Land of the Reds and Browns
T'Yorta is a small, lonely island far from the central glacier, inhabited by a curious people.
The people of T'Yorta are human, one culture divided in two. Travellers who have been to T'Yorta distinguish the two groups as the Red and the Brown, due to differences in the color of clay used in their construction, but the T'Yortans themselves shun this characterization.
Each group considers itself T'Yort, that is the true people of the island, and believe the other to be Ta, that is usurpers, squatters and otherwise unworthy. Thus, Reds and Browns each consider themselves superior to the other group, even though in nearly all ways their cultures are identical.
What is interesting about T'Yorta, however, is the way the Reds and Browns are committed to proving their superiority. They do not do so by fighting, but by attempting to beat the other in cultural achievement. Centuries upon centuries of out-doing each other have had a wonderful effect on this island. The dangerous beasts that once inhabited this island have been hunted into near extinction, admittedly for boasting rights, so the island is mostly safe for the unwary traveller. The cultivated land is very neatly laid out, and the irrigation systems boast yearly improvements. Both the Red and the Brown are vegetarian, livestock being farmed only for wool, milk and manure. This means that more land is used for cultivating human foods.
The roads connecting the various towns are immaculate constructions of gravel and brick. Between Red and Brown lands, though, there's a long section where no road exists. Both sides point to this as the other group's neglected responsibility. Most of the people of T'Yorta are artists or architects or musicians. Both groups of T'Yort are communistic, with a strong sense of national pride and society. Every member of the two societies contributes their best to their nation. The philosophies of the T'Yort dictate that outsiders are just more Ta, and neither side will help an outsider or even trade to one unless it's a matter of life-and-death.
T'Yort life has a very different focus than most. As the T'Yort are concerned only with their own greatness, the people are focussed on their own history. Most people are fluent with history, knowing the last ten or more governmental heads, and knowing a feat of greatness associated with every name. As the towns they live in are relatively small (to keep down problems associated with large populations), a person is expected to know the names of everyone in their city, and usually their occupation is known as well. A T'Yort can cross through every part of his country without preparation, receiving food and shelter from another citizen as a matter of duty, so long as one does not travel into Ta territory, where he will receive nothing. But few people travel, as they are very comfortable in their homes. And T'Yort do not travel abroad. Of all people, the T'Yort feel the least wanderlust.
T'Yorta is an example of one of the strange islands found far out in the Southern Seas. The island would make an interesting role-playing experience if used as a stop-over point on a long voyage, as the adventurers try to convince the T'Yortans to trade with worthless Ta. Depending on the attitudes adopted by the players, this could develop into an adventure by itself. Like many outer island nations it serves well as the basis for short, one-off adventures such as these suggestions:
The Ta-Crossed Lovers
Not all T'Yortans are quite so snobbish about Ta. There are one or two who (grudgingly) admit that The Others might have some worth. Such a one is M'Yon, a young Red goatherd who, whilst searching for one of his flock wandered into Brown territory by accident. He fell down a slope and was injured, but tended by Y'Hun the daughter of a Brown noble. Predictably, of course, the two fell in love, but also predictably it is a forbidden love that Y'Hun's father Chor'Hun wishes to see go no further.
Visiting adventurers may be contacted by M'Yon (who is now more willing to trust Ta) and asked for help in rescuing Y'Hun from the room in her father's palace where he keeps her locked up. Alternatively the gamesmaster may wish to reverse which of the lovers is imprisoned.
A New Way
Both Red and Brown T'Yortans do not take life, hence the non-violent forms of competition that have enriched their lives. However, someone, somewhere has introduced the idea of war. It starts as simple property damage - by wrecking the works of the Ta, the works of the T'Yort will appear that much finer. Where it will end, no-one knows.
Who is responsible for this? Is it simply an inevitable result of humanity, or is an outside agency at work?
(c) 2010 The Creative Conclave.