This World Needs a Name
But it probably needs a couple of languages, first.
- Trade language/'Common' is a sign language
- Inns/hotels have to provide accommodations for travellers from different environments. 'Landy' suites, in underwater cities.
- Not all people from a particular 'race' are the same fucking colour, although colour ranges are different and possibly narrower for certain races, Light and Dark mole people, particularly.
- Since there's so much mixing, there's bound to be interbreeding. What happens when you cross a sky person with a water person? Bird-like people who breathe underwater?? What traits are dominant/recessive?
- Since they can crossbreed, it's implied they evolved from a common (likely extinct) ancestor. Maybe even humans. Humans with magic who toyed with evolution/genetics? Maybe there's some debate among scholarship over who evolved from what. I just have this image of multicultural historians/anthropologists bonding/arguing over 'ancient' artifacts.
- Saltwater people are the 'dominant' race? Perhaps a sea empire controls a large part of the world?
- See Freshwater people as 'backwater' (shut up, I like this pun)
- Freshwater people have a heavy influence on trade? They dominate the rivers and can choke off the fastest trade routes if they're feeling pissy.
- More or less humanoid. Maybe they're not humans, though. We can go a little weirder.
- Breathe air.
- Have several regional languages, that incorporate the expected sound sets.
- Language is extremely tonal. Doesn't sound right in air. Lots of vowels, nasals, voiced fricatives. Mostly accented vowels marked for tone and duration.
- Written language? What the fuck do you write in/on underwater?
- "Nüshu is phonetic, with each of its approximately 600-700 characters representing a syllable." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N%C3%BC_Shu < Important because Chinese is extremely tonal, as well.
- LAND SQUID
- Totally gender neutral language lacks gendered pronouns. There's person/place/thing pronouns.
- Written language? What the fuck do you write in/on underwater?
- Can breathe air, but can't speak their language in it. History of being thought mute.
- Not all mer-people. Possibly none? Amphibious, maybe? (I want semi-amphibious mammals, ffs. Can I do that? I just keep telling myself somebody thought the platypus was a good idea...)
- if we're going the amphibious route and want to fuck with gender norms, maybe they can change sex like certain species of frogs? YES PLZ
- Slapping down the 'kin to the fishes' trope. They're no more kin to the fishes than landies are to the cows.
- Languages are primarily glottals and nasal vowels. Sound sets are designed to carry over long distances, so sky people are loud as fuck.
- Very into bright colours. Fuschia is a WARRIOR'S COLOUR.
- Wing types vary by region.
- Very into personal space, partially because they have like 12' wingspans and a loud-ass language.
Cavern People (Light Mole People)
- Mostly albino, ranging from pale creams and light oranges to snow white.
- Can see heat signatures, but fewer colours in the visible light spectrum than Landies.
- Insects, fungus, and cave-dwelling creatures are a large part of agriculture ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biospeleology )
- Craftsmanship focusing on pottery, stone, and gem work.
- Caves are cool and retain humidity fairly well, so windbreaker-weight clothing is popular in temperate climes.
Deep People (Dark Mole People)
- Languages are designed not to echo. Less 'a', 'i'; more 'o', 'u', 'e'. Unvoiced consonants. Very few sibilants, because sibilants echo nastily. Languages are a combination of spoken sound and hand-to-hand gestures. To speak without touching is a sign of extreme displeasure, and certain concepts cannot be conveyed, that way, while some concepts can only be conveyed by a lack of touch. The written language has symbolic markers that go with words to indicate the hand positions required for proper understanding.
- Written language obviously must be touch-based? Like braille?
- "Deep hypogean environments can host autonomous ecologies whose primary source of energy is not sunlight, but chemical energy liberated from limestone and other minerals by chemoautotrophic bacteria."
- Can see heat signatures, and make distinctions in them that are incomprehensible to other races. Can't see 'visible spectrum' at all.
- Skin is very dark, ranging from a shadowy blue to #000000. Eyes are monochrome, lacking the structure of surfacer eyes, because they don't work like that.
- The depths are consistent temperatures, for the most part, year round. There is little concept of season, as surfacers know it, but things like migrations of certain animals or regular shifts in the depth of a river may mark time. Obviously day/night are not sun/moon based, if they exist consistently at all. Settlements may have round-the-clock services, as residents rise and sleep in three or four different patterns. Everything will be open at least some of the hours anyone is awake.
- Wizardry is something almost anyone can study and learn. It's treated like any other craft.
- how does it work, specifically? Is it just willed or does it involve gestures or a spoken component? Would muddle things a bit, with the different races. Unless their different modes of speak add different 'flavours' to their magic?
- Some people? Most people? Have some innate magical talent which may or may not be useful. Joe the Healer of Bleeding Wounds vs. Pat the Championship Booger Flicker. Joe, though, still can't cure an illness, unless he studies the wizardry for it, and when you come down to it, Pat could do that, too.
- Further away from the source? The initial afflicted population? The first mutation? magic is rarer. Some nations welcome it. Some nations ban its use as profoundly dangerous.
- Religions shouldn't be racial, specifically. Some religions may be more popular among certain races, likely because of the populations of the regions in which those religions developed, or because of the race of the founder, but religions are likely to begin as regional phoenomena that spread outward. Not 'Sky People believe X and Water People believe Y' but 'Sky People from Foo are likely to believe X.'
- Not everyone is religious.
- Symbols have different meanings in different cultures.
- The spread of religions may influence the evolution of languages.
- Nations are going to be based on different ideas. Some will be nations based on race and place, some on ideas, some on circumstance. Nations made of people who joined together because of a religion. Nations based on semi-familial tribes living in close proximity. Nations based on declarations of new law. Nations based on invasions and conquest. Nations based on the retreat of the conquerors. Nations based on leftover land in peace treaties. The formation of nations is irregular, but fairly predictable.
Numbers and Dates
- ERMHGRRRD. HOW DO TIME
- Imperial dates and numbers are probably most important, because those will be the global standard. We can figure out other people's shit later, but we're walking in from the imperial perspective, so everything's consistent.
- The moon(s) will have a huge influence because tides?
- How do seasonal changes affect the middle of the ocean? What would you name a season for if you live in the sea? Is it still harvests, like it is on land?
- Do we even have months qua months? If a week is based on a 16 day lunar cycle (because we were talking hexadecimal systems) what would be the purpose of a month? Does that make it a 16 day month? It does, doesn't it, because it's lunar.
- Should I even be considering time in terms of 'weeks' and 'months'? Probably not. Solar and lunar cycles. Seasonal shifts. IDGAF what planet you're on, those are going to be important.