Human Cultural Groups
Culture will presented by region here. For the areas outside Prealith, this will be a broad stroke portrayal. These summaries are presented below along with Prealith's summary; only Prealith will be linked to a separate page that goes into more detail (sub-regions and defined groups).
The map to the left is a bit vague, on purpose. It's enough to give players an idea where things are in the world. Aarenis is not marked separately - it's the area bounded by the mountains and the sea which contains cities starting with "Cortes". The Ladysforest is not marked on the map as its boundaries shift. Lyonya and Prealith are marked which gives an indication where the Ladysforest might be at this moment...
Aare - very few people live in the wastes of Old Aare. There are desert nomads descended from the common people of Old Aare that couldn't escape Aare's fall but managed to survive. It is rumoured there is a small monk-like group that frequents the ruins who await the coming of the descendant of the Old Aare Kings - who will restore Old Aare to its former glory.
Aarenis - Aarenis is an area of the northern continent south of the Eight Kingdoms. It is bordered to the west and north by mountains (the Westmounts and Dwarfmounts, respectively) and to the east and south by seas (the Eastern Sea and the Immerhoft Sea). Aarenis means "daughter of Aare", a name given by the immigrants from Old Aare that came across the Immerhoft to the area in mainly two waves (the last being shortly after the fall of Aare). Aarenis contains four feudal domains claiming lineage back to old Aare, the counties of Andressat and Cilwan and the duchies of Immer and Fall. In addition, the area contains a lot of free cities dominated by the Merchant's Guild, and located mostly along the central and western branches of the Immer. The Merchants' Guild has formed a League and maintains excellent roads for transport, along with caravanseries, and very similar legal codes from city to city. Aarenis is dominated by a mix of Aare common people, Old Humans, and a sprinkling of Dawntreaders, Wanderers, and the Sea Father's Chosen. Over the centuries these groups have mixed together to produce the people of Aarenis - with brown skin, curly or wavy dark or black hair, brown eyes, and a wiry build of average height. It is possible to find other groups represented, but these people are usually the traders and mercenaries (or their descendants) from the Eight Kingdoms or overseas. The noble families of Aarenis trace their ancestry back to the nobles of Old Aare though, if pictorial representations are to be believed, they look like a cross between a Magelord and the Common People of Aare. Notwithstanding, no nobles in Aarenis claim Magelord abilities, let alone actually practicing magery.
The Eight Kingdoms. Both a local and a southern name for the region "over the mountains" and north of Aarenis. Also called "the north" in Aarenis. A major river, the Honnorgat, forms the major drainage system here, flowing from west to east and emptying into the Eastern Sea. The land is wetter and more forested to the east; dryer to the west, finally (beyond the sources of the Honnorgat) a short-grass steppe that shades into true desert. North of the eight kingdoms more steppes, home to the horse nomads.
Fintha (previously known as Finaarenis). Farthest west of the Eight Kingdoms, Fintha is spread across several tributaries of the Honnorgat and many of its sources. Fintha was once ruled by magelords but is now ruled by the Fellowship of Gird under the Marshal-General. The Code of Gird is the only law in Fintha. Farmers own their own land, and large accumulation of land is discouraged. Magery is forbidden and wizardry viewed with suspicion. Nearly all magelords fled Fintha with Luap. Many Girdish granges dot the countryside, each supported primarily by local inhabitants. All able-bodied adults are expected to belong to a grange and all youths are trained in basic fighting skills. Capital is Fin Panir, where the Marshal-General is headquartered, where the Knights of Gird and paladin-candidates are trained. The people of Fintha largely show their direct ancestry to the Old Humans with a minor mix of Magelord blood and a sprinkling of other groups. Fintha is likely the only place to find someone with some Horse Nomad ancestry. As a result, the people generally have light brown skin, straight dark or black hair, brown or hazel eyes, and an athletic build. In the northern part of Fintha, there is considerable influence of the Sea Wolves' invasions and interaction as many people have the features of that ancestry or a mix of it and Old Humans (from fair skin, blonde, and tall through classic Old Human features and everything in-between).
Tsaia. Downstream from Fintha, Tsaia also extends on both sides of the Honnorgat--the river flows through its capital, Vérella of the Bells. Tsaia is still ruled by a king, but its legal code is closely based on the Code of Gird and overseen by a Marshal-Judicar. Land ownership is primarily feudal, with dukes as the highest rank, followed by counts and barons. The dominant religion is Girdish, but the Crown is tolerant of other belief systems as long as they don't cause trouble. The Crown also tolerates wizards. Tsaian customs are more formal than those of Fintha. Because the best pass to the south is in southern Tsaia, this kingdom has more contact with the south than any other--much trade passes over the mountains in both directions. Tsaia shows much the same racial blend and pattern as Fintha except there is less Horse Nomad influence, more Sea Wolves influence in the northern areas, and some limited influence of Aare's genes from contact over the pass with Aarenis.
Pargun. Downstream from Tsaia north of the Honnorgat. Pargun is ruled by a king and governed regionally by "sagons." Though it is across the river from Lyonya, their borders are not exactly opposite: two other kingdoms, Kostandan and Dzordanya, share the north bank of the river, but only two--Lyonya and Prealith--share the south. North of Pargun, up a rise of hills, the trees disappear and the great steppes stretch away. Pargun is one of the Eight Kingdoms. Its capital city is Rostvok. Pargun borders Kostandan to the east, Lyonya to the south (across the Honnorgat) and Tsaia to the west. To the north lies steppes. Pargun's population is dominated by Sea Wolves ancestry with some Old Human mix. Most people of Pargun are average to above average height, blonde or light brown hair, a fair complexion that tans easily, a fairly stocky build, and a mix of eye colours.
Kostandan. Downstream from Pargun and heavily forested. Kostandan has a smaller population than Pargun, but is ruled by a king and shares many of the same customs. Kostandan usually works in concert with Pargun - though is less aggressive in its policies. Kostandan has the same racial mix as Pargun.
Dzordanya. Downstream from Kostandan, borders the Eastern Sea. Dzordanya is something of a mystery to its neighbors, densely forested and infested with faerie, including the dangerous small creatures called "mikki-kekki". Dzordanyans met abroad are usually on "varkingla" a long ritual journey only they understand. It's believed they live in "long houses" and have very strange magic. According to some legends the first Kuakgan came from there. Dzordanyans are the world's premiere human rangers. They have an understanding or informal alliance with Prealith to counter balance the hostility between Dzordanya and Pargun/Kostandan. Prealith has recruited rangers from Dzordanya. Dzordanyans are almost exclusively of Ice People stock.
Lyonya. Downstream from Tsaia south of the Honnorgat, Lyonya's capital is Chaya. This is the kingdom of dual sovereignty, elves and humans sharing its rule. The king or queen rules Lyonya and must have enough elven ancestry to 'sense the taig'. The elven queen rules the Ladyforest. Joint decisions are to be made on matters that would impact both kingdoms. However, there is a strong sense the humans are the junior partners in this arrangement and are expected to abide by the greater wisdom of the elder race. Much of the Lyonya is forest, and some of that forest is part of an elvenhome kingdom known (to humans) as the Ladysforest, ruled by the elven queen whose real name they never hear. Lyonya is considered strange and probably dangerous by outsiders. Its focus is inward. The population of Lyonya is mostly human, with some half-elves and a small elven population (most elves reside in the Ladysforest). Humans make their living from farming, trade, and crafts - though all is limited by the need to preserve the forest environment. As a result, Lyonya lags behind other kingdoms in its economy, military, industry.... The human population has limited Old Human blood and mostly comes from Sea Wolves (the southern branch of immigrants to this continent). As a result, Lyonyans are typically tall and slender people with blonde or light brown hair, blue or green eyes, and fair skin. Half-elves either resemble their elven or human parent. They are somewhat caught between two worlds, but Lyonya is the most hospitable of the realms to those of mixed ancestry. The famed Lyonya Rangers are usually half-elves.
Ladysforest. The elvenhome kingdom now known as the Ladysforest was once centered in an elfane taig on the north side of the Dwarfwatch mountains south of Lyonya proper. When that haven was breached and began the banast taig--the elves moved to the forests of Lyonya and far western Prealíth. When the mageborn moved into the north, the elves and humans had already begun to share western Lyonya. Elvenhome kingdoms do not have fixed boundaries as the ruler of each "wears" the kingdom and it moves with him or her, but in Lyonya and Prealíth there are legal boundaries beyond which humans do not pass without permission--if they're wise. Given the timespan of an elvenhome kingdom, the internal politics are opaque to humans. The population of the Ladysforest is elven.
Prealíth. Downstream from Lyonya south of the Honnorgat and bordering the Eastern Sea, Prealíth's focus is on the coast. Its splendid harbor of Bannerlíth receives both coastwise and distant shipping, including all the way across the Eastern Sea. Although it is not jointly ruled by elves, the Ladysforest extends into far western Prealíth. Human settlement is mostly confined to the third nearest the coast, and its trade runs mostly on the river, up to river ports and a limited amount along the southern trade road at the foot of the mountains. South of Prealíth, the Eastbight thrusts out into the ocean, and a few dangerous tracks lead across its height to the Robber's Coast in Aarenis. Prealith is, by far, the most diverse population of the kingdoms. It contains significant numbers of almost all of the racial groups and several significant culturally different groups within its borders due to its position on the coast and Prealith's history.
Link to a detailed examination of Prealith's culture and significant groups.
Link to the overview of the different human racial groups