Sandbox focusing on the demography and caste system of Vespia.
The Vespian caste system consists of five castes, further broken down into an elaborate system of tiers, ranks, and titles. All Vespians regardless of their land of birth below to a caste, and for those living beyond the traditional Vespian homelands, they regularly travel to the Veskosphere to partake in the rites and rituals necessary to join one of the castes.
Each caste has its own system in place for admitting new members into their ranks, though all Vespians seeking to join one of the castes required to go through what is known as the dukori. The dukori is an 12-year long program in which the Vespians, starting at the age of six, take part in a brutal survivalist training covering hunting and consumption of animals and humans, medical treatments and surgery, asymmetric and psychological warfare, production of weapons and other vital tools in the wild and in wartime conditions, martial arts, and various other skills necessary for the creation of a lethal individual. Following this period, all those Vespian youths who survived their training, are given the choice of caste they wish to join. This training consists of the final stage of the dukori, known as the hunitan. Each caste has their own requirements and training systems for applicants, with the priesthood having seminary schools, and the military a three-year long drill.
Caste admission process
- Zhanokin – TBD
- Ionakin – The Vespian priesthood allows admissions into their caste based on the application of a Vespian and the confirmation of their good character by at least three other Vespians. Successful requests result in a request for an interview with the ionakin members, and afterward a formal invitation from the priesthood to the aspirant. These Vespians are not considered full members of the caste, but rather, must go through a four-year long seminary course to train them as potential members of the priesthood. During this time, the aspirants accompany the priests into their regular duties, provide extra manpower for tasks around the temple complexes, expand their knowledge and understanding of religious texts, practices, and doctrines, and their understanding on the background and character of the various gods, spirits, and spiritual elements of the Zheaniic religion. Following their four-year long tutelage, the Vespian aspirants are tested on their understanding within the priesthood, and for those who have proven themselves to be knowledgeable of the faith, they join into the ranks of the ionakin, and join the priestly division of their choice.
- Vakoranin – All Vespians seeking to become warriors must go through a three-year long training period with their household's respective hakivakin warrior forces. These individuals go through some of the most advanced training in the world to join Vespia's esteemed warrior caste, with a high standard set for any wishing to claim power over their fellow Vespians. After completing their training, the newly-minted warriors are sorted based on their scores during the hunitan, and given a list of the six out of nine warrior divisions they are allowed to join; with a high-score opening a larger number of divisions available to them. There are no standard ranks within the vakoranin as found in more traditional military forces around there world. Rather, the warriors are arranged by division, and then by their rank within that division, with the lowest-ranking infantryman standing above the highest-ranking doctor in the military.
- Okumarin – Vespian commoners are given a four-year advanced education which is similar to the university systems of other countries around the world. Students may pick their own primary (superior) track with a secondary (inferior) track in a similar manner as choosing a major and a minor course in the west.
- Muzekin – All slaves are born or admitted into the caste at the same rank as one another, beginning from the bottom and working their way to highest status over their lifetime. Unlike other castes where one must train or pass a series of exams to move forward within their caste's ranking system, muzekin attain higher ranks by virtue of existing or learned skill sets for domestic slaves, physical attractiveness and sexual skill in the case of sex slaves, or the degree of trust placed in them by upper class Vespian families to serve autonomously in their behalf. Ranks for slaves are not fixed by age or years of service, and are up to their masters to provide on a case-by-case basis. These ranks do convey a degree of protection to a slave, with a slave of the first-rank always being at risk of death at the hands of a random Vespian, while a slave of the middling fifth-rank is immune from rape or beatings from Vespian citizens and authorities unless otherwise permitted by the slave's owners.
The households of Vespia, known as the hakuva (meaning "affirming (to the) union" or "affirming (to the) family"), are the primary divisions that constitute the majority of the Vespian race and civilization, with all Vespians belonging to a household, bar those who have been expelled for some grievous crime. With the sole exception of the colonial Vespians, the Vespians of the fatherland lack distinct ethnic or linguistic groups within their population. However, they do distinguish themselves based on their lifestyles, divided into semi-nomadic Vespians, riverside dwelling Vespians, and the secretive Vespians of the interior.
- Shohokunin – The shohokunin ("children (of the) river") are the Vespians identified by their historical ties to the Zhona River; the longest river in Vespia and the world as a whole, and the primary source of water for more than 80% of Vespia's population. These Vespians are the majority of the population, and generally the more "progressive-thinking" of the group by Vespian standards. Their adherence to rigid customs and traditions that have defined their civilization, are the primary markers of the shohokunin. They are typically inflexible and distrustful of foreigners, but more willing to look into new ideas and concepts that may benefit Vespia in the long-run. Shohokunin hold the most diverse array of religious schools in the empire, though most adhere to Eyazhanism and Akikonism as of the modern-day. The largest and most famous of the Vespian households, Zharan, belongs to this group of Vespians, along with Khajan, Koran, Auran, and Jikan.
- Tuvokunin – The tuvokunin ("children (of the) desert") are those Vespians who live in the vast deserts of Vespia, either as nomadic, semi-nomadic, or oasis-dwelling residents of the Tuvada. They are defined by their elaborate tent structures known as TBD, camel herding, and handicrafting, and are the primary residents around the oases, and are responsible for cultivating the arable land around them. Traditional tuvokun households are Mazhan, Ruzhan, and Kharan. All three households were and still are indemnified by the historical qualities of the tuvokunin Vespians – fiercely independent, brutal rites, and agressive tendencies. Vespians belonging to the tuvokunin branch of the population are more likely to adhere to the more extreme hunokunin (Zheaniic schools of thought) within the Vespian religion, mainly Shakinism and Eyazhanism, both of which advocate for the enslavement or extermination of all non-Vespian peoples.
- Vesokunin – The vesokunin ("children (of the) darkness") are the secretive and xenophobic population of Vespians who hide themselves away in their fortress cities deep within the mountains of Vespia. Vespians of the vesokunin group are generally viewed as reserved and skittish, and are not known to easily open up to even fellow Vespians. Consumption of knowledge and improvement of one's understanding of the unknown have been prominent traits of the vesokunin, who are likewise well known for their utilization of the rugged terrain of southern and western Vespia to seal themselves off from the rest of the world. Their isolationist and xenophobic culture has historically meant that vesokunin tend to adhere to the doctrines of Akikonism overwhelmingly, and tend to avoid interactions with even their own fellow Vespians outside of necessity. The households of Dejan and Vanan are among the more notable examples of Vespians who have sealed themselves off from the world to focus their energies inward.
List of households
By law, all slaves within Vespia are assigned a tier within the already elaborate caste system of the empire. Whereas freeborn Vespians are born without a caste, and must successfully join one following the dukori, all slaves both Vespian and non-Vespian are born into slavery without the hope of freedom. Furthermore, all slaves are born into the tier beneath that of their parents, until their offspring are in the lowest tier of their caste. All reproductive rights are withdrawn, and the state controls the breeding of slaves within the lower tiers until the slaves are able to move into the higher ones. Even then, slaves are given the ability to build families, but they have no ability to maintain them should the state or their master decide to break the family up, or move them into another tier of slaves.
The tiers of slaves within Vespia are as follows:
- Trusted − Trusted slaves are invested with the highest degree of individual freedom and influence within their station as servants within Vespian society. Such slaves are rarely found within the general population, and and are typically found as the property of high-ranking members of the ruling zhanokin caste of Vespia, or very powerful and wealthy members of the priestly and commoner castes. These slaves are free to travel with little to no supervision, purchase goods in their own name, marry fellow slaves or buy slaves of their own. While all of their children will be born into the tier just below their own, and thus have fewer rights, this is deemed perfectly acceptable by the trusted slave as a natural tradition and process all slaves must go through. It is likewise this outlook on life for their own flesh and blood that has gained these slaves their existing status in life, as they know all to well what the alternative is for their kind.
- Roaming − Roaming slaves are individuals who serve within the domestic portion of the household, and are trusted to a degree to operate on their own on behalf of their masters. They handle simple tasks that do not call for the attention of their owner, and general deal with issues such as delivering messages and purchase goods for the family. Unlike trusted slaves, roaming slaves rarely if ever live the confines of their master's home town or work route, and are often accompanied by individuals responsible for ensuring the "safety" (or obedience) of the slave. Roaming slaves are granted many privileges not given to their lesser counterparts, such as their own rooms, higher-quality clothing, martial rights and offspring, and the ability to own a greater deal of property such as phones, computers, and even vehicles depending on the level of trust of their master.
- Sexual − Sex slaves are among some of the most common slaves in Vespia, catering to the often perverse desires of their Vespian masters. While it would easy to believe the majority of sex slaves would be female, do to the sexual dynamics within Vespia and the Vespian people as a race, the overwhelming majority of sex slaves are male. These slaves live in often comfortable conditions, often in bordellos owned by a very powerful and influential member of the Vespian community. Because of the lack of Vespian males in the general population, many Vespian women have taken to buying the time of a sex slave to satiate their sexual needs. Contrary to popular belief, male slaves are not castrated by the Vespians due to the inability to interbreed with Vespians and non-Vespians, and are fully capable of siring offspring with non-Vespian women.
- Domestic − Domestic slaves are the more common class of slave, who live in-house with their masters and their families, or nearby in detached housing with other slaves. Domestic slaves are tasked with the responsibility of supporting the household of their masters as cooks, cleaners, nannies, security, porters, and more, and as far as slaves in Vespia are concerned, have the greatest number of duties and roles for their position in life. They are often the most common type of slave a Vespian will encounter during their lifetimes, either through interactions with the family slave during their youth, as the "gatekeeper" for a fellow Vespian family, or as the individuals who prepare the food and clean the tables following a meal with a Vespian host. While a trust slave is about as free and prestigious as a slave will ever become, a domestic slave is usually the more trusted and valued of the two, as they work with their owners and their family, and play a bigger role in the lives of those who enslave them.
- Trained − Trained slaves are those slaves fortunate enough to avoided being butchered by the Vespians or sent to the breeding farms, and instead given a specific trade the members of Vespia's commoner caste have no time to focus on themselves. They usually fulfill the low-skilled areas of Vespia's economy, as well as helping to supplement jobs that are shared with the Vespian commoners. This particular group of slaves are allowed to have families of their own, though they are sealed off into ghettos where their movement, behavior, entertainment, and diet are strictly controlled. In-spite of these restrictions, the life of a trained slave is vastly superior to those of the unskilled class, as they are legally barred from being offered up to the tavina unless they have committed a crime, or at the very least, if there is a shortage of available sacrificial victims.
- Unskilled − Unskilled slaves are the most common group of slaves within Vespia, as well as the most likely to be utilized as sacrificial victims across Vespia's countless temples and shrines. Unlike their higher tier counterparts, unskilled slaves are typically held as the property of major corporations within the agricultural sector, or as the property of Vespian families who use these slaves as nannies and "cheap" concubines. Zhekarin throughout Vespia are often the biggest sponsors for the breeding of this class of slave, as they have a vast market for a constant stream of sacrificial victims at the temples and holy sites of the empire. They have no rights with Vespia, and are typically divided into groups based on physicality, sex, age, and disposition. Female slaves are generally filtered into the classes focused on breeding and personal harems, while male slaves are caroled into industrial farms and factories.
Throughout Vespia and Vespian society as a whole, slaves have no rights or legal protections under Vespian law. Being classified as muzekin, or "valued allies", the relationship between free Vespians and enslaved non-Vespians is that of a stern disciplinarian and pupil, though without external interference. The Vespians regard their slaves as property in need of "guidance", and failure to adhere to their attempts to steer the life course of the slave population results in what can only be described as a short and agonizing existence. Most Vespians find joy and pleasure in abusing and humiliating their human property, so much so that entire sports and customs have grown out of the pain and misery inflicted by the slave population. Likewise, the overwhelming majority of sacrificial victims within Vespia consist of muzekin, who fulfill what the Vespians consider an "honorable life", by having their skin pulled from their bodies and blood pulled out to the Vespian gods. While this is not the ultimate end for all Vespian slaves, it is the reality at slaves within Vespia acknowledge and contend with as a potential fate awaiting them each and everyday.
There is no protection against rape or sexual abuse for slaves, with the practice being disturbingly common throughout the empire. Most estimates based on the medical records collected by the Vespians revealed that nearly 60-70% of all male and female slaves have been sexually assaulted or abused at some point in their lives, with the overwhelming majority of these instances occurring between the ages of ten to twenty-one. Prior to this point in life, most slaves, usually from the unskilled tier of slaves, are separated from their families and kept in vast creches where they are herded like cattle and shipped to the locations where they will serve for the rest of their lives. Among sex slaves, the number of sexual assaults is higher than the average, with some 90% of all sex slaves being raped or assaulted by their masters, the families of their masters, or by those who have power over the slave within their place of operation. Male slaves are common targets of sexual abuse by their female masters−who as Vespian women−are physically as strong or stronger than the average non-Vespian male.
Denovir is an antiviral antidote for the synthetic virus known denoxin, which was developed and mass-produced by the Vespians at the end of the Great Sabel War in 5888 Ʋ. This antidote can only be produced by scientific agents employed by the Vespian government, who have access to the necessary information related to the existing and predicted strains of the denoxin virus that is active throughout the massive slave population of Vespia. Denoxin is the latest method used by the Vespians to keep its vast slave population in line and in a state of constant submission. The antidote itself must be administered every 24 to 48 hours to prevent the slave from dying a death which has been described as deliberately gruesome for no other reason than to serve as a message to any other slaves thinking of resisting their masters. The Vespians have successfully utilized the denoxin virus as a means of controlling the more than 574.5 million slaves in their empire, and so far, none of the nations of Sabel opposed to Vespia have been able to develop a permanent cure.
There has been an ongoing international campaign to research and develop a cure for the denoxin virus plaguing tens of millions of slaves around the world, though the Vespians always appear to be one step ahead of their opponents. They constantly altered the structure of the virus used on their slave population, leaving the abolitionist researchers several steps behind and forced to develop new methods of developing alternative cures for the virus. The Vespians are constantly ahead of the world in releasing new strains of denoxin, just as Sabelian institutions believe they have come close to a permanent cure for the previous strain. This back and forth between the Vespians and the Sabelians came to an end in 5941 Ʋ, when they released the current strain of denoxin; a constantly mutating strain for which no cure has yet been developed. The nature of the new strain has meant that the Vespians no longer need to concern themselves with the potential of their enemies developing a cure for the virus, only focusing on the need to prepare for the next iteration of the antidote that will be administered for a 5-6 year cycle until the virus mutates into a new form. By the time the virus has mutated, the Vespians have already produced a viable antidote, giving many medical and scientific experts around the world the suspicion that the Vespians are either controlling the mutations or have predicted the next probable mutation of the virus, allowing enough time to produce an antidote.
Of note is that while the old viral agent caused a quick and largely painless failure of the organs in the victim, the new agent now plays directly into the culture of the Vespians; causing an extremely brutal and horrifying death. The victim suffers from cripplingly pain all across the body, with special focus on the most sensitive parts of the body such as the eyes, extremities, and head; blood will pour from the eyes, nose, and mouth, along with nausea followed by uncontrollable vomiting and loss of bowel control. Should the antidote not be acquired within a brief window of time, the victim will suffer for days before they finally expire. In the past, due to the quick and somewhat painless death caused by the old virus, slaves resisting Vespian control would simply allow themselves to die once the virus took full effect. However, the horrifying death that awaits them should they refuse their masters’ has cowed countless millions of slaves into submission.
The antidote has a notable effect on morale for slaves in that its grants a euphoric high for several hours once an injection has been administered by the Vespians. For many slaves, the sensation is so addictive, that they often beg for an additional injection which they are naturally refused, leading many to work hard to “earn” their next injection to meet the needs for their addiction. This reward mechanism combined with the visually terrifying outcome for the antidote, has been effective in helping the Vespians control the slaves of their nation efficiently, moreso than mere fear could in countless centuries passed. The Vespians have also benefited from the slave financially, as for the millions of freed slaves living beyond the empire are still in need of the antidote, meaning that as long as the virus exists, there will still be a market for the antidote itself. Vespia has earned billions from the sell of the antidote, which itself cannot be reverse-engineered as the virus itself will simply mutate a year down the line rendering any progress meaningless. Indeed, many of the wealthiest individuals in the world have made their fortunes selling the denoxin antidote on the international black market.
Male scarcity in Vespia
Male scarcity in Vespia is considered by far one of the most pressing demographic issues in the empire. Currently, males in Vespia comprise approximately one-fifth of the Vespian population, and have gradually been shrinking in size as a proportion of the overall Vespian population on the globe. Historically, the Vespians have addressed the issue by requiring that more and more men sire offspring with the hope of expanding the number of males in the population, but this has had the opposite effect, as it ultimately dilutes the number of males with functionary SRY genes capable of activating the male chromosomes during gestation. Other demographic issues facing the Vespians is the increasing number of women bearing higher and higher numbers of offspring in one instance. Since the period of Silver Vespia, Vespian newborns have grown smaller and smaller in size, with the ultimate result being that more and more Vespian women giving birth to more than three or four children at a time during a single pregnancy, and fewer and fewer boys being among the newborns.
Vespian caste schedule
- Zhanokin (Nobility): 15,225,884 (0.84%)
- Ionakin (Priesthood): 30,517,022 (1.68%)
- Vakoranin (Warriors): 173,814,344 (9.58%)
- Okumarin (Commoners): 1,019,003,180 (56.2%)
- Muzekin (Slaves): 574,595,870 (31.7%)
- 1st Imperial Census (940 Ʋ): 34,782,608
- 2nd Imperial Census (960 Ʋ): 0
- 3rd Imperial Census (980 Ʋ): 0
- 4th Imperial Census (1000 Ʋ): 0
- 5th Imperial Census (1020 Ʋ): 60,000,000
Period population estimates
- Gold Vespia (5814 Ʋ–Present): 1,850,000,000
- Silver Vespia (4066–5657 Ʋ: 220,000,000
- Copper Vespia (3047–3969 Ʋ): 114,000,000
- Iron Vespia (1419–2932 Ʋ): 66,000,000
- Lead Vespia (937–1338 Ʋ): 27,000,000