Sunday, November 15, 2015

[Perilous Lands] Humans of the Northeastern Sea of Tears Region

There are three main civilized human cultural groups in the region spread out among several states: La’Cedi, Thalibans, and Donarans. There are four minor groups: Basati, Caldans, Climans, and Shazir. The barbarian groups (Fierazi, Kazi, and Zen’da) are dealt with in the description of their regions (to follow later). Note that all civilized peoples have access to plate mail, though of course, wear only as much armor as they can afford.

LA’CEDI subcultures include the Ced (includes Nerid), the peoples of the Confederacy (Aratad, Eured, Rhozad), the E’lici, and the Salaqi (includes Chirosi, Salaqi of Shiben, and Ticasi); they are descended from a patchwork mix of sea-faring colonists of a variety of southern and eastern peoples from the shores of the Sea of Tears who colonized the region (from the Wild Forest to the River Zara), who subsequently mixed with the native Basati (and to a much, much lesser extent, the Elves of Elysium). They later mixed with the Thalibans during the two centuries of Thaliban rule (ca. 1700 to 1500 years ago). It was the attempt of the then recently-converted Thalibans of the Thaliban Empire 1500 centuries ago to force the conversion of the ancestors of the La’Cedi to Law that caused Ced a’Caran to lead his revolt and found the Empire of Ced. The Ced tend to be harsh, boorish, and arrogant; conversely, they are also honorable, honest, and truthful, though personal survival is more important than honor for all but the elite. The Nerid, on the other hand, are a nation of pirates and thieves; being pragmatic, tenacious, and yet malleable when the price is right, they are also suave, calculating, and unpredictable. La’Cedi of the Confederacy are hard, uncompromising, and militant; they are slow to befriend, quick to hate, live for vengeance, and have raised the practice of vendetta to an art. E’lici are strange, known for their patience and tolerance, stoic and yet kind; they are dedicated to freedom, moral conduct, religious devotion, and love of family. Salaqi, natively being obstinate, stubborn, traditional, and proud, after centuries of being horribly and viciously oppressed by the Donarans (to an extent that even in this cruel world, most other peoples feel the Donarans are perverse in their treatment of the Salaqi), have become conniving, treacherous, and cruel to outsiders who they cannot trust; with family and friends, they are dependable, honest, and courageous. The various La’Cedi peoples speak dialects of the La’Cedi tongue. Their culture is essentially Gallo-Roman; the people of E’lici and Salaqi more Gallic, the people of Ced, Nerid, and the Confederacy more Roman.
Religion: The disparate peoples of the region originally worshiped a mix of the Elder Gods, especially the Children of Danaan, the Elemental Gods, the Court of Dionysius, and the Court of Hecate; most La’Cedi people continue to revere the gods of their ancestors, respect the Sidh and the Dwarves (especially E’lici and Salaqi), and loathe Kotothi forces. In the case of the E’lici and Salaqi, this is in the face of strong resentment and oppression by the Lawful-aligned Donarans. The Chirosi are devout followers of the Court of Dionysius; the Ced nobility prefer Nuada, Morrigan, Finvarra, and Donel (the Elder Gods of War), while other classes revere Elder Gods more in line with their labors; the E’lici have a particular reverence of Domiel, Girra, and Dionysius; the Nerid are even more diverse than the Ced; the Salaqi revere Manannan, Morrigan, and Epona; and the Ticasi are the odd-men out, with a reverence for Law, though all “goodly” religions are welcome.
Appearance: La’Cedi of Ced, Nerid, and the Confederacy have dark hair, brown eyes, and olive complexions; they average 5’7” tall with light build, and tend to be dexterous and agile. Many of the hill-folk of the Confederacy have a strong Basati streak, though it manifests only in height, build, and temperament. E’lici and Salaqi are a bit taller and heavier built, and lighter-skinned, eyed, and haired (redheads and even blondes not being unknown), due to intermixing with the Basati and Elves in the early days of the settlement of the region.
Favored Weapons: Ced favor javelins, pikes and short swords; men of the Confederacy prefer slings, spears, and long swords; E’lici and Salaqi prefer daggers, spears, and long swords.

THALIBAN subcultures include the Marentians, Portans, the barbaric Thabans, Thalibans, and Zarunese. The original Thalibans were descended from local autochthonous tribes, cousins of the Bhamoti and Rizeeli to the south, who, over long centuries and millennia, were conquered by and assimilated waves of Zen’da invaders. They were merged into the modern Thaliban type in the pre-Imperial consolidation era of Thaliba, though with regular influx of Zen’da blood pre and post-empire through invasion and trade. Marentians are aggressive, quick to anger, tenacious and violent when angered, and loyal to those who earn their loyalty; they also can be hospitable, compassionate, and generous. Portans are amorally pragmatic, cold and calculating; they are malleable as the situation requires, capable of being loquaciously toadying or stone-cold killers, as needful. Thaban tribesmen are paranoid, defensive, and hostile; suspicious of all strangers, especially civilized peoples. Among their own, Thabans are kind, generous, and trusting; stranger are hunted down and killed, mercifully and quickly if they have not offended, slowly and painfully if they have cause grief. Thaliban toll-takers (the only Thalibans outsiders ever meet) are universally haughty, arrogant, condescending, and greedy; they tend to be cowardly, but if Thaliban blood is spilt, they are implacable in hunting down the murderous sub-human scum. Zarunese are freedom-loving libertarians; they hate government and oppression, being strong believers in individual freedom; however, they also work together very well when threatened, placing their trust in an elected Dictator during times of war. They are isolationist, but friendly; miserly, but help those in need; kind and peaceful, but merciless when their freedom is threatened. Thalibans speak various local dialects of the Thaliban tongue. Their culture is essentially Greco-Roman; the Thabans essentially being barbarized Romans, Goth-style.
Religion: The Thalibans were converted to the way of Law more than 1500 years ago by missionaries from the Empire del’Nord; they primarily revere the Court of the Converted, including Ashur, Inanna, and Vahagn. The Thalibans dissolved their empire almost 700 years ago, when the Imperial Court converted to the worship of a southern mystery cult (a branch of Bhamotism dedicated to Sabbathiel of the Court of Metatron). The Thabans have a shamanic-style faith dedicated to Law (primarily dedicated to Vahagn), while the Zarunese and Portans are wary of religion but tolerant of those who cleave to religion… as long as they keep it to themselves.
Appearance: Thalibans and Thabans tend to be tall, men averaging 5’8” with a light build, dark hair, gray eyes, fair skin, high cheekbones, and aquiline noses. Zarunese are shorter and darker-skinned and have strong La’Cedi bloodlines (especially in the west), while Marentians are taller and leaner, with strong and recent Zen’da infusion. Portans are mutts, mixing all the various races found on the Sea of Tears and beyond.
Favored Weapons: Marentians and Zarunese prefer spears, broad swords, and long swords; Marentians have a strong chivalrous tradition, their knights favoring lances, maces, and scimitars. Portans use clubs, daggers, and short swords. Thalibans wield crossbows, polearms, and long swords. The barbaric Thabans wield long bows, spears, and long swords, and wear soft leather armor and wooden bucklers (eschewing heavier armor as too “civilized” and thus taboo).

DONARANS are a mix of Zen’da and La’Cedi (especially E’lici and Salaqi) with a dash of Thaliban. They originated as a cult among the Bra’mani founded by Xalan Horse-Brother. The cult revered and followed Don, the “Son of the Moon,” who arrived in Bra’mani lands riding the tail of a comet 315 years ago (785 SA). The pan-tribal cult grew in power and was forced out of the Western Steppes and into the Nameless Forest in 810 as the “Don Host;” they slowly made their way through Zarun, the Empire of Ced, and Salaq, ending up in E’lici. After 35 years as brigands and mercenaries in broken bands in E’lici, the Host reformed, and conquered E’lici. They went on to conquer Salaq, unite with Xian, annex Ticasi, Chiros, and Shiben, and today threaten Caldo, the Confederacy, and the Empire of Ced. Donarans, though honorable and moral (within the strictures of the Temples of Law), are a cruel and violent people; three centuries has not soothed the savage streak of barbarism in their souls or their culture. Wealth and power are the central goals of most Donaran lives; tempered by the teachings of Law, they try to gain wealth and power through legal and moral means. Many fail at this, however, especially the elite and noble classes, who are known for cruelty, sadism, and deceit. Common Donarans are readily bribable, as long as the actions for which they are being bribed are not heretical or harmful to friends or family (though even these limits have their price). Donarans speak Donaran, a dialect of Zen’dali and closely related to Thaliban. Donarans are essentially Normans, especially as portrayed in the Robin Hood tales (with the Salaqi taking the part of the oppressed Saxons).
Religion: Early in the days of the cult, following the lead of Don and Xalan (both under the influence of Marentian missionaries) they adopted the ways of Law, particularly the Court of the Converted (Ashur, Enki, Inanna, and etc.). They loathe Chaos (especially the gods of Clima), detest the Kotothi, and fear and hate the Sidh. That the Salaqi were allied with the Sidh and Clima, and fielded powers and creatures of Sidh and Chaotic sort against them during the conquest is a major factor in the vicious hatred the Donarans hold for that people.
Appearance: Relatively pure Donarans (of strongest Zen’da blood) are even taller than Thalibans at 5’9” average, with muscular builds (rather than the lean build of their ancestors); they are dark-haired, with blue or hazel eyes, and fair or pale-skinned (with tendency to tan deeply with freckles). Most “Donarans” are actually of Zarunese or La’Cedi blood (especially E’lici and Salaqi), due to centuries of wife-stealing from the lands the Don Host passed through and settled in, and the modern continuance of that through the keeping of slave concubines.
Favored Weapons: Donarans prefer short bows, maces, and long swords; they have a strong chivalrous tradition, their knights favoring lances, maces, and bastard swords.

BASATI are descended from an early people who lived in the west, in the Kolar Peninsula, long ere the arrival of the Kolari. They settled the lands between the Sea of Tears and the Elder Mountains when the Sidh and Kotothi were alone in these lands, and humans were all but unknown. The Sidh saved their ancestors from extermination by the Firbolg and allowed them to settle in these lands. While the ancestors of the La’Cedi conquered the lowlands, the Basati continued to hold the highlands, or eventually regained their independence, notably in Iravoy and Xian, where the Basati still rule. Basati blood flows in the veins of the La’Cedi, especially among the E’lici and Salaqi and among the hill-folk of the Confederacy. Basati are a clannish people; they have a great love for their families, extended families, and clans, and with these and their trusted friends they are kind and understanding; they are distrustful and suspicious of outsiders. The eastern Basati (the Irava and related clans) are quick to anger, easy to provoke, enigmatic, and noted for fierce tempers; their western cousins of Xian are much more patient, and slow to anger, but like the Irava, are deadly, fierce, and virtually berserk in battle when finally angered. Basati are proud, love to take risks and gamble, and have a deep love for life and their land; the quickest way to anger a Basati other than to threaten his family is to threaten his land. Basati culture is essentially an extension of the Kolari-Goidan-Fomorian-Shandar-type, i.e. Celt-Iberian-Basque-Berber.
Religion: The Basati all revere Sarameya (God of Balance, Protector of Heroes, Patron of Shepherds, Lord of Fraud and Theft, etc.) and the Elder God Dionysius and his court (Bacchus, Ceres, Bes, and Pan); in Xian, where Dwarves are not uncommon, Gaea, Goibniu, and Dvalinn are also much revered. The Children of Danaan are respected, but not worshipped, in honor of the ancient alliance with the Fey and the Elves. The Basati loathe Kototh and all his creations.
Appearance: Basati are 5’8” tall on the average with a robust build; the women tend to be buxom with wide hips and an hourglass figure, while men tend toward heavy-boned barrel-shaped stockiness. They have pale to fair skin, red hair, and green eyes.
Favored Weapons: Basati prefer axes, short bows, and spears; they eschew plate armor, it being heavy for their hilly lands and difficult to climb in, preferring soft leather or chain or scale mail shirts, a pot helm, and a light shield.
Image: Basati woman being kidnapped by a troll of the Elder Mountains.

CALDANS are descended primarily from the two Kazi clans who initially settled the Caldan plateau; they have since mixed with other Kazi and Basati, and to a lesser extent with La’Cedi, Fierazi, Dirllar, and Djani (mostly marriages of alliance for trading purposes). They speak Caldan, a dialect of the Kazi tongue, though much evolved and with many Basati loan-words. Caldans are loyal to their families, their clans, and their nation; some might say to an obsessive level. As long as these are not threatened, Caldans are kind, friendly, and even generous. They engage in all manner of physical sports, gambling, and troll-baiting. Caldans are essentially land-based Dutch traders, with a Scots-Highlander attitude.
Religion: Caldans worship their ancestors; out of respect for (and hope for) their dead, they respect the Gods of the Dead, notably Morrigan.
Appearance: Caldans usually stand 5’7” and have a medium to lean build. Most are blondes or redheads, with naturally pale but usually tan skin and light blue or green eyes. Due to intermixing, other physical types are not unknown. Physical differences mean little to Caldans; if blood is blood, even if only a drop runs in common through each other’s veins.
Favored Weapons: Caldans prefer to wield javelins, pikes, and short swords; those who travel the roads on horseback often wield Kazi weapons, including dagger, composite bow, and long sword. On foot they wear the heaviest armor they can afford; on horseback they prefer to ride Kazi style, wearing leather or scale mail with bucklers and leather helmets.

CLIMANS are descended from the same drift of peoples from the southlands that led to the formation of the La’Cedi; however, most of the later settlers were of distinctly Rogizini type, and so modern Climans are much like the Rogizini of the south. Prior to the rise of the Dark Temples, Climans were a free-dealing and open culture dedicated to piracy and trade. Today their culture is dedicated to the Dark Temples, the Immortal Ghova and the Priestesses, and their idea of an Empire of the Sea of Tears. Climans obey and fear their rulers; they dare not hate or loathe them, but they need not love them. As the Immortal Ghova and her priestesses rule the Dark Temples and the land, so too do women rule the household in Clima. However, while men are merely second-class citizens in Clima, they still have room for advancement (usually in the navy). Punishments are severe, up to and including death by crucifixion. Climans speak Climan, a dialect of Rogizini; each city and small island has its own distinct accent, noticeable only to native speakers. Climans are essentially Minoan-Phoenician in style, complete with strange dark cults and far-ranging sea-rovers bent on conquest and trade.
Religion: Climan life revolves around religion, particularly the worship of the Court of Sammael (and the other Lords of Hell, though the Court of Lilith plays little role in Clima); Aeshma Daeva (plus his mother Lyssa, his consort Astaroth, and his son Meresin); and Tiamat (plus her consort Apsu, their son Kingu, and Kingu’s wife Tiella). Between the three temples there are at least two festival days per (six-day) week; Climan life revolves around these ecstatic, orgiastic, exuberant, violent, and perverse rituals and revels. Other days of the week Climans are stoic and fatalistic, untrusting of foreigners and shy to strangers.
Appearance: Climans stand 5’6” tall on average, with a median to thin build. They have dark brown skin, dark brown to black hair, and brown or amber eyes. No few Climans exhibit the taint of demonic blood, as demons are summoned to participate in the numerous festivals of the Dark Temples.
Favored Weapons: Climans prefer to wield slings, spears, and maces; being a sea-faring folk, they rarely wear heavy armor, preferring cloth or leather, and generally eschewing shields.

SHAZIR OF SHIBEN have a long and storied history, being descended from Rogizini pirates who fled their home on the Island of Shazizan and found sanctuary with the Salaqi more than 700 years ago. Thousands of Shazi settled in Shiben, then a wasteland border province between Salaq and Ced. Since that time, the Shazir have been the most loyal of subjects of the Salaqi crown, even today when Salaq groans under the heel of the Donarans. Though they are great allies of the Salaqi, they never mixed with them, or other locals, and so today though their culture is much evolved, and similar in many respects to the Salaqi, they are ethnically distinct. Shazir are boisterous, exuberant, and violent; they love fiercely and hate deeply, never forgetting or forgiving. They are friendly, generous, kind, and loyal to those who have earned their friendship; implacable devils to those who have earned their enmity. They speak Shazir, a dialect of Rogizini, that has borrowed much from Salaqi and Ced. As for RW equivalents… imagine the Welsh, if the Welsh were Arabs, and were allied with the Saxons against the Normans…
Religion: The Shazir abandoned their old gods, who had abandoned them when the Rogizini took Shazizan. They have since adopted the worship of the local Elder Gods, especially Morrigan, Ull, and Donel; they also revere Gaea, Goibniu, and Dvalinn due to the many mines in the region. Shazir sailors and pirates, who mostly operate out of Ticasi, Chiros, and Nerid, generally revere Manannan. Though nervous around the Sidh, they honor them for the alliance they once had with their Salaqi saviors; they honor the Dwarves as the Children of Goibniu.
Appearance: Shazir stand 5’8” tall on average, with a lean if muscular build. They have dark, swarthy skin, black or brown hair, and brown or amber eyes. The uninitiated might mistake them for Rogizini or Climan, which would earn one a dagger to the belly in impolite company.
Favored Weapons: Shazir favor short bows, daggers, and scimitars; though they have been mostly land-based for centuries, they have never gotten over the pirate’s fear of heavy armor, and thus usually wear only cloth or leather armor, or rarely scale mail, and eschew the use of shields or helmets.

Note: The material herein is derived from the original materials by Richard Snider, with additions and some changes by myself, notably the combination of the Xian and Irava into the singular Basati peoples (intimated in the text). I've also changed around a few details here and there, notably in religions (modified both by later work of Snider and my own ideas)...

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