Natiel

The people of Natiel are a bit darker in skin tone than those to the east or north.  They live mostly in the grasslands.  Though they have cities, many of them are still semi-nomadic in nature.  They are a prickly people with a lot of customs and taboos that seem to make sense only to them.  A lot of them seem rooted in superstition, such as it is taboo to eat fish when it is raining.  They rarely offer explanations beyond ‘it is taboo’ or ‘it is not the custom’ for why they behave the way they do.

If you respect their ways, and at least make a good faith effort to follow their customs and taboos while among them, they are a friendly enough people and can be very generous hosts.  In theory they practice sacred hospitality, however there are enough customs and taboos around this practice that it can be hard to tell, and they don’t do a particularly good job of communicating what violations can result in the revocation of hospitality.  Drinking wine before your host revokes your guest right.  Seducing your host’s spouse does not.

They read portents and omens in many things, from the flight of birds to the way a leaf lands when it falls from a tree.  Their gods are nature related, and chief among them is a sky goddess, who embodies both good and bad weather.  They worship them, but seem resigned to the fact that they have little influence over the whims of their gods.  The music of Natiel is heavy on flute and drums, and tribes commonly gather together in the evenings to play.

Their river god serves them also as a god of war, and from time to time he commands them to invade other countries.  They attack their neighbors and either win or lose a chunk of territory, then the ‘war’ ends as quickly as it begins and they go back to their lives.  The motive seems to involve a pattern of the weather, and their times of war usually coincide with when the water level in the river gets low.

Though their clothing is very modest and they tend to wear garb that covers them from head to toe when going about their business outside their homes, they don’t actually have a nudity taboo.  It’s not uncommon for them to strip down as soon as they enter their homes.  Their clothing serves the primary purpose of protecting them from the high winds and hot sun.

Most Natiel arm themselves with spears, and do not leave their cities unless they are armed.  Lions are common on their plains, among other dangers.  They associate fire strongly with death, as a fire through the tall grass can whip out an entire tribe in minutes.  They clear swaths of grass around their cities and villages in efforts to prevent this, and some settlements even have actual moats.  They have a lot of rituals around fire, from leaping bonfires to practicing ritual fire walking to even, on admittedly very rare occasions, burning someone alive as a sacrificial offering.

Forests are present on some of their borders, but they are just as superstitious about trees as they are about other things.  The forest between them and Petobae is said to be full of demons.  How accurate that may be is a subject for debate, but it is worth noting that the Horsemen of Petobae also tend to avoid those particular woods.

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Ipruci

The people of Ipruci have a reputation for being shrewd and clever, though they also have a reputation for being cowardly.  How deserved said reputation is depends entirely upon who you ask.

Culturally, they are very similar to Thatela.

Lethiun

Lethiun is a small and fairly poor country.  The past century has seen them suffer from plague, famine, and drought.  It’s people have survived and are slowly rebuilding, but life in Lethiun is still difficult.  It’s not uncommon for poor families in Lethiun to have extra children with the intention of selling one or two to Manisar to support the rest of the family.

If it was not insulated from Thatela by Ipruci, it probably wouldn’t be a country of its own anymore at all.  It’s people are farmers and shepherds, and their chief export is cloth.  Lethiun tapestries and carpets are highly prized.

While they had their own language, it is slowly being lost as most of them come to speak the common tongue.  They worshiped a mother goddess that they viewed as the embodiment of nature, but that too is slowly being replaced by the temple of the three gods.

Gaebli

There is some question as to whether Gaebli even still is an independent nation. The last generation of their royal family produced only daughters, and the current queen married the younger son of Thatela’s royal family.  Then the elder son died childless, sending the king-consort of Gaebli back to Thatela to serve as Thatela’s king.  Their son is thus heir to both nations.  There is a fair amount of grumbling over that fact.

However, it is not as though they actually have enough of a military do much about it, and they tend to be a fairly fatalistic people.  The island nation has little in the way of natural metal resources, and while its ships do trade along the coast they have few deep sea vessels.  They raise goats and farm, as well as fish and dive for pearls in the reefs around the island.

While they follow the same religion as Thatela, the people of Gaebli tend to be much more superstitious.  They have a variety of little rituals and offerings to entice or placate spirits, and homes keep a hearthfire burning to keep their house spirits happy.

Jolusth

The people of Jolusth are mainly forest dwellers, and build their homes in trees.  Those that dwell in the grasslands are nomadic shepherds tied to various other villages.  Their settlements are small, and they are somewhat tribal in nature.  They are prone to squabbling among themselves, but if an outside threat manifests they quickly band together to deal with it before going back to squabbling among themselves.

The entirety of Jolusth serves as an army.  The rest of the world considers them dirty fighters, as they do not fight along traditional lines.  They melt away into their forests and fight with tactics more like those of bandits.  Traps and other such hazards are common, and the Jolusth have no compunctions about using poisoned arrows and other such ‘uncivil’ methods.  Their neighbors mostly leave them alone because fighting the Jolusth is considered way more trouble than it is actually worth.

Jolus worship forest spirits, and it’s known that fighting Jolus in the woods is pretty much suicidal.  Some say they can actually bring trees to life and command animals to fight for them.  The latter part is true enough, as Jolus tribes often have wolf packs that live harmoniously with them.

They have a fairly good relationship with Petobae, however, and the two countries trade along their border amicably.  Culturally, neither really has anything the other nation wants, and that oddly enough helps them get along.

There are safe passages through the forests where traders and travelers can pass unmolested, but the Jolus tend to be hostile toward those who enter their territory without invitation.

As a people, Jolus are on the small side, with the average height of a man being 5’6”.  Their eyes, skin, and hair tend to the darker shades.  As forest dwellers, they typically dress in greens and browns.  Jolus practice ritual tattooing, and upon reaching adulthood receive clan tattoos.  The Jolus are excellent climbers, and can travel through the forest swiftly without actually having to touch the ground.

Though they do not care for outsiders, the Jolus do on occasion extend hospitality.  Those that prove themselves worthy can be invited to join a tribe, and are given a clan tattoo.  To their own, they are generous and welcoming.

Thatela

Thatela considers itself the pinnacle of civilization.  It’s not an entirely unreasonable claim, though they are not the oldest nation.  They are a fairly wealthy nation in which all citizens are arguably free, and place a high emphasis on art and learning.  Most citizens of Thatela are literate, and there are actual schools, though those are typically only available to those who can afford them.

The language that serves the world as a ‘common tongue’ is called Thatel and Thatelans claim it as theirs, though in truth it originated from the language spoken by the Wilders when they conquered.  Thatelans claim that is irrelevant, as these days they speak it so very much better than the Wilders do.

They are a proud people, bordering on arrogant, and are one of the strongest and most stable nations.  Many consider Solsthriem, Ipruci, and Gaebli as merely ‘provinces’ of Thatela rather than separate nations, and some decades that is a fairly credible claim.  Gaebli and Ipruci don’t always bother to refute the idea, though Solsthriem can get quite prickly over the matter.

It was the birthplace of the spires and the formal education of Magi.  Magic being rare, Thatela manages to have more actual mages than almost all other countries combined.  This contributes heavily to their overall strength and wealth.

Their religion is the worship of the three gods.  The sun is strongly associated with the Father, who is the strongest of the gods to the point that to some it is almost monotheistic.  The other two gods are the Keeper and the Paladin.  The Keeper is often represented as a mother figure, and is associated with both birth and death.  The Paladin is the god of war and honor and usually represented as a knight who serves as the Father’s agent rather than being worshiped in his own right.  The temple in Thatela is fairly powerful, and serves as a patron of the arts.  It is led by a High Priest, who serves the ruler of Thatela as an adviser.  The High Priest in theory answers to the King, but it is also the High Priest who crowns the king.

It is a patriarchal society, though from time to time it has had a ruling queen.  Thatelans have a strong since of propriety and some say they are too easily offended.  The nobles play the game of houses among each other, vying for standing and power, and peasants often suffer as a result.  Slavery is illegal in Thatela, but the difference between a servant/serf and a slave is often a matter of pure semantics.

Thatela was once a much larger country that included what is now Gaebli, Ipruci, and Solsthriem.  Ipruci split from Thatela five hundred years ago when Thatela’s royal line failed resulting in there being an argument over which cousin would assume the throne.  The one that ended up ruling Thatela had the stronger claim, but the one that Ipruci rebelled behind was the more popular leader.  His influence was sufficient that the then-province simply split off, and the king of Thatela was unable to muster sufficient resources to reclaim them.  Gaebli took advantage of that chaos to split off as well, though in many ways never fully broke from Thatela.

The War of Two Kings broke out two centuries ago when the royal family gave birth to twin sons.  Deniel was said to be the eldest and was to assume the throne, but manipulations occurred and the High Priest chose to crown his brother Alessio instead.  The result was a rebellion, and the eventual splitting off of Solsthriem.  Unlike Gaebli and Ipruci, Solsthriem has insisted on being completely independent, something that continues to irk Thatela.

Slowly, Thatela is moving away from its more feudal origins, and in so doing is growing stronger.  Gaebli is all but fully part of Thatela once more, and Ipruci is also moving in that direction.  Once that occurs, Thatela will be the strongest nation by far unless the Wilders ever unite again.

Akobul

Akobul has a decent sized desert in it, and yet still managed to be one of the most fertile regions of Tallis.  It’s people are mainly farmers, and they are among the few that actually trade with the Wilders.  Wilder raids are a normal occurrence for them, and they take the matter rather in stride.  The villages hit most often usually offer no more than a token defense and then just let the Wilders take what they want.  Or simply pay the Wilders off, usually with kegs of booze.  Its not unheard of for Wilders to sleep off a ‘raid’ in the very village they ‘raided’.  In return, the Wilders tend not to do infrastructure damage, take Akobul people as slaves, kill them, or even take too much from them.  And as the people of the Unitafels and Natiel have both learned, the Wilders are also willing to come to Akobul’s defense.  They may raid Akobul, but they deeply resent any one else trying to.

Despite the raids, the relationship between the Wilders and Akobul is actually fairly good.  Not quite twenty years ago, an Unitafels clan came into Akobul and took two villages full of people with the intention of sacrificing them all.  Akobul entreated to the Wilders for aid, and in response both the Stone Dragon and the Phoenix came over the mountains with an army of Wilders.  They saved most of the villagers and dealt with the Unitafels tribe, preventing whatever dark ritual was intended.

They are known to be a pragmatic people, as their interactions with the Wilders would indicate.  While villages have sheriffs and militias, Akobul doesn’t have much of an army.  They don’t need one, as they can either pay Wilders or Petobae to defend them.

Akobul is lead by a council of three.  The first councilor is an inherited position, the second trains and chooses their successor, and the third is elected by the mayors of the villages, who are themselves elected.  The second councilor is always capable of magic, and is considered the leader of Akobul’s religion.

The land is known for its foodstuffs and its wine and beer.  Their primary export is food of various kinds.

Petobae

The people of Petobae are often just called horsemen.  Their army is almost entirely made up of cavalry and archers, thus even though they are a smaller nation they are treated with considerable respect.  Petobae’s horses are considered the finest in the world, though they are not often exported.  Even their religion is centered around horses, as in their belief system they were all once centaur like beings until the gods separated man from horse.  Thus, to the Petobae, horses are not pets or servants, but brothers.  There are those that make crude remarks about just how close the Petobae are to their horses.  The people of Petobae call their typical reaction to such remarks ‘justified homicide’.

They control the land that connects Manisar to the rest of the continent.  And they are the reason Manisar does its trade via coastal ships.  The relationship between the two nations is hostile at the best of times.  While most countries that outlaw slavery still often turn a blind eye to the practice, Petobae does not tolerate slavery within its borders.  Those attempting to smuggle slaves through their lands are flayed alive before being crucified, and their slaves are given the option of being escorted to the border or taken in by the Petobae and adopting their culture.  Many take the latter option, making the people of Petobae rather diverse in appearance.

Despite their affinity for horses, they are not nomadic.  Petobae build well-fortified cities, and train both male and female children with blade and bow.  Their armor is usually leather with a metal breastplate and greaves, allowing them to be decently fortified but still mobile.  They do make some use of chariots in combat.

While they are good at war, they are not generally aggressive.  They are known for their poetry, and in Petobae if you can spin a good story or better yet sing, you will receive a warm welcome.  They practice sacred hospitality and are generally fairly nice people, but it’s best to remember that that their enemies have a tendency to end up impaled on the spikes that ring their villages, if not worse.

Marriage in Petobae is a somewhat complicated affair.  While monogamous life pairings are normal and such people call each other their ‘bond mates’, marriage is a group affair.  It has nothing to do with who you sleep with, but rather with which children you are responsible for tending and training.  Occasionally large families split apart, and smaller ones join together.  Outsiders taken in are usually married into whatever family they are considered to suit best, as trades and other skills are typically family affairs.  Bond-mates are usually also married, but that is not always the case, a fact outsiders often find very confusing.

Children are raised communally, with the older children being raised right alongside the horse that will be theirs upon reaching adulthood.  There are no orphans in Petobae.  In the off chance a child’s entire family unit dies or there is a foundling, they are taken in by the mayor’s family and considered no different from any other in that family unity.  Outsiders occasionally have difficulty telling which child belongs with which mother/father.  At meal time, the people of Petobae feed whichever children happen to be in their homes at the time, and children think little of sleeping at the home of a friend or just bedding down wherever they happen to be when night falls.  Anyone harming a child is dealt with swiftly by any and everyone in the vicinity.

Their society is fairly egalitarian, and though they do have a royal line their culture is also somewhat democratic.  Mayors and other local leaders are voted into office.  Each village has a wise one to serve the mayor as an adviser, and some wise ones are hedge-witches capable of minor magic.  Wise ones choose and train their apprentices.

Ilael

Though the islands are generally marked on maps as ‘Ilael’, the people are a seagoing culture and the islands themselves are only sparsely inhabited.  The Ilael spend almost their entire lives on ships, going onto land only to trade and resupply.  Ships that hug the mainland are generally left alone, but the Ilael consider the open sea to be their territory.  Those that cross it must pay tithes for the right, or risk being taken by Ilael ships.

Ilael is a matriarchal society, ruled by the Queen of the Sea.  Admirals and shamans are always female, though all other positions including captain are equally open to men and women, though male captains are rare due to various aspects of Ilael’s culture.  The few that exist are usually the husbands of admirals.  The queen’s husband is a king and does outrank admirals, but it is the queen who rules Ilael.  The water gives life, as a woman gives life, and thus the waves can only be ruled by a woman.

Despite their far ranging ways, the Ilael are a surprisingly united and close-knit cultures.  Ships take almost any excuse to gather together.  It is discouraged, though not entirely unheard of, to marry within your own crew, thus courtships among the Ilael are often whirlwind things undertaken in such meetings.  A man is considered to join his wife’s family, and heritage is passed along the maternal line.  In theory, anyone who proves their worth can climb the ranks and become a captain.  In practice, however, captaincy is often a matter of inheritance.  Whoever is lower ranked joins the other’s crew, but when ranks are equal the man is expected to join the woman’s crew.  This is custom, however, rather than law, and exceptions are not unheard of.  Ultimately, the decision of who joins a crew is up to the captain.  The head of the family is the wife, and the marriage ceremony consists of her claiming her husband as hers.

The actual islands are heavily forested, and those that dwell there are shipbuilders.  The islands are protected by reefs and straits that function almost as a labyrinth, wrecking ships that do not know how to pass them safely.  To get a ship, a prospective captain must prove themselves worthy and make an offering to the builders.  Sometimes the builders send prospective captains on specific quests, as is common for members of the royal line.

Each ship is expected to be self-supporting, and a captain that cannot manage this can be stripped of their rank via a vote of either two admirals or a dozen other captains.  Others can be demoted by their captain.  There is a considerable disgrace to being demoted, and captains that lose their ships by any means often commit suicide due to the shame.  Captains are known for not leaving sinking ships, preferring that they and their vessel ‘die together’.

Funeral rites involve being buried at sea, and the Ilael will go to great lengths to recover the corpses of those of their kin that die upon land so that they may be interred properly below the waves.  They are born on the water and prefer to die on the water.  Those that die on land and cannot be returned to the sea are burned, in the hopes the smoke will become cloud and return their kin to the ocean as rain.  Actually burying an Ilael is a good way to turn their kin and crew’s vengeance upon you.

They do not have ‘gods’, but practice a form of shamanism.  Each ship has a shaman that serves the captain as advisor and healer.  On certain matters, the captain is expected to defer to the shaman, and it is common for captain and shaman to be related.

Most Ilael speak multiple languages so as to facilitate trade, but they have their own language as well.

Officially, they do not keep slaves and look down upon those who do.  If the Ilael serve, it is willingly.  However, the lowest ranked members of ships are often indistinguishable from slaves in how they are expected to obey as well as how they can be punished.  The Ilael point out that they aren’t slaves though, because everyone, even the Queen herself, once started at that rank and they are all expected to rise out of it.

The people of Ilael are dark, almost black-skinned.  They have little to no body hair, and tend to wear their hair cropped short.  As befits a people that live on the sea, they are all strong swimmers and known to be able to hold their breath and dive down deeper than other people.  Some even claim the Ilael have gills and webbed feet.  They have little concern about nudity among their own, though when trading or otherwise near land they conform to the local customs so as not to create a ruckus.

Unitafels

One of the biggest differences between the people of the Unitafels and the Wilders is that the tribes of the Unitafels will kill you if you mistake them for Wilders.

The Unitafels is a harsh land except for the areas directly around the lakes known as the Three Jewels.  It’s a volatile area, prone to volcanoes and earthquakes, full of rocky outcroppings and ravines.  It doesn’t rain often, and when it does, it floods.

It is sparsely populated, and the people that dwell within can best be culturally described as ‘folks even the Wilders don’t want’.  They are savage and practice rites such as headhunting and cannibalism.

What territory is The Unitafels is somewhat up for debate.  Some maps put the Three Jewels into the borders of Natiel and confine The Unitafels to the badlands of the west, but they are nomadic enough to be encountered well into the territory of Tebotas, Natiel, and even Akobul, and their area that can be called a city is located on one of the islands in the Second Jewel.  It is known human sacrifice is practiced there, and there are are buildings within the city that have walls made of human bone.

Little is known of why they sacrifice humans, as what few scholars have tried to ask typically have ended up sacrificed.  The Unitafels have their own language, and seem to disdain speaking the language of others.

What captives escape sacrifice or other dark practices are sold into Tebotas.
There are many old ruins to be found in the territory of the Unitafels, and it was once a thriving kingdom.  Legend holds that a dragon appeared, and rather than slay it the Lord of the Unitafels ordered human sacrifices be made in an attempt to placate it and use it against his enemies.  The dragon, having developed a taste for human flesh, laid waste before vanishing into darkness once more.

Manisar

Manisar is perhaps the oldest continually existing nation.  Other nations have been conquered, reformed, and altered through the years, but Manisar endured even when it was ruled by the Wilderfolk.

There are two types of people in Manisar: Manisarians and slaves.  Manisar’s economy rests on the slave trade.  Their armies are made up of highly trained slave warriors, and every person laboring in their fields is a slave.  The average citizen of Manisar is a slave.  Some suggest there are only a few thousand actual Manisarians.

They buy, train, and sell slaves to other nations, even nations that supposedly don’t have slavery.  Slave revolts are put down brutally.  If a slave kills a master, all that master’s slaves are killed in retaliation.  The usual method is to herd them into the slave barracks and then set the barracks ablaze, followed by crucifying any missed by the fire.

Slaves from Manisar are actually preferred among slave owners, as the Manisar have become quite good over the years at training them.  A slave trader’s reputation is dependent upon the quality of slaves they sell, and thus they take considerable pride in their work of breaking and training human beings to the point that a Manisarian slave is more or less completely brain-washed into enjoying whatever purpose they are trained toward.

In many ways, Manisar is actually quite impressive.  It’s buildings are architectural wonders, with towers that soar gracefully into the heights.  Actual Manisarians live rich, pampered lives, surrounded by comfort, and barely have to lift their hands to see to their own needs.  They make a show of being indolent, but are generally considered to be very cunning and often ruthless individuals.  Negotiating with a Manisarian always entails risk, and if you aren’t careful, they’ll end up owning everything, including you.  They have a tendency to simply take what they want from other lands, and thus their culture varies depending on what is ‘in fashion’ at the moment.

There are a lot of religions in Manisar due to slaves bringing theirs with them when taken.  Thus Manisar has a hodgepodge of temples and shrines.  However, actual Manisarians tend to either not be religious or to simply practice whatever religion benefits them most at the moment.

Actual Manisarians speak their own language that they use to speak to each other, and they refuse to teach it to others to prevent the advantage having their own private language gives them.  They all are also versed in the common tongue.  Slaves are taught the common tongue if they don’t already know it, and discouraged from speaking any other language to prevent plotting.

The Wild Lands

The Wilderfolk are not a single culture, or even a single people.  No one is entirely certain how many clans exist in the Wildlands.  The clans range in size from clan Draak of Darodelf, which rivals some countries in size and scope, down to clans of only a few dozen individuals.  As they also tend to be rugged individualists, it is hard to pin down exactly what their culture is.  They kill each other as readily as they do non-Wilders.

There are some constants.  A child is not named until they have drawn breath for ten days.  The rite of passage into adulthood occurs at age twelve, when the child must prove themselves worthy to their leader in order to gain the right to own property.  Raids are a common means to undertake this rite, with the child gathering some friends together to go prove themselves as warriors.  It’s considered less glorious, but they can also accomplish the rite by proving their skill at a craft.  There are some that never do actually achieve adulthood, but these usually end up becoming slaves at some point.  Once a leader approves an act or offering, the newly minted adult gains their sigil and can use it to mark what is their’s.  Sigils are usually, but not always, passed along family lines, with families identifying with particular symbols for generations.

Wilders keep slaves.  They have no compunction about taking members of rival clans as slaves.  The rights a slave has in Wilder society depends heavily on the status of their master.  ‘Untended’ slaves are often at the mercy of those around them.  As long as they aren’t damaged, anyway.  If a slave is damaged their master has the right to seek recourse.  If a slave ‘provokes’, they can be punished with up to a hundred lashes.  A slave can earn or purchase their freedom, though the price to do so varies.  Ultimately, the price is set by the master, though a slave can bring a case to a clan leader that a price is unjustifiably high, in which case the master must produce someone actually willing and able to pay that price for the slave or lower the price.

Wilders that cannot take care of themselves often have little recourse other than to sell themselves into slavery.  There are no beggars in the Wildlands not because there is no poverty, but because the Wilders find such a notion to be utterly absurd.  Anyone begging them for anything would likely just find themselves taken as a slave if they are useful, and killed or abandoned if they are not.  It is expected that a master keep their slaves tended, and a master that does not could find themselves enslaved.  There are no ‘orphans’, an orphaned child is usually claimed by another within the clan.  A person cannot be enslaved until they reach the age of twelve.  However, sickly or otherwise weak children are often simply abandoned to die of exposure.

Otherwise, they are a rather egalitarian society.  There are no real gender roles, and a woman can lead a raid as easily as a man can.  Wilders tend not to care who sleeps with who.  They don’t really have a concept of ‘legitimacy’.  If a parent claims a child, that child is theirs, and even adoption is relatively informal.  While they do practice marriage, the monogamy of a marriage is entirely the business of those involved.  Marriage is a means of cementing ties, not a dictation of who sleeps with who and there are a married individuals in the Wildlands who’ve never slept beneath the same roof.  Homosexuality and bisexuality are not remarked upon, and a person is treated as whatever gender they claim to be.  Wilders tend to take other Wilders as individuals, though they do tend to lump outsiders together.

As they are not unified, they have no standing army.  However, anyone actually trying to invade runs the risk of bringing the entire horde down on themselves, as the Wilders love nothing more than a good brawl.  The Wildlands themselves get their name for a reason, as a good portion of the land is harsh and dangerous.  A fact of which the Wilders are rather proud.  They have a certain level of contempt for the soft folk that dwell in the soft lands.

Wilders fight for glory, and have little military discipline.  They raid in surprise attacks, fighting as individuals rather than as cohesive units.  Few can stand against Wilders in small skirmishes, but against larger, disciplined troops, Wilders tend to break easily and retreat.  They wear light armor, preferring to stay mobile.

While they do have gods, they are as lax about religious practices as they are about virtually everything else.  Their gods are more ancestral heroes than actual deities, and they don’t really have much in the way of temples or even religious practices.  There are household shines, but those are more a matter of respect than prayer.  The idea of begging favor from the gods is something Wilders have trouble grasping.  Gods are more something you show off too rather than something you expect aid from.  And the more showing off you do, the more you please the gods, and the better chance you have of joining them.

Wilders tend to be dark haired and dark eyed, and are prone to being fairly large and strong.  The average height for a Wilder man is over six feet, and the average woman is only an inch or two shorter.  There are variations among their dress, but most wear leather vests that show their clan markings and the accomplishments of an individual.  Few Wilders are literate, and most make do with a form of pictographs when knowledge must be conveyed in a visual format.

Clan Draak – Clan Draak is a nation unto itself, and some confuse this clan with Wilder society as a whole.  This is in part because the leader of Clan Draak, the dragon king/queen, claims to be the ruler of the Wilders and there is rarely another individual powerful enough to put lie to that claim.  Clan Draak has it’s own nobility and chiefs within the clan itself, and is possibly the oldest of the clans.  It was Clan Draak that united the Wilders and once conquered the world, though that was a thousand years ago.  Those that see only Darodelf might even mistake the Wilders for a civilized people.

Solsthriem

Solsthriem borders the icy reaches, and in some ways sits apart from the rest of the world.  The only real threat to them is the Wilders, as they are situated far enough away that other lands don’t really bother with them.

Two hundred years ago, the southern half of Solsthriem was part of Thatela, and the northernmost part of was a land of outlaws and hill folks that had been driven out of the more civilized lands to eek out a living on their own.  They often turned to banditry.  During the War of Two Kings, King Deniel and his men fled into the hills.  Duke Gautier convinced a group of bandits to act as spies and scouts, and after their actions turned the tide in Deniel’s favor, King Deniel offered to pardon any and all of those living in the hills that joined his forces.  The resulting force of skirmishers and guerillas drove King Alessio back into what is now Thatela.

Deniel knew that he could defend the land he held, but continuing to try to take Thatela from his twin would ultimately end in Deniel’s defeat.  Rather than throw his people away, he chose to forge the lands he held into the nation that is Solsthriem.

Culturally, Thatela and Solsthriem remain quite similar.  Every couple generations, Thatela tries to make a play to recover it’s ‘lost province’ and the two nations war for a couple years.  There are quite a few villages along the border that aren’t entirely sure which country they are actually in.

Solsthriem is not as wealthy as Thatela, and thus does lag behind a little in terms of advances.  They have a spire and magi, though it is but a shadow of those in other nations.  That doesn’t stop Solsthriem’s people from being patriots.  The people of Solsthriem still cling to the ideals espoused by King Deniel.  Chivalry, generosity, and honor are points of pride with them, and they can be quite prickly when either are offended.  Knights are expected be exemplars of such ideals, and take oaths to express them.  Some honor those oaths better than others.

Tournaments are a big to-do in Solsthriem, and it is possible for even a poor farmer’s son to participate and win a knighthood.  Many younger sons and lesser lords beggar themselves trying to win in tournaments, but those that do win are lauded as champions and heroes.

It is a very patriarchal society.  A woman does not inherit unless all her male relatives are dead.  The daughters of noble houses have little say in who they get to marry, and their hands are bartered to secure alliances.  Women are expected to be virtuous and chaste, with the men expected in return to uphold the ideals of chivalry and defend said women.  A ‘disgraced’ woman is considered unmarriageable by the upper castes, and such women are all but exiled from their families.  The man that ‘disgraced’ her may escape unscathed, or may find himself at the mercy of her menfolk.  In the best case, he may simply be made to make an honest woman of her.  Or he’s just hunted down and killed.  While it isn’t unheard of for young women to learn to fence as a sport, women do not fight and cannot become knights.

When it comes to sex, they can be rather puritanical.  There are fairly strict nudity taboos, and public displays of affection are frowned upon.  Both men and women’s garments are very modest, and showing too much skin is considered scandalous.  Sex is not a topic of conversation for polite company.  Brothels exist, and everyone carefully pretends they do not.

They inherited their religious practices from Thatela, worshiping the three gods.  However, religion isn’t quite as important in Solsthriem as it is in Thatela, and most Solsthriem practice their religion only casually.