Thursday, 1 August 2019

Oum, who's virtue is darkness

It’s difficult to believe that anything so lazy could be so fast.

Of course the Qitt are not truly lazy, they are merely philosophical, paradoxical, incorrigible, unknowable. Or so they would have you believe.

Qitt are felid humanoids, cat-people, riders and rulers of the Turtle Oum, who's virtue is darkness, the radius of who's shell is three hundred miles and who plunges through the Waste-crust of Uud as if it were pack-ice, swimming in the sea of absolute chaos that lies beneath entropy.

Oum is one of ten great cosmic beasts that make up Zoiterra, the Realm of Life, all of which crash together through Yggsrathaals Waste in an unending race towards an unknown goal. A race which, though at their cosmic scale, it happens quickly, for those realms and nations built upon their backs their movements are so ponderously slow that months can sometimes pass between any observable change.

Oum is said to be the first of the Cosmic Beasts and, though not always in the front, (for the beasts continually change configuration amongst themselves), is seen as their great guide.

But first, the Qitt.


The Qitt stand roughly Somon height with fluid shifting catlike bodies. They walk bipedally as Somon do and have the same hands and opposable thumbs common to the humaniform type. Their faces are catlike, with a more complex, shifting and expressive arrangement of facial muscles than any normal cat.

Qitt eyes are utterly inhuman and (to non-Qitt) their stare, whether friendly or aggressive, is extremely intense. The Qitt are near-obligate carnivores, something that lends them an atmosphere of glamour and danger in the cultures of Zoiterra, and which also causes others to assume that they will be a cut above everyone else in combat skill. Which, to be fair, is very often the case.

Qitt are FAST. Insanely fast, firstly by nature but with that intensified and deepened by culture and training. Not only are they incredibly quick, but they deliver mass at that speed and with incredible precision. Speed, exactness and concentration of force. A trained Qitt can spin-kick and cut your throat with the blunt heel of their foot.

The liquid fluidity of the Qitt can make even Aeth seem leaden and gauche. Their unique matrix of body-motion causes them to stand out, even in the diverse crowds of Zoiterra. They move like oil across water, or like the shadow of a dancer across waving silk.

In most cases Qitt are lightly furred over all of their bodies. They have a staggering variety of fur colours and patterns, most of which seem analogous to felid animals of different kinds. Some have spots, stripes, some are simple single colours. These patterns seem to work their way through family or descent groups, and are generally held to mean things by other Qitt. The assumed meanings differ by group, those meanings are multi-layered in each case, with positive and negative attributes interlinked at every level, and even the intensity and depth of belief differs a lot. What a Qitts colour or patterning means to other Qitt is something outsiders find it very hard to work out. It’s hard to tell if Qitt are being racist against other Qitt, or if that phrasing even makes sense.

Qitt voices are considered beautiful, with quite high tones but a capacity for deep, growling bass. This adds to their remarkable charisma.


The typical Qitt personality would be assumed to be independent, egocentric, humorous, observant, inventive and calm. They are considered individually intelligent, but it’s hard to tell because of the paradoxical, looping and quixotic way they speak. Qitt talk in parables and never seem to say anything directly, or to come at any issue head-on, seeking always for a larger conception of things and expressing this through symbolism and example.

They are also assumed to be lazy, or at least, diffident. Qitt never seem to be doing anything, or doing anything very intensively at least. You can't imagine a Qitt sweating, becoming frantic over figures, performing monotonous action or arguing over details. Clearly things upon the Turtle, Oum do get done, for the Qitt have a culture and everything that goes with it,
but you will rarely see them being done.

It's impossible to seperate the personality of the Qitt from the culture of the Turtle, Oum, and its Great Virtue of Darkness, for all exist together, responding to and intensifying each other.

The first thing that must be explained about the Virtue of Darkness, which Oum and the Qitt seek, believe and share, is that it cannot be explained in words. Most Qitt would say that what is fundamentally true is beyond understanding, beyond words. The truth, the real truth, cannot be spoken of or fully described. All attempts to do so are merely gestures which may or may not indicate the right direction. Therefore, all words are lies, of some kind or another.

The Qitt accept that they are in a state of not-knowing, which is part of why they sound so weird and allusive much of the time, but they know that even if they did know, they wouldn't be able to say what they knew.

Instead there is darkness. A Great Silence. Unending. Attend to that.

This way of thinking doesn't leave much room for the systemic acquisition and development of knowledge, as might be seen somewhere like the Grey Cities. The Qitt often know a lot, but they pick up this knowledge as required by circumstance, they do not prioritise technology or organised education as others might think of it. They are concerned with physical life, hunting, fishing, dancing, art, and fighting (which they consider an art), and with the absolute meaning behind all things.

Honestly, the Qitt would seem rather ridiculous if they didn't regularly manage to pull-off the stuff they talked about

They produce the greatest martial artists, illusionists, enchanters and philosophers in Zoiterra. They were also a primary driver in the creation of Zoiterra itself, in the Ride of the Cosmic Beasts and in the Great Confusion of Yggsrathaal. Dealing with Yggsrathaal, eluding, deceiving, persuading and escaping her, is considered the be the primary duty of the Qitt, of their philosophy and of the Turtle Oum. (Though the Qitt themselves would say these things just happen to happen. Few Qitt would ever admit to having a 'duty', to being in 'opposition to anything and certainly not to attempting 'heroism', which they consider ridiculous.)

The Qitt have also proven to be essentially unbeatable in military terms, at least on the Turtle Oum. While they are exceptionally poor line solders in mass combat (they hate staying in formation, acting as a uniform group, obeying authority, logistics, sieges and generally think war is incredibly boring), they are unspeakably, terrifyingly good stealth assassins, and the best amongst them are demigod-level hand-to-hand combatants.

It’s hard to prosecute a war if your entire officer corps has just been assassinated in their sleep and everyone else has lost their drive, lost their mind or is just lost. Likewise, is surprisingly difficult for a field army to fight one guy who can move close to the speed of sound and punch someone so hard their soul explodes.

So the Qitt tend to win fights.


The shell of Oum is a mountainous, densely forested land. The Qitt ban the sowing of grain everywhere beyond a few protected cantons. These areas are permitted to allow the surplus of food which makes the Rim Cities possible.

At points around the Rim of Oum, small cities exist. These places are not centres of government, the Qitt allow them partly as fortifications against any large-scale invasions, but largely so they can have exactly as much access to the general culture of Zoiterra as they wish, and no more. The Rim-Cities are little pockets of cosmopolitanism, every racial group of Zoiterra, and sometimes a few Outsiders, can be found there. They exist as centres for minimal trade, minimal technology, and as schools.
All forms of knowing are represented in the Rim Cities of the Turtle Oum, even the abstract, technical and systemic methods which the Qitt would never use in their daily lives. Qitt come to the Rim Cities to learn  other patterns of thought, to make the small trades which they find occasionally neceassry, and to attend to the political matters of the state of Zoiterra, the evolution of the Race of Cosmic Beasts, the changing positions of the beasts and the developments which spring from this, and of the eternal chase of Yggsrathaal.

There is no exact rule preventing Outsiders from accessing the interior of Oum, simply the knowledge that any explorer will be utterly beyond the reach of help, in a dangerous and unknown environment and dependant for survival on the whims of the Qitt, who are not exactly a predictable people.

The Qitt themselves survive by hunting and almost only by that method. Within Oum, their population is relatively low. The Qitt allow the mountains and jungle valleys of Oum to exist in an undeveloped and near-wild state. The Darkness bears its fruit, and Oum is a fruitful land. All kinds of wild foods grow there in extraordinary diversity. These are fed on by all kinds of jungle and mountain creatures, from Tapiers to Deer to Monkeys to Jungle Pigs. Huge flocks of birds wheel by day, and bats by night. Beyond the Qitt, the only other 'intelligent' species are savage Fruit-Bat Men and the MonkeyMen who are present all over Zoiterra and are regarded as a kind of vermin or 'subhuman' race.

According to most Zoiterran laws of morality, the Qitt are not meant to deliberately prey upon other intelligent creatures, even if they are MonkeyMen. But they are not exactly respectful of authority, and in the depths of Oum, who is to know what has been done?

No-one can know exactly what lies in the valleys and jungles of Oum. The Qitt are there certainly. Rumours speak of ancient temples to Darkness inhabited by Qitt monks, of ruined and forgotten cities from other ages of time, of monuments and overgrown places dating back to before the Qitt came to Oum and to before Oum came from the celestial realm.

The only other city known to exist on Oum is the City of Darkness, which is built within the black desert on the head of Oum. This is one of the most sacred places to the Qitt, and to the whole of Zoiterra. It was here that the Great Race was first conceived and the Delusion of Yggsrathaal planned. Only the deepest, most philosophical, most potent or unusual Qitt will ever visist the Dark City on the Head of Oum. And perhaps a handful of other races. Every few centuries, Oum drops their head beneath the cracking Waste-Crust and into the sea of Absolute Chaos which lies beneath. When this happens, some of the deepest, strangest, most potent or oldest Qitt sages deliberately remain within the city, meditating. When Oum again raises their mighty head, the city is empty, and changed.


Typically, it’s hard for non-Qitt to get any kind of handle on how Qitt handle power. From anyone elses perspective, all Qitt act in an 'aristocratic' manner.

Qitt society is very flat, and their philosophy encourages indifference to worldly influence and outright rejection of authority structures.

Nevertheless, amongst themselves, they have a kind of shadow aristocracy based on broad family and kin groups. And even if others don't notice their weird near-invisible hierarchies and even if they are meant not to care, they do notice and can be very jealous of other Qitt.

Qitt can gain status through their reputation for depth as a Sage, their skill at art, fighting and dancing, through personal beauty, remarkable achievements and even for being experts in Outsider knowledge systems. Amongst Qitt, status can be represented through wardship of hunting grounds and environmental zones like rivers, forests and mountains, (though Oum seems utterly wild, this wildness is carefully managed and observed). The greatest mark of status is, of course, gaining access to the Dark City.

Of course, because Qitt are meant to be utterly indifferent to status, wealth and recognition, their actual quests for status, wealth and recognition can take on forms of labyrinthine and deniable complexity. Qitt philosophers can end up in 'shame duels' where they each take on lower and lower status activities, and this is not the strangest of the Qitt anti-status status competitions.

And of course, not all Qitt fit the Qitt mould, or get along in a Qitt-dominated culture. Those who are too worldly, clumsy, greedy, technical, literal villainous, heroic, virtuous, criminal or mad (in an uninteresting way) often end up leaving Oum and travelling to the other Cosmic Beasts of Zoiterra (or beyond), where, even if people are a little less spiritually perfect, there is a lot more diversity, a greater range of things to do and people will FINALLY answer a question with a straight answer.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps I'm reading into this too much given your last post, but if I am interpreting it correctly, I like how you've injected some Taoist concepts into their culture and behavior, which makes them a little more unique than a standard humanoid cat fantasy species, but still feels in-line with the rest of their culture and behavior and what one might expect from a humanoid cat fantasy speices. There seems to be other stuff going on in there as well of course, but it's a nice touch.