Tuesday, July 16, 2013

197: The Last Caliphate



ENTRY 197: The Last Caliphate

Thawra is a mid-sized habitat cored out of one of the Vulcanoids; founded by Islamic refugees of the Fall and boasting one of the largest Neo-Islamic communities in the solar system, it has been nicknamed “The Last Caliphate” by the media of the Planetary Consortium. It is a habitat marked by intricate fractal mosaics but no depictions of the human form, very little augmentation but extensive development of genetically engineered biomorphs, and a strongly insular community that is amazingly tolerant of outsiders. The habitat itself is made up of nested domes (in case one is breached), all of which are decorated or stylized with various architectural frills taken from Earth-based Islamic cultures…minarets, cupolas, American Islamic murals, moc├írabe and muqarnas, among many more. Architecture is one of Thawra’s major exports, with the Caliphate holding a treasury of over a thousand years of designs and decoration techniques from Islamic cultures, which are being adapted to new nanofabrication and macrofabrication methods.

Led by the Calipha Amatullah, the Thawra community is a constitutional elected monarchy based both on the political and religious traditions of early and postmodern autonomous communities. Key to the community concept is absolute and knowing participation: no one is born into the Last Caliphate. Applicants must submit to testing of their knowledge and compatibility with Thawra’s laws and philosophy, including the acceptance of Allah, the forbidding of usury, and the fair treatment of other peoples; and the ulama often consult the subject’s rep score and challenge or question various incidents. Those who apply for and are accepted are made full members of the community, and are expected to contribute a part of their work and resources towards the maintenance and expansion of Thawra—which means not only a duty to clean air filters and replace micrometeorite ablation tiles, but regular participation in and attendance at social events, particularly the famous group debates mediated during the evenings before prayer, and voting. The Caliph or Calipha and other positions (heads of Maintenance, Legal, Education, etc.) are elected by the Islamic citizens by a democratic process known as shura, with new elections and re-elections staggered so a new election occurs every cycle (28 days), with the average term of office lasting 13 cycles. In addition to overall executive power, the Calipha is the spiritual leader of the community, the guiding philosopher for its goals and development with undisputed authority, bound only by constitutional and religious laws...until their term concludes, when they may be voted out.

Using the Last Caliphate

A combination of old and new, the Last Caliphate is a playground for players and gamemasters to explore both what Islam was, is, and could be—for better, worse, or indifferent. The Caliphate structure described here is not the traditional Islamic political-religious structure, nor are its principles and actions entirely in keeping with any modern Islamic teachings; this is a fictional community, where weird pressures have forced refugees of different Earth Islamic cultures together. The result has been compromise, amalgamation, resynthesis…and revolution. Undoubtedly, there are many that will disclaim Thawra for the changes it has made to various traditional Islamic beliefs and culture; and others that will claim its changes haven’t gone far enough. However the gamemaster decides to play it, keep in mind that the Last Caliphate is neither an Islamic paradise or a repressive, conservative regime, but somewhere in the middle…people trying to live their life right by the principles they hold and the traditions they are familiar with.

Seeds

  • Thawra architects have unveiled the Mosque Engine, a scale model of a nanoconstruction system which could potentially convert entire planets into habitats—just add air, water, fusion reactor, and transhumans. Their test site is a nearby Vulcanoid massing just 100 tons; powered by an antimatter cell the Mosque Engine should direct its nanite host to mine and rebuild the entire asteroid into a rotating disk-like structure. However, someone has interrupted the test and stolen the Engine; the Calipha of the Last Caliphate quietly hires the PCs to recover or destroy the engine before it can be perverted into a weapon.
  • With the destruction of Earth apparently imminent, it is rumored some of the faithful stole the Black Stone from the Kaaba in Mecca, and launched it into space. Neo-Islamic scholar Suraa believes she has located the apocryphal ship…and wishes the PCs to help her retrieve it and bring it back to Thawra intact, where they have the resources to open it properly without damaging the contents…if the Black Stone is even there. This places them in the line of fire to several other groups, who would either claim the artifact or see it destroyed.

5 comments:

  1. "This is a fictional community, where weird pressures have forced refugees of different Earth Islamic cultures together and forced them together."

    A little redundant. Otherwise an interesting setting. The last bastion of a religion otherwise pretty much extinct.

    Though I do wonder, if augmentation is looked down upon by the culture, how did what I assume is a reasonably large number get off of Earth? As I understand it, most survivors of the Fall survived because a backup of their egos was available. Without a cortical stack the chance of this seems negligible.

    If these are the survivors of the Islam population of earth who did embrace cortical stack technology, why would they look down on augmentation now?

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    1. Fixed. Some Islamic traditions are against permanent alteration of the body (tattoos, etc.), so the idea of a society with a cultural dislike for "after market" augmentations (so to speak), as opposed to those built in to a specific morph seemed to make sense to me. Or maybe they're all vaguely hypocritical and get frustrated it you try to argue it. You decide!

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  2. Really love this entry, and the development of a conservative group that's not also bioconservative. I also like the non-negative portrayal of religion in EP. I think the slant in the setting as written is unfortunate.

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  3. "immanent" shouldn't that be imminent? Or is my knowledge of the English language lacking?

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