Ashtar
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Population: 534,221

The surathi overlords of Ashtar have a peculiar obsession with the game of chess. They fight each other in regular tournaments and irregular one-on-one games, and the greatest chess players gain the greatest amount of prestige. Foreign chess players are often invited to the city to compete or to play against a particular surathi grand masters. This is chancy, as while many have been showered with riches as a reward, others have been killed when their opponents proved to be sore losers. Furthermore, some especially skilled chess players have been enslaved by the surathi so that they would remain available as opponents for them.

The surathi chess masters also take their games to strange extremes - some play chess with psionically dominated slaves as living chess pieces, and in some cases the slaves are actually killed when the piece they represent are "taken". Not all surathi chess masters play in this way - some see this as a "distraction" from the moves itself and regard it with contempt - but enough continue this practice to require a steady supply of new slaves. They generally take care to keep their visitors from afar ignorant of these practices, however.

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