The Wanderlust Legion
Humans of Turann
The dominant people of their eponymous content Ghulam, the Ghul are rumored to be infused with the blood of djinni. Much of Ghulam is mountainous desert, and this proud race has adapted to the harsh climate through cleverness and pure fortitude. Their empire stretches across the sands, and stands testament to the ambition and enduring strength of the Ghul.
Though often the subject of negative stereotypes and mistrust, the Ghul take it all in stride. After all, their empire still stands, while mighty Rannica fell nearly 1000 years ago. They are a people of great pride, and can often be given to haughtiness. ‘Lesser’ people are simply jealous of the Empire of Ashura, and take out their frustrations with snide remarks and sideways looks.
Humans belonging to the Ghul ethnic group tend toward tan or dark skin, and full-blooded Ghul have the darkest of wavy, black hair. Their eyes, enforcing the idea that their heritage is not entirely natural, can be yellow, red, or orange, in addition to brown. They are often tall, but this is more of a tendency than a set-in-stone rule. Facial piercings are considered a symbol of status; the more rings, chains, or gems one has pierced in one’s skin, the more noble of standing that person is. To help fend off the powerful heat of their natural habitat, Ghul often wear loose, airy linen clothing over their whole body, which shields their skin from the sun, while allowing lots of air to pass through. For formal wear, women wear sheer veils over their faces, and men wear turbans with feathers or gems in them.
Culture and History
Most, but not all, Ghul live under the dominion of proclaimed god-king Ashur. According to lore, this divine emperor inhabits the body of one chosen priest and governs the Empire of Ashura physically until the body is exhausted, and then chooses a new body in which to dwell.
Because farmland is at such a premium in Ghulam, early Ghul societies congregated around the River of Spirits, which cuts a swath through the continent. Land is fertile around the river, and there is also plenty of fishing to be had. Inevitably, fighting erupted between the tribes, and many were driven away to hunt in the deserts. They tamed the raptors to use as mounts and eked out a rough life from the unforgiving dunes of sand.
In time, a charismatic hero by the name of Ashur rose up from the desert tribes, claiming to be driven by divine inspiration. He led his people in a conquest of Ghulam, eradicating the worship of the old gods, and naming himself the one true god of the Ghul.
Language and Names
Ghul children are given a name by which they are called their entire lives, and are also given either a patronym, with the father’s name being preceded by the prefix bin-.
Male Names: Azir, Bahram, Casper, Darien, Faruq, Hakim, Jahad, Jabari, Rajahim, Xerxes
Female Names: Aaliyah, Banu, Djamilah, Esfir, Fatimah, Ishtar, Jasmin, Laleh, Nuha, Sahar
Surnames: bin-Alar, bin-Darien, bin-Jahad, bin-Xerxes
Foreigners brought to Ohma as slaves of the Rannican Empire, the Kataosha are a misunderstood and widely disliked ethnicity of humans. Though once renowned for the treachery and evil of their Heavenly Emperor, the Kataosha seek now to prove that they have moved beyond such barbarism and are as respectable as anyone else.
Katao is a land steeped in mysticism. Creatures such as the oni, kitsune, tengu, and countless other strange beings of legend inhabit its forests and mountains. Most of these beings are regarded as the reincarnated spirits of Katao ancestors, and are given worship and admiration (or at least fearful appeasement, in the case of the more deadly and agressive spirits). Now that the institution of the Heavenly Emperor has been broken, spirit worship, or Zen-Tsue, is once again a legal and openly practiced religion in Katao.
The Kataosha are easily identifiable by several unique physical traits. They naturally have straight black hair, fair skin, and almond-shaped, brown eyes. They are shorter than most other humans and tend to have a slighter build. Women have soft facial features, and both men and women have small noses and mouths in comparison to other races.
Men and women of all social ranks wear loose-fitting clothing, with pants being tied at the waist and cuffed at or below the knee. In formal situations, men and women wear robe-like garments called kimono, made of several layers of heavy cloth. More wealthy Kataosha wear brightly colored, beautifully embroidered kimono.
Culture and History
In the old land from whence they came, the Kataosha were known to worship a kind of dragon known as ryu. These creatures resemble typical dragons, but they lack wings and horns, instead possessing antlers made of a wood-like material, manes of fur, and long tendrils on either side of their snout. The ryu informed most of early Kataosha culture; they gave to the humans their knowledge of ki, their reverence of their ancestor’s spirits, their sense of honor, and their love of tea. Ryu have not been seen since the Katao were enslaved by Rannica, and it is unknown if they still exist, or ever existed in the first place.
After Rannica fell, the Kataosha experienced a great exodus to their homeland. They closed themselves off from the outside world, vowing never again to be enslaved by anyone. in PE 368, an unnamed man rose up to create an empire for Katao: he called himself Emperor Dao Jiang (which means Hand of Heaven), and he conquered much of eastern Alnia. Along the way, Dao Jiang made illegal any other religion, including the widely popular Zen-Tsue and the ascetic, enlightenment-focused Xiaolen. Inevitably, Alnia struck back, and the result was a sixty-nine year conflict, the result of which no one desired. Though the king of Alnia was killed in battle, Katao was defeated, and the Heavenly Emperor was assassinated.
In modern times, Katao is ruled by daimyo, influential samurai lords who own large tracts of land. Each daimyo is independent and each tract of land is sovereign. Daimyo employ hundreds of samurai, typically aristocrats who serve in exchange for leasing part of his lord’s land. This feudal system has been copied in some sense by the people of Westmark, and seems to be very successful.
Xiaolen monks live in mountaintop monasteries, focusing on internal enlightenment, self-perfection, and the improvement of their ki. Many monks travel the world, spreading their enlightement with others and attempting to gain even more wisdom and experience. Because of this, monasteries of all sorts have begun to spring up, some adhering to Xiaolen philosophy, but others being dedicated to various gods, such as Boddhis, the Rannican god that most closely embodies Xiaolen teachings.
Language and Names
Among the Kataosha, the family name comes before the given name. Three languages exist, possibly the last remnants of three separate cultures among them, and these languages influence the names given. The languages are Kintiro, Zhanqian, and Hangyeol. (OOC: They are analogues to Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, respectively.)
Male Names: Akira, Borin, Cheung, Hwan, Lee, Shujiang, Subotai, Taka, Yeun, Ziang
Female Names: Ai, Chaoxing, Daolan, Fumiki, Hanako, Lao, Minori, Wazuka, Xiulan, Zhenzhen
Family Names: Bosha, Danatsuka, Izumi, Leong, Nagano
The name “Ma’dula” is a general term that refers to the numerous tribes, clans, and nations of peoples that inhabit the region of Mulgoroth by the same name. While these people groups are all related on some level, the people of Ma’dula hold fast to these differences and are proud of their individual cultural identities. The tribes that exist today hold a certain resemblance to the original tribes from deep in Ma’dula’s history, but when those tribes banded together to repel the Rannican Empire in ancient times, many of those cultures blended and transformed. The separation was further solidified as the tribes drifted apart again as time went on.
The land called Ma’dula is a place of widely varied ecology. Dense, lush rainforests; sweeping, blazing deserts; tall, rocky mountains; and wide, expansive plains are all represented here. While Kenuwa, the empire of the Savannah, has spread the arms of civilization into each of these places, there are also wide stretches of wilderness, inhabited by strange beasts, and the people fierce enough to tame them.
While the room for variant physical appearance among the Ma’dula is almost as vast as the land they inhabit, there are several common indicators of their ethnicity. Their skin colors tend toward the darkest end of the human spectrum, from the duskier tones of the Ghul to skin that approaches ebony. They have broad faces, and their mouths tend to be wide and full-lipped. Their hair is always black and usually wiry, though some tribes exhibit hair that is more accurately described as wavy. In some tribes, clothes are simple animal hides and plant matter, while others wear elaborately colorful clothes and jewelry. Most tribes have a preference for body paint, but the patterns, colors, and their cultural meanings are different in each.
Culture and History
In ancient times, there were thousands of tribes covering the expanse of Ma’dula. Though there were threads of commonality (as there still are), each was distinct from the others.
The Rannican Empire once ruled the entirety of Ohma. Today, all that remains are ruined monuments to dead emperors, and the descendants of those that made up the empire. Though they still call themselves Rannicans as an ethnic group, these humans have muddied bloodlines, composed of all the human cultures that made up the Empire, most of which have now died out. ‘True’ Rannicans are extinct, and this conglomerate race is their only enduring legacy.
The most populous human ethnicity, Rannicans can be found in every corner of the world. They are most densely concentrated in the Free Cities of Alnia, however, and most consider this region their home. Many cling to the ancient history of their people, working to unite the Free Cities and begin a new empire, even greater than the one that fell long ago. The groundwork has already been laid; all the Free Cities except for Kessik (which is run by the Archmage of the Shining Tower) practice some form of democratic government, either by electing a monarch or a council of some sort, and in some cases both.
While the ancient full-blooded Rannicans are believed to have had golden skin, wavy blonde or auburn hair, and glistening blue eyes, the modern people are a far cry from this most noble heritage. They are still considered by many to be exceptionally beautiful, however, but seem to have more natural complexions. Their skin tends to be tan or olive-colored, their hair is dark, and their eyes are usually brown. Nobles wear luxurious purple, gold, blue, and red, with tight leggings and coats with long tails being the dominant fashion among men, and toga-like gowns among women. Commoners tend to wear simplistic clothing, dressing for comfort in their work rather than for extravagance.
Some among them have mildly pointed ears and slightly almond shaped eyes, reflecting the high elven blood that runs in their veins. However, these features are still subtle enough that no Rannican will be mistaken for a half-elf.
Culture and History
The Free Cities of Alnia is the region that the vast majority of Rannicans call home. In the year PE 237, the kingdom by the name Alnia, which had been the last remnant of the empire, was left without a monarch. Governors from eleven of the kingdom’s largest cities rushed to fill the power vacuum, leading to an inevitable civil war. After less than six months, it was decided that the nation’s resources had been so exhausted from the war with Katao that by the time someone emerged victorious, it would hardly be worth ruling. A treaty was struck, and the eleven cities were given plots of land and became sovereign city-states. The region is now known collectively as the Free Cities of Alnia.
When the first Rannicans came to Ohma from some unknown land lost to time, they were greeted by the high elves. High elves were fading, and though it would take many thousands of years for their race to die out completely, they wanted to teach their knowledge of civilization to a younger race so that its legacy would be carried on. This relationship has endured to this day, and although the mighty empire the elves wished for has come and gone, they have not abandoned their progeny. They still live among the Rannicans and are given a prominent place in their society.
The Rannican Empire was known for many things: military power, architectural grandeur, trade superiority, and indulgent excess. Modern Rannican aristocrats live in decadence that echoes their ancestors, holding feasts and parties with talented performers, the finest wine, and the rarest of exotic foods. Commoners, however, are unable to afford or attend these festivals, due to the bold lines drawn between classes. Since the kingdom of Alnia splintered, a new socio-economic class has arisen, one characterized by hard work, ingenuity, and persistence. This new “middle class,” not quite noblemen, but not quite poor commoners, contains those such as bankers, merchants, craftsmen, and businessmen.
Aristocrats congregate into houses, which are made up of several families, and can be joined through marriage or adoption.Typically, a child belongs to the house of his father. Marriages are arranged by parents, and can be between two people in the same house in order to promote the house’s bloodline, or between two houses as a form of political alliance or a show of good will. This system was borrowed from the high elves, and there are now human, elf, half-elf, and mixed houses.
Language and Names
The language known as “Common” is more accurately named “Rannic,” and is the ancestral tongue of these folk. As such, when creating a Rannican character, you do not get any extra languages based on your ethnicity.
Rannicans who follow the old naming traditions (read: nobles) have a given name, a patronym, and a family name. If the person belongs to a noble house, the house name is added on the end, preceded by a d’ (or a du’ if the house name starts with a D). An aristocrat’s child will be given a name by which he is called, followed by his father’s name, his family’s name, and finally his house name. These names can follow the ancient traditions dating back before even the founding of the Rannican Empire.
While the following are “true” Rannic names, many families follow elven or Westling naming customs. Keep those in mind when naming your Rannican character.
Male Names: Aelius, Antonio, Cesar, Decimus, Ignaeus, Julius, Marco, Plinius, Sergio, Tiberius
Female Names: Agrippina, Caecilia, Flavina, Glaucia, Juliana, Luca, Maria, Paula, Sabrina, Tatiana, Valeria,
Family Names: Annius, Egnatius, Furio, Helvetius, Lucretius, Maximus, Octavius, Salonium, Tullio, Vitruvius
House Names: Cicero, Danarion, Septilon, Ronius, Vanadius
Full Noble Names: Aelius Cesar Annius d’Septilon, Flavina Antonio Lucretius d’Cicero, Marco Sergio Octavius du’Danarion, Maria Decimus Furio d’Ronius
The Skaldings have a reputation for being simple people who live only to fight, drink, and steal. While these are certainly apt descriptions of Skalding behavior, these are a people just as nuanced and complicated as any other. Hailing from the northern archipelago of Skaldheim, their homeland’s geography gave rise to a culture of seafaring raiders that descend on enemy shores and plunder as much wealth as they can carry back to their ships. Of course, there are many respected Skaldings that are not fighters, and instead serve as court wizards, scribes, farmers, smiths, or any number of other professions.
Skalding adventurers are common, as the need to earn enough glory to become Einherjar is a common thread that unites the members of all the kingdoms in Skaldheim. They’ve earned a reputation in the south for being ruffians, vagabonds, and criminals. If asked why she is so rowdy, a typical Skalding will shrug her shoulders and reply simply, “Tomorrow we die.”
The Skaldings are almost inhumanly tall, with broad frames, fair skin, steely-grey to blue eyes, and wavy or straight hair that ranges from black to blonde. Swirling patterns of blue paint called woad (a name the Mathuin adopted for their own body paints) adorn their skin, with each pattern having a unique symbolic meaning tied to their family, an Einherjar they seek to emulate, a charm of protection, or any of a number of other meanings. Their hair is often braided and adorned with charms, beads, and rings. Men also braid and decorate their beards, as influenced by the dwarves with whom they first traded (and fought) when they landed on Ohma.
The typical perception of Skaldings puts them as primitive barbarians wearing stinking fur clothing. This is only partly true; due to the frigid climes of Skaldheim, its people will clad themselves in animal fur to keep warm. However, the typical dress of a Skalding is a long-sleeved tunic or dress in vibrant or earthy colors, made of woven fabric. Often their tunics are trimmed with intricate patterns not unlike the woad with which they paint their bodies. Hats lined with fur are useful for keeping the head warm. Nearly everyone, regardless of their standing, wears jewelry in the form pins, brooches, and glass or amber beads.
History and Culture
The early Rannicans attempted to spread their influence beyond Ohma in the earliest part of their reign. They settled the shores of the archipelago that was then known as Jotunheim, for the race of “giants” that lived there. The Rannicans called these people giants, but they knew themselves as the Jotun, and had no relation to true giants. The Jotun fought against the invaders with ferocity, but the Rannican invaders overpowered them. Eventually, a truce was struck, and Rannicans settled alongside the Jotun. Through their intermarriage, a new ethnic group, the Skaldings, were born. These people, neither fully Jotun or Rannican, adopted the culture of the natives, and a few generations later, rebelled against the occupiers. Now the Skaldings are the dominant people of Skaldheim, and the Jotun have receded into obscurity.
The word “religion” is a bit of a misnomer for the collection of spiritual beliefs the Skaldings have. In lieu of gods, the people of Skaldheim revere dead heroes of past generations, who have ascended to a state of being they call “Einherjar.” Rather than just praying to the Einherjar for blessings and boons, the Skaldings strive to gather enough glory to become Einherjar themselves, and enjoy the afterlife feast-hall of Valhalla. It is more accurate to say that they hold up these Einherjar as role models. Whether the Einherjar answer prayers is not a question often debated, as the Skaldings are usually too busy gathering glory for themselves to discuss heady theological topics.
Language and Names
Skaldings speak Jotuntunga, or “tongue of the Jotun.” Their naming conventions are similar to Rannicans; each child has a given name and a patronym, with the suffix of -sen (for males) or -datter (for females) added to the end of the father’s name.
Male Names: Arne, Bjorn, Eirik, Gunnulf, Hakon, Magnus, Ragnar, Storri, Ubba, Yngvar
Female Names: Astrid, Dagna, Frigga, Gunborg, Hilde, Magnhild, Ranveig, Sigrid, Torborg, Thyra
Patronyms: Bjornssen, Eiriksdatter, Magnussen, Storrisdatter, Ubbassen, Yngvarsdatter