Essays:
Kin
Background

Player: Keith
Race: Human (Idreshim)
Class: Bard 1/Monk 7/Barbarian 1
Alignment: Neutral Good
Size: Medium-size
CL: 9
Age: 31
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 166 lbs.

71 NORMAL
18
TOUCH
18
FLAT
15
ARMOR WORN
None, +2 insight bonus

STR 14 +2 FORT +9 +13 Base Attack: +6/+1 Yothrat Staff
Sandals of spider climbing
Sandals of the shifting sands

Vial of antitoxin
DEX 16 +3 REF +5 +8 Flurry of Blows:+5/+5/+0
CON 14 +2 WILL +7 +9 Initiative: +3
INT 12 +1 BASE MOD Speed: 60 ft.
WIS 14 +2
CHR 12 +1
BASE MOD
Ranks Only:
Balance 9
Concentration 3
Escape Artist 7
Jump 12
Know (religion) 9
Know (Idreshim) 6
Listen 7
Perform (oratory) 3
Speak Langauge (Celestial) 1
Spot 8
Survival 3
Tumble 11
Dodge +2
Mobility
Raptor School
Righteous Wrath
Sanctify Martial Strike
Spring Attack
Survivor
Weapon Focus (quarterstaff)
Talqavist's Blessing: Purity of mind
Languages: Clan-speak, Common
+2 saves vs. Law effects
Frenzy
Bardic music
Bardic knowledge
Unarmed strike (1d8)
Flurry of blows
Evasion
Still mind
Ki strike (magic)
Slow fall (30 ft.)
Purity of Body
Wholeness of Body (2hp/level)
Fast movement
Uncanny dodge
Rage (1/day)


0-level
Know Direction
Ghost Sound
Light
Message

Potions
Cure serious wounds (3d8+13) x2
Lesser restoration
Protection from energy (130 minutes)
Sheltered vitality (13 minutes)


The Storm

A violent storm lashed the small village of Horsgald. Lighting shattered the opacity of night and the unearthly howl of the wind numbed the residents into a reverie broken only by the cataclysmic crashes of thunder. It was a night of portents and omens and several of the townspeople had gathered in the yothrat, or great hall, near the center of the village.

A leather-skinned and wizened old woman peered with vacant eyes into the shallow tray of burnished brass. Filled a few fingers deep with crystal clear water, several roughly squared stones carved with vaguely arcane runes were scattered upon the bottom. Her hands waved above the basin, each pass of her fingers almost brushing the surface of the water, faint sparks of temporal energy arcing from her digits to the stones beneath. Suddenly her scratchy voice burst forth in a demanding cackle of ritual phrases.

There were several towering men in the hall, their platinum hair woven in long braids, their light eyes glancing uneasily at one another and back at the old crone. A few other women stood among the men, apparently less nervous about the proceedings as it was the woman's place to witness omens in Idreshim culture. One woman stood near the front of the crowd her pale green eyes locked on the basin and the old hag's hand motions. A small boy of perhaps half a dozen winters clung to her skirts silently in a wide-eyed mixture of awe and fear.

Brigid Braga's Daughter took her son, Yngvildir, and held him tight for a moment. She knew that it was the men's uneasiness and the ripples of Furis' power in the hall that unsettled the boy far more than the violence of the storm beyond the walls. Kissing him on the head, she released him to flee the hall, knowing as her gaze returned to the old hag that he would be safe. Her beloved husband and Yngvildir's father, Yngthor, had died when the boy was but a babe. Yngvildir had withdrawn and remained apart from the other children as he had grown and now he much preferred a lashing delivered by Furis' rage to the scent of uncertainty that pervaded the yothrat this night.

Outside, Yngvilidr staggered against the wind for a few paces, then stood, face into the wind, and screamed defiantly into the full force of Furis' energy. His shouts of frustration, sadness, and anger were swallowed by the storm, but he knew somehow that they would be heard if The Beast chose to listen.

He would return to the family's home and make sure the animals were secure against The Raging. He cursed his father for leaving this world in favor of Vastare. He had never known Yngthor, but his image of the man was tinted with bitterness for he could never teach his son to swing an axe in battle. Instead, Ynvildir would spend his life swinging his axe at logs.

Among the Idreshim, there were those men who were vagathir or man-cutters and those men who were wogathir or wood-cutters. A few of the Skalds, or bards, and an occasional clanless wanderer were the only men immune to the stigma of the names. Already Yngvildir was called wogathir. It was not a scornful or derogatory term really, it was simply a label for how the Idreshim looked at one another. It was told by the Skalds that wogathir were as worthy of Vastare as any of the vagathir, for they were the stones and mortar of Furis' yothrat here in this world.

Generation

It was a rare temperate and clear day on the windswept plains of the Idreshim. The village of Horsgald was stirring with activity for one of its favorite sons would be bound to his beloved by The Beast's power and virility this day. Yngvildir Yngthor's Son would vow his kreega, or "provider spirit" to Jana Jaethel's Daughter. In turn, she would pledge her urtha, or "fertility" to him.

Many of the residents of Horsgald brought small wooden carvings to the yothrat for the ceremony, as was tradition. They were regarded as small idols to happiness, long life, and healthy children and would be burned by the couple during their first union.

(Note: Pre-marital sex is not uncommon among the Idreshim, but it is regarded in a purely hedonistic way that has nothing to do with family and a child born outside of such a union is not entitled to use his father or mother's name. Related to this: It is a grave insult to introduce someone in a formal setting without using their father or mother's name for it is then assumed they are not entitled to use it.)

The Cycle

Although the pale blue sky was clear this day, a wickedly frigid wind swept through Horsgald, driving even the hardiest of the Idreshim inside their dwellings of logs and fieldstone. Screams echoed from somewhere near the edge of the village, their agony absorbed and mimicked by the icy gusts. Jana lay on the floor of her cottage on a large reindeer hide, a small fire sputtering fitfully on the hearth next to her. She was giving birth. Alone.

It had been only a few months after the union that Yngvildir had fallen ill. The bortha or "woman of healing" had come to look at him but had been unable to heal him or even ease his suffering. Jana was 4 moons into the growth of the child within her when Yngvildir departed for Vastare. And so it had been with Yngthor.

Yngvarr was born on that icy day, his destiny tied to the cycle of generations, a wogathir almost from birth, for Jana was alone and would have no one to provide for her.

Idreshim Literature

A people with a strong oral tradition, the Idreshim culture and climate do not lend themselves well to the written word. As such, most written Idreshim literature was at some point simply oral verse written down by someone else. Even so, there are some distinguishing characteristics that help scholars identify works that may have their roots among the Idreshim people.

The Idreshim are fond of a form called the epic saga. These are unmetered, almost prose style poems. Some are intended as songs, while others are spoken dramatically, seemingly at the whim of the teller. The Idreshim Skalds or bards carry such tales from place to place, charged with preserving them through the generations and ensuring the immortality of the characters within. While embellishment is certainly not uncommon, study of sagas that are attached to recorded historical events reveals that they are remarkably accurate, if somewhat romanticized.

The writing style tends towards the impersonal, terse, with no explanation of why's. Things happen; no one questions fate. Characters are often but briefly introduced, There was a man named ..., followed by brief biographies, genealogy, and all- important relations to other figures in the saga. Personalities are shown through action, seldom through analysis any deeper than offhand titles like feeder of ravens (killer) or wife of points (spear-maiden).

Kennings: The single most important concept in Idreshim literature is the kenning. A kenning is a short metaphor that most Idreshim would immediately recognize for what it refers to rather than its literal interpretation. This makes Idreshim sagas a bit abstract for outsiders, although once a reader begins to understand the kennings, it is quite interesting to note how poetic and carefully crafted the sagas really are.

Example kennings:

barley of ravens - a dead man
path of blood - battlefield
tears of Furis - rain
mead of crows - blood
feast of wolves - corpse or coward (much the same thing in Idreshim culture)
speaker of color - Skald or bard, one who tells sagas
chant of steel or roar of points - a battle
air sea - the sky

Headings: It is unclear whether the tradition existed in a purely oral setting or if it was instituted by those who first recorded Idreshim sagas and thereafter adopted by the Skalds, but whatever the source, it has become Idreshim convention to separate "chapters" of verse with single words called headings. These words carry chronological significance to the saga and allow the listener (or reader) to place the scene, sometimes only in relation to the other scenes. Idreshim seldom reference time in any concrete manner, understanding things only in relation to each other or (in some rare cases) measured in generations.

Example headings:

before - implies a preface and characters that are often ancestors of characters in the main body of the saga.
then - moves forward in time during the base of the saga.
during - implies that the section deals with a sub-plot or side character adjacent to the main action of the saga.
after - implies a thematic break. "after" functions much like "then" but implies a new dawning, a new outlook.
again - functions much like "then", but implies habitual events that have happened over and over in some form.

Idreshim literature is also colored heavily by their culture of battle and their worship of Furis. The god's name is often invoked in kennings (breath of Furis = wind) and the Idreshim people refer to themselves as sons and daughters of Furis. Idreshim literature also often reflects the cosmological significance of Furis, although it's doubtful that the average Idreshim person understands this (or cares). Much of their literature deals with a blurred line between sea (Yozar) and sky (Ozian), and in fact a common kenning for sky is "air sea".

The bestial, battle frenzied, free will of the Furis Beast is revered above all else, and while bravery and prowess in battle (as an individual) is prized very highly, the free will that allows this fierceness is the philosophical base and this concept pervades much Idreshim literature. To the Idreshim, especially the Idreshim poet, life is about choices and unbound possibilities, but yet a strong belief in fate and destiny lends odd and counter-intuitive undercurrents to many Idreshim works of literature.

Now the Idreshim are a dying people, nearly decimated by the Empire. As such, Idreshim literature of the last century or so is also pervaded by a tragic sadness at their fate. Many of their sagas read as chronicles of regret. Choices made in ages gone have doomed them, yet they continue to struggle with almost futile gasps of nearly spent rage.

Yngvarr's Epic

It is a chill day, but not yet the dead of winter. A few golden leaves leap down the cobblestone street, carried by the late autumn wind. The small, nearly anonymous tavern on the outskirts of Larcastle is nearly deserted. After all, it is just past mid day.

A stranger shrouded in a worn cloak of grey wool sits near the fire sipping a glass of water, his long blond hair swept to one side in a cascade covering his left shoulder. A small boy of perhaps 7 or 8 winters sits across the table with his chin on his hands, staring at the blond man with the ice blue eyes.

The stranger smiles at the boy and leans in conspirationally, "Would you like to hear a story from far away?"

The little boy nods enthusiastically. The Idreshim Skald takes another sip of his water and begins in a low voice...

The young boy stares at the stranger, his brow furrowed in concentration, perhaps barely understanding the epic of another people and place, "So what happens to Yngvarr?" he asks.

The grey cloaked stranger smiles, a twinkle muted by a faint sorrow in his pale blue eyes, "That is yet to be told, my young friend, that is yet to be told."

Excerpts from The Trials of Jagildir

The following segments of verse are selected from the Idreshim epic saga, The Trials of Jagildir. Dating back to sometime around the year 420 on the calendar of the Fatarim, the work was composed by Yorg the Elder, perhaps the greatest, or at least most widely known, Idreshim Skald ever to wander the lands of men. More famous at the time for his fearless prowess in battle than he was for his verse, it is an ironic testament to the Idreshim way of life that Yorg's words live on long after his physical conquests are forgotten.

Little is known of the subject of the saga, Jagildir, except that he lived centuries before Yorg's poem was written and that he was the first real hero of the Idreshim. The tribes of men had just scattered, their birthrights being gifted to them by their moral gods, and Jagildir spoke among the Idreshim, urging them to grasp this chance at freedom and never look back, for it was not the place of the sons and daughters of Furis to consort with other men, men of apathy, men who patiently awaited their destiny rather than seeking to seize their fate.

It is fairly clear that Yorg had little, if any, historical knowledge of Jagildir. The saga is based upon other lesser bits of verse about the epic hero from a variety of other sources. Some specific passages, and a discussion of each, follow.

The first of the Trials that Jagildir faces in the saga is to avenge his family, slain, if the saga is to be believed, by "seekers of darkness" who are most likely the Barathrim. Little is known about any interaction between these two tribes, but the theme figures prominently in the early parts of the saga. It is about a third of the way into the saga when we begin to see Jagildir referred to as being quasi-immortal. Terms like "the unkilled" and "famine of wolves" (meaning he's never going to be a feast of wolves...the dead) lead to the assumption that Jagildir was in some way (at least in the legend) immortal or nearly so. Religious scholars have argued that he may have been a chosen prophet of Furis. It is more likely, however, that he was simply a very skilled warrior with little fear.

Much has also been made of the fact that the term "ancestor" in line 6 of this selection isn't pluralized. Those devoted to study of the Idreshim opine that perhaps the author, Yorg, viewed Furis himself as THE ancestor of Jagildir. It is more likely simply a transcription error involved with the scripting of such a rich oral tradition.

Linguistic Note: The plural in most dialects of Idreshim Clanspeak is formed by a stem changing vowel rather than the addition of a suffix to the basic noun. Take the word for wolf, ulfa, as an example, the plural of which is aelfa rather than "ulfas" (which isn't a word). This is demonstrative of many problems with the written sagas, since there is no formally codified alphabet for any of the many dialects of Clanspeak.


  • "The light of Elai washes the gravest sorrows clean of bitterness."
  • "The closer one comes to physical perfection, the more accurately one reflects the light Elai has given him."