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Culture Packets for New Players

Hello, with so many new players, I thought it would be useful to make a spot for easier access to culture packets for backstories. PLease note that most culture packets will be going through changes in the upcoming rulebook edit based on feedback from a sensitivity reader.

Below is the contents of the culture packet I received for Peleset
I hope players and staff with access to other cultures will also post the packets for new player use. (Since this is the old version, it doesn’t have the cool unlockable headers for captain and such but look out for the new edits)

Peleset life is a collection of cycles, of tides and stars, of seasons and fishing grounds and shipping lanes. It is a life of relative ease. No one goes hungry, thanks to the bounty of the ocean. Any who wish employment can easily find it. Community can be created or left as the wind may take the members. What people need, they are often given gladly.

Twice a year, the docks and harbors around the islands become a forest of masts as the crews come ashore to assist with the planting and harvesting. The work is hard: plowing terraced grounds, planting and harvesting yams, picking nuts, berries and fruit, threshing rice, gutting and salting fish for the winter ahead. Sails are mended, fresh water is laid in, messages are exchanged, new crew is recruited and then, as rapidly as they appeared, the ships are gone again. They will make landfall during the year, for more water or supplies, but only seldom and always in passing.

When the Peleset encounter the other civilizations their harsh lives, insular communities, and fierce ownership seem quaint and barbaric. Since the Felicitoro build the great ships, though, interaction has become a way of life. Some of the Peleset have flourished working with the traders, while others delight in raiding the foreign ships, proving their continued control of the seas. The Felicitoro in turn have taken to employing Peleset to sail their own ships. It means they have a chance of out-maneuvering the pirates and are less frequently targeted to begin with. On the other hand, if a ship is boarded almost all Peleset repose or surrender immediately. No reason to risk life and limb over mere goods.

For those Peleset who don’t take up employment, there are two centers of life: the ships and the shore. Those Peleset who stay ashore have lives made easy by their relatively small populations and the resources brought by the ships that need to resupply. They tend the orchards and fields during the year when the ships are away, build barrels and sew clothing. The warm weather leads to breeze-filled houses, goats roaming freely and even cloth is imported from the North, freeing the Peleset from the drudgery of weaving. Peleset seldom have new clothing, since, like other possessions, clothing is passed around. Outsiders may not understand the nimbly-patched wardrobes, but clothing is simply not of particular importance.

Towns and trade centers are typically placed near natural harbors and fresh water sources. Many towns speak of themselves as crews, just as their counterparts at sea do, and share similar codes. When everyone in a community is rowing in the same direction it is easy to make progress. Rather than being marooned, those a town wishes to punish may be denied access to the hearths of the village and most then leave. Other transgressions are punished with simple death; a walk or two across the bridge is believed to cure most problems.

Seafaring has come to be ruled by the large ships built from the Oaks that grow in the North. Many a Peleset dreams of acquiring one from a grateful Felicitoro and building out their crew. Despite such heroic imaginings, usually such acquisitions are a collaborative effort. Unlike other possessions, most Peleset recognize ownership of the typically-useless foreign coins and the most skilled sailors are paid well by the Felicitoro. By pooling their savings they may purchase a ship from the wrights. The sailors may engage in trade in an attempt to hasten such goals, or just to buy the luxuries of the wider world.

While each ship is headed by a captain, they are as much a servant of the crews as vice versa. It is a functional position, rather than a mark of ownership. They are the ultimate arbiter of justice, but if popular sentiment among the crew goes against them they will be marooned. The crews are loyal to the ship, rather than its officers. Each ship will have a reputation, and if the crew are reputed to slack or be violent it might be denied access to the necessary resources when it comes time to resupply. Each ship has its own code, most based on honoring deals that have been made and loyalty to the ship and its crew. Sailors who are injured are resettled to a common town and provided for by the crew to which they were loyal.

Children may be raised ashore or on board, although the mortality rate is high among ship-board children. Marriage is common, although not required, and after around six years of age children are assumed to be associated with their ship or town rather than their parents. Even before that they may eat from any hearth and anyone feels free to provide guidance or care. There is typically a mast or a tall tree that children compete to climb. While it is not a guarantee, usually around the time a child can reach the peak they are no longer identified with their parents and are allowed to begin learning a trade. This is referred to as Reaching the Colors.

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velliar

As a Velliar, you know your work has purpose, however mundane it may seem. The University stands between Evren and an age of ignorance and strife, collecting, organizing and disseminating knowledge across the lands.

Most people who consider themselves Velliar live in urban areas, either Tortaira or one of the many cities around Evren with a College. Though fashion is not a common concern, there are those among the Velliar who enjoy finding interpretations of “scholarly garb” in the local fashions.

If you were born into the Velliar, for your entire life you’ve been surrounded by arguments, investigation and knowledge. Even before formal schooling, you likely accompanied a parent about their work and they would teach you to read and write. Unless you have a title of your own, you were most likely called by a diminutive form of the highest title one of your parents holds, prepending “Holf” to the title, as in “Holfdocent” or “Holfguard”. If none of your parents held any formal title, you may be known as “Holffolk”. Even Holffolk are still Velliar - more knowledgeable than most and treated with more respect than those of more common names by other Velliar (although outside such circles, who can say?)

Not that there is anything specifically wrong with those who aren’t of the University. Many of the great works were written by such people, but without the Velliar, their works would long since have been lost, and all who participate in the University are aware of the distinction.

Although there are smaller Colleges across Evren, the grand city of Tortaira is the seat of the University. The University is able to convey scrolls and information to the Colleges through some mechanism of gates and it is this power that enables the work. While the Davenstern messengers are expensive and rare and the Felicitoro ships slow and prone to pirates, the Velliar have overcome distance to make knowledge available to any and all. Not everyone in Tortaira works for the Univeristy and many of other cultures walk the streets. Those that are Velliar are set apart by their access to the schools of the institute.

Formal schooling begins at age 10. It is available at no cost to any child with a parent enrolled in or employed by the university. For anyone else it is available at extraordinary cost, although for children in Tortaira who demonstrate an early aptitude adoptions can usually be arranged.

Adoption is relatively common among the academics, whether because the child shows an interest in a different area or their parents simply do not have the time, energy, or inclination to care for them in addition to their duties. Anyone who cares for a child before schooling begins is expected to become their parent. No Velliar ever gives up legal responsibility for their children, and so children may end up with four or six or more legal parents by the time they come of age. Those of the Velliar who devote themselves to raising children may have dozens of adopted children during their lifetime. Some among the Holffolk, on the other hand, take pride in raising their children themselves, needing no sponsor for their education.

At age 16, children become legal adults. They may take employment or apply to the University. While there is no formal preference granted to Velliar children over those from other cultures, in practice the six years of education geared at preparing them for the entrance exams mean that most Velliar children are able to gain admittance if they choose. Others may take the exam, at any age, and enroll if they wish.

The role of the Scholar is not the only option for a life in Velliar culture. The builders, craftsfolk, cooks, gardeners, maids, and footmen who work for Velliar are almost always Velliar-educated themselves. These people keep their childhood title for the remainder of their lives. While there is status involved in enrolling in the university, it is also a far more stressful and taxing life than working for said scholars. Even among those who originally enroll, many later stop their studies and take up some other work, though by that point often only the least-skilled jobs are available to them. It is a bit of a gamble: do you pursue a well-regarded, well-paid profession, or do you take up your studies, knowing that if you fail you will end up in a poorly-paid, less-fulfilling job afterwards? Others leave the sphere of University life, becoming tutors or wandering teachers, or finding a place elsewhere in the world.

There is a third option: the path of the Guardians. This option is more selective than the University itself. The Guardians are the defenders of knowledge, protectors of Tortaira and the Colleges and the seekers of the rarest, most dangerous sources of information. They are known to be fearsome and disciplined soldiers, though they confine themselves to the business of the University. Even the Lothlan do not raid Tortaira.

Potential Guardians are required to attend school and obtain good marks, in addition to training in combat. One of their parents will be an existing Guardian, and the child is expected to assist them with their duties. All of this prepares such children for the test the Guardians require. This test is shrouded in secrecy and fear, and those who fail are at times maimed, or simply do not return.

Employment as a Guardian is for life. Those too old to serve in defense of the University serve in other ways: as administrators, accountants, messengers, catalogers and so forth. Scholars, on the other hand, must face a panel periodically. If they are deemed productive members, they are allowed to stay on. Otherwise, they are dismissed. Postings are determined once a year, at the spring equinox, and the Scholars sent to their postings around the world to the Colleges, the buildings across Evren where anyone can come seeking knowledge.

These postings also allow Scholars to seek knowledge far from Totaira, and bring found treatises and other knowledge to the University, available for later reference. This may include written records collected from non-Velliar, but copying the work of another Velliar without citation is a grave offense and will lead to immediate dismissal.

Romantic marriage is common, and joint appointments are supported for such bonds. There is also a second institution, Fellowship, which indicates a close intellectual collaboration and may or may not accompany marriage. In such cases where at least one is a member of the University the two are appointed and evaluated together as a single member, and they share title. They are also allowed to copy the other’s work without attribution, which would otherwise be plagiarism.
The ranks of the University

Although they do not concern most Velliar, titles are important to those who earn them and the basics of the system is taught in school. Players may, if they wish, begin game with the title of Scribe or Guard, but further titles must be earned in game.

Among Scholars:

Scribe
Docent
Lecturer
Tanar
Chancellor

On advancing in rank as a scholar: #5185

Among the Guardians:

Guard
Defender
Porter
Warden
Provost

Spheres

The areas of study are divided to support cataloging and collaboration among the Scholars. There are four spheres:

Perfect Arts
    The theoretical subjects: math, astronomy, the associations of realms
Imperfect Arts
    The observational sciences. Magics, mana, physics, healing, cataloging the natural world.
Manifest Arts
    Applied sciences. Crafting, runes, alchemy, engineering, building, architecture, ritual.
Invisible Arts
    Fine arts and social sciences. Literature, philosophy, paintings, sociology, ethnography, music, etc.

Honors

Scholars who do significant work in one of those four areas may, in turn, earn accolades specific to their expertise. These are granted by the reviewing panel and include:

Honorable
    Granted for superlative work that was beyond reproach
Industrious
    Granted for repeated valuable contributions to a single area
Master
    Granted for expertise in an area, often after the production of a Masterwork
Venerable
    Granted for long and respected service, often after mentoring one who gained the title of Master
With Accolades
    Granted for exceptional discoveries that have led to further useful work
With Merit
    Granted for displays competence, often involving the somewhat boring work that other Scholars are very glad they didn't have to do themselves.
With Praise
    While it can mean many things, it is usually granted for doing something that someone higher up was particularly pleased by.

For example, Lecturer Braylon, Master with Merit of the Imperfect Art, is a well-known Scholar of Mysticism. He is best known for creating some surprisingly-comprehensible documents on the Mystical arts and their practical applications, but has made no particular discoveries of his own. Still, he has an excellent career stationed in Aethis, seat of the Romanza family, and it is rumored he tutored Orfeo Romanza himself.

The Felicitoro Merchant Guild

Welcome to the Felicitoro, brother, sister! Ah, so new! My darlings, you haven’t even gotten your rings yet…well, no matter. It will all come in time, no need to fuss about it. Let me tell you a little about us… We Felicitoro are an old guild. A guild of family, journey, excitement, gambles, and most of all, coin. Perhaps we seem frivolous to outsiders…ah, who cares what they say, hmm? It was probably some old Velliar bookworm that told you that. Let it slide off your back– I will know if it does not! You will always have a sister to watch it for you, from this day until the day of your bonfire. -Leona Ternacenti

Where to find the Felicitoro

The Felicitoro are a guild, not a kingdom, and as such, the Felicitoro can be found all over the world of Evren. There are many Felicitoro in the port city of Kresa, due to their contract with Clan Orsgul. Each family of the Felicitoro controls a large manor house where the current Matron or Patron resides, and where family members can be safe if necessary. The Felicitoro often fondly nickname such houses-

  • for example, the Romanza call their manor house the Studio, or sometimes the Stage. The Sarto often

call their home Silver Hall or Luna’s Home. The Ternacenti have yet to name their home, having recently constructed it.

Customs of the Felicitoro

The Felicitoro are an easy going guild, but they are nonetheless proud of their traditions they’ve kept on through the many years since their inception. The Felicitoro keep to these traditions in order to conduct their business dealings fairly and without prejudice.

The Code

The Code of the Felicitoro is as follows:

  1. Remember you carry the face of your Family with you. Make friends, contacts, and never burn your bridges.

  2. Never betray your Family– immediate or extended. If you have a dispute which can’t be solved by coin-capture, take it to a member who’s rank is greater than yours for mediation. We are our strongest when we work together.

  3. Remember where you come from, and who got you there. There is no business venture so small you can’t afford a copper bit in your family’s coffers. Your character dictates how much you contribute– but if you forget us, we will remind you.

  4. Watch each other’s backs. Felicitoro should always be willing to help a family member in distress. At the same time, do not abuse your brothers’ and sisters’ kind gestures.

Greeting

Felicitoro greeting each other will clasp both hands or forearms. They are fond of kisses on the cheek, or air-kisses on the cheek. Members of the guild often refer to each other as ‘brother’ or ‘sister’, confusing outsiders.

Felicitoro greet outsiders they respect as they do guild members, save for referring to them as family. Other outsiders are greeting with an offered right hand if one is trying to be friendly, or left hand if one is trying to be less than friendly. Arguments and even duels have broken out simply by a prominent Felicitoro offering his or her left hand to shake.

Coin-Capture

Coin capture is a Felicitoro tradition of solving disputes.

Bonfire

The Felicitoro believe that life is to be celebrated, and refuse to be saddened by the death of a family member. Upon the death of a family member, a lively celebration is thrown for the deceased and their family. It is custom to give gifts to immediate family of the deceased–anything from a bottle of wine to business holdings have been given at Bonfire.

Ranking in the Felicitoro

Felicitoro divide their membership into five ranks. Player characters may start as either Novice or Operaio/Operaia; higher ranks must be earned in game through roleplay.
Novice: Your family ring is worn on your pinky finger of your right hand. Members of this rank are initiates– newly offered a position in the family, or perhaps born into it and not yet proven. They are treated gently, and forgiven for many of their blunders. They don’t have much social weight in the guild, but they are treated as valued children.
Operaio/Operaia: Your family ring is worn on your ring finger of your right hand. These are the members just starting to undertake those risky ventures and gambles that are certain to pay off big, some day. These Felicitoro make up the majority of the guild, and are likely to be outgoing and eager to prove themselves even further to their family.
Maestro: Your family ring is worn on your middle finger of your right hand. The Maestro of the guild are those who have made a real name for themselves. A famous artist of the Romanza or a tailor to Queens of the Sarto might be one of the Maestro of the Felicitoro.
Sei: Your family ring is worn on your index finger of your right hand. The Sei are the inner circle of each family of the Felicitoro. There are only six at any given time. These six advise the Matron/Patron of the families in many things, but are powerful merchants in their own rights, controlling large operations and employing many junior family members. You become one of the Sei through dedication, financial success, and almost unheard of devotion from the other members of your immediate family.
Matron/Patron: Your family ring is worn on the index fingers of both your right and left hands. The matrons and patrons of the families of the Felicitoro are powerful and charismatic merchants with devoted families currying favor with them constantly. Most Felicitoro see it as an honor to do a favor for your matron or patron. The three current heads of families are Cristoforo Ternacenti, Guilia Sarto, and Orfeo Romanza. Wise leaders of foreign nations treat these three with the respect worthy of an equal.

Families of the Felicitoro
The Ternacenti Family:

The Ternacenti family are a relatively young family of the Felicitoro guild who found themselves allied with the guild after the sudden acquisition of their patron’s fortune, gained after a gamble with the now nearly defunct Luca family. The Ternacenti aren’t likely to tell you what this gamble gave them– and no Luca would dare…but they might wink and smile at the question. The truth is that the Ternacenti Patron, Cristoforo Ternacenti, won a coin-capture when he was only sixteen years old, risking his entire worth to take control of a contract that the Luca family had begun discussing with Clan Orsgul of the Kalmak. Cristoforo received only a sixth of his entire worth back from the coin-capture, due to the number of participants, but the venture paid off. The port city of Kresa is wildly successful and the Ternacenti have made a lot of coin off of it. The Luca family has mostly been absorbed into the Ternacenti or forgotten, thirty years later. The Ternacenti family are investors and risk-takers. Their scions tend to run businesses, gambling houses, or undertake risky investments. Their current patron is Cristoforo Ternacenti, a charismatic man of middle age that his family adores. The Ternacenti family wear rings with rubies (or, for the ones who haven’t earned their great fortune yet, garnets) to show their rank in the family. The heraldry of the Ternacenti family is two keys addorsed on crimson.

The Sarto Family:

The Sarto family are the most fashionable family in all of Evren, naturally. This family is responsible for textile trade, producing some of the most beautiful dyes and patterns in the world. Sarto family scions are often dressed either flamboyantly, or simply but in garments of impeccable quality.
The Sarto family have humble beginnings, descending from tailors who the Felicitoro of old attempted to absorb wholly. The family, instead of disappearing into the larger organization, was fortified and attracted like minded individuals who expanded their ventures to include trade of textiles and dyes in addition to tailoring. Leaders of all nations go to the Sarto when they want to look their best- - even the Davenstern have been known to quietly order a well made, modest, but expensive coat from the Sarto.
The Sarto family are currently led by their matron, Guilia Sarto, a young beauty who has recently taken over as the head of her family after her father’s death. She has many admirers, and holds a competition each year for poets and painters to tell her how wonderful she is. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll give them one of her silk handkerchiefs as a favor…
The Sarto wear opal or moonstone rings to show their rank in their family, appreciating the many colors that the stones reflect. The heraldry of the Sarto family is a dark blue crescent moon on ermine.

The Romanza Family:

The Romanza are the artists of the Felicitoro, an old family which is justifiably proud of its important artistic contribution to the world of Evren. The Romanza are actors, painters, poets and playwrights. They are artisans of every type, whose works are highly sought after and quite expensive. The note-in-hand symbol of the Romanza family is the first thing any discerning art dealer looks for when making a purchase.
The Romanza are the oldest family of the Felicitoro. As long as there has been history in Evren, there have been artists to record, glorify, or condemn it. They proudly began the Felicitoro merchant guild, taking other families under their wing and building a merchant empire to rival that of the Davenstern, though with infinitely more flair. The Romanza were never much for rules, however, and a handful of families have risen and fallen in the Felicitoro trying to impose them upon the Romanza. Lately, the Ternacenti and the Sarto families, part of the current trinity of Felicitoro families, have been supporting the Romanza somewhat with basic structure that this old, artistic family has sometimes found lacking. The Romanza are grateful for their allied cousins, and together they have made the Felicitoro arguably the strongest the guild has been in recent memory.
The Romanza family is led by a young, vainglorious man who styles himself “Most Grandiloquent Knight of Lyric, Orfeo Romanza”. He is accompanied by a small retinue who seem to do nothing but fawn over him. He frequently goes on ‘adventures’ to bolster his repertoire of stories to tell, and to gain experience for his acting.
The Romanza wear emerald or peridot rings to show their rank in their family. Green is the color of envy, of course, and who doesn’t envy the Romanza?
The heraldry of the Romanza family is a note contained in an open hand on a pale green field.

Current events:

The Romanza leadership are currently relocating from Aethis to Juldan, due to Aethis being overrun by nightmare beings.

There is a lot of scandal right now accusing the Sarto of being behind necromancer attacks at the Velliar University in Salendale.

The town where the PCs live, Oak Harbor, was founded by the Ternaxcenti. But they gave up control a few years ago to a non-Felicitoro group, the White Forest Trading Company, based out of Kirkale.

Tattershawl

It is said… Once there was a mother, and she was growing very old. It was only her and her family: her three sons and their wives who had born many sons and daughters. She was the bond that held them together, and as she became weak with age and sickness her sons began to bicker. They argued about who would inherit leadership of the family when she passed and her body was too weak to return to. One said he was the strongest and the bravest, so by strength he would lead the family. One said he was the smartest and the quickest, so by cunning he would lead the family. One said he was the swiftest of tongue and the richest, and so by wealth he would lead the family. On they argued, and their mother lived out her final days in anguish that her family would suffer when she left. Finally, on her last day, she called her sons into her room. She took the shawl laying around her shoulder for warmth and with her last strength she tore it into three pieces, giving one to each of the m. She bade them each in her hollow voice keep the pieces, in memory of their family. But she also commanded them to go their separate ways once her body was burned unto ash and to not meet again until their differences could be settled. They must be like the wind until they could live together in peace and never settle. And so the brothers stood by her side as she breathed her last, and took her outside to be burned on a pyre and scatter her ashes to the winds. Then they each gathered their families into wagons and began to travel… And it is said this is where the Tattershawl were born.

The Tattershawl hold no permanent home, as they follow the wind and the ever-present promise of better fortune farther up the road. Traveling by river barge or wagon, Tattershawl have as companions their road-family, called kiths. While these kiths are not related by blood, they are bound together by the unity of kindred spirits. It is said there are as many Tattershawl kiths as there are differing personalities, with each member being able to find their own home where they truly belong. Kiths can be identified by a signature pattern or color that is worn proudly in their clothing and adornments.

Each year, the Tattershawl gather en masse in a secret and hidden location, one that can only be reached by a gate woven by Tattershawl adepts.This is a time of unity and celebration, the only time when kiths mingle, called the Jubilee. It is there that Tattershawl who have come of age find their true kith and leave their mother’s family to pursue their fortune. No Tattershawl stay with their mother’s family in adulthood. Tattershawl value their kith above personal needs or desires, and the well-being of their family is paramount in their minds at all times. In any battle or conflict, the future of the kith is weighed most heavily against any other consequence. All other major decisions have their final turn decided on by the matron or patron, and their wisdom is valued highly within their kith.

Decisions and mandates are made in a kith by a single leader. This person should be patient and wise, appreciating each member of the kith as equal and valuable. This leader need not be old of age, but is always old of spirit. Traditionally, this role is filled by a matron. It is said this is in deference to that original wise mother that birthed their kind. However, patrons are not unheard of. The matron or patron of a kith can be identified by the symbol of an eye, worn as jewelry or sewn into an item of clothing. It is said with this eye they watch for evil that is nearing their kith even while their own eyes ensure the kith is functioning as a true family.

Tattershawl are boisterous and love life, they take from each race that joins them the very best they have to offer. Being of such scattered origins, the Tattershawl view themselves as a gathering of the best of all the cultures. They do not engage in outside conflicts, but keep to themselves if they can and care for their own. They have no lasting animosity towards any other group, ough they are often looked down upon by the more “civilized”. Any wandering soul can join with a kindred Tattershawl kith. They may not be immediately welcome, but given a time of Proving, their loyalty and intentions are tested. at the end of this time if they have shown they are true and loyal, they may be taken to a Jubilee to officially join the kith.

It is said, to find a Tattershawl camp you should follow the tinkling sound of laughter. They are known for excelling in those professions that require little material possessions, for they are ever on the wind: they are performers, seamstresses, artists, and tinkers. They carry on them their wealth, for they never know where they will travel next.

(More details about the Jubilee are redacted and can be sent to those with interest in playing Tattershawl.)

Kalmak

Most Kalmaks live in villages of 40-80 people. These villages may be coastal, inland or in the swamps of Lazurian. Each owes allegiance to a family and each family belongs to a clan. These kinship relationships define a great deal of Kalmak life.

The Kalmaks favor thatched houses dug into the earth, placed in natural caves or crevasse or built on stilts over swamps or lake. The defensive walls they build are stone or earth, since the Lothlan employ flaming siege weapons, and are marked by stone towers where their archers may shoot. Each village is in some way defensible, though some rely on geographic features rather than constructed walls.

Kalmak clothing is often made of wool, fur or linen and dyed with the earth tones of the land they live on. Armor, if it is worn, is commonly leather, chain or brigadine.

The Kalmak have agriculture, though they do not think of themselves as farmers. They rely more on foraging, fishing, trapping and hunting, especially in the more temperate areas. Their villages are often full of pigs, chickens, goats and scampering small children. The mountainous groups commonly mine surface veins for ore, and the other tribes primarily gain metal through trade with those villages or from traveling merchants.

The Kalmak practice strength of arms together as a village on a regular basis and are famed for their bow and pike fighters. Even those who can not practice themselves attend, offering correction and encouragement to youngsters. The most martial-minded villages train with the rising of the dawn, though the majority of villages choose the evening instead. Depending on the village the frequency may vary between nearly daily to a few times a month. There are those among the Kalmak more devoted to hunting and the defense of the town, but everyone is expected to develop some skill for when the raids arrive. The weapons are commonly kept in a central armory and the armorer and smith doubles as the warleader when such is necessary.

Marriages are most often are arranged within clans but between villages. Which village the married couple moves to is determined by which member is the elder child, or simply older in case where they are of the same cardinality. Within each village everyone knows their relationship to everyone else. Hearthfires are open to any member, though the more distant relations are expected to bring some gift to the table, and on a usually night there will be five to ten stewpots going.

Each clan is led by a Abannan. The five Abannen are the ultimate arbiters, although most matters are resolved on a more local scale. Each village may impose punishments from beatings to death or even exile from the village, but exile from the clan must go to the clan’s Abannan and exile from the Kalmak must go to the full council of five. That is considered the worst possible punishment.

Each family has a Ieldra, the person the most other members of the family are mostly closely related too, who is in charge of the family as a whole. Such a calculation is naturally open to interpretation, and so it is frequently a particularly suitable person who is found to be the most closely related. The Ieldra travel between villages. Whereas most Kalmak spend their time on the work of survival, it is the Ieldra who have the freedom to keep an eye on the bigger picture. They often facilitate marriages and trade, spread news and songs and otherwise maintain the sense of family among the scattered groups. It is their duty to visit each family village once a year: if a family grows too big to allow that, it must split.

In a village, such administrative matters as there are are undertaken by the local Tollscir, chosen from among those who’s children have had children. They keep the largest building, the Safeheld, where gatherings are be held, organize for the defense and provisioning of the village and if there comes a decision that the village can not decide upon, their word carries the weight of a hundred others. As such, they often speak little while in office. At the first frost the office is appointed, though the old Tollscir may be reappointed, and often is.

Among the Kalmak informal apprenticeships are the norm. Children and most adults spend their time foraging, building, farming and caring for animals. Those who specialize may have to travel to another village in order to train in the skills they seek, though every village has a smith and most have a keeper of graves and at least a few people handy with musical instruments.

Warfare:

Raiding between families and clans is not unheard of, though it was more common before the threat of the Lothlan became as grave. Now defenses are better and raiding is often considered more trouble than it is worth. Challenges and entertainment, however, are still common. Many a winter’s night the Safeheld is brightened by the clash of arms.

When a new family hives off, they must gain the land to settle.

The most recent major Lothlan threat was the War of the Byways, which ended fifteen years ago. The Jori of Rensul at the time gathered a monstrous group of northern Lothlan together and marched south, ravaging the northern Kalmak lands by land and seas like a hurricane. While the Kalmak clans were calling their banners to muster defense, Broichan the Kestrel took the opportunity to attack from the west, sailing a hundred river knarrs through the mountain byways. The Kalmak were not expecting a war on two fronts, and were pushed back quickly. This war raged on for two years, with the Lothlan pushing as far into Kalmak lands as Erlon itself, with the seafaring contingents taking a severe toll on the coastal Kalmak settlements.

The war ended when a plague ran through the Lothlan ranks. In addition to killing Lothlan warriors outright, the weakened leaders made easy targets for challenges by other Lothlan seeking to become the new leaders, thus causing confusion as power structures shifted.

The Agni Lana Culture Packet

I pray that this letter finds safer passage home with its bearer than I have found on this expedition. If one shred of information is drawn from my experiences in this dismal wilderness, it is that there are some places shut to the world, and we’d do good to remember the first four letters of the word wilderness in our understanding of life out there.

Truth be told I have no business writing this letter at all. First, we became lost as our cartographer’s maps were about as much help as the spectacles I’d forgotten at the university when we set off on this journey. Imagine that! Two days outside of Zantia and we might as well have fallen off Evren! But the maze of trees and brambles; that was nothing compared to the creatures!

Savage, evil beasts and monsters - the things that get forgotten in more civil parts of the world. We were set upon at night as our meager fire did nothing to warm us. Our watch was the first to fall, and I should have been next but for our savior’s efforts. Four of them. They just appeared out of nowhere - arrows and spells firing off before I could draw my dagger. As the beasts withdrew, I figured we’d be the next targets, ripe for the kill and terrified. But instead these saviors of ours, they offered us food and water!

The next day they led us through the woods with ease, though I cannot be sure of the direction we were taken. Their leader was named Bryn, a clever fellow who joked with us as we walked, though mostly at our expense. He knew so much more of the Velliar than I’d ever have imagined. Humbling, truly, as I knew so little of him and his people. But I assure you, this Bryn and his three friends. They were not loners out there… Watching them in the woods was not unlike watching the head librarian at the University… Masters of their domain

Expedition Report of Velliar Explorer Mannus Lepune

The Agni Lana are considered a people of “the wilds” by the folk who live in towns and cities. In nearly any environment on Evren, tribes of the Agni Lana can be found. Unlike the Wanderers or Felicitoro, the Agni Lana have close ties to the land they live on, and form a unity with their space depending on the climate and the needs of their people. Some tribes can become very xenophobic and territorial, especially those from harsher lands, where survival is not a guarantee. Others, however have direct dealings with the other cultures of Evren. The only constant to expect between tribes of the Agni Lana is their deep understanding and connection to the plane of Umbra. The Agni Lana value the life of their tribe first, but all creatures on Evren remain a close second. They strive to do their part to protect lives (oftentimes, from each other). Many tribes have wardens and rangers that seek to protect travelers from the hostile creatures of their region, while in turn, protecting the very same creatures from the travelers. This, to the dismay of most Agni Lana, is not always possible. It is with a heavy heart that the Agni Lana will become violent, but it is not a sight one should ever hope to behold.

Many tribes stretch back in unbroken lines to the edge of memory. There is a long standing tradition of oral history and storytelling - passing tales of the tribe from generation to generation. A common rite of passage for Agni Lana youths is a quest to add a tale to their tribe - many young Agna Lana are known to seek out other tribes of the Agni Lana, sometimes traveling amazing distances, and spending years abroad. But the heart of the Agni Lana is nearly always for their tribe, and their land. Few Agni Lana can resist the camaraderie of a bonfire, the sharing of tales, and the enjoyment of life.

Most tribes do not adhere to common notions of power or a ruling class/person. They do lean heavily on their elders. A person with sage advice and experience is often sought to settle disputes and help make decisions for the tribe. This is almost always the most senior member of the tribe who has no living descendants, to prevent any nepotism or favoritism. This member of the tribe is referred to simply as father, or mother, and is believed to take all members of the tribe as their children - with all the responsibilities and care of any parent.

There is little distinction of roles outside of skills and contributions. Most Agni Lana care little for money, and prefer barter and service - but it is not uncommon to find members of the tribe who understand commerce and trade with the outside world. Some of these members will go so far as to seek education and knowledge from the other cultures of Evren, in an effort to return to their tribe with the tools to sustain and grow their tribe in new ways.

It is said that for every plant, rock, and river in Evren, there is a different tribe of the Agni Lana, for the personality and necessity of the tribe is shaped by the place they live.

Life In the Tribes

While each tribe holds to many unique traditions, usually based on the environment around them, the daily life of the Agni Lana people and the responsibilities to the rest of the tribe are usually consistent across Evren. Service and roles are generally shared - no one member is too good for any single task, and most Agni Lana have a diverse skill set and are trained from an early age in survivalism and self sufficiency. This yields tribes who are no longer dependent on specific individuals - it is rare that an Agni Lana would label themselves as “a cook” or “a hunter”… usually when asked they respond that they are “of the forest” or “of the plains” or whatever the land they call home is - to them knowledge of the environment tells you what they know how do to “professionally”.

This way of life does yield fascinating artists and creativity, as everyone participates in aesthetic arts. The Agni Lana use performance and art to keep their tribe’s history. Youth education is often conveyed in this way - while survivalism lessons can be harsh and dangerous and taught in a sink or swim style, history, knowledge, and education are vibrant affairs - often time employing music and dance.

Locations of note for the Agni Lana

Lazuria

In Lazuria, the heaviest populations of Agni Lana are in the west, far from the Lothlan and Kalmak territories. The most well known cultural exchange between the Agni Lana is in the wooded city of Zantia. Surrounding Zantia is the White Forest. Northwest of the White Forest, in the foothills of the mighty Annherfynol Mountains. The three locales are not the only places in Lazuria that tribes of the Agni Lana are found, but they are the most well known to the outside world.

Zantia - Originally home to the largest known Agni Lana tribe, the Cadfael, the settlement became a curio of possibilities to the Davenstern and the Velliars who would travel up the River Naddoc to learn from the Cadfael people and their fascinating and complicated history. With the Velliar came many other cultures from across Evren, and Zantia became a very busy city. As civilization began to encroach on Zantia, the Cadfael began to fight back, protecting their forest home. A very bloody war was fought without either side ever raising an army. The Cadfael had a massive advantage in their wooded homeland and forced the Velliar and Davenstern back down the river. For a hundred years, Zantia remained closed to the outside world. But slowly the trickle of exploration help mend the wounds of conflict. New visitors to Zantia found that the Cadfael did not raze the city after forcing their encroachers out; instead they began to repopulate it, and have since been slowly calling out to their brethren all over Evren in an effort to centralize the Agni Lana peoples. It now stands as the only Agnia Lana city in all of Evren. It is visited by many druids, and has become the seat of an Agni Lana druidic council of elders known as the Mór Comhairle.

The White Forest - Named for the heavy population of birch and aspen trees, this eerily still forest is largely uncharted by the Velliar, though efforts have been ongoing for decades. The tribes of the White Forest number in the hundreds.

The deep forest tribes are the quintessential Agni Lana to most outsider’s understanding. The dwell in the woods, living in balance with the ecosystem around them. Many tend to be wary of outsiders, knowing well what happened with the last encroachments in Zantia. More than half of the Mór Comhairle is made up of elder druids from the tribes of the White forest.

Annherfynol Foothills - The massive peaks found in the Annherfynol Mountains are as inhospitable as any place in Evren. Just south of these mountains, in the rugged foothills, is a collection of Agni Lana unlike any other, spread out across the length of the continent. The tribes of the foothills are some of the most well known tribes in all of Evren. Many born to a tribe in the foothills will end up adopted into a Lothlan band, or sailing with Felician merchants. Most of the Agni Lana from the foothills are contracted with Vigor, not unheard of to the Agni Lana, but certainly dwarfed in popularity to the contract with Umbra found amongst the other tribes of Evren.

Ohtyran

The Agni Lana are very scarce of the eastern continent of Ohtyran. There is only one known, albeit large, tribe of Agni Lana. They are the Cân y Gwynt (called ‘Wind Singers’ by most) and live in a large stretch of plains in the center of the continent.

Marsega

Marsega only has three known tribes of Agni Lana and only one of them is actually considered truly native to the continent, the Hania. The other two tribes, the Arostook and the Sevrachs, share a history with one another and are populated by the first Agni Lana to travel to Marsega with the very first explorations of the continent from the rest of Evren.

The Arostook - Fisherfolk that dwell upon the northern coast at the mouth of the Falacrine River. They are excellent fishers. The Father of their tribe, Chaska, is an ancient human of 84 years and the twin brother of the Father of the Sevrach tribe in the mountains southwest of Arostook’s shoreline village. He and his brother Songaa are bitter rivals however, and the bad blood has carried down through their respective tribes. While there has been no open conflict between the Arostoock and the Sevrachs, their people have long remained at odds and unwelcoming to each other. The Arostook have ties to the Felicitoro of Monia, who send trading ships from time to time when the ocean is safe.

The Sevrachs - Hardy mountain folk who live throughout the Surset Mountain range that overlooks the Witchwood forest. For many years they were not truly considered Agni Lana lacking any of the structure or values of the other tribes across Evren. They were a harsh and brutal people who would prey upon any who would settle the western shores. Decades ago, however, an Arostook warrior named Sevrach ventured into the mountains with a host of Arostook warriors, shaman, craftsmen alike. He confronted the scattered mountainfolk in small groups, bringing them a peaceful tiding from the outside world. He brought poultices and potions to aid the weak and sick. New weapons and tools to better defend themselves against the savage mountain beasts that preyed upon the people. It is often written about by the Scholars as “The bloodless conquest,†a term Sevrach himself would spit upon. He did not consider himself a conqueror in the least, but instead an instrument of the Agni Lana to help save their wayward children. Sevrach had brought one of his twin sons with him on his journey into the mountains, a boy named Songaa whom he raised to be as strong as the mountain folk, but shared too his knowledge gained from the world beyond the shores of the Arostook. Songaa would grow to be a beloved leader and something of a living legend as tales of his heroics and charm spread down from the mountains. He and the Sevrach tribe became very wealthy as they brought the metals of those mountains to the people who settled to the west of the mountains.

The Hania (best known as the Witchwood Walkers) - Very little is known of the Hania other than a few simple facts: they dwell in the Witchwood deeper than most outsiders dare to venture. They have been there longer than the Arostook have lived on the shores. They seem to exist to walk the forest, protecting and guiding those that venture in and become lost. They are clearly very organized, internally, as they have a very formal guild of rangers that serve as the first line of contact with the outside world and the Witchwood. Alongside the Rangers, somewhat sheltered by them, are Hania folk who live more traditional lives, straddling the line of living in the trees and knowing of the outside world. These people are clearly a buffer between the heart of the Witchwood and the rest of Evren and may not truly know much of the heart of their tribe of people either. They are generally more social than the rest of the Hania, and eager to teach the outside folk the ways of the forest, just as eager as the Rangers are to protect the woods from outsiders. It is said that the Hania’s true home is in the heart of the Witchwood itself, on the shore of the fabled Lifesblood lake, but none living would know for sure, and the Hania, though outwardly friendly, keep their ways something of a mystery.

The Lothlan live for glory, for the good life is one remembered. When one is skilled with a blade employment’s not hard to come by either.

Location

The Lothlan are a widespread people, located predominantly in the eastern part of the Lazurian continent, in the foothills to the north surrounding the northern port city of Renshul and arcing to the west into the Spark Mountains running south to the sea, a range of tall peaks and crisscrossing rivers surrounding the city of Xiem. A contingent of Lothlan have also established a port in the northern part of the island of Ladaran in the last hundred years, acting as a middleman between the Peleset and more reputable factions. The northern foothills are much more pleasant and manageable than the inhospitable mountains, but the competition for resources is greater.

Appearance

Lothlan tend to dress practically, with the tools of their trade packed as efficiently as possible. Armor is common, and well-kept. Other than the usual array of wools and furs most Lothlan wear one striking piece to their outfit, something more brightly colored or outlandishly shaped than the rest of what they might be wearing, all the better to make themselves more visually memorable. They will also display scars and tattoos prominently, even at the cost of clothing utility. Lothlan never go anywhere unarmed, and display their arms and armor openly to discourage anyone who would seek to waylay them.

Society

The concept that Might Makes Right is the cornerstone of the Lothlan mindset. If you are not strong enough to hold an office that you earn, or to keep the belongings that you have, then you don’t deserve them, and whoever can take them from you does. As such, strong ties of companionship tend to form early as lone Lothlan become obvious targets. These constant threats lead the Lothlan to put stake in their own personal ability and reputation above all else, and this personal mythos is referred to as their Conceit. Their reputation as someone not to be trifled with is vital to their survival, and will trump bonds of family or friends. Where lineage and ancestry is of importance to others, it is given little regard among the Lothlan. The accomplishments of your parents do not contribute to a Lothlan’s esteem.

That esteem comes from each individual’s accomplishments. Whatever vocation Lothlan choose, they go at it whole-heartily for the renown it can bring. Some vocations are certainly more noteworthy than others; no Lothlan has recorded who the best farmer in history was after all. However, even such mundane skills can become a part of their Conceit under the right circumstances; history does note Eveline Wheelwright Fireslayer who once beat a fire drake to death with her hammer and a convenient spoke. Even if one’s chosen vocation has nothing to do with violence, most Lothlan have learned some martial skill in self-defense.
Not ever action is worthy of renown. While cleverness is valued, subterfuge is treated with scorn as a sign of cowardice and weakness. No Lothlan would risk tarnishing their reputation by approaching a situation dishonorably. If such stories are told the names of the dishonorable are omitted from the telling: the worst punishment most Lothlan envision.

Slander is a grave offense, and the most common recourse for insults is in the battle circle. A Lothlan who can not defend their name, after all, must not have been worthy of it.

The skalds collect and recount the sagas of the most famous Lothlan. Every Lothlan works hard to perform acts that will gain their attention. The deeds that will add to a Lothlan’s Conceit are categorized into what are called Rykta, essentially titles that tout one’s accomplishments that a Lothlan will use when introduce themselves. There is a magic to the tales the skalds tell and the Rykta they bestow. Even without a Rykta, many Lothlan put a memorable title after their name, all the better to be remembered.

The great irony of the Lothlan is that while each individual Lothlan warrior can be counted among the finest in Evren, as any group larger than a tight cohesive warband tends to break down as egos come to the fore and the chain of command collapses. The Lothlan are very successful raiders, skirmishers, mercenaries and guards, but do not have a good track record when it comes to sustained warfare.

There are two major cities on Lazuria founded and controlled by the Lothlan: the northern port city of Renshul and the southwestern mountain city of Xiem. All cities and major settlements are ruled over by a Jori, a warlord that has gathered an entourage faithful enough to establish a stable rule. There is no concept of dynasty among the Lothlan, though many Jori do groom successors they believe powerful enough to rule and loyal enough not to hasten that day. A Jori is always under the threat of challenge by another. Since most Jori gained their position through such a contest, they are capable warriors. However, they are also protected by the work of administration itself, for once a Lothlan becomes Jori his or her Conceit will be ruled by the fate of the city they control and how long they live before another challenger defeats them. A wise Jori provides many opportunities for the warriors in his or her kingdom to gain Conceit. As long as they are well-served by the administration, most Lothlan are content to leave the dangerous and thankless positions to others.

The current Jori of Renshul is Tyban Graysong Redsea Faeslayer the Sealion. She took the seat only recently, challenging the former Jori during a failed campaign against the Kalmak. The current Jori of Xiem is Broichan Blackbanner Foebane Streamrule the Kestrel. He has ruled for over fifty years and is known for uniting some of the warbands and villages surrounding Xiem. Those under his leadership have gained Conceit from the raids he has led against the Dalers to the west and the Kalmak to the east. The newly-established port of Drustagnos on the island of Ladaran is led by Gedeia Shadeguest the Whipcord.

Daily Life

Those Lothlan who haven’t taken full-time employment often have a piece of land they work and live off of when they aren’t engaged in Conceit. Some warriors entrust land that they have cleared and defend to a less-martial Lothlan or hired Dalers while they are off raiding. Planting time and harvest time is when Lothlan do the least campaigning in order to support this farming. Many Lothlan are accomplished hunters, trappers, fishers and foragers, which allows them a wider range when raiding.

Taru

All Lothlan work to build their Conceit throughout their lives. The pinnacle of securing one’s reputation for posterity’s sake is to have a stone inscribed with one’s face and name on the surface of Taru, a series of peaks high in the Spark Mountains. One entire mountain is now entirely covered with such stone faces, each one with the Conceit of a long-dead Lothlan carved into the surface of the face’s open mouth. Many Lothlan travel to the mountains to carve their own face into the rock. It is no easy feat; many have died attempting it. The air is thin, the climb perilous and the weather unpredictable, but the reward is the memory of stone.

History

The most recent major campaign was the War of the Byways, which ended fifteen years ago. The Jori of Renshul at the time, Grestap Ironliege Avenger Bloodshoal the Falcon, gathered a monstrous group of northern Lothlan together after a particularly fruitful harvest and marched south, ravaging the northern Kalmak lands by land and seas like a hurricane. While the Kalmak clans were calling their banners to muster defense, Broichan the Kestrel took the opportunity to attack from the west, sailing a hundred river knarrs through the mountain byways. The Kalmak were not expecting a war on two fronts, and were pushed back quickly. This war raged on for two years, with the Lothlan pushing as far into Kalmak lands as Erlong itself, with the seafaring contingents under Grestap’s banner taking a severe toll on the coastal Kalmak settlements.

The war ended when the a plague through the Lothlan ranks. In addition to killing Lothlan warriors outright, the weakened leaders made easy targets for challenges. Grestap himself was defeated by Tyban Greysong the Sealion when he was weakened by the illness and no longer an effective leader. Tyban chose to withdraw and consolidate her power in Renshul. Broichan withdrew back to Xiem, burning all of the infected camps and towns as he went, reducing Westrock to a smoking heap.

Groups

The Xiem League

The western mountain range is home to the city of Xiem. It is a massive, two-part metropolis cut into the sides of two mountains across a valley floor. The lands surrounding it are taken up by villages connected to the mountains by a web of canals. It is here that Broichan the Kestrel leads the Xiem League, having consolidated the mountain Lothlan. He has stood as Jori for longer than any Jori in the memory of the scalds. While no challenge has yet succeeded, each victory has been harder-fought than the last.

The Fleshknitters

An exclusive society of healers that roam far and wide across Evren, identified by the Rykta ‘Fleshknit’ in their title. They are famed for their skills, honed in the dangerous life of battle. They provide for the common good among their own people and almost never travel outside the bands they work with. When they do work for non-Lothlan, they see exorbitant prices as a mechanism to spread their Conceit. They do not enter a battlefield until the battle is decided, and are traditionally spared even if their band is defeated.

The Norns

The Norns are a group of runesmiths from Lothlan who’s Conceit has spread far and wide. They are known for their martial application of runecrafting.

Their Place in the World

The Lothlan are widely-known for their martial abilities, and are highly prized as bodyguards, gladiators, and swords-for-hire among the other peoples on Evren. Lothlan play up their fearsome reputations while working for others, supporting both their own Conceit and the reputation of Lothlan in general.

Other bands of Lothlan turn to robbery or raiding to provide for themselves, hone their martial skills and increase their Conceit. Such things are not seen as dishonorable, as long as it is done proclaiming ones name and in the light of day. If those targeted were stronger, they would be able to keep what they owned. These bands range across the face of Evren; only the planting season offers respite. The smaller bands are frequently tracked down by those they target (or those they hire; such tasks provide work for Lothlan mercenaries.) The larger and more lasting groups of raiders are called Joukku and often establish a defensible base from which to raid.

Border skirmishes between the Lothlan and the Kalmak are fairly common; mostly along the clansmen’s north and west border.

Famous Lothlan

Oysten Highgovern Bloodsake the Tursas

The most prized and accomplished servant in Lothlan lands, currently managing the court of the Jori of the northern territory of Sartolf. A genius with numbers and a shrewd administrator, this quiet and unassuming elf has actually had a martial campaign fought over the privilege of being his employer. His new employer’s fortunes have risen in conspicuous ways since Oysten has begun to serve him, and even though his Conceit is not a martial one, it has grown through his hard work and merit and he is as proud in his vocation as any.

Vekel Headtaker Pitking Silversake the Parijono

In the most blood-soaked fighting arenas of Xiem spectators come from far and wide to see the most fearsome and devastating gladiator to have reddened the sands in two hundred years. A Lyra with thick leathery skin standing over seven feet tall, wielding a pair of monstrous warpicks, Vekel the Parijono is the undisputed master of Lothlan Bloodsport. She had retired years before to marry and live a more stable life, but re-enlisted when her husband and newborn were found murdered. Rumors abound in Xiem about the identity of their killer.

Pronunciation

If not listed here, it is pronounced as it’s spelled:
Drustagnos - dru-STAG-nus
Renshul - ren-SHOOL
Rykta - REEK-ta
Xiem - ZHEE-em

Fandalee Culture Packet:

Across Evren there are places that are less hospitable even than the swamps and tundras of the Kalmack. In these areas the Fandalee first gathered, drawn by the sharp edges and the knowledge needed to flourish. Even the Lothlan seldom raided these places, for there was seldom any extra to steal.

Speaking of a single “Fandalee” culture is certainly a misnomer, for the one shared precept is flexibility. The way one lives in a desert, traveling from oasis to oasis is very different than the way one lives in the mountainous regions of Ohtyran, creating terraced gardens and trading the rare components that gather in the places others don’t bother to look. Every place has different necessities, as the Fandalee who settle come to understand.

This resilience and adaptability has been remarkably successful as incorporating the minor cultures the Fandalee encountered. Fandalee expect little of others of their culture, and so many came to identify with the styles and lessons that the unrooted Fandalee offered.

For living in these remote areas further from most population,the Fandalee found themselves closer to the realm of Firmament and Reverie that float ever just out of sight. Accepting the whole of the world, good and bad, they learned to sense the tides and ebbs that echoed the physical world. There are patterns in everything, and life is easier if you recognize those patterns and work with them.

Thus did the Fandalee farms flourish. When travelers came, they gladly sell what can be spared. In several places the Davenstern discovered they were being shorted by the independent traders, and organized trading centers. Several of these have flourished into permanent cities, and some Fandalee have found the patterns of city life and commerce as engaging as those of the natural realms.

There are communities purely of Fandalee, but only some of those give themselves names. More often, they are merely places where many families happen to live together. Freedom to follow the pattern is central to the culture of Fandalee. The only stories of the Fandalee banding together is when any group seeks to deny people that freedom. Otherwise, even when threatened many Fandalee will simply leave.

When they do choose to live together, consensus is the common form of governance. People with authority are granted it by the agreement of the others. If people disagree strongly with a community decision, they find a new community to join elsewhere. Maintaining the freedom to leave is considered important, since otherwise it becomes easy to ignore the pattern in favor of mundane ties.

Which isn’t to say those ties don’t emerge. Family, land, possessions, all of these are still part of Fandalee life. Sculptures and artists and weavers all balance their crafts against freedom. The freedom to follow is also the freedom to commit ones’ self to a place or people, but only for so long as the desire remains. If a child chooses to leave their family few Fandalee would seek to return them to their parents. However, there would be no expectation that they would care for the child in their parents’ place. The child’s pattern might or might not entwine with theirs and only they could judge.

To be Fandalee is to trust not because the world is trustworthy, but because trusting is better than the alternatives.

Culture Fandalee clothing is often made with minimal cuts and seams. The cloth contains the pattern of the clothes it will become as it is woven. Some Fandalee music has its own wordless melodies, while others include ortimented vocals sung alone, or accompanied by drums that echo the patterns of the world.

Interaction with the rest of the world The Lothlan have a saying, “As frustrating as a Fandalee raid.” Often they would arrive as stealthy as a shadow and still discover the community empty, the population scattered into the local landscape. The Davenstern consider coordinating a Fandalee community to be the height of diplomatic challenge, and only the most ambitious attempt it. There is both prestige and profit available for any who succeed, but such success is hard-won. Felicitoro often see opportunity and many a family has profited from the labors of the Fandalee. Negotiating a contract usually involves the Felicitoro proposing terms until the Fandalee accept it; thus, it is usually as favorable to the Felicitoro as possible. Still, such contracts seldom last and it is few families that can maintain long-term relationships. More frequently the Felicitoro have learned the skills of the Fandalee and then slowly taken over the production of the profitable luxury goods, while the Fandalee move on to less profitable areas.

Dalers take care of each other. Whether in tending for the sick, raising a barn, bringing in the harvest, or defense from outsiders, you can count on your neighbor’s help. The Daler present a strong, proud, and self sufficient face to outsiders, but within the community, they are interdependent. Dalers have a very equitable and low-crime society; no one would let their family member or neighbor starve or be driven to theft. While there is great respect for their elders, and especially the council of elders, no Daler is inherently more important than another.

Beyond matters that pertain directly to the health of the community, the Dalers value freedom of choice. Whom you marry, what profession you choose, how many children you have, those decisions belong to each individual.

When a Daler child is born, a tree is planted for them in the village grove. On their 7th birthday, they are given an amulet carved from wood from that tree. The amulet has the family’s tree on one side and something unique to the child on the other. These amulets are incredibly important to the Daler.

Unity is important to the Daler, but they know that they must learn from outsiders to stay strong. Each young Daler is sent on a pilgrimage when they are ready to become an adult member of the community. The length of the pilgrimage can vary but it is usually at least one year. During that time they must learn something new. Many are apprenticed to a craftsperson in another place, others may travel with a Tattershawl group who have their home village on their regular travels. Some learn to fight, because while the Daler do not seek conflict, they will defend their home if needed and wish to have knowledge of the latest lessons of war come back to their communities. When the young Daler has learned something of use to the community, they can return and be accepted as full adult members, having seen some of the world outside and having learned to appreciate the life they live. The Daler are far from extravagant, but this is one of the causes for a small feast with music and dancing. However, the pilgrimage serves another important function for the cohesiveness of the Daler community. Some children born to Daler are not meant for the life of the Daler, and they may decide on their pilgrimage to leave their family and community. Traditionally, they return their amulet to their family and they are treated as one who is dead. This allows people to leave the community without shame and without rancor, before they have married or had children or otherwise taken a position that it would be disruptive to leave. They never become full Daler adults, and thus are not abandoning any responsibilities, and community cohesiveness is maintained.

Dalers may court before their pilgrimage, but if things become serious enough that they wish to wed, they are expected to begin their pilgrimage as soon as possible. If, after that experience, they still wish to wed, they may become formally betrothed and may be wed at the next changing of the season.

Daler couples are not married by one individual of authority, but rather by the community. The couple stands in the center of a circle, facing each other and holding hands. Their closest friends and family surround them with an unbroken circle of flowers, branches, grains, or something else natural. Those close friends and family stand in the innermost circle, then the elders of the community, then everyone else, standing in several rings of circles. The couple say their vows to each other and receiver the community’s approval. They exchange amulets and together break the circle and rejoin the community as a bonded pair and celebrate.

Divorce is practically unheard of due to the disruptive effect, but spousal abuse is also not tolerated. Family members and elders will work with a couple to try and resolve disputes. If one spouse is judged to be in the wrong, they may be sent to walk, which is the standard Daler way to deal with significant offenses. The offending party is sent to walk a route in silent contemplation a certain number of times or for a certain amount of time. Usually after such an experience, the person is better suited to rejoin Daler society. Crime is mostly unheard of, and on the rare occasions of an offense so grave that extended walking is not sufficient, they may be exiled from the community, and treated as dead.

Dalers can be found all across the world, wherever there is good farmland, though individual communities traditions vary. There is no common government or organization to Daler groups, just common traditions. Daler do not often travel from their communities, except during their pilgrimages. Sometimes, due to population growth or a change in the environment, there may be too many Daler for the land to support. In such cases, some number of families would decide to leave together and form a new community. They take cuttings from their family trees in hopes of planting them in their new homes. Generally, several of the heartiest of the Council of Elders will travel with them to form a new Council.

The Dalers are generally farmers and simple craftspeople. Their work isn’t fancy but it’s honest and always of good quality. Other cultures rely on the food and goods they produce to survive, especially traveling cultures, who often trade heavily with the Dalers for supplies. Travelers know they can find honest dealings and safety in a Daler village, though they know they must also not overstay their welcome.

Dalers tend to not have much interest in magic, instead being focused on the day to day rhythms of their lives. The few Dalers who do practice magic tend towards the druidic arts. It is common for a Daler village to have a druid who tends both a village grove and the village.

Dalers do not have very varied career paths, with most people being farmers or simple craftspeople. During the harvest, everyone is a farmer, and during the winter, farmers pickup crafts. There is little use for “frivolous” work like writing or painting in day to day life, but one day a week is reserved for a break from work and the pursuit of some sort of hobby, socialization, or the combination of both. Dalers who are drawn to things like art are told to pursue such things on their “free” day. If that is not enough, they may never return from their pilgrimage. Daler are raised to believe hard work is the most important thing in life, and most have no outward desire for “lazy time†.

Dalers put a lot of meaning in trees, with each family having a family crest with a particular tree. The tree represents their family line, the tree being the way they seek to live their lives. The tree needs the water and the sunlight to grow, the way the Dalers need other cultures to survive, but the tree weathers the long winter and the spring floods unchanging. The tree adapts and surviving and continues growing despite hardship.

Dalers dress mostly in earth tones, greens, browns, yellows. Each village has a color of a type of tree that they adopt as a local logo.

Each village is officially lead by a council of 5 men and 5 women elected from the elders of the community, but the Daler prefer not to need the council to arbitrate matters, preferring to reach group consensus. If a matter does need to be decided by the council, their decision is final. They reach their decisions based on the needs of the community. The elders of the council are also available individually to moderate and advise in decisions of conflicts that do not require the attention of the whole council.

Communities are welcoming to outsiders, but always show a front of success and happiness. They are very good hosts and will share a meal with anyone who needs one. This gives them a good reputation and they are generally very well liked and respected by other cultures. They value food and like to share a meal before making a trade or deal with another person or group. They are fair traders and trade mostly for necessities that are difficult to produce within their communities.

The Davenstern

The Davenstern are unique among the cultures of Evren, in that they have no towns or groups specifically their own. Groups of Davenstern may gather together from time to time, but never in living memory has a congress been called and they live throughout the world. Instead, they find collaborative positions in other communities. They may coordinate trade, using the knowledge they pass among themselves to ensure a better deal. They cultivate specialists in architecture, irrigation, and sanitation, the technologies necessary for the larger cities, as well as druids who specialize in plagues and rare diseases who may be called across the world if an outbreak occurs. Most of all, they provide a reliable communication network, which supports the ever-growing trade of Evren.

Although only some people are considered “Davenstern”, to the outside world any who were born into or become a member of their network are called Davenstern. The distinction between someone who is Davenstern and A Davenstern only matters to people who already know which is which.

Rank

Among the Davenstern there are several informal ranks. With the exception of becoming an Apprentice or a Davenstern, it isn’t so much that one is elevated from one status to another, but rather that acting as one station for long enough will typically lead other people to treat one as that status. There is also variation at each level; a contented architect who is Respectably Employed will be regarded differently than an eager and enthusiastic young messenger who is has less useful knowledge but is clearly headed towards greater things.

Ward

Wards of the Davenstern are children of Davenstern who are either unsuitable or superfluous. They are typically given a small allowance and sent out into the world. Getting them out of town prevents embarrassment for all involved and prevents the family from being a drain on the local community. Some join a Tattershall kith, a Peleset crew, or a band of mercenaries or find employment elsewhere. Others are content to live off the sliver of their family’s labor afforded them, though it does not allow for a particularly frivolous existence. All infants are considered Wards.

Apprentices

Apprentices are those who are being trained, either in a respectable trade or in the management of a town. Davenstern families are expected to see to it that their children are educated but not necessarily apprenticed. Apprenticeship is an honor that is granted to children who show an aptitude for the life of a Davenstern. It may also be granted to those who weren’t born Davenstern while they learn the customs and manners. It is not unusual for a Davenstern to sponsor local members of the community who appear particularly talented and suited to the life of a Davensetern. When training future administrators it is always a careful balancing act; it must be clear to the child, though not necessarily their community, that they are Davenstern first and foremost. The most ambitious Davenstern send their children to be educated by the Velliar; it is considered ideal, since the children are outsiders there as well and become accustomed to the state. The expense is regarded as an investment in the child’s future. Eight years of age is average for being afforded an apprenticeship, and those younger than 22 are usually still considered apprentices even if they are doing the full work of their employment. Many children are “apprenticed” to their families, and so the transition may not be marked at all.

Because the apprenticeship period is usually very long, it is not uncommon for apprentices to change trades, towns or occupations several times throughout this period. There is no stigma against trying several things and learn many skills but by the time they are 15 or 16, apprentices are encouraged to settle on one profession, Continuing to rise in the ranks of the Davenstern is considered to be an important decision. It is not expected that all who gain the rank of Respectably Employed will gain the rank of Davenstern. It is normal for people to not complete an apprenticeship or be guided into another life path if it is not the correct life path for a particular individual. It is even common for people who complete apprenticeships to decide to take a different path rather than becoming Respectably Employed.

Respectably Employed

Respectably Employed: Those who have completed an apprenticeship and are accepted by other members of their chosen profession. The employment may be legal assistants, trade representatives, or engineers, though the easiest path is to become a messenger; even the newest messenger is considered Respectably Employed, rather than an Apprentice. To be seen as fit to be a Davenstern, one is expected to spend at least two years Respectably Employed. Many people will remain in this role for their entire lives, training other apprentices until retirement. The children of those who are Respectably Employed are not automatically considered to be potential Davenstern; they must be sponsored and apprenticed by the Davenstern their parent or parents know. If one of their parents is an outsider, they often consider themselves a member of that culture instead. Anyone who is Respectably Employed is expected to provide support to those who taught them in their old age, though often the responsibility falls to the most successful apprentices and the local Davenstern. It is expected that people who are Respectably Employed will understand Davenstern ethics and act in a way so as to further the reputation of the Davenstern. They are given more leeway than full Davenstern as they are not expected to know all of the important details. It is for that reason that people who are Respectably Employed are actively tutored by full Davenstern and expected to continue their studies, even if they do not intend to rise in the ranks.

Davenstern

Davenstern: Those who manage a reasonably-sized town or trading source. These are considered to be fully Davenstern, and receive frequent correspondences from other Davenstern around Evren. The difference between this and Respectable Employment as an administrator is extremely fuzzy and is a social decision. Typically, the person who wishes to be recognized as Davenstern will arrange a discrete meal with a Respected Advisor, and in the course of the meal, mention some piece of upcoming business before the Davenstern. In return, the Respected Advisor will reply, “I hope that I will have your support”, and then will send a messenger to the new Davenstern when the matter comes for consideration. The other advisors then recognizes the new Davenstern. It is not required that the new Davenstern support the position of the Respected Advisor who is sponsoring them, but it would be uncouth not to.

Advisers

And finally, Advisers. This is a group of between 9 and 40 (during living memory) former Davenstern who passed their daily duties onto their heirs. They are chosen by invitation by the existing Respectful Advisers when an appropriate person has trained an appropriate heir. Anyone who is considered Respectably Employed may call upon a local Davenstern for advice or support, and any Davenstern may call upon an Adviser. Payment for such assistance in gifts is common, though never required; it is more important that help be available for the good of the culture. The Davenstern rely upon their name, reputation and nearly-universally friendly relations to ensure their safety and position. There are currently fourteen Advisers. The most famous Advisors are Aldrick and Ebba, a couple who were independently invited to the rank. The tale of their romance, conducted for years at great expense through messengers, was turned into a popular ballad. More recently they assisted in negotiating the peace at the end of the War of the Byways and curtailing the plague that had been unleashed there.

Life as a Davenstern

Many Davenstern are quite well-off, particularly in comparison to the communities in which they live, but they are discreet about these differences. Wealth is saved or invested in the future, rather than flaunted. Some Davenstern consider themselves superior to the members of the communities they facilitate, but that attitude does not lead to the long-term stability and lasting relationships and degrades the respect of the Davenstern in the community. The most common attitude is one of specialization: they are able to to do things others can not and vice verse. The Davenstern collectively care about building stronger communities. They seek to build infrastructure and manage towns in such a way as to sustain and grow that community. While Davenstern often derive profit in this pursuit, the focus on the greater goal is more important. Few towns in Evren have a Davenstern administrator, but those that do tend to be more profitable and grow faster than the others. This leads to an influence beyond mere numbers. The reputation of the Davenstern is the most valuable thing they have as a culture. Those that harm this reputation or take actions counter to the ethical rules of the Davenstern will quickly find themselves under close scrutiny. While it is uncommon for someone to be directly asked to leave the culture, those who repeatedly flaunt Davenstern practices have shown a pattern that means they are unlikely to ever advance beyond their current rank. In particularly egregious or extended cases, the Davenstern have been known to disavow their members, even those who are simply wards. Davenstern tend to dress in conservative styles of fine cloth after the style of the people they are working among. They believe it is valuable to blend in with the locals as it reinforces the image of the Davenstern as part of the community. Davenstern messengers favor the color blue. There are no special rules governing styles or colors of dress but because people already associate the Davenstern with the color blue, many Davensetern choose to keep that color to continue that association. Long-term monogamous marriages are the norm and marriages to members of the local culture are encouraged. Any parent that is Davenstern, however, is responsible for appropriately educating their children. Nepotism is expected, though never at the expense of dignity. Family names are given if a non-Davenstern parent has a family name, but are typically abandoned upon becoming Davenstern. This helps smooth over some of the ill will created by nepotism and limits its effects to the living generations.

Council

When issues come up, new points of good practice or contradictions in existing points of good practice or contract disputes between Davenstern, it may come before the Advisers. A messenger is sent to each Davenstern requesting input, and though there is no requirement that the will of the majority will be followed, it is commonly thought to be highly influential. Each Davenstern sends back their opinion, which may include a brief summary of the reasons involved; these are considered more influential than the mere majority will. Such matters come up seldom, though; more commonly six times a year a messenger will visit simply with news and information, chatting with the Davenstern and their family. This messenger network is staffed by younger Davenstern who are seeking a place for themselves. It is dangerous work, but allows unique access to the information and power structures of Evren. Each messenger is able to gate themselves around Evren in a way no other group can; the details are a closely guarded secret, but it is known that only small amounts of goods may be carried with them. This mechanism is more commonly used to convey information and the prices for transport of even small items are quite high, particularly if they are mana-laden or enchanted. Larger items cannot be carried at all as the Davenstern consider the risk to the messengers too high.

Philosophy

The Davenstern culture is one of scholarship and ethics. Individual Davenstern are expected to become educated on ethics and best practices by reading and authoring scrolls on the subject. These scrolls are on a wide variety of topics ranging from negotiating advice to rules for running gambling establishments. A full Davenstern is understood to have a rich working knowledge of ethics and as such they can contribute to the larger body of knowledge. It is often common for Apprentices and people who Respectably Employed to analyze existing scrolls or write scrolls of their own as an exercise.

The Davenstern collectively have an opinion on what would constitute a better world. All of their laws and ethics can be considered as deriving in some way from that. As an example. Davenstern are not pacifists. There is nothing wrong with being well trained and know martial arts. There is nothing wrong with self defense. At the same time, a Davenstern should take care to avoid placing themselves in a position where ending a life would be necessary. They have this custom because they place an inherent value on life and because if everyone did this, there would be less death and violence.

The Most Prominent Currently Accepted Trading Practices

Keep neat and accurate records in all business dealings Do not violate local customs or behave in any way that might lead to a lack of access for other Davenstern All dealings should be advantageous for everyone involved. If someone feels as though they were cheated, the dealing was a failure. Conduct one’s self always as a representative of the Davenstern Results are more important than credit

Things to Think About

Note: Davenstern PCs may not start as full Davenstern, they must be Wards, Apprentices or Respectably Employed

  • What rank of the Davenstern is your character? What rank do you aspire to be?
  • Were you born into the Davenstern or did you apprentice in from a different culture? If another culture, where are you from?
  • If you are an apprentice or higher, what do you have in mind for what your project is going to be or how you are going to make you community a better place? What have you already done and what are you going to do in the future?

For everybody’s information, I was planning to put all the non-secret culture information on the webpage somewhere, but haven’t had time yet.
And Anne offered to post stuff on the forums, so this is great!
New versions will go up on the website over the winter once we’ve had time to incorporate feedback from our Diversity reader.

Most of these things are “stuff you would only know if you hung out a lot among the particular culture,” so choose what you read with that in mind!

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Sorry Beth, I Should have said that you emailed me everything when I brought it up.

No problem!

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