Today I’ll be continuing with my read-through of the Aethera Campaign Setting – if you’re at PaizoCon this weekend you really oughta say hi to the folks who made it – with more of the section on the forested world of Kir-Sharaat. Homeworld of the erahthi and zahajin, and attuned to an element that literally didn’t exist in the days before the Collapse.
Due to the impact of the Century War on the erahthi, they’re still very much on a wartime footing; military service is a shortcut to advancement, and even the simplest clerical position can be as lauded as a front-line hero when they return home again. The more warlike castes – Protectors, Leaders, and so on – often get their needs considered ahead of all others, and material comforts tend to get treated as unpatriotic and crass, both of which tend to cause unrest among the youngest members of erahthi society.
Erahthi culture is in the middle of a sea-change – the pre-war and early wartime generations still remember the time of small towns and communal plenty; the late war’s generation are almost all gone, awakened to fight before their time and alienated by their lack of time among their own people so that the survivors tend to leave Kir-Sharaat entirely to seek their own path, and the youngest generation has grown up in refugee cities and under the guidance of multiple castes. Many of the young reject the caste system entirely, or seek to forge new caste positions that the old system fails to cover. Many indulge in ways their elders don’t approve of, rebelling in the face of seemingly eternal warfare and lives that will be cut pointlessly short. Adventuring erahthi are almost certainly going to be from among either the lost generation or those growing up in the shadow of the Century War’s abrupt end.
Interestingly, erahthi culture, despite adopting currency in more recent years and disrupting the gift economy that previously existed, doesn’t treat wealth as a sign of emeplary behavior; personal achievement by great deeds – including acts of philanthropy – are what propel one in status. This essentially assures that the erahthi are unlikely to ever have much of a problem with corporate waste, and their deep integration into their environment and reliance on the grand trees to reproduce ensures that they’re unlikely to become too disruptive to their native environment. It’s a novel take on a post-scarcity and effectively transhumanist society, and refreshing compared to the usual paved wastelands of most cyberpunk and biopunk models of society.
In case there was any thought of stability in the halls of power on this planet, while the primary leader of the erahthi is the Tritarch – currently Athrakarus the Warlord – they have a council that serves them, but more than a few members of the previous council are frustrated with both the decision to awaken Athrakarus early and with the current direction taken by the Warlord’s council. Each Tritarch also has a separate council, dedicated to their sphere of influence – enlightenment, knowledge, and war – which operate apart from the Ascendant Council that serves the currently awake Tritarch. The fact that there are literal secret police – the Akkari-Kathar – inside the Thorn Guard, it’s understandable that there’s some concern that the Council of War and Athrakarus’s Ascendant Council acted illicitly and forced the turn of cycle as a coup. A peaceful forest commune Kir-Sharaat is not.
It goes a step farther, giving an easy in for GMs and players interested in Kir-Sharaat’s politics, as three of the previous Council operate in secret to investigate the actions of the Tritarch and the Thorn Guard. Often, they hire deniable assets in the form of adventurers to go look for evidence and investigate sites. The leads that have been turned up have been troubling for all members of the clandestine organization, and may call the official history of the erahthi themselves into question.
Next time, we’ll dip into the locations on offer for the forested world!