Humans are the majority of sentient humanoid groups Durnia. Arriving in antiquity in several different waves, they have been the most successful of humanoid groups on the continent.
The several waves of human migration to and within Durnia has resulted in the development of several ethnicities. Humans are far more diverse phenotypically than the other humanoid species. There is no real biological difference beyond those superficial differences of appearance. The difference is mostly in historical ancestry and in several cases, also cultural differences. While there are many who are mostly one ethnic group or another, the vast majority of the human population is an amalgam of different ethnicities (shown in the lists below as “Shedforther” or “Other”).
Human Ethnic Groups
The list below orders the various cultural groups from earliest to latest groups to arrive to Durnia. The numbers that follow are the percent of the human population that would be considered a member of this group.
- N’Zolani (3%)
- Ehgh’dnee (1%)
- Adkhani (5%)
- Endari (0%) (archaic group, no longer existing)
- Agdivari (20%)
- Varlander (5%)
- Ochogi (2%)
The Following are ethnic groups that developed subsequently in Durnia. The numbers that follow are the percent of the human population that would be considered a member of this group.
- Nahkhani (3%)
- Shedforther (45%)
- Taurean (2%)
- Siodorne (2%)
- Other (11%)
The Different ethnic groups
The N’Zolani were the first humans to arrive to Durnia. Most scholars believe they came from a continent from the South of Durnia. The N’Zolani spread quickly over most of the continent of Durnia and as a result came into conflict with later human groups that arrived. They did not come into major conflict with the other sentient races, due to their small (but widely dispersed) numbers.
Appearance: The N’Zolani tend to be slightly taller than the average human, with skin that ranges from bronzed coloring to deep, dark skin tones and hues. They universally have black or dark brown hair and eyes that become gray late in life.
Language: While there were once many languages, they eventually had one tribal coalition leader named (Akw Wol (Gray Horse) who pushed for a standardization of the N’Zolani language (Zolani) and was relatively successful. This standardization doesn’t mean it is an easy language for the outsider to master however, as built within the complex language is a dizzying array of obscure noun-classes and verb clause systems.
Culture (historical): Their initial culture were as hunter/gatherers and later, pastoralists. They maintained small band and tribal groups that were loosely associated with each other. They were Animistic and their religion was an Individualistic Cult system (see glossary).
Culture (Present): The N’Zolani have been displaced by other human groups, and they now largely live in the Eastern Highland Plateau as a series of tightly aligned tribes, each with their own ruler. Their religion ranges from the traditional animistic and totemistic religion of their ancestors as well as those who practice an amalgam of their old beliefs and that of the Old Faith. Nearly no N’Zolani follow the New Faith because they believe that falling stars, meteors, and comets are terrible omens of death and dismay. They are now mostly pastoralists and are renowned at horsemanship. They live in lodges or long houses and men and women are treated as equal to one another. Labor is only divided by sex during a woman’s pregnancy and 5 years following (if the child survives). She is then no longer restricted in choice of work.
The Ehgh’dnee are a small group of nomadic hunters and gatherers that arrived shortly after the N’Zolani. They quickly split into two overlapping groups that follow different subsistence patterns. The first group, called the Ihk Ehgh’dnee remain hunters and gatherers. The second group, the Imk Ehgh’dnee also herd caribou and reindeer. Aside from this distinction, the differences between the two are hard to discern for outsiders. The two groups, although divided by subsistence patterns, intermarry and share the same language and culture. They have their own animistic religion and have many shamans who interact with the spirit world. It is similar to N’Zolani animistic belief in that the spirits are of the environment, animals, game, locations, natural phenomena, etc. but unlike the varieties of N’Zolani animism whose spirits are generally benign or beneficial, the Ehgh’dnee spirit world is a dangerous one, filled with chaotic and violent elemental spirits that must be propitiated to.
The Ehgh’dnee often dress in furs during the winter and animal skins in the summer. They also make a kind of felted wool from reindeer and caribou fur and dye it red (using the red snowberry) and some yellow (using various yellow flowers that bloom in summer). The red is most popular and wearing red is thought to ward off hostile spirits. It is also more visible during the long arctic winters, with several folktales detailing how individuals were saved by being able to see the red scarf, cap, or belt of someone during a snowstorm.
The Ehgh’ dnee are the smallest human group on Durnia and rarely venture far into the southern half of the continent. On those rare occassions when that has happened, it is usually on an outsider’s ship and are almost always mistaken for people from distant Achoga or as Nahkhani people. They tend to be shorter than most humans by about half a foot. They tend to be barrel-chested. The men grow wispy beards and both women and men cut their hair to be shorter than shoulder length. They tend to have light to walnut-colored skin and black hair that goes grey, white, or silver quite early in adulthood.
The Ehgh’dnee are skilled storytellers and they have several interesting traditions including song duels where disagreements are settled in verbal form by singing about the greatness of their opponent. The person who sings the most eloquently about their opponent is considered the winner, but after dishing out that much praise about each other, conflicts are generally defused.
Fear, Anger, and the Afterlife
The Ehgh’dnee believe that loud or explicit displays of emotion are dangerous for the soul. A smile or frown from an Ehgh’dnee is heavily encoded with subtle meanings, conveying a variety of complex emotional codes that would take an outsider a lifetime to master. This has resulted in a reputation of stoicism to outsiders, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. They simply believe that loud, explicit displays of emotion attracts the ire of jealous spirit entities.
The Adkhani are a people who arrived on the southwestern tip of Durnia around 1500 years ago. The Adkhanian empire once spread from the desert land of Ob-Al-Daha into a number of islands and continents, including Durnia. The Adkhanian empire eventually fell due to a number of factors including dynastic disputes, tribal clashes, and the agricultural stresses of the aftermath of the Scourge as being final blows to the vestiges of the empire. Now the Adkhanian territories are all ruled locally. The former empire’s foothold on Durnia once reached up into the steppes of central Durnia. It has since receded to areas of the southwestern coast and hinterlands and is divided into a number of city-states who have managed to maintain good relations with each other through political marriages and trade. The Adkhani brought many spices and other exotic luxuries to Durnia, and they are associated with the importation of such things even today. They quickly established trading ties with the Agdivari Dominion and staved off territorial conflict through economic means.
The Adkhani are of average height, of skin tones ranging from the darkest brown to fair skin. They almost always have black or brown hair. Eye color is brown, hazel, or green. The Adkhani tend to dress in ornately embroidered clothing and are even more prone than the Agdivari to flaunt their wealth with jewelry.
The Adkhani had polytheistic beliefs similar to the Agdivari and the two synthesized together to form the current pantheon of the Old Faith. One local deity is exceedingly important and her temples can be found anywhere there is an Adkhani population or influence. The goddess Haleena, called Haleena of the Cool Waters and Haleena the Shimmering is a goddess associated with three historically important aspects of Adkhani culture, namely: hospitality, fresh water, and commerce. Her symbol, a jetting fountain is almost always found on the back side of Adkhani coins. Most taverns, inns, and caravansaries have a prominent fountain on the premises. Public fountains are often used as impromptu shrines to her by Adkhani. She is held on equal if not higher esteem than Elginer (Al-Ginar), Alvima (Al-Yima), or Neff (Neffit). Legends speak of her being the daughter of Chimosh (Shimosh). Some Adkhani stories also depict her as rebuffing Neff’s advances because he was not generous enough with humanity. Her faith is so strong and unifying, it is one reason the New Faith has failed to make many converts in Adkhani areas. This may also be due to the Yorbis’ teachings about denying pleasures of the flesh for a later spiritual reward. To the Adkhani, the so-called pleasures of the flesh (alcohol, fine foods, carnal activities, luxuries) are signs of divine largess. This divine generosity does not mean a wealthy person is divinely ordained or blessed by the gods, it simply means that they are experiencing the generosity of the gods. Sometimes though, such indulging of vices, as the Yorbians call them, are not given by the gods, but unfairly taken from the gods without permission or at least that is what their opponents accuse them of. Therefore, it is risky to be overly ostentatious, lest the gods punish you by finding your wealth stolen from you.
Adkhani hospitality is well-known. A host will do most anything to fulfill obligations of hospitality that are held by the Adkhani. While outsiders have sometimes intentionally or unintentionally exploited such hospitality, the belief is that how you are treated in the afterlife at the houses of the gods is reflected by how you treat guests and strangers during your lifetime. Also, they feel that sometimes you may be the host but other times you may be the guest, therefore it is best to live up to this code if for no other reason than as a form of social and/or spiritual insurance. Several folktales detail how greedy guests get their comeuppance when later the tables are turned. These tales warn one not to abuse the privilege of being a guest and a modicum of modesty is expected from guests. When offered something from a host, it is considered polite to initially demure or say something about not wanting to be a burden. Then the host will insist and you should always try to comply in some way if possible. This social dance of hospitality is performed countless times every day throughout Adkhani lands.