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.
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.