Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What the Elder Told Me: Two Cultures for The Last Fleet

Last of these I'm going to post- the last two player-created cultural backgrounds for the upcoming Last Fleet campaign.

What the Elders Told Me: A Personal View of Namir Culture

Who are you?

My name is Lira Moondawning. I’m 23 years old. I was born to Lorcan and Jasira. I have 2 older brothers, Jakir and Aden. Aden went to the city of Kuval to study magic with the shamans there. Our mother is an ambassador of the council who travels to the different cities. Our father, part of the shadow dancers, was once hired as her personal guard. He still travels with her and protects her. Jakir became a knight, guardian of the council..

Though we do not see each other often, Aden and I are quite fond of one another. Jakir and I do not get along well, though since he has married and blessed our family with twin little girls, things have improved. I do so adore my nieces, Kiele and Donae.

My mother had hoped that since I was a single born that my role in life would be important, perhaps eventually become a part of the council. My true destiny has not yet been revealed to me. After a few tests at a very young age, I was welcomed with open arms to the shadow dancers. I’m at the top of my class physically and I’m the youngest to have passed the magic trials. I have been given an honorable gift of a small curved blade, imbued with soul magic. My father is very proud.

Who are we?

We are the Namir. An upright, willowy, and graceful race attributed with feline facial features, tails, pawed feet, and tall ears. We enjoy lofty areas, art, music, and theatre. Once a private tribal people… the great kraken pirate fleet war brought them alongside other races. They have evolved to be a communal city of many various professions.

Once a noble and honored profession, we are the shadow dancers. It was the shadow dancers who first joined in the fight against the pirates. After the war, they were named the invisible protectors of the council, they melded with the shadows, bending the darkness to suit their own needs. After time, there were those who feared the ways of the shadow dancers, and made claims that their cunning ways were too sneaky, deceitful, and certainly not noble enough to hold the position of protectors of the council. They were replaced with new guardians, glorious knights in pearl laden leather armor, shining for all to see. The shadow dancers withdrew from their former ranking, but kept their teachings. They take pride in being the best at what they do. Their symbol is seen as a black flame with jade green cat eyes.

What makes us great?

Powerful imbued weapons created with souldeath magic put the namir on the map of highly sought after goods.

The legendary stories of the heroes who risked their lives to help free us from the Kraken pirate fleet.

Where do we live?

The isle of N’dal. Most of the isle is a warmer climate of tall forests. There is a large lake toward the center and there are several rivers and streams that flow from this lake. There are places with small waterfalls. It’s a lush island with colorful birds and exotic flowers.

There are three cities. Kuval is near the lake where shaman train side by side with their water elemental allies. Notin is an aerial port city where most come and go from the island. Vines, ropes, and trained tree branches are woven to create the main city of Nadia high in the trees…

Picture this… Walking along a simple dirt path, no more than 2 people wide…Ferns, mossy rocks, and long stemmed vibrant orange and pink tiger lilies dot the edges of the path. Looking around, you’re in the middle of a forest, with tall trees that seem to go up forever. The smell of the earth is mixed with the soft scent of a fresh rain. It’s warm and humid, very tropical. The loud screech of a brilliant blue bird featured with a long feathered tail and green tipped wings calls attention to himself as he flies overhead. You come to a small area, just off the path where a handful of long ropes with small harnesses dangle from somewhere above. Slipping into the harness, you give a firm tug to a secondary rope and up you go… The trees are vast and lofty, you move swiftly up to a semi large platform, here you would get into a small swing attached to a horizontal rope with a soft downward angle… you sit in the swing, (a soft band that goes under your butt, suspending your legs in a sitting position) and tie the strap around your waist, there is a bar above you that you can use to hold onto… and once in, you drop off the platform and glide along the rope. Eventually you can start to make out the main city of Nadia… Large branches have been grown to form the mainstay of the city. It is quite beautiful. Long vines adorned with brightly colored flowers have grown around the branches of the city. You get out of your swing to climb onto a rope bridge leading to the main entrance. There are other ropes leading out in different directions, each direction has at least 2 ropes… one angled for arrival, one for departure. There is laughter as two young namirian kittens wrestle one another in the trees close by, one tumbles out of the branches and falls… she grabs hold of one of the vines and swings close to the trunk, she leaps up, claws out and springs through the branches, disappearing back into the foliage toward the laughter of the other. The city is busy with the morning hustle and bustle. The bakery doors are open, the smell of sweet flaky pastries and light sweet cream are being made. Large trays of fruits and berries are being brought in and placed in the market. Some walk by eating long sprouts of green mixed with various colors that look like petals, they walk with small bowls and grasp the plants with fingers placing the food in their mouths. A little girl runs by, sweet white cream dripping off of her whiskers. There is music, soft and light with string and wind instruments. There are several buildings, most here on the outskirts are newer with added cut branches for construction, but as you go further into the city the older buildings are an actual part of the branch woven city.

How do we live?

We are mainly a communal people. You don’t “buy a house” here. There are hammocks for beds hung under the protective canopies of the trees, while many are clustered together, there are groups of hammocks hung in different places... grouped for families, training circles, and for those who prefer to be more alone. While money is exchanged for the efforts involved, we gather together for the main meal times. Meals take place in their own section of the city, a gathering of tables, chairs, benches, and massive buffets of food. It’s almost always busy here as large groups of people come and go. There isn’t a predetermined time slot for anyone and they may not go at the same time with the same people every day.

Hunting, fishing, and gathering is also generally done in groups.

From schools of magic to cooking meals, there is one person (or two in broader, more popular fields) who earn the rank of instructor in their field of expertise and they take on the young students in training circles.

There is a lot of love for art, music, and dancing. There is a grand stage with branches woven to make stair step bench seating located on the western side of the city for various plays and performances.

What is important in my life?

To keep my people safe. Friends and family. To improve my skills.

Who rules us?

We have a governing council. There are almost always 4 members, but there have been as many as 9. There are 4 main council members who remain on the council until their death, however a large exception can be made by the people to have a person step out. The other council members are nominated by the people and the main council members to join depending on circumstances and how their knowledge pertains. If a group of people were to ask for something, say to leave the aisle for exploratory purposes or if a group of people wasn’t getting along with another group… the group (or groups) would select a member to join the council in the discussion and decision. Or if the city were in need or danger, those who could help the most by their knowledge would be selected as council members. Sometimes those people remain on the council even after the situation has been remedied. The main 4 council members are made up of 1 member from each of the other 2 smaller cities on the isle and there are 2 from the city of Nadia.

What makes a person great?

One who is brave enough to face their fear and do what they thought they might not be able to do. One who is unselfish and does what they can to the benefit of others. Exceptional skill, i.e. a great swordsmith.

What is evil?

The shadow dancers have a darker side, not afraid to use extra means to get the job done right… however, evil would be cruelty or torture to those who are weaker just because you can. They’ve done nothing to you and there is no greater cause. (I.E. animal abuse) Self-indulgence that affects others negatively with no regard for their well-being…

*The namir also use souldeath magic to imbue weapons… the death of a soul is very harsh… and the gods should be thanked as it is only them who can create a new soul, so a soul is seen as a gift from the gods… and if a person simply chooses to use their soul to do evil, then their soul is better off in another’s hands as a weapon where it will be cherished as the gift that it is.

What is my lot in life?

To protect my people.

How do we deal with others?

There is a city near the large lake on the isle. The namir live peacefully alongside the water elementals here. They are protective of one another. There are other allies… wolfen, some elves, few humans, and others… Caution is used with strangers in Nadia and the water city of Kuval, though guests are treated very well. The small aerial port city of Notin, however, is a strange city of mixed races, the namir are the highest in population, but there are a handful of other races that take up residence here.

Who are our enemies?

Those who wish to do us or our allies harm. Those who seek to do destroy our world.

Who are our gods?

Karasi – female goddess of life. She is prayed to for fertility and births as well as the life and growth of the plants and animals on the isle.

Thanos – male god of death. He gathers and takes in the half souls until their other half can be joined when he releases the paired soul to Karasi for rebirth.

*Karasi and Thanos are twin sister and brother. The souldeath magic users give their thanks and ask for both of their guidance in choosing souls.

Gwydion – male god of magic, light, and the sun. He favors the elemental magic of earth and fire.

Amaiya – female goddess of magic, night, shadows, the moon, and the stars, she favors the elemental magic of wind and water.

Tarak – male god of war, protection, and order.

Linaeve – female goddess of song, dance, art, and chaos.

What is there to do around here?

Plays, music, art, dancing, food, learning, work… There are sporting games of skilled challenges. Children have toys like balls, dolls, and puzzle games. There is a library of books and maps made by various explorers. There is romance and friendship.

What the High Orc Told Me: A Brief History of the Orcs of the High Veil

Who are you?

I am Marreg Warmane, Master Hunter, son of Vuhaan and Mishraa. Brother of Riskaar and sibling to Mishreey and Iskaar

Who are we?

We are Clan Warmane, Orcs of the High Veil, seekers of the light and knowledge. We are the next generation of Orcs.

What makes us great?

Our ability to adapt. We came from a world that digests most races and have come to find our own path. We seek knowledge of the Vengmaar (red rocks) that we find in our land. And we wish to aid and learn from other races. We have power and strength, and the knowledge of the steel, this will sustain us.

Where do we live?

We live in the High Veil, a colorful land of mystery. Centuries ago Thurgen Strongjaw and his Clan ventured forth from the Fell Lands in search of a better way for the Orc race. He went through the Scar, a dangerous valley full of things and creatures that see even Orcs as food. After many weeks and many perils Thurgen and his Clan emerged. He found a new world, not perfect, but with light and hope, a new start. He found a city, complete, but devoid of people. Everything you would need to support a city was there. It was as if everyone just picked up and left. Much of the things we didn't understand, but over time we learned. We could tell that this city was here for centuries, that many races once lived here. The one thing we don't know is where they went. The city is magnificent, high towers rise out of the mountainside, while great plains stretch out at its feet. It is a great mystery to who built this place and what ever became of them.

How do we live?

Crops have been planted and the steel is pulled from the land. Herds of Brel (cows) are being bred and the heard has been large enough to trade for some time. Our steel is some of the finest in the world. We have tamed the Tyren Beasts, large winged reptiles, and use them for sky hunting and transporting goods to far reaching outposts. We trade with the Namir and the Kalais who have brought us countless new products and knowledge. Our world has grown fast in a short span of time. The Namir has taught us of magic. The Vengmaar stones now hold much more value. The Kalais have taught us of skyships and how to build and pilot them.

What is important in life?

Knowledge. For too long the Orc has been the instrument of war for others. Easily swayed to do the bidding of others and never for the betterment of the Orcs or their race. We seek knowledge to secure our independence from the other races.

Who rules us?

The Clan Council rules the Veil. Made up of members from the most powerful families in the city. Many of the Council are descendants of the original founders of the city.

What makes a person great?

Overcoming your weaknesses and making a difference in the world.

What is evil?

Those without honor. That which takes away your will to be. Those who wish to destroy. Elves (just kidding on the last one)

What is my lot in life?

To help my Clan grow stronger. To serve the Council and my Clan any way they see fit.

How do we deal with others?

Originally at arm’s length. But over time as other races have passed through they have become accustomed to our ways and us to theirs. We trade openly with all who come to our land with civil purpose. That having been said, never underestimate the Orcs will to self-preservation.

Who are our enemies?

Some of the Clans that still remain in the Fell Lands consider us a disgrace to "true" Orcs. They vowed to kill us on sight. That is why the passage to the Scar was destroyed and buried beneath a wall of rocks. That has been some time ago and we have not heard a word from them. If they ever do emerge we will purge the universe of them. Oh, and the Elves (kidding).

Who are our gods?

Tedril, father of all Orcs, giver of the flesh and steel. Mezrah, mother to all Orcs, caretaker of the earth and water. Plus we hear that other races think they have gods also, we find this humorous.

What is there to do around here?

Tend the fields, lead a hunt, work the steel, learn to use the Vengmaar, take in a show, you haven't seen Shakespeare until you've seen it in Orc!