One thing I didn't do a lot of last year was provide actual content on the Realms of Chirak. Lots of Lingusia, Agraphar, Ad Astra and so forth, but nothing for this blog's namesake! That is about to change. Today I kick off a series of articles focusing on the Realms of Chirak, and the first few are going to focus on the Sabiri lands, a personal favorite of mine.
Since I've decided to go monogamous with my fantasy game system of choice this year, Pathfinder is my new hot-to-trot ruleset. Because of this, I will take time when possible to update Chirak references and details printed here to that system (or Legend...or both).
First, though, to get you up to speed I present the Sabiri entry from the Realms of Chirak Gazetteer:
Sabiri, Gateway to the West
Stoic nomadic plains culture which has been impervious to outside influence
Cultural Level: iron age
Population: approximately 2-3 hundred thousand
Government: loose clan-based tribal princes
Rulers: Zamad-Ruus in the north at Zen Hettar; various chieftains
Religions: ancestral worship, mixed with worship of Kobal and Amorgas.
Social Titles: few, usually a man is known for his deeds; merchant princes, warlords, heroes
Coinage: plenty of trade, no common coinage
Allies: The Sabiri trade with Pelegar, Madalios, Grelmaine, and Espanea
Enemies: The Sabiri regard everyone with suspicion, but especially Crystite and Helios.
The Sabiri people are nomadic pastoralists and traders. They are the primary people to bridge the gap between west and east for trade. The Sabiri are ruled by merchant princes who move in semi mobile communities of up to several thousand, and move in steady five to six year territorial circuits. They are reminiscent of the Hoagarit, but without the emphasis on warfare. The Sabiri worship Kobal, a spirit of the land which some believe is a demiurge with a shard of the Sagittarius stone. Kobal is known to roam the lands, looking much like a great, shaggy humanoid bison, somewhat like the bison that are herded and used for survival by the Sabiri. Besides Kobal, there is Amorgas, a quiet goddess of the Sabiri women, said to be the avatar of a woman who survived her sacrifice to Kobal when he became enamored with her.
The Sabiri people are a dusky, grey-skinned kin, human but with a nearly grey-white pallor to their skin tone, as if they are perpetually caked in a light dust or whitish clay. While both men and women enjoy piercing and tattoos for decoration, the women are prone to some extreme piercing with rings along their neck, ears, and other extremities.
Tattoos are a little more complicated, for a man with tattoos likely has magic. All native Sabiri sorcerers have a tattoo for each spell they have learned, and therefore a very heavily tattooed man can likely be considered a powerful sorcerer. Other tattoos of Sabiri society have powerful sorcery woven in to them, creating spell like effects that the wearer can invoke. A popular example is the Cult of the Asp, a society of assassins and mercenaries which are known for their serpent tattoos that can come to life on a command.
The city of Westgate is a free port, loosely managed and governed by Espanea, which offers some protection for trade routes to and from the city. The governor of the city if an Espanean-appointed noble named Estobar Revan, and his garrison of troops is enough to insure he is not unseated. The local authority is a coalition of merchant princes, mostly of Sabiri descent from local clans in the western reaches of the Seas of Chirak. Westgate is cosmopolitan, and is the sole city to benefit from direct west-east trade routes. The local communities of Sabiri are the only permanent, non-nomadic people in the land.
Because Westgate is principally a trade port, Sabiri influence is actually somewhat subdued. The Sabiri are not a seagoing culture, and do not understand such things. The architecture of Westgate is a mix of Espanean and Masirian. The history of the city suggests it was originally founded seven centuries ago by Masirian merchants, then abandoned and repopulated by the Espaneans two centuries ago. It is the only city facing the West where you are still likely to meet Nithiadians trading with Espaneans and others; all traders are welcome here, and all trade is considered fair, regardless of politics.
Westernmost city once founded by the Sabiri as a center of trade and burial with a year-round population, Fartheren was conquered and made one of the Espanean colonies about two centuries ago. About a century ago, the Sabiri warlord Zvakattas struck out and destroyed most of the Espanean forts and colonies, but he met his end through betrayal at Fartheren and was entombed within the famous Necropolis of Fartheren, a vast city of the dead for the many ancient princes, kings, and warlords of the Sabiri people. This Necropolis is a famous locale throughout the region, well guarded and a very pricey location for prominent Sabiri princes to be interred. No monumental architecture (the famed ziggurats, which stand sometimes 100 feet or higher) has been built in about a century, however. Still, there are easily over two hundred such monuments in the vast city of the dead.
Other locations in Fartheren include the great markets, where the seasonal nomadic convergences gather, as well as the Tower of the Eternal Flame, a society of respected fire mages who worship the demon god Vargre. Near the center of town is the Governor's Palace of Espanea, where Governor Josen Salvos Grellacas still rules (although his position is secure mostly due to the support of the local Sabiri merchants). The chief justicar of the Espanean governor is the knight Arturo Palandro, A paladin of the Espanean crown.
Not far away, the immense octagonal, smoke filled temple of Kobal is built, a mysterious place of worship with feverishly dedicated priests who are as quick to strike out with punishment as to commit self flagellation. The leader of Kobal's sect in the city is a swarthy man called Vogol.
Still operating within Fartheren is the cult dedicated to the demon-spirit Boolion, called the Servants of the Shroud. Their numbers are small, but they pervade all walks of Fartheren society. Their secret leader is Zhomas the Irredeemable, who masquerades as a simple alchemist in the merchant quarter, but is in fact the cult leader and mastermind. His enforcers include Kuzraol the incubus, Gaerille the Merciless (a captain of the guard), and Lord Krevin'nar, of the Vitti tribe, an ally to both the Servants of the Shroud and the Arcanists.
The ruined city of Kadela is avoided by most Sabiri, save those who trade with its dangerous inhabitants. The city was founded centuries ago by Masirian colonists who were driven out by the Sabiri warlords four centuries ago. It was later re-colonized by the Espaneans, who held it until it was sacked and destroyed by the forces of Zvakattas a century past. Since then, Kadela has become an enclave of hidden knowledge for the Arcanists, who discovered that the ancient library of the Masirians was still intact within the bowels of the city, and contained a great deal of forbidden magical knowledge. Now, the city is a refuge of teaching for the Arcanists, who are ruled by a dark woman of unknown descent called Middara Aegysaria. She is known to have summoned and bound at least three demons to her service, and is feared and respected by all Arcanists.
The City of the South is one of the few sacred gathering points of the Sabiri to be kept year round. This exclusively Sabiri city has a small continuous population which lives there and maintains its existence on the offerings of the visiting tribes which pass through. At any given time, two or three tribes will tend to be in the city, and as many as ten to fifteen thousand nomads may be in the area. Often, in the Summer these tribes gather for great war games, incredibly bloody sports of challenge in which different tribal warlords spar for the right to be called supreme warlord. No true warlord of the might of Zvakattas has come forth in a century, however.
As a true Sabiri city, Uvalin contains a great temple to Kobal, as well as a House of Judgment, where great crimes or concerns can be addressed before a selection of Ancestral Idols, each one a massive head carved of sacred stone and imbued with the spirits of great ancestors for divination. These heads are linked to the alignment charged planes, and can open portals to such planes, sometimes to engulf those who are presented before them and sweep them away to their fates in the planar realms. The heads are used to judge the truthfulness or character of the men who are presented before them, but the heads always require offerings. When activated without guidance, the heads will always seek to influence the soul of the man before them to become closer to the alignment of the judging idol, or to destroy that person if he or she is too dangerous to the ethos of the idol.
The northern Sabiri city of Zen Hettar is not unlike Uvalin in the south, but it is also a cultural interchange for the northern people of Madalios, who are ethnically related to the Sabiri, but have given up their nomadic ways. Zen Hettar is also currently ruled by the most prominent warlord of the nomads in the present, and man called Zamad'Ruus. Said by some to be the next great warlord, Zamad'Ruus seeks to conquer Madalios and destroy their infidel ways.
Many smaller communities and two major cities comprise the more fertile, riverine lands of the Madalios people. Once Sabiri, the Madalios traded and interacted with the people to the north, in the crystite lands of Knos as well as the Zamedian elves of the mountains, and learned the ways of settled agriculture and civilization so elusive to the nomadic Sabiri. Over the last few centuries, they Madalios have settled in and given up the nomadic ways of their southern cousins, and accepted a regional rule of democracy by the men, who vote their leaders in to power, and then choose their warlords to run the armies which protect their lands from the Sabiri warlords to the south and the Crystite forces of the north. The current regent of Madalios is Ariman Daer, a strong young soldier who has displayed amazing tactical skill in repelling recent Sabiri incursions.
The Madalios people are peaceful, however, and seek only to defend themselves, preferring instead to dwell on their own means in their lush river valleys. Their two major cities, Diabaros and Kolmek, are heavily fortified and built atop the ruins of much older cities which date back to a culture which was forgotten and exterminated by the Crystite armies a thousand years ago.
The Madalians have also forsaken all religious faith for a peaceful coexistence with natural beliefs, and follow druidic beliefs to the exclusion of all others. They refuse to follow any other gods, and the reverence of the druids centers on the life-giving nature of their many rivers.
Next: the people of Sabiri