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Thoughts on Ulimwenguby John Walter Biles
The Karimari bear about as much resemblance to real world pygmies as the city of Thyatis bears to modern Tokyo. Or as the Republic of Glantri bears to Albania. Or as Darokin bears to a post-Singularity society.
Which is to say that the Karimari only resemble real world pygmies in that they are short and dark skinned.
I will try to articulate why I hate the Karimari without descending into utter hair pulling frothing madness. Though it won't be easy.
The Karimari have basically dedicated themselves to sitting in splendid isolation for thousands of years. Nothing ever hurts them, nothing causes them trouble, nothing, NOT EVEN THE GREAT RAIN OF COLOURLESS FIRE AND A REORIENTATION OF THE AXIS OF THE FREAKING PLANET has inconvenienced them even slightly. Their entire history consists of 'sit in our isolated community and get short' except for one single incident of helping a Rajah. They have no social conflict, they have no real goals or ambitions, they don't even have to deal with overpopulation as apparently they have perfect birth control and everyone regulates the population numbers without even the shadow of conflict over it. They have no standing army or even an organised militia, they all just somehow pick up enough weapon skills to defend themselves in a world full of danger without effort. They're all perfectly generous and don't want to accumulate wealth. They don't even worship the Immortals and yet none of the Immortals take any offence, no, they deliberately shield them just to see what happens. But they get the benefit of clerics anyway, because of their worship of the land, which grants them no-strings clerical powers. And has made them an artifact level rock which helps them hide their utopia.
In other words, they COMPLETELY DON'T FIT IN MYSTARA AT ALL. Even the nicest cultures in Mystara have flaws, and most of them are only somewhat nice AT BEST. They are totally, utterly unbelievable and basically utterly boring and stagnant, able to just miraculously shrug off all danger, hardship, and difficulty. They are twinks of the first water. Self-centred twinks who just hide in their jungle and do NOTHING. And who still basically live in the stone age after thousands of years, as apparently their society IS FROZEN IN AMBER AND NEVER CHANGES.
You'd think the Immortals of Entropy would be practically beating each other to death for a shot at ruining this place, but apparently, no, they're either uninterested or maybe just too big of losers to touch the Karimari.
In the Hollow World, this stagnation would make sense. Up on the surface, they ought to be open targets. And what kind of pathetic civilisation remains that stagnant for thousands of years?
Now, if the rock was slowly corrupting them to end up slaves of the Outer Beings, that I could root for. Or if they were a REAL pygmy culture. But no, they're simultaneously utopian and utterly self-centred and stagnant.
However, I've had a sudden moment of brilliance. Here's my idea for a totally different take on them:
The Hin of the Five Shires believe themselves the progenitors of all the Hin of Brun, the first Hin to cross from Davania into this brave new land. They are wrong. Thousands of years ago, long before the ancestors of Shires Hin conceived the idea of crossing the ocean, the ancestors of the Karimari came to Brun, fleeing the reign of the Serpent-Races in Davania. They hid in the Serpent Peninsula because no one wanted it. With time, they advanced in civilisation and were eventually integrated into the vast trade network / empire known as Blackmoor, building sophisticated if Hin-sized cities and wielding the powers of Blackmoor for their own profit. Ulimwengu was a leading magical scientist and a candidate for Immortality. Much to his misfortune, he achieved immortality in the Sphere of Time very shortly before the Great Rain of Fire. He had just announced himself to the peoples of Karimari Province when BOOM, HERE COMES THE DOOM. He tried to use the powers of his time travel artifact, used in his quest for immortality, to save his people, the dark-skinned Hin of Karimari Province.
It sort of worked.
The artifact malfunctioned and time itself warped and bent. When the 'smoke cleared' it was a century later and Karimari Province was now a swampy wasteland of plant-covered ruins home to primitive Hin known as the Karimari. In some way, they had been turned back in time to become like their distant primitive ancestors. Those who survived. Guided by their now amnesiac guardian immortal, Ulimwengu, they managed to claw their way out of the stone age, becoming a bronze age style civilisation with great cities fed by slash and burn agriculture in the jungle. They dug out ancient Blackmoorian relics and puzzled out how some of them worked and they flourished, beginning to regain the arts of their ancestors and building a great museum city to store and study the artifacts. Conflict with the Tanagoro and Elves who were moving into the Peninsula heated up and things headed for a crisis.
The Karimari homeland suddenly reset to 0 again, reverting the nations into tribes and clans living in a mix of ancient Blackmoorian ruins and ruins of the Bronze Age city states. This further damaged Ulimwengu's mind, but he tried to reconcile conflicting memory sets and timelines in order to guide his people.
This has happened again and again; every so often, time suddenly resets, reverting the Karimari to barbarism and driving their immortal deeper and deeper into madness inside his own head. He still grants spells and created a great artifact to protect them when he could not, but he is now lost deep inside his own head, sleeping inside the great rock protector of the Karimari. And like any artifact, there's only so much a rock can do...
The Karimari have become aware that some curse drags them down and forces them to start over. In some eras, this has led them to just give up on any attempt at progress, or even escape, for those who leave, either they or their descendents will be pulled back by the next time snap. But not this time.
Ulimwengu has found what he believes is the key...Yav's Time Travel Artifact. Studying the various fluctuations of the People of Yav, comparing them to his own sufferings and those of his people, he has concluded that Yav and the artifact are to blame. Only when they fall can the Karimari finally be free of the tyranny of repeating time.
And so the Karimari have set out to find the artifact and destroy it and to bring down all the evil plans of Yav and finally revenge themselves on him for what he has done to them. If this means forming assassin cults and stealing Glantrian artifacts and trying to manipulate even the Immortals of Entropy to their benefit, so be it. They will do whatever it takes to bring down their foes and finally be free of their curse.
If they ever find out that Khoronus and the Sphere of Time has been 'studying' them all this time, things could get even uglier. They've refrained from trying to find a cure and actively scared off other immortals in order to study this 'interesting temporal anomaly'.
The Karimari last reset in 758 AC when Yav finally fixed his artifact; the Karimari have clawed their way up to bronze age status, building secret stone cities in the jungle, hidden by their Immortal/his magic rock, and presenting an outward mask of primitive tribesmen to try to keep out outsiders who MIGHT BE WORKING FOR YAV. Meanwhile, they've sent out traders and spies and assassins and thieves to accumulate power and information, for the day of their revenge.
But now Ulimwengu has in his madness sensed more strange temporal distortions and tried in his own clumsy mad way to warn his people. What are 'Oards' and what do they want in the ancient Blackmoorian ruins? Especially the most preserved one...