A stippling cage is a now defunct implement of torture used by Low Rostran villages for punishment or, for extreme crimes, for execution by exposure. The 'stippling' part of the cage's name refers to the tiny spots of pain the victim edures within.
Mechanics & Inner Workings
The original stippling cages were cubic cages of wooden poles similar to gibbets. Victims were placed in the cages wearing no footwear and, often, minimal clothing altogether. The floor of the cage was strewn with a regular pattern of pointy tetrahedrons of burnished hardwood from one to two inches across. These were arranged so that there were gaps between them, both to prevent their proximity from allowing the victim to distribute their weight across to many (thus reducing the pain) and to allow any fluids (such as seawater) to pass freely through the bottom of the cage. While the tetrahedrons were not often sharp enough to actually pierce the flesh, they would create intense points of pain on the soles of the victim's feet and would keep the victim from sitting or laying down easily. Paricularly cruel villages would suspend their stippling cages on ropes from sturdy boughs so that the wind would cause the cage to sway, causing the victim to experience more force drawing them down onto the points. Alternatively, these villages would place their cages just near enough to the coast that the sea water would rise into the bottom at high tide, stinging any foot injuries and, if high enough, potentially drowning the victim. As metallurgy became more commonly known in the Rostran isles, stippling cages were increasingly forged from bronze or black iron instead of being build from wooden poles. Metal stippling cages were a true menace to the condemned, as this allowed the cages to be raised over pots of boiling water or even directly over a bonfire. A cage over a source of steam could soften ovinex hooves, opening even those sturdy folk to torment as well.
In scattered Low Rostran villages in the era before the Rostran-Ovinex War, there was, as of yet, no consistently codified rule of law. As a result, travellers could be celebrated for their expoits on one island only to be sentenced to a stay in a stippling cage for the same actions on another. Thus, the stippling cage was once an object of fear among those who lived on the edges of what was accepted in Low Rostran society, as they were more subject to the capriciousness of local sentiment. Even when used against captured ovinex slave raiders, news of the more extreme punishments found in metal stippling cages offended High Rostran sensibilities, causing the mountain folk to descend on the villages practicing them with torches and spears at the ready. As a result, the addition of heat to a stay in the stippling cages was quickly rendered taboo across all Rostran cultures.
Notably, the law states that those who violate this law may be transported to the courthouse in their own device to 'make the point clear.' Whether or not this is an intention pun on the part of the law's original authors in the Archipelago Parliament remains unknown. While the stippling cages themselves have been phased out in most places under RAC control, they still appear in Low and High Rostran civic symbolism relating to the enforcement or adjudication of the law. In the vernacular of the Archipelago, to be 'stippled' means to be subjected to a short, but intense punishment of any type, whether judicial or otherwise (i.e. public ridicule for something embarrasing).
With the formation of Exivaun and the expansion of a unified state influence, this taboo became a law against metal stippling cages at first before expanding to include wooden variants as well. To this day, the implementation of a stippling cage for actual punishment (as opposed to historical reenactments, theatre productions, etc.) remains illegal in Rostran Archipelago Confederacy territory.
The Hermitage Island Fellowship has never formally abolished the use of stippling cages, though it is uncommon for an individual to be sentenced to the cage in the modern era. Fellowship magistrates may sentence a criminal to up to two days in a stippling cage as a means of public shaming for certain select offenses not rising to the level of long-term imprisonment or execution (i.e. defamation).
Stippling cages were never common, with only one or two per village. After the Rostran Archipelago Confederacy banned the traditional Low Rostran practice of torture, production largely ceased and the number of stipling cages began to decline. Now, the only stippling cages extant in the Manifold Sky belong either to Archipelago historical societies, to certain municipalities in the Hermitage Island Fellowship, or to Avarix Corps pirates with a flair for the dramatic.