Marriage: Loyalty, Sacrifice, Intimacy, and Passion... Till Death Do We Part.

In ancient Ozlith, a strange tradition emerged. What began as a means of branding and ownership, the nominubus became a means of couples to grow closer in their marriage and identifying fallen soldiers in battle. In the present, the secrets of these strips of cloth have been mostly lost, but some have found that these mundane things have powers hidden within.  

What's in a name?

In Ozlith, men often spent their upbringing without a name. Some were given names by their mothers, but should their mother die, they go nameless until marriage. Marriage was a sacred rite in Ozlith. When the two decide to become one, they would cloister themselves in a private place, and the woman would etch her chosen name on his chest over his heart using the language of the seven gods of Ozlith.

These symbols were not letters or words, but icons that often represented the complex meanings behind their eldritch speech. Each symbol would burn into the retinas and brand the back of the mind. The name would never be forgotten or lost so long as the two were alive. Should both die, the man would go nameless, a fate worse than death to most in the empire. This led to the practice of tattooing in Ozlith.

Instead of carving the skin, the woman would take the needle like teeth of an Aquarighast, a venomous fish found in the Sea of Beasts. The tooth had a pinhole that would steadily flow ink as she took a rod and tapped the end of the tooth, embedding the ink into the skin. This led to a shift in the cultural attitude towards the practice.

Before, the carving emphasized the pain, meant to symbolize the sacrifice and dedication that comes from marriage. When this changed, while painful, the experience became far more focused on intimacy and passion. The nominubus came soon after.

Hidden Names

The nominubus is an extremely soft and ornate cloth that the woman would cover the tattoo with when finished. The cloth is made from fine silk of an unknown insect declared extinct almost 1000 years before the events of Expedition Demeter.

The cloth is always in the colors of the woman's choice, usually her family's colors or the combined colors of both families. The cloth absorbs the ink that escapes and holds it. As the tattoo heals, the name would form on the inner part of the cloth.
This would allow men to die in battle, and have their names recovered by matriarchs and hung in the capital for all see on a massive red tree. The cloth always has a glossy shine, leading to the tree's name: The Tree Of Red Light.

Some nominubi featured unique floral designs or geometric patterns while others were simply solid colors. Some actually featured artwork, usually a story or legend that has passed down the generations in the family. This cloth would be stitched into the man's skin with precision. Some woman train in the ritual from a very young age, and to observe these woman, one would think of the ritual as an art.

Names Have Power

Men were forbidden from revealing their names to others, settling for terms of endearment, and they often relied on symbolic names such as an animal they favor, or an activity. A woman may only use his name in private. To hear it was considered a deeply intimate experience.

As the empire grew, many marriages featured women who were for equality of the genders. They allowed the man to choose his name, though she had the final word. Some would even allow the man to choose the colors of their nominubus.

A man cannot remove the cloth for any reason. Only upon his death will it be removed, and only by his wife's hand. This is done in a ceremony held near The Tree of Red Light. The man's name is revealed to everyone when removed, and his spirit is freed from the binds of marriage.

The widow would keep it on her person at all times till their death, where it will be placed onto the Red Tree. Should a man die and his wife is unable to be reached or dead herself, a matriarch would collect the nominubus and present it to his wife or reveal the name in the ceremony themselves should his wife be dead.

Words of the Gods

The Living Gods of Ozlith loved their people so. As such they gave them many gifts that would aid them in their mortal lives. One such gift is that of their language, or at least, the facsimile of it.

The language of the gods is said to be maddening when understood, painful to write, and impossible to utter back, but it can be drawn and translated. The people of Ozlith began to create icons that perfectly represent the words of their gods and these icons had power. A nominubus is filled with this power and every nominubus is different. A nominubus of a nameless man is even more powerful as their soul is unable to rest and is considered one of the most powerful objects left behind by Ozlith. It binds the owner's restless soul to you and whatever power they grant is now yours to control. Bards from Estalia discovered many when traveling into The Infernum. While these adventures did not last long, these artifacts were priceless finds.


Widows and Widowers

Widows rarely married again. Those who do often make poor spouses. This is not their fault. The intimacy and connection involved in the ritual experience can never be experienced again. The worst fate for a woman in Ozlith is the death of her husband and this is more than a cultural stigma.

Viewing the symbols that make up a mans name forever embeds it into your mind. You will see this name every time you close your eyes and a widow would see it as being haunted. Adding another set of symbols to that image can easily further the loss as the one thing she has left of her former love that no one can take is skewed and lost in the name of another.  

A widower has a different fate. Widowers experience depression untold as they realize they will most certainly die nameless, unless they be lucky and a matriarch find them upon their death. This was rare. Battles often involved thousands and the system was flawed. Many died nameless in the empire. Woman would even brave the dangers of the aftermath, the plague and carrion beasts that roam it, just to reclaim their husband's name.

A widower would often fall deeper and deeper into depression until suddenly, just before hitting rock bottom, a woman who looked alarmingly like their wife arrived dressed in black. This woman was always a priestess of The Widow, goddess of death and rebirth. The woman arrives to recruit him to The Widow's Legion

You must understand. In Ozlith, a man has only his life and his death, but in his death... he just may come to have his name as well...
— Mhirrah, Chosen of Mhirriah

LGBTQ in Ozlith

Sadly, Ozlith was not an egalitarian society. Even in its later years, when equality was an issue many sought to fix, Ozlith had laws against homosexual marriages.

This did not mean homosexuality itself was illegal, but citizens who wished to marry members of the same sex would never get the chance to see it. The matriarchs maintained the laws to ensure a high birth rate for soldiers and citizens and refused to budge an inch on the matter.

Trans-gendered citizens also received little attention. Many who were trans-gendered often kept it to themselves in fear or confusion due to the cultural concepts of gender.
It is said that Mhirriah, The Warrior Empress wanted to establish rights to these groups, and eventually, it seems, she did as the nation she founded allows any and all within their borders.

by metmuseum

Nominubi Table

The following table is to be rolled when a player finds a nominubus. Roll a d10 on color, 2nd color, name, and whether it is nameless. Some options require certain colors or to be named, in which case, the rolling stops. These items can only be used once per session, so advise players to use them wisely.
Show spoiler
Color 2nd color Name Named/Nameless
Red+GoldNoneGurminth: A long dead Tyrant who can be called upon for +2 damage per hit for 2 turns. This happens once per session. If nameless Gurminth can summoned and uses the Tyrant Centurion stat block.Named
Black PurpJuris: A mage of considerable skill, gain 1 spell from any genre if named, 2 if nameless.Nameless
GoldBlk + BluMathinimus: A boy who died early and never saw his wife again. If named, all enemies lose 10 HP if within a 30 ft Radius. If nameless, this extends to 60 ft Named
TealGrn+SlvrLorinth: A man killed by the miasma of the Widow's legion. This applies a DOT effect on any targeted 15 ft radius. Damage = 3 per round if named, 6 if nameless. Nameless
GrnRed + WhtKizlith: A noble, a priest, and a man of medicine, killed while granting aid to the wounded. If used, heal 10 HP if named, 20 if nameless.Named
RedYlw + BlueTordinus: A man who died protecting his wife on the battlefield. If named, using the nominibus will conjure a 10 ft radial shield that negates ALL ranged attacks. If nameless, Todinus failed, and haunts the bearer of his name unless returned to the battlefield he died on. Nameless
SilverSlvr + GldYurdas: A coward, thief, and scoundrel who died by a matriarch's hand. This nominibus can only be nameless, and if used, acts as an invisibility spell. Named
PinkRed + YlwNizmith: The Lover of Niz, this man died of illness and infection in the arms of his wife and son. He was named, and can't be nameless. The bearer of this nominibus is immune to all ailments, even supernatural ones.Named
WhtOrngHidius: A man who was so scared and disfigured from war he could strike terror into the hearts of his enemies. if named, enemies must flee for 1 round. If nameless, enemies are petrified in place for one round. This affects enemies who are within 30 ft of the user.Nameless
OrngBlk + WhtLor: Lor was a simple man, and his wife loved him for that. He was not the most intelligent or the most handsome, but he had a knack for avoiding death. If you roll this name, the color is brown and it is always named. One does not use the nominubus, rather, when their HP hits 0, the nominibus brings them back with full HP and is then destroyed. If you roll this nominubus more than once, change the name. Named

Cover image: by Simon-Peers-and-Nicholas-Godley


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16 Jun, 2020 06:52

Escorting a woman to her husband's corpse would make a great side quest.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
16 Jun, 2020 15:05

Ooof. Yes indeed it would.

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