, and for their protection of the Langkah
Relationship with others: The Brelok are distrustful of Cytania due to oppression of gallids, distrustful of helios for oppression of phelgon, and have good with the Colari and are open to trade with Proximo.

Family 4
Name: Langkah
Summary: Brave, hedonistic and charming are three words often associated with the Langkah. They are hunters, gamers, gamblers and sportsmen par excellence and will stop at nothing to get their kicks. The Langkah’s lands are awash with dangerous wildlife, the rivers, deep jungles and even the desert wastes on their borders are patrolled by the most vicious beasts in the northern hemisphere of Lantao and the Langkah love nothing more than the thrill of the hunt. They are generous and relaxed much of the time but as their land shrinks the signs of stress are beginning to show through their friendly exterior. Trying desperately to make use of their depleting, unfertile land, they have resorted to stealing from the bulging warehouses of the Brelok by night in recent years; a practice that has caused a great deal of tension in the syndicate. Food is a huge part of the way of life of the Langkah, the more dangerous the hunt for a beast, the better it tastes, served up on the banquet table.
Appearance: Languid and usually covered in lean muscle the Langkah have spear tattoos on each forarm and elaborate ear piercing and necklaces that show of their deeds.
Land: The Langkahs lands border the dreaded carcado and are contracting rapidly. The dense jungle here is home to vicious wild beasts and terrible avian creatures, an echo of lantao’s distant past.
Falcao: The properties of Langkah’s unique fauna are harvested and have many properties, among them are drugs for reflexes and agility.
Rel with other families: The Langkah’s relations are almost reaching breaking point with the Brelok and are generally strained with the pious Torla
Rel with others: The Langkah are generous and gracious hosts and good relations with cytania and colari, the stuffiness of the heliosites is not to their taste, however, and they delight in taunting Nation’s diplomats.

Family 5
Name: Eyr Hitam
Summary: To the Northern tip of the pole lies the land of the Eyr Hitam. A vast proportion of their population dwell underground in a labyrinth network of caverns and tunnels, carved out by the flow of a long dried up prehistoric river. The caverns burrow deep into Lantao and stretch far out under the Carcado and contain whole orders of flora and fauna totally unique on Lantao. Society is very egalitarian in the Eyr Hitam’s lands, they care for one another and there are almost no poor or needy, a situation unique among Lantao’s families. The government is a democracy and rules from the seat of power, the land’s capital buried deep beneath the ground.
Appearance: The Eyr Hitam are short and thickset, slow and considered of speech and quite of step. They practice ritual scarring of ‘talons’ on their hands and feet in homage to the great monster that they say lives in the bowels of the planet.
Land: The highlands above the caverns team with life, most especially the vast network of rivers that flow through them and out onto the boiling plains of the Carcado.
Falcao: The fungi found in the caverns grant unique properties such as heightened senses, economy of breathing and the creation of poisons and explosives.
Rel with families: The Eyr Hitam largely keep themselves to themselves, only really interacting with the families to influence the Syndicate and to trade for goods they can’t do without. They have fairly good relations with the Langkah due to a respect for their generous nature and intensely dislike the violence, oppression and criminality of the Karo
Rel with others: Overtures from the UAC have been stonily met but a heliosite ambassador recently had some success establishing a trade route in subterranean crops.

Family 6
Name: Mereka
Summary: Known as the techno-freaks to all the other families, the Mereka are obsessed with gadgets, gizmos and inventions. No one can remember when the obsession started but many believe it harks back to the days when the Carcado was passable. Society among the family is a rather ramshackle affair, resource dominance is a large factor and laws are largely ignored by powerful technological cabals. While nothing like the advanced level of UAC, Mereka technology is nonetheless a force to be reckoned with in architecture, industry and combat. They have renounced all the old gods of lantao and have even attempted to build archology-like cities, based on the concepts of the UAC but far more sprawling, ill-defined and hotch-potch in nature.
Appearance: They are the tallest of all lantao, sparsely muscled due to much time spent in study, their hair is usually burned away and mutations, the result of chemical accidents are common. While young Merkeka are no-longer ritually tattooed, many choose technological motifs such as wires and circuit boards to adorn their bodies when they come of age.
Land: The region the Mereka inhabit, on the Southern tip of the jungle is volcanic in nature, sitting over continental edge. It includes networks of mines, which dredge the mountains for raw materials desperately needed for Mereka tech.
Falcao: Raw materials key for Lantaoese engineering.
Rel with families: The provision of technology to other families has earned the Merkeka a protected status within the syndicate and they benefit from many economic and agricultural incentives to continue their research. They have poor relations with the Torla and Alakan though, due to their atheistic stance.
Rel with others: The Kereka have good relations with the other races due to trade in tech and skills and are easily swayed by the right influences from more technologically advanced races.

Family 7
Name: Thick-witted and blunt, the Torla are not universally loved on Lantao. The fertility and diversity of their harvest render them a useful part of the planet’s economy, however. They are a pious people and are ruled by a theocracy that has existed since time immemorial.
Appearance: The Torla appear to be average in height and build for Lantaoese but have a distinct greenish colour to their eyes
Land: Their land is a diverse mix of marsh, jungle, mountain and savannah, including
Falcao: Drugs inspiring loyalty, fervour and obedience as well as pain inhibitors.
Rel with families: Their practical skills and sobriety mean they have had largely good relations with the Brelok but most of the other families are tired of their bickering with Alakan, with whom a general state of civil war exists.
Rel with others: The Torla have very strong ties with Cytania, and the feelers of the controllers are everywhere in the family’s dealings. The reason for this is that the ruthar are backing the Torla with money and arms in their war against the Alakan.

Family 8
Name: Alakan
Summary: The lands of Alakan have been the most affected by the Carcado, clouds boil overhead and it is intensely hot in this part of the jungle. The Carcado has melted aware the foliage at an alarming rate in recent decades and the previously vast population of the Alakan have had to resort to extreme measures to survive. Their population is split into night and day walkers, working hours are staggered and the families lands never sleep but even with these measures in place their population and therefore power on Lantao has reduced dramatically. The family is run by a democracy but the church is hugely powerful.
Appearance: The Alakan have long, strong limbs and tend to be either very dark, the day walkers, or very light, the night walkers. Most inherit their status as day or night walker from their parents and few Alakan ever change. Ritual tattooing are symbols depicting either day or night all over the body.
Land: The Alakan lands are a densely populated strip and the jungle here is exceptionally tall. Many of the Alakan’s settlements are located entirely within the canopy, as a result they are excellent climbers and agile foes.
Falcao: Drugs for night vision, agility, many specialist foodstuffs and animals unique to the nighttime economy.
Rel with families: There persists a relentless civil war over the religious and cultural history of a historically neutral area that has recently been settled by both the Alakan and the Torla
Rel with others: The Alakan despise both the Torla for their treatment of them in this time of waning power and for the dispute over the Palakeen. As the Torla’s primary benefactors, they also hate the Cytanians and there have been many skirmishes with the UAC forces in recent years.

Lantao

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