The Arcadians are the people of the Kingdom of Arcadia, the eastern kingdom of Aressa. They value Art as the highest pursuit of life. Arcadian elves generally have tan, almost copper skin, green or hazel eyes, and blond or silver-white hair. They stand about 5'2" on average, though some grow to be much taller or shorter. Arcadian humans have brown or rarely red hair, widely varying eye colors, and fair skin, and reach about 5'8". At their best, Arcadians are diplomatic, creative, and humble. They strive constantly to improve themselves, yet they remain solidly grounded in reality. At their worst, Arcadians are arrogant, selfish, and aloof. They believe themselves superior to all others, calling them unimaginative and uninspired. Some are ruled by desire for fame, renown, or power, while others retreat into their work, ignoring the world outside.
Traditional Arcadian female names are short, typically containing the letters A and I, and often ending on an A. Flower-related names have also become common in recent years, however. Ex. Iliana, Natasa, Rosebloom, Vasia, Yanna
Arcadian male names are slightly longer than female names and usually contain E and O. The endings -os and -on are masculine. Ex. Donilion, Ivellios, Nephytos, Pertenon, Lossis
There are almost no unisex names among Arcadians.
Arcadian family names are typically compound words in the Elvish language that poetically describe the family, although some Arcadian humans translate the names into older languages. Ex. Astemini, Diamróda, Isaros, Kósloudi, Sianófen
Shared customary codes and values
Arcadian culture values art and creativity above all else. Painters, sculptors, potters, architects, musicians, and all other sorts of artists have the greatest honor in Arcadian society. Those who become exceptionally skilled in more mundane work are sometimes considered artists, being said to elevate their craft to an art form. To an Arcadian, a thing’s function is second to its form; why bother with plain pewter utensils and dishes, when one could have beautifully decorated plates showing scenes from Arcadian history, silver forks entwined in golden vines, and cups engraved with countless stars? Not all can afford such art, of course, but even the farmers of Arcadia decorate their homes with simple sculptures, engraved tools, and ornamental objects. Arcadians place high value on individualism and experience; a person can learn the basics of art from a mentor, but it is far better for them to create their own works rather than copy the style of a so-called “master.” As most Arcadians are elves, their long lifespans afford them the opportunity to refine their specialty beyond anything a human is likely to achieve, and their standards of true artwork are defined by hundreds of years of practice. Humans are therefore seen (sometimes by even themselves) as dilettantes at best, only reaching a most basic understanding before their death. Many humans, however, see elves as slow to act and unwilling to admit the quality of human work. Foreigners are often viewed as unenlightened folk who cannot understand true art.
Common Dress code
The most common clothing among both males and females is a long, brown or grey robe that reaches almost to the feet, called a “forsa,” usually worn with low boots or shoes. Loose brown tunics and trousers are sometimes worn by travelers and farmers. Fur cloaks with hoods are worn in bad weather, typically clasped at the throat with a decorative brooch. On holidays, special brightly colored robes are worn, often alongside much jewelry. The nobility wear more brightly colored forsas, as well as exquisite shoulder coverings that resemble pauldrons and sometimes a red or orange jacket. Arcadians are known for jewelry; almost everyone has at least a ring or two, and the wealthy might wear a different necklace every day for months.
Common Customs, traditions and rituals
Common foods among Arcadians include rye or wheat bread, apples, pears, and a variety of cheeses and vegetables. Wine is a prestigious drink, but rare and expensive, as grapes can only be cultivated in certain parts of the north; beer or clean water when available are more common drinks. Poultry and herring are eaten by all classes of people, but beef and pork are usually restricted to the nobility. Herbs, especially parsley and mustard, are commonly used among farmers and merchants. However, the nobility prefer exotic spices from Cratea, particularly black pepper, cassia, and cinnamon.
Purely functional work is looked down on by Arcadians, as is dishonesty and theft of ideas. Many Arcadian nobles consider themselves above the day-to-day functions of running the kingdom, and devote themselves wholly to their art and their constant power struggles with other nobles. Boastfulness, pride, and envy are the greatest taboos among Arcadians, who believe that work should speak for itself; however, many people embrace these vices, throwing themselves into raw ambition.
Many Arcadians believe that a person's own view of beauty is more important than tradition, but pale skin and black hair are commonly considered the most beautiful among both males and females. Red hair is rare, and is thought to be a sign of destiny.
Arcadians have rather loose gender roles. Women are considered naturally stronger in magic, while men are considered physically stronger; as such, a female soldier or laborer faces stiff resistance, while a male wizard or (especially) sorcerer confronts ridicule and scorn. However, there are few traditional roles or ideals beyond this divide.
Courtship among Arcadians is heavily ritualized. The man initiates the courtship with a gift of artwork, often a necklace or bracelet, which the woman accepts or rejects. During courtship, the partners meet once each week to teach each other the basics of their craft, culminating in the “Arisplo Imakis” or “Engagement Masterpiece,” a work of art that combines the talents of each partner. When the Arisplo Imakis is completed, it is presented to the parents of the couple, and they are formally engaged, typically marrying two to three months later. The parents of the groom give gifts to the parents of the bride, while the parents of the bride give gifts to the newlywed couple. Among the nobility, arranged political marriages are common. The entirely-elven nobility also strongly discourages marriage with short-lived and amateur humans, but most lower-class Arcadians care little, and an elf might marry many humans in their lifetime. Marriage to non-Arcadians, however, is entirely forbidden, and marriage to someone who is neither a human nor an elf is reviled. Some communities hold marriage ceremonies for every willing couple on only a few days of each year, while others (typically those with abundant churches) allow the couple to choose the date of their marriage.