Manitou

Cathedral: None
Agora: There is no specific Agora on the planet. Trade is dispersed throughout the area and is overseen by various gangs, guilds, and organizations from place to place.
Garrison: 2/10 (human garrison is generally limited to local militias and gangs. The exact size of the Vau garrison is unknown, but their technology is sufficiently advanced to give it a very high rating)
Tech: 4/7 (human technology in the Guild Lands and Free Cities is a fairly uniform level 4 and is overall higher than usually found on human worlds. Technology in the hinterlands varies between 1 and 2. Vau technology is assumed to be uniformly 7.)
Human Population: 1.33 billion
Alien Population: 10 million Ukar, 5 million (estimated) other, Vau population is unknown, but believed to be small.
Resources: Agriculture, Pygmallum ore
Exports: Pygmallum, Zril'ka-aa lotus, Vau art and artifacts, psykers

The Laws of Manitou

As part of the agreement allowing humans to colonize Manitou, the Vau placed certain restrictions on behavior while in the system. These restrictions are considered inviolable and there is no appeal.

  1. No violence is allowed within the system (though violence is permitted on the planet’s surface). Any ship that fires on another ship is summarily hunted down and destroyed by the Vau. While a few foolhardy souls have attempted to circumvent this law and then flee through the jumpgate, none that have done so have ever emerged on the other side.
  2. No human may enter Vau territory. This technically includes anything outside of the continent of Anthos, including the oceans more than 100 miles from the continent, the whole of the continent of Sera’a’alo, the few islands found in the oceans, Manitou’s single moon, and the other planets of the system. In practice, it appears that the Vau only closely monitor their own continent and the moon. Those who violate the law intentionally are never seen again. Those who violate it unintentionally awaken months, sometimes years later, with no recollection of where they had been during the intervening time.
  3. The Inquisition is forbidden from operating in the system. This law came into effect suddenly approximately 150 years ago, and the Vau have refused to discuss, debate, or revoke it since. Any Church vessel entering the system is given one warning and then destroyed. It is rumored that Inquisition agents who kept a low profile have been allowed to remain on the planet unmolested.
  4. Terraforming on even a small scale is forbidden. The Vau do not seem to consider basic agriculture terraforming, but do not allow anything more advanced.
  5. Off-planet trade in the zril'ka-aa flower or its processed products is forbidden. Of all the laws given by the Vau, this is the one most often flaunted without consequence, and it is known that both the Scravers and House Decados engage in regular smuggling of zril’ka-aa tincture off planet. It is also well-known that those who traffic in the subject tend to die mysterious and horrible deaths, however, sometimes very far from Manitou.

Solar System

Ishkode – a tiny rockball, this planet appears to be spiraling into the sun, and is expected to break apart within the next few centuries.

Manitou – Manitou has a single moon, Illway. Illway is about half the size of luna, and a greenish color. It is considered an ill-omen to see the moon from the planet’s surface (a rare occurrence given the almost perpetual cloud cover). There are known to be several extensive Vau facilities on the moon. All appear to be abandoned, but are equipped with extensive defensive systems that destroy any craft attempting to land.

The Aswajiw Belt – ships negotiating the belt have occasionally reported that the asteroids sometimes seem to move under their own power. This phenomena has never been successfully documented.

Mukwa – a purple gas giant. A large Vau naval base is located on one of Mukwa’s moons, and small vessels occasionally travel to and fro between here and the surface of Manitou. The entire area is very much off limits to humans.

Mikwam – a tiny ball of ice, there seems to be nothing of interest to either humanity or the Vau here.

Landscape

Manitou is approximately the same size and distance from the sun as Holy Terra, but has a somewhat thicker atmosphere. This results in a greenhouse effect that keeps the planet shrouded in cloud and almost entirely tropical in temperature. Rain is rare, but humidity is very high and condensation means that most things get damp quickly and stay that way. Approximately 70% of the planet's surface is covered with water. The planet’s atmosphere is quite thick by Known Worlds standards, and visitors often complain of a feeling like drowing until they acclimate. The air is also ionicly charged, which makes for spectacular displays of lightning (sometimes lasting weeks) and plays havoc with both sensors and long-range communications.

There are two continents. The first and largest, Sera'a'alo, is home to the planet's Vau population. Little is known of it since it is entirely off limits to humans and the surface is seldom visible from orbit. The second, Anthos, is roughly 9,629,091 km2 and is a rough oval lying across the equator. The highest feature of the planet, Mount Athos, lies roughly in the middle of the continent. At 13,882 m in height, Mount Athos rises above the almost perpetual cloud cover, and is virtually the only surface feature commonly visible from orbit. Manitou’s thicker atmosphere allows for a (barely) breathable atmosphere but temperatures are extremely cold. The western half of the continent has rocky shores, extensive forests, and good crop land, and is the focus of human settlement on Manitou. Towards the east the land becomes swampy, and fully 1/3 of the continent is a huge bayou which is thinly settled and largely unexplored.

Manitou has a fully developed eco-system, but much of the plant and animal life is inedible to most Known Worlds species (Vorox being the great exception).

Government

The government of Anthos is a complex affair. Local governments range from 2nd Republic style democracies to feudal baronies to anarchist collectives to primitive tribes. Planetary matters are overseen by the Joint Administrator's Guild (JAG), a large and somewhat chaotic body with a variable membership which exists entirely to run the politics of Manitou. Sitting above the JAG is the monastic order of St. Nikia, a psychic/theurgic coven which is the only organization on the continent that has direct contact with the Vau.

The major political subdivisions are as follows —

The Guild Lands

This area is controlled by a large number of local guilds which have banded together to form the Manitou Trade Conglomerate (MTC). While guilds of the Merchant League have some small holdings within the Guild Lands, they have no more weight or authority than any other guild, and League membership is not recognized. The Guild Lands are overseen by the Council of Worthies, a council made up of delegates elected from the foremost guilds of the area. Which guilds are on the Council of Worthies can change over time, as can the exact size of the Council, and there is a constant jockeying among the dozen or so foremost guilds for membership. Particularly wealthy individuals may be invited to participate in the Council of Worthies in an advisory capacity.

The Guilds Lands take up approximately 1/3 of the continent, and are the largest political entity in the land.

Major cities of the Guild lands include –

Mount Athos – the current capital of the Guild lands and the location of the largest spaceport on the planet, Mount Athos is primarily an administrative and not a trade center, though it is struggling to establish itself as such. With a population of 3.8 million, it is a modestly large city by Manitou standards. Mount Athos is where the both the JAG and the MTC have their bases of power. Representatives of the various League guilds have offices here as well, though they are not recognized as official guilds on Manitou.

Noumea – the largest city on Manitou, with a population of 13.8 million and a population density of roughly 32,000/km2, Noumea sits on an island in the middle of a well protected bay, and is a major trading port for Anthos. The city is the original colony site on the planet, and was for much of the Second Republic, the only colony site allowed by the Vau. Currently it is a nest of political and trade intrigue of every sort, and home to operatives and spies of virtually every faction in the Known Worlds. It is also the only place on Anthos where one might regularly see Vau (normally Workers, though Mandarins are occasionally spotted). Psychic covens are ubiquitous in Noumea and operate openly. They range in power and influence from low level street gangs to legitimate business operations to governmental agencies. Finally, Noumea is the only city on Anthos where the Chuch of the Pancreator is allowed to operate openly, and various church factions all maintain facilities here.

The Monastery of St. Nikia – near the summit of Mount Athos, in what was once a Second Republic science facility, lies the Monastery of St. Nikia. The monks of St. Nikia form a cloistered order and are known to practice both theurgy and psychic disciplines. Little is known of them, as they discourage visitors and their monetary is virtually inaccessible. The monks are the only organization formally recognized by the Vau on the planet, and all official relations are conducted at the monastery. Pronouncements by the order are recognized as having the force of law by both the JAG and the MTC.

The Free Port of Heshraad – formerly a Guild run city, Heshraad was sealed off and isolated for approximately 200 years following the outbreak of a plague in the city, and has only recently resumed contact with the outside world. The plague resulted in a large percentage of the population becoming mutated in one way or another, and since recontact it has become a haven for Changed on Manitou. The city is largely lawless, and two competing organizations are vying to control it. The first is the remnants of the old city government, known as the Emergency Council. The second is House Vanya, which is a feudal monarchy formed during the isolation. At the moment it is the focus of an intense economic struggle between the MTC and the Free Cities. Neither particularly wants the city for themselves, but both would like it pulled into their sphere of influence, if only to deny it to the other.

The Noble Lands

Each of the major houses of the Known Worlds controls a small fief on Manitou. These have been granted by the MTC in exchange for imports and favorable trade deals. The lands are something of a refuge for nobles hunted by the Church for one offense or another, and being assigned lands here is considered tantamount to permanent exile.

House Masseri — the fugitive Marquis Claudio Masseri has a refurbished 2nd Republic era estate in the Noble Lands, purchased from the MTC. It abuts House Decados holdings on one side, and MTC holdings on the other. It is known to have extremely high security. Rumor has it that soon after the arrival of the Marquis the local Decados Duke paid a courtesy call. He returned soon thereafter, white faced, and proceeded to triple the number of security personnel on Decados estates and began to fortify his border with the Masseri land. He hasn't stopped since.

It is rumored that no one ever goes in or out of the Masseri estates. Ever.

The Free Cities

A loose organization of two dozen quasi-independent city-states located along the southern coast. They are nominally claimed by the MTC, but no attempt to enforce that claim has been made in centuries, and an uneasy peace holds sway between the Guild Lands and the Free Cities. Various cities sometimes vie with one another for control, and minor conflicts and even the occasional war are not unknown, but the squabbling ends whenever faced with a threat from the MTC.

Unlike the Guild Lands, the Free Cities have little to do with offworlders. Fear of the Imperium is rife, and while overt violence against offworlders is rare, so is cooperation.

The Rhean Collective — this group of City-States was founded by elements of the Second Republic Navy which fled the fall of Byzantium Secundus. Now the largest and most influential of the City-States, it continues a proud tradition of Republicanism stretching back to that time.

Dwelthid Aph — an independent Ukar nation founded by the survivors of the Ukar who led the revolt against the Al Malik on Kordeth. The official religion is a mystical and heretical form of Banjak which is open to non-Ukar worshipers and the area is ruled by religious leaders as a theocracy.

O'orgva'hleesh'thenloen — this city-state is modeled on what is known of the Vau caste system. It has little contact with the other city-states. It is best known as the primary producer of Zril-ka'aa lotus, a proscribed narcotic that sells for high prices in the Known Worlds. Every other city-state, as well as the MTC, would like to gain control over the city, but doesn't want any other faction to control it.

The Kingdom of Talthalobad — this primitive city is built entirely on a two-kilometer square of terracrete apparently laid down during the Second Republic for a planned colony that was never built. The area surrounding the site is a floodplain, and main export from the city is rice. The city is ruled by a non-hereditary king, popularly elected when the previous king dies and serving for life. The city itself is considered holy by its inhabitants and is forbidden to outsiders. A small trading community is set up nearby where outsiders can stay.

The City-State of Mohenjo – for centuries Mohenjo was a haven of stability and peace within the Free Cities. The inhabitants, mostly practitioners of Gjarti or proto-Amalthean faiths, were good neighbors, strongly dedicated to the ideals of Republicanism, freedom of the City-States, and self-determination. However, over the last 20 or so years, there has been a growing militant faction within Mohenjo that supported a platform of ridding Manitou of Known Worlds influence. This culminated five years ago with the overthrow of the City-State’s monarchy and the appointment of a revolutionary leader to head the government. Since then the city has been transforming itself into an armed camp, increasing the size of its army, and pressuring outlying towns, villages, and smaller City-States into its sphere of influence. While Mohenjo has not yet taken any overt action against any of the Free Cities, and claims that its military build-up is to protect against incursions of off-world influences and the MTC, other city-states look upon the increasing militancy with alarm.

The Hinterland and the Tribes

Approximately half of Althos is composed largely of swamp and bayou country, broken with occasional hills and hardwood forests. This area is thinly populated with a confusing multitude of tribes, septs, family groupings, fringe religious groups, fugitives, bandits, and cults. Some of these trade regularly with the Free Cities or the MTC, and others live in complete isolation.

Almost ubiquitous among the various groups living in the hinterlands is use of the hallucinogenic zrill’ka’aa flower. Very common in the bayous and swamps, it is used in religious ceremonies by almost all of the tribes, and some chew it daily.

The Messad Pakma – this is one of the larger tribes that abuts Guild lands, and is divided into literally hundreds of sub-tribes. The Messad Pakma worship Manitou itself. They maintain a stone age culture, but are quite willing to trade for higher tech items. They are the main suppliers of zrill’ka’aa tincture for House Decados and the Scravers Guild.

The Pelomorii – this tribe lives on the slopes of Mount Athos, and typically act as guides and bearers for those few hearty souls who wish to visit the Monastery of St. Nikia. They are Gjariti worshipers with a special emphasis on animal worship. Members of the tribe have developed a semi-symbiotic relationship with an omnivorous, doglike reptile known as a shidra. All members of the tribe are bonded with one or more of these creatures, and are seldom seen without one in company.

The Mersharadrii – this tribe lives in the south and has the most contact with the Free Cities. They practice a bloody form of Gjartiism which focuses on sacrifice to Manitou, which they refer to as “the bloody mother”. They are bandits, raiders, and slavers who are the bane of the area, and practice ritual cannibalism. It is rumored that the Merchanradrii have some sort of a tacit agreement with Mohenjo.

Neo Edo

A smallish island, one of an archipelago that lies to the east of Anthos proper, it is a hilly and somewhat windswept area, good for growing livestock but poor cropland. A small human population, believed to be the decedents of a Second Republic archaeological team, lives here. The island is the site of extensive Vau ruins, and there is limited trade between Neo Edo, the Free Cities, and the MTC. Neo Edo is not part of the treaty lands allowed to humanity by the Vau, but so far they seem to have had no objection to leaving the humans in place.

The Shadowmen

Possibly a legend, possibly not, it is said that there exist on Manitou a small number of humans and aliens used by the Vau as messengers. Also known as “the watchers in the woods”, “the endless”, and “the observers”, these men and women are occasionally seen all over the planet. They are reported to be completely immune to psychic powers, and immortal. They are said to have been present at significant events in the plant’s past, and supposed photos and holos of them exist. Sitings of Shadowmen are the common stuff of gossip and superstition.

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