The Cloud Folk are few in number, the population averaging about 2,000 – 2,400 people. The community is not comprised of a singular species, rather a humanoid collective of playable races in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. One race is not valued over another and there are no hardships because of a particular species. The Cloud Folk have a rigid hierarchy of social status that still grants the ability for each individual to move up or down in ranking. From high to low:
1. Sovereign King and Family
2. Commander, Shamans, Previous King (if living)
3. Pilots, shipbuilders, Generals
4. Huntsmen, Gatherers, and Warriors
6. The elderly, the injured, and the sick
The Sovereign King and Family come to be through lineage. If a challenge is made with enough commoner support, the current king and a single challenger fight to the death. The single challenger becomes king through victory and his or her bloodline becomes the prevailing lineage.
Vo’ism, Vo’ic, Vo – cosmic existence
The Vo, or the cosmos, is the center of all. It is not sentient and does not care of the strife of man. The cosmos is everything, and it is nothing. From the cosmos came the stars, mothers of fate and gods. The gods, belonging to and ruling only under Mother Sun (the Great Carrier, Elysium, Mother of Gods), protect the world from cosmic dangers. The gods also dictate the path of man. Wozu is the goddess of Earth, Vira is the god of air, Savv is the god of water, and Vo’ka is the goddess of flame. The only god/goddess known to walk with man is Iah. She was the first to build a sky vessel, and the origins of society. Iah was born human and was a gift from the gods. Upon saving the human race, do to completely devoted worship of her followers and the grace of the gods, Iah was the first to ascend to Elysium and is the only human to ever become a god – becoming the god of wisdom.
The Ascended are humans whose actions granted them acceptance to Elysium for eternal life. These people are typically shamans, kings, martyrs, and abnormally devoted followers of the Vo faith. They are not gods and do not have power, but are able to witness and rarely carry messages for the gods (spirits).
Dance of Everlasting Flame – the final step processed fuel must undergo before entering into the hearts of the air vessels. Celebratory in nature, the dance is a community-based praising for the gifts that support their culture. The celebration typically lasts a full day and night that consists of feasting, cleansing, and coupling. Throughout the entire celebration, volunteers will perform the Fire Dance – an offering of their energy to the fuel as payment for the fuel’s gift. Dancers often die from dehydration or intoxication. Dancers often share visions amongst themselves due to the hot conditions and cleansing substances that are digested, snorted, and worn. Surviving dancers are granted one cycle of relaxation (they don’t have to do anything for one fleet trip around the island, about 20 days) and become eligible to become a shaman.
Burial – The Ascended undergo a preserving process while a small ship is crafted. After a short ceremony the body is lifted into the small ship and the fuel is ignited. The Ascended are carried to Elysium. Commoners are cremated and their ashes dumped overboard as a sign of the body’s return to Wozu. The dispersing ash in the air is a symbol of the mind returning to Vira. The cremation is the life force returned to Vo’ka, and Blood is returned to Savv.
Smelting – Ore is a blessing from Wozu, and therefore a proper ritual must accompany the blessing. A sacrifice of fermented beverages and bone are casted into the smelting fires.
Hunting – Hunters are blessed before their departure.
War – Offerings to Iah and the other gods for good luck. Warriors are prepped with war paint as a symbol of divine right to survive and overcome.
Punishment – Binding, Blood letting, branding, castration, sacrificed to Savv
Harvest – Offerings to the gods
Ship Construction – Offerings to Iah
Birth – Population control is strict. Children born without permission are sacrificed to Savv. Parents who are caught hiding an illegally birthed child are damned to land.
The primary goal each day is to collect resources while defending the population from attack. Find resource gathering is a very dangerous venture. Most materials are mined from deep caves or collected in hostile territory. Food is also difficult to obtain; most game is too quick to catch or extremely aggressive. Edible vegetation is hard to come by due to the grazing/hunting habits of the for-mentioned game.
Metal chips and precious gems are currency. Most families depend on a hunter/gatherer relative for support, or are masters of a particular trade. The making of cleansers (drugs) and spirits is prized, as well as metallurgy and carpentry skills.
Outside of religious practice, there are several sports (rules pending) that enthuse the Cloud Folk:
• Netball – a game which three teams struggle to capture and defend five heavy soapstone balls from the others. Netball is played on a massive cargo net stretched tight between four vessels. The sport is very lethal since it is played several hundred feet in the air and the mesh holes are wide.
• Ropes – Similar to capture the flag, individuals or small groups compete to capture tokens from the other team. The course is comprised of small platforms and ropes tethered between multiple vessels. The Netball net floats below the course and the fall is often enough to break bone. – if they are lucky enough to land on the net.
• Cards – the game of the gambler.
Hunters, Gatherers, Warriors
The deployment of hunters and gatherers is risky. At various points surrounding the shoreline of Vo’mira are large rock formations upon which departing people jump from their airships or are lowered by ladder. Some newer vessels have forward facing thrusters to counter the air currents and extend the time the vessels spend over the rock formations.
The return of hunters and gathers is also quite risky, but requires a bit less precision. Grappling hooks are lowered from the vessels to snag shipping crates. The shipping crates are wrapped in cargo nets with an extended hook wire system above. Personnel cling to the cargo nets and are hoisted to the vessel deck with the cargo.
Similar methods are used to deploy warriors in times of war.
The air vessels are crafted in a traditional manner, but are often innovated for better maneuverability and defense. Skiekin are large, photosynthetic bio blimps. Skiekin sacs are prized; procured for the lift balloons of new vessels. These sacs are tanned in a very meticulous process and require a lot of maintenance. Similar to a hot-air balloon, there is at least one furnace that fills the sacs with hot air. These furnaces burn crushed Ojo – a rare, combustible material often mined in deep caves. Ojo burns extremely hot for a very extensive duration. These furnaces are mostly ceiled with air manually pumped inside. When hot air is needed, the furnace tops open at the same time as the sac’s bottom cap. The Ojo coals erupt in flame and quickly heat the gases inside the vessel’s sac. Wozu Reed, a highly durable bamboo-like plant that is extremely light, is used as the primary structure and paneling of the deck frame and hull. Some vessels, primarily ironclad airships, are armored with bone and sometimes metal.
• Carrier – general civilian living quarters, 200-250 people
• Frigate – cargo, transport, 50-100 people
• Ironclad – War ship, defender, 30-50 people
• Corvette – fast war ship, attacker, 15-30 people
• Fleeter – small crews, general transport, scout ships, 5-15 people
1. Humming Stone (Carrier)
2. Sky Beetle (Carrier)
3. Wind Turtle (Carrier)
4. Crowfoot (Frigate)
5. Star Flame (Frigate)
6. Storm Runner (Frigate)
7. Wave Breaker (Frigate)
8. Raven Fire (Frigate)
9. Mist Diver (Frigate)
10. Star Master (Frigate)
11. Cove Jumper (Frigate)
12. War Swine (Ironclad)
13. Iron Wing (Ironclad)
14. Thunder Buss (Ironclad)
15. Iron Stride (Ironclad)
16. White Raider (Corvette)
17. Harrier (Corvette)
18. Little Wing (Corvette)
19. Cloud Runner (Corvette)
20. Sky Fury (Corvette)
21. Wind Dancer (Fleeter)
22. Sparrow (Fleeter)
23. Star Flare (Fleeter)
24. Sun Spear (Fleeter)
25. Wind Wisp (Fleeter)
26. Quick Sail (Fleeter)