Oathsworn There are two cultures of Oathsworn within the Maelstrom. The first is a culture of fierce pirates and raiders who live upon Storm Island and call themselves the Stormborn. The second culture is the nomadic Azarka who live upon the plains of the Southern Wildlands south of The Empire and west of Quyah'scenthaal. Azarka Capital City: None System of Government: Independent Tribes Populations: Oathsworn: 100% History The Azarka people do not have a unified written history, as they are a nomadic people. The lore of their people are passed along via oral traditions and stories. These stories indicate that they were once a settled people who had a nation to the north, long ago. Those same stories say that one day there was an immense cataclysm that destroyed their towns and villages, killing everyone and forcing those with a strong enough spirit to resurrect. The people rebuilt, rebuilding their once great towns and cities when they were invaded and slaughtered wholesale by the Cloud Empire. The survivors were forced south, to try to build a new civilization in the plains to try to survive amidst the monster tribes. Forced out of their homeland, the Azarka attempted to rebuild their civilization upon the plains of what is now known as the Southern Wildlands, far south of their original homes. Amongst the harsher terrain and frequent attacks from monster tribes they managed to build a thriving society again. But then, many hundreds of years ago, the monster tribes united under a powerful bugbear from farther south on the plains. This bugbear had been mutated by the Maelstrom and was called Glathrik, and he called his armies and their lands the Wyldfire Kingdom. This nation conquered and enslaved the Azarka, forcing them to fight in their war against the Cloud Empire. Hundreds of Azarka died before Glathrik was killed and his armies routed, finally allowing the Azarka to flee. The Empire invaded the region burning and killing all they could find. The Azarka found it was best to stay moving to avoid the retreating armies of the Wyldfire Kingdom and the invading armies of the Empire, both of which would simply kill the refugees and ask no questions. Several different groups of Azarka banded together and ultimately developed into the tribes represented today. To avoid having their civilization destroyed a third time they maintained nomadic lifestyles. Once per year the tribes meet at the Ulzalt, but otherwise the tribes range far and wide across the plains of the Southern Wildlands surviving the harsh wilds and doing battle with the monster races that threaten them. Culture The Azarka are a tribal nomadic people. Three times now their homes have been destroyed, devastating their people and culture. This has led them to believe that the feeling of safety one might get from settling in one place is delusional and just leads to complacency. Living nomadically they are forced to stay strong and sharp and, thus, survive anything thrown at them. The life is harsh but the Azarka feel it has toughened them and made the stronger than those who settle into one place. All of the tribes of the Azarka are excellent horsemen and all boys and girls are taught to ride from the moment they are able to walk. Horses are a very important part of Azarka society, allowing them to ride, to pull carts of supplies (and those who cannot ride) and giving a serious advantage in combat, as most monster races are not accomplished horsemen. Abusing one's horse is punishable by death and is considered shameful. Azarka are often lightly armored and fight on horseback whenever possible. They use their superior mobility to outmaneuver and wear down a superior enemy, or simply use their horses to roll over inferior ones. It is a simple but often very effective strategy. All Azarka have a strong community based society, both for the tribe and for other tribes as well. The destruction of their society three times forced the Azarka people to pull together and help one another in order to survive, and their tough nomadic lifestyle on the plains has only reinforced this need. Those who refuse to assist their fellow Azarka actually suffer punishment from their tribal Yeronkhai (Chieftain) for their selfishness. Though each of the tribes have specialties that they are better at than the others, all tribes are self-sufficient and can survive on the plains independently. There are five tribes, each with different specialties. All are led by a Yeronkhai, who is elected by the tribe every year before the Ulzalt. All adults can cast a vote for a Yeronkhai and a simple majority wins. In the exceedingly rare case of a tie the two candidates will engage in a contest of some sort (often a fight or a race, but sometimes non-physical such as riddles or knowledge of their lore.) The winner becomes Yeronkhai until the next election. The five tribes of the Azarka are: K’hart – The K’hart tribe are the best hunters of the Azarka. They tend to be masters in archery and are especially skilled at firing from the back of a moving horse. They are likewise skilled in stealth and tracking. The food they bring to the Ulzalt to trade supplements the other tribes’ hunters to get them through the year. Many will wear the skins or other parts of their kills as trophies. No part of any hunted animal is ever wasted. Dai’chin – The Dai’chin tribe are the best warriors and tacticians among the Azarka. All the tribes have warriors, naturally, but the Dai’chin focus far more heavily on tactics, practice, and warfare. Like all Azarka they are master horsemen and excel at mounted combat. They are frequently experts with bows and one handed weapons. There are many monster tribes who utterly fear the Dai’chin tribe for their battlefield prowess. Boglin: The Boglin tribe are the best mages among the Azarka. All tribes have mages, but the Boglin are undoubtedly the best and most focused on magic. Though they can perform healing magic, they focus more on the combat applications of magic such as binding, utility spells and cause damage spells. They do perform necromancy spells, though the raising of undead or controlling them is strictly taboo. Any Azarka who fall to this practice are considered to be twisted and rotten inside and are known as Ukhel Suuns (literal translation: “Death Spirit”). Though there have been Ukhel Suuns from all tribes, most come from the Boglin as they are traditionally mages and focus on using magic for combat applications. Ukhel Suuns are hunted down and killed and are shunned. Most Ukhel Suuns tend to either live alone in the wild, try to integrate with a monster tribe or leave the Southern Wildlands altogether, as no Azarka tribe will knowingly take one in. Akhui: The Akhui tribe are the best riders and horse breeders amongst the Azarka and their horses are always highly sought after amongst all the Azarka. They have an uncommonly close connection to their horses, even for an Azarka, and tend to view their horses as equal partners rather than beasts of burden. They will frequently talk to their horses and swear they can understand responses from the animals based on their behavior. For all these eccentricities, though, none deny that the Akhui are incredibly skilled riders and warriors and they are a vital part of Azarka society. Emkal: The Emkal tribe are the best healers and herbalists amongst the Azarka. They are masters of healing magic as well as alchemy. They are familiar with means of treating illness and healing injuries (both using magic as well as natural healing methods.) Because they are masters of healing, many bands of monsters have made the mistake of presuming they were pacifistic and weak. These monsters were brutally proven wrong, as Emkal are as strong and self-reliant as any Azarka tribe and their warriors use their knowledge of biology and medicine to be Viciously effective in combat. The Ulzalt Every year before the beginning of winter all tribes meet where the Sait River (a large river that flows from the Bergholten Mountains into the sea) bends sharply to the south. At this bend there is a large patch of land where the Azarka gather every here to hold the Ulzalt. The Ulzalt is part trade meet, part festival and part tribal council meeting. An Ulzalt will usually last between one to three weeks. During this time all of the Yeronkhais will meet together to discuss matters that affect all Azarka and decide what (if any) actions are to be taken by the tribes. The Azarka also trade with the other tribes offering goods and services to the other tribes so that each tribe’s specialty can help the other tribes survive the winter and thrive. For the most part the Azarka have a barter economy. They are familiar with money, and use it in some cases, but they view tangible and immediately useable goods to be far more valuable and useful to life on the plains. Often during an Ulzalt members of tribes will temporarily join other tribes to teach them skills and abilities that will help one another survive the year and learn from them. For example, a member of the healing minded Emkal tribe may join the war-like Dai’chin tribe for the year to teach their healers better curative techniques. For that year they are considered a member of the tribe they are traveling with and protected and defended as though they were born to the tribe. At the next Ulzalt the visitor would return to their own tribe, bringing with them the lessons and experiences learned during that year. While there is always business to conduct at an Ulzalt, there is often a great deal of festivity as well. The Azarka will participate in or spectate various races, wrestling matches, and games of skill and chance during these events. Many people look forward to attending a Ulzalt as it is often great fun. Marriage and Life Cycle An Azarka who wishes to marry within their tribe needs only the approval of the Yeronkhai, who will perform a brief ceremony where they affirm their love for one another. Those who wish to divorce must also seek approval from the Yeronkhai, who may or may not attempt to help the couple reconcile before deciding if a divorce should be granted. In general few Yeronkhais will not grant a divorce if it is genuinely desired. Marriage between tribes requires the approval of both Yeronkhais, usually granted during an Ulzalt, and the newlyweds must choose which of the two tribes they wish to live with (the Yeronkhai of that tribe will perform the ceremony) and both Azarka will then be considered an official part of that tribe. Divorce must likewise be approved by both Yeronkhais. If the two tribal Yeronkhais cannot agree on if a marriage or divorce should be granted they will take the matter to the rest of the Yeronkhais at the Ulzalt and a simple vote is taken. Child rearing, as with all things amongst the Azarka, is handled in a communal matter. Though the parents are the chief caregivers, all members of a tribe work together to teach the children and bring them up well and teach them the oral history and traditions of the Azarka and their tribe and the skills necessary to survive. As soon as a child is old enough to walk they begin to be taught to ride, be around, and care for horses. At the age of 7 they begin being taught about the specifics of their tribal specialties (warfare for the Dai’chin, hunting for the K’hart, healing and herbalism for the Emkal, etc). They are also expected to learn where their natural talents and inclinations lie as well. A child in the Emkal tribe with a preference to fight, for example, would be gravitated to one of the warriors of the Emkal tribe (or a warrior from the Dai’chin spending the year with the Emkal.) Around the age of 12 or so, most children are given a horse by the tribe as their first mount. This is a very important milestone for an Azarka child and they are expected to completely care for their horse and are punished for neglecting to do so. At this age they are allowed to accompany those of the tribe who are teaching them their desired vocations on tasks and missions. Azarka are considered an adult at 16 years of age and thus can marry, vote for Yeronkhai, and spend a year with the other tribes. The Azarka usually live to the age of 70 years old or so, if left to natural causes. However, this rarely occurs. When an Azarka is too old to ride, it is a time of great sadness and they are relegated to riding in the wagons with the children who are too young to ride. This is considered quite shameful and many old Azarka will often seek an honorable death instead so they are not a drain to the community, preferably one that serves the rest of the tribe in some way. Some will refrain from this practice, and simply find new ways to serve the tribe within their new physical limitations, but though their knowledge is respected there is still some pity within the community that they can no longer ride and most old Azaraka prefer an honorable death instead. When an Azarka dies the family will have a ceremony where they will place the deceased upon a funeral pyre and light it. While the body burns the mourners will speak of his or her accomplishments and contributions to the tribe and community. Sometimes a funeral dirge or other song is sung as well. The possessions of the deceased are distributed to the members of the tribe where they can be most useful. Holidays: The Azarka have only two holidays as most of their time is devoted to survival on the harsh plains. The first is the Ulzalt, as described above. Spring Feast: The second holiday of the Azarka is the beginning of spring. Once spring finally breaks the Azarka will launch a hunt and hold a tribe wide feast to celebrate surviving another winter. Many games are played, stories told and songs sung during the Spring Feast. Attitudes towards other races Dryads: Few Dryads have been encountered by the Azarka people, but they have been fairly well received. The Azarka appreciate the Dryad connection with nature, though they view them as weak for being a somewhat passive people. Wylderkin: The Azarka view the Wylderkin with pity. While the Azarka had their culture destroyed by invaders, they were able to adapt. The Wylderkin, unfortunately, were unable to show the same resiliency and have had their culture obliterated. Their one attempt to rebuild was destroyed in less than a generation. The Azarka sometimes encounter some kin who call themselves The Hive on the Southern Plains. They get along well enough, and the Azarka admire their communal attitude, but they still find the kin connected to the Hive somewhat odd. Stone Elves: The Azarka view the stone elves as an odd curiosity. Their devotion to dispassionate logic utterly perplexes them and they are unsure of how to react to such a stoic and emotionless people. Dark Elves: Almost no Azarka have ever even encountered a dark elf, thus no racial generalization can be made. Mystic Wood Elves: The Azarka have a fondness for Mystic Wood Elves, who live a long time and are very fun in general, though they view their carefree attitude as somewhat foolish. Biata: The Azarka have no love of the Biata, who lead the Empire that once destroyed their homeland. They are viewed as manipulative and untrustworthy. Dwarves: Most Azarka have never encountered dwarves. The few that they have encountered they’ve found dour but strong and hardworking. Elves: The Azarka have encountered elves at the edge of the Quyah'scenthaal Forest. They find them oddly mystical and aloof but friendly. There has even been some limited trade, in which the elves have always conducted themselves fairly. Hoblings: The Azarka find the hoblings they have encountered as selfish and self-centered by focusing only on their own wealth and needs while ignoring those around them. This attitude is repugnant to most Azarka, who prize the good of the community over their own needs. As a result, most hoblings are not liked or trusted much. Humans: Most humans encountered by Azarka are part of the Empire, and thus there is little love lost. However, humans not affiliated with the Empire have run the gamut from awful to terrific, so some Azarka acknowledge that some humans may not be all that bad. Arieanis: The Azarka feel a great kinship with the Arieanis, as both cultures are nomadic and have had their homelands destroyed. Some Arieanis bands will even travel with a tribe for a time, and they are generally quite welcome for their entertainment and fun-loving ways. High Orcs: Most Azarka do not trust high orcs, as they frequently war with Orc tribes on the plains of the Southern Wildlands and the Azarka do not view the two races as all that different except that High Orcs have managed to put together a Kingdom. High Ogres: Very few Azarka have encountered Ogres. Those that have are naturally distrustful, as they are reminded of the monster races they fight with on the plains in a daily struggle to survive. Stormborn Capital City: Saltspire System of Government: Democratic Monarchy Population: Oathsworn: 75%, Kin, Mystic Wood Elf, Elf, Human, Hobling, Celunari, Dryads, Stone Elves, (all slaves or drudges): 25% The Stormborn are a tough people who live on Storm Island. As Storm Islands is located within a few miles of the edge of the Maelstrom the Stormborn must contend with furious storms, magically mutated sea monsters and frequent strange effects. It is a harsh life and even the meekest of Stormborn must be tough to survive. The Stormborn are a seagoing culture and many of them pillage the surrounding lands and any ships they find at sea. Though they love combat and to pillage they have no real interest in conquest. Origins The Stormborn do not have much of a written history, relying on oral traditions and storytelling to pass on their culture. The ancient tales say that a being known as The Stormbringer was birthed onto Storm Island from the Maelstrom itself (which they call the Great Storm). The stories say that he found the land overrun with monsters and weak peoples who were preyed upon by the monsters. The Stormbringer slew the monsters and urged the people to fight the monsters. They refused, however, preferring to cower and hide. This cowardice infuriated the Stormbringer and he began to slay the people as well, cursing them for their cowardice and weakness as he destroyed them. Then came the day when the Stormbringer, butchering monsters and people alike and awash in his bloodlust, met the First Ones. They were a couple who loved one another and they deigned to fight back. They were completely unable to stand before the might of the Stormbringer and he laid them low in seconds, but he did not kill them. Impressed with their bravery in spite of the odds he captured them and asked them why they did not run and hide or beg for their lives as had all the others upon the island. They replied that they fought for one another and that they refused to be pulled apart by death and that if they were to die they would do so together, and fighting. Impressed, the Stormbringer spared them and declared that, at last, he found those worthy of his spirit. The Stormbringer then told the First Ones to take that spark of internal strength and determination and let nothing stand in their way. He then seemed to turn into a storm cloud, whirling with lightning and wind and flew into the First Ones, merging with their bodies, their spirits and their very being. The transformation was painful and the First One’s frail bodies passed out. When they awoke, however, they were transformed. They were Stormborn. The legends say that all Stormborn are descended from the First Ones. History Since the Stormborn do not have a recorded history, much of their past is lost. They do not know how long ago the First Ones were transformed, nor how long they have lived on Storm Island. They have been sailing and pillaging for as long as anyone knows, and their traditions guide their beliefs. In spite of this scholastic ignorance, many stories and oral traditions have been passed down based on events of the past. Their culture is awash with stories of monsters and creatures from the Maelstrom that have attacked the island and the heroes who have fought them off. There are also tales of sadness and defeat, at least two of them at the hands of the Cloud Empire, which twice in the distant past invaded Storm Island and seemed to try to destroy the Stormborn, burning killing and slaughtering entire towns before abruptly leaving after finding that the Stormborn could not be conquered and would never stop fighting. Both of these occurrences were long, long ago. Hundreds or perhaps even thousands of years ago, no one seems quite sure of exactly how long ago. Just two years ago the Empire had invited the Stormborn to attack the hoblings of Newhome, who had broken away from the Empire and thus were bereft of their protection, but had not yet secured an alliance with the elves of Quyah'scenthaal. The Stormborn knew they were being used to prove to the hoblings how they were weak without Imperial protection, however they were loathe to waste the opportunity to raid such a rich and weak city as Newhome. The Empire betrayed the Stormborn, though. Whey they sailed into port with their massive raiding band they found Imperial Troops defending Newhome. The battle was fierce but a humiliating defeat for the Stormborn. It is said that the Eye is plotting his revenge on the Empire to this day… Culture The Stormborn are a fierce and violent people who prize success and physical prowess. It is said that the Stormbringer infused the Stormborn with a furious storm in their heart fueling their rage and passion, and that all Stormborn feel it to this day. For as long as anyone can remember the Stormborn have been sailors and warriors who raided and pillaged any ships they found at sea and any land they could reach that was too weak to repulse them. They regularly sail the Ostenwasser Sea burning and plundering any port town or boat they come across. There are three classes in Stormborn Society: Stormborn, Drudges and Slaves. A “True Stormborn” is an elevated status granted by leaders that is considered quite prestigious. All Stormborn strive to be recognized as a True Stormborn. Only a Stormborn is allowed the opportunity to be a warrior or raider, while all other roles are considered lesser to be performed by those beneath a Stormborn. Being a True Stormborn, or even just Stormborn, is not a blood right it is proven through deeds, though only an Oathsworn can become a Stormborn. Slaves are often captured and held in bondage (mostly those taken in battle) but children of slaves are not made slaves themselves, as the Stormborn believe each man and woman forges their own destiny. Those taken as slaves deserve to be slaves because they were weak enough to be taken or (worse) surrender, but the children are not stigmatized unless they prove themselves weak enough to be enslaved by someone else (past the age of majority of course). In between Stormborn and Slaves are Drudges, those who are free men and women, but have not proven themselves as Stormborn and thus are second class citizens. Drudges perform most of the day to day labor on Storm Island and can never vote in a moot or have any say in decisions made. Storm Island is located very close to the Maelstrom and as a result is frequently pummeled by storms both magical and mundane. Worse, many of the sea creatures are mutated by the magical energies of the Maelstrom and are abnormally large or twisted, making them far more fierce and dangerous than normal. Consequently life is hard and often a struggle, which has forged the Stormborn into a hard and determined people. Government The Stormborn are led by a figure called The Eye. He or she must be a True Stormborn as well as a capable warrior but he or she does not rule through strength alone. It is a combination of strength, wisdom and ability that makes one able to be The Eye. An Eye can be replaced, but only if the majority of the Stormborn vote for it, in which case the Eye may defend their title in a contest of his or her choice (sometimes combat, but sometimes other contests are used as well and not always based upon physical prowess). If the challenger wins he or she becomes the new Eye. If the Eye dies permanently a moot is held during which all Stormborn present cast their vote for the new Eye. The current Eye is a celebrated old warrior named Tagren. He is an accomplished warrior, wise Eye and has led the Stormborn for over fifteen years. The disastrous Battle of Newhome has hurt his reputation however and there are grumblings that he has grown too old to be an effective leader. Those who wish to remove him do not yet have enough support to call a moot, but they are working hard to convince others that Tagren’s time should be done. Saltspire The majority of Storm Island, where the Stormborn all hail from, consists of small villages scattered throughout the land. There are no real engineers or architects amongst the Stormborn so most of the buildings are made of wood and tend to be simple one story affairs. The frequent storms tend to damage or destroy the houses and the need to be rebuilt and repaired frequently. The Stormborn Capital of Saltspire, is not much of an exception with this, though some of the buildings are a bit larger. Saltspire is the primary port of Storm Island as well as their capital. The architecture is much the same as the rest of the towns on the island, though there are a few two story buildings and the city is far more populated than the rest of the cities. Long ago the city seems to have been built around a large stone tower that stands three times the height of even the tallest building. The stone of the building is strange and no one has been able to identify it or understand the engineering involved in building it. The tower itself is exceptionally strange as the odd architecture emphasizes concentric geometric forms like spheres, arches, polygons, rectangles and other smiliar shapes carved into it in symmetrical patterns. The stone itself is a dark grey in color, and feels almost like glass when touched, but is astonishingly tough, nothing has ever damaged the tower as far back as the Stormborn can recall, indeed nothing even seems able to damage it. The Saltspire has been in existence as far back as the Stormborn can remember and some believe it was built by the Stormbringer. The Eye traditionally lives in the spire, residing on the top most floor. From the top of the spire one can see for miles and gaze upon the Maelstrom in all it’s glory as well as view the sea and spy any approaching ships. The city around the Saltspire has been destroyed and built many times throughout history, as the Empire has attempted to wipe out the Stormborn multiple times and especially harsh storms have been known to destroy all the buildings in Saltspire. The city is not well separated into sections and has a bit of an ad-hoc construction about it, though many of the businesses that support their ships are found near the docks out of necessity. One unfamiliar with Saltspire will have difficulty navigating it and finding what they need, which the stormborn prefer. Should any new slave seek to flee they will get lost easily. Should the Empire (or anyone else) attempt in invade again their armies will not easily find their way around the city. Marriage and Life Cycle Two Stormborn who wish to marry may simply declare themselves married. They swear and an oath in the spirit of the First Ones that their love will conquer all who oppose them, and they are considered married. Those who try to obstruct a loving couple from being together risk a severe beating (or possibly being killed) by the newlyweds. Divorce is as simple, with the couple deciding they no longer wish to be with one another. A persistent partner insisting on staying together when another does not wish to risks being killed by the dissatisfied partner as many times as it takes to get the point across. A Stormborn child is taught to fight as soon as they are old enough to walk and they are taught to be strong and self-reliant. Not all Stormborn can be the biggest and strongest however. Those who are smaller or less capable at physical combat are trained in skirmishing tactics or even magical ability, as suits their talents. There is no shame in this, presuming they have enough skill to hold their own in a fight. Regardless of their combat preferences all children learn to sail and operate a ship, in the hopes of becoming a Stormborn and going on raids one day. As a coming of age a Stormborn youth (usually between the ages of 14-19) will swim out to a small rock in the sea dangerously close to the Great Storm known simply as The Rock. Between the storms and the potential for monstrous sea creatures this is often a dangerous prospect. The child will usually spend a period of time on The Rock (which varies from person to person based on their desires, but as there is no vegetation or fresh water it is rarely especially long) during which some claim to see a vision of their future in the swirling vortex of the Great Storm. Once the child either has a vision, or decides they have peered into the Great Storm long enough, they will swim back. If the child survives the journey they are declared a Stormborn and granted the right to join raiding parties and vote, and are afforded the opportunity to prove themselves a True Stormborn through deeds. If a candidate is forced to resurrect in the attempt they can try again and it is generally not held against them, however anyone who does not perform this ceremony successfully by the age of 20 will never be considered Stormborn and thus will be a Drudge for the rest of their lives. It is also not uncommon for someone to die during the attempt and their spirit to not be able to resurrect because of the proximity to the Maelstrom. This is considered an honorable death. A very, very few candidates are struck by lightning from the Maelstrom during the swim or, more commonly, upon the Rock. If they are not forced to resurrect they are considered “Storm Touched,” and destined to be great warriors. Those who are Storm Touched are changed, however, and they become fiercely violent and bloodthirsty, relishing battle nearly constantly and fighting with a fury and ferocity that is extreme even for the Stormborn. A Storm Touched is able to submerge these instincts somewhat (varying from person to person) until they are in combat, but once they are in battle they fight with a terrifying fervor. The Storm Touched will often decorate their face or clothing with lightning bolt symbols and take great pride in their status and are afforded much respect (and wariness) from their countrymen. (PC’s are not allowed to be Storm Touched without plot approval). In an effort to emulate the fighting prowess of a Storm Touched some Stormborn will drink a berserk elixir before battle. Others will drink a concoction called Storm Brew. Storm Brew is berserk elixir that is mixed with ingredients known only to The Eye and a very small amount of his or her inner circle. The concoction is mixed and placed in a cauldron on The Rock. After thirty days it is recovered and can be parceled out by The Eye as he or she sees fit. None know fully what occurs to the mixture but it is believed that the Maelstrom changes it and gives the drink its special properties. It enhances the effect of a normal berserk elixir considerably and some Stormborn are known to be addicted to it. If left to die of old age a Stormborn will generally live until about 70-80 years old, however this is incredibly rare. Since the Stormborn tend to live very violent lives most will die in combat as they slow down due to growing older long before than can die of old age. When a Stormborn dies a funeral is held in which those who knew the deceased sing songs and recount his or her victories and battle prowess. The deceased is then put into a small boat and sailed into the Maelstrom. Drudges and Slaves who die to not get funerals and are simply burned, buried or pitched into the sea. Holidays Honor of the Stormbringer: This is a ceremony held at the beginning of the summer to honor the Stormbringer, who transformed the weak, pathetic people of Storm Island into the Stormborn. To celebrate the Stormborn hold a weeklong series of feasting and gladiatorial games. The ultimate winner of the games is known as the Thunder Champion and is granted the right to wield Thunderfist, a powerful magical sword said to have once been used by the Stormbringer himself. Gift of the First Ones: This is a holiday celebrated in the second month of the year in which the Stormborn are encouraged to attempt to impress a man or woman they wish to court. A Stormborn attempt to impress their intended partner in a number of ways, including singing of past deeds to them, bringing them a gift (preferably taken by violence on a raid) or engaging their intended in a brawl. Though these courting methods can occur at any time of the year, relationships began during this day are thought to be especially lucky. Raiding Day: The beginning of the Raiding Season (usually the beginning of Spring) will kick off on Raiding Day. This is day of celebration, feasting, wrestling and boasting of all the plunder that the Stormborn will take in the coming season. The following day the ships sail to begin the raiding season. Attitudes towards other races: Dryads: The few dryads that awoke on Storm Island were promptly enslaved by the Stormborn, as have been some of the few encountered elsewhere. They are viewed as weak, but fascinating for their strange plant-like bodies. Most of the enslaved Dryads are treated as jesters by their masters. Wylderkin: The Stormborn have a grudging respect for Wylderkin. While some are terribly weak and, thus, rightfully enslaved, many others make strong and powerful warriors. Stone Elves: The Stormborn have no respect for the emotionless Stone Elves and consider them to be no more a person than a chair, since they have about as much passion. Dark Elves: Very little is known about the Dark Elves. There are tales that a raiding party once attempted to put ashore along the Wahnsinn Cliffs and they were repelled by Dark Elves who appeared in the caves along the cliffs and rained magic and arrows down upon the Stormborn until they were forced to abort the raid. This is largely the extent of the encounters with Dark Elves. Mystic Wood Elves: The Stormborn do not like Mystic Wood Elves and view them as sentimental, weak and foolish. They frequently fight groups of them who try to free their slaves. Biata: The Biata are seen as manipulative and are not trusted. Since their ability to tamper with people’s memories has surfaced (along with their feathers) they are never enslaved, and instead put to death if they are defeated in combat. The biata slaves who were held were executed once they developed these powers. Dwarves: Very few Stormborn have encountered Dwarves, but those who have offer a grudging respect for them as tough warriors. It is a shame that they serve the hated Cloud Empire. Elves: The Stormborn have encountered the Elves on many occasions and frequently attempt to raid their lands. They are viewed as weak and pathetic, though even the surliest of Stormborn cannot deny their ability with archery and magic. Hoblings: The Stormborn view them as rich, pampered and weak. They frequently raid hobling shipping lanes and towns. Humans: The Stormborn find most humans to be as weak and pathetic as hoblings, but some few are tough and strong enough to almost be worthwhile. Arieanis: The Arieanis are viewed as wandering fools, but they are amongst the few willing to trade with the Stormborn. High Orcs: The Stormborn have a grudging respect for orcs, as they are often powerful warriors. They are still completely valid targets for raids (though opportunities to raid them are very rare.) To their credit orcs seem to never surrender. As a result there are no orc slaves on Storm Island. High Ogres: Very few Ogres have been encountered, as most Stormborn raiders do not bother to sail to the Glacier where they live. The few encountered have impressed the Stormborn with their fierce battle prowess.