An Introduction to Mahid
Cultures of Mahid
The difficulty of travel between the scattered settlements of Mahid has resulted in a wide variety of distinct cultures, each with their own quirks.
Practically every large settlement has its own way of doing things, with the smaller communities nearby them usually following suit, forming a number of powerful but relatively small city states. Additionally, the wandering desert tribes usually tend to develop distinct outlooks, and it is not unheard of for a nomad to leave his tribe to join one more compatible with his personal philosophy.
Beyond regional and racial attributes, arguably the next most important determinant of a given city-state is the source of its water. Those cities, formally known as Iripar, which gain their water from the Canals are at the mercy of those upstream from themselves, and vice versa, so they tend to have a slightly more social viewpoint, being quicker and more adept at both collaboration and treachery. Well towns, formally known as Iripu, tend to be more reliably honorable but also more isolationist and suspicious, as they owe their continued existence to the security of a single, small plot of ground, which every member of a Well town knows to defend with his life.
One social value, however, is near universally recognized: the right to challenge another’s fitness to possess whatever precious resources he does. Deciding the outcome of such a challenge is handled in many different ways, sometimes even by entirely nonviolent means, but by far the most common is mortal combat. Some cultures may ritualize it, or enforce rules of engagement, but in the end every inhabitant of Mahid must be ready to “defend his metal” at all times.
A few of the more influential cultures follow:
- Few are they who dispute Birtule’s claim as the greatest city on the face of Mahib. Straddling and almost consuming in entirety one of the great canals streaming down from the northern pole, here is found the only seat of higher learning and study, and the grandest political games in the world… but also the most immense and incredibly dangerous slums ever known.
- As Birtule leaves little canal water for other nearby settlements and the Ashen Sea looms to the immediate south, the Welltown Ungim is their only significant neighbor. This soldierly society is one of strict duty and loyalty; those who pull their weight and pay respects to their betters are rewarded, but those deemed selfish or dishonest are executed in the streets.
- The Pactground refers to both a sacred site where weapons are taboo, and the council which meets there. It is composed of the leaders and powerful figures from many small cities in a large surrounding region of dense Canal network. Their squabbling, ineffective system of constantly shifting alliances is the butt of many a long running joke, but on the rare occasion they do agree on anything, they arguably wield the most collective power to be found on Mahid.
- The scattered Damgari are not the largest of the nomad tribes, but they are probably the most familiar to those outside that bleak life. Cunning traders and capable navigators, almost everyone deals with them on at least a semi regular basis. Ostensibly they are pacifists, but more than a few suspect their true principles when in the isolation of the wastes are more flexible.
- Kalam is a growing movement among the inhabitants of the wastes, that the land itself is sacred, not meant for mortal alteration. They view the ancient abandoned cities as evidence of the inevitable doom builders and delvers bring upon themselves, and call upon all to merely pass across the earth, leaving no trace. For many of them, this lends a self-righteous justification to the all too common nomad practice of raiding established settlements.
- The Tladratan Empire is a recently emergent culture, comprised of a core community of the scattered and lost who have literally washed up in Zalaggi, a mysterious Grakkori royalty of the same, and any communities near the entrances of the Zalaggi subterranean canals that the Tlatrata could conquer, purchase, or intimidate into fealty. Though this may seem a strange, unstable powerbase, so far it hasn’t seemed to hinder their rapid expansion.