Entity 115 - "The Artikeli"
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A digital sketch of Operative Pratt Grimm, who provided some minor commentary on this article.

Entity Number: 115

Habitat(s): Levels 184, 321, 11, and potentially others.

Description:

Entity 115, also known as the Artikeli /"The Article People" or “Created Ones”, are an intelligent, anthropomorphic entity species, often nicknamed "Junkers" by human people. They take the outward appearance of everyday man-made objects, with cartoonish limbs and facial features. Possessing both a sizable population and cognitive capacities rivaling mankind’s, they are one of the only species known to have established an independent, non-human civilization within the Backrooms.

Created Ones predominantly inhabit towns and cities within Level 321 (which they call "the lands of art") and Level 184, with much smaller colonies noted on other levels. However, they appear to originate from Level 94, known to them as “the lands of falsehood”. The Artikeli claim to be descendants of the souls of humans and faeries1 whose bodies were consumed by its ruler. However, the exact details of their species’ inception are unclear, and remain shrouded in myth and legend.

While generally peaceful and polite, the Artikeli have a superstitious and insular culture, and tend to view outsiders with distrust. Nevertheless, their relations with mankind have steadily improved with half a century of various diplomatic efforts. Many communities today welcome human visitors, and some even contain significant resident human populations. Wanderers interacting with the Artikeli are strongly advised to respect their beliefs and practices, in order to maintain their tenuous positive impression of modern society.

Biology:

Instances of entity 115 are generally about 4-5 feet (120-150cm) tall, varying wildly in weight between 40 and 140 pounds (18-64kg). They are quick on their feet, and possess the same strength as typical human beings. Their eyes are large, big black, shiny circles, and their mouths are usually a cartoonish line when closed. Their bodies usually resemble man-made objects of some kind, consisting of anything from playing cards to lightbulbs to medieval swords. Their limbs are black, with simple semicircular feet, and hands of five fingers which resemble black ellipsoids when balled into closed fists, but resemble human hands when open. Artikeli may occasionally grow hair — the trait is genetically possible, though rare, and women are known to sport stereotypically large cartoon eyelashes.

Offspring of the Created Ones exhibit characteristics of both the mother and father, meaning they reproduce sexually. How this happens is still unclear.

Behavior:

With human-level intellect and complex societal structures, the Created Ones have developed an advanced civilization bearing distinct socio-behavioral features. Their unique religion, known as Pietism, is conservative and monotheistic, with strong emphases on tradition, family, honor, and morality. Additionally, their culture is heavily superstitious, and their social psyche has been strongly shaped by historic myths as well as urban legend. This has resulted in communities of a rather insular and exclusive nature -– Artikeli tend to remain within the stable social confines of their families and immediate communities, and almost never leave to associate with outsiders. As a whole, Artikeli society has historically expressed distrust of outside influences, and particular suspicion toward large organizations of other intelligent species.

Fortunately, this characteristic disdain for external organizations has been on a decline in recent years. Over years of interaction and trade, the species’ cultural sentiment toward mankind has warmed considerably. Many features of modern human society have made their way into Artikeli culture, and individuals have become much more open to social contact and relations with human beings. In inter-species engagements, individuals tend to be polite and reserved, while also exhibiting noticeable curiosity toward differences in culture.

In spite of these inroads, many circles continue to retain mistrustful or condescending attitudes toward human society. This is evident, for example, in the common use of the derogatory term “Lankies” to refer to humans, and the lingering stereotype of humans as “bandits and raiders”.2 Interestingly, human circles within Artikeli society appear to have developed their own stereotypes in response. Use of the term “Junkers” to refer to Created Ones has become popular in recent years.

In its extant form, Artikeli civilization is concentrated within two key nation-states. The unique characteristics of each one are further described below.

Societies/States:

The Regent Commonwealth of Artland:

Level 321

Ah, the Regency. Home of nobility, culture, extravagance, honor… and of course, the traditionalist quacks who still hope this country will ever really become a monarchy.
— Operative Pratt Grimm


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A recreation of the flag of the Regency, displaying the Broken Sun and Moon in its seal.

The Regent Commonwealth of Artland is the heart of Artikeli civilization. With a land area of approximately 4 million km2 (1.5 million square miles) within Level 321 (known to the Artikeli as “the lands of Art”), it houses the vast majority of Created Ones live here, with a population of approximately around six million of them. Towns and cities are dotted across the level’s various floors, though they are primarily concentrated around Jarlford, its densely-populated capital. It's citizens generally prefer to refer to the Regent Commonweath as the Commonwealth, but for the sake of professionalism, it will be called the Regency in this article.

The Regency possesses significant linguistic diversity. Created Ones in the state are known to speak all manner of languages, including Norwegian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Greek, Romani, French, and even Latin. However, English remains the lingua franca – and even more so in recent decades, as exposure to the M.E.G. and other human influences continues to drive homogenization and centralization in the state.

Culturally, citizens of the Regency tend to be more tightly knit and insular than their counterparts in the Artland colonies (though just as family-oriented). Social structure tends to be traditionally patriarchal, and members are usually expected to abide by rigid societal norms and roles. Though this may appear oppressive by modern standards, most Created Ones express contentment with their way of life, finding comfort in the familiar orders and routines of their daily lives.

In spite of the social order, however, traditional legends of the Regency are fantastical and grandiose, speaking of amazing explorers and valiant warriors in the Artikeli’s past. Built on the culture’s rich mythic history and religious iconography, the state possesses an artistic scene which continues to flourish today. Visual, musical, literary, and dramatic arts are valued highly in Artikeli culture, and regional communities each boast unique artistic circles with distinctive styles. Artists by profession are known to be especially superstitious – often to an absurd degree, even according to Artikeli standards. For example, many Artikeli artists claim to have faerie ancestry, with very little basis. In spite of such idiosyncrasies, artists are recognized in the quasi-religious annual holiday often known as "The Half Full Festival". Celebrated on March 22nd, the holiday aims to uphold both social harmony and virtue as pillars of Artikeli society and heritage. Through feasting and artistic showcases, it honors the Regency’s rich religious and cultural background, as well as its contingent artistic innovations. The holiday is celebrated not only in the Regency, but also in other Artikeli colonies – as are a majority of its various festivals.

Moreover, as its name suggests, the Regency is a constitutional elective monarchy, governed by a council with an elected king who serves a five year term in the absence of true royalty, the current ruler is King Roderic Oldenburg. According to Artikeli legend, the state was founded by an individual known as Hargan of Germania, alongside the conception of the Artikeli people, following a climactic battle against the Evil King of Level 94, traditionally known as “the land of falsehood”. Hargan is said to have uttered a prophecy, preserved within Pietist texts, predicting the birth of a young man and young woman in the far future, known as the Broken Sun and Broken Moon. The prophecy claims that the pair will save the Regency from almost certain destruction in its darkest times, and be crowned its rightful royal family.

The founding legend of the Regency is celebrated annually in another festival — the Festival of The Broken Sun and The Broken Moon. Lasting from June 22nd to June 29th, the week-long holiday is known for its lavish celebrations, replete with religious services, family reunions, gift-giving, spontaneous dance parties, and copious quantities of alcohol consumed. This is widely regarded as the most rowdy time of the year, infamous for its large crowds throughout the capital halls and even non-Artikeli tourists visiting the Regency.

Notably, Level 321 allows Artikeli to survive indefinitely without eating or drinking. Thus, exile is viewed as tantamount to death by the population. Furthermore, in view of this extranormal property, rumors often circulate of the survival of the mythological Hargan of Germania in remote regions of the nation — though such claims have never been verified.

Dominion of New Artland:

Level 184

This is where I grew up. The Dominion is somehow both the most and the least modern branch of Artikeli society. It's like what the Meg calls “Australia” in their world. A couple hundred years ago, some colonial government prick found this backwater farm-world, and thought it would be the perfect for the Regency to send its criminals and pesky political dissidents… mainly those who want to just accept the title of republic. Throw in a truckload of Purist missionaries into the mix, and lo and behold – up comes the Dominion from the soggy dirt. When my human friend Jack visited, he made a remark that basically sums the place up:
“It’s like one of those ugly, happy little farming towns in Ohio.”
No place like home, I guess.
– Operative Pratt Grimm

The Dominion of New Artland is a large series of.colonies of the Regency in Level 184. Around 12,800 Created Ones live in New Artland's capital, New Sodbury. The rural towns and villages house an additional registered 12,000 citizens, however many colonists have been said to go off and start their own towns and registering them with the Dominion government over the decades, giving the Dominion a total population population of around 200,000.

In contrast to the semi-urbanized and indoor Regency, the Dominion is characterized by its rugged agrarian culture. Without the protective semi-invulnerability offered by Level 321, the colony historically suffered child mortality rates due to disease and starvation from its founding in 1600 until the early 1900s. These were alleviated, first by the introduction of the potato as a staple crop, and then by the rapid progression of industry, education, and technology in the modern era -– owing in large part to human trade and influence. Accordingly, humans are generally more welcome in the Dominion than in the Regency heartland, with human inhabitants making up an estimated 13% of the population. Despite leaps in its standard of living, infrastructural issues continue to plague New Artland, with its plumbing system and electric grid being only semi-functional.

Socially, the Dominion more closely resembles modern Western human society, with a much higher degree of expressive freedom, social flux, and cultural diversity than the Regency. This is likely the result of their colonial background. As a combination of haggard religious Purists and skilled peasant craftsmen, early settlers likely cultivated the adaptability, hardiness, and stoic discipline which persist as key cultural values in New Artland today.

In spite of its sociocultural advances, the political climate of New Artland is significantly less stable than the Regency’s. From the Dominion’s inception, there has been continuous strife between culturally conservative Purist circles and more liberal communities desiring freedom from the vestiges of the Regency’s social order. Following disastrous attempts at self-governance, with years of civil rebellion and bloodshed, an uneasy but successful social contract was established in 1876, with the colony looking to the Regency as a neutral arbiter for governance. This has cultivated a strong sense of political and societal loyalty to the Regency within the Dominion today, in spite of their significant sociocultural differences.

Discovery:

While the Artikeli have been recognized for many years, formal M.E.G. contact with the civilizaion was established in 2015, with the help of an M.E.G. operative of their species, Pratt Grimm. Along with his partner, Operative Jack Forrest, Grimm returned to his hometown in Level 184, followed by a trip to the capital of New Sodbury. Full documentation of the expedition is available on the M.E.G. archive, and is strongly recommended as a resource for individuals seeking to integrate into Artikeli society.

While passing through Grimm's hometown, the operatives also encountered his childhood friend, Mr. Fred Mann, and managed to secure an interview, providing valuable insight on Artkeli life and culture in Level 184.

Interview:

Location: Dominion of New Artland (Level 184)
Personnel: Operative Jack Forrest, Operative Pratt Grimm

Description: In collecting data for this article, operatives Grimm and Forrest visited Grimm’s hometown in New Artland. The following is a transcript of an interview with Grimm’s childhood friend, Fred Mann.


<Begin Log>

Jack: This is… quite something.

The camera pans around a sea of grain, the golden fields rippling gently in the mid-day breeze. In the distance, a tractor whirrs along, the sound of its merry sputtering echoing out across the plains.

Pratt: Told you it was primitive.

Jack: It’s certainly… rustic. I’ve never seen so much wheat in my life!

Pratt: And I never thought I’d be back here. Not so soon, anyway.

The pair close in on a figure leaning against a fence. As they draw nearer, the created one’s short, oblong figure comes into focus as a playing card. He is clothed in a set of blue farming overalls caked in fresh earth. The brilliant, vermillion hue of the ace of spades symbol stands out on the upper left corner of his rectangular face.

Jack: Hey Pratt? Anything I should know before I interact with your uh…

Pratt: My people? Yeah – don’t be a jackass. Simple as that.

Upon their approach, the Artikeli’s eyes widen in astonishment.

Pratt: Hey, Fred.

Fred: Oh… hey Pratt. (A long pause.) Uh… long time no see?

Jack: I assume this was the friend you were telling me about?

Pratt: Yep. Fred, this is Jack.

Fred: Uhhhh… hi…?

Jack: Nice to meet you!

Jack extends a hand.

Fred eyes him warily for a few moments, before reaching his own hand forward to shake.

Jack: Alright, so to explain – your friend Pratt and I are working with a human organization called the Major Explorer Group (M.E.G. for short).

Fred: Uh… yeah. Pratt did tell us he was going to join you guys… just before he left.

Jack: We were just stopping by to document a bit about your society. Could you spare a moment for an interview? Hope you’re not too busy with your farm work and all…

Fred: Gosh, well I… I suppose I can’t refuse, now, can I? You’ve come all the way down here.

Pratt: Thanks, Fred. My pal here’s the one who’s nuts about this place for some reason, so I’ll let him take over for now. We can catch up after if you like.

Jack trades the camera into Pratt’s hands, and steps forward eagerly with his notepad.

Jack: Alright, so Mr. Fred…

Fred: Mann. M-A-N-N.

Jack: Mmhmm. Alright, well, obviously, we know a bit about this place from Pratt already, but it’s been a while since he’s been here. What's changed since Pratt left the Dominion?

Fred: Not much. After he left, people were kind of worried that he was… dead, to put it bluntly. It’s still… a bit of a shock to see him here. Don’t misunderstand me, I'm glad he’s alive and well, but I'm also… concerned.

Fred turns toward Pratt.

Fred: What exactly was it that got into you anyway? What made you go all the way out there to be with the Lankies?

Pratt shrugs indifferently.

Pratt: I wanted something new. Just to go and see and do new things. Plus, I don't exactly have the right attitude to sell my dad's farm tools to normal people. My brothers are way more social and suited for the job.

Jack: Well, there's your answer. Next question: is there anything the M.E.G. should know about New Sodbury?

Fred: I’m uh… not very sure… how to answer that? It depends on what it is that you lot want from us, really…

As he ponders the question, a sudden frown comes upon Fred’s face, and he places his hands on his hips. His eyes narrow in suspicion.

Fred: Now hold on… you’re not here to spy on us, are you? We’ve had our fair share of bandit Lankies mooching off of our stuff since New Sod started opening the gates.

Jack: What? Oh of course not-

Fred: You know, this is all a bit fishy if you ask me… Pratt coming back here all of a sudden, outta nowhere-

Pratt: (In annoyance) Oh, don’t be an idiot, Fred. What’s there even to rob in this old cesspool?

Fred: How should I know? Grain ain’t cheap-

Pratt: If we wanted that, we’d have gone straight to the Regency snobs. They’re the ones who hoard it… since they literally don’t need to eat.

Fred: Heh, well… you’re damned right about that.

Fred nods in approval at the jab towards the Dominion’s rulers. He relaxes considerably.

Jack: Sorry, you mentioned something about the city ‘opening the gates’? Could you tell us more about that?

Fred: Oh, yeah. It was a pretty big policy change not long ago… Lankies like you have been welcome in the country for a long time now, but it’s only recently that the city’s been opening up to let humans stay as residents.

Jack: That’s interesting. How do you find the change?

Fred: It’s pretty controversial, if you ask me. Isn’t the best for the crime rate… lots of unsavory folks are taking the chance to flood in.

Jack: Really? (Amused) Surely we ‘Lankies’ aren’t that bad?

Fred: If you’re wondering, my aunt Kathy was actually mugged by a couple of you humans just last Tuesday.

Jack: … Oh.

Fred: One of ‘em had a knife. Stuck her in the shoulder like this – (he gestures, quite vigorously) – and snatched her wallet right out of her hand.

There is a hint of bitterness in Fred’s tone. Jack grimaces, fixing his eyes downward upon his notepad rather deliberately.

A somewhat awkward silence follows, lasting about half a minute.

Pratt: That certainly sounds rough. Is she alright, Fred?

Fred: Well, she… won’t be out of the hospital for another week, I suppose.

He folds his arms, leaning back against the fence.

Jack: I’m… sorry to hear that.

Fred: It’s fine. Not like you did it. And really, others have had it worse.

Another pause.

Somewhere high above, a lone passing cloud drifts across the sky. Its shadow meanders slowly across the fields.

Fred: It’s pretty obvious to us that it’s unfair to judge people based on where they come from. And when it comes to humans, you ‘Meg’ lot are certainly decent enough, as far as I’ve heard. But even then…

Fred pauses, gazing upward.

The cloud passes directly overhead, blanketing the trio in a patch of shade for a moment.

Fred: … even then, there’s a reason why it’s not easy for us to trust you Lankies. There’s always a couple bad eggs in the bunch.

The cloud passes, and the rays of sunlight return, illuminating the rippling golden landscape.

Fred: So yeah, that’s why we’re a little worried about the whole “opening up” thing. Not much we can do about it though… the Regency’s governor-general insisted on it.

The expression on Fred’s face lightens considerably.

Fred: At least business is boomin’. For all our gripes you Lankies really have a way with machines… crop yields have doubled in some parts thanks to your new-fangled gear.

Jack: (Nods approvingly) We’ve had a look around on our way here. Your farms are quite a sight… especially for people used to the indoors, like me.

Fred: My turn to ask a question, then. Pratt here obviously thinks we’re a backwater dump… but what do you lot think of the Dominion?

Jack: It's doing great, from what I can tell! I was just telling Pratt on the way here… it's like one of those ugly, happy little farming towns in Ohio-

Pratt: (In horror) JACK! I told you not to say that!

It takes a moment for Jack to notice his mistake. His eyes widen.

Jack: Oh, dude, I'm sorry, I didn’t mean-

Pratt: You had one job, Jack! You could have said anything but that, and you said it out loud! What the hell were you thinking-

Fred: (Blankly) What’s an ‘Ohio’?

Jack and Pratt pause abruptly in their bickering.

Pratt: Well… it isn’t very flattering, obviously.

Fred: Eh, it’s alright Pratt, I know he didn't mean it like that.

Jack: Yeah, I’m sorry, man, I-

Fred: Relax, it happens. (He shrugs.) We all let our manners slip sometimes. What were you going to ask me next?

Jack: Uhh… right. (Jack ruffles through his notepad.) This is… probably the last question… do you think the M.E.G. would be allowed to recruit members from your population?

Fred: Hmph… so you guys do have a motive for being here. Recruitment, eh? Beats me. You’d have to ask the governor up in New Sod.

Jack: And how’d you think that would go, personally?

Fred: I assume you’d get permission… though that’s really only because nobody would take you that seriously. I mean… you’ve heard about our issues with opening up the city. I doubt you’d find anyone who’d want to join your 'Meg' at all.

Jack: What about Pratt here, though?

Fred rolls his eyes.

Fred Meh… Pratt's… kind of a 'lightning in a bottle' case. It’s weird because he's just… very, very individualistic.

Pratt: (Approvingly) That’s certainly true.

Fred: The most others like him have done is to just go out and start their own farms or towns. He's really one of a kind. I don’t know anyone else who’s ventured out of Artikeli domains. You were lucky to get him at all.

Pratt: Heh, I’m flattered.

Fred: Not great for your recruitment, though. They don't like taking risks the same way he does.

Pratt: I certainly doubt it’ll catch on. Not much has changed since I left, clearly… nobody around here really trusts the M.E.G., still.

Jack: Interesting. Maybe we’ll have more luck with the Regency.

Pratt: I doubt that. Though maybe with their superstitions, there’s a chance they’ll be interested.

Jack: Well, I think that’s it for now. Thanks for your time, Fred.

Fred: Of course. Although, seeing as that’s out of the way…

Fred turns to his old friend once more, curiosity in his eyes.

Fred: Maybe it’s your turn for a little ‘interview’. What’s it like out there?

<End Log>

Do's and Don'ts:

Do:

  • Answer questions.
  • Be polite.
  • Keep your hands where they can see them.

Don't:

  • Attack them.
  • Lie to them.
  • Try to hide something from them.

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