Dancers in the Shadows
The Volrishtad are unique in that, while they predate the Blight, they were remade by it. The roots of them as a people lie in the nomadic people of the Eastern lands that roamed the meadows and grasslands that once surrounded the Gaul do Shah forests. Their traditions and ways are still present to a lesser degree, but have been heavily overshadowed by the changes the Blight made to them physically. These people are incredibly proud and fierce defenders of their kind. Never staying on one place for too long and opting for tents and wagons over traditional homes, the Volrishtad are a hard folk to pin down, and even harder to keep up with. Their way of life is one on the edge, both of the Void and the knife. Generally marginalized by most, even before the Blight, the nomads kept trade with the Elves of Gaul Do Shah and various small human settlements on the path of their caravans. They were at one time quite well known for their skill with small metal crafts, entertainment, and food. When the Blight struck, these simple folks not prone to being abreast of worldly politics, were caught unaware and most were lost in the cross fire that ensued. The spiritual aspects of their way of life were suddenly left without answer or connection as their deity, Volri, was the first to sever connection with the world following her involvement with the events that led up to the cataclysm. The high priestess of Volri, Sasha Vrend, vanished the day the Blight fell in a wisp of shadow and the Volrishtad believed her to have been taken by the goddess as she went. Vrend is a name that is never spoken, and considered an insult to be brought up in open conversation. With so many dead and dying in the days following the Blight, the elders of the community decided to dig in and do what they could to slow and hopefully stop the damage done to their people. Many of them believed the end of the world was upon them, as the sun was not visible through the miasma of the void and death lurked beyond the camp fires in the guise of strange creatures that killed with a touch and devoured those left behind. Days and weeks turned into months and then years as the people of Volri slowly recovered and began to rebuild. It was nearly a decade before they were strong enough to try and venture out to find what had happened. The news brought anger and despair with it, but the strength of these people was not to be broken that day. The People of Volri, hardened by their time in the darkness, came back stronger and more determined than ever abandoning their goddess as she had done to them and adopting the mantle of Volrishtad, which in their native dialect translates into "The Orphans of Volri". Many more years passed and the Volrishtad found themselves trapped between the Blighted Lands and the edge of the Wastes, each place now rife with death and danger. The Volishtad survived...As generations passed, the energy of the Void began to intertwine with the bodies of the people, changing them forever. The shadows that kept them in the dark for so long, the initial source of their fear and despair, slowly became a part of them, intertwining with their very being. Over time, the Volrishtad embraced this change and it eventually became not only a physical part of them, but a cultural point of pride. This new found ability gave them enough of an edge that they were able to push beyond their captive boundaries and break free into the rest of the world that had forgotten and forsaken them, granted a new life and new purpose.
Major language groups and dialects
Culture and cultural heritage
Nomadic and tribal life offers a unique freedom and a strange form of cultural diversity. While all of the Volrishtad have a common thread and follow the same core structure, within each tribe is a unique way of life. Some tribes are simple and quiet, seeking to fill a civil niche in their society, while others focus on living life with reckless abandon.
Shared customary codes and values
With Volrishtad civil life being based largely on creativity, the arts, knowledge, and freedom, it is easy to see why so many outsiders are drawn to them. There are many from other races who seek them out to learn from and attempt to find some wisdom in the things they have discerned on the edge of darkness. From time to time, it has become a rare occurrence that multiple tribes will converge on a Ventryte settlement and a festival will spring up lasting days if not weeks. The greatest boon that comes from this relationship is the open access to lost information and relics of the Wastes that the Ventrytes trade freely with them. These humans covet the wares of the Volrishtad as much as the Volrishtad covet the relics of the past, creating a sound, mutually beneficial alliance.
Common Etiquette rules
Because of this, they are able to maintain a fairly healthy trade with other races, granting them access to all sorts of valuable items and relics, but the relationship the Volrishtad maintain with the humans that live on the edge of the wastes, the Ventrytes, whose way of life is very close to their own. The Ventrytes have a love of the Volrishtad music, art and culture, and are ever quick to welcome them when they visit.
Foods & Cuisine
All cultures in Cairne rely on preserved foods when fresh food is not readily available, but the Volrishtad, as a nomadic culture, have a much heavier reliance on foods that can keep and anything that can be foraged or hunted on their routes. Dried lentils and chickpeas, cornmeal, rice, wheat, smoke cured meats and sausages, whole sour cabbage, waxed cheese wheels, dried herbs, and fruit preserves are all common features in a Volrishtad caravan. Their meat is primarily wild rabbit, specifically the Wasteland Cottontail, and horse meat, slaughtering horses in the herds they travel with for food when their value as a work animal is low. After spending a decade at the location they’ve dubbed Sasha’s Folly in the early days of the Blight, mushrooms and lichens have become incorporated into their regular diet but not to the degree they relied upon back then. Certain species of lichen are dehydrated and used as a spice or flavor enhancer, and mushrooms are often cooked and incorporated into various dishes when found. The Volrishtad have a particular fondness for spicy foods. Paprika, garlic, and other spices fill their spice cabinets and feature prominently in many of their dishes. Common dishes include rabbit stew, fried cornbread, lentil soup, boiled cornmeal served as a hot porridge, schnitzel, stuffed cabbage leaves, and flatbreads generally. Potatoes were once more common in Volrishrad dishes, but with the Outlands now much hotter on average due to the Blight’s destruction of the forests, they are much more difficult to keep for months in their caravans like they once could. A highly traditional Volrishrad dish and cultural favorite is stuffed bell peppers. These are only made when fresh bell peppers are available and are a common sight on holidays and special occasions. The Volrishtad are primarily tea drinkers. Because traditional tea leaves are considered a luxury crop post-Blight, the teas they drink regularly are herbal and mushroom teas. Wine is a special luxury that the Vol splurge on for weddings and other significant occasions. One drink of theirs developed after the Blight has perplexed everyone in Cairne who’s tried it. Called Void Tonic, this is a drink the Volrishrad developed on the back of their belief that the Void is a cleansing force to give to their sick. They let finely-chopped ginger and sugar ferment in water for a week to give it natural carbonation. Then, they use a special method they developed of processing vegetation and fungi found at the edge of the Blight to extract the Void energy from it in a liquid form. This is then added to the carbonated water. The amount of Void energy present is nowhere near dangerous and can be safely drank by anyone in Cairne. The completed tonic is a somewhat transparent inky-black liquid that adopts a deep purple color when light is shone through it. When drank, people describe it as tasting like nothing. Not the absence of flavor, because the brain registers it as having a flavor, but that flavor is… nothing. Needless to say, this isn’t a drink that people drink for pleasure, as its flavor is too unsettling.
Common Customs, traditions and rituals
The Volrishtad are, by nature, still a very spiritual culture, even though there is no longer a divine presence. Instead they now look to the forces that made them as they are now for inspiration and guidance, creating many philosophical and ritual ways of understanding the Outlands and their place in it. The Volrishtad believe that they were chosen by the Void, and in some ways consider it to be a gift that the world was changed and the gods fled. One of the more popular philosophies, adopted by many states that, "The Blight was the end of Cairne, and all things were purged that did not hold a viable place here. We that remain after the black fires passed were tested and found to be worthy to become a cornerstone of the new world that will rise from the darkness and be counted as a new form of the divine, free to remake the world in our own image."
Funerary and Memorial customs
The Volrishtad, in their belief system, consider illness and death to be impure and don’t want to be in its vicinity. In the times before the Blight, this would involve the burning of the deceased’s caravan, but wood is too scarce and resources too precious to waste in general that they now just give everything a very, very thorough cleaning. Burning still features in their funerary customs, however. The body of the deceased undergoes a cremation ritual, wherein the Volrishtad offer their spirit up to join their ancestors, so they may continue to guide them and impart their wisdom gained over a life well-lived. They then return their ashes to the Void, scattering them into the Blight and thanking the Void for the blessings imparted onto their once-living flesh.
- Grand Matriarch, Pvanista Einrikti
- Grand Patriarch, Ikienita Bhnoshti
- Sasha Vrend
Pale skin and solid black eyes are the first features most will notice about the Volrishtad. Their lips and fingernails tend toward the purple hues and their hair can range from a pale white to blues, purples, and black. Their unique ability to manipulate void energy has led to a unique taste in adornments, as the Volrishtad create what they wear from ambient void energy rather than craft it from material goods. This allows a certain transient flux in their appearance, their accouterments having the ability to shift and change on a whim being made of shadows. Wherever they move, a short trail of dark wisps will follow.
The TribesThe Strochti This tribe is filled with artists of every medium, and its caravans and people adorn themselves with cool hues and tones of every sort, using their ability to manipulate shadow to craft amazing works and live every day of life with Flourish and grandeur. They are possibly the most jovial of the tribes and have produced many fine works that are coveted the world over by many races. The tribe is led by Momma Frexya and Papa Douli, who are kind and passionate mentors, and immaculately talented crafters of any medium. Unbeknownst to many, including their own tribe, their art comes at a dark price and carries no small amount of power. The Ven Thuul One of the more somber of the tribes, the Ven Thuul are studious and curious, venturing far and wide and often out of the Outlands themselves in search of rare manuscripts, ancient tombs, and lost writings of the lost times and places. Wherever they go, a large number of wagons and caravans follow drawn by donkey and ox, each filled to bursting with texts from all over Cairne. These are the tribal scholars and record keepers, as well as the mystics and thieves. While the Volrishtad culture itself respects and even reveres this tribe, to the outside world they are trouble. Unafraid to study the arcane in the face of opposing laws, they are often viewed as dissidents and smugglers, none of which is beyond Matriarch Saelma or Patriarch Neiv in their pursuit of knowledge. Each of them is a well equipped arcanist and extremely powerful in their own right. The Stryva This tribe tends to stay as close as is safe to the edges of the Blighted Lands as possible. The more somber of the tribes, this group of what the Volrishtad call "grave touched", are almost all Spiritualists. They are seclusive isolationists, choosing to generally only show up for the annual gathering and then disappear back into the deep Outlands where they drift along slowly through the gloom under the direction of Mother Vyktoia and Father Steivaan. There are a number of caravans in their train that are equipped with restraints for both those members of the tribe that cannot handle the burden of being grave touched, and the criminal elements that are often handed off to them to be detained until the next gathering for judgment. The Nichtyne Music is a crucial element of life with the Volrishtad, and the focus placed on this is prevalent in the remaining four tribes. This one is focused on the string players. Day and night, the vibrations of picks and pluks and strums can be heard throughout the sir that surrounds the caravans of the Nichtyne. The music hums through the air and the melodies are entrancing to those they come upon in the wastes. Within the tribe are numerous extremely talented luthiers and carpenters, constantly crafting, repairing, and maintaining the instruments played, stored, and sold here. Led by Ma Galder and Pa Cerinno, these wandering minstrels make waves wherever they go and are extremely popular in the Outland settlements they frequent. The Maelenkai Impossible to miss, this tribe is a cavalcade of energetic rhythm and movement. Drums sound everywhere, echoing in odd ways through the gloom of the Outlands as the tribal members play and dance along their way. The drum smiths and players of the Maelenkai are legendary, as is their reputation for causing trouble. These folks are the most high strung of the tribes and have a reputation in many of the Outland settlements as brawlers and scrappers. Under the watchful eyes of Mama Feyann and Father Beigning, they thrive despite this as most throughout the Outlands know that these two tribal leaders hold enough clout to stop any altercation even if it means jumping in themselves. The Vannik Dhal Nicknamed, "The Ghosts", by other wanderers of the Outlands, soft and dulcet melodies herald their approach through the gloom. Flutes and pipes create a tenuous air about the caravan, which is often surrounded by smoke from copious amounts of incense and various smoking herbs that create an air of enlightened wonder in all those who visit here. The craftsmen of the Vannik Dhal are delicate and precise woodworkers and create wonders of both the woodwind and the smoking pipe as well. Headed by Momma Lhynds and Poppa Hylan, these are by far the most peaceful and temperate of the tribes as well as the most social, known to make a point to visit and trade with their fellows more often than the rest of the tribes. The Vannik Dhal Nicknamed, "The Ghosts", by other wanderers of the Outlands, soft and dulcet melodies herald their approach through the gloom. Flutes and pipes create a soothing air about the caravan, which is often surrounded by smoke from copious amounts of incense and various smoking herbs that create an air of enlightened wonder in all those who visit here. The craftsmen of the Vannik Dhal are delicate and precise woodworkers and create wonders of both the woodwind and the smoking pipe as well. Headed by Momma Lhynds and Poppa Hylan, these are by far the most peaceful and temperate of the tribes as well as the most social, known to make a point to visit and trade with their fellows more often than the rest of the tribes. The Wheytai This tribe is notorious throughout the Outlands as the "Train of Fire", as throughout their caravans are horns and torches and various harmless contraptions that both burn and spray gouts of flame into the air as they travel. Many of the brass players here have adapted various visual tricks to accompany fire into their performance as well. This , paired with the lavish amounts of brass and polished steel the Wheytai use to adorn their wagons and caravans, create a shining beacon in the gloom of the Outlands that can be seen at incredible distances, as if challenging the dangers of the Void to face them head on. This trick was learned in the early days of the Volrishtad struggles following the Blight, that enough fire and light will keep the denizens of the Blighted Lands at bay. Led by Mother Richtmon and Father Alkeind, this tribe houses the metal smiths and engravers and allows them to craft and maintain the vast array of items carried here.
- Speed 35ft.
- Height 4'8" +2d6
- Weight 80 lb. x1d6 lb.
- DEX +3
- INT -1
- CHA -1
- Shadow Manipulation May create simple weapons, tools, and light armor out of shadow at will.
- Void Step Once per rest may travel from one shadow to another within 90’.
- Darkvision The character can see in darkness up to 90' as if the darkness were dim light.
- Languages Common, Volrishtad
- Proficiency: You gain proficiency in one skill or tool of your choice.
- Feat You gain 1 feat of your choice.