Cultural Packet - Meshkantsi (Dwellers)

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Strava Plot

Gettysburg Staff

Note: This information is from the perspective of, and for the background of, the Dwellers.

Mist-Travelers and other playable cultures will not come into game with this information.

Meshkantsi - The Dwellers​

Survival is paramount, and you are a part of the grand design that makes survival possible. In the absence of the Bystreva family that ruled Strava since its rise after the Starfall, the group is led by a council with members from all races. All councilors have their own duties, leading trade unions and supplying and providing soldiers from their wards and warrens. It is a difficult proposition to lead a life far from the stars, but it is preferable to losing their identity, memory, and lives.

Though on their face the existence of the Meshkantsi are less glamorous than the research league they live with, their society values practicality and steadfastness. Word travels quickly of aptitude and excellence, but also of iniquity. All members are offered opportunities for personal growth through the work necessary to keep their ever-growing society alive, be it through expanding the network of tunnels and structures or fighting creatures that spring up from latent magic. Living inside the remains of an ancient dragon has its benefits, and its detriments.

Their dedication to survival and to making a way of life underground has created a hardy but creative culture. As hard as they work, the Meshkantsi devote time to relaxation, enriching the mind and spirit. Through their boundless creativity and good (if worried) relationships with researchers, they have found remarkable means of thriving underground without requiring draconian measures to control their people.

Historia Calamitatum​

A little over five hundred years ago, the great dragon that history only remembers as the Liquidator covered the land that would be Strava with its power to protect it from destruction. A confluence and shattering of ancient planes came in a fall of primal magics upon the land, rending Strava away. Oral tradition that survived from those who lived through the Starfall told that the first queen prophesied the rain of arcane destruction that would turn the world to glass. Some aristocrats built their own vault to preserve knowledge, but the rest of the population was sheltered by the dragon.

When it was safe to emerge, Strava had been ripped free from the land it was once part of, or the rest of the land was ripped away - sea surrounded them, and the great dragon was killed. Over time, the people of Strava used its body piece by piece, leaving it a hollow glass-like shell. Elementals that great Celestial mages summoned helped to rebuild, though crystals formed upon them when they were exposed to the haze over the surface. Fae changed after the Starfall, wounded by the shared trauma of the people of the isle, and drew away from the material world.

For a while, Strava thrived - it was known as the Celestial Jewel in neighboring kingdoms, the city state being famed for its place as a hub of magical knowledge and brimming with potential. So it remained, until the disappearance of King Tešimir the Younger and the royal family with him. After more people began to disappear, the first of the Meshkantsi prepared the way to evacuate underground, in hopes that the Liquidator would shield them once again. It wasn’t meant to be a permanent solution, but they do what they can while the researchers work on a solution.

Known Perils​

The Fading - All are taught from a young age about the Fading - being underground protects them, but the true horror of it is something true dwellers never face head-on, rather understanding the weight of it during the Reading of Names, the vigil wherein the council reads names of people who have been taken. It doesn’t just remove the memories of those who have faded away, it erases that person from all but written records. The reading of names reminds the Meshkantsi why if anyone goes to Upper Strava, they must sign the ledger and write their next of kin by their name, in case they do not return.

Eye in the Dark - Known mainly to miners and construction teams, the Eye in the Dark is spoken of over drinks or in hushed tones as a horrifying entity that offers to end the suffering of eternal struggle. It comes mainly to those who are alone, offering an escape. Whether this is a legend to scare children and explain away those lost to tunnel collapses and deep-dwelling monsters or has merit is unknown. Sometimes, it is best to trust in the stories.

Fleshtakers - Another legend from the stories of the Doslidnyky, the Fleshtakers are referred to by the Research League as the Butchers of Forgotten Flesh. They are spoken of as powerful fae who take away the flesh and bone of people who stay too long on the surface, an explanation for why bodies are rarely if ever recovered from the missing.

Bloody Bones - A necromancer, or a few necromancers who took the same sobriquet, Bloody Bones raises those who die within the tunnels without being buried and sets them to work doing menial labor. They are said to have a pleasing countenance but a grim air about them, though the council is rumored to have tolerated them since they keep monsters of Deep Strava from rising into areas with the living. Unsurprisingly, these rumors correlate strongly with times the council has instituted measures like food rations.

Encrusted Elementals
- Though they are mainly found in Upper Strava, occasionally these elementals gone feral have found their way (or been brought) into the tunnels of Lower Strava, and their existence is well known as another threat. Crusted over with a strange crystalline substance, the occasional laboratory accident has happened and these elementals have broken containment from The Lab and found their way out into residential wards.

The Knockers - If a Meshkantsi hears knocking down the tunnel, it is a sign to look away and head back the way they came. Looking toward them will invoke their ire, and the claws of the creatures who knock are sharp and harsh.

Points of Interest​

The Lab - Avoided by most Meshkantsi, it is the sprawling laboratory hall with dungeon-like rooms, holding cells, and wards to keep the experiments of the Research League from leaving its halls. In recent years, the council has insisted upon the laboratory having signs illuminated outside their doors if they have a “specimen” in house, which has prompted some of the younger dwellers to morbid curiosity about what they may have inside. Besides, wizards and expeditionary groups have some of the wildest parties.

Last Resort - Despite its name, the pub is far from the last resort for a drinking establishment. Established and built by a Sylvanborn woman who turned over its management to a hobling family, the theme of the pub hearkens back to a vacation resort in a far-off land that Seriyana visited in her years with the Wandering Fleet. Sometimes, she patronizes the establishment and tells far-fetched tales of derring-do, fighting pirates. Every trinket and token on the walls has a story.

Grove of Respite - Dryads who have yet to awaken were relocated into the Grove of Respite to rest among their awoken siblings and other grove-tenders in a warmly-lit cavern near the surface. Shutters over bound shards allow the tenders of the grove to simulate day and night cycles, urging plants in their care to grow.

Vault of Regret - Beyond the sea wall, it is referred to on occasion in oral tradition as a place where many of the brightest remaining minds in Strava - or some of the most privileged - tucked away troves of knowledge. Few remember the true name of it, and fewer speak of it without tones of agitation, remorse, or pity. For that information being sequestered, the traditions from before the Fading are mostly hoarded by the Doslidnyky. Should the Meshkantsi be able to return to Upper Strava, finding the vault and recovering the homestone said to lie within is a priority for the Biata people.

Upper Strava - Though many of the younger Meshkantsi were born inside the tunnels, they know of Upper Strava and are permitted to go to the surface at their own risk. For their knowledge of it, many choose to stay within Lower Strava, protected and safe.

The Crematorium and Memorial Garden - Death is an inevitability over two hundred years, especially with the dangers of an enclosed and subterranean society. Those who have fallen are taken to the crematorium if their bodies are recovered, then have their cremains neutralized and made ready to be used in soil by alchemists who have dedicated their time and expertise. Though it is a grim reminder of the cycle of life and death, those who work within are incredibly competent with alchemy and brewing, all for the price of juicy gossip.


Union of Neath - The council, and leaders of the trade unions that run Lower Strava. Owing to some early strife in the history of the Meshkantsi, it was decided that neither the Vorozhyla seers nor the Primacy of the researchers would speak for the people. Instead, one member of every race, respected by their own people enough to represent an area of expertise, has taken their place in the Union. Together, they make decisions with their own unique perspectives, with every vote being held in equal weight. Their attention can be as helpful as it is harrowing.

Vorozhyla - Jilted as potential rulers, the Vorozhyla are an offshoot of the Bystreva dynasty and gifted with divination. They occupy a liminal space between Upper and Lower Strava, moving freely and often being a bit out of sorts from their frequent and limited exposure to the influence of the Fading. It is not pleasant to be caught in the crosshairs of their visions.

Smittyari - Most of the scavengers stay upon the surface, though occasionally some do business in the tunnels of Lower Strava if their exile is self-imposed. Most of the interaction the Meshkantsi have with them is of polite distance, though some tradespeople make more of an effort to trade for rarer materials with the bone-pickers.

Doslidnyky - the Research League occupies some of the same space as the greater society of Meshkantsi, though their seeming excitement to throw themselves into danger is worrying at best. Still, they know how to throw a party, and they work with the council to ensure the survival of the underground settlement.


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