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Weak Lands

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The Weak Lands lay along both banks of the lower reaches of the river Weak, whose headwaters are in the northeastern mountains of Altarin. The Weak reaches the southern coast near the western edge of the Weak lands, just east of the expanse of the Doe Breeder Forest. Thus the river Weak crosses from the northern tip of the Weak Lands south-westwards until the Snake's Mouth Estuary at the sea.


Geologically, the Weak Lands are a layer of river-deposited siltstone sitting across a very thick domain of ancient greywacke which used to sit in the deeps of an oceanic trench, atop a subduction zone at the fore of the orogeny that eventually resulted in the Altarin mountains. The siltstone is hard, fine-grained, and faintly pink with iron content. The greywacke is a highly varied mix of minerals sourced from all over the ancient continent and shelf; it is poorly differentiated and contains has low organic content. There are no igneous intrusions known in the Weak Lands, and it is too far from the mountains for significant metamorphism.

There is a very deep layer of rich, loamy soil atop of the siltstone, with thousands of years of grassy organic matter buried into it. The soil is slightly alkaline and drains well.


Climatologically, the Weak Lands experience a temperate form of monsoon climate, with three major seasons: Dry, Westerly, and Cyclone. The Weak Lands do not experience snow or frost.

The 12th through 3rd months of the year is Dry season. Winds are weak and often nonexistent. Clouds are thin and high in the sky and precipitation is almost never experienced. Temperatures are low, typically 40F to 50F. A steady mist or fog rising off of the land and the river is usually capped by an inversion layer above, leading to a thick fog that dissipates slowly, or not at all, with the sunlight.

The 4th through 7th months of the year is Westerly season. Winds are steady and strong from the southwest, but clouds and precipitation are sparse. Temperatures rise steadily from 50F to 75F over the course of the season. During these times there is often a thick night and early-morning fog which dissipates by full sunrise, blowing across the land at high speeds and curling around trees and structures.

The 8th through 11th months of the year is Cyclone season. Winds are southeasterly and brings tropical depressions coming from warm off-shore oceanic streams. The Weak Lands typically experience between 10 and 20 significant cyclones per season and rainfall typically totals 40 inches. Temperatures are abnormally warm for the latitude, ranging between 70F to 85F.

Fauna and Flora

The dominant growth in the Weak Lands are tall grasses and large shrubs, annuals that survive the dry season through seeds or perennials which reduce their leaves. Most trees are low and squat with few branches. Jussics (Barrel Bushes), for example, are a family of trees which have rounded, barrel-shaped trunks that store water collected by their deep roots. Various species range from merely 6 feet tall to over 11 feet tall.

The main family of tall trees in the Weak Lands, cyrids, do not grow branches but instead their thin, straight trunks hold a crown of tough, feathery green leaves. Cyrid trunks have fibrous, flexible trunks capable of bending over 60 degrees without breaking - more like large stiff ropes than typical woods. Cyrids grow long and straight, up to 50 feet in height.

Many Weak Lands plants are pollinated by the endemic Burrow Bees. This species move soil and even scrape rock with their mandibles to form communal nests of a few hundred to a few thousand individuals. Honey is gathered and stored in waxy cells in these hives. Burrow Bees do not sting and are usually non-aggressive, but can bite through human skin when provoked.

During Westerly season, the Weak Lands is host to large nesting populations of migratory birds. The most numerous by far are dozens of species of starlings, who form enormous, iridescent murmurations in the sky as they travel and mate. Many species have particular areas that they settle towards, but these are by no means absolute. Confrontations are frequent, and a cacophony of birdsong disquiets all hours of the day and night.

The Midget Deer are the most common herbivores here. They are different from their forest dwelling cousins in the Doe Breeding Forest in their short stature - standing only about 18 inches from the ground at the shoulder - and in both sexes possessing downward-pointing canines or tusks. The small herds are territorial and fight with each other with these tusks, though rarely to the death. Weak Lands Midget Deer have no seasonal rut and mate year-round. These are particularly vocal, and their vocabulary has perhaps the widest variety of sounds of any deer: barks, hoots, wails, grunts, and trumpeting are all common at any time of the day. They are even known to mimic sounds of other creatures.


Few people live in the Weak Lands. The vast majority are dead. At some mythological point in the distant past, someone (supposedly the mythological first king When) realized that people possess souls and that dead people continue to possess souls - just trapped in their decaying meat shells. King When then invented a method to free these souls from the bodies - which would normally fade away once freed - and bind their existence to continue through the use of Anchor Stones. A culture of ghosts was thus born.

Currently, the Weak has demographics that are nearly 95% dead, while the few living are as often immigrants as they are descendants of the dead. Anchor Stones of various sizes - pyramidal in shape, carved with specific shapes, and sometimes inscribed with messages commemorating something - dot the Weak Lands as centers of towns.

Weak society is heavily stratified, yet also strangely democratic. Having had to grapple with many generations of undying old people carrying on their ideas, the Weak hold factionalism and public debate as the highest forms of discourse. Ideas do not have merit unless they are debated, and just because an idea won the debate once does not mean it should not be debated again. The towns and cities have very few market squares, but a lot of fora. Arguments are passionate, empathic, and at all times - the dead seldom sleep, after all. It is like Ghost Athens.

The living people have little fear of death and indeed look forward to it as a sort of end-of-adolescence event. Weak society treats their living members with fondness, yet unceasingly impresses upon them the need for their manual labors to continue for the good of all.


Edited by AbsentWizard (see edit history)
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The primary economic activity of the living is medium-intensity irrigated agriculture. The two primary calorie crops are giant yams (usually purple and can weigh several kilos when harvested) and teff. Yams are traditionally eaten boiled, baked, or made into a flatbread. Teff is used for silage and seeds are ground and made into a flatbread. Leavened breads are not known, and cooking oils are limited to the lard-like oil pressed from the spore-pods of certain cyrid species.

Construction and manual labors are the second most common economic activity of the living; almost all specialized non-physical labor is relegated entirely to the dead.

The primary economic activity of the dead is philosophy.


True tribal democracy with deeply multilateral factionalism. The state capacity is very high; Weak Lands can organize an enormous amount of scribes and clerks for its population. However, state direction and decision-making is very slow due to the consensus-based nature of these functions. There is no recognized, stable central government; just whatever is the consensus at the time. Elections occur constantly to various offices that are created and then abolished a while later.


The primary import is cats. There is much more interaction and physical contact between ghosts and cats than between any other type of living creature, and the processes to free the soul from people do not work similarly on other creatures for uncertain reasons. The Weak are cat people, and they import cats in huge numbers.

The primary export is mental products: philosophy, literature, plays, mathematics, and the like. Over longer distances, this mostly takes the form of books, scrolls, and other recording devices.


Edited by AbsentWizard (see edit history)
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