HARP Folkways Preview Excerpt: A Folkway of Cyradon

Copyright Jon Cassie and Guild Companion Publications Ltd © 2017

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"All that can be comfortably asserted is that, at least as far as the Orsai are concerned, their empire is still a bit too small for their tastes."

Cyradon: The Theocracy of Asut and the Orsai Empire

Young, violent, expansionist, territorial and intolerant, the Orsai Empire, ruled by its secretive and all-powerful priestly cult known as the Theocracy of Asut, rules more of the continent of Anias than any other power. Now that they have at long last vanquished the hated city of Tarahir and driven its rebellious, areligious enemies of Memra from the continent, they can turn their attentions to even richer prizes like the Treaty Kingdoms and the rich kingdoms of the Skaldi. All that can be comfortably asserted is that, at least as far as the Orsai are concerned, their empire is still a bit too small for their tastes … and the opportunities presented by the weaknesses of their enemies a bit too large to be ignored.

The Orsai are a race of humans, one of many, that make the continent of Anias their home. As indicated above, they can best be differentiated from the others by the relative youth of their culture and their outsized commitment to violence as a way of getting along (so to speak) with other people. As presented in Cyradon, these are the broad strokes. What follows supplements these principles and explains them and their consequences.

Environment Ways Orsai
Topography The dominant environment in the Orsai Empire is The Great Desert. The Orsai are people of that desert and its harshness dominates, shapes and determines the worldview of the Orsai. They believe that the environment must not just be managed, but conquered or it will destroy you. This is the lesson of the desert, a lesson the Orsai have learned well and have not yet forgotten, even though some of their territory now includes river basins that are quite lush and in the northern parts of the Empire, plains that are quite suitable for agriculture. To what degree these new lands will reshape the Orsai remains unclear.
Water Though they would deny it, the demands of water have always been forefront in the imagination of the Orsai. From their earliest days, the routes of their conquests have taken them from water source to water source. Water was a grave problem for the Orsai in their prehistory and access to it in the Great Desert was by means of irregularly spaced oases. The Orsai are known for the speed of their cavalry and the ruggedness of their soldiers. These aspects of Orsai society owe their existence to the patterns of water availability in the earliest days of their society.
Ecosystem The heart of the Orsai Empire lies about twenty degrees north of the Equator and stretches for hundreds of miles north and south of this line. The Orsai territories are hot, often blazingly so. the only temperate relief comes in the most northerly parts of their Empire, recently acquired. In the south, the deserts give way to savannah, but the heat stays the same. Temperatures above 110 degrees are common ten months per year, rising into the 120s and even sometimes into the 130s in the deep desert during summer.
Weather The heat is the dominant quality of Orsai weather. Nearly every accommodation to the heat has been developed by the Orsai to combat its malevolence. Rain is unheard of in the Great Desert, averaging less than 2 inches per year and coming almost entirely in the two months of what passes for winter. Dust storms in the Great Desert are common as winds from the west can be intense and pick up speed as they move over land.