Gamebook store

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Abraxas: the Cabiri Archipelago

More background material from Jamie's and my Abraxas project today. You may wonder whether all this detail is actually needed for a massively multiplayer game, and indeed the short answer to that is it's not. MMOGs should be and are defined by the players themselves as the actual inhabitants of the virual world. Any attempt by the game designers to impose a culture is only going to go as deep as costume and architectural styles.

However, we never intend any of our projects to only be one thing. Our philosophy is to design for cross-media right from the outset. So Abraxas might have started as a MMOG, but the concept bible also allowed for it to be used in solo CRPGs, paper and pencil role-playing games, gamebooks, novels, comics - in principle, even as a movie. It doesn't take a whole lot more effort to design something that way (what we call "root class development") and it's certainly a lot less effort than having to go back and retrofit it to other media later.

And with that, on to today's topic:

The Cabiri are a seafaring people inhabiting a number of small city-states spread throughout an archipelago of many islands and white coral atolls. The Cabiri trade with the ports of the mainland, but to them property is less important than custom. Property can be lost, but the right to fish in a certain bay, etc, can never be taken away. Such rights descend through the female line and form the basis of the Cabiri economy.

Cabiri society is shame-based. To insult a Cabiri obliquely or even simply not to take his word for something is to shame him. To avoid disgrace, a man will choose blood feud, exile or even suicide. Cabiri who have been deeply shamed without possibility of redress will say "Lady Moon has turned her face away" (the Moon being one of their gods) and become fatalistic and withdrawn until some happy stroke of luck encourages them to fight for their good name.

There are twenty-four clans, each of multiple lineages. All clans are represented in every township. Nine of the clans comprise the Pelagian Cabiri, and these have responsibility for matters concerned with the sea: fishing, coastal trade and the navy. The other fifteen clans are the Chersonese Cabiri, who are concerned with matters relating to the land: farming, crafts, markets and the army. The township's two rulers are the heads of the paramount clan in each faction, and they rule on alternate days.

Each clan is responsible for certain rituals, many of them relating to government. Eg, for a city-state to declare war requires twenty-four rituals to be performed. War therefore cannot happen without the consent of all the clans. But a lesser state of aggression can be declared by only nine Pelagian Cabiri rituals, giving those clans considerable sway when it comes to foreign policy.

The people of the archipelago are human-like but recognizably not like other men. Their flesh, bone-white with a yellow tint, is luminescent and their pale-gold hair glows like gold. Somerset Maugham puts it best:
She glowed, but palely like the moon rather than the sun, or if it was like the sun it was like the sun in the white mist of dawn.

Cabiri society is matrilineal, with inheritance passing through the female line. The clans are exogamous: men marry outside their lineage and clan, going to live with their wife's family. As in old Celtic society, a man is usually closer to his sister's children than his own, as they are the ones who will inherit his family's responsibilities, rights and property.

Okay, that's the last Abraxas post for a few weeks. Dragon Warriors fans have been very patient, so we'll shortly be unveiling some more Invaders & Ancients material from the Ophis campaign, including a complete scenario. Don't touch that dial.

No comments:

Post a Comment