Friday, January 28, 2011

Arya culture and society - an overview

note: as my long-time readers will recognize (all both of you), I am slightly modifying things, in line with my evolving conception of a dawn of civ milieu, dropping the Arya and Derjuden cultures back into a more primitive condition, ca 1000 B.C., and moving the major Arya city from Tempe to Phoenix (better positioned across the river to their rivals in Mesa).

Arya Origins

The Arya came to AZ as a migratory group of hunter-herders, entering AZ from the east some 200-300 years ago. Epic tales describe their origins in a mighty kingdom along a river valley far to the east. However, their connection to the east was severed by the rise of the Dark Horde in southeast AZ, and the Arya have been on their own in AZ for the last century or so.

The grasslands along the rivers provide forage for their herds, as well as water for their crops. Their primary settlement in AZ is the fortified town of Phoenix, along the lush Salt River in the center of the region. Phoenix is the military center of Arya society, home to the High King, as well as a productive agricultural center.

Smaller Arya fortified settlements have also developed in other locations: Prescott and Superior as mining communities on the mountain edges, Buckeye as an agricultural center along the Gila River, Blythe as a trading town on the Colorado River, and Tucson and Wickenberg as military forts guarding against humanoid, giant, and Dark Horde incursions.

The Arya are a war-loving people, taking joy in battle and conquest. They patrol their lands restlessly on war chariots. They are semi-literate, with an expertise in enchanting weapons and armor, but only a primitive command of magic otherwise. They are ruled loosely by their high king, but the clans remain fiercely independent, and jockeying for dominance between rival clans is a regular feature of Arya society.

Their primary deity is the founding ancestor of their people, a god of war. They commune with their god through a sacred concoction called soma, which provides their priests with visions in time of peace, and their warriors with valor in times of conflict. They also pay homage to the elemental gods of fire and of the storm.

Culturally, the Arya are known for their love of music, dance, and song, especially when combined in a performance of epic storytelling. The other major Arya pastime is gambling, especially on the results of races, shooting contests, and wrestling matches.

Arya women are known as independent and tempestuous. They are not known for their chastity, and Arya marriages are generally considered temporary arrangements. The household is considered their sphere, and they typically rule it with great autonomy. Their raise their children to be tough and strong, and children often leave the home early. Occasionally, young Arya women will take a vow of celibacy and embark upon a career outside the home.

Relation to Other AZ Groups

The Arya eye the Monmore settlement of Mesa across the Salt River warily. Both groups fiercely compete for domination of the lucrative magical trade with Applied Spellcasting University, as well as for the choice living space along the desert rivers. As both groups grow and expand, large-scale conflict seems inevitable. The Arya also mistrust the Monmore for their cooperative relations with the Derjuden kingdom to the north.

Arya-Derjuden relations are generally volatile and hostile. The two groups come into conflict over the control of land, resources, and trade routes, especially in the central mountains and along the Colorado River. They are in sharp disagreement over how to handle the humanoid groups of the Coconino Mountains, the Arya favoring removal, the Derjuden favoring cooperation. The Arya also despise the Derjuden for their extensive magic use.

Arya-Dineh relations are generally neutral, as both groups seem to respect each others warrior codes, although, paradoxically, physical skirmishes are not infrequent. Their attitude seems to be one of friendly rivalry, and the skirmishes are usually non-lethal, leading most often to capture and ransom. They can often be found cooperating in fights against humanoid and monster groups.

Arya receive Asya monks as envoys into their towns, and seem to enjoy engaging them in friendly wrestling and boxing matches, but as the Asya are not fighting for land or trade routes, they have no significant interactions with them otherwise. A few Arya castaways are known to live in the Asya settlement in Boulder City.

In Game Terms

The dominant character classes of the Arya are Cavaliers, for the chariot-mounted nobility, and Fighters, Rangers, and Thieves for the commoners. Bards are more rare, but are still a regular feature of Arya society.

Clerics are the only group of literate Arya, and they are highly esteemed as wise men and leaders. Members of this priestly caste can be found leading Arya trading/raiding groups throughout the state. Due to their joint worship of the War God and the elemental powers, Arya clerics blend clerical and druidic powers. Although their sacred soma drink has healing and blessing properties, they lack the healing spells, gaining, however, the druidic spells related to fire and air.

Some Arya, usually females, are known to dabble in magic. These Arya magic users, usually called witches, are considered weird and untrustworthy, although also secretly sought after and often hired for special tasks (such as supporting adventuring groups). Other female adventures are primarily Thieves, with small numbers taking up careers as Bards, Assassins, and Fighters as well.

Cavalier 01-15
Ranger 16-30
Fighter 31-65
Thief 66-80
Assassin 81-85
Bard 86-90
Cleric 91-00

Magic User 01-50
Thief 51-80
Assassin 81-90
Bard 91-95
Fighter 96-00

Adventuring Hooks

Arya groups pour across the region in trading/raiding missions, in which anything is fair game. Their attitude is generally one of "Trade with the Strong, Take from the Weak" and so they would be ideal for your prototypical "hack and slash" campaign, fighting non-stop for land, magic, and gold.


Anonymous said...

As one of your two long-time readers, I like this treatment of the Arya culture much more than the original version.

Oh and there's a typo in the men's class table, I suspect Assassin should read "81-85".

Thanks once again for this blog, it has been a thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring read. It always leaves me looking forward to the next post.

Justin said...

Thank for the feedback! And the typo heads-up. I am glad you like them better. My vision now that I am all the way into it is much clearer, so I suspect I will have to go back and modify quite a few of the older concepts. No worries, right, hasn't been published yet anyway!

I just realized I have not linked up to you yet, sorry for that, I thought I linked up with all my followers already... Done now!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Justin, although I should point out that The Yaqqothl Grimoire is not my blog, I'm just helping out Il Male by fine tuning his English.