What is the most popular tattoo design I can get inked? What does it mean?
Tattooing as an art form exists in many of the cultures across the world. Many of the Long Elves insisted on mixing magical dyes for specifically this purpose, and at least one Winter Elf - myself, that is - wears something similar. But mostly tattoos are worn as art, expression, or identity. The Gonatohud are perhaps the only example of an entire race with manually performed tattoos. Tattoos are ritualistically applied to their skin from several days after birth - the sooner the baby can take the pain, the greater the honor, which is a whole heap of problems we will ignore for now. These tattoos are a form of language, and each Gonatohud has their exact identity etched into their flesh. Great feats, accomplishments, qualifications, travelled lands... all these and more might be found somewhere on their bodies. But this isn't what you asked after. You want to know what's popular, what you could pay a skilled worker to apply to your skin in a mercantile town. So, let's talk about that. In the modern world, art is not as appreciated as it was at it's peak, but it's doing better than most recent time periods. Elven paintings find their way into collections across the world, Goeveen metalwork has progressed jewellery across the world, and Dwarvern construction clashes with Eg construction in forts the world over. But a small society of Cubal people were the ones who first introduced tattooing as a publically available service for no purpose other than personal joy. It was one of a number of small enterprises set around the largest settlement - a Lohgrann trade city - as they attempting to force their way into civilisation without having to build their own infrastructure. The Lohgrann as a population are not especially intelligent (aside from their Blessed, of course) and the Cubal are cunning, if not smart. The early trade was merely a means of extortion, with no understanding as to what the cost of a personal skin trinket should cost. But eventually this evolved, with clever Cubal taking suggestions from everywhere to draw their art. Soon Lohgrann bore symbols of religion, local beasts, messy blobs of colour or just written messages - even contributing to espionage with tattoo'd messages. The Cubals took this trade and others, and spread them across the world. At this time, the most popular designs for those who can afford - or create - elven designs are complex twisting plant scenes that look different in motion, or from a distance. If you are shorter on money or contacts, popular designs that emulate the sillouettes of beasts of local natural features are common, and it's still possible to get interesting visual effects. Tattoos are often also used to denote permanent details about people in some places, where a country might tattoo it's prisoners, or veterans, with nationalist symbols.