Pharmakine and the Kinelords
Pharmakine are cattle that produce blood, meat, milk, horns, bones, etc that can provide the same effects of the holy drugs controlled by the clerics. Pharmakine are strictly controlled by the Kinelords, who organize them into Kinewards, each protected by a troop of Kinewardens. The Kinelords have exclusive deals with the clergy of the Gods, and they trade the products of these animals directly and only to the clerics of the associated religion.
Pharmakine are a relatively new development in Quadarc, and have only been bred and domesticated in the last century. Though the exact origin of the Pharmakine is mysterious outside those sworn to the service of the Kinelords, it is generally believed that Pharmakine are the offspring of a successful chimera breeding program (see the Kineshapers below). This is very odd, however, since most chimera are sterile. Also, unlike most chimeras, pharmakine do not seem to themselves possess any special abilities or unusual characteristics. They are simply animals whose milk or meat has powerful and coveted effects.
The drugs created from pharmakine anatomy are generally less potent than the corresponding clerical drug made from original materials. Additionally, they diminish in potency with the time since the animals death; in other words, fresh drugs are more powerful than older ones. This leads to regular drives in which pharmakine are herded to nearby cities, towns, and settlements. In these places, deputized agents of the Kinewarden (typically clerics) will watch over the animals until they are slaughtered.
The ephemeral nature of these drugs has lead to an attempt by the clergy to perfect spells and techniques to keep the ingredients fresh for longer. This has met with mixed success.
Despite these inconveniences, pharmakine drugs can be created in much larger quantities than the traditional clerical drugs, and are thus much cheaper. Also, those of older generations say that the pharmakine drugs of today are stronger than those of previous generations, so it may be that the gap between pharmakine drugs and those of the clergy is closing.
Kinelords are independent ranchers, each of which own huge swaths of plains, called “kinewards.” The kinelords are extremely wealthy and powerful. They own the land the animals live on, the animals themselves, and the lives of the people that live on and work their land. Kinelords see themselves as stern protectors of their animals and people, and rule their lands with an iron fist.
Unlike almost every other power structure in Quadarc, kinelords do not organize their realms according to the Corpax. They are instead the undisputed ruler of their lands, with direct enforcement through the kinewardens of each district. A kinelord typically divides his lands up into about a dozen of districts — known as kinewards. Each kineward will have a small town or settlement of a few dozen families, and will be patrolled by roughly a dozen kinewardens,
The kinelords are in fierce competition with each other to breed animals that produce a wider range of longer lasting and more potent drugs. Despite this competition, they all continue to trade exclusively with the clergy, thus maintaining the clerical monopolies.
This close linkage with the hieratic power structure has lead to an almost universal reverence for kinelords, kinewarden, and pharmakine. Throughout Noramnus, touching pharmakine is a crime punishable by amputation of the offending parts, and kinewarden have the legal powers to enforce this sentence.
Despite their competition, kinelords rarely resort to violence against each other to resolve disputes. Most will convene a group of other kinelords to mediate, and punishments are meted out in fines. Fines are assessed in heads of kine breeding stock. Kinelords consider this to be a steep price, and so are strongly motivated to maintain order.
Kineshapers are the the quasi-mythical group responsible for breeding the pharmakine livestock. They are so mysterious and secretive that even the kinewardens and peasants who live on a kineward are unlikely to have met a kineshaper.
The mystery surrounding kineshapers has lead to many myths about their nature among the uneducated. The worst of these conspiracy theories include:
- They are rogue clerics, trying to bring about the fall of the the current order
- They are agents of the Outer Gods corrupting us with bad medicines
- They are the first wave of the returned Gatewalkers
- They are the new Servitors, heralding a second Thearchy
Educated people believe truth is most likely that kineshapers are simply very smart men and women with a deep understanding of animal husbandry. The secrecy surrounding their identity is simply the kinelords way of keeping a tight grip on the secrets they hold. This tight grip, in turn, protects the kinelord monopolies, and the wealth and the power of the clergy.
Kinewardens are each sworn to a kinelord, vowing to protect the kine from attackers and bandits, and to keep safe the secrets of the kineshapers. They are the best horseman in all of Noramnus, rivaled only by the Clan of the Tulwar in the Hive Desert. A kinelord may have his realm divided up into a dozen kinewards, each of which may have around a dozen kinewarens. Kinewardens live in small redoubts deep in the grazing lands of their herds, far away from their families in the district’s town.
While much of a kinewarden’s daily life will simply be riding among the animals of the ward, ensuring they find clean water and fresh pastures, most kineward will regularly have to destroy undead, kill chimeric predators, and track down kine thieves.
Kinewarden also organize and lead regular caravans to deliver the kine to the surrounding towns and cities, enforce the penalties of touching their charges, and deputize others to watch over their animals.
The emblem of office of a Kinewarden his his or her a Sparkstaff. A sparkstaff is a light lance approximately 8 feet long, that can project bursts of lightning. The lightning can be adjusted down to a mild shock, to aid in herding animals, or dialed up to killing force to fight predators and rustlers. While anyone can wield a sparkstaff is a spear, each one is enchanted to project lightning only for its owner.
The craft of making sparkstaves is known only to the Pantroglids of the Forge caves. The kinelords contract with the Forge Shaman to manufacture these sparkstaves, perhaps once a generation. Sparkstaves are thus rare heirlooms, passed down from each Kinewarden to his successor.
The office of kinewarden is not defined to be hereditary, but is instead intended to be awarded to the most able man or woman living in a kineward. Traditionally, when a kinewarden judges him or herself too old to continue in the rigors of the office, he or she will hold a tournament of riding, jousting, and animal handling. The current kinewarden will pass his or her sparkstaff to the winner of this competition in a formal rite that bonds the staff to its new owner. However, since kinewardens are apt to groom their sons and daughters for the office, often the only serious contenders are kinewarden children. Thus, while ostensibly a meritocracy, the office of kinewarden is mostly hereditary in practice.