Sulmu Species in Adin | World Anvil


It takes a village to raise a Sankal.
— Sulmu proverb
  The Gods are always careful, like good parents, to make sure their creations know they are all loved equally. All things said, they have secretly loved the Sulmu a little bit more.   To that point, the Gods were not concerned with leaving the Sulmu on Adin. They were more experienced and capable shapers than any of the others placed on the world, devoted and obedient, and the inventors of most of the Gods' weapons. When they woke the Sulmu from their slumber and placed them on Adin, they asked them to create more fantastic devices in exchange for the immortality of the 60 Sulmu they took with them to the stars.   They were also told of the existence of the other orphan species on Babel, the only ones to have this secret knowledge. The Gods knew that the Sulmu would be safe and not try to conquer the others, but wanted them aware some other species might contact them. The Sulmu created, that is all they were concerned with. When the promised time for the Gods' return had passed with no word, they stockpiled enough weapons to easily defend themselves from any threat. And they continued creating.  

Physical Traits

The Sulmu are small in stature, shorter than even the Udug or Children of the ELF. They were originally created for a dense, high gravity world rich in metals but hosting no native species of animals or even plants. Physically strong and masterful shapers, the Sulmu quickly surpassed the Gods' expectations. They are tinkers and inventors, creating new devices the Gods had not been able to imagine themselves. The Gods allowed the Sulmu access to their own technology, and the Sulmu made improvements to most of it.   They were made to be an intense, hyper-focused and disciplined people that subsisted entirely on ambrita. With this strict diet of ambrita and no other food sources available on the world, the Sulmu were unable to reproduce on their original world. The Gods stayed with them for thousands of years, renewing their youth and bringing each of the 300 Sulmu back from the brink of death on many occasions. Therefore, in sharp contrast to the other orphaned species and even the Adinites, these Sulmu are not spawned fresh on Adin from samples of their genes, they are the original Sulmu kept in stasis in the Temple of Heaven since the Gods were young.   They have the same adaptive skin tone as the other species on Adin, with melanin that increases or decreases slowly throughout their lives to protect them from the harsh suns. Most Sulmu are pale-skinned on Adin, due to a natural inclination to stay underground and the location of their original colony far in the cold southeast mountains of Babel.   The hair of all Sulmu is naturally black, though there are no cultural rules about keeping it that color.   Sulmu have an option to a limited version of immortality. A Sulmu that consumes a diet primarily of ambrita will effectively stop aging. Eating enough ambrita to trigger this pause in aging brings with it the unfortunate impotence caused by ambrita consumption. Unlike the true immortals created by the Gods, the ageless Sulmu are not protected from disease or gifted with self-healing.   While the lower gravity on Adin does amplify their strength, maintaining their bodies in their original form takes a substantial amount of food. Providing this much food for the entire population of the Sulmu, even supplemented with all the ambrita they produce, would be practically impossible. The Sulmu choose individuals that excel in a certain area, and gather into little communities to support them. Though still quite strong for their size, most of the Sulmu in these community groups are smaller of frame and help provide extra food and resources to their leader, who exemplifies the Godly original Sulmu.   Due to the needs of the Gods when building the Sulmu for their world, every Sulmu has the ability to shape both metal and stone. Often one is more proficient than the other, but any Sulmu can make a brick or bar. They are also more likely than other species to have additional shaping talents beyond those two, including a higher chance to produce kursu.  


Sulmu society is not based on family units or geographical location, but rather organized into sodalities of individuals consisting of optimally 43 sulmu. A sodality is led by a single Sankal, a leader focused on one task and occupying their days with that one task alone. Directly assisting the Sankal are six Tur to make sure the Sankal's needs are met, and each Tur is attended by six Gurus.   Of course, societies are never quite this simple. If a Sankal dies or decides to retire, a chosen Tur will take their place. A Tur or a Gurus may be traded with one from another sodality to help improve the efficiency of both, or to work under a different Sankal in hopes of promotion. Numbers fluctuate, but they always tend towards the standard.   With the diverse supply of food on Adin, the Sulmu are now capable of reproducing. Children are revered and supported by the sodality they were born into, and if the parents are from different sodalities they may trade to keep family units intact. If the parents are both in sodalities that reside in the same location, or nomadic ones that travel together because their Sankals work as a team, the parents may decide to keep to their own groups, with the child's food and other needs provided by the mother's sodality.   Children are not counted among the Tur or Gurus of a sodality, but are apprenticed to one of their parents in their tasks once they are old enough to do so. After their third year, they are considered adults and are automatically added to the ranks of the Gurus in their current sodality, even if it is full. From this point, they can choose to raise in the ranks, transfer to a different sodality, or leave the caste system entirely and become Sulmu-Ru.  


These are Sulmu that do not support an individual sodality. They are not treated as outcasts, but rather seen as a necessary part of supporting the Sulmu culture in a larger overall world. Members of a sodality are forbidden from speaking to non-Sulmu, so the Sulmu-Ru function as diplomats and traders. Some also choose this path for a sense of individualism, becoming valued shapers in other lands. Before contact with the other species, Sulmu-Ru were still accepted as members of the original city of the Sulmu, where the sodality of their Lugal directed their efforts to more civic duties instead of the needs of an individual Sankal.  

The Role of the Lugal-Sankal

Lugal Sangasu maintained and expanded the Sulmu lands, both on the surface and in their Underworld. Sangasu also had her own sodality to support her in these duties. She was also responsible for assembling new sodalities from interested members of the Sulmu-Ru, which were then tasked with a new aspect such as agriculture, weaving, forestry, wood shaping, or alchemy.   Other new sodalities were created for civic tasks such as road repairs or construction. Some of these sodalities were temporary, disbanding after their task was complete and the members returning to the independent life of Sulmu-Ru. Many continued on with only some members leaving the sodality, and their ranks were reinforced with new Sulmu joining in, sometimes from another Sankal's sodality.  

The Last Stop for the Udug

When the Udug finally arrived, they were overconfident from their previous three victories. Though the Udug had trained the arts of combat with each other, the other species had not put up much of a fight. The Nommo had taken the biggest toll on the Udug, but those were animals and hybrid creatures that did not fight like Udug. The Udug knew how to fight, but very few had actually been in combat and survived. This record continued upon meeting the Sulmu.   The Udug began their assault on what they assumed would be another soft target in the same methods they had tried before. They watched and learned about the Sulmu they could see, not realizing these were only the farmers and porters of a society more regimented and skilled than anything they had encountered. The Udug bided their time for days observing the Sulmu, then attacked a small farm at the periphery of their land at night. They captured the pair of farmers living inside, torching the house and whisking them away to be questioned and inevitably tortured.   At dawn, twelve sodalities were deployed with rifles, armor, and auroch-drawn carts with heavy mortars. While the Udug watched in amazement from the cover of the forest, the dozen imposingly wide Sankal conferred with each other over a map for a few minutes, then returned to their ranks. The Udug were still marveling over the wheels on the Sulmu carts, and had no inkling that they carried death. Moments later, the mortars sprang to life and the forest died.   Lugal Sherdasu was injured by the shock of one of the explosive shells hitting near him, and his attendants carried him away as fast as they could run, calling a retreat. There weren't many Udug left to retreat, and those that survived the shelling were in chaos. Some charged the Sulmu ranks, and were quickly shot dead.   While the Udug had stolen a sonic rifle from Ninurta, who had only visited the colony once and somehow became their God of Hunting and War because of his "contribution," the Udug duplications of this rifle were primitive and inaccurate at best. The Sulmu had made Ninurta's rifle as a gift over twenty thousand years ago, and it had gone through almost as many iterations of improvement since then. Some people just like their antique guns. (Coincidentally, Ninurta always blamed Enki for the loss of his rifle. Enki was always able to honestly deny responsibility for the theft, since he watched the Udug take it.)   Once the smoke had cleared, Lugal Sangasu stood at the head of the army, held a device to her mouth, and spoke clearly into it towards the splintered remains of the forest. "GO AWAY." The sound carried across the fleeing Udug, hastening their retreat as it sounded like the stocky Sulmu was right on their heels. The Sulmu advanced into the forest, recovering some of their non-exploding ammunition and collecting the few intact Udug corpses they could find. The sodalities then marched back into the city, returning to their work and handing over the corpses to their kursu to have a look at the new neighbors.   If there's one thing you can say about a horde of Udug, it's that there are always more Udug. With the Sulmu lands so far from Udug territory, Lugal Sherdasu had split his force into three large armies and accompanied the first, brave and curious as he was. The trailing reinforcements were expected to secure the city and manage tribute, or be able to push onward if the Sulmu held knowledge of another species nearby. The third army was just in case the second one got lost. The group fleeing with their Lugal didn't stop until they ran into the second army.   Sherdasu was badly hurt, but the immortal Udug had survived and that meant he would heal eventually. The second army carried a kursu along, literally carried in what could generously be called a backpack slung over the shoulder of one of their Netillim. The kursu tended to his Lugal, putting him in a deep sleep and working tirelessly for three days to mend all the internal damage more quickly.  

The Udug Mentality

While he slept, his attendants plotted. The third Udug army had now caught up to the second, and they were camped several leagues out from the Sulmu. They agreed that the Sulmu army was not that large, and no force had survived a full on assault by the Udug horde. They reasoned that with a spread out and advancing army in cover of night, the Sulmu mortars would be at a disadvantage, if the Sulmu even saw them coming. That evening, a second wave of Udug attacked the city directly from three angles. That evening, the Udug learned the effectiveness of land mines.   At dawn, two sodalities were dispatched to repair the minefield, clear the dead, and escort a few petrified Udug back to their city for questioning.   Upon waking, Lugal Sherdasu was furious at his attendants for their failed assault. He was furious at the Udug for failing. He was furious at the Sulmu for defying his destiny. After several hours of ranting and a few beheadings, he was starting to feel like himself again. Ever the optimist, Lugal Sherdasu returned to the Sulmu city with a small force, being sure to keep to the roads, and demanded surrender.   The Sulmu, to their credit, did not laugh. Nor did they shoot down the Udug in cold blood as Sherdasu had done to the Netillim. They simply repeated their message from the first day, "Go away." Sherdasu threatened the two Sulmu captives they had taken. The Sulmu brought twenty sheepish Udug to the walls and proposed an exchange.  

Change of Plans

The hostages taken from the Sulmu farm had not gone far, and were being held with the reserve armies for interrogation by the kursu. Also, they were part of Lugal Sherdasu's plan. He agreed to the trade and had the Sulmu brought to the gate, where he insisted the Lugal of the Sulmu step forward to do the exchange in person.   Lugal Sangasu complied, and the captive Udug walked solemnly out toward their leader, followed by the Sulmu Lugal and her sodality armed to the teeth. This time, instead of mortars, the carts that followed contained the stacked bodies of all the Udug dead, preserved respectfully by the kursu of the Sulmu. The mortars were safely out of sight and already zeroed in on Sherdasu's position. Sherdasu sent the two Sulmu prisoners towards the gate.   Whatever dark plan Sherdasu had, it unraveled when he saw the heavily armed troops before him. He cared little for the Udug who had been taken prisoner, and even less about the pile of corpses they had gracefully returned to him. He wanted what the Sulmu had, and at this point had no idea how to attain it.  

The Bigger Woman

Lugal Sangasu approached the Udug, and extended her hand. She explained to Sherdasu that she already knew the story, that they were all cut from the same cloth, all worshipped the same Gods, and all spoke roughly the same language. The Sulmu wanted no fight with the Udug or anyone else, they just wanted to be left alone to create.   She offered a different kind of truce. If the Udug would stop harrassing her people, they would create things for the Udug. The Gods were either delayed or never returning, and it was time to settle into this world for the duration. Also, the Sulmu found purpose in creating beautiful things for an appreciative client.   Still in awe over the wheel, Lugal Sherdasu agreed. Leaning in close, Sangasu went on to say that if any of the Sulmu weapons were ever turned on her people, she would wipe every Udug from the face of Adin. In every retelling of his victory over the Sulmu that day, Lugal Sherdasu would leave that bit out.  


The Udug returned to their city declaring the land unified under their rule. The Sulmu didn't say anything to the contrary, but none of their blood was ever spilled in battle. They created things for the Udug, and kept to themselves in their modest city and the gigantic Underworld beneath, always shaping, always creating.  

The Disappearance of the Lugal

Years later, but before the Great War, Lugal Sangasu and her sodality went on an expedition to the original site of the Netillim city, to survey for minerals in their Underworld. The Gods had carefully picked the location of every species, and she suspected some important materials might be found there. She also hoped there might be some forgotten message from the Gods left behind. Her sodality was never heard from again.   While the Sulmu suspected the Udug may have been behind their Lugal's disappearance, Sherdasu firmly denied any involvement. Notably, at about this time, Lugal Sherdasu had his shapers create a wide stone footstool to go before his throne, roughly the size of a kneeling Sankal.  

The Great War

The innovations gained from their alliance with the Sulmu were instrumental in the Udug taking the fight to the Adinites. The first captured ship that led to the discovery of the Adinite species was brought to the Sulmu, who knew nothing of water travel. In a short time, the Sulmu presented a metal-clad armored behemoth armed with upscaled cannons based on their rifles, and the Udug copied their design to raise a fleet in a matter of months.   As for an active participation in the war, the Sulmu initially refused to send any of their people to the Five Nations. This war of conquest was none of their concern. A single sodality of warriors volunteered to go in the initial assault on Satium, but it was made clear to the Udug that these were volunteers and the Sulmu were officially out of it. The sodality suffered no casualties during the massacre on Satium, but returned home after the siege of Eridu. They found no pleasure in killing mostly defenseless people, and they considered the Udug tactics too brutal and dishonorable.  


Without fully understanding the relationship between the Udug and the Sulmu, when the war was over the Adinite treaties "freed" the Sulmu from whatever control the Udug had on them. To the Sulmu, it was all business and the world just opened up with more potential clients. They drew up new contracts with the Udug, weighing heavily in favor of the Sulmu.   At least one sodality of the Sulmu traveled to each of the Five Nations of the Adinites, with a host of Sulmu-Ru accompanying them to broker deals for lodging and food, and contracts for work. The Adinites, though they recognize the Sulmu made weapons that were used against them in the war, have taken to the fine craftsmanship of Sulmu goods, and do their best to respect their customs when a sodality is traveling through.   Sulmu have also been highly interested in the golems now possessed by the Adinites. They have purchased several cutting-edge models as they were released, and it is rumored they have their own golem arena now in their Underworld. Though they normally consider themselves experts in all forms of shaping, they have recently even sent some Sulmu-Ru to Adinite's schools of golemancy to learn the intricacies of this new discipline.


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