Cultures and Factions
Passing through the city gates, you find yourselves surrounded by a tremendous racket- a smith
hammers away at his forge, an old woman haggles over the price of melons, and some guards play
dice in the shadow of an awning, among a hundred other noises. People's homes seem to be stacked
atop one another like the adobe bricks they're built from, connected with wooden ladders and
stairways. A pictorial sign proclaims the Public Baths to dusty travellers, and above the city, a grand
palace rises on a hill.
Art: Marian Churchland
Located in the hot, dry central band of the ring-world, these people are settled, agricultural, and reliant
on elaborate irrigation setups. Most of their population consists of small-scale farmers.
One of the more technologically advanced peoples of the Crown- they've rediscovered indoor plumbing,
for one thing. Their main city, Kukkutarma, is the region's center of trade.
Their society is ruled by two co-monarchs, the Sun King and the Water Queen. The Sun King is really
more of a high priest, responsible for spiritual matters and considered a link between the mortal world
and the gods. The Water Queen holds power over secular affairs- her title comes from the fact that
her primary duty is to ensure that systems like the canals that provide water for irrigation stay operational.
A lone rider approaches you, atop a strange beast- some sort of furred biped. As she comes closer,
she holds her hands up, signalling for a peaceful parley. She wears embroidered woolen garments
and intricately beaded leather boots, with a shortbow strapped to her back.
One of their steeds, known as a boose (Marion Churchland, again).
Nomadic herders of giant goats, indigenous to the grassy highlands. They continually move about
so as not to wear out any one patch of grazing land. Their weavers produce exquisite cloaks and
carpets, which they trade with more settled folk.
Ridiculously skilled at archery- they train as hunters from childhood, and these skills carry over
eminently well into warfare.
Each band is governed by a shaman (treat as druid). These holy individuals are never seen without
their ritual masks from their initiation until their death.
Their culture has a deep-seated taboo against exploring or scavenging from the "dead mounds", as they
call the ancient ruins that litter the landscape. This is reinforced by the fact that every so often,
someone decides to do so anyway, and gets mauled by constructs for their trouble.
Their funerary customs typically consist of leaving the dead in an isolated location, to be consumed
by crows and vultures. They believe that the soul can only reincarnate when the flesh is gone, so the
scavengers hasten the passage to the next life.
Outside the ruins, you come across an encampment of colorful tents, painted with sigils to ward off
the evils below the earth. Two young men are sparring with staves, and an archery target has been
chalked onto a nearby tree. On a patch of barren ground, a person wrapped in heavy protective
garments is disassembling the remains of a steel-beast.
More of a proto-trade guild than a tribe/nation/etc., these people make their living by scrounging in
ancient ruins. They're not particularly organized, but an experienced and charismatic delver can
often assemble a band of ten or twenty souls for expeditions. Because of the high rate of occupational
fatalities, they're always recruiting fresh meat.
In terms of gameplay, these are the people who are willing to work as hirelings for the party.