Okudan
Okudan
Region Arbannin
Reputation Nomadic herders intimately connected with their animals
Population ~500
Demographics Human 85%
Elyani 10%
Other 5%
Language Okheli
Imports timber, wooden goods, metal, metal goods
Exports animal products, textile goods (wool), leather goods, livestock, horses

Overview

Okudan is not a place but a band of people, nomadic herdsmen who live on the open plain in extended family groups termed Hearths. Known for having a highly intimate connection with their animals and with the land that sustains them, the Okudani travel between summer territory near the foothills and winter territory in the flatlands, carting their few tangible possessions along with them. The Okudani count wealth not in things, but in an abundance of livestock and in the fertility of their people; their way of life depends on milk, meat, and wool, and upon a multitude of hands to tend to everyday tasks. But most of all, an Okudani's worth is measured in the bond with his horse, a bond of shared knowledge and of magic that links two souls together in mutual understanding.

Reputation and Relations

Reputation

Other polities often consider Okudan a bit quaint; it appears a simple and unrefined settlement, vulnerable to the elements and other hazards, its people unorganized and unsophisticated. There are few things Okudan needs from outsiders, and few luxuries that its people value; similarly, while the Okudani are polite towards visitors who respect their ways, they are often perceived as aloof and reserved.

Attitude Towards Others

The Moridan culture, and therefore the society of Okudan, recognizes three kinds of people: those who are Moridan (zhinka Morid), those who are not yet Moridan (bolan Morid), and those who are nothing like Moridans (eska Morid). All other divisions, such as race or culture of origin, pale into insignificance beside these three fundamental categories.

Simply put, those who are zhinka Morid are family. They may be distant kindred indeed, but no matter who they are or where they come from, they are considered Okudani and treated as such. Of course, the corollary is that these people are expected to behave as Moridan in turn, to share their values and customs and lifestyle — but only those who fully adopt the lifestyle of the band, including membership in a Hearth and completion of the ariun mor, are considered zhinka in the first place.

The bolan Morid are people the Okudani can work with and value, though they do not ascribe to the lifestyle themselves. This category often includes trading partners and other businessmen with whom the band does regular business. Those visiting and traveling with Hearths are also usually considered bolan, as are native Okudani who have come of age but not yet completed the ariun mor. Such people are treated with the respect they earn, but have no status within the band; they do not have a voice in its politics, nor in the decisions of households, and are prioritized last during difficult times.

Finally, eska Morid are those who have no respect for the Morid and receive no respect in turn. They are regarded with disdain, if not outright enmity, and the Okudani regard them as having neither value nor rights. Generally, eska status is earned through one's own antagonistic behaviors, but some races (such as the Fel) are considered at best on the edge of this category and even new-met individuals are treated accordingly.

Polity Relations

  • Chudain: Okudan's northern neighbor, Chudain was the second Moridan band to be founded, separating from Okudan in distant history. As the stories have it, those who became the Chudaini remained at the sacred Third Fall grounds while the Okudani left in search of richer pastures and more resources for their people. To this day, the Chudaini consider themselves superior over all other bands, purer and more true to their spiritual heritage, even though Okudan is larger and wealthier. The two bands come nearest together in late winter, which most consider an opportunity for trade and visits with distant relatives; however, Chudaini youths are known to sneak over throughout winter and spring to rustle livestock, which is an ongoing source of tension between the bands. Chudaini Hearths never punish these raids as strongly as the Okudani would like, and indeed tacitly sanction the practice, while the Okudani do not generally give mercy to thieves they catch red-handed, which the Chudaini would prefer them to do.
  • Salkav: Okudan's western neighbor, Salkav is another band of Moridan nomads, best known for having domesticated the plains aurochs; their cattle continue to be highly valued. The founders of Salkav split amicably from Okudan several generations ago when the latter grew too large for its lands to support; relations between the bands remain strong to this day. Salkav comes closest to Okudan in early fall, and the two hold a joint gathering in years where they have the resources for the requisite large feast.

Note: Chudain and Salkav are not playable polities.

Layout and Environment

see also Okudan Locations

The movements of Okudan are dictated by the band's senior shaman, based upon his understanding of the needs of both land and people. The large migrations between summer and winter territory, slow processions that take (weeks?) to complete, typically occur around the equinoxes. The band will also relocate within its seasonal territory about once a month, moving across the land to ensure abundant pasture for their herds.

Regardless of season, the camp is laid out consistently, the family tents divided into five groups, called Herds, of up to eight families each. Four are arranged in the cardinal directions, with the fifth at center. Within a Herd, tents are arranged in two V-shapes, with the most senior Hearth sited at the center of the southern 'V'. Occasional foreigners or very low-status Hearths might set their tents on the outskirts of the camp, separate from any Herd. The tents themselves, regardless of location, are typically oriented with their doors to the south.

Each Herd has a certain social status; in short, North < West < East < South < Center. The band's chief and senior shaman anchor the Center Herd, which itself contains only the most wealthy or prestigious families. A Hearth may move their tent to a higher Herd at the invitation of its senior family, at the decree of the band's chief, or by general popular acclaim (prestige). Similarly, a Hearth can be bidden to leave by the Herd's senior family if their social status drops, usually through inappropriate actions of their members, failure to live up to obligations, or other events that reflect poorly on the Hearth.

okudan_summer.jpg

Summer Camp

In spring, as temperatures begin to rise and snowmelt replenishes the streams and rivers, Okudan takes up residence at the base of the Kalasai foothills. The flocks remain pastured in the plains, but the people foray into the hills to hunt, forage, and harvest wood from nearby trees, scrubby though they tend to be. Relatively speaking, this is a time of plenty, between the burgeoning land, the herds coming into milk, and the camp's proximity to its trade partners Kothinar and Vishaza. All this also makes for a time of activity, as the people of Okudan leverage these resources into goods for present and future use. As the warmer seasons progress, the camp moves southwest to fresh pastures. Many herders will also drive their animals farther into the hills, where the air stays cooler and peak growth comes later; they might stay out several nights before returning to the main camp.

okudan_winter.jpg

Winter Camp

When the weather begins to cool, the people of Okudan move away from the foothills and out into the heart of the plains, where summer's warmth lingers a little longer. Fall is a time of frenetic activity, both before and after the long migration, as the Okudani harvest and store all the food they can gather — foraged produce, hunted game, culled livestock, and the last dregs of milk to be had from their dairy animals. The depths of winter are usually spent along the Senkale River, in sites where the riparian growth has been cultivated over generations in such a way as to provide convenient windbreaks and natural snow fences — at least for those of high-status Herds. Although snow falls rarely, temperatures remain below freezing for months; what snow there is remains all winter and piled into deep drifts by the wind. The cold season makes or breaks both Hearths and livestock, and everyone who makes it to see the beginning of spring gives private thanks to their ancestors, the elements, and the gods for their continued survival.

Everyday Life

see also Okudan Resource List
see also Okudan Locations
see also Okudan Politics

Food and Resources

(pastoralism)

Housing

A Hearth is known by its baishir — a large, round tent made of felt panels supported by a wooden lattice, with an oiled canvas cover protecting all from the weather. The canvas is usually painted with imagery and colors important to the family, often memorializing events in the history of its members. Families who can afford it have a wooden door, itself carved and painted; others settle for hanging a felt panel across the opening of their baishir. Inside, a firepit with three stones sits at the very center under the tent's smoke hole, woven rugs and tanned hides soften the ground, and baskets store anything the family might need immediately to hand. Notably, while the diragh has authority over the Hearth's people, his wife has authority over the baishir, as it is her hands that make and maintain the felt of its walls and prepare the food that its inhabitants eat.

The other key possession of a Hearth, though far more humble, is the cart (or carts) that stores and transports the family's possessions. The most common cart in Okudan is a simple two-wheeled, two-shafted affair; these carts may either have a completely open, flat bed or be covered by canvas stretched over a wooden frame. Many items are stored in the carts even when camped, so that the people are already ready to move if need arises.

Due to their mobile lifestyle, the Okudani own very little in the way of material things; they prize items with useful function, and items with history. To Okudan eyes, there is more value in a scuffed bowl passed down from one's grandfather than in five sparklingly new bowls fresh off a trader's wagon. Art is prized, but largely only if it comes in the form of ornamentation on a functional item. Furniture of any kind is uncommon in the camp, mostly consisting of tables and stools that can be disassembled for transport, and the occasional tandoor oven for families who can afford to cart one around.

Clothing

(included here solely for a sense of the intended style)
(sashes?)

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2vSeK5Oy8fhCIsw-WRmk1tq_9SCMZKalbtDzCc3f3VO91bZMNqKRTYo-FOI

Horses

(the role of horses)

Riding Tack

Okudani riders use one of two kinds of saddle, depending on their purpose. The anyur or "hunting saddle" is the one children are trained on, and is used for most activities; every rider has one. The imir or "working saddle" is used primarily for working large herds and for long-distance riding (e.g. messengers); being more specialized in application, only those Hearths who have particular need for working saddles have them.

The anyur has a simple tree made from thin strips of wood, with very low pommel and cantle; it has the look of a contoured leather and felt pad, perfectly fitted to horse and rider. Stirrups are typically worn short, although some use them long. Riders using hunting saddles may or may not use a hackamore, and generally control their horse more through cues (e.g. seat and posture) than through aids (e.g. reins).

The imir has a wooden frame with very tall, rounded pommel and cantle and short stirrups. Notably, its frame impairs communication to the horse through seat cues, and the rider is at the mercy of the horse's choice of gait; using an imir to good effect requires a strong partnership between rider and horse. However, the frame is excellent for stabilizing the rider, including while standing or shooting, and effectively prevents forward or backward falls. The imir is often as highly-decorated as its owner can afford, with colorful cloth, embroidery, metal edging, fringe, bells, etc., and serves as an indicator of status and wealth. Working saddles are always used in tandem with a hackamore, and the horse trained to respond to neck rein aids.

Social Structure

The central unit of Okudani society is the Hearth: a male patriarch (diragh) and his extended family. Each Hearth is an independent entity, answerable to no one but itself — although any patriarch worth his salt listens closely to the will of the band's chief and shaman. Hearths often span three to four generations in their membership, from great-grandparents down to toddlers, and may include anywhere from four to forty people; ten to fifteen family members is most typical. Children of the Hearth are raised and looked after by the entire Hearth; similarly, the resources and prospects of the household are the concern of all. Very little is considered private or personal, as the open environment lends itself to little in the way of privacy or secrets, and the Hearth's members rise or fall in fortune together.

Within a Hearth, families generally have quite definite social structures. The diragh has authority over all, followed by his wives. Elders of either gender are few but very highly respected for their wisdom, experience, and good fortune in surviving. Those who have completed the ariun mor and are considered zhinka Morid have standing according to their skill and age, with skills carrying the greater weight; people are most important for how much they contribute to the Hearth's ongoing survival. Children are highly valued for the future they represent, and are essentially considered provisional zhinka until fate demonstrates otherwise.

Adults who have come of age but not passed the aruin mor — adults who are still bolan Morid — occupy a liminal state, neither quite of the family nor quite outside it. This category also includes outsiders who are adopted into a Hearth, including purchased "slaves". Such people are still considered to have worth and treated accordingly — they have the value of their skills and effort, and their contributions to the Hearth's well-being — but their status is distinctly lower than that of any zhinka in the Hearth, even the youngest. All the more so if the bolan makes no apparent effort to become zhinka in turn.

However, that does not mean that bolan are necessarily mistreated, as they may simply leave. Anyone from the diragh's heir down to the least bolan may sever ties with their Hearth at any time. This is a serious decision, however, because severing ties means they cut themselves adrift from all support; it is considered a declaration of independence and self-reliance. One who severs ties may take the clothes they wear, their bonded horse if they have one, and only whatever else their former diragh chooses to provide — which is never more than what they alone can carry. No other Hearth will knowingly take them in, nor provide meaningful support or resources. A person who severs ties effectively founds their own new Hearth of one, a blank slate with no intrinsic value and no reputation (or even a negative reputation, depending on the reason for severing), and is responsible for pulling together on their own merits the physical and social capital needed to keep it alive.

Similarly, just as an individual person may break from their Hearth at any time, so can any Hearth leave Okudan to join one of the other Moridian bands upon the plains. Hearths from other bands also occasionally join Okudan. Generally such transfers happen in either fall or spring, at routine convocations with Okudan's neighbors.

Note: New PCs may choose to hail from one of the other established Moridian bands (Chudain or Salkav), and players who go on hiatus for a while may similarly say their PCs spent that IC time away. However, bands other than Okudan are not playable polities and no RP can occur while a PC is resident there. Players may not invent new bands, nor invent cultural practices markedly different from those observed in Okudan; although the bands are separate polities, they all share the same cultural heritage.

Beyond the family level, there is very little in the way of social structure in Okudan. The membership of a Hearth in a Herd signals wealth, capability, and prestige, but confers no authority on one family over another. Each family is independent at all times, and can be commanded by none save its own diragh.

Gender Roles

Men in Okudan are considered to have two primary roles: managing the herds and protecting the Hearth. Boys and young men are usually tasked with driving the herds to new pastures during the day and bringing them back to camp at night, while the adult men do more active guarding, hunting, and heavy lifting around the camp. As these duties expose men to more hazards than women on average, their mortality rates are high; there are two to three women in Okudan for every man.

Accordingly, the day to day upkeep of the camp and its people falls to the wives and daughters of the Hearth, as well as many crafting or production activities that bring money to the household coffers. Women also do such husbandry tasks as require less strength, such as milking and gathering shed wool.

That said, while this division of labor is considered the norm, the lines are blurred a great deal as all hands ultimately lend themselves to whatever needs doing. The only truly hard-and-fast rule is that of male inheritance; when a diragh dies or steps down, he is succeeded by his eldest surviving son. A daughter inherits only if there is no son living, and such a situation is considered ill fortune indeed. Notably, a female diragh cannot marry — she would join her husband's Hearth, and her own would cease to exist.

Marriage

Marriage among the Okudani is strongly tied to considerations of resources and and survival. Marriage is the means by which a Hearth is continued; without children, a Hearth will eventually wither away. Given that, marriage is considered a sacrament, a sacred state; a marriage childless too long, or a relationship that cannot produce children, is as a blight upon the Hearth in question. Such situations are not condemned per se, but they are regarded askance and considered to reduce the value of associating with that family, leading to social repercussions. Marriages also represent the interdependence of Hearths with one another, formalizing complementary associations and sociopolitical alliances.

Marriages are arranged by the diraghes of two Hearths, usually with consideration of the opinions of the parties involved, but always with an eye to the best advantage of their households. A new wife always moves into her husband's Hearth, reducing the number of hands available to her birth family and increasing the burden on her married family — not only in her own person, but in the potential support needed for her future children. She will generally bring a dowry with her, embodied in a variety of goods, agreements for future transactions, and in her own talents, whose collective value speaks to how highly her birth family regards her and how much they value their association with the husband's Hearth. The husband's family, meanwhile, is responsible for holding the feast that celebrates the marriage, and in so doing demonstrates their ability to provide for both families and guests besides.

The only marriages that Okudani consider to matter are those which occur between two zhinka Morid with the approval of their diraghes. Any other relationship is not socially valid; and while unofficial engagements between any two unmarried people are tolerated most of the time, if a diragh sees need for one of his Hearth members to formally marry, he can decree an end to any informal relationship they may have. Socially, the informal partners are required to comply; the alternative is for both to sever ties and leave their Hearths under a cloud of heavy disapproval. Having children outside a marriage (i.e. from an informal partnership) is considered a blemish upon the parents, as they obviously pursued a relationship that did not have the approval of their diraghes; the child itself is treated as any other, children being blessings upon the Hearth and the embodiment of its future. In the event a parent moves out from their Hearth for any reason, their children remain; ties to the family as a collective entity supersede any individual relations.

A man can marry as many wives as his Hearth will support, though polygynous marriages are uncommon given that most Hearths include a number of men eligible for marriage. It is widely considered stronger for the family to have marriage ties distributed among its members, as those marriages symbolize social, political, and economic connections with other Hearths; concentrating alliances on a single person is thought unwise. The diragh and his heir are often exceptions, as they already represent the family entire; generally if any man has multiple wives, he also occupies one of these two roles. Polyandrous marriages are rare, but accepted so long as the husbands are members of the same Hearth (even if one must be adopted for that to be so). All partners in a marriage are expected to not have relationships outside the marriage; infidelity disrespects both Hearths and the bond between them, and can have repercussions ranging from ostracism of one Hearth by the other to dissolution of the marriage to a severing of ties with the person who transgressed.

Slavery

The Okudani do not practice slavery; they do not take captives nor practice the servitude and sale of their own people. They do, however, occasionally buy people. This generally happens in one of three situations:

  • A well-off Hearth has more business than hands to fill it
  • A Hearth has fallen victim to catastrophe and lost essential members
  • A Hearth lacks heirs to continue its name, particularly in the case of a female diragh

In all of these scenarios, the Hearth has more resources available than its existing members need; thus, it can afford to support another. When slaves are incorporated into a Hearth, they are treated no differently than any other bolan Morid — a second-class citizen to be sure, but worth neither less nor more than anyone else of that status. Thus, a slave may be bought, but never sold. Neither is a purchased bolan coerced to remain with the Hearth; they may sever ties as readily as anyone else, though the hazards inherent to surviving Okudan's nomadic lifestyle do a great deal to keep even the reluctant close to home.

Coercion, however, is not generally necessary — first, because Hearths want their newest members to remain, and so try to incentivize staying; and second because it is widely known that those bought by Okudani cease to be slaves. Indeed, it is often the case that sellers present to Okudani buyers only those slaves who they have little hope of selling elsewhere — the unruly, the damaged, the elderly or sickly — and usually at egregious cost, for the Okudani are not repeat customers whose goodwill the seller would want to cultivate.

Once a (former) slave has acquired enough familiarity with Okudan culture, they are as free to attempt the ariun mor as any native, thus elevating themselves to zhinka status.

Government

chief - elected by vote of diraghes
senior shaman
lead warrior

Law and Values

Defense

Just as each member of the Hearth is expected to support the rest, so too does each individual Hearth support all the others in Okudan. While there are certainly rivalries and even the occasional outright enmity between individual Hearths, when need arises, all zhinka Morid stand together and support one another, sharing food and shelter and protection.

Education

Arts and Entertainment

see also Okudan Folklore

Ornamentation

Storytelling and Music

Sports

(riding, archery, wrestling)

Alcohol

social drinking, not intoxication

Worship and Beliefs

Sacred Elements

The Okudani revere three sacred elements: Father Sky, Mother Rain, and Mother Earth. These are not 'gods' in the sense of worship, propitiation, and prayer, in the sense of a Way; they are essential forces of the world personified and made relatable. One may make offerings to the elements out of respect or gratitude, but as spiritual beings beyond the ken of people, it is not to be expected that the elements will hear or act upon any given request. More than anything, the sacred elements are favorite subjects of myths and fireside tales; they are fundamental to Okudani folklore. Old tales, including the story of Okudan's founding, have been passed down through the generations; these are widely held to have actually happened, or to be at least mostly true.

Father Sky, diragh of the elements, is the essence of vision, meaning not only sight but inspiration as well. The sudden realizations that strike at dawn, in the first moments of waking, are said to be sent by Father Sky. It is also Father Sky's nature to become absorbed in the far-off things he sees and forget his duties immediately to hand, much to the ire of Mother Rain. He is accompanied by the sun his horse and the moon his dog, both of whom can be counted upon to guide and guard the stars that are Father Sky's herds, regardless of his lapses. His sacred color is blue, widely held to be the most beautiful color and thus very prevalent in cloth throughout Okudan, dyed using woad from the hills.

Mother Rain is the senior wife of Father Sky, the temperamental bringer of both life and destruction. Water calm and fierce is her domain; the cool rivers that cut across the plains, the gentle rain that sprouts seeds, the raging storms that flatten all before them. It is said that when the sky is hidden by clouds, Father Sky is away from his Hearth, and Mother Rain grows melancholy in his absence; but when a storm rages, she has become angry at his unreliability and cast him out. Her sacred color is the cool gray of rainclouds, often avoided in Okudan usage so as not to draw Mother Rain's temperamental attention. In the rare cases Mother Rain's gray is used, the color is made from blue lupine flowers.

Mother Earth, junior wife and youngest of the elements, is calm and dependable, the peacemaker who keeps the elemental Hearth together. Water is needed to start life, but Mother Earth is the one who sustains it, the provider of nourishment and support. She is best-known in tales for swooping in at the end and setting things to rights, providing common sense, compassion, and food to bring her co-spouses back together. Her sacred color is green, also very widely used throughout Okudan, colored with a combination of dyer's broom and woad, or with lupine foliage.

Shrines

Okudan's territory is littered with a number of abis, simple shrines consisting of no more than a pile of stones. These are considered peaceful, solemn, sacred places, and are generally visited in silence; people come to remember the deceased, to meditate, to seek good fortune, to pray to their gods, and so on. Offerings of food, drink, or small goods are often brought to shrines. People who are seeking blessings might weave prayer banners, thin strips of cloth with colors and patterns symbolizing the petitioner's hopes and desires, and drape them across the stone pile. It is also very common for visitors to bring a pebble from elsewhere and add it to the abi, sometimes carrying the stone for as much as a year in order to imprint it with something of their self, their dreams and sorrows and aspirations, making the abi spiritually stronger. It is generally believed that the good fortune one might receive from meditating or praying at an abi comes in part from those who contributed to its building; anyone who might need a blessing in the future (which is everyone) is expected to also give when they can.

Most abis began as a small cairn over a heap of clean, weather-worn bones, memorializing notable people who have passed on. Such abis have relevance mostly to the descendants of the memorialized person; few add to them, and they tend to be no more than a couple feet in size. A few commemorate significant people or events in Okudan's history; these are visited by many over generations, and may become as much as five or six feet tall and nearly as large across. The larger an abi, the stronger it is, and the greater a blessing one might successfully request.

Hearthstones

The Hearthstone, or galu, is a tradition endemic to all Hearths in Okudan. When a Hearth is founded, or when a new diragh ascends to the position, the diragh chooses a stone that will anchor its firepit. Other stones are also used to build the pit, but this one is a permanent fixture carried from camp to camp. The diragh will choose a stone that he considers symbolic of the Hearth and his aspirations for it, taking into account features such as the stone's material, color, size, and shape. As the galu is used day to day and season to season, it is stressed and changed by the fire. A stone that colors evenly and retains its strength symbolizes a strong, healthy Hearth. A stone that discolors in splotches is believed to hint at tensions, conflicts, secrets. Chipping, cracking, or outright breaking of the stone forebodes ill fortune in direct proportion to the degree of damage. A diragh keeps his galu for as long as he lives, and it usually forms part of his abi after death.

Ways of Worship

Magic

Rites and Observances

see also Okudan Holidays and Festivals

The migratory lifestyle of the Okudani, dependent upon the rhythms of the land rather than a consistent calendar, lends itself to few routine holidays; such festivals as they do have are oriented around the patterns of their migrations. Perhaps the most prominent Okudani festival is the Day of Departure, celebrated before the band sets off on their migration between territories. There are also several life events which are routinely observed within Hearths, typically involving feasts; the more wealthy the Hearth, the grander the feast and the more people invited, possibly including their whole Herd or even the entirety of Okudan.

Feasts follow a very simple protocol. The hosting Hearth lays out food, from which attendees serve themselves. Zhinka take what they want first, followed by bolan; and within those groups children under the age of eight are fed before elders, then married adults, and finally unmarried youths. After the first serving, there are no restrictions; anyone may take additional helpings until the food (and drink) runs out. There may be stories told, music and singing, dancing, or all three depending on the occasion, the whims of the celebrants, and the duration of the festivities.

  • Hospitality: The rite of hospitality is not a celebration, but a routine observance, part of the social glue that keeps ties strong among the various Hearths of Okudan. Anyone who visits a Hearth is formally welcomed and seated to the right of the door, while the host sits on the north side, directly opposite the door. Guest and host each have a shallow bowl of water or milk, along with a token amount of salt and either bread or meat to consume it with, depending on the Hearth's resources. After the drink is consumed, guest and host inquire after one another's families, along with any news; they may also discuss recent gossip. The end of this purely social exchange is marked by a second drink, after which conversation turns to the actual purpose of the guest's visit. Once business is concluded, guest and host share a third drink; upon finishing it, the guest offers a blessing upon the host's Hearth and promptly departs, as it is considered beyond rude to linger afterwards. Throughout, the host has control over the length of the ritual, and therefore the allowed topics of conversation; they can stretch out either social or business phase by delaying the subsequent drink, or skip over either phase by providing two drinks in rapid succession, thus quickly ridding themselves of unwanted guests. Conversely, good friends and visitors may have the third bowl of a visit postponed, and are considered freely welcome within the Hearth (although not part of it) and exempt from further hospitality rites until such time as the third bowl is given.
  • Name Day: Infants among the Okudani are not named until the seventh day after their birth — not least because that gives the Hearth time to prepare for the associated feast. A child's Name Day is cause for celebration second only to marriages; every Hearth with which the child's family is allied, along with anyone they want to foster an association with, is invited. A Hearth that wants to make a particularly good impression will provide gifts for its guests as well as food and drink. The guests bestow good wishes and blessings upon the child, its parents, and its Hearth; particularly in the case of shamans, the well-wishes may be more than merely figurative. Guests may also bring gifts which reflect skills and traits they hope the child will grow into, particularly if their Hearths have strong ties with the hosting family. After the giving of blessings, Name Day festivities routinely devolve in short order to raucous but generally good-willed jamborees; it is considered the height of bad manners, and an ill omen for the child, to bring insults, anger, or any other negative influence into a Name Day celebration.
  • Ariun mor: The ariun mor is a rite of passage for Okudani youths and for any foreigner seeking full acceptance into the band. It may be attempted by anyone who has reached their race's age of maturity. At sunrise, a shaman escorts the supplicant to a secluded place near the camp and gives them a ritual drink of milk and mildly hallucinogenic herbs. The supplicant then spends the day and night in fasting and meditation, reflecting on their identity and goals — who they are and who they want to be — and on openness, baring their soul to the world around them. Sometimes they get a glimpse of their own soulscape in the process. When the sun next rises, the supplicant returns to the camp and walks slowly past its horses, making no attempt to approach any but seeking a horse who will come to them after looking into their soul and self. Human members of the camp will avert their eyes and ignore the supplicant's passage, both out of respect for a moment of highly personal vulnerability and for fear that any attention might adversely influence the outcome. If a horse accepts the supplicant, the shaman forges a Unity of Purpose bond between them, and the supplicant becomes zhinka Morid. The Hearth of the new zhinka holds a feast as grand as their wealth allows, which any in the band may attend; if the horse comes from another Hearth's herd, they also give gifts of gratitude to that family. If the supplicant fails to find an equine partner, it is never overtly acknowledged; the attempt, and the shame of rejection, is treated as if it had never happened even though everyone knows it did. They must wait at least a year before trying again, but may try as many times as they desire. Zhinka who have lost their original bonded horse may similarly attempt to forge a second partnership, if they so choose. A truly desperate (or foolish) supplicant, usually one who repeatedly fails to find a partner among the band's horses, may choose to walk out into the plains rather than into the camp, seeking their match in a wild horse; frequently, these people are never heard from again and presumed lost to mishap, though from time to time one returns, successful or otherwise. Lore also has it that the ritual drink can be foregone if one fasts and meditates for at least three days, rather than one, although a shaman is ultimately needed to forge the Unity bond that finalizes the partnership.

Note: Because the ultimate requirement of the ariun mor is acceptance by a horse, characters a horse would consider dangerous will not under any circumstance succeed at the rite. This includes Elyani whose animal forms are large carnivores (anything that could prey on adult or foal horses) and Followers with abilities not compatible with horses.

  • Marriage: There is no rite of marriage among the Okudani; all that is necessary is the agreement of two zhinka and the diraghes of their Hearths. Marriage is enacted through the cohabitation of a couple, nothing more and nothing less. What recognition there is, inevitably, takes the form of a feast. Specifically, the husband's Hearth provides a feast for both Hearths, along with as many guests as their resources can stretch to support. A marriage feast symbolizes the ability of a Hearth to provide for its current members, its close allies, and all of its future generations. Thus, marriage feasts are very important signals of wealth and capability; on top of whatever is gained from the marriage itself, holding a particularly grand feast is a means by which a low-status Hearth might elevate themselves in the eyes of the band. The feast celebrating a highly valued marriage is both lavish and attended by the entirety of Okudan, while that of a disparaged marriage (or between two low-status households) is quiet and unassuming.
  • Funeral: Deceased Okudani are carried out into the plains, away from camp and anywhere that herds might be expected to graze, and left exposed for their body to return to the land. For a particularly beloved family member, the Hearth may return to the site of exposure in the following year, collect any bones into a pile, and build a stone shrine over them. In any case, after the body is laid out, the Hearth holds a memorial feast to which are invited all friends, associates, and even rivals of the deceased — essentially anyone who had a strong relationship with them, whether positive or negative. Unlike many Okudani feasts, the memorial is relatively subdued; the food and drink are accompanied by stories about the deceased, their life, and their relationships.

History

see also Okudan Timeline
see also Okudan Folklore

Starting a Character in Okudan

Character Name

All native Okudani characters should have two names, a given name and a Hearth name, as described below. Given names usually come from their parents, but anyone who is old enough to attempt the ariun mor is also considered old enough to decide their own name.

Characters originating from other polities should have names consistent with that origin, unless they have been adopted into a Hearth or otherwise changed their name.

Given Name

Okudani given names come in two types: virtue names and warding (apotropaic) names. Names are generally brief, comprising one or two syllables.

Virtue names are based on traits parents hope their child will possess, or aspirations for their child's future. These can simply be the traits themselves — Chance, Grace, Joy, Mercy, Valor. They may also take the form of derived names which do not have literal meanings in any language, but carry symbolism and weight solely born from tradition and culture. Such names might symbolize concepts like "shining one", "courageous defender", "keeper of knowledge". These names often hearken back to fables, legends, and historical events; they are believed to confer some part of the glory and good fortune from those tales upon the people bearing them. Adults who take on a new virtue name usually choose one that reflects their personal goals and ambitions.

Warding names follow the same patterns as virtue names, being either literal or carrying the weight of history, but have negative meanings. These include literal names like Bitter, Scorn, or Sorrow; and derived names with meanings along the lines of "vicious dog", "not a person", "taken by illness". Warding names are most often given by parents who wish to deflect ill fortune from their child, but sometimes reflect regret or disdain on the part of a parent. Adults who change their name into a warding name usually do so in the wake of a personal catastrophe, something they feel changed their life forever and for the worse.

Note: For derived names, players are free to assign meanings as they see fit, including using appropriate RL names with RL meanings, but they may not claim it means something in an IC language; the meanings are strictly connotative and cultural, not literal and etymological. Players are also welcome to write up the IC fable from which their symbolism was derived.

Hearth Name

Hearth name are usually descriptive two-word compounds, derived from something in the Hearth's history.

The name could be a commemoration of when its first diragh declared his Hearth, or something of strong personal relevance to him. These are compounds of two nouns — e.g. Redstone, Dusksong, Rainshadow — and are considered "small names". Hearths bearing such names are considered quaint; they are stereotyped as people of little note, with unremarkable histories and meager ambitions, but also steadfast and constant. Despite the slightly negative stereotyping, the vast majority of Hearths at least begin existence under a small name.

Hearths may also take their names from significant accomplishments, catastrophes survived, or future aspirations. These include a verb or adjective — e.g. Risingfire, Swiftsteel, Goldtaker — and are considered "strong names". Hearths with names of this type are stereotyped as people of ambition and derring-do, as possessors of either unusual good fortune or dreadful ill-luck; they are considered people to watch in more ways than one.

Lifestyle and Housing

Housing

PCs starting in Okudan will either live with their (possibly adopted) family's Hearth, or live in a tent of their own, depending upon their wealth level. Players are encouraged to check the Locations page and join an existing Hearth if possible, or at least take the opportunity to find connections for their character.

Players wanting to establish a Hearth new-to-the-game should talk to a Moderator about their Hearth's role in Okudan, its social status, and where it would fall in the Herd hierarchy. Note that Hearth concepts may be denied if there are an overabundance of PC families already filling a given professional niche, such as hunting. Also, it is very unlikely for a new Hearth to be placed in any Herd higher than West.

Note: New PCs may choose to hail from Chudain or Salkav, and thus be immigrants to Okudan; they may come with their entire Hearth, marry or be adopted into an Okudani Hearth, or have severed ties with their birth family in the other band. However, Chudain and Salkav are not playable polities and players may not flashback any history in them. Neither can characters claim to have held any notable status in those bands. Players may not invent new bands, nor invent cultural practices markedly different from those observed in Okudan; although the bands are separate polities, they all share the same cultural heritage.

Lifestyles

Due to the dependence of the nomads upon horses and livestock, Okudani Lifestyles are unique in that they may include one or more animals as part of the character's wealth. These animals are tracked in the PC's Inventory, but do not have to be purchased or maintained with Resource Points so long as the PC continues to hold an appropriate standard of living. Any additional animals will need to be purchased and maintained through Resources. Note that Okudani Lifestyles do not include any stationary buildings nor land allocations.

Destitute: A Destitute character is one with neither Hearth nor herd. They have no shelter, no transport save their own feet, and very few options for obtaining food. A Destitute character is not likely to survive a full season in Okudan, and PCs are not recommended to start with this lifestyle.

Impoverished: A PC beginning as Impoverished in Okudan likely falls into one of three categories: someone who has severed ties, whose Hearth is on the verge of dying out, or who is a visitor with few connections in the band. They do not have a family shelter, but only a personal tent. This lifestyle includes a single companion animal, most typically a horse (bonded if appropriate).

Ordinary: The Ordinary lifestyle in Okudan encompasses most living situations a character might fit into. This level includes those who live with a Hearth, whether native or adopted, and any visitor who has associates within the band. Residents will live with their Hearth, while visitors either stay with a Hearth or sleep in a personal tent or small wagon. This lifestyle includes two animals; one should be a horse (bonded if appropriate). The other is typically either a dairy animal, perhaps part of their Hearth's herds, or a companion animal, such as a dog, usually related to the PC's profession.

Skills

As for all PCs, no matter where they start, the first expertise one takes should be the character's primary professional skill. Generally, most members of a Hearth will be collectively involved in a professional endeavor, so (if native) bear in mind that whatever the PC's profession is, the rest of their Hearth will likely pursue related skills as well. For example, one Hearth might be made up of hunters, leatherworkers, and bone carvers; another might focus on breeding quality goats, making cashmere yarn, and turning it into cloth or blankets.

There is little call in Okudan for knowledge-based professions; the band lives a simple lifestyle. Similarly, there are few service professions (e.g. cooks, brewers, teachers) as most Hearths see to their own needs in those regards. Professions relating to magic and medicine are generally limited to Hearths with long traditions in shamanism; these families have generations of local knowledge and familiarity with the land to draw upon when providing guidance to the band.

There is some room for jobs focusing on food production (hunting, foraging, managing larger herds and producing dairy products), for while most Hearths are self-sufficient, the more food they can buy or trade for, the less time they have to spend producing it themselves. Craft professions (spinning, weaving, pottery, carving, etc.) are highly regarded, but potentially limited in materials and infrastructure; timber of meaningful size is uncommon, for example, and blacksmithing impractical. Breeding and training useful animals (horses, livestock, dogs) can be lucrative for those who succeed in setting their stock apart from the normal run of beasts found in the band. There is also always room for more guardians (weapon skills, riding) due to the pervasive hazards of the nomads' exposed lifestyle.

For PCs who are old enough to take multiple skills, Riding is recommended as the second choice, due to the importance of horses in Okudani life. Alternately, PCs may find it useful to take a weapon skill or another skill complementary to their main professional expertise, such as Painting for a potter.

Language

PCs born and raised in Okudan, or in any other Moridian band, must take Okheli as their Native language. The 'Basic Vocabulary' expertise may be taken in any other language, with Shol, Qualloni, and Tradesign being the most common.

Characters raised elsewhere but now residing in Okudan should take as Native the language of wherever they grew up, along with 'Basic Vocabulary' in Okheli.

Possessions

PCs may spend their starting Resource Points on anything in the Okudan Resource List they might afford. However, players should consider the nomadic lifestyle when making such purchases. Characters not affiliated with a family will be limited to what they themselves can transport; and if all they have is one horse and a tent, there may be little room for packing much else. PCs who are part of a larger Hearth may assume the family has at least one cart and that they have at least a little room to store personal possessions on it.

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