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by Pete Grey

Koshadi is a sad world, literally. The world is shrouded in heavy mists created by extensive geyser and volcanic activity, and these make it a gloomy place to visit. The world is one of the most volcanically active worlds in Foreven, a result of its young age and very massive core. Rapid plate movements create rifts within the crust, through which basaltic magma pours in huge floods the land in seas of molten rock, often to a thickness of 10 meters over hundreds of kilometers. Entire regions can vanish beneath hot rock in a matter of just a few days, their original surface features buried or melted away.

The atmosphere is heavily tainted with the CO2 and sulfur exhalations of these eruptions, making the air irritating to the skin, and poisonous to breathe. Potable water is difficult to obtain, and in many areas lakes have formed around calderas, and contain poisonous gasses at their bottoms that will asphyxiate everything for kilometers if disturbed by landslides or new eruptions. Most of the planets native life is microorganisms, many of which have adapted to life in hot springs and other normally inhospitable places, respiring chlorine or hydrogen sulfide.

The world was settled by breakaway colonists from nearby Tepenke (Foreven 1926) around -365. Why they chose this particular world is difficult to say nowadays. Perhaps they were desperate for any world of any kind. Or maybe the survey data was incomplete or incorrect. Whatever the reason, a large colony was set up within the Gorphee Coast, a coastal basin notorious for volcanic and seismic activity. The early colonists subsisted on simple agriculture and primitive mineral extraction of certain ores needed for the manufacturing of implements. A number of natural disasters slowly degraded their ability to maintain their technology, and remain a unified and cohesive community. Disputes and dissension caused several parties to decamp for the outback, and by -250 the world had effectively become balkanised.

A major eruption destroyed the Gorphee in -198, burying what remained of the original colony under a 50 meter thick layer of 1600 degree celsius magma. What colonists weren't killed in the eruption fled hundreds of kilometers into the surrounding wilderness, bringing them into contact, and conflict with the earlier departees. The world slid into barbarism, and the survivors coalesced into nomadic tribes that moved as local conditions dictated. Most of these tribes developed taboos against technology and offworld contact, and exploratory teams that visited the now obscure world were often ambushed and killed by the natives.

Zhodani and Xenough military units skirmished over Koshadi briefly during their protracted guerilla war, and both factions contacted and jostled the local tribes in hopes of recruiting them as soldiers or laborers. In many cases these indigenous workers were paid in offworld trade goods, and the old taboos against offworld contact slowly eased once its benefit to local communities became clear. Unfortunately, the opposing efforts of the Zhodani and the Kokol caused a permanent cultural divide between their respective indigenous allies that persists to the current day.

Since the 400s, the world has been differentiated between the Zhodani influenced Orpelsen, and the Xenough dominated Ivakol. The Orpelsen have mimiced many aspects of Zhodani culture, including an almost religious respect for psionics, though they have not progressed as far due to technical and political difficulties. The Ivakol have a caste structure that is almost identical to the Xenoughian Kokol, but it has obtained religious justification from the traditional sects that flourished among the older tribal groupings. Both groups enforce strict obedience in their communities, often with the aid of empowered secret police or moniters.

The elevation of their respective ideologies into the realm of belief has converted local secular conflicts into controversies of faith between respective sets of believers and infidels. The two factions have managed to start and prosecute constant wars with each other without any offworld assistance other than verbal encouragement. The retreat of the Zhodani hasn't stemmed the Orpelsen, indeed the assistance of their cousins on Tepenke, and aid from the Avalar government has enabled them to conquer the entire planet on at least three occasions. Xenough's retreat from interstellar prominence after being annexed by the Avalar Consulate severly hurt the Ivakol's ability to stave off their enemies assualts, and they're unity has been hurt by internal controversies and schisms. Nevertheless, the Orpelsen have not displaced the Ivakol's culture or belief structure, and their takeovers have merely caused the latter to reunify and wage bloody guerilla wars that have undermined their attempts to dominate the world.

Outside travellers will find that Koshadi is a treacherous place to visit. The alliances that make up the two factions are as shifty as the local terrain, and just as quietly volatile. The Orpelsen are quite friendly with offworlders, particulary Zhodani, though they welcome Regency citizens with little fuss. The Ivakol are just the opposite: suspicious, aloof and quick to anger. Their politics are tangled, and blood feuds are common between regions and local "brotherhoods". The local Poilu and Geneeari (see Xenough) are considered to be the property of the Ivakol in general, and their lives are harsh. Even worse, many offworlders are often attacked or kidnapped by overly zealous or xenophobic Ivakol militiamen, and are often added to the lower castes. For this reason many Ivakol areas are Amber Zones, and visits without permission or Ivakol escort is not recommended.

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