The Seawanderers

The Seawanderers are a cultural group present on Panthal, Crossroads, that is particular in the sense the live their entire lives on boats, forming groups or clans by sailing with alike boats. They are an important part of Panthal's fishing industry.


Origins

Even before the time of the Republic large fishing fleets existed on Panthalassa, the single most important contributors to its industry. Theses fleets were spending months at sea but their crewmen and crewwomen were still living on floating cities. Usually the crew of a boat hailed from a single city, to ease logistical issues. These fishing fleets and fishers had no particular culture, they stayed related to their city of origin. Shortly before the Sundering hundreds of thousand of these fleets existed with several million of fishermen and fisherwomen working on them.

The Sundering

When the Manifold shut down and panic engulfed Panthal, thousands of fishers flee to their boats and left the cities with other non-fishers refugees when the cities were falling into chaos and violence. Dozens of thousand more fishers were at sea in the middle of their fishing campaign when these events took place.

The Great Run - as it was to be remembered by History - was not really, at the time, a thought solution. No planning were done, people simply fled violence and expected, at the beginning, they would be able to come back in a reasonable time. Some were simply happy to have avoided chaos and were planning nothing, waiting for events to unfold. It was a dangerous attitude as fishing boats were not designed to sustain so many people on the long term without heavy maintenance work. At one point or another they would have to dock to the cities.

While chaos and confusion reigned on fixed settlements, the refugees slowly started to develop a culture of their own mixing cultural influences from all their members. They sustained on fishing and maintained their ships on wreckages found floating near cities. Yet they never docked to these, fearing for their lives. After several years, depending on each individual fleet, they collectively decided to settle on their boats. The process was slow and different for each group, but it begun when order was restored to several large cities and their inhabitants were in desperate need for more food. The refugees saw an interest there but never decided to come back to live in a city as they were mostly unpleased with the way citizens had evolved over a decade of chaos. This paved up the way for the creation of a new group, the Seawanderers.

Economic system

The main problem that faces the Seawanderers - at their very beginning and still nowadays - is to maintain continuous sea journey. Ie to keep their ships floating and working. To do that the wanderers need metals, both raw or alloy, and here rests the problem. A problem that is common to all inhabitants of Panthal, Seawanderers or citizens. Panthal's metallic ores are buried under thousands kilometres of ice, unreachable even to the most modern technologies. This unreachability led to the development of the symbiotic economy between the Spacers, rich in metals but poor on food, and the Panthalians, rich in food but without metals.

The Seawanderers easily found a way to fit into that system and are now an integral part of it. The Wanderers fish large amount of sea produces. Most of their boats are fishing ones. Some are simple ones but they also have on-board industrial facilities that allow them to start processing fished produces. These produces are then sold to citizens in exchange for liquid assets or - mostly - raw materials and alloys that the Wanderers then use to maintain their boats. Citizens are then able to sell these produces - with their own production - to the Spacers in exchange for materials.

Organization & Culture

Communities

The Seawanderers usually form communities of a couple hundred individuals. This figure is however highly variable. Indeed one will be able to find groups of merely a few dozens individuals or communities numbering in thousands.

They operate fleet of various sized boats. The smallest communities often operate a single large boat that house the whole group. Larger communities live on fleets generally composed of several large boats - with industrial facilities on them - and smaller boats used for fishing activities and operated by a single family. These communities have a "main" boat - usually the size of a tanker - that house many families and serve as meeting place for the community's leaders.

Communities usually have a democratic system where a council of elected leaders - elders sometimes - have both executive and legislative powers. Free speech is granted to every adult, male or female, and the Wanderers are usually open to new members coming from cities, treating them as their own if they respect community's values and laws.

Genetic issue

Seawanderers' communities are rather closed, often sailing for decades with limited contact with outsiders. In such groups genetic diversity is critical to avoid consanguinity. To solve this they came with three solutions, each equally used.

  • Mixing with another community.

When two communities meet at sea - either fortuitous or planned - or by docking together at the same city, they often "exchange" young adults, male and female. These exchanges can be permanent - the young adult move to live with his/her new community - or temporary - two young adults mate and then leave each on their own way.

  • Immigration.

It happens that young people from cities grow fed up with their lives there and want something else. They usually have the choice between joining the Spacers or the Seawanderers. Any that choose to join a wanderer community is always warmly welcomed if they show commitment to their new life. Young women are more researched by the wanderers but men are never refused.

  • The Hunt.

On cities there is a legend that the Seawanderer women hunt down young males to satisfy their sexual appetite and then kill them to eat their bodies. While the wanderers are neither cannibals nor sexual maniacs this legend is based on an actual fact. When a wanderer community comes to dock to a city, it often happen that women from the community - especially the young - are sent in the city to "hunt" for men and mate with them until they are pregnant. The sole purpose of this "hunt" is to bring new children to the community and trough them more genetic diversity. Fathers often ignore that fact even if they realized their mates' real origins.

Cultural specifics

  • Religion.

The Seawanderers, as isolated groups, have developed a particular culture. Actually several cultures that are basically divided along the line of religion. Two main religious conceptions indeed exist: materialism and sea worship.

The materialists are comparable to atheist or agnostics, doubting or refusing to take position on the existence of any superior supra-natural entity or being that would have create the universe and rule it. This philosophy is inherited from former philosophies that were mainstream on Panthal before the Sundering.

The Sea worshipers believe Panthal’s ocean to be of divine nature. They worship it, thanking it for the food it provide them but fearing its wrath that take the form of atmospheric events such as cyclones or the largest predatory creatures that roam the ocean. The worshipers do not represent any united movement. The cult is fragmented between dozen of small “churches” which influence might not go further than a single community. Some churches see the ocean as a divine being among others and accept strangers’ faiths. Some churches, on the contrary, believe the ocean to be the only true god and feel superior to other groups that do not share their faith. Some of these radicals even believe that Panthal is mankind’s homeworld. Their mythology tells how humans were in the distant past potent sea creatures that were banned by their god and changed into air beings, unable to live into the sea.

Religion, despite having an important philosophical role, is not central to the Seawanderers’ society. Materialists are found of philosophy and debate, often practising it as leisure, and worshipers live their in their faith but its practise has no influence on their social life since the cult does barely impose restrictions or social codes.

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