The Pirates are renegades and outcasts. They are those Ninjas who didn’t want to give up on technology. By definition, they are not numerous — and never were, but they are extremely long-lived, if you can call it “living”. The Pirates prolong their lives with cyborgization, and there always arrives a moment when it is difficult to say what is pirate mainly consist of, flesh and blood or technology, and whom or what he has now become. On the other hand, they are immune to death by natural causes, and they are extremely hard to kill (unless the Ninja High Mage is doing it).
The only thing that drives them is the thirst for new technologies. They are constantly raiding the outskirts of the western cities to restock supplies. The Pirates are chaotic, impulsive, distrustful and evil by default.
The Pirates cut off the “top spikes” to evade rejection of technology by their bodies; therefore, they lose their magic ability. Most of them have a strange nostalgia and so continue to carry a cut spike with them. Some even say they sometimes hear a spike whispering, and this is almost the same thing as sipping a fermented machine oil.
They live in groups, gangs, camps. Their only city lies somewhere in the southern swamps, they say it stands on the old platforms, which were also stolen from the Robots long ago. In this city exits some sort of a common governing body, an assembly, a union of tribal unions. More precisely, there is a place where members the union of tribal unions gather and yell at each other.
Nevertheless, sometimes, very rarely, the Pirates manage to reach an agreement. And then they all go to war with their neighbors.
They are not friends with anyone, but they are afraid of the Zombies and stay away from them.
Hierarchy: chaotic (South). Chieftains, the endless fights for power, tribes and tribal unions. Vertical mobility depends on strength and ruthlessness. There are no rules.
Pirates take away technology for the upgrades from the Robots. They can live only by robbery; even they got rid of the inability to replicate technology, they still could not create their own, because they simply don’t remember how to do it.
The Pirates are coming from rogue Ninjas; pirates themselves lost their fertility. They replenish their ranks by propaganda and conversion.
Their weakness: they lost the understanding of emotions. They are indifferent, they hardly even care about themselves, and many of them have lost the instinct of self-preservation because they can restore themselves at any moment. Killing them is physically almost impossible. However, ninjas, if necessary, can leach their vitality.
They are the creators of the Robots and the first race to inhabit this land. Nobody knows whom they were then. Now they follow their own ban on technology, having developed magical abilities instead. Apparently, the “top spike,” a tool of creation, became their last adaptation, made to help them to survive without the use of technology. Now maintaining homeostatic equilibrium has become their doctrine (ironically, as they once were the main force of change).
Nowadays their strong mages live in underground and cave settlements, and the rest of Ninjas live in villages, where they are engaged in traditional agriculture with a little help from magic.
Hierarchy: fixed (East). Determined by innate abilities. Ninja can move down in the hierarchy, if she doesn’t justify the expectations (if she isn’t developing and/or working), but she can’t climb up: the ceiling is determined by how powerful a ninja is as a mage. Archons and archontesses of various families are the ruling elite. Magisters are masters of the highest level. The rest of the Ninjas don’t have titles, but have some ranks according to the level of their magical talents.
The Ninjas use mental magic, almost like mythical Shaolin monks of the movies — but this version of Shaolin is very cruel. Their society has a pyramid structure, because the «upper-tier» Ninjas need huge amounts of vitality resources for creation, and they gradually suck vitality from the «lower» ones (somewhat like the tithing). As a principle, they never use technology, because by now, it destroys their magic (while the «top spike», in its turn, causes their bodies to reject technology). When they have to replenish the spent mental magic, they need long meditations with slow leaching of energy from their subordinates, or, alternatively they need to devour someone’s soul. They always live in fear of hunger, balancing on the brink.
From the Pirates, they take vitality. This is especially necessary in battle: a strong high mage (an archon/archontess or a magister) can (and should) constantly replenish her strength, and it is not appropriate to empty her own people completely, but devouring Pirates is fair game. Sucking their own people dry is looked down upon not only for moral reasons, but, if nothing else, for purely practical ones: the Ninjas aren’t too numerous and they reproduce slowly. They live long, but give birth to few children.
For reproduction, they use powdered Zombies, because the Zombies’ bodies are full of strange magic. This mixture is eaten by women and men who wish to have offspring and certainly by pregnant women. The more magic is eaten, the stronger mage will be born. The Ninjas, of course, didn’t immediately discover the beneficial properties of the zombie flesh. They were mages before the invention of such a diet. However, the creation Ninjas have become capable of after including crushed zombies in the diet has exceeded all expectations.
Their weaknesses are lack of resources, slow reproduction of mages (there is still not enough «zombie powder»), low numbers, long charging up periods. But the strong Ninja, full of strength, can wipe out the whole army. At the same time, the Robots, theoretically, can overpower them by using technology, but this will never happen because of the treaty made many years ago. The agreement was the result of a long confrontation between the creators and creations, which ended when the Ninjas finally and irrevocably abandoned the idea of using technology. Over time, these two races began to live in peace, their alliance is strong and productive, in addition, it is the only hope of both races in the fight against a common enemy — the Zombies (the Pirates are too chaotic, unorganized and few in number to be perceived as a real threat).
They are constructs, true machines, created by the ancestors of the Ninjas. But the Robots have used not only science, but also magic, when they themselves wanted to become creators. Perhaps they wanted to use all available means, but they may still be unable to get rid of their dependence on creators and so continue trying to imitate them.
Whether it is was part of their original programing, in those lines of code that cannot be rewritten without destroying the entire system, or did they develop such a doctrine themselves in the process of machine evolution, but the Robots dream of world peace. They want everything to be calm and rational. Unfortunately for them, the only species whose life at least partially meets these requirements is their creators. The remaining two races aren’t good at making peace.
The Robots now live in several large technological cities in the west. The Robots actually have own the most advanced infrastructure, from roads and vehicles to factories.
Hierarchy: technological (West). Vertical mobility is difficult, but possible. The lower levels are pragmatic and competent. The higher a robot rises, the more she breaks away from reality, the more she surrounds herself with signs of status. Classes are more like castes, castes are largely determined by the initial properties of the individual program, but a robot can develop and upgrade herself, and many robots from the bottom secretly dream of a day when they enter the Council of the Greatest.
The Robots take specific synthetic from the Zombies — those materials only Zombie Queens produce in large quantities (the first Queen indeed was a living factory, but she was created too clever). Ordinary zombies consist partially from these materials. It was for the sake of making these unique materials that the Robots created the first Queen, her strange technomagic able to change the properties of ordinary substances. Of course, the robots somehow managed to do without these resources early, but now when they have learned the magic of strange materials, robots desire it. The things made of those materials seem to have their will and can help the wearer. Well, or not to help.
The Robots also use snapshots of pirates’ personal matrices to diversify their “mind-DNA”, to create new personalities of robots, instead of coping old ones all the time. The unique experience of the organic-synthetic coexistence creates amazing and diverse new subroutines in pirates’ heads.
The weakness of robots is their curiosity and desire to get everything at once. They climb everywhere, they can be manipulated, because of an inferiority complex; they always try to prove that they are the smartest one here. They can also be predictable due to the small diversification of individuals in the community. But they are practically indestructible and perfectly coordinate their actions. Only the Zombies can overpower them by sheer numbers.
Self-organized dead matter, the creation of robots, the necrocivilization. They have Queens, who devour resources and give birth to new and different breeds of Zombies. The Zombies have a collective mind and network. They function thanks to a vigorous mixture of magic and technology for which we have no name. Most zombies are stupid golems lacking their own will, but their generals have a mind, sometimes quite a good one, and Queens are extremely intelligent and bright.
The first Queen was created by the Robots and had the appearance that they considered aesthetic. But all subsequent Queens were created from natural materials in the landscapes of the north. They burrowed underground, hid inside huge cavities and chains of tunnels, and externally mimicked the environment. Most often, they look like a huge living compost pile, from which regular golems crawl out from time to time.
It’s hard to say what the Zombies want. Perhaps they want to devour the whole world and turn it into themselves. Perhaps just to be left alone. So, they strike preventively: it may be that the Queens are paranoid and suspicious, and believe that everyone else wants to destroy them, so the Zombies need to be the first to destroy everyone else.
This is a civilization merged with the landscape. Their homes are like mushroom or gnome paths. But often, some part of such a «mycelium» comes to the surface and then it resembles a large buzzing mound.
Hierarchy: like a collective insect (North). Innate and predominantly horizontal; and the Zombies have «departments» too — like hives. Theoretically, the Zombies can upgrade themselves if they find the necessary parts or eat the «right» brain, but this is rare case and always the result of randomness (lake natural evolution).
The Zombies take away from the Ninjas a living flesh that is needed for processing and creating bio-particles. But the main thing is brains, neural tissues, which allow to make more advanced zombies (and to develop Queens; the first Queen had synthetic neural tissue, but the Zombies could not or did not want to reproduce it, so they use ready-made human brains). And neural tissues of the pirates are poisonous to zombies.
From their creators, the Robots, the Zombies take away their battery cores for Queens and higher zombie generals. Somehow (it’s more magic than science) without these elements and Queens, and higher zombies lose their intelligence and ability to control the golem crowd.
There are many of them, they are hard to kill, but most of them are stupid. Their weakness: they can’t agree with anyone (and never will), they are doomed to isolation. However, the most intelligent zombies are smarter, cannier and, perhaps, more capable than anyone. At the same time, theoretically one kamikaze Pirate could destroy the central Queen node, poisoning it and the whole network with herself. This would deprive regular zombies of goals, motivation and organization. However, it is difficult to imagine what could cause a pirate to sacrifice herself.
Interactions between races
Interactions between those races look like two circuits, two closed, oppositely directed cycles: resources and reproduction.
Ninjas take vitality of pirates (first, they consider those ex-ninjas as nothing; second, pirates seem to them tastier and more nutritious), especially in battle.
Pirates take technology from robots that they do not create, and so prolong their lives and upgrade themselves.
Robots take from zombies synthetic materials that only the Queen-factory produces and which they can’t create in any other way without the participation of a strange zombies technomagic.
Zombies take from ninjas a living flesh (especially the brain tissue) that is needed for processing and creating bio-particles. At the same time, the brains of pirates do not suit them, quite the contrary: such neural tissue killed two Queens together with “myceliums” when zombies tried to use it. Since then, they do not eat pirates.
Pirates come from rogue ninjas; pirates lost their fertility.
Robots take pirates’ identity matrix to diverse their memetic code.
Zombies take from robots their battery cores for Queens and higher zombies.
Ninjas take from zombies their flesh sated with magic to produce magicians.
The Pirates and the Zombies are neutral: they just don’t need each other. They do not fight side by side, but they do not interfere with each other.
The Robots and the Ninjas are allies. They have made the treaty, which is now the only hope for those and others to survive the war with zombies.