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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Mappae Solis: The Tribes of the Drakuu


Mars is a harsh place to live. Dry and sparse, all life that lives there must adapt to the particulars of their home to survive. For all desert is not the same, and all that is dry is not desert. Those best adapted to its extremes populate almost every corner of Mars: the drakuu tribes.

The drakuu of Mars chart their history along lines of descent. Each tribe is born from a single coatl, and each coatl was once a drakuu of an older tribe. The oldest known tribes claim, with perhaps some merit, that their ancestor coatl was one of the progenitors, born from nothing. These first coatl have left behind them lineages, each shaping the many tribes born from their descendants. The exact number of progenitor coatl is not known, and some elder tribes may be talking about the same ancestor, its name distorted and its traditions changed.

Source: Robert Crescenzio

Six lineages of the drakuu:

  1. Armaraca. Also known as blood-crests or scarlet drakuu, this lineage is easily identified by vibrant red feathers, particularly on their heads. They are energetic and agile, and welcoming of strangers. They enjoy novelty, and have a reputation for both getting into and out of trouble with equal ease.

  2. Yacinth. With a blue sheen to their scales, this lineage tends much more strongly to creative arts than others. Whether stone carving, painting, or metal-working, Yacinth drakuu are renowned as some of the best artists in the system. 

  3. Sitacii. Keeping the green feather-scales common to almost all drakuu without additional adornment, the Sitacii lineages have a common appreciation for valour and song. Sitacii skalds are welcome in any tribe, and if one becomes a wanderer, will often find ample employment as a story-teller and entertainer. 

  4. Balyptor. Unlike other lineages, whose distinctive colouration is often limited to crest feathers or a unique tint to body-scales, Balyptor drakuu are almost completely coal-black. They have slightly stronger isolationist tendencies than other lineages, but are most often associated with drakuu history. Balyptor tribes keep and study relics, not only of the drakuu’s past, but often reclaimed from ancient sites from before the Fall.

  5. Luca. This lineage of drakuu stands apart from others in several ways. First, they are smaller, with the tallest among them barely reaching 6 feet. Second, they possess an almost iridescent sheen to their scales, a result of higher metal content. Finally, they are fierce warriors. Their smaller frames hide denser muscles than other lineages, and their scales are tougher. A Luca drakuu might be several feet shorter than an opponent from another tribe, but few on Mars would doubt the victor of a fight. Despite this, they are a quiet and calm lineage, often following what could best be described as “situational pacifism”.

  6. Gallalact. Paler green than others, veering to silver-white sometimes, this lineage has a tendency towards debating. Lovers of philosophy and oration, Gallalact are notorious bookworms and arguers. Never expect to have one agree with you without a five minute argument attempting to disprove your point. They are also the tallest lineage, with some giants reaching almost 9 feet. Their scales and feathers are also fluffier than other lineage, bulking up their appearance and giving them additional thermal protection in the colder climates they prefer.

Source: Christina Kraus

Tribal biomes:

  1. Steppe. Nomadic, these tribes of these biomes have tamed a variety of reptilian and neo-avian beasts. While rarely riding themselves, as drakuu are some of the fastest creatures on Mars, they use these beasts to carry their belongings when migrating. A particular descendant of tortoises is quite prized for its ability to move massive loads while also carrying the infirm or injured. 

  2. Canyon. Once remnants of an ancient water cycle, the terraforming of Mars before the Fall brought life back to these chasms. The largest of these, and indeed the largest canyon in the system is what was once called the Vallis Marineris. It has now earned the name “Valley of Seas” by the numerous interconnected lakes and waterways of its floor.  Many tribes fill its rich depths, and its size, at up to 7 kilometres deep, 200 wide, and 4000 long, means that it is the most populous place on Mars, and home to its few major cities.

  3. Mountain. Mountain drakuu build large communal buildings from quarried stone, and often have complex terrace systems to maximise the rainfall and snowmelt their farms receive. Much like the Valley of Seas, Mars also claims one of the largest mountains in the system. Olympus Mons is 21 kilometres high, and even with the thickened post-terraform atmosphere, its peak extends beyond the atmospheric envelope. The many tribes that dot its surface may never see each other, separated by hundreds of kilometres of terrain, none of it flat. The peak of Olympus Mons contains several well-preserved ruins that were ancient even pre-Fall. Expeditions are hampered by the lack of atmosphere, but several enterprising groups are attempting access. 

  4. Scrubland. The scrublands of Mars vary a lot in the composition and density, but they are home to the more mysterious and isolationist drakuu tribes. Difficult to navigate, easy to get lost in, and tricky to survive, scrublands are a hazard many travellers don’t see coming. The drakuu who live here have small hidden villages and hunting sites, and will travel between them as needed. The animals that live here are smaller and more dangerous than many other places on Mars, particularly because of several species of venomous neo-avian serpentforms. Scrub drakuu often use local -plants and animals in surprisingly complex alchemy and medicine, and are known to make some of the deadliest poisons.

  5. Desert. While most of Mars is arid, and many visitors would describe it as a desert world, true deserts on Mars are less common than many think. Those drakuu that live here are primarily traders, travelling in great caravans across terrain only they can move through safely. Much like their steppe cousins, they have domesticated many animals, though the most prized are the great sidewinders, neo-avian serpentforms a dozen meters in length or more. Despite their size, they are remarkably docile and intelligent, and can carry surprisingly large loads upon their shifting backs. Caretaker drakuu will often ride on the only part that doesn’t continuously slither: the head.

  6. Polar. Polar drakuu face an inversion to many other tribes. For them, water is plentiful, coming from frozen ice or glacial melt. However, the harsh climate of the poles makes hunting and farming difficult. The herds that live here, including some of the only mammals native to Mars, are carefully guarded and maintained by the tribes, which often venerate the particular animal their tribe uses. Closer to pantheistic than animist, this veneration takes the form of art, personal styling, care and affection for the animals, and cooking them into elaborate meals. 

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