Freelanders Ethnicity in Age of Defiance | World Anvil
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Those who roam the plains...   Not to be confused with the coming-of-age rite of freelanding, Freelanders are those of the Thangien people who prefer to live unbound and abroad across the planet. The earliest nomadic tribes from which Thangiens hail descent, they ranged across the vast grasslands thousands of years ago before the foundations of Bainshaebo were even conceived. After the upheaval of the City Strife caused by the vulgar warlord Yapign and his minions, several lesser houses decided to leave behind the clamor and confines of the city and return to the open plain. Roth will visit them from time to time to check in on them, but each time they decline her invite to return to the city. They argue that in the past the Freelanders have prevailed through planet-wide crises, and thus it shall fall to them to persevere when Entide comes.


Major language groups and dialects

Freelanders still speak the Thangien language and neophytes join the community frequently enough to keep "up to date", though Freelanders are said to speak with a slight burr due to traveling abroad so much. Some words differ because not all arrivals from the Oldworld necessarily appear close to Bainshaebo and often find themselves seeking aid by a campfire out on the plains and will share their tongues with Freelanders before Thangiens.

Culture and cultural heritage

Being a patchwork quilt of customs from the Oldworld, Freelanders draw more from East Asian and North American influences. Thangiens are jokingly called "space vikings" for their love of battle, but the title would be more befitting of Freelanders despite their lack of permanent settlements.

Shared customary codes and values

Self-sufficiency, independence, and swiftness set Freelanders apart from Thangiens. Thangiens place great emphasis on family esteem throughout history while Freelanders live in the now. The Contemplation Circle is one of the few shared customs from the early years before Bainshaebo's construction. Without the need for strict population control, Freelanders do not duel to address any slights. Theft and assault are still punished but such incidents are far and few in between. It is a common joke that criminals fear the ire of Freelanders more than Roth herself, and so will not dare flee the city to escape punishment.

Average technological level

Without access to the facilities in Bainshaebo, Freelanders improvise with tools made from everything to wood, bone, and stone. Rare metal is seldom worked and more often traded for crucial medicines with the city. Instead of weighty swords, maces, and polearms, they prefer projectiles such as throwing knives, slings, and bow and arrow. A real prize for any Freelander is an intact Grand Cresta skull. Since duels always end in fatalities, once picked clean of flesh, the signature blade crest can yield a wickedly sharp weapon lighter than even dererium.   Clothing is commonly made from grass and kirya hide, but occasionally a skilled hunter will yield a tree-bear pelt, or a scavenger might come across a Cresta carcass before vitreelas arrive. Freelanders are far from unskilled savages and there is precision and pride in their craftsmanship. A faulty arrow or blunt knife can spell doom for a lone hunter.   Freelanders do not practice any form of animal husbandry, relying only on wild herds for hunts. They travel on foot and do not form partnerships or bonds with either pegasids or Pegasi. Occasionally they will befriend a wild fyrhundi who can provide crucial tracking aid in exchange for a share of a kill.

Common Etiquette rules

Guests might get the royal treatment for a day, but from then on are expected to pull their own weight. Individuals carry only what they need and hoarding is discouraged, but it is common to cache items of import near known landmarks. Sloth is brutally ridiculed and the insults levied at those who view themselves as above hard work rival the harshest words in the Thangien tongue.

Common Dress code

Tanned hide and braided leaves compose the majority of clothing amongst the community. Freelanders have never needed nor wanted the sophisticated looms and tanneries of the city and do not wear reinforced cloth, preferring lighter hide for mobility. While Thangiens compensate for their heavy combat uniforms with physical training, Freelanders value speed over strength. Ornamentation is common and consists of baubles made of bone, stone, grass, and reed. Metal is a rare find but used for trade rather than adornment. Thangiens prefer bright colors to distinguish themselves in combat and social circles. In contrast, Freelanders choose earthy tones to blend in with the thick grasses of Kundain.

Art & Architecture

Roth's Edict still applies to the Freelanders as well, and thus they pack light and leave little trace of their passing. Simple cairns are made for the deceased and scrawls of earthen dye are left on rocks to indicate warnings of hazards or alert to the presence of beneficial herds and plants. Hammocks are commonly used to sleep above ground and tents only pitched during the storm season when rain frequents the plain. Since Ritho smote the Natives, and Bainshaebo seems to invite conflict, Freelanders view the lack of permanent settlements as a blessing in disguise.

Common Customs, traditions and rituals

Anyone from the city can undergo freelanding, but only someone who can down a kirya in one shot, skin it, cure the hide, and craft an outfit within the next day can call themselves a Freelander. Trade is always reciprocal and a guest who enjoys their first meal by the campfire is responsible for dinner the next evening. Alcohol is generally avoided to keep senses sharp but Freelanders are not wholly above sharing a drink around a campfire and exchanging tall tales.

Coming of Age Rites

No one is entirely sure who started circulating the phrase "ride the cresta". It is obviously intended to mean "achieve the impossible" but it is more common than either Thangien or Freelanders would like to admit that an arrogant or extremely naive adolescent will attempt to mount an adult Grand Cresta stallion. This almost always ends in a fatality on the part of the rider as it only takes the Grand Cresta tossing its head backwards to impale the rider.   For city-dwelling Thangiens, freelanding is undertaken by youths to hone their skills in combat and prepare them for the rigors of political maneuvering and defense of Bainshaebo against any attack. For Freelanders, already steeped in the wilds, the young are viewed as adults from as old as they can walk and run on their own, and those who abandon the city for life on the plain have already completed their baptism in blood.

Funerary and Memorial customs

The average Freelander has never seen a Thunthen Nobeyl, but Ritho's Smiting of the Natives remains fresh in their memories. To them, the unicorn folk are incalculably cruel with only ambitious warlords and craven criminals like Yapign or adherents of Phitdaitiarona a close second. They do not seek combat outside of hunting, and have no heroes of renown to sing of aside from the Celestial Brothers. Even Ander remains a figure of fantasy among their circles. Those who die from old age or injury are interred on the plain and marked with a simple cairn of stones gathered from the Winding White and adornments from their life. These cairns are easy to trip over amid the thick grass but are considered sacred and no individual save the most ignorant or foolhardy would dare pilfer the offerings left behind. Even though they are estranged from the Four Queens, Witheren still watches over the wild righteous warriors.

Common Taboos

Sloth is the greatest sin among Freelanders, since an individual who refuses to support themselves or aid others can cause needless suffering. Freelanders are quick to catch on to honeyed words and feigned ignorance and will abandon a selfish soul to their own devices if they deem someone untrustworthy. A common jest is "Piss off a Thangien and lose your manhood and/or life. Piss off a Freelander and prepare to die a slow agonizing death in the wilds".

Common Myths and Legends

Thangor's Revenge and the Dread Winter
Cautionary tale about strife and excess tied to the most recent Solar Swap.  
The Cresta and the Imp
Pseudo-creation myth extolling the independent spirit of the Grand Cresta.  
Ritho and the Natives
Historical retelling of Ritho's smiting of the wicked Natives.  
The Frozen Father
Favorite ballad praising fortitude and honoring Witheren, Maiden of Blood.  
Vthia's Sentence
Cautionary tale against attempting peaceful overtures with the Natives.  
The Walking Tree
Variation of "The Silver Tree", a grim fable about selfishness and cruelty.

Historical figures

Thangor the Tactician
Despite being called Thangiens, Freelanders view city-dwellers as followers of Thuruk, the more bloodthirsty of the primordial twins. Thangor is as much a patron saint to Freelanders as Deres is to residents of Bainshaebo, revered for his measured approach and calm demeanor. Thangiens argue that had Thangor's line of thinking prevailed, he would have rolled out the red carpet for the Thunthen, but Freelanders contend that Thuruk's way has only led to more strife.  
Vthia The Bloody Mother
Not since Ritho's smiting did any other event convince the Freelanders that peace is unattainable between human-born Thangiens and the Natives. Bloody-handed, the grief-maddened mother single-handedly sealed hatred of all human-born within the remnants of the Native culture. While rare exceptions exist as in the case of T'plaureth and T'Brandon, those are stories for another time.  
Witheren, Maiden of Blood
The Goddess of Righteous War is also revered as the patroness of survival and independence. Without strength honed on a daily basis, lone Freelanders could not hope to withstand the rigors of life on the open plains. Because Freelanders travel light and have no use for swords or other heavy weapons like pole-arms, Witheren taught them the value of smaller projectiles such as throwing knives and darts. Blood spilled in the hunt or war honors her nonetheless.  
Ritho, The Morning Mother
Although Freelanders do not place as much emphasis on the prosperity and expansion of a family name as city-dwellers, they still value the safety of their children and look to the Goddess of the Home and Hearth when living abroad, for when the parents ail or pass from the world, it falls to the children to continue the hunt.


Beauty Ideals

Freelanders do not have access to refined cosmetics such as G'thru extract and thus their features are rather plain and rugged, but they could honestly care less. They adorn their hair with beads of carved bone and teeth and braids of woven grass. With only tents of hide and frond to sleep at night, their skin is far more freckled and tanned than their city-dwelling brethren. "Unscarred" is a pejorative reserved for those newly-initiated into the Freelander community, as one is not truly considered a Freelander if their cheeks aren't scratched by thorns or feet blistered by the long trek. Freelanders prize will and physical prowess over appearance.

Gender Ideals

Freelanders are either solitary travellers or family units, and a male must be just as adept at cooking as a female be skilled enough to bring down a kill. Crafting of weapons, clothing, tools, and medicine is a requirement. Laziness is not permitted and even a newborn will come along on the hunt strapped to their parent's back. Thangien youths embarking on their year-long freelanding tour find the rugged lifestyle grueling and few are willing to give up the relatively cushy city life.

Courtship Ideals

Being mostly solitary or of small family units, Freelanders don't go out of their way to reproduce. A growing population would defeat the purpose of preserving the wilderness and avoiding establishing permanent settlements. There are rare occasions of the kind spoken of in song where two kindred warriors will pledge themselves to each other. Unlike the citizens of Bainshaebo, a Pairing is sealed with a simple exchange of trophies rather than the spilling and mingling of blood.

Relationship Ideals

Freelanders are not wholly estranged from their city-dwelling brethren. On rare occasion some parties will come to trade for critical supplies not obtainable in the wild or share some interesting discovery or tale. For them a bond is made out of necessity rather than amiability and the sharing of a kill is more potent than sharing a drink.
“The spirit of the elder brother took up residence in the central star, and the younger sought refuge in the lesser. Eventually it came to pass that the younger brother wrest control from his elder, usurping his position and ruling the system, if only for a time. He exacted vengeance in the form of a terrible sickness upon the complacent and wicked who dwelt in their settlements and abused the bounty of the land. Only the freelanders escaped judgment, and when the elder brother reclaimed his domain, the younger unleashed a chilling wrath before retreating."- Chi Chi Lina, Yainae
— Foes From Another World Ch. 21
“It’s called a contemplation circle. It’s designed to evoke equality and unity among the family, as well as remind us of our nomadic heritage where nothing was more powerful than the knowledge shared by voice around a fire.”-Azurotago
— Foes From Another World Ch. 4
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“Thousands of years ago, before Bainshaebo was built, a cabal of warlords tried to subvert the Freelanders wholly to their control. The Queens could have easily intervened, but through the Silver-Haired Maiden, they told the people that they and they alone had the power to stop these tyrants. The Freelanders devised the Warrior’s Anthem to rally the people to resist oppression, and they ran the cabal to ground and slew each and every one of them. It is one of the Thangiens most revered and ancient battle hymns.”-Darian Dreamrider
— Cataclysm War Ch.12
"Let all grudges be cooled, all sorrow be lifted. Let hope be kindled, that even the Brothers may one day be reconciled.” Banners unfurled along the interior edge of the city wall depicting the celestial brothers-Thangor the Tactician, and Thuruk the Warrior-clenching hands.
— Cataclysm War Ch. 15

Cover image: Age Of Defiance Header by Mardrena


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