Cultures of the Age of Empires

Copyright Peter Mork © 2016

Cultures of the Age of Empires

Over the decades, the relationship between the frontier cultures and the Te'klu has degraded. When the Te'klu have the money and might to expand, the frontier is pushed back. When fortunes turn, the frontier cultures reclaim their ancestral territory.

Among the frontier cultures, the Imarru maintain the best relationship with the Te'klu; they serve almost as a vassal state (albeit one without a singular leader). The border with the Kethyrru changes very little. The Ezolatl oppose the Te'klu militarily while the Ivazazhit establish competing trade routes.

Ezolatl

The Ezolatl are the aboriginal people of Ambitus. When the Te'klu invaded, one could easily distinguish the Ezolatl by their lighter skin. These days the disparate blood lines have intermingled to the point where skin color is a poor discriminator.

Lifestyle

The Ezolatl continue to practice the age-old tradition of slash-and-burn agriculture. With their displacement into the forested foothills of the God Mountains, they rely less on hunting and fishing and more on goat herding.

They remain a nomadic people. Every few years their potatoes and plantains exhaust the soil. They pack their belongings onto llamas and move their settlement to the next valley.

This is a proud people with an ancient claim to the land. They view the Te'klu as cruel oppressors, an enemy worth defeating. However, they are smart enough to limit military operations to guerilla skirmishes along the border.

Clothing

Ezolatl clothing is purely pragmatic: long pants, short-sleeved tunics, and thick cloaks. They will not wear clothing that binds or otherwise restricts their ability to fight back.

Although most Ezolatl would be aghast at its origins, the Ezolatl are fond of piercings. They will pierce most anything that can easily be seen: ears, lips, noses. Copper jewelry is common; bronze is a sign of prowess (the tin must be captured in a raid).

When clad for war, they add a long coat of leather with plates of iron riveted to the inside (worn over padding). They carry several weapons (swords, axes, spears, and bows), which they maintain with pride. A deteriorating blade is deeply humiliating.

Marriage

A man chooses a wife from his own clan. This bond is strong; both are expected to vote as a block when the need for an assembly arises. Additional wives can be acquired through conquest. A family that cannot support the additional wives is expected to release the women from servitude although many of these women somehow find themselves sold to the Te'klu.

Religion

Fire. Fire is immortal. Fire burns within every living thing. To spit on the fire of passion is to deny the righteousness of existence.

Fears

More than anything, the Ezolatl fear losing their way of life. To them, freedom means the ability to move unimpeded, to raid when necessary, to take from the land, and to raise their families in peace.

Ivazazhit

The "swamp rats" spread symbiotically with the Te'klu. They have built extensive trade networks along the rivers and canals, along the coasts, and through the swamps. They are treated disdainfully by the Te'klu, and never outright disrespected. If the Ivazazhit pass your community by, luxury goods become nigh impossible to acquire. Even during times of war, an Ivazazhit excursion is welcome anywhere, despite the risk of smuggled goods.

Lifestyle

The Ivazazhit spend a good portion of their lives on boats. Their wide, shallow barges can reach nearly every portion of the three kingdoms. On their barges, they speak their own tongue, which is not related to any other Kish language. To the outsider, this language is guttural and dissonant. To the Ivazazhit, the Kish languages are nasal and monotonous.

The closest they have to a communal gathering are their frequent trips to the islands where they harvest guano. Any Ivazahit is free to harves what they will from these islands. Outsiders may not set foot on the islands, on pain of death. This tradition was codified in law by Queen Apurimac as reparation to the Ivazahit when King Sapa became paranoid and banned the Ivazahit entry to Huáscar.

Clothing

The boat people have little fashion tradition of their own. They trade with everyone they meet and one could assemble a rough history of their travels from the bits and pieces they wear. For important rituals they don embroidered capes and brimless caps (what we might call a kufi).

Marriage

The dowry is of great importance to the Ivazazhit. Before a man can enter into matrimony, he must prove that he has the resources necessary to sustain a family. This dowry must be assembled personally; to receive aid from family or friends would disgrace all involved.

Religion

The Ivazazhit worship the same gods as the Te'klu, but they have different names for each power. Central to their pantheon is Illisari, the mistress of fair trade who (it is believed) established the rules of commerce and cultural boundaries between the Te'klu and Ivazazhit. Her name is invoked whenever a property dispute is raised. Her sacred symbol is a string of prayer beads meant to evoke an abacus.

Fears

The Ivazazhit fear the Hobgoblins, Ezolatl, and anyone that would take by force from the peaceful boat people. The feeling is somewhat mutual, in that the Ivazazhit constitute a cartel. Without their support, agriculture in the region is very difficult.

Non-Humans

Imarru

The Imarru live in the dry and rocky plains that separate Ambitus from the desert kingdoms to the west. The lion centaurs travel in family bands that are largely self-sufficient. Given the poor soil in the region, a band identifies a plot with water and farms that plot for one to three years. Once the plot is spent, they pack up and move on.

This semi-nomadic life allows the Imarru to cover (and hold) much more territory than their numbers would otherwise suggest. They are a pragmatic people, not given to holidays or large gatherings. Important messages are communicated from plot to plot by runners. Less important chatter is passed from band to band when they bump into each other while searching for new plots.

An Imarru typically wears a collection of scarves from which other Imarru can recognize lineage. This is not to say that one line is more highly regarded than another; these lines are distinct but equal. During the heat of the day, many Imarru don felt hats or bonnets.

Kethyrru

The Kethyrru reside in the foothills and valleys north of Ambitus. These bird people are both xenophobic and curious: they don't want strangers poking around in their territory, but they have no issue injecting themselves into others' business. In time, we should not be surprised if the Kethyrru were to invent colonization.

Whereas the Kethyrru are familiar with agriculture, they rely on hunting for food and trade goods. They are generally welcome at trading posts near the frontier, where the locals are familiar with the birds' arrogance and machismo.

A Kethyrru wears a leather vest and leg pouches when the weather is warm. As the weather cools, they add fur lined leggings and sleeves. When interacting with humans, they often don cloaks to disguise their appearance. These disguises don't fool anyone, but playing along keeps the relationship cordial.

Skills

The frontier cultures have access to the same skills as the Te'klu.

Starting Skills

Category or Skill Ezolatl Imarru Ivazazhit Kethyrru
Armor • Light 2
    Soft Leather 2
Armor • Medium 1
    Scale 1
Artistic • Active 1
    Play Instrument: Plucked 1
Athletic • Brawn 1 1 1 1
Athletic • Endurance 1 1 3 1
    Distance Running 1
    Rowing 1
    Swimming 1 3
Athletic • Gymnastics 1 1 3 5
    Climbing 1 3
    Flying/Gliding 5
Awareness • Perceptions 0 0 0 0
    Alertness 2 2 2 2
Awareness • Searching 1 1 1 1
    Observation 1 1 1 1
    Reading Tracks 1
    Tracking 1
Body Development 0 0 0 0
    Concussion Hits 3 2 1 1
    Exhaustion Points 2
Communications: Kish 3 3 1 3
    Ezolatl (S) 7
    Imarru (S) 7
    Kethyrru (S) 7
    Kish (W) 1 3 3
    Te'klu (S) 3 5 5 5
Communications: Ubon 3
    Ivazazhit (S) 7
    Ubon (W) 3
Crafts 0 0 0
    Animal-crafts 1 1
    Earth-crafts 1 1
    Food-crafts 2
    Stone-crafts 1
    Textile-crafts 1
Lore • General 3 3 3 3
    Culture Lore: Own 3 3 3 3
    Fauna Lore 2 1 2
    Flora Lore 2 2 1
    Region Lore: Own 3 3 3 3
Lore • Obscure 1
    Faerie Lore 1
Martial Arts • Striking 2
    Boxing 2
Outdoor • Animal 2
    Herding 2
Outdoor • Environmental 2 1 3 2
    Fishing 1
    Foraging 2 1 3
    Hunting 2
    Survival: Alpine (A) 2
    Survival: Coniferous Forest (C) 2
    Survival: Marsh/Swamp (M) 3
    Survival: Plains (P) 1
Resistance 0 0 0 0
    Critical Resistance 0 0 0 0
    Disease Resistance 1 1 1 1
    Divine Resistance 1 1 1 1
    Fear Resistance 1 1 1 1
    Impulse Resistance 1 1 1 1
    Poison Resistance 1 1 1 1
Spells • Divine TP Lists 0
    Stone Crafting: C 2
Spells • Impulse Base Lists 0
    Fire Law 1
Spells • Impulse TP Lists 0
    Traveler's Ways 2
Subterfuge • Stealth 2 2 1 3
    Hiding 2 2 1 3
    Stalking 2 2 1 3
Technical/Trade • General 1 1 1 1
    Operating Equipment 1
    Rope Mastery 1
Technical/Trade • Vocational 0
    Boat Pilot 2
Weapon • Bow 1
    Bow 1
Weapon • Chains 2
    Ball and Chain 2
    Net 2
Weapon • Chopping 1 1 2
    Axe 1 1
    Machete 2
Weapon • Crushing 1
    Mace 1
Weapon • Pole Arms 1 2
    Spear 1 2
Weapon • Slashing 1
    Long Straight Sword 1
Weapon • Thrown 1 2 1
    Direct Thrown 1
    Rotating Thrown 1
    Sling 2
Hobbies 8 8 8 8
Everyman Skills Fire Law &
Spell Mastery: Fire Law
Trading
Cost [1] 49 13 58 30

[1] To determine a character’s background options, add up the racial cost and the culture cost (13–58). Convert that total into talent points or background options using Talent Law.