Wheel of the Year
The peoples of Eradain follow generally agrarian lifestyles. The Wheel of the Year depicted here shows typical activities that the common people engage in during the year.
Each year in Eradain contains 4 one week holiday festivals (as listed under Topography). The festival weeks are the Solstices (Yule and Litha), and the Equinoxes (Ostara and Mabon). Different cultures celebrate these festival weeks in different ways, but almost all universally acknowledge these weeks as holy weeks. Normally very few commoners celebrate the whole week through, work will continue with festival activities building up the first half of the week and peak on the middle day. In the country Angtiria the celebrations have taken on aspects of the Angharad and Danrae traditions. The following activities can be found taking place in one form or another throughout the land, the full range of can usually be found in the larger cities and towns.
1st Day: Greeting Day
The opening ceremonies begins the festival and is usually officiated over by the local lord and high ranking priests. Almost all traders and merchants that will be selling their wares will begin setting up their stalls and booths, local crafts and foods are usually found including some cooking and crafts competitions.
2nd Day: Traders Day
This day is also often called the common peoples fair. At this time regular folk will compete among themselves. Some activities that might be found are wood chopping competitions and eating or drinking contests. There will usually be a livestock competition at which a lot of business is conducted by merchants while also enjoying the holiday diversion.
3rd Day: Games Day
The second day of the commoners faire. This day is more devoted to physical or sports competitions with races, wrestling and contests of strength and horse races. In the evenings there is often storytelling, feasting and dancing. Those seeking the spurs of knighthood will spend this night on a vigil.
4th Day: Priests Day
Most of the significant religious observances occur on this day. Normally there are many weddings and depending on the season supplication to the gods and blessings for a good harvest, mild winter, healthy livestock and the like. This is also the day that warriors typically elevated to knighthood in preparation for the tourneys that will occur during the remainder of the week. Traditionally knighthood is only granted on the 4th day of one of the four festival weeks or on the battlefield. Lords and Kings are also anointed on this day of the festival. In rural areas and among the Angharad this day is usually the peak of festival, with the rest of the week winding down. On this eve you will see different activities depending on the season. In spring fires are often lit amidst celebration areas and dances will take place between the fires, or folk will jump over them for luck or joy. In summertime mistletoe is collected and garlands of flowers are thrown into rivers or fires. In Autumn bonfires are lit on the hills and offerings are made for the harvest. In winter the longest night is celebrated with offerings of milk, burning the Yule log, etc.
5th Day: Warriors Day
Also known a day for the Celebration of Deeds (past and current heroes are remembered), and a day to Honor the Dead. This is the first day of competition for the official tourneys, the first round elimination for archery, brawling, boxing, riding and knightly skills takes place on this day.
6th Day: Bards Day
Off the tourney fields can be found plays and musical contests. The final rounds of the brawling, boxing and riding takes place, and the second round of archery and knightly skills are completed.
7th Day: Nobles Day
On this day last rounds of archery take place followed by the finale knightly skill of Jousting. The lords also conduct ceremonies such as the swearing of fealty by new vassals and the relatives of vassals who come of age. There is a final feast that night and clerics or lords will conduct the official closings of the festival.
Peoples of Eradain
On Eradain there are five main human ethnic groups: Eradnians, Harad, Angharad, Danrae and Corsani. These primary ethnic groups have in some cases mixed with each other or other long forgotten peoples to form the current populations of the continent. Certain groups may or may not exist in different periods of Eradain history. These human groups compose approximately 80% of the "Civilized" race's population. Each ethnic group has its own native language. In Eradain, "Common" is a Harad Trade dialect, and not all NPC's will automatically know Common.
The Eradnians are a mix resulting from the conquering of the Angharad people by the Danrae (Norman & Saxon becoming English). The 'common' people have mixed more than the nobility or clergy. Danrae tend to dominate the upper class and nobility, while the Angharad blood is stronger in rural areas.
The Harad are one of earliest peoples to arrive in Eradain and can be found throughout the continent. The Harad have dark hair and eyes, with light complexions. The original Harad further split into four groups according to geographic location. The Northern Khorharad and Southern Harad have remained the most racially "pure", while the Western Angharad intermixed completely with Ang and the Eastern Sarharad have mixed with the Vol. Both the Ang and the Vol have almost completely disappeared as independant groups.
The southern Harad are similar to the ancient Egyptian people and live in an established theocracy.
The western Angharad are based loosely on the ancient Celts, Britons and Irish.
The northern Khorharad are primarily nomadic horse barbarians something like ancient Mongols.
The eastern Sarharad are traders, farmers, fishermen and sea-farers living in multiple city-states, something like the ancient Greeks.
The Angharad culture is based loosely on that of the ancient Celts, Britons and Irish. The Angharad are a druidic Clan society ruled by Queens and a warrior aristocracy. The Angharad revere a pantheon of nature oriented deities and their priesthood is known as The Circle. The Angharad people are generally fair skinned and typically have brown, red or blond hair. Their eyes range from the browns to greens. The Angharad people generally live pastoral lifestyles in small towns and villages, typically in fortified stockades. Some of the Angharad people are said to have 'the second sight'.
See Angharad page for additional detail.
The Danrae people came from over the sea so long ago that no one remembers where they originally came from. They possessed the skill of making weapons with iron (which dwarves had jealously guarded from humans) and with their war like ways they eventually built an empire which covered much of this continent before it broke apart. The Danrae have had a long history of following a strong central government. The Danrae have dark hair, light complexions and blue eyes are not unheard of. Beards are often considered a sign of manhood, but are kept trimmed and neat. The Danrae are a patriarchal society, have strong bloodlines for magery and follow gods of war.
The Corsani live on the eastern side of the continent and are a mysterious and reclusive people. For various reasons the people of this Eastern land maintain a subconscious attitude of isolationism; recognizing that Gaoyu [GOW yoo] (meaning: "above and beyond"; derivative term for foreigners) DO exist, but not really caring that much. Of all the peoples on this continent only the Corsani met the might of the Danrae Empire at its height and sent them bloodied and running home. The Corsani are broken up into three groups, those that live in the coastal areas, the mountain dwellers and the clans of the plains. All the Corsani have an Asian like culture, the coastal Kanso people living simple lives and being most akin to the Chinese. The mountain people are a powerful race of "psychic warriors" called Chul-Nar. The Kanoshen clans of the plains are fierce warriors, constantly bound up in never-ending blood feuds. Corsani people have brown hair and eyes, bronze to dark skin and no facial hair. They are certainly less "advanced" then many of the other Eradan civilizations and while the concepts of commerce, higher education, and structured leadership are known to the Corsani these concepts have (for whatever reason) found it difficult to take root in this simple culture.
The term Pict refers to various barbaric tribes that inhabit the fringes of Angtiria and Angharad lands. They do not identify themselves as Pict (which they consider an insult), but refer to themselves by their tribe name. They are the remnants of the Harad and other peoples who did not adopt the gods of the Ang, and who have steadfastly stuck to their basic barbarian hunter-gatherer roots. Almost universally the Picts are superstitious and averse to many of the 'trappings of civilization', including reading or writing. Picts are generally tattooed, illiterate, crude, and worship spirits, which are usually dark or evil (typically darker land spirits with totem animal forms and corrupted fey or fomor). There is substantial antipathy between the Angharad and the Pict tribes.
The following are some of the known Pict tribes that inhabit Angtiria:
- Nathair (People of the Drake or People of the Snake)
- Acail (People of the Eagle)
- Carraigscrath Picts (The Stone Shadow)
- Cranndorcha (The Dark Tree)
- ?? (The Fangs)
Elves are split into the four major groups: wood, high, gray, and Drow. Elves have communities in almost all the lands on the continent, but have a kingdom of their own, Avanoel, on the southwestern part of the continent. Wood elves live in the forests surrounding the Echoriath Mountains, they are intolerant of any non-elves, and defend those lands with deadly force. High elves live in the river valley areas within the kingdom in great tree cities. Gray elves live on and around the central mountain within the valley and are reclusive even among their Elven kin. The next largest community of elves are the tribes of wood elves that live in the Great Northern Forest.
Note about gray elf cities: "Crafted from living woods, marble, silver, and even ice. They are an introverted, studious, mystical people...
Within the Dathi Forest at the borders of the human lands and the kingdom of Avanoel is the town Feylin. Most of the trade between humans and elves of the interior lands has taken place here for centuries. A population of half-elves now resides in the town and surrounding lands, Characters wishing to be half-elves would likely come from this town, and could be the offspring of a human and an elf, or they may have two half-Elven parents.
Dwarves live in several small kingdoms in the Dagalethe mountains, the largest of which is called Khuzdul. The dwarves are almost as paranoid as Elves in protecting their lands, but several communities of Dwarves live in major towns to conduct business between dwarves and humans, and there are an unknown number of dwarven enclaves dotted around the lands of Eradain. Dwarves control many of the best mines and resources of iron on the continent and often trade with humans for food, wood and animal products.
Halflings are almost as rare in Eradain as Gnomes, however there is a small kingdom of them located at the north end of the Thorn Wood behind what is known as The Great Thornwood Barrier. Very few humans have been beyond this barrier of Daggerthom plants, which are miles thick in many places (from Mckiernan, Dennis L. -The Mithgar Series).
Half-orcs are generally outcasts or viewed with suspicion by humans, but several have made reputations (good and bad) for themselves in the borderlands between human and orcish lands. Even more half-orcs can be found within the orcish tribes, where if they are tough enough to survive childhood, they are usually valued for their intelligence and ability.
Gnomes are rare in Eradain, with only a few communities spread around the continent. Most of he gnome population wanders the lands living in gypsie like bands.
Some Minotaur of the Hurloon region of the Dagalethe Mountains have developed a more sophisticated culture than typical of their kind. Their tribe is slightly smaller than a typical minotaur and more intelligent. The Hurloon are famous as mercenaries and bodyguards, with a reputation for loyalty and honoring their contracts. They also sometimes employ their more normal cousins and even their giant relatives as part of their forces.