Friday, July 2, 2010

Kings and Khans - The Men of Ravania (Updated 7/2/10)

The men of Ravania are a mixed lot. It is not clear who the original inhabitants of the land are, but it is a claim disputed openly by Tajads, Uskovs, and Kasar alike and in secret by the Corvini. Whatever the truth may be, Ravania is now a cauldron of cultures bubbling in a volatile mix with the imigrated, ruling Ravnik people doing their best to control the unforgiving land and its caustic people.


Corvini are an ancient people who wander in nomadic, extended family group. Thought to be one of the original people of the land, they are a mysterious and secretive people. Corvini are said to be brothers of the ravens and surely, in their language, their name means Raven-kin. Corvini live their lives as performers, beggars, fortune-tellers and thieves. Occasionally these gypsy people will enlist their skills to those more organized or powerful than they or form their own bands for the purposes of defense or some common goal.

The Corvini do not maintain armies of their own and stake no claim on any piece of land. They are famous for being musicians, healers, dancers and singers but also for being thieves and bandits. What is certain is that the Corvini hold a key to the secrets of the lands darker secrets and perhaps they alone understand what evil has befallen the land.


Kasars are feudal horse lords that once roamed wild and savage like the Tajads. They have not abandoned the old spirits of the land in favor of the new more orthodox gods and goddesses of the Ravnik people, but they have learned to emulate them enough to keep themselves in their good graces. Though they have made great strides toward civilizing themselves, they are still looked at as half-wild and afforded only the most basic consideration from the more courts of Ravanian imperial life. Kasar lords, called Streltzi rule through strict defense of ancestral lands handed down through the generations. They are led by elite noble who fight as cavalry, they and their households. These nobles command armies of armored household footmen as well as levied serfs and slaves.


The Ravnik people are native to the lands to the northwest of Ravania. Though similar in culture they were a distinct ethnic group from the Jarlsmen (northmen) of the land of Ridjal that were their neighbors. Forced from their lands by the Jarlsmen, they fled south along the great river waterways of Ravania where they settled into the fertile northwest of the land. Over the years they clashed with but eventually subjugated the Kasar peopls, making them feudal vassals. They gave the land their name and it became known as Ravania. The Ravnik people are ruled by an emperor called a Tsar and his feudal governors called Druzhina.


Wild barbarian horsemen native to the eastern steppes of Ravania, the Tajads are renowned as fierce, savage, and wicked warriors. Vile by the standards of most people and feared throughout Ravania as a scourge, ranked with a force of nature. The Tajads are known to worship ancient forbidden powers and hold Yadj, a sort of Death Hag as their mother goddess. It is said that all manner of dark rites, including sacrifice and cannibalism are performed in her honor. Tajad clan leaders are known as Khans.


The Urskovs are a tribe of barbarians similar to the Tajads and the Kasars except that instead of developing a nomadic horse clan tradition, they settled into the deep forests and fenlands of central Ravania. Though they do no openly oppose the Ravnik people, they are also not allies and do not consider themselves subject to their laws or their gods. Urskovs are stalwart, brawny folk and are often recruited by the other people of Ravania as mercenaries to bolster armies where they make excellent shock troops fighting on foot and wielding savage blades and axes. Urskovs are followers of the old ways and do not take kindly to Ravnik or other gods being forced on them. They have been known to inflict cruel punishments upon those who try to "enlighten" them. These folk claim direct lineage from a totemic bear god they call Gravul. Urskovs are led by tribal leaders known as Draku.


Yalska are Jarlsmen (norsemen) who have traveled inland along the great rivers of Ravania and settled into various trading posts in the interior of the land. The Yalska have a culture that is similar with the Ravnik rulers of the land and as such find it easy to interact with the rest of Ravanian society. Freely trading between Ravnik, Kasar, Tajad, and even Urskov peoples, the Yalska make a tidy living selling goods as well as information back and forth. Several particularly successful Yalska lords, still using the traditional title of Jarl, have set up strongholds in the wilderness from which they control modest fiefdoms. Such fiefdoms are allowed to exist by the Ravnik nobility as long as they make no trouble for the nobility. They do serve a useful function in the East as a buffer against invading Tajads and rebellious Kasars as well as the Druug (humanoid) hordes.

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