Makrania Orwoods

Orwood Forest
Image from Todd Drashner

Famous (some say infamous) orwoods around Frei (HJer-IV, NoCoZo) are well known across inhabited space for their zero gravity free-space casinos, sports and hedonics.

The founders of the orwoods were the two AIs Botryophoros and Polygethes who emigrated from the Dionysan Erotocracy during its breakup. They arrived at Frei in 3344, and began seeding the rings of the planet with their "starseeds". The locals, a number of technetes on Thomaso (Hjer-III) were at fist sceptical of the project and several times petitioned the AIs to cease and desist; the AIs on the other hand managed to produce authentic if very irregular documents proving they owned the ring according to in-system law. As the orwoods expanded, sweeping up the dust of the ring and blossoming into a fantastic space ecology containing both Dionysian and terrestrial themes, more and more of the young began to spend time in the orwoods. The cultural influence of the post-erotocracy AIs spread, and by 3600 the entire system had been successfully subverted: the last technetes abandoned Thomaso and moved into the orwoods.

The system was linked with a stargate to Graunstein 5783 (and later directly to Merrion), and became known as a major resort and hedonics center. The population and economy boomed, transforming the previously minor system to one of the wealthier polities of the NoCoZo at the time. By now Botryophoros and Polyghetes had tired of their project and had moved on outwards, leaving the Orwood in the hands of their successor gods Sykrites and Kissokomes. This pattern was to be repeated roughly every millennium, as the old gods retired to leave place to a new pair. At present it is ruled by Ploutodotes and Euanthes, expected to step down in the next two centuries or so.

During the Version War the system declared itself neutral, and deliberately minimized the stargates. During this period of relative isolation the culture was to develop to its current core state, with a strong emphasis on the Five Virtues: spending, lust, amusement, activity and cleverness. The system came to be dominated by an oligarchy of "houses" (more corresponding to casinos/pleasure palaces than noble houses), each representing a certain mixture or interpretation of the virtues. For example the UlnekiJasa devotes itself to the arts of spending and lust through its chain of erotic environments and pleasuretrees, while Xantra Ent combines amusement with cleverness by arranging fabulistic adventures across the Makrania Orwoods. These houses have remained roughly unchanged throughout the millennia, with the exception of occasional collapses or scandals that lead to the emergence of new houses to take the weakest oldest houses' place. Nro Buzines is still run by Nyktipolos, a now retired orwood god, and arrages autodestructive hunts and other borderline legal activities in order to give the system a dark edge and celebrate activity struggling with cleverness.

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Text by Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 23 November 2001.