From: Sandy Petersen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu 21 Nov 1991 - 09:56:33 EET
THE PRAXIAN NOMADS Praxian tribes follow their animals' lives and life cycles. When in doubt, pick up a good book on animal behavior and see what it says, then try to apply it to the tribe in question. The tribes are subdivided into clans (each clan has its own khan) and households. The individual counters in Nomad Gods are generally clan-sized. Some tribes insert the further subdivision of septs between clans and households.
The wife owns the herd animals and most of the goods of the household. The husband owns only his riding animal(s), weapons, and spoils of war. A typical well-off nomad, with an average household consisting of a wife and 5 "others" has around 50 cows. About half the cows are allowed to give birth to a calf in a year. The other half of the cows are used solely for providing milk (a condition in which they won't get pregnant). Male calves are generally eaten, but female calves are usually allowed to grow to adulthood to expand the herd. Most nomads ride male animals, since they don't get pregnant, and they're often larger than females. Foreign animals are prized, because you can eat them instead of your own animals, thus saving one or more of your own calves. Old cows that have stopped given milk are also eaten, as are injured or elderly riding animals. Most nomads hardly ever eat one of their own tribal animals in its prime -- only as a calf or as an old or sick beast or rarely for a special feast. Of course, this makes foreign animals even more interesting.
During normal times, an Eiritha woman leads the clan. During wartime or other crises, the Waha Khan is in charge. He gets to decide whether it is a time of crisis or not.
PRAXIAN POLITICS All the major tribes (except the Sables, of course) were defeated at Moonbroth. The Morocanth and High Llama tribes sullenly accepted Lunar dominance, and so are permitted to freely stay in Prax. The highly favored Sables pick on them all the time, extorting "tribute" and "tolls" for using the oases. The Bison and Impala folk still wanted to resist after Moonbroth, and so large gatherings of these two tribes are forbidden by the Lunars. Since the Lunars don't patrol most of Prax, the Sables have taken it upon themselves to harass and raid vigorously whenever Bison and Impala clans are encountered. As a result, the Bison and Impala folk are mainly in the Wastes nowadays, with only a few small groups entering Prax, mostly for religious duties at the Paps, brief raids on their enemies, or adventurous groups of youths out for a lark.
THE HYENAS OF PRAX Hyenas are the main predator of the Wastes, not counting humans. None of the animal nomads think of them as primarily scavengers, recognizing them as pack predators that can be quite dangerous. The hyenas know enough not to harass a party of mounted nomads, but they'll steal calves at every opportunity. Since they hunt at night, they are regarded as akin to creatures of Darkness, and Morocanth tame them in preference to dogs (most Morocanth dislike dogs and vice versa).
Because hyenas devoured Genert's body, they are accursed, and their peculiar laughing cry is the sign of their mocking attitude towards existence. As it happens, their devouring of Genert also means that their corpses count as "part of Genert", and so certain Issaries merchants, upon encountering corpses of the Praxian species of hyena, are sometimes required to take a pilgrimage to the Krjalki Bog. This is regarded as obnoxious enough that most other Lightbringers will often kill hyenas on sight.
From: email@example.com (Sandy Petersen) Subject: The Great Tribes of Prax
BISON RIDERS They go in immense herds, as you'd expect. A Bison encampment with only 300 people would be considered small. Even on raids they go in larger groups than the other tribes. They like to do things together, like have big ferocious parties, feasts, and weddings, and they train together to fight in huge masses. During the spring rutting season, the Bison Rider camps are immobile while they mate their beasts and wager on the outcomes of bullfights (between bulls -- not bulls vs. people). During the rest of the year, they're on the move, constantly striving to find areas with enough fodder for their mass of hungry animals. Hence, once each year for a couple months, the Bison Riders must find good grassy ground.
Bison Riders are notoriously easy to steal animals from, and hence stolen bisons are quite common in other tribe's herds. This is probably because their herds are so large and mobile, so that stragglers are common. On the other hand, everyone hates being raided BY the Bison Riders, because they come charging down on your flock like a ton of bricks, scatter everything, and grab what they can. When they're gone, you have to spend days or weeks re-gathering your scattered herd, and you never find them all, not even counting the ones stolen by the Bison folk. Those bastards.
HIGH LLAMA (ALTICAMELUS) RIDERS Clans are subdivided into Septs. Each sept is made up of one or more households, and is rarely larger than a few dozen members. Sometimes it consists of less than ten people. High Llamas don't breed fast, and their owners have very small herds, much smaller than those of other Praxians. Hence the High Llama folk do a lot more hunting and gathering than members of other tribes, who can largely survive off just the milk and meat from their beasts. Foundchild is very popular among this clan. They are the originators and best practitioners of the ubiquitous Praxian sport of hare-sticking, in which the object is to gallop through the desert until you startle one of the Praxian jackrabbits. Then you chase the rabbit, trying to stick it with a lance. If you catch it first, you win. The rabbit often gets away.
The High Llamas do best in areas that have trees, and prefer grazing on juicy foliage if possible, disliking rough grass, and often refusing to eat if the proportion of grass to other plants is too high. In the open plains, this can lead to their masters going out and rooting up appropriate plants, then bringing back armfuls of leaves for their mounts to eat. The other Praxians openly sneer at such pathetic behavior and the canard that High Llamas can't even feed themselves is commonly flung at their riders.
The High Llama people, with their small septs, might appear vulnerable, but are well-defended, since they are almost impossible to surprise, with such fine lookout posts. If a High Llama rider decides to flee, too, he generally wins the race, as his speedy animal with its long legs lets him choose the time to fight. Their huge steeds give them quite an edge in battle if they do choose to fight. They are naturally hated because of their arrogance.
IMPALA RIDERS Typically Impala folk are found in clan ranging in size from a few dozen to a few hundred, each clan ruled by a khan. An Impala Folk clan keeps together during the winter to breed, make cheese, etc, but with dry weather the bachelors are kicked out of the sept, and so go raiding all summer long. With the onset of winter, they return to the sept. Their animals prefer dry areas, and get sick if they stay too long near a riverbed or marsh.
The Impala folk, pygmies all, rarely intermarry with other tribes (who wants kids too big for their tribal animal?). They engage in Strength training quite a lot, so many of them can use Composite Bows (in game terms, they're usually at their Strength Maximum). They're wiry little guys.
Impala Riders are detested by the other clans because all summer long those damn kids with their bows have nothing to do but harass other folks, steal cattle, and cause trouble. Also the Impala folks are masters of riding away from you at full speed, firing arrows as they flee, and this is quite frustrating to many of their foes.
RHINO RIDERS Technically, the Rhino Riders are one of the Great Tribes, and supposedly were as large as any other tribe at the Dawn. Now, of course, they're minute. The Rhino Riders have no clans (or, perhaps, they have but one clan coterminous with their tribe), but have little septs. They have tiny little "herds", occasionally consisting of just one rhino, the owner's steed. Alone among the Praxian tribes, they often keep foreign animals just to milk, rather than to fatten for slaughter. They probably eat more vegetable matter than any other tribe, but this doesn't mean they don't like to hunt. They do, but their steeds aren't suitable for all hunting styles.
The Rhino riders are a solitude-loving folk, who generally live in small family groups. Both the other Praxians and the Rhino folk themselves agree that this is what led to their near-demise, as other, better-organized, peoples bushwhacked the Rhino folk and overcame them one by one. The Rhino Riders still live in small family groups, but they are now organized into septs, and in any given area, all the family groups of a sept are generally no more than an hour's ride from the next family group, and if a family is raided, the avenging Rhino patrols are on the move soon.
The Rhino riders are still the hardest to beat in a fight of any people in Prax, and that accounts for their continued survival, despite the limitations of their beasts.
SABLE RIDERS Sable clans are several hundred people in size, with an appropriate number of herd animals. Each clan is very "nationalistic", with its own history and traditions. One of the results is that every clan has its own special type of system for war (which is why there is such a variety of "tribal weapons" for these guys). They are the most flexible of the tribes, and their animals can survive almost anywhere. They are the closest to an "average Praxian" of any tribe, and you could do worse than pick a Sable Rider for your own PC.
Right now, Sables are disliked by the other tribes because they're a bunch of arrogant jerks who have displaced worthier groups from the Paps and good grazing land of Prax. No doubt when the Lunars leave the other tribes will find other, more traditional reasons to hate the Sables.
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