OUT OF CHARACTER INFORMATION
- Intent: Expand on Tephrike.
- Image Credit: Here. Appears to be concept art. By David MacLeod. Found on artstation.com.
- Canon: N/A
- Links: Tephrike.
- Landmark Name: Ruhewald
- Classification: Tropical forest.
- Location: Tephrike.
- Affiliation: The Order of the Blessed Way, a native cult on Tephrike.
- Size: Medium.
- Population: Insignificant population. No more than 500 sentient inhabitants.
- Demographics: Most of the population of the Ruhewald is nonsentient. The Order of the Blessed Way, a schismatic Jedi cult, lives in the forest. However, even if one takes their non-Jedi servitors into account, their numbers are small. Various alien races such as Duros, Twi'leks and Nautolans are represented among the cult. Most of the beings that dwell in the Ruhewald are wild animals, ranging from nasty insects to huge spiders, giant lizards and bomas.
- Accessibility: The Ruhewald is extremely isolated and its inhabitants intend to keep it that way. For starters, it is a remote, extremely dense forest inhabited primarily by dangerous creatures. This makes travel rather hazardous. Tropical rainstorms can also impede transport on foot or in vehicles. Several of the plants are dangerous for a human's health or have debilitating effects on a mind. Many members of the Order of the Blessed Way are skilled in plant surge, which they use to ensure that the forest never changes. It is also useful to block pathways and deter intruders. Though the Order is committed to peace and refuses to take a life, they are very isolationist. They maintain a commune where they trade with outsiders, but it is still difficult to reach.
- Description: Ruhewald: A thick jungle occupied by a schismatic Jedi sect called the Order of the Blessed Way. They are pacifist flower children who reject violence against sentient beings...which does not prevent them from being the planet's biggest drug producers. They believe that they can commune with the Force through use of mushrooms. The forest's name is rather ironic because it is populated by nasty creatures with a healthy appetite, including mosquitoes, giant spiders, fast growing creepers, feral nexu and carnivorous plants. The cultists have tamed some of the beasts. A cynic would say that the beasts enable them to be pacifists because the Mother Jungle does the killing for them. Aside from being adept at animal friendship and concealment, the cultists employ plant surge to ensure the forest remains untainted. They have been known to provide guidance and healing to refugees who find their way to the jungle, but on the whole are isolationist. They refuse to get involved in outside affairs.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- The Grove: The main commune of the Order of the Blessed Way. Here the Jedi go to barter. Limited trade happens with the outside world. Psilocybin mushrooms are often sold to outsiders. The Order has a position of neutrality in Tephrike's never-ending civil war and does not discriminate between members of the various factions. Peace is enforced by the simple fact that they can always turn the Mother Jungle against troublemakers.
- The Cave: A highly secret location known only to full members of the Order of the Blessed Way. Located in a mountainous region of the Jungle. Refers to a system of cave that gives the Jedi a home to live in and gives them cover. New initiates in the Order do not have access. They must prove themselves worthy first - and then find the cave. The masters of the order use illusions to conceal it from outside detection. Cave paintings remind inhabitants of the true history of the Jedi order. Among other things, one will learn that the original lightsabres were never lethal. They were only made lethal by the Sith, because a true Jedi would never take a life. One might note that lightsabres are extremely rare on Tephrike. Moreover, the Force and the Jedi sustain life. All these rumours about Jedi forbidding attachment are lies spread by the Sith. Luke Skywalker was a great champion of the light who defeated the Sith through love and compassion. Vader was not his father, but was moved by him to turn on the Dark Emperor and destroy him. Sadly, Vader perished, for evil destroys evil. His redemption was his sacrifice. In the words of the order's founder: "All one must do is endure evil until evil consumes itself. It is the way of the Force. To strike at it merely continues the cycle of darkness, for one who takes the life of another sentient being is stepping onto the very path they wished to avoid." The visitor will also learn that Rey converted Kylo Ren to the light. Naturally the two became a couple and had many children together.
- Blue Horn River: A river flowing through the jungle. Here many of the plants and animals grow. Fishing can get dangerous because the native creatures include piranhas.
- Greed's Folly: Not the original name, but the one the cultists gave this place. In actual fact this used to be an outpost of Interplan, a company that tried to exploit the Ruhewald for commercial purposes. By the time the cultists settled in the forest, the base had been abandoned. The corporate employees were left stranded by the Gulag Virus. Having lost contact with their employer, some took their chances in the jungle and tried to escape to civilisation. But the jungle undid them: A thunderstorm, torrential rainfalls, wild animals and dangerous plants. These days the outpost has been reclaimed by the forest. Young Blessed Way initiates visit this place to be taught about the sins of pride and greed.
- Eventide Bayou: A swamp bayou, many crocodiles. For a while, it was the base of a group of rebellious slaves who had managed to escape the grip of the Disciples of the Vader. They petitioned the Order of the Blessed Way for protection, but were refused, for the order did not wish to get involved in outside quarrels, as the slaves would have brought trouble with the Sith. The slaves set up shop in the bayou. For a while the Jedi tolerated them. The rebels sustained themselves through the trade with mushrooms and launched a few raids against Sith prison camps to liberate slaves. Sith retaliated by dropping bombs on the jungle. Today, the base is deserted. No one knows for sure what happened to the rebels. The Order of the Blessed Way remains cryptic about their fate, simply saying that the sword will prove to be the undoing of those who live by it.
On first sight, the Ruhewald is a paradise. An enclave of tranquility and harmony on a war-torn planet. Unspoilt by pollution, industrialisation and warfare. The forest's flora and fauna is bountiful - and dangerous. Many dangers await the careless traveller who ventures into the Ruhewald. Army ants two inches long with stings and mandibles strong enough to hurt even a tough human. They happen to come in swarms. Giant lizards which ambush prey by dropping on them from the trees and biting them with large, venomous jaws. Big venus mantraps are among the plants of the forest. Concealing themselves in a net trap, they wait for the prey to walk in, then snap shut and suffocate even a human sized creature.
Piranha-like fish also exist, and can be dangerous for careless swimmers. In the sky, predatory, bird-like creatures vie with one another, some mammal, others reptilian. Most of these creatures live in the mountains, where they are safe from attack. Tephrike has insects and crawly creatures in abundance, including rather dangerous mosquitoes, which can act as vectors for many disease-causing viruses and parasites. Parasites of all sorts abound. Plants are naturally a huge part of any jungle and the remaining tropics of Tephrike are no different. Furthermore, there is an ostensibly harmless looking leaf covered in fine hairs. These hairs are a defence mechanism, and if they contact exposed skin they inject a mind altering substance which causes irrational fear and flight. Many animal species are resistant against it, but the effect is quite unnerving on humans. Unsurprisingly, various parties have tried to weaponise the substance in question, seeing its potential.
The intrepid explorer should also beware the mushrooms that are particularly common in the Ruhewald, for they tend to possess psychedelic proprties and can have interesting effects on his psyche, causing vivid hallucinations. Moreover, there are fast growing creeper creatures and metal-eating fungus with a taste for blasters and their delicate circuits. One can also find huge spiders, feral nexu and other creatures.
Despite all these hazards, the Ruhewald is not devoid of sentient life. For a schismatic Jedi sect, the Order of the Blessed Way, has lived in the forest for about a century. Before the outbreak of the Gulag Virus, the Ruhewald was exploited by foreign corporations. Some were attracted by its ample supply of timber, others took an interest in the local wildlife and psychelic mushrooms. A company called Interplan Incorporated set up an outpost. Tephrike's corporate, environmental and animal rights laws were rather lax and the planetary government wanted to attract foreign investment. Aside from being very active in the timber trade, Interplan was also interested in the wildlife.
Interplan's activities were a cause of controversy, as environmentalist groups protested against what they perceived to be the despoiling of an ' untainted virgin paradise'. In one instance, radical environmentalists tried to storm the Interplan outpost and release creatures that had been kept there for research or to be taken offworld. This caused a number of deaths and injuries on both sides. Tephrike's parliament and courts were still dealing with the fallout when the terrorist Zero released the Gulag Virus on Csilla. It did not take long for the pandemic to reach Tephrike, which rendered all debates irrelevant as the natives became preoccupied with not dying.
The Ruhewald might have been forgotten, were it for the fact that a sect of Jedi rebelled against the stern orthodoxy imposed by the Dominion of Light. This régime had been created by Tephrike's surviving Jedi as a response to the fact that the planet was spiralling into chaos, poverty and warlordism. Though well-intentioned at first, they were corrupted by absolute power and created an extremely repressive, totalitarian theocracy. A group of Padawans and young Knights decided to protest against this régime. They did not mind the Forcer supremacism that was the foundation of the Dominion, but they believed the Windian Jedi Order had turned against true Jedi principles, for they had embraced pacifist principles. They also rebelled against the prohibition on sexual activity, for such carnal acts are considered sinful in the Dominion, which is why every good citizen must submit to mandatory sperm/egg harvesting and subsequent sterilisation.
Unsurprisingly, they were persecuted by the Jedi Inquisitors, who accused them of having fallen to the Dark Side. Some of the heretics were 'cured' - a polite euphemism for brainwashed - others executed, but the rest were banished into the wilderness. Somehow they did not die out. The survivors attributed their fate to the will of the Force. They were joined by a few heretical Sith who had likewise grown disenchanted with the warmongering and savagery of the Vaderites.
Their path led them to the Ruhewald. Concluding that the Force had favoured them, they created a new order, the Order of the Blessed Way. Here, surrounded by nature, they would find refuge from the wars that had torn Tephrike apart. At first, the order was less isolationist. Several of its members wanted to make an effort to heal and rebuild Tephrike. While they abhorred violence, some of them advocated setting up an underground train of sorts to help refugees escape the grip of the Jedi or Sith. A few even wanted to go further.
However, these views were soon shut down. A charismatic Jedi called Leznik Carruum took control. His radical pacifist views caused some to leave, but the rest adopted his doctrine. The Order of the Blessed Way would forsake violence and pursue a policy of isolation. Violence would only beget violence, and so they would endure evil until it destroyed itself. For their duty was to the Force. Around this time the cultists began to use mushrooms to commune with the Force. A cynic might say that they could be afford to be pacifist because the jungle did the killing for them. They developed an aptitude for Force abilities such as animal friendship, healing, illusions and plant surge. The cultists also did away with 'archaic, reactionary' institutions such as a Jedi Council. Instead the leader of the order would be directly elected by a conclave. Some egalitarian radicals wanted to give Padawans a vote, but even they were forced to withdraw this notion after realising how impractical such an experiment in direct democracy would be. The order allowed some non-Force-using refugees to join them, but they do not get a vote because they are 'crude matter, not luminous beings'. They tend to do menial jobs 'beings of elevated consciousness' cannot be bothered with. Force-sensitive children of non-Force-users are taken in and trained by the order. Unlike the Windians, the Blessed Way Jedi breed. Indeed, they encourage their followers to pursue carnal activities, following the credi 'make love, not war'.
The policy of isolation would be relaxed over time, as the cultists discovered that there were things they needed the jungle could not produce. Thus they set up a small trading outpost where they could barter with outsiders. As it turned out, psychedelics were something all of Tephrike's main factions, especially the Dominion of Light and the Vaderites, took an interest in. It happened to be useful to keep their subjects docile. Wild animals and Force imbued items were also of interest. However, they remained deeply suspicious of outsiders, often using their powers to drive them away. When an ambitious Sith master tried to gain merit among the Vaderites by conquering the forest, believing the cultists to be an easy target, he was soon disabused of this notion. Wild beasts and carnivorous plants devoured many of his men. Others were misled by illusions and ended up wandering aimlessly, chasing sirens until they lost their minds or collapsed from exhaustion.
Under one particularly proactive Master, a Twi'lek called Elav, the Order of the Blessed Way tried to mediate in Tephrike's civil war. This move was controversial because it contradicted the teachings of Leznik Carruum. However, the peace conference ended poorly. The Republican Guard, a secularist faction dedicated to overthrowing the tyranny of Force-users, refused to attend in the first place, as that would give legitimacy to its adversaries. Elav was exiled by his fellows for 'disrupting the balance of the Force'. This is a common punishment for those whose thoughts and deeds contradict the majority opinion, as the cultists refuse to take lives or imprison anyone. Recently, a new group of radical freethinkers has come into conflict with the old guard, espousing greater openness. As is so often the case, the rebels of yesterday are now the conservatives who oppose change and accuse those who advocate it of deviation.