Yparana

OOC Notes

This (very long!) page was originally created by North's player to flesh out the region of Scorpia from which the character hails. However, North would be delighted if other PCs want to have ties to the region or want to use anything on this page as a plot hook. The information provided here is meant as a starting point for future development, not as an exhaustive guide to Yparana — and indeed, it is open to additions from any and all comers! Please contact North in-game if you'd like to add to this collaborative project.

The setting of Yparana is heavily influenced by Brazil, Thailand, Haiti, and comparable real-world equivalents. Though almost all Yparanans speak Colonial Standard fluently, many also know at least a few words of the peculiar dialect of Scorpian from which almost all locations on the island take their name. This dialect was derived from a mixture of Brazilian Portuguese and the ancient Tupi language, liberally modified.

Overview

IC NOTE: The following passages are excerpted from the Central Scorpia volume of the Solitary Globe series of travel guides, whose editors bill themselves as "edgy, comprehensive, and awesome." The book is available along with the rest of the set in the Orion's library.

White-sand beaches, primeval ruins, pristine jungles, and breathless cities bursting at the seams: in Yparana, there’s an adventure for everyone. Lose yourself in the legendary rainforest that gives this state its name, which boasts almost ten million unique species of flora and fauna. Explore the crumbling temples of the ancient Apyaba, whose civilization once flourished on the banks of the mighty River Ubu. Paraglide from the summit of Mount Tapimira; storm through the pulsating nightclubs of Itauna City; and watch the suns of Cyrannus rise above the sparkling waters of the Arasy Gulf.

The state of Yparana is the heart of Scorpia, wild and untamed. Come join the party.

Geography

Yparana is an island continent bisected by Scorpia's equator and surrounded on all sides by ocean. It is 5 million square kilometers in area, more than eighty-seven percent of which is wet tropical rainforest. The River Uru is the island's major waterway. From its source in the Pindaba Mountains to its mouth in the Arasy Gulf, the Uru spans more than seven thousand kilometers, making it the longest river in the Colonies.

Locations of Note

Itauna City

itauna01.jpg

Itauna City today.

Located at the mouth of the Uru at the southernmost tip of the continent, Itauna is a tremendous city that more than thirteen million souls call home. Split in two by the island’s great river, the city is a study in contrasts. The Old City — where the Hesperians erected their first fortress almost two centuries ago — is the Yparana of the postcards. Anchored by sturdy Fort Elizabeth, the Old City’s walls surround a splendid collection of mansions and resorts, the most prized of which have a private view of the Uru’s north bank or, better yet, the Arasy Gulf.

The atmosphere of the South Bank could not be more different. Mass-produced high-rises more than forty years old offer cheap housing to the city’s lower middle class, and its narrow streets are alive at every hour with the cries of street vendors and a never-ending parade of cars, speeders, motorbikes, and a veritable fleet of rickshaws. The neighborhood also bursts with tourists even during the academic year, thanks to an abundance of cheap accommodation, easy thrills, and legendary nightclubs. Rampant crime — violent and otherwise — has deterred tourism not one whit.

Unfortunately, more than sixty-five percent of Itauna’s residents live in the shantytowns, or favelas. Built around the edge of Itauna proper and reaching in some cases into the jungle itself, the favelas are bastions of extreme poverty and frequently lack basic services like sanitation, water, and electricity. Though some favelas live up to their popular stereotype as dens of violence and iniquity, the reality is much more complex. Some are governed by organized crime; others, by local militias; others, by religious elders; still others, by the Scorpian military. And while life in the shantytowns is always difficult, it is not necessarily nasty, brutish, and short.

The Ruins of Akangibytu

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The Ziggurat of Twelve: an artist's rendition.

Once the capital of the ancient Apyaba civilization, the ruins of Akangibytu (in the Apyaba tongue, “Head of the Storm”) still dominate the high cliffs on which they were built. Now the second-most popular tourist destination in Yparana after Itauna City, Akangibytu remains a breathtaking sight. Every year, more than a million souls climb the thousand steps to the ancient altar atop the Ziggurat of the Twelve — built, or so the legend goes, on the very spot the Twelve Tribes of Kobol made landfall from the stars.

The opening of Akangibytu to the general public continues to be a subject of great debate. Though the Ziggurat is one of the most sacred locations in Apyaba culture, none of their modern descendants are permitted to live on site for fear that they might cause damage to the ruins. Moreover, to boost tourism revenues, Yparana’s Bureau of Commerce has started to hire actors and actresses as “historical re-enactors” of life at the height of Apyaba society. The fact that many of these individuals possess not a drop of Apyaba blood has not gone unnoticed. Today, despite the Bureau’s efforts to keep them out, protesters are a common sight at Akangibytu’s gates.

Mount Tapimira

Scorpia is known for its paragliding, and Mount Tapimira is one of the main reasons why. Rising 4,104 meters above sea level, Tapimira is the highest of the Pindaba Mountains but considered a “beginner’s peak” by professional climbers. A single rail line runs from the summit to the village of Kopira at its base for those visitors not inclined to climb their way to one of the three paragliding resorts on the mountain.

A Comment on Society and Culture

If the media has it right, the stereotypical Yparanan is animated by a ferocious lust for life’s baser comforts: food, love, drink, and dance. Citizens of the island is frequently romanticized and even more frequently lampooned; indeed, many Scorpians consider Yparanans to be dissolute, lazy, and the source of great national embarrassment. Common though this perception may be, it has no basis in reality — which is, of course, more complex…

Traditionally, anthropologists have divided the Yparanan people into three distinct groups: its indigenous population, dominated by those of Apyaba blood; its Hesperian population, descended from the island’s first colonists; and its mixed population, born from centuries of interaction. The lines between these groups have become increasingly blurred, and these days, ethnic identification seems much more a product of nurture than of nature….

Nevertheless, deep cleavages in Yparanan society remain, many of which track along the ethnic and socioeconomic fault lines even a casual observer could not fail to notice. The differences are political, religious, and even linguistic: as evinced, for instance, by the categorical refusal of many mixed-race families to adopt surnames derived from a mythologized native past….

Religious festivals provide another fascinating window into the divisions of which I speak. Consider the Feast of Skirophoria, whose observance in Itauna — if recent holo-films are any indication — revolves around topless women, rivers of beer, and copious quantities of beads. In smaller communities beyond the South Bank, however, the holiday is marked by daytime fasting and ritual sacrifices. No debauched orgy, that.

But to focus solely on such differences is to veil important continuities as well. Take music, for which every Yparanan lives. I submit that the majestic drumming that accompanies old Apyaba vespers is but a half-step away from the reedy twang of a street musician’s guitar; from the seductive beat of a ballroom band in swing; from the throbbing basslines crashing out from Itauna’s thousand turntables in praise of the night….


Excerpted from Efraim Carvalho, "Continuity and Discontinuity in Yparana: Some Personal Reflections," Annual Proceedings of the Colonial Anthropological Society 58, no. 2 (1989 AE), 458-59.

History

For most of recorded history, the island continent of Yparana was untouched by civilization. Populated only by a few isolated tribes, Yparana — and its dense, forbidding jungle — merited little attention from humanity at large. Those few explorers who dared to brave its depths were never heard from again, and their storied disappearances only added to the continent’s aura of mystery.

About four centuries ago, two parallel developments thrust Yparana into the spotlight. First, the Apyaba began their campaign for their dominance over the Yparana Basin. A sedentary people renowned for their city-building acumen as much as for their fearsome spearmen, the Apyaba took the continent by storm. In less than a decade, their towering ziggurats stretched the length of the River Ubu — and in less than two decades, their sturdy ships began venturing past the Great Reef to prey on the merchant shipping beyond.

At the same time, the nearby state of Hesperia began flexing its powerful navy’s muscles. Despite its inability to exert effective control over Yparana (or, in Colonial Standard, the Hamameliades), Hesperia had long considered the continent a de jure part of its territory. It therefore took a dim view of the naval incursions — and accompanying demands for tribute — from what it perceived to be its civilizational, and racial, inferiors. Thirty years of intermittent conflict finally exploded into all-out war when Hesperia established a settlement on the Yparanan coast. Led by a fire-breathing radical with designs on the continent’s fabled wealth, the flintlock-armed colonists began an ill-advised march on the Apyaba capital. Their expedition soon foundered in the hot and tangled jungle — but not before they massacred a band of itinerant Apyaba priestesses. The response was swift and furious. By nightfall, New Sifnos had been burned to the ground.

Though the Apyaba won the battle, Hesperia won the war, one marred by atrocities perpetuated by both sides. When all was said and done, the Apyaba cities were smoldering wrecks, and their population — once more than seven million strong — had been reduced to a paltry million by bullets and disease. Hesperia installed a series of governor-generals to maintain order over Yparana and established river fortresses at strategic points along the Ubu. Initially, the governor-generals were tasked with stripping the rainforest of minerals and resources. But persistent guerrilla attacks — and domestic political pressure — put an end to their ambitions. By 1700 AE, the Yparanan governor-generalship had become the resting place for out-of-favor Hesperian politicians, none of whom had much interest in venturing outside their walled-off compounds.

This uneasy equilibrium persisted until Hesperia’s Tolliver Magnuson invented a method for mass-producing molasses in 1721 AE. Suddenly, the island to Hesperia’s south began to look useful once more: and driven forward by the wheels of industry, legions of entrepreneurs began flocking to Yparana, intent upon making their fortune. Most failed miserably — but those who succeeded returned home with wealth beyond compare. The wheels of commerce thus accomplished what molten lead could not. At the turn of the century, Yparana was firmly within Hesperia’s grasp.

As so often occurs, however, the most successful members of the new Yparanan elite became dissatisfied with their lot. Many resented the disdain with which they were treated back home — not to mention the marginal tax rates exacted by a government trying to pay off centuries of colonial misadventures. What began as private whispers at dinner parties gradually evolved into a full-fledged political movement, one that seized upon the trappings of ancient Apyaba culture to muster a broader base of support. Though the irony was not lost on the surviving Apyaba, long since confined to reservations, they too supported the burgeoning liberation movement in the hopes of attaining greater autonomy.

These trends suited retrenchment-minded elements within the Hesperian Parliament just fine. By 1896 AE, the island was essentially self-governing. Not until the waning days of the Cylon War did Diarmuid Magnuson, the island’s last governor-general, formally sever ties with Hesperia and declare himself First Minister of Yparana — jettisoning the name ‘Hamameliades’ and the remaining trappings of Hesperian rule. Opposition to Yparanan independence persists to this day, though it is largely concentrated in the revanchist Hesperian right.

For Yparana itself, independence has been a double-edged sword. The Black Rot of 1913 AE eviscerated the cane crop and sent Yparana’s economy spiraling into depression, one exacerbated by the untimely discovery of artificial sweeteners in a Caprican lab. The collapse of the already-tottering cane industry left Yparana the poorest of Scorpia’s several states by a wide margin — a dubious distinction the island still holds. Today, revenues from tourism and associated service industries account for over ninety percent of its GDP, and the majority of its citizens still live below the poverty line.

In 1986 AE, after suffrage was extended to the indigenous population, Jaime Azevedo became the first man of Apyaba descent to hold the office of First Minister. In his first term, he embarked upon a concerted infrastructure improvement project that brought electricity and running water to the state’s sprawling slums. He has also made prosecutions of organized crime a priority, though critics allege that he selectively targets his political rivals. And he has gone on an inter-Colony speaking tour to solicit foreign aid by raising awareness of the “Yparana you don’t see on Vernal Break.” At the time of this writing, it is not clear whether Azevedo’s reforms will bear fruit — but for the first time in the island’s troubled history, optimism is in the air.

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