Now that we’ve covered the general nature of Ciarkian, it’s time to get a bit more specific…
Arlin is one of (perhaps THE) most populous, variegated, and best-developed disks of Ciarkian. It’s approximately 22,000 miles across, with somewhat irregular edges. It has three moonlets, one sunlet (with a day of approximately twenty-five hours and a seasonal cycle of some 360 of those days. Confusingly, it’s often referred to as Ciarkian by its inhabitants since only scholars, traders, and other explorers ever wind up exploring any part of their wider world.
Unsurprisingly, Arlin was the first part of the virtual-world Core precursor of Ciarkian to be extensively developed and opened for visitors. Many of the areas closer to Arlin’s edge, or on other disks, are far less developed and variegated – and often far more hostile. The fact that numerous other, but weaker, anthropomorphic settings have amalgamated with unused sections of Ciarkian has simply complicated matters even further – especially since such areas usually come with their own races, many of which actually ARE inferior to the general Ciarkian population, and so are ripe for exploitation.
Maytheria, located near the center of the disc, is both an island-continent and a loosely-organized nation. It’s forested mountainous interior is now largely tamed (although occasional monsters do appear, and home-grown bandits and outlaws show up for more often) and serves as a rich source of wood, stone, and other basic raw materials. While relatively little of the land is suitable for grain-farming, orchards and nut-trees do extremely well in its cool, rainy, climate and the rich fishing grounds along the coast provide it’s inhabitants with plenty of protein.
The Maytherian gods, perhaps with a bit of excessive enthusiasm for proper filing and being able to sort out social ranks at a glance, elected to essentially “tag” their creations. As Maytherian Ciarkian (and visitors with suitable identities) grow in personal power and social authority, they develop species-specific signs of that power – and attempts to counterfeit those signs require constant maintenance in the face of a Ciarkian bodies tendency to revert to normal (and generally do work that well in any case). For example…
- Canines – or at least Wolves and Dogs – gain eyes that glow with an internal fire (starting at light blue and finally, at very high power levels, seething crimson and black), as well as ever-darker fur and silver claws.
- Equines gain crests, fancifully colored manes, small beards, and – finally – unicorn-like horns and ever-lighter or darker coats – although a few have been reported as attaining actual flaming manes.
- Felines gain impossibly-long (but still retractable) ruby claws, golden eyes, gold-and-crimson manes, and subtly-darker fur patterns. Their power-graduations tend to be subtler and harder to read than most of the other races.
- Foxes gain gemlike claws and manifest multiple tails as their power grows (which presumably will surprise no one). Oddly enough, their “labeling” is about as unambiguous as possible; all you have to know to sort them out is how to count.
- Otters gain thicker, longer, and more silvery fur, ever-longer drooping whiskers, and gemlike glittering hair running down their spine and tails in ever-deeper shades (sapphire for Otters, other species vary) as their power grows.
- Owls gain plumage in metallic colors (bronze-copper-silver-gold with increasing abilities) that leaves complex patterned markings behind when they brush against surfaces and their bearer wills it – a talent that more skilled and powerful Owls can use to write letters or draw complex illustrations.
- Parrots gain more colorful and elaborate plumage, eventually trailing a selection of long, neon-bright plumes that leave faint trails of color in the air behind them.
- Wolverines acquire complex, blue-and-green shaded, fur patterns, along with matching, solidly colored eyes, ranging from light blue at modest power levels up to solid emerald at the highest.
Socially things tend to be somewhat Darwinian; the more powerful subspecies – mostly the large predators – form the “noble class”, although they’re also expected to do most of the fighting since they have the physical advantages for it. Omnivores tend to come next, and the somewhat-weaker (but more numerous) herbivores make up the lower classes and do most of the farming (which they are better at and can live on). The “lower classes” aren’t especially downtrodden however; they may not have as much money, or physical strength, as the “nobles”, but they have just as much potential magic – and so individuals from lower-class species can be as powerful as any noble. Personal duels and house feuds are common enough, but mercantile concerns tend to cut across the species social boundaries in any case. Money always talks, despite the traditional system of running the various city-states via loose councils of nobles (military leaders) and the heads of major families (civilian leaders).
Slavery is traditionally reserved for foreigners (and for traitors, major criminals, and the losers of duels and bets in some of the more internally-competitive species, although such slaves are relatively rarely sold outside of their houses). While the typical brutalities of enslavement are occasionally in evidence, the fact that slaves cannot be deprived of their magical armaments – even if you defang and declaw them physically – tends to mitigate the worse abuses. Slave rebellions rarely succeed (the organization and formal magical studies of the major powers are major advantages and difficult to overcome) but such revolts can cause a great deal of damage before being finally suppressed. In general, slave owners try not to provoke rebellions; brutally dominated slaves indicate a master who is either very powerful or very overconfident (and likely soon to be dead).
Local citizens are, however, subject to indentured service. In contrast to slaves, indentured servants enjoy a variety of rights, only serve for a limited length of time, and usually serve in normal jobs; it’s just that the majority of their pay goes to their masters until their debts are paid. In Maytheria, indentured servants are usually fitted with magical bracelets; those are difficult to tamper with or remove (and it’s a major offense to try, both to ensure that debts are paid and to prevent unscrupulous families from exploiting their servants overmuch), serve as magical links to their wearers, and automatically shatter once the wearer’s term of service is up.
Technologically, Maytheria is about at the upper limits for Ciarkian – a semi-renaissance culture with (very very good) mechanical clocks, printing presses, gunpowder weaponry, a few basic (and mostly magically-powered) “engines”, mills, effective pumps, blast furnaces, rifles – and excellent sailing ships.
Wealth in Maytheria comes in the form of Zenni*, valuable metals (both magical and mundane), magical trinkets, properties, and other incidental valuables; banking services and stocks and such exist, but the arrangements are relatively primitive and such instruments are not yet a major part of the economy.
*Zenni are stamped from an alchemical mixture of base metals infused with magic drawn from the populace as their annual tax payment – and that magic can be drawn on to empower certain mighty spells or various local enchantments (Q.V. Orichalcum in The Practical Enchanter). The population is generally far more willing to give up a bit of magical power that they mostly don’t know how to really use than they are to give up actual money – and it makes an excellent way to back their currency.
- The Realm of Ciarkian, Part I (ruscumag.wordpress.com)