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Gemorali Ethnographical Questionnaire

Dr. Zahar’s Ethnographical Questionnaire was compiled by David Zahir to help in the description of concultures, and can be found in the files section of the Conculture group at Yahoo.




Gemoarali is a moonless world approximately 85% the size of Earth, with slightly less gravity. 45% of the planet's surface consists of plateau regions rising between 20 and 30 kilometers above ocean level, while the other 55% consists of an ocean only one kilometer deep at its deepest point. Scattered across this ocean are islands, which vary from small isles no bigger than a hillside to huge islands the size of Japan or New Zealand. These land masses are relatively smooth, with a few round topped mountains, and each island or group of isles has its own biome. The largest land masses are the plateaus, which start out as regular islands at the shorelines, and become huge jagged mountainscapes a few hundred kilometers in. At the edge of the plateau are enormous glaciers which literally cover the mountain peaks underneath them, and only end below the plateau edge itself. The plateau surfaces are utterly uninhabitable; the air at this altitude is very thin and cold stratospheric air, and the temperatures are well below freezing. The plateaus are only inhabited by mining facilities.


Gemoarali's seasons are very mild, and barely effect precipitation at all. The temperature varies by as little as five degrees Celsius, and in most factions, seasons have a history of being based solely on the wobble of Ywvai's path across the sky rather than any climatic extremes at all. The temperature is, on average, 25 to 30 degrees Celsius in most areas of Gemoarali except the polar regions which are on average -10 degrees Celsius. Rainstorms come in steady streams and drizzle most of the time, and rarely form large rain drops unless a disturbance exists in the area such as volcanic activity.

Natural Disasters

The most common occurrences on Gemoarali are quakes, landslides, and volcanos. People living on a plateau continent coastal region are in the biggest seismic activity zones, as well as being in danger of a landslide from high up the plateau's edge leveling their city. Volcanos, on the other hand, are scattered on and between the smaller islands. A volcanic eruption happening at the edge of a plateau will most likely trigger a series of avalanches on the surface.


The Gemoariese, as a whole, are a sea-faring race, and most of the foods they eat are fish or seaweeds. The few crops they grow on or near land resemble rice, and are grown on aquatic farms which can be located in lagoons or even in shallow regions of the ocean usually found near islands where the ocean current is weak and deposits sand and minerals. The marine life of Gemoarali, on the other hand, is an abundant variety of food. The most commonly eaten of these are known as Zyjuki (Shy-YOU-key), and are similar to the Orca Whale found on earth, only much smaller and with different skin patterns. Some of the rarest foods on Gemoarali can be found in grottos deep under the ocean, and most of which discovered only recently by small submersibles. Rarely will alcohol be used as a drink, and as tolerable as the Gemoariese culture is in most respects, drinking alcohol is generally frowned upon. The one alcohol that is used in a drink is Jonade (Yo-NAH-de), and is only presented on very special occasions such as weddings, graduations, and revolution ceremonies. Other drinks of honor are generally juices from rare plants.


Though in stable times Gemoarali's food distribution is relatively level, famine can occur during times of war, pandemics, and extreme natural disasters. When food levels drop far enough, the head faction Jufande (YOU-faun-DEH) issues a special order requiring all citizens to use their own food sources. Most traditional-culture people living in wooden huts with their own small farmland will have no problem with this, and have little if nothing at all to do with the food distribution system at all. People living in skyscraper cities will find the issue more of a threat, and so they prepare ahead of time by signing a deal with a farmer to send in extra long-lasting food to stockpile in vaults for the occasion.


The most abundant resource present on Gemoarali is the native flora, which is used in cooking and the wood as construction materials. Most of Gemoarali's suburbs exist as wooden huts and dirt roads on which to walk, with the occasional Cylogen antigravity two-seater hovercraft, the tram systems arching over the world on large pillars, and a few people carrying PDAs. Almost everywhere on Gemoarali, the most abundant resource is literally all around you. The most valuable, and yet the rarest materials on Gemoarali are metal ores. Most cities on Gemoarali are made of a plastic-like alloy manufactured on Cyloga, a highly sophisticated space-faring race whose allegiance to Gemoarali has always been controversial and never entirely answerable. There are traces of a possible native society who may have mined out most of the existing ores before going extinct or leaving Gemoarali. Most existing ores are mostly present in the oceanic regions.

What is its most valuable resource?

What resource is it most lacking?


Being a world of many small islands, the Gemoariese favor aquatic vehicles. The most common of these are the same approximate size and quantity as Terran cars. The larger aquatic vehicles are variable in size, from ferry sized transporters that work as busses to giant floating islands thirty or forty decks tall which drift with the current and only move to avoid land. The few land vehicles are trams, usually monorails, which move in small webs between each major city of that particular landmass. Larger islands have more than one system, such as one system to travel between different regions of the landmass, and smaller ones to travel inside the region.


Gemoarali, being a planet, has no border; instead, territorial issues between Gemoarali and the other worlds are sorted out based on claim of planet, claim of star, and claim of orbital distances, among other more complex details. Gemoarali lays claim on Ywvai and its entire system from center of star to edge of gravitational influence.

How many people live here?

Where in this place to they congregate?

What part of this place do they avoid? Why?

What are the most common domesticated animals here? And what are they domesticated for?

What are the most common wild animals?

Which animals are likely to be pets? Which ones won't be?

Questions of Time

How far back does this society's written history go?

How far back do its people believe it goes?

What is the worst disaster they believe they've faced?

What was the best thing that every happened to them?

What in their past makes them feel ashamed?

What in their past makes them proud?

What are they afraid of happening again?

What are they hoping will happen? Do they think it likely?

What do they assume the future will hold?

How has this society changed? Do its current members realize this?

What are the most popular stories about the past?

Who in the past is the greatest hero? The worst villain?

Do people think the present better or worse than the past?

Do people believe the future will be better or worse than the present or past?

Questions of Sex and Family

How many spouses may a man or woman have?

Who decides on a marriage?

Can a marriage end in divorce? How?

Who usually takes custody of children if a marriage ends for some reason?

How is adultery defined? What (if any) is the punishment? Who decides?

How are families named?(g) What happens to orphans?

How are boy and girl children treated differently?

Are premarital relations allowed?

How does your society define incest? Rape? How do people react to these?

What, if anything, is considered a good marriage gift?

What secret vice is believed to be widely practiced?

What secret vice actually is practiced?

What sexual habits are widely believed common among foriegners?

How do people react to homosexuality?

How do the genders dress?

Is prostitution legal? How are prostitutes viewed? Is this accurate?

What professions or activities are considered masculine?

What professions or activities are viewed as feminine?

What inanimate or sexless things are considered male or female?

What is the biggest sexual taboo?

Does this society connect the ideas of marriage with love?

What does this society mean by the word "virgin" and how important it it?

Questions of Manners

Who speaks first at a formal gathering?

What kinds of gifts are considered in extremely bad taste?

How do younger adults address their elders?

What colors are associated with power? With virtue? With death?

If two men get into a fight, how is this supposed to be resolved?

If two women get into a fight, how should that be resolved?

When is it rude to laugh at something funny?

What kinds of questions cannot be asked in public? In private? At all?

How do people demonstrate grief?

What does this society do with their corpses?

What kinds of jewelry do people where? And when?

Who inheirits property? Titles? Position?

What happens to those suffering from extreme mental illness?

What are the most popular games? How important are they?

What parts of the body are routinely covered?

How private are bodily functions like bathing or defecating?

How do people react to physical deformity?

When and how does someone go from child to adult?

Questions of Faith

Is there a formal clergy? How are they organized?

What do people believe happens to them after death? How, if at all, can they influence this?

What happens to those who disagree with the majority on questions of religion?

Are there any particular places considered special or holy? What are they like?

What are the most popular rituals or festivals?

What do people want from the god or gods? How do they try and get it?

How do their religious practices differ from their neighbours?

What is the most commonly broken religious rule?(i) What is the least-violated religious rule?

What factions exist within the dominant religious institutions? How do they compete?

Are there monastic groups? What do they do and how are they organized? How do you join one?

How are those who follow different faiths treated?

What relationship do religious and political leaders have?

What superstitions are common? What kinds of supernatural

events/beings do people fear?

Questions of Government

Who decides whether someone has broken a law? How?

What kinds of punishments are meted out? By whom? Why?

How are new laws created or old ones changed?

Is there some form of clemency or pardon? What is involved?

Who has the right to give orders, and why?

What titles do various officials have?

How are the rules different for officials as opposed to the common person?

How do government officials dress?

Is the law written down? Who interprets it?

Once accused, what recourse does someone have?

Is torture allowed? What kinds?

How are people executed?

Who cannot rise to positions of leadership?

Is bribery allowed? Under what circumstances?

What makes someone a bad ruler in this society? What can be done about it?

What are the most common or dangerous forms of criminal?

Questions of War

Who declares war?

Who has the power to declare conditions of peace?

What happens to prisoners taken in battle?

What form of warfare does this society use?

Who are the Elite warriors? What distinguishes them?

How does someone get command of troops?

Where do the loyalties of military units lie?

Are there professional soldiers? Do they make up the bulk of the military?

Has this society ever attacked another? Do they want to? What would make them do so?

Who are their enemies? Who's winning?

What do soldiers do when there's no war?

Questions of Education

The Gemoariese Language

The primary language spoken throughout Gemoarali is, naturally, Gemoariese. The language is spoken by every faction, and is spoken as a primary in 24 factions, including Tajira, Bexanu, and Moranijanu. Five of the 24 Gemoariese-speaking factions, including Josohiji, have their own dialect for the language.

The Gemoariese language is modulated into syllables consisting of a consonant and a vowel, such as JA (YAH) and SI (SEE.) This formula is strict, and the writing system makes few provisions for codas or diphthongs. To transcribe SAN into Gemoariese, for example, would be SANU. The transcriptions for 'Shift' and 'Night' are ZI-FU-TU (SHEE-fu-tu) and NA-JI-TU (NA-EE-tu).

There are oddities and exceptions in this system, however. In Gemoariese, many verb endings, particles, and foreign names are spelled in Gemoariese writing as two characters but are pronounced with only one syllable. The particle NA, for example, is pronounced NYA. It also attaches itself to the word before, forming a new nasalized ending for the last vowel of the word: JE-MA-LE-JA-NA is pronounced EH-ma-LEI-YAN-ya. These unwritten sounds also appear in the form of guttural stops, such as JO-JO (OH-OH), JA-JA (AH-AH), and JU-JU (OOH-OOH), which often make up names of foods and animals. This does not happen to JE-JE or JI-Ji, which make JAY and JEE sounds, or other J-consonant syllables with different vowels, which form the diphthongs.

In two factions, Josohiji and Maruja, the language is pronounced a bit differently. In Josohiji, the syllables with the J-consonant, which are ordinarily pronounced with an English Y-consonant, or left with just the vowels, are instead pronounced like the R in Hiroshima, with an alveolar consonant. In Maruja, the vowels are dampened towards AH, making A - E - I - U - O become AH - EH - IH - UH - OOH, and many oddities exist in which written or implied vowels are maintained.

There are many other languages spoken in various factions. Some factions even have more than one other language, such as Ti and Xabanugu (Ha-BANG). Most of these languages go unnoticed by non-Gemoariese travelers, and some are known by sophisticated Cylogen scholars who have frequently visited Gemoarali. Some languages are branch-offs of Gemoariese, while others are mixed influences of an earlier de-facto language, Kaka Rore Mak.

The most widely known language spoken on Gemoarali is Jufandiese, of the political core faction Jufande. Jufandiese characters operate similar to Gemoariese, but are more complex and cover a wider range of sounds to include codas and diphthongs. The Jufandiese alphabet contains <> primary characters

Jufandiese has five vowels: A, E, I, U, O. Each vowel can be one of three states: Short, long, nasal. Each consonant can be regular or modified to become a corresponding modified variation of said consonant. K, for example, can become a very hard K similar to Klingon 'Q', S becomes Z, Z (SH) becomes ZH, and F and X both become a hard KH sound. Additionally, a handful punctuative characters exist in Jufandiese which add various changes to grammar and pronunciation of a sentence.

How common is literacy? How is literacy viewed?

What form and value are books?

Who teaches others? How do they teach?

Who decides who learns to read or write?(f) Who teaches professions, like carpenter or scribe?

Are foreigners ever brought in to teach new skills? Who does that?

How do this society's doctors try to treat wounds and sickness?

Which medical assumtions of this society are wrong?

Questions of Art

What are the favorite artforms?

What are the least-favorite?

How respected are artists?

Do artists require official or unofficial protection?

What kinds of trouble are artists in particular likely to find themselves in?

How might a very successful artist live?

What forms of theatre does your society have?

How naturalistic or stylized is your society's art?

What shapes are most common in your society's arts, like embroidery or architecture?

Which artforms get the most and least respect?

What form does censorship take?

Who may not be an artist?

What qualities equal "beauty" in this society?

What makes a man or woman especially beautiful?

How do people react to tattoos? Piercings? Facial hair? Make-up?

Questions of sex and marriage

Is sex confined to marriage?

Or, is it supposed to be? What constitutes aberrant behavior?

Is there anything about this culture or religion in that culture that specifically addresses sexual conduct?

Are there laws about it? What about prostitution?

How old should someone be in your culture to be having sex?

What is considered too great a difference in age for a couple?

Do relationships allow multiple partners?

Should sex be a one-to-one experience? Or are groups allowed?

And, of course, what about homosexuality? Is it frowned on? Encouraged?

Questions of death and burial

What is their understanding of death and dying?

Do they cremate their dead? Or, how are dead bodies disposed of?

Is the family responsible for the body?

What part do the priests play?

Are there cemeteries at all?

Or, does everyone have a crypt in back with all the relatives in it?

Do people visit the dead? If so, how often and why?

Questions of suicide

What do people in this culture think about suicide?

Is it the greatest sin one can commit? Or is it a sin at all?

Is it the great and last comfort of a tormented soul?

Is it worse than murder?

Questions of Law, Justice and Police

Is there a civilian police force, or is law enforcement the province of the military?

Is the police force a nationalised one, or are there multiple regional forces?

How "military" are they? Are they usually/ever armed?

What is the extent of their authority? Can they shoot you? Can they use magic? Can they torture or otherwise force a confession? Can they use telepathy?

Are there individuals or groups who are above the law?

Is there a secret police?

What is the role of police informants, if any?