Highblood Biata

Surion Maedhros

The Highblooded Biata of the Rachis Mountains


The Biata live on the side of the Rachis Mountains, a mountain chain that extends on both sides into the Mists. A mile up the side of the tallest mountain, where the Mists do not reach, the Biata have built a small civilization. This civilization expands across the western side of the mountain stopping in the east where the terrain becomes treacherous. The Dark Elves make their home at the summit of this mountain, and the Stone Elves live to the east. Though the Biata do not interact much with these other cultures, they are reliant on the Dark Elves for resurrection as the only earth circle sits at the peak of the Rachis Mountain.

At the highest reach of the Biata settlement are the High Libraries, ornate towers that overlook the settlement and house the High Scholars and their physical records. The High Scholars are both the ruling class and curators of knowledge. Part of the library is open to the public, with a wide variety of physical books containing mundane tales and practical guides. The majority of the records are open exclusively to the High Scholars, shared to others only with the High Scholars’ permission. The most notable of these records are the Prime Lessons, which all Biata have viewed at least once, shortly after their birth.

In the center of the settlement are the Markets of Vane. Within this village center are many market stalls, community spaces, and taverns along the sloped cobblestone streets. The Markets are peaceful, insulated from the dangers of the Mists. Some farming can be done at the edges of the markets, but the terrain is rock-filled and heavily inclined.

At the foot of the settlement, the Mists recede and advance, occasionally far enough to envelop homes. These areas known as “the Mist’s Edge” are much more rural, sparsely populated, and covered in farms and pastures. Dirt roads and signposts mark the verdant, flat, and dangerous valley.

History and Power

The earliest known memory kept by the High Scholars is the shattering of the Homestone, a large hematite stone where the memories of all Biata were once stored, and the loss of the Gryphons. Lost to the shattering of that stone are memories of the initial construction of Vane, the early days of the Biata, the fate of the Gryphons, and the cause of the Homestone’s shattering.

In trying to prevent a tragedy like that from happening again, the Biata formed a culture around preventing the consolidation of their memories. By keeping knowledge spread among the populace, there was no longer a central artifact to be destroyed. Those who held the most knowledge had an advantage, eventually rose to power, and formed the High Scholars. The High Scholars, through painful trial and error, discovered what was most vital to know to protect Vane from the Mists, distilled that information into The Prime Lessons, and now teach that to every single Biata, so that this information can never be lost again.

The Prime Lessons

The Prime Lessons are a series of philosophical teachings contained in a fist-sized piece of hematite presented to you at the High Library when you were born or reeducated. It is notable that though each Biata experiences the memories of the Prime Lessons, almost none can recall what the specifics of the memories are. The actual details of what a Biata experiences while undertaking the Prime Lessons become hazy after the fact, leaving only the knowledge that the lessons imparted, but not the memory itself.

Those who have recently reviewed the Prime Lessons at the High Library (i.e. the young and the recently reeducated) treat them very seriously. Those with more life experience may eventually discover portions they disagree with, and may even store these arguments in their own Lode Stones. Even so, open dissent on the Lessons is rare among the Biata, and those who voice their disagreements with the Prime Lessons are dismissed as foolish.

Class, Law, and Society

Between the common set of beliefs taught to every Biata and the persistent and real threat of the Mists, Biata culture has a very strong sense of camaraderie. The Biata of Vane care for each other first and foremost, regardless of their past or their ability to repay that help.

Not all Biata are equal however, and there is still a class structure within Vane. The most clearly delineated class is the High Scholars, the ruling body of Vane. Their central goal is to preserve knowledge and the lives of their fellow Biata from the dangers in the Mist. Treated both collectively and individually as absolute authorities, they appoint other High Scholars from among the brightest and bravest of the populace. Matters of law and order are brought to High Scholars, and it is their responsibility to pass judgement. The High Scholars are also the upper management of Vane, and they ensure the operation and defense of the settlement.

Those who live in the the village tend to be wealthy merchants, successful artisans, and skilled ritualists. With enough wealth to live away from the Mist’s Edge, they live in relative safety and develop a skill set more suited for trade and economy than military affairs. Those who are successful at the Mist’s Edge often take their fortune and retire to the center of Vane in their old age.

In the rural valley of the Mist’s Edge are mostly farmers, gatherers, and craftsmen. Since living so close to the Mists is dangerous, the Biata who thrive tend to be brave, martially adept, and mentally resilient. Since it contains the greatest source of farmland and resources that Vane has available, the proposition of living within the Mist’s Edge is seen as high risk and high reward. Since the creatures of the Mist attack frequently, many who live here become skilled in swordplay, celestial magic, or Necromancy. While Necromancy is not forbidden by the High Scholars’ laws, there is a cultural understanding as to where it should be used. Since it is seen as a battle magic, it is cast only on the monsters of the Mists by those who live within the Mist’s Edge. Higher Necromancy and the creation of undead are not widely practiced.

Aside from the traditional crimes and taboos one might expect such as murder, theft, and fraud, there is an powerful taboo against modifying another’s memories or another’s Lode Stone. Since those memories exist to safeguard a person’s identity, even the appearance of tampering with memories is seen as terrible. Modifying another Biata’s memories is a crime more dire than murder; Biata can resurrect after being murdered, but if they lose their memories and their Lode Stone, there’s no way to recover them.

Entering the Mists is seen as incredibly foolhardy, akin to suicide. Biata do not return from The Mists, so even those most upset with the status quo are encouraged to discuss their misgivings with others, possibly with the High Scholars, or any solution less dangerous than leaving. Nevertheless, Biata who dissent strongly enough and are not convinced to be complicit do sometimes leave. As expected, they either descend from the earth circle with no recollection of their previous lives, or do not return at all.

The Mists, and Survivors of the Mists

The Mists, and the monsters within, are a persistent threat to the Biata. The fear of these creatures runs incredibly deep. Any creature who comes directly from the Mists is often met with violence, sometimes even if they are friendly or recognized. The Biata believe these monsters can change shape to kidnap and murder people. As such, those who are lost to the Mists often have one of two fates: to come down the from the Earth Circle at the summit, or to never return.

Those who come down the mountain occasionally retain their memories, having been killed by a creature less dangerous than the Fae. Many return without any sense of who they are, or what happened to them in the Mist. In these cases, the Dark Elves help the amnesiac Biata make it to Vane safely, where they are then turned over to the High Scholars. After the High Scholars assess the damage, they help rehabilitate the victim through review of the Prime Lessons. If the victim’s Lode Stone can be located by those who were close to them, they will then be instructed to meditate on their previous memories as part of their rehabilitation. Many who keep Lode Stones often have success returning to their original mental state. Those without Lode Stones are assisted by the community in starting life as a Biata of Vane once again.

Playing a Biata

This is one of the two cultures of Biata in the Shattered Realms. They live in different areas, and are culturally divided similarly to the “Highblood” and “Lowblood” options in the National Packet. Neither culture knows anything about the other as the campaign begins.

You should consider playing a Highblooded Biata if you are interested in playing a character with significant mental abilities, a character that’s cautious about the damage that too much knowledge can bring, or a character who is adamant about fighting the insanity of the Mists. Also consider playing a Highblooded Biata if you are interested in subverting the rule of an elite class with an iron grip on the populace’s minds.

Players of Highblood Biata are in a unique position to engage in roleplay where their character gains or loses memories, even to the point of questioning their own identity. Though all races have these avenues of roleplay available to them, and heavy memory-deletion roleplay will not be forced on anyone, consider playing a different culture if this is not the sort of roleplay you are seeking.
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Surion Maedhros

This is an in-game sense of what your character learned when they undertook “The Prime Lessons” as a Highblood Biata.

The First Prime Lesson: Who We Are

“Your entire life is just a string of memories, from your birth to your death”

Memories and You

Biata have a special connection with memories. From an innate ability to store our memories in stone to a trained ability to read minds and alter memories, our connection to memory is undeniable.

As members of a community, we help our own kind. Care for your fellow Biata, regardless of their past or their ability to help you in return. They may never understand your journey, but know that they travel their own path, unknowable to you. Feed them if they are hungry, help them if they are tired, and guide them if they are lost.

We are different from the others. Our feathers mark our proud connection to ourselves. Those without them live fleeting lives, unexamined, flailing through them fruitlessly until they meaninglessly end.

Where we live

We live at the side of the Rachis Mountains, above where the Mists can reach. From the tall spires of the High Libraries, you can see across the great city of Vane and down to the streets and markets of Vane. Beyond, across the fields in the valley, our view terminates at the crest of the Mists. Many live in the cities and spires further up the mountain, as far away from the Mists as possible. Our brave farmers and explorers live in the valley, and their work is vital. They are expected to review these lessons at the High Libraries once a season, to prevent corruption.

The High Scholars

The High Libraries are the central heart of our society. They house these Prime Lessons, and they are where we go in order to seek clarity. They are the highest part of our civilization; the mountain becomes too steep and treacherous to settle permanently beyond the High Libraries.

The High Libraries are maintained by the High Scholars. The highest authorities in our land, they work to protect and manage our civilization: The Libraries, The Markets of Vane, and the valleys beyond. High Scholars are allowed to learn of the Scholar’s Lessons, so they may best perform their duties.

The Second Prime Lesson: Memory is Personal

“Memories have meaning only because you experienced them. The life of another will never mean as much to you as it did to them.”

The Forgotten Times

Our collective memory begins at the reclamation of our own minds. Before, we were not careful about curating our memories; we taught others freely and allowed them to corrupt our minds in return. The Treacherous ravaged our memories: the knowledge that built this great city, the memories of our ancestors, and the memory of the way things were. We had to rebuild our entire culture. We taught the High Scholars from among our ranks. We will do better, but we can never undo that loss. We used to have great knowledge, but the Forgotten Times are gone forever.

The Personal Nature of Memory:

Memories are personal, yet ephemeral. Though we are similar and can learn from each other, the consciousness you feel now isn’t felt in the same way by anyone else. Do not attempt to understand the experiences of others, as it is futile. Instead, meditate on your own life’s experiences. What can you, personally, learn from this experience? How do these experiences allow you to improve?

We form relationships, perform trade, care about, and protect each other. We may even fall in love. As with any experience, we meditate on how these feelings can teach us about life, but we cannot fool ourselves into thinking others “truly understand”. Your loved ones will never understand you, your experiences, or your desires in a way that will truly satisfy, but that’s not a fault. We all can guide you, but your memories are only meaningful if you discover them.

The Mists whisper of a “Homestone”, a great, magnetic stone that holds the memories of all Biata in our civilization. We used to have one in the Forgotten Times, but we can never return to those ways. By putting our memories together, we will only paint a great target for our enemies. Creating large, communal stones is forbidden, as to do so is to risk losing those precious memories forever.

The Third Prime Lesson: Memory Demands Curation

“Memories, properly curated and considered, are knowledge”

Memories need to be curated. Some memories are useless. Some memories are dangerous. Select what memories you allow yourself to record well, and prosperity follows.

Your Lode Stone is a valuable tool for curating your mind. It is a hematite stone, roughly an inch wide, in which you can store your own personal memories. If you have just been born, you will be given a Lode Stone by the High Scholars, and then raised by the community you were born in. If you are undertaking this lesson as re-education, you will be required to review your own Lode Stone to reclaim yourself.

Personal memories can be stored in your Lode Stone, and we must in order to ensure our sanity. With your Lode Stone, memories can be recorded or deleted. Keep a record of what’s most important to you, as if you ever lose your mind, your Lode Stone will save you. What is worth keeping, and what can be forgotten? Your mind, and your Lode Stone, are limited, and it is up to you to decide what is important in life.

Lode Stones are, above all, personal. Keep yours safe, but not on your person. Many keep it near where they rest, so that it can be reviewed regularly. Modifying or stealing another’s Lode Stone is a capital crime, worse than murder. If you shake a person’s confidence in their Lode Stones, they can never be sure they are truly themselves.

It is customary for us, on the third day of Spring, to spend the day in meditation. Many remain home, sort through their memories and the experiences of the year, and set goals for the year to come. Some take the opportunity to clean their homes and set their physical affairs in order, as well. During this Spring Cleaning, the markets and High Libraries remain closed.

The Fourth Prime Lesson: Who They Are

“Memories cross paths. Others, who are not mindful of their minds, will try to influence you.”

There are other races scattered across the world, atop the Rachis Mountain, and across the Mists. They do not have the connection to memory that we do. They do not live their lives carefully. They carry dangerous information, and they carry contempt for our way of life. They are not our enemy, but they will destroy us with their ignorance if we allow them.

The Fae and the Mist

There are many terrible and dangerous creatures in the Mists, but there is one that is the most dangerous. The greatest threat of the Mists, the Fae, are conniving, lying, shapeshifting, mind-altering beasts. They can take the form of any creature or race. They can alter or delete the memories of those they capture. They will not hesitate to kill what they cannot subdue. This is why it is imperative to curate and store memories and knowledge. The Prime Lessons, and a collection of properly curated and personal memories, can undo the damage that these monsters of treachery inflict on our very minds. Without these lessons and memories, they will rip away all memory of everything you ever cared for.

Weapons may repel them, but they are unkillable. They leave no corpse, and they can return from the Mists after death seemingly at will. We must defend ourselves from these treacherous beasts, teach them as little about ourselves as possible, and keep ourselves sane.

Dark Elves, Resurrection, and Stone Elves

Atop the Rachis Mountain are sparse settlements of Dark Elves. They are staunch pacifists, a moral position they can only afford to keep due to our vigilance against the Fae. They hold the secrets of resurrection and, if we are struck down in battle or murdered in the Mists, we awaken at the top of the mountain. The Dark Elves will see that you make your way down the mountain safely, but they look down upon us.

Rarely, while resurrecting, another type of Elf can be seen. Little is known about Stone Elves, as the limited contact between us has been from those coming down the mountain. They seem to be separate from the Dark Elves, as they don’t share their belief in pacifism. They have an unemotional, flat way of speaking, and they are quick to speak about the dangers of the Fae, but all of their information is demonstrably false.

The prevailing theory among the High Scholars is that the “Stone Elves” are, in fact, Dark Elves that have had their memories wiped by the Fae, and corrupted by some unknowable process. These puppets then seek to deceive us, so we may suffer and be controlled by their dark masters. They have murdered Biata, High Scholars even, in the past. They will not hesitate to do so again. Our contact with these Stone Elves must be minimized, as they are another kind of threat that the Mists conceal.