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Races of the Kiasse





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Nobles of the Twelve


At first Voula thought he was dead, but as she worked, she felt as if she could sense his pulse, his heartbeat, where the injuries were worst. Around her battle raged, but she knew her guards would die before they'd allow a single shot past their shields. At last, as she pushed air into Damos, his body spasmed with a thick, wet cough. She kept going, and soon realized that he was breathing on his own again. Blood may have spattered and covered the inside of his battlesuit, but most of it was inside him, and likely he'd just been stunned. His hazel eyes opened and found her. Tears bit at her own eyes as she smiled down at him, but training made her voice harsh even if it broke while speaking that ritual phrase that'd defined her people since the day they'd been stranded in betrayal: "Are you fit for service?"

These emotional people live on the closest planet to the sun. Known for their strength, both of character and of body, as well as for being chronically direct, they form the most formidable part of the Kiassan Army, the Flameholdan Guard.

Their planet is almost comically hostile to life, but they have survived on it. The sheer brutality of their living conditions -- by turns sizzling hot and freezing cold -- has bred in them hardiness and a certain lack of patience for the weak. Though one could not speak for all of these individualistic people, the word "harsh" comes to mind often when one thinks of them. That said, they are not unkind or vicious, merely self-sufficient and holding an expectation that others be the same. They are the polar opposite of that class of person known as a "dramawhore."

In appearance, Flameholdans tend to be shorter than Sciallans, but stockier and more muscular. They are bronze-skinned, rarely darker than that but almost never pale, even the Winter-born ones. Their hair tends toward dark brown or black; auburn hair is particularly prized. Flameholdans tend to be nearly obssessed with physical fitness, so almost all of them are in peak condition for their frame type. Every Flameholdan citizen, even the very aged, is expected to exercise regularly.

Flameholdans are nearly all warriors. Even their healers and craftsmen are expected to be competent in a fight; this expertise is often called upon at the most unexpected times. Also, they are all expected to have weapons on hand at all times on their home planet, so have frequent problems adjusting to Scialla, whose Eastern Cities almost all have prohibitions against anybody but Swordsmen wearing arms in the city limits.

Language: Hellenikan
The main language of Flamehold is Hellenikan, spoken by most if not all the clans and tribes of that planet. There are a number of other dialects and accents can vary, of course, given the area, but overall it's pretty stable. Hellenikan is marked by a very sharp, enunciated sound, with no weak consonants (for example, "c" is always pronounced "k", "g" is always said "guh" and not "juh", and there are few words involving the letter "j" which is pronounced either as "h" or as "juh").

Though the language sounds harsh and even brutal to outsiders, it's considered to be enormously poetic by Flameholdans themselves. Lykitis herself, the Solius of the clans, is quoted as saying, "Hellenikan is like a spear in flight: swift, shining, and terrible as an army with banners advancing upon the dark earth." Flameholdans take enormous pride in their language, and do not speak it with outcasts or non-Flameholdans, nor teach it without a clan-chief's approval.

There is no real word order in Hellenikan, so the most important words go first in a sentence. The idea of word order being important is the hardest thing for Hellenikan speakers to understand about Eshtenel and other languages. There are nine tenses and twelve declensions, along with feminine, masculine, and neuter noun forms, so it is not in any way an easy language to learn. Thankfully, it uses the same script Eshtenel uses. Also, because all syllables are pronounced, and because the words in Hellenikan are spelled precisely how they're spoken, there are few issues with misspellings with this language!

One could not mention Flameholdans without mentioning their penchant for body art. It is customary among them to tattoo themselves after major occasions. Battles count as major occasions, so for most Flameholdan warriors, their bodies are a record of just about every battle they've ever been in. Their first tattoo is always a stylized symbol along the right cheek -- each clan has its own pattern. The tattoos are always black, with most being emblems or symbols representing the occasion rather than words or dates. Very old people in Flameholdan cultures often make themselves useful as memory men and storytellers, living repositories of just what this or that symbol means, able to retell the occasion that led to the tattoo. It should be mentioned that the symbol for the occasion is almost always decided upon by the clan leader and it is stable across Flameholdans, in terms of both shape and placement (all Flameholdans bearing that symbol will try very hard to get it basically in the same place).

Clan means absolutely everything to the average Flameholdan. A clan comprises one's immediate family as well as extended family, though some clans will take in otherwise clanless outsiders. To be without a clan is to be without your anchor, sails, and rudder. To be thrown out of one's clan is the worst penalty imaginable; to leave one's clan, nearly unthinkable. Clan leaders have complete control over their members (though clan leaders can be challenged and ousted; once ousted, a clan leader is expected to give the new leader his complete allegiance, though in practice, would probably just leave the clan in shame).

Flameholdans are a culture bent on survival. Therefore, they don't tend to wear fancy clothing. They tend to concentrate on leather, with lace-up vests, or leather shirts during cold weather, leather pants, and mantles rather than cloaks, since mantles can be wrapped around oneself more easily. Their boots tend to tie on rather than lace up or slide on. They do like metal armbands and bracers, and wear torc-like neck jewelry. About the dressiest they tend to get is colored single stripes along the outside seam of their pants, or edging on their vests or shirts.

Flameholdan Women:
Women in Flameholdan society have an unusual position. The entire thrust of the entire civilization is to survive until the next generation is safe. Children, therefore, are not only a luxury but an utter necessity. Though infant mortality is excellent and deaths from childbirth very rare, Flameholdan birthrates tend to be right around 2.1 (in other words, barely replacement rate for a society). Flameholdan women can't be warriors until they have replaced themselves through birthing another pure-blooded Flameholdan. Men, too, must replace themselves, but since not all of them get involved with female warriors, this isn't as big an issue. For example, Lykitis, the Solius of Flamehold, was not allowed to raise a spear till she'd borne a daughter. Her partner, Bron Stormguard, had already replaced himself. The negotiations involved in which child replaces which parent can be detailed. While in duty, of course, no Flameholdan woman would allow herself to conceive, but fertility is greatly prized; when she was rotated to inactive status, she would happily allow such a thing to happen. Even when pregnant, Flameholdan women prize self-sufficiency and the outward show of strength--no wilting flowers, these!

Needless to say, children are prized among Flameholdans. No one would dream of harming one. Even when one clan is completely subsumed by another, even if various adults might fight to the death to avoid conquest, even children who raise arms won't be harmed unless by accident. Replacement is the primary focus of every Flameholdan, and each life is very precious.

Half-Flameholdans usually identify themselves as Sciallans. They may enjoy greater-than-average strength, but not always. Flameholdans also possess a unique power similar to shamanism called the Bloodgift, but few outside the culture understand it, much less can harness it. A halfbreed would almost never have this ability.

Flameholdans enjoy a particular enmity with Bilashans. While they will almost always be able to refrain from breaking laws to deal with a Bilashan (if they consider anything more important than hurting Bilashans, it's the law). The reasons for this enmity are not well understood by outsiders. They also really don't like Lirwhinites, considering them effeminate, debauched, and overly politicized (there is some truth to their prejudice, it must be admitted).

Their political system is clan-based. Clan leaders elect one of their number to become their War-Chief, who speaks for them in matters that touch upon them all. The current War-Chief is Lykitis yar'Solius, a particularly fierce woman whose daughter, Andromeda, was the Eclipsal Dancer of the Great Festival. Lykitis' brother, Rowan, is the consort of the Empress, Kira Stardancer. Lykitis has a small council of aged ex-warriors who all profess strong Bloodgift and whose judgment and discretion she trusts completely. She does not technically have to obey them, but almost always does; when she must differ, it is usually in degree, not substance.

The religion of the Flameholdans tends toward the shamanistic and nature-based. They venerate their ancestors and look to the past to learn how to deal with current and future threats and issues. They have no heaven or hell; when they die, they will be judged by their ancestors, and if found wanting, will be destroyed. If found worthy, they will take their place with the other ancestors and help guide their descendants through the years. Their wisdom will help their children and their children's children: what greater aspiration could there possibly be?

That said, there are a few Flameholdans who've converted to the Church of Haran; these are seen as a rather cowardly, bloodless lot by their clans, and usually such Flameholdans are outcasts. Such a Flameholdan would be seen as soft, perhaps as having "gone native" with too much time spent on Scialla, with its easy living.

Are You Fit For Service?
This is probably the most famous phrase among the Flameholdan people. It has a variety of meanings and subtexts, and when used in different social situations it can mean different things, but the usual meaning is "Can you get up and move on with the rest of us?" Another way of putting it would be this: "Are you going to be able to go on without being a burden to us?" A Flameholdan wouldn't say this to a non-Flameholdan (because non-Flameholdans are, by nature, burdensome to everyone around themselves), and among themselves it's a way of acknowledging a bad situation and affirming their self-reliance and their utmost care that the unit as a whole will be all right even though they may be suffering on an individual basis.

When you, as a Flameholdan, are asked this question, you are expected to answer it honestly. If you are injured, it means you will accurate gauge your injury level. If the injury can be patched and you can fight without any kind of special consideration, then you will answer it "Yes, I am fit for service." If you need special help, like protection, answer so: "I am fit for service with considerations." Emotions like fear and pain have no place in a Flameholdan's life when that question gets asked; only the physical matters, because the emotional is always manageable.

A famous story told about this question regards a battle on Flamehold a couple of hundred years ago. The famous warrior-king Sauros sha'Sunrider led an attack against the now-defunct Clan Steelscream for Steelscream's kidnapping of several of Sunrider's Warriors for interrogation and torture. While invading Steelscream's tower, Sauros found the decapitated and outraged body of his own lover. Though at first he knelt beside her corpse, his aparkos asked him, "Are you fit for service?" -- and Sauros stood, squared his shoulders, and replied, "I am fit for service." He shed not a tear, and later attributed the ritual of the question to his ability to hold off on his grief until after the fight. That said, his brutal execution of the enemy clan chieftain became legendary among Clan Sunrider Warriors.

Military Ranks Among the Flameholdans:
* Solius: leader of all the clans on Flamehold. Currently the Solius is Lykitis Stormguard.
* Dunastis: the leader of a particular clan. The title is less military than social; a dunastis can be much older and is not generally known for his military might.
* Agema: the general of a clan's military forces. In a small clan, the agema is the clan-chief. In a much larger clan, the agema functions under the dunastis. There is only one in a clan.
* Hetaris: a military commander under the agema, if one exists. Plural, hetarae. The title means, roughly, "captain."
* Aparkos: a lieutenant. Plural, aparka. There may be several of these under the hetaris.
* Warriors: the rank and file soldiers.

The favored weapons of a Flameholdan caught outside the Perimeter: halberds, maces (pointy evil spikey ones, preferably), brutal swords, and that kind of thing. They don't like delicate weapons or anything that forces the combat too close. Range weapons like bows are for hunters, not warriors, and used only if the battle calls for it.

Technology Levels:
Obviously, Flameholdans make extensive use of technology. Their medical care is second to none thanks to a variety of implants, devices, diagnostic equipment, and assisted-function machines. Their mortality rate through childbirth is the lowest in the Empire. Their skill in tending injury is exquisite. Their weapons tech is also tremendous, especially their reliance upon battlesuits. That said, they tend not to worry about technology except in those circumstances. They don't use computers or electricity on a personal level and regard over-reliance on technology and power as a personal and societal shortcoming.

Some technology you'll hear noised about that came from Flamehold:

* Battlesuits: mechanized exoskeletons passed down from Warrior to Warrior over generations. The suits are blazoned with their clan symbol and usually with markings of the battles the suit has seen. A lone Warrior in a battlesuit could easily defeat half an army armed with conventional weapons. See here for more information about them. They do not work outside the Perimeter so would not be seen anywhere outside it. They are, obviously, hugely heavy so can't even really be transported.
* Flameblades: swordlike weapons that are passed down just as battlesuits are. They are designed with either shielding or attack functionality, though of course all flameblades are decently good at attack. A shielding flameblade projects a human-sized forcefield that helps prevent incoming attacks. An attack flameblade can't shield, but does shoot powerful burstfire beams that can all but vaporize opponents. They work off of power cells, so obviously don't really work outside the Perimeter, so the chances of even seeing one outside Priascialla are vanishingly rare. Only a few flameblades handle both offense and defense; Solius Lykitis and her brother, the Emperor-Consort Rowan Stormguard, are known to have two of the only ones.
* Stimcell: a particular kind of syringe containing an adrenaline-based drug that Warriors sometimes carry. When injected, it allows a grievously injured Warrior to survive long enough to get to aid. The syringe is not electronic, but its mechanism is not used much outside of Flamehold and Without the Perimeter. Though most medics and doctors on Scialla know vaguely that stimcells exist, they don't generally use them.
* Bactanks: a cylindrical, human-sized tank in which a seriously injured or compromised person can float in an anti-bacterial liquid agent while he heals. The tank comes with a mask that covers the eyes, nose and mouth so that the healing subject can breathe and receive nutrients. The tanks are not used outside Flamehold and a few very high-end Priasciallan hospitals. Obviously, due to their electronics and power requirements, they are not seen outside the Perimeter.

Many of these devices use crystal-like powerstones as a sort of "battery." Powerstones do not last outside Scialla's Perimeter either.

Roleplaying Help:
Flameholdans have a lot of trouble with independent thinking in some situations; their chief or commander does that for them. When injured, they're expected to accurately assess their condition and report whether they're "fit for service," as the famous phrase goes, or if they're too injured to go on. They do not go on if their injuries will prove a liability to the others. Above all else, they do not EVER let the clan down. If given an order, they follow it even if it doesn't make a ton of sense--the chief needs to know in his bones that he can trust them to do what he said, so he can concentrate his attention where it needs to be, not on whether or not his men are obeying!

In relationships they tend to value autonomy and self-reliance; not for them, the drama of the "fainting flower." They have little to no patience for the juvenile dramas of most Sciallan women, nor the theatrics and politics of Lirwhinite women. Flameholdan women, just like the men, are strong, un-dramatic, reliable, self-reliant, and faithful to an extreme degree. Marriage is rare, but divorce is more rare; when a relationship is over, Flameholdans are good about ending it mercifully rather than cheating or acting out.

They can, as a race, be stubborn when they decide what the best and most honorable course of action would be. They abhor secrecy and plotting; they despise cowards and any soldier who disobeys orders. When a Flameholdan calls someone a friend, he means it in a sense no other race does; when a Flameholdan decides to grant someone his allegiance, that someone had better realize the amazing gift he just got given. They don't lightly grant their hearts or their swordarms, but once they do, nothing but death will separate them from their oaths.

Concepts for players in Valrona:
Flameholdans are actually not too uncommon in Valrona, thanks to the Flameholdan Guard presence there and the University. The Arizel Clan lives there for the next few years in the barracks in the Pearl Quarter and keeps the peace in the Empress' name. Their existence largely keeps serious intra- and inter-city warfare from breaking out. If a player doesn't want to be in the Flameholdan Guard, other options include being there as a student, perhaps alone, but this would be a fairly temporary role unless you mysteriously find a new reason to stay around Valrona.

Concepts for players in Weston:
This can be a little tricky, particularly considering the minimal Flameholdan presence in Weston. A Flameholdan simply wouldn't be living by himself in Weston unless he were disgraced or kicked out of his clan (or ran away). A Flameholdan might get separated from his clan through matters of love, or bizarre conscience preventing him from listening to the clan leader (or else he committed a crime that the clan didn't want to put up with). He might also be a failed challenger to a clan leader (actual clan leaders, or a former one, are highly restricted roles -- in other words, please don't ask). It's possible he is in the Flameholdan army as well (if so, he will be one of the Steeldogs), of course. A non-clanned Flameholdan will not be tolerated in the Army, nor will he be welcome among any clanned Flameholdans. He will probably end up as a craftsman or town guard, possibly as a farmer.

Alas, full Flameholdan PCs are not permitted ingame at this time. Their RPP cost, when they do open to the game, depends greatly on their position in their clan and their relative Bloodgift.

Names are fairly easy; as you might notice, they have a distinct classical, Greco-Roman feel. This is intentional on the part of the Flameholdans. But for some ideas, read on.

Name help:
Names, for Men: Andros, Arion, Bron, Janus, Philomenus, Simon, Theodoros
Names, for Women: Andromeda, Hera, Lykitis, Pactra, Theodora
Surnames: Almost always a clan name. If clanless, the Flameholdan will pick an overdramatic epithet like "the Strong" or "the Quiet" (but not something that'd make him or her sound like a poseur, like "the Lone Wolf" or "the Incredibly Awesome Warrior Who Slaughters Everybody").
Name structure: Lykitis yar'Solius (female), Janus yas'Ironhands (male). When speaking Eshtenel, it's all right to say it "Lykitis of Clan Solius" instead, but among themselves, there is a far more correct way to say it.

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Patrick shook his head as he surveyed the flames dancing in the dockside tavern before him. "Nothing could survive that--" A scream inside interrupted him. Sania seized his arm as he poured water over himself, soaking his leathers to the skin. "You can't go in there!" she cried. "It's a deathtrap!" He glanced back at her, face set and grim. There was no time to explain how he knew there was a chance, no time to explain the Artifact he wore around his throat. All he had time to say was, "I love you. And I'll get them out."

The dominant human race in the Kiassan Empire, Sciallans may be thought of as the "default" race. A Sciallan can be of nearly any height and build, and of nearly any natural hair, eye, and skin color (although black and extremely pale skins are not known; also, there is nothing approximating Oriental features, though some people may have slightly slanted eyes or more-golden-than-average skin). Basically, if you imagine what the human race on Earth might look like in a thousand years of people of all races intermarrying, you might understand more what a Sciallan is generally going to look like.

Sciallans, naturally, would be all over the place. They have all the reasons in the world to be in any occupation in the game: from street sweepers to members of the Ministry of Commerce, from Nobles to urchins, Valrona in particular can host just about any concept imaginable.

Most Sciallans marry, and most have children. Age of marriage in the country is about 20, and in the city, about 25 for both men and women. Dowries and other financial arrangements are not set in stone, but vary from family to family; very poor families might not mess with them much aside from helping the new couple get started with gifts of livestock or linens, while very wealthy families might take years finalizing family alliances. Children are raised by their parents, or, barring that, by family members. Orphanages are very common especially in the Eastern Cities, helping raise children who, somehow, have fallen through the cracks.

Sciallan women wear their hair up, especially after adolescence; Noble women have elaborate hairdos with hairpins and hairsticks, while more common women might have at least ribbons or thongs to hold their hair out of their faces. Men generally wear military style short haircuts, especially Nobles. The nouveau riche especially do not dare step too far out of tradition. Musicians and other artistic sorts, of course, can flaunt tradition, and while a cropped-hair woman might be stared at and a long-haired man taunted by drunkards, it's not the scandal it was before the war.

Society is divided cleanly between those with power and those without it. Those with power, in other words those living in Priascialla, do feel a certain superiority over those who live outside the Perimeter. Those who live in the Eastern Cities, even Without, also feel superiority over those who live far away. The divide can be sharp between these "city cousins" and "country cousins." Even among Nobles, this divide can lead to a lot of social problems.

Sciallans are very proud of their educational and healthcare systems. Education is compulsory to the age of 18, and all citizens get preventive healthcare provided for free. Orphanages and workhouses provide for those unfortunates who do not have family to care for them. In theory, nobody should be going hungry or without basic needs met. That said, far from the Eastern Cities, not everybody gets the full benefits of living in civlization, and even in the Eastern Cities, those bastions of civilized life, some people do fall through the cracks.

One thing about Scialla that maybe people aren't so proud of: its insularity. Sciallans tend to believe their way of life, divided and paradoxical as it is, is the best way, and because they don't see a lot of outsiders outside Priascialla, they can be a little biased against foreigners. Because of their tight-knit family systems, and because the smaller villages especially try to take care of their own, there is not much tolerance for those who live outside the fringes or who choose to make their way upon the backs of those who actually did the work.

Most Sciallans from the Eastern Cities are well aware of the basics of each of the other races, and will know the basics of their religious systems and government. See here for some common-knowledge info. In short, though they can be insular, people on the coastline at least know basic stuff. In OOC terms, this page can be your guide; you can know as much or as little as you think your PC would know, but just understand that if you're a middle-class seamstress from Val Taqar, it's going to look extremely weird if you don't know about Lirwhinite name usage conventions, whereas a soldier from Weston might not know anything about it. Think of it in terms of what a middle-class American would know about Canada versus what an Albanian might know. Actually, think of it in terms of what a middle-class Canadian would know about Albania versus what an American would know.

Artifacts Among the Sciallans:
One thing outsiders really don't get most of the time about Sciallans is that they really do live in a rich, lush archaeological environment. Finds are constantly being discovered and researched, and sometimes these finds have unusual properties. Sometimes they'll protect the wearer against fire, or else cure illness, or confer mystic-seeming powers to the wearer. A common property is the creation of forcefields. These finds are called Artifacts. It's very rare for a commoner to get one of them, and when they do get them, they tend to keep it very quiet in case some Noble decides to take it (since all of them are claimed by some Noble house or other, this is a completely valid fear).

Artifacts don't usually advertise themselves; they are commonly worn as pendant necklaces, but there are Artifacts hidden in rings and brooches as well, and even embedded into the pommels of swords. They usually look like featureless domed cabochons, but can take almost any form. They are also usually very small, palm-sized or less. The bulk of them have come from digs around the edges of the Wilds.

Roleplaying Help:
Since this is the dominant race, and since Sciallans tend to be pretty Earth-normal, the sky's the limit. The government tends to be protective and the physical environment fairly mild, so Sciallans can be very dependent sometimes. Drama is common, fainting-flower women can get away with their antics as someone'll always come along to White Knight for them, and politics and plotting are common.

Sciallans tend to be fairly religious, following the Prophet Haran and his teachings. It is considered a great honor to have a relative in the church, and most tithe 10% of their gross earnings and go to church at least once or twice a week. They are, in general, superstitious as well, believing in portents and signs. Despite their religious and spiritual beliefs, Sciallans can be just as untrustworthy and unreliable as RL people can be, and even despite being so, will still insist that they're still "good people at heart."

The one thing someone can say about Sciallans, though, is that they tend to be very protective and loyal of any Noble employing them. Such jobs are perceived as cushy and hard to get, so serving a Noble, especially one of the Twelve Families, is the cachet of grace and fortune. Once bought by one of these scions, a Sciallan tends to stay bought; it is rare for one to behave treacherously toward a Noble employer.

Name help:
Given Names, Men: Anders, Bryan, Cade, Deron, Dustin, Eric, Faris, George, Harold, Jake, Jack, John, Kieran, Lemuel, Lucien, Mantel, Piers, Robert, Sam, Thomas, Toby, Yuvenal.
Given Names, Women: Amanda, Aria, Beatrice, Brigitte, Chelene, Caris, Denise, Dara, Evelyn, Elysia, Fione, Illira, Lyra, Maggie, Magda, Shavonne, Shiara, Therese, Yolande.
Surnames: From locations (Waterson, Cross, Westonesse, Wood), profession (Miller, Baker, Chapman), or some physical feature of either the person in question or an ancestor (Redbeard, Canker, White).
Name structure: Catherine White, Harald Westonesse, Aria Montjoy, Magda Across-the-Wood, Elias of the Sword.

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Taryn Selenissa laughed, a smooth, soft, velvety sound, as she surveyed the man who now stood to receive her. The clear wall behind his elaborately-carved chair revealed the sea beyond the Dome and the many denizens of the deep who swam past, sometimes pausing to look inside. The wispy pale green gown she wore flowed behind her like a memory, and its long sleeves fell back from a perfectly- manicured hand as she extended it to him. "So you are to thank for this outrage," he said in his polished, sophisticated accent. Her smile only widened. Her indigo-blue eyes sparkled with delight. "Hardly an outrage. Come, enjoy some Evenisian brandy. You might as well enjoy your time in my home. It will be a while before you leave."

Perceived as cold and intellectual, these undersea dwellers cannot be categorized 100%. They enjoy full benefits of technology, their lifestyles appearing almost magical to Sciallans and others. They alone of all the systems' denizens have managed to develop and grow in knowledge. They generally hold their knowledge close and sell it dearly. And to the sea-people, everything in life is a metaphor.

Peculiarly concerned with group harmony, they are, as a rule, tall and slender, and generally pale with any natural hair color (dark predominates, but as a rule the fashion among them is not to use hair- dye, though they certainly have the technology). Their eyes tend toward being dark brown or dark blue and are generally very large for their faces, with an almond shape that isn't slanted, but isn't quite "normal" to Sciallan eyes. The men are narrow-shouldered, usually, and generally not given to great amounts of muscle. The women do not tend to be overly curvaceous.

Not as concerned with physical strength as other cultures, they prefer to hone their minds. They regard gluttony and sloth as the greatest sins of character, but don't get overexcited about the other ones. They cultivate grace and deliberation in thought and action, so can be seen as slow-moving when the truth is that they're just fiendishly accurate.

The greatest good is to contribute to the whole; knowledge is the surest way to earn accolades. Thus, many Lirwhinites encountered outside Priascialla on the planet Scialla are there to conduct research. There are very, very few Lirwhinites indeed who would choose to settle down in the frontier -- most of them are horrified as it is with the standard of living there. The past is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there! Even Valrona is hopelessly primitive by their standards.

Lirwhin is nominally ruled by First Counsel Rus Niak, an enigmatic and fey man who, most people are sure, knows a lot more than he lets on. Rus Niak's nephew and heir, Sharyandro Emis, is one of the scholars interested in the study of the Perimeter, but outside of the Eastern Cities, most have never heard of him. He is sometimes seen in Valrona but spends most of his time on Lirwhin's one major continent, Dryland, where he is a minister of trade and tourism (it'd be an insult to his intelligence were it not for his preference for easy jobs right now). Rus Niak himself sometimes appears in Valrona to visit his cousin, Empress Kira Stardancer, at her Summer Palace. Neither Noble is married or heading anywhere near that way yet.

On their own planet, Lirwhinites live along the many ocean shelves in partially submerged Domes. Domes are usually transparent, though some of the older ones have slats of metals along with those of polymer that allow the sun to shine through to the city's ground. Many portraits have been painted of these great Domes, shining among the waves like soap bubbles. Each Dome has its own city government and a population ranging from 1000 to 40,000. Rus Niak's home, Cor'Aeirin, is the largest of these. When the rest of the Kiassan Empire fell to barbarism and spent centuries just trying to get communications back, Lirwhin turned inward and worked on perfecting their Dome technology. Their systems of locks, dikes, and hydroponics are unmatched. Their scientific work sometimes seems like magic--and it's very specialized.

Besides the Domes, floating colonies of dispossessed, rebellious Lirwhinites ride the uncertain waves of their vast planetary sea, Mentethis. Unfortunately, the waves are called "uncertain" for a reason: monster tidal waves roll across the surface often enough that it's not uncommon for a colony to be wiped out. Fishermen comprise most of these colonies' residents, but most are pirates who fish when they can't find anybody to rob.

Not only Lirwhinites live in those azure waters. Vast, enormous whales also live there; their intelligence is indisputed, and they more or less rule the waters. They're far too large for even the most daring fisher colonies to try to take, and though they are largely pacifist, when one is actually slain by Lirwhinites, the rest of the colony seems to vanish shortly thereafter. There are also a variety of seaweeds, fish, and eels that are exceptionally good eating, so that for the most part, a human could entirely live off of what is gleaned from the sea. Predators include sharklike creatures capable of giving off electric shock, and a variety of other monsters that would make anybody tremble.

Traditional Dress:
As for dress, Lirwhinites tend to favor crisp, military-looking clothing: stark whites, blacks, and midnight blues, silvers and greys. They favor silver over gold, prefer standing collars and button-down fronts on their shirts, and wear longcoats over cloaks. At the other extreme, in informal or dressy situations women particularly are fond of semi-sheer, flowing, gauzy silks with flared sleeves, lettuce-edged hems, and dreamy pale colors like palest green and sky blue. Flameholdan men tend to wear their hair short, but women tend to wear their dark tresses very long and piled up in vastly elaborate hairdos set with strings of pearls and gems, sometimes pinning brooches to the mass of hair for optimum effect.

Public Displays:
Lirwhinites usually cultivate an air of detached, languid casualness, marked by drawled speech, heavy-lidded eyes, and a general insousiance. It's rare to see one angry or upset in public; "stoic" very much describes a Lirwhinite under stress. It's a mark of breeding to be witty and languid even in the face of overwhelming stress. (See movies such as "The Scarlet Pimpernel" for a perfect portrayal of a Lirwhinite style hero, though you can happily skip the "Sink me!" silliness.)

Lirwhinites don't like Flameholdans much, but consider displays of bad temper or emotion extremely boorish, and so are extremely polite to them instead. It is said that the more unctuously polite a Lirwhinite is, the more he hates you. They have less reason to hate Bilashans than the other races, and so tolerate them on Dryland for menial labor. A Lirwhinite simply would never lose his temper or argue in public. No, far better is the crafty putdown that leaves the listener unsure as to whether or not he just got insulted.

Language: Sutalan (SOOOT-ah-lan)
Sutalan is a complex, subtle language known for its intricate, sleek-sounding sussurrations. It has common, polite, and worshipful forms, and is famous for having seven different ways of saying "thank you," all indicating varying levels of hatred. The forms can almost sound like different languages, so it's very difficult for an outsider to learn--and it's possible that Lirwhinites like that!

In Sutalan, there are few if any hard consonants. Syllables slur together, and "s" figures prominently as a letter in words. "G" is pronounced "juh" most of the time instead of "guh", and vowels tend to be long instead of short, with for example "i" being usually the sound found in "lie" as opposed to that found in "in." There are a roughly equivalent number of tenses and declensions as in Eshtenel, though nouns do have feminine and masculine forms as well as a neuter form used only in the more archaic-sounding very formal venerational form.

Family Ties:
It's worth noting that Lirwhinites have an extremely complicated way of reckoning family ties. Their custom of fostering ensures that family lines get as muddled as possible, rendering precision all but impossible. Part of being a family is figuring out who is related to who on what terms and what that entails in terms of responsibilities. Family-law lawyers make a mint on Lirwhin, consequently, thanks to the equally ancient custom of contracts families rely upon to make sure everybody knows what is supposed to happen when.

The main Lirwhinite language, Sutalan, has words not only for cousins, nephews, and the usual things English does, but also for a cousin on your mother's side who is related by marriage. In Eshtenel they usually rely upon the more imprecise terms "cousin" to convey any relative who is descended from (or fostered by) a sibling of one of the speaker's parents. It's hopeless, but it will have to do. Therefore, when Rus Niak calls Kira Stardancer his "cousin," the term is hazy enough to be utterly meaningless except for the intention conveyed that Rus Niak feels a certain amount of dedication and loyalty toward her. He means the same basic thing by it that a speaker of Eshtenel would mean, but it's just not as precise a term.

Technology Notes:
It's almost impossible to note all the different advances that Lirwhinites have brought to the Empire. Lirwhin is, of all the planets, the most all-embracing of all the gifts that power and technology have brought, and their scientists are the Empire's best and brightest. But here is a partial list of the kinds of things Lirwhinites would take for granted and probably miss bitterly while offplanet:

* Domes: Domes are the mainstay of life on Lirwhin, and not only that, they provide all their citizens all they need in terms of light, moisture, and even food. Dome technology begins with the dredging-out of a site for a city. Cleargel is applied in layers with specially-heated applicator ships, providing walls that are built up on a base of pylons, and finally the Dome is closed (or almost closed). The Dome provides an enclosed ecosystem for its residents, one which Lirwhinites typically view with relief and a sense of safety. Leaving the Domes means leaving all that is civilized. Even the gate system on Domes is both secure and reliable, preventing all entrance and egress to those who have no business doing either.
* Cleargel: An all-purpose building material that hardens to a nearly-transparent gloss and is as strong as steel. Though not particularly flexible, it is immensely strong and withstands both deep ocean pressure and possible bombardment by enemies. It must be applied with heat and high pressure, so outside of Lirwhin, it is almost never seen.
* PDPs: Personal Data Pads are the close boon companions of almost all Lirwhinites. No Lirwhinite ever would go anywhere without theirs. Different brands have different appearances and abilities, with communications, data storage and retrieval, and even casual gaming primary among their priorities. They are considered an addition to computers, not a rival to them, and even the simplest can "dock" to a computer to share and synchronize information or transmit it elsewhere. Though outside of the Perimeter the PDPs don't work, it's inconceivable that a Lirwhinite would go somewhere and not take it, even for the psychological comfort of having it even if it's useless.

Roleplaying Help:
Lirwhinites tend to be quietly assured of their own superiority, especially over other races. Self-confident and clever, they like to be three steps ahead of the rest of the class. Nothing makes them happier than a good secret plot coming together. They admire and respect a schemer who succeeds, especially if it's at the expense of a lot of other people who didn't catch on and prevent the plot's success. They see nothing wrong with a good assassination or betrayal, even if it happens to them--after all, if such an action succeeds, it means they themselves didn't catch it, so bad on them!

They aren't very religious or superstitious--in fact, they're rather skeptical of anything that sounds too good to be true. They don't tend to put a lot of trust in anything, and trusting a Lirwhinite may well be the last mistake anybody could make. Trust them only so far as you own them, and don't ever, ever let your guard down: when it becomes more advantageous to betray you than to support you, it's only a matter of time before they do. That said, as long as it suits their needs to be on your side, a Lirwhinite ally is a good one to have--they're the master schemers of the Empire, and nobody can beat their organizational and political prowess.

In terms of favored weapons, Lirwhinites prefer graceful-looking weapons that rely more upon finesse than upon brute strength. The rapier is the perfect embodiment of their living style, and being skilled with it is as natural as being skilled in ballroom dancing. Daggers and assassins' weapons are much favored especially by ladies, with such toys as hairpin-blades and bodkins in near-constant fashion. Twinswords, the slender matching blades used by the most exquisitely-trained Lirwhinites, are never sold to outsiders. If a non-Lirwhinite had a set, some Lirwhinite would have a moral obligation to get them away from the oaf.

Speaking of dancing, ballroom dances with elaborate memorized moves are popular among the elite, but no Lirwhinite of rank would ever consider setting foot onto the dance floor at a common tavern. Their style is generally sinuous and studied, with grace and wit taking a top premium. Lirwhinites have raised the practice of ballroom dance to a supreme art, and many books are written about how the dance floor mimics politics, religion, love, and just about any other subject imaginable. New dances get made up every year, and not knowing the new style is as boorish as wearing last year's slippers. People who don't understand why dancing is important are viewed as worse than illiterate.

Concepts for players: Outside of the Eastern Cities, Lirwhinites are rare. Traveling scholars, plus the occasional throwback who just digs living in absolute primitivity, perhaps. Lirwhinites don't usually like living alone, and would not be good choices for the hackneyed "hermit living in the woods" who always seems to teach people alchemy. Also, their vast stores of knowledge frequently border on the technological as opposed to the natural, making them nearly useless to anybody outside the Perimeter. In Valrona, though, they are in much demand as scholars and educators. Students often go there to finish their educations, similar to how OOC students often go to France for a semester. It's a mark of travel and breeding to at least visit the Eastern Cities, and if one has to be in primitive digs, Valrona's the most tolerable of them. Lirwhinites are not uncommon at all in Valrona.

There are half-Lirwhinites on Scialla -- Sciallan girls just adore Lirwhinites -- but they nearly always identify themselves as Sciallan. They don't get particular benefits from their halfbreed blood, since of all the races, they are most like the Sciallans.

Name help:
Men: Sharyandro Emis, Rus Niak, Bynum Partraven, Irriven Shahar, Sussureel Javra, Orthir Aximen, Vir Carodar.
Women: Nerismen Thulevale, Ivirri Tavilen, Shri Pandar, Emeroth Lusirlo.
Surname notes: Last name is usually the name of the family who raised the Lirwhinite in question. First and last names are always used together, without exception.

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Magda twisted around in her seat to take in the whole view of the pristine-looking white city below. From up here, it all looked so clean, so new. The sky was a pale blue, utterly alien-looking to her dark eyes. She pushed the sleeping man beside her with a quick, rough motion. "Sasha, look! Look! The spires!" He groaned and woke up, peering at her owlishly, not answering, but she forced him to lean over her to look out the window. They both felt the engines kick in with, presumably, the landing sequence, and it made their hearts thump even though they'd never flown or landed anywhere before. At the top of the main hill of the city, they saw and flew past a vast palace of white stone. "That must be where the Empress lives!" Magda chattered like a bird, giddy. "Let her stay there then, as long as we can get by," said Sasha with a wry grin, but he couldn't possibly share with his sister how worried he felt. When he couldn't even pray to God to help, who could he appeal to for aid beyond his scope?

Bilashans live furthest from the sun. They tend to be short, olive-skinned, with curly dark hair. They are usually wiry rather than musclebound, but the men take pride in broad shoulders and strong arms. The women are quite curvaceous and tend their typically long hair with pride. Both genders tend to be strong for their size as well as hardy, with few "fainting flowers" among either gender.

Most noticeable about them are their eyes which are slanted and are a pale, piercing silvery-blue among purebloods. Among halfbreeds, varying shades of grey-blue are seen, but never anything as intense as indigo or sapphire. Their eyes are viewed as off-putting by other races, but to Bilashans themselves, they are a mark of divine favor.

They are considered much like modern Earth considers gypsies -- as thieves, liars, and worse. They worship a strange god, Sernis, who is in direct competition with Logos and whose worship doesn't look much like the Church of Haran. There are rumors, absolutely unfounded and unconfirmed of course, that priests of Sernis have indulged in the very cruelest of tortures and sacrifices of their own laity!

Not much is known of Bilashans' psychological makeup, but people would know how they always seem to know more than they're telling, and how they act all superior to everybody else. In truth, they are undergoing a serious series of internal changes, which their sympathizers point to when persecution lifts its ugly head.

Bilashans almost always try to blend in with the population, hiding as native Sciallans or halfbreed Flameholdans. They generally are marginal in occupation -- they rarely own their own shops, but frequently work for shopkeepers or as street merchants. When discovered, retribution can be harsh -- Bilashans can only hope to just be evicted from town. Unfortunately, this often makes frontier shopkeepers leery of anybody who "looks" Bilashan, unless they know the person's family.

Bilashans have a ruler, Kingpriest Rashan, but as long as he's on Bilashe, out of sight means out of mind. After the Succession War of 2212AH, a number of them sought refuge on Scialla despite Kira's stated and open dislike of them. Though they are treated as second (even third!) class citizens, they seem content to be away from Bilashe.

I want to caution players against thinking that Bilashans are some sort of "thief class" -- as it would be a mistake to think of Lirwhinites as magic-users, or Flameholdans as warriors. Their culture is far richer than that, and while they have a bad reputation, to reduce them to a one-sided tagline like that would be to do them an injustice. Not all of a planet's people act, look, or think the same. Thieves and bad guys are found on all the planets. Bilashe has just had some really rough times lately, and it's made her refugees desperate sometimes.

Bilashans dress in an eclectic manner: scarves, fringe, bells, colorful castoffs. For the same reason Earth gypsies dress the way they do, Bilashans find their bizarre fashion a relief from their sometimes difficult and tedious lives, and certainly they haven't the money or storage space for much more than they've got. When they are stuck on Scialla, they tend to try to wear veils or hats with brims to try to hide their insanely distinctive eyes.

Their weapons are those of farmers and peasants: knives and clubs. They are hardly high-class assassins, and most couldn't afford anything fancy. A Bilashan with a sword on Scialla is one step away from becoming the guest of honor in a news story ending with "and then the townsfolk found his body." Their knives can be elaborate and detailed, and many look like antiques. They also are masters of the ranged weapon, particularly the slingshot and javelin, but do not often carry bows or crossbows (for the same reason as noted above).

I definitely don't need to say that Bilashan PCs are not allowed ingame at this time. Nor are halfbreeds. Even being suspected of being Bilashan can get someone into trouble outside the Perimeter.

Roleplaying Help:
The whole universe steps on your people. Everybody hates you and thinks you're a thief and a loser. Your own god wouldn't mind killing you if it serves his interest. Your planet started, and then majorly lost, a war a short while ago, and nobody's forgotten that factoid yet.

But there are bright spots to this otherwise dreary tapestry. Though the empress hates your people, she's allowed them to settle on Scialla as refugees, and as long as you keep quiet about your origins, you can slowly start a new life for yourself and your beloved family.

That's what it's all about, really: family. Love. Friendship. Survival. Where you are, and precisely how you get those things and keep them safe, are really secondary. If people just leave you alone, you can rebuild your life away from an uncaring and malevolent god and a planet full of grief and pain. If only they'd just leave you alone.

Life's about those few heartbeats when things are tolerable. Once away from Bilashe, there's passion to be had, and sanity. Bilashans lose themselves in dance, and hints abound about the erotic dance of the curvey Bilashan women. The wild bonfire dances of the gypsies draws onlookers from miles around when caravans pull into town. Art, too, particularly beadwork and embroidery, keeps people's otherwise drab existences bright and cheerful, though Bilashans do not like art for art's sake. Art exists to adorn useful things. Useful things ought to be as pretty as possible. Even men wear spangled headscarves and fringed sashes.

Are Bilashans really all thieves and worse? Maybe. But they've had a really rough time. Their entire culture was about self-preservation and survival; it's caused a certain amount of moral flexibility. While the accusations have a grain of truth, those Bilashans who settle on Scialla have done so for a very specific reason: they feel they can get a better life here, even despite the racism they experience, than they ever could back on Bilashe. That kind of optimism and hope can be inspirational.

Name help:
Men: Alexandru, Aurel, Cyprus, Kostel, Dragos, Dmitri, Laurent, Mikel, Soren, Stefan, Tomas.
Women: Adela, Alina, Brandusa, Krina, Dasia, Ilena, Lynuta, Magda, Marta, Ruxana, Stefania, Tatya, Valeria.
Surnames: Most Bilashans do not use surnames, using instead "daughter of" or "son of" with either a father's or mother's name depending on which parent is better-known. They also may use "from" with a location, or their occupation, as in "Adela the Butcher." Surnames are not passed down, however.

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Point Costs for the Races

You can purchase up a race using your accumulated roleplay points.

Basic Sciallan Human: 0
Flameholdan Halfbreed: 1
Lirwhinite Halfbreed: 1
Sciallan Minor Noble: 2
Lirwhinite: 3
Bilashan Halfbreed (approval only): 4
Flameholdan: 4
Sciallan Noble: 4
Flameholdan, Minor Bloodgift: 5
Bilashan (approval only): 5
Flameholdan, Major Bloodgift: 7
Sciallan, Noble of the Twelve: 8

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