Scientists and fantasists used to speculate about a possible ‘Counter-Earth.’ A planet on the exact opposite of Earth’s orbit, where it was hidden by the sun, so we couldn’t see it. Such speculation was, of course, disproven with the advent of space exploration.
Today, scientists speculate about the universe being a hologram or part of a multi-verse thing with dozens of dimensions beyond the measly 4 we exist in. Anti-matter is not a theory, but a fact, proven in the lab.
And that raises a much more intriguing possibility than a simple counter Earth. One, or perhaps dozens, of parallel Earths. Existing side-by-side with us, as close as our skin and as distant as the Afterlife.
If you could, would you dare to step through the veil?
If you did, what would you find?
Vehan was inspired by the desire to have something like a queer and feminist version of the Gor books. (If you aren’t familiar, the Gor books are a misogynist’s kinky power-fantasy taken to the nth degree and set in a sword-and-sorcery world. Some of us want the kinky power fantasy sword-and-sorcery without the misogyny, racism, and ableism.)
That said, you don’t need to be into kink to enjoy or participate in Vehan. It lives in grey area between kink, whump, and angst.
Here’s a brief story list and world guide. If this grows big enough I’ll split things up into multiple webpages or something.
People of this world use magic crystals. These crystals can interact with people’s minds and (in some cases) with other crystals. Properly prepared, they can be used as communication devices, truth verifiers, and several other things.
Note: The crystals are not sentient. They don’t give complicated information or answer complex questions.
Each crystal is ‘tuned’ to a specific purpose. A truth crystal will glow when it senses a lie. A communication crystal can connect to another crystal and link the two minds connected to the two crystals. Crystals used to determine a person’s role in society will change color. Etc.
Crystal magic is not perfect. Errors and mistakes have been known to happen — naturally and because crystals have been tampered with.
Yes, a world with a single dominant culture in the Bronze age is unrealistic. Deal with it.
Okay, two cultures.
This world is in the bronze age, negotiating the transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculturalist. Written language exists, but even in cities, most people are illiterate.
Most cities are ruled by priest-mages. Priests are chosen from those with the inborn magic to tune and prepare crystals. Everyone else is divided into the sen, the wahin, and the haoza.
Most cities are ruled by priest-monarchs. The priest-monarch is, in theory, the priest with the most power, but usually ends up being the one who can play politics the best.
Each city has its own social, priestly, and economic hierarchy.
In theory, the city ‘belongs’ to the priests, who appoint the sen to manage the city on their behalf. In reality, many sen have accrued significant power in their home city. However, the fact that no sen can guarantee any of their children will be sen has, so far, prevented the development of family dynasties.
Each city is surrounded by many small towns and villages. How much control the city has over them varies.
At their coming of age, all young adults are tested by a crystal to determine their proper role. The crystals are known to fail, so some people contest the finding. Most accept their assigned role with varying degrees of satisfaction.
Only sen may own land and buildings. After their testing, sen receive a house and ‘inheritance’ from the ruling priest. They may buy the services of a slave or contract with haoza. How much money or power they accumulate after that depends on how wisely they use what they are given to start with. Sen who are children of sen have an advantage. Their sen parent may give them further funds and in they may be familiar with the city’s existing power structure.
A sen who runs out of money will not lose their home but may need to contract themselves to another sen for money to cover living expenses.
Sen may name another sen or wahin as heir to their money and goods. When they die, their property reverts to the city.
Wahin are given a room in an apartment building as a home and enough money to provide food for a month. They can take service with the city: making beer, serving as guards, training as scribes, etc. Or they can contract with a sen. Wahin who have enough money or access to training may become independent crafters, but few can afford the apprenticeship fees. When a wahin contracts with a sen, the sen becomes responsible for them. For the length of the contract, the sen will provide their needs. In return, the wahin will serve the sen.
Sen with many haoza and/or properties often contract wahin as managers and overseers. Contracts may run for a few weeks or for decades. Wahin who are comfortable with a gamble may contract for a percentage of the profit — they will lead a trade caravan or other risky venture. If they succeed, they may be set for life.
Contracts are between individuals. They are enforced by the priesthood and can be voided if both parties agree.
Most priests are drawn from wahin.
After role assignment, haoza will be given a bed in a barracks. The city will feed and house them, and put them to work until a sen buys them/their services. (Whether a sen is said to buy the person or the labor varies from city to city. Regardless, the haoza is bound to obey.) Many cities hold monthly auctions.
All haoza belong to the city, and any haoza has the right to petition a priest to free them from service to a particular sen. Such a petition is not made lightly, however — if rejected, the haoza will likely be in trouble with their mistress. Most priests take their responsibility to care for “the gods’ property” seriously. If the healing crystals give evidence that a haoza has been damaged or traumatized by their service, these requests are usually granted.
Sen can sell haoza to each other within a city. Selling a haoza to a sen from another city requires the permission of the priesthood.
Haoza are (in theory) allowed a small amount of personal property (generally said to be as much as they can carry with them).
There are some formal, universal postures haoza are taught, but not many. For reasons of health or general physical fitness, many haoza and wahin wouldn’t be able to take or hold complicated postures.
But over time, there has developed a set of near-universal commands. For instance abine commands a haoza to shackle or bind themself to the wall, or ojazu commands a haoza to prepare for the sen’s meal.
Wahin are not formally taught command code, but many learn some of it. Some sen expect contracted wahin to follow it, or to use it in commanding the sen’s haoza.
The hunter-gathering culture surrounds the cities and their associated villages. The HGs resent and resist the cities for laying claim to all the best land for their fields and preventing the HGs from following their accustomed seasonal cycles. Some of them have transitioned to a herding economy — still nomadic but less wide-ranging. Among the HGs, there are tribe members — mostly those born to the tribe — and goim — those captured in raids and war. Goim belong to the one who captured them but are often shared among the whole tribe or gifted to other tribe members.
Goim may be ransomed, and most cities go to some lengths to ransom captured sen and priests. They will at least try to ransom wahin, though the wahin will be left with a large debt if they succeed. It is left to the sen to ransom (or not) their haoza. (Though a sen who repeatedly fails to ransom their haoza may find the priests less willing to sell them another one.)
The nomadic life of the HGs means there is little material difference between the life of a tribe member and a goim. All live in tents, eat well or poorly depending on whether it is glut or drought, etc. Some goim may be adopted into the clan. Saving the life of a tribe member or marrying a tribe member are the most common ways for goim to ‘move up’ in status.
Travelers from Earth
This world is as near to Earth as the other side of the mirror or the odd shadow under the stair. Earthlings can end up here if they are lucky (or unlucky). What happens then depends on where and with whom they end up.
Gor, Vehan, and BDSM
One of my reasons for doing this is I just plain want to read sword-and-sorcery style power exchange and M/s without all the misogyny and racism of Gor.
But another reason is blatant social engineering.
I understand the appeal of the Gorean subculture. There is something beautiful about a D/s / M/s subculture with shared protocol and ideas and, well, culture.
And we have that. But the version of it we have is Gor. And I just can’t with that.
Part of my purpose here to create a blueprint for myself and any other BDSM folks who want a shared language and customs for our power exchange but want the basis for that culture to be not a misogynistic, racist, shitty mess. And not to be restricted to Master/slave dynamics (hence the wahin).
Many folks are trying to make a ‘better’ or ‘evolved’ version of Gorean. I can’t. I need a clean break from that mess. But ‘Gor Evolved’ and other ‘make a better Gor’ folks are welcome here.
This world was originally meant to be a multi-author play ground. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the spoons to ride herd on the project, and the authors who were interested had other stuff going on.
In the current incarnation, I’m the only author. So far.
If you got this far and are interested, I’d love to have other folks playing in the world with me. If there’s enough interest, I’ll set the world up on it’s own website and all. Guidelines for folks who to be part of the Vehan ‘Canon’ stories are below. Again, which the inspiration is from kink, this is not restricted to kinky folks. Just remember to tag/CW your stuff appropriately.
If you want to write Vehan stuff elsewhere, my standard fanfic policy applies.
World building note — Non-Humans
If there are non-humans in this world, most people haven’t heard of them. Maybe they are pretending to be forest spirits and demons and devas. Maybe they live in secret, hiding from humans. Maybe they aren’t here at all. This portion of the map is marked ‘here there be dragons.’ If you want to explore here, have fun.
(I’ll only be accepting one canon non-human species.)
- Standard copyright rules apply. That means you can’t play with anyone else’s characters unless they give you permission.
- The world belongs to me. I give you permission to play in it and use my Vehan characters for stories you submit to this site. If I accept your story for this site, it’s canon.
- If your story is canon, then characters in it are also available for other writers on this site to play with. I promise I won’t share your writing elsewhere without your permission.
- Don’t break the setting — read existing stories and/or world guide first, so your story fits within the world and characters.
- Stories should be queer and feminist (duh). However, these words do mean different things to different people, so here’s what I mean by them: stories should include queer characters who are not stereotypes and/or should queer existing notions of relationships and/or kink. All characters (especially non-men) should have agency and shape the story in some fashion. (This includes choosing to give up their agency. Choosing to give up agency is an act of agency. But their agency can’t be stolen from them or never exist in the first place. Yes, slaves/haoza/goim have agency.)
- My feminism is based in intersectionality with a strong dose of womanism. I fuck up as much as the next white butch, but the goal is to write something the heirs to bell hooks and the Combahee River Collective will read and go “Yas, girl!”
- M/f stories need to be amazing to get accepted as canon. There are lots of M/f kinky power fantasies out there already, and I’m burnt out on them. I want to get some M/f on here because that is part of this world. But they will be a minority, and you’d better hit your story right out of the park. Also, queer M/f stories are about 1000x more likely to be accepted.
- This world is not America. Nor is it Europe. In terms of real-world cultures it’s closest to bronze age Mesopotamia. (Partly bc that’s ‘standard’ sword-and-sorcery setting, partly because it’s the bronze age city-building culture I’m most familiar with.) But it’s not real. So have fun with characters appearance and such.
- Few things drive me crazier in world-building than authors ignoring basic population dynamics. This society will not be dying out in the next generation or two. Therefore, kids exist. Kids exist in large numbers. Kid characters should NOT be involved in or exposed to any of the sex stuff. Keep it in mind when you are writing. For instance, public parks are public. So are public streets. If you want to write outdoor sex-stuff, keep it on private property or in the middle of the wilderness.
- Similarly, old people exist. Don’t be afraid to write some. Especially don’t be afraid to write old people getting sex-stuff.
- While I have my squicks, I’m not particularly picky in my power exchange. This world is built on an M/s dynamic, but if you want to write a pony story or something else, go for it.
- No snuff.