The Chromatic Kingdoms

2012-04-19

(Originally posted on LiveJournal)

A tweet on my feed reminded me of a science fantasy location I dreamed up ages ago. It’s inspired by post-apocalyptic fiction, medieval romance, Greek classics, colors from Magic: The Gathering, simplified Mendelian genetics and racism.

The Chromatic Kingdoms

The so-called “Chromatic Kingdoms” are two opposed kingdoms of several cities each, seemingly in a continuous race war with an implicit war of the sexes.

Races of the White Kingdom

Kyrioi (Whites)

A fair-skinned and fair-haired people, males are tall and athletic, while females are small, frail, almost dwarfish. Reflecting this disparity, Kyrioi have a patriarchal, hierarchical society: men rule the women, and the king has absolute power over his dukes, who rule iron-fisted over their barons, who dominate their knights, who dominate free craftsmen and merchants. All Kyrioi, even women technically, have absolute authority over Khloroi serfs/slaves (see below) and a minority of enslaved Kobolds (see below), who do all the work.

Kyrioi hate all other human variations to a lesser or greater degree. They believe their benighted kingdom is the pinnacle of civilization, and demand that others accept their inferiority to the Kyrioi, at swordpoint if necessary.

Genetically, pureblood Whites have X chromosomes with a recessive mutation; two X chromosomes inhibit growth. The Y chromosome, shared by the Greens, turns off this mutation and gives White males their stature and musculature.

Khloroi (Greens)

Khloroi have subcutaneous algae that give them green or cyan skin. Males are as large or larger than Kyrioi men, and females are somewhat smaller but athletic and shapely. A Green heals faster (or recovers from fatigue faster) when resting in sunlight, and possesses amazing stamina. Most are serfs of the Kyrioi, but some are freemen and women.

Genetically, pureblood Greens have X chromosomes with a dominant mutation for size and health; the Y chromosome is the same as the Whites. Their green color passes from mother to child; the father’s race doesn’t matter. Because of these genetics, a White male can breed with a Green female and produce a child indistinguishable from a purebred Green. On the other hand, a halfbreed female who breeds with a White has a 1 in 4 chance to bear a small, stunted daughter, ill-equipped for a life of toil, and shame to the White in question.

Races of the Wilderness

Amazons (Reds)

Known for their copper skin and dark hair, the “amazon” tribes live in the wildernesses between Kyrioi settlements. Kyrioi propaganda insists that the Amazons steal men, become pregnant by them, and then eat them and any male issue. In fact, the males of the Amazon usually stay close to home, tending children, gathering food, and practicing necessary crafts, while the non-pregnant women hunt. The chief is always a woman, but a man runs the village while she’s away. This has led to intra-tribal conflict, although both chiefs try to partition responsibilities between them as much as possible.

Women wear the tanned skin of their kills, either as a one-piece dress that comes to mid-thigh or a weapons harness with enough strips of leather for modesty’s sake. Men wear woven ankle-length smocks, kilts with a short tunic, or simple loin cloths, depending on their trade and the time of year. Both sexes wear mantles in cold or wet weather, and leather armor as needed. Only women may wear leather against their skin. Men wear cloth, and a young girl may wear cloth until her first kill when she becomes a woman. Women wear short hair or shaved scalps; men wear long hair, often tied back.

A male who shows an aptitude for hunting, or a female who shows promise in a particular craft (especially psychics and shamans), can opt for a “sex change” ritual, during which they shed their clothing and don clothing of the other sex. For all intents and purposes, save the inevitable biological ones, that person is now and forever their chosen sex.

Genetically, females carry a recessive gene on their X chromosome that makes them larger and healthier, not unlike the Green X. Male Reds have a mutant Y overriding the Red X that makes them smaller. Hybrids with the other races can vary greatly, based on their fathers’ and mothers’ races.

Kobolds

Kobolds are completely hairless, with indigo skin; they prefer cool temperatures, but in cold weather they must bundle up in fur, felt, or heavy textiles. Normal dress varies by clan, from simple furs to sophisticated textiles, and from stone-age arms and armor to ironwork that would make a master blacksmith weep.

Male kobolds stand about a meter tall and nearly that wide, with muscular arms, and well-muscled but short legs. Their heads look squashed by human standards, with large eyes that see in the dimmest light and small, upturned noses. Females are slightly taller and paler then their men, with longer legs, rounder heads, and narrower shoulders, and much less powerful arms; nevertheless few humans would call them beauties. For the most part, males do the stoneworking, metalsmithing, and hunting, while females concentrate on gathering, softer crafts, and social skills; women with a talent for hunting or men who weave clothes suffer no stigma, as long as they do it well.

Most kobolds prefer large groups of their own kind, in burrows, mines, or other dark and enclosed spaces. At one time the Kobolds had a civilization that spanned northern Mu, with feats of engineering that rival or exceed other empires’ at their height. Today, they live in the safer parts of their ruined cities or in far more modest holes. Most kobolds lead a hunter-gatherer life, although some have cautiously taken up farming. Kobolds cooperate to a degree only found in human military units; internal disputes are often settled amicably by their chiefs or wise women, and inter-clan conflicts seldom escalate to war.

Kobolds distrust strangers, especially Tall Folks like humans. They plan their homes, even the humblest, with traps, murder holes, and other defenses not readily apparent. Despite the difficulty of gaining their trust, they prove to be staunch allies in all but the most dire circumstances.

Kobolds cannot breed with other humanoid species.

Races of the Dark Kingdom

Heretics (Darks)

The “Dark Queen”, supposedly a Kyrioi woman, founded a kingdom in a wilderness, and drew to her those dissatisfied with the Kyrioi order: runaway Khloroi and Kobolds, Amazons tired of Kyrioi harassment, even Kyrioi women and men looking for a better way to live. Declaring themselves free citizens of Egalitas, the Queen and her refugee subjects founded a walled settlement, later a city, in phenomenal time.

Legend has it that the Queen always travels with two huge Ancient-made constructs, who foil any assassination attempts. Despite her Kyrioi ancestry, in public she appears nearly as tall as a Kyrioi man, albeit dressed in concealing robes. Her declared intent is to overturn Kyrioi breeding laws, and indeed cross-breeding among Reds, Whites, and Greens has led to a new race, the Darks, with dusky skin and male-female proportions close to the human norm. The Kyrioi have declared her and her kingdom abominations. Despite their onslaughts, not only has Egalitas survived, it has prospered and won some baronies – and one duke – to its cause. Rumors attribute her success to borrowed or stolen Ancient technology; the White King blames interference from “outsiders”.

Valkyries (Yellows)

Recently the Dark Queen’s breeding schemes have produced the Yellows, women with pale golden skin proportioned more like Greens. (Male Yellows resemble largish Whites except for the slight golden tint, easy to pass off as a tan.) From genetics known since time immemorial, the only way that could happen is if a White female bore a Green’s child, which is even more of an abomination to the Kyroi patriarchy. Dubbed Valkyries, this new generation of tall women form the core of the Dark Queen’s elite guard.