Wiki Update: Meta-Setting
I’d never had anyone consider the Xeph before, in part because they look like little green men, but also because psionics, the D&D system for psychic powers, hadn’t played a large role in my game. Still when a player did, I didn’t say no. It was a legitimate choice, and a good one for their character, but they needed a home, and an explanation. That led not just to the creation of the Xeph homeland, but of the population of the entirety of sub-Saharan Africa with a panoply of nations and cultures bound together in Nafaanra, the “Gathering of Great Peoples”.
In other news, Thursday posts are going to become farther apart. I need to lighten my writing load to focus on my job hunt, now that I’ve finished my degree. Sadly, my dream of being a professional GM hasn’t been realized…Yet. In the meantime though, the Xeph!
The Xeph nations in particular:
There are two Xeph nations; Ekundayo, their homeland, and Isi’Emem, a city-state co-founded with their neighbors, the Irda and the Kalashtar. This is primarily concerned with the former, and the Ekundayan caste system. Picture feudal Japan with an Indian caste system, with soulknives as the lynchpin to the whole thing. The ruling caste, the Ekeopara, are primarily soulknives, because the ability to manifest a mindblade is proof of noble ancestry. The warriors are Onyeso, from the highest general to the lowest private, all equals in birth. The Koyaga are a sub-caste of the Onyeso, made of those soulknives of indirect lineage, almost a samurai class, each working toward combat mastery and often serving one of the Ekeopara. Every four years, the Koyaga have a tourney with the Kalashtari soulknives of Tafari, a large event akin to our modern Olympics.
The Nworah (Thread-pullers) are the mystic caste, often serving as advisors to Ekeopara, but even the lowest village healer could be Nworah, or at least initiated into some of the lowest Nworite mysteries. The largest caste by far are the Uche, the workers and servants, born into their roles, tilling the fields and serving the meals of the Ekeopara. Mahou is the name of the out-caste, those who have left or been exiled from the Xeph society. The word literally means “Waste”.
Different lords are often rivals, though they engage each other very rarely in open warfare, for fear that it would weaken their nation’s position in Nafaanra. Disagreements are often settled by duels or with melees, ritualized combats that essentially transfigure the warriors involved in them. Other disagreements are settled by more subtle measures, the Koyaga caste holds many assassins as well as warriors.
The lord of lords, the Yemoja, represents Ekundayo at the yearly Nafaanra, and the position is highly disputed, though wiser lords defer to the best man or woman for the topic that year, rather than simply fighting for the honor. The strength of their nation depends on the words and deeds of the Yemoja. It is a great honor, but a great burden.
There are two different kinds of religion in Ekundayo. The state religion is that of traditional Xeph ancestor worship, with the gods rewarding those who honor their lineage properly, and punishing those who fail to. The other, which has been creeping in since the Kalashtari civil war seventy years ago, is the worship of the Quori dream-gods, a diverse pantheon that doesn’t care a whit what you burn for your ancestors, instead looking for those with strong dreams, strong will. Oro, theocrat of Rutendo, the nation of Quori worshippers that broke off from Tafari during the war, has long prosphesied the return of the Quor in mortal forms, and insists that the world must be made ready for them, through the strengthening of its people.
Ekundayan history is quite bloody, even after the formation of Nafaanra. The most recent historic event is the Onyeso caste banding together with the armies of the Irda and the Kalashtar thirty years ago, to repel the slave-army that the Akhenaten empire marched across Anauroch. Many Onyeso still worry that the full might of the empire will come to bear on them, its closest neighbor to the south, and insist on readiness.
History as an idea is incredibly important to the Xeph. To have favour with one’s ancestors, and with the gods, it is important to know the names and deeds of the members of your lineage. Even the lowest Uche can tell a tale or two about his great-great-grandfather, who he served, and how well.
Magic in Ekundayo:
Ekundayo has far more psions than wizards or sorcerers. Those who are gifted, and wish to study wizardry must go abroad, often to the great libraries of the Irda, sometimes even farther, to the lands of the Imaskari. Sorcery appears much closer to psionics, and thus is more prevalent. Children with the talent are welcomed among the Nworah, the only caste which isn’t determined by birth. Those who master divine magic are also part of the Nworah caste, usually clerics of Xeph ancestry.
Ekundayo borders on Anauroch, as well as three other nations. The city-state of Isi’Emem, a neutral state in most respects, modeled after the east coast nation of Emem as a centre for fair and neutral trading. Tafari, the ancestral homeland of the Kalashtari, sits to the southwest, and Ashuku, country of the Irda, is in the southeast.