The Meresh ethnicity is defined by the Mereshnari tribe, but there are Meresh enclaves that are culturally and physiologically connected to the the Mereshnari but are politically distinct.
Physical TraitsPhysically the Meresh elemental ethnicity is made up of a relatively even mix between earthy, fiery, and airy traits. They tend to have thick, somewhat messy hair that is usually light brown with a wide variety of shades and undertones. Men and women alike tend to keep their hair fairly short. Meresh have a wider variety of body types than most other ethnic groups, they could be thin or stocky, tall or short, and everything in between. Skin tones tend to resemble real world Earth Mediterranean people. Noses are fairly large compared to other humans. Eye colors varies tremendously but grey is the most common. Meresh tend to age gracefully for humans. They usually keep their hair, their skin and hair coloration doesn't change much, and their muscle tone tends to hold up, though their skin does lose it's smoothness at a very young age.
Mereshnari CultureThe Mereshnari are a nomadic tribe of humans hailing from the deserts and steppes of East Colassia. While they are technically "barbarians" they have a amiable relationship with the human nations of East Colassia and are full members of the Colassian Confederacy. The Mereshnari are loosely based on the real world Bedouins. Mereshnari are nicknamed Desert Runners or just Runners. This is a nickname most Mereshnari dislike but the name stuck. The ancient Meresh didn’t just run across the deserts. Millennia again, the Meresh used to claim all the lands south of the East Colassian Mountains as their roaming grounds, not just the desert. Over millennia the fledgling civilizations on the coast grew from collections of mud huts to advanced civilizations which eventually grew large enough to gradually push the ancient Meresh into the desert. Sometimes this was violent, but more often the Meresh who lived near the coast assimilated with the emerging kingdoms. Many civilized people claim to have Meresh blood in their veins and more than a few Meresh customs and terms permeated the Colassian Confederacy’s culture. Mereshnari refers to the old school Meresh who keep to their ancestors nomadic ways. Sometimes the Mereshnari fought with the other humans, sometimes they cooperated, more often than not they kept their distance. Eventually the Mereshnari and the southern nations realized they had common enemies. After the Colassian Confederacy formed, the Mereshnari, the Meresnari were informal allies of the Confederacy for a number of years before they were formally included. Mereshnari clans typically number between one and three hundred members. Typically, the women, children, elderly, and the rare full time craftsmen will set up a tent city base camp near a localized water source while the men ride out to hunt and forage. In two to five weeks, the tribe will tap out the area’s easily exploitable food resources at which point the tribe packs up their tents and rides to another water source. The Mereshnari are patriarchal though the opinions of women, especially elders are respected. Once they marry, women become full members of their husbands’ clan and cease to be members of their fathers’ tribes. One of the reasons different tribes of Mereshnari tend to get along very well is that they are linked together through intermarriage.
Shared customary codes and values
Mereshnari are not picky eaters and they are very good at fermenting, drying, or salting food for long term storage. They are trained from childhood to hunt and recognize edible flora. Since they are always on the move, most of their food is quick and easy as possible. Despite this, Mereshnari love to eat slow cooked food when the opportunity presents itself. A favorite dish is what's called "Base Camp Stew", a big pot of whatever the men brought in yesterday, slow cooked to perfection.
Average technological level
The Runners have assimilated much of the technology of their civilized neighbors though trade when such technology is an asset to their nomadic lifestyles. They don’t have miners among them, but most of tribes of reasonable size have a few metalworkers who can repair or repurpose metal weapons and tools that are damaged.
Common Customs, traditions and rituals
Mereshnari acknowledge all the Nine, but are not particularly religious as a whole. Most Mereshnari priests and priestesses are of Korus with a decent representation of clerics of Khemra, Nami, and Zarthus. Priests of the other deities are rare but not unheard of. Divine spell casters among the Mereshnari are often encouraged to prioritize learn divination magic. Holidays and celebrations are not fixed on a calendar. Most cultural and religious observances take place during the rainy season. During the rainy season it is common for two or three Mereshnari tribes to share a single base camp, exchange news, renew ties and maybe exchange marriage partners. Every four or five years during unusually long rainy seasons, seven or eight Mereshnari tribes will share a single base camp to exchange news, renew ties, and almost certainly exchange marriage partners. Due to divine spell-casters scattered among the tribes, the Mereshnari are usually aware of when these five year rain showers are due at least a few months in advance.
Funerary and Memorial customs
For funerals, normally the Mereshnari will cremate their dead and scatter the ashes near but not in sources of water. Most history about the generations before is kept through oral traditions. The honored dead are given ritual offerings and praise as part of the rainy season celebrations.
They are polite to most non-human races, but they very superstitious about half-breeds. Half-elves are held in open disdain. Goblins are viewed as filthy rustlers of livestock who needlessly vandalize their travel glyphs. Mereshnari don’t explicitly go looking for goblins, but if they see a goblin, they will usually try to kill it.
Sedentary MereshThe Mereshanari state that at one point they roamed almost the entire length and breadth of East Colassia. As the civilized world grew in the south, a lot of Mereshnari moved on away from the coasts, but some Meresh stayed. The Greater Mereshnari tribe is approximately 97% Meresh, 3% mixed ethncity mixing Meresh with something else. The inland nations of the Colassian Confederacy have roughly 10% of their population as ethnically Meresh and 20-30% mixed heritage between Meresh and other human ethnicities. The Coast regions have roughly 5% of their population ethnically Meresh and about 10-15% mixed heritage between Meresh and other human ethnicities. Even if they give up their nomadic ways, Meresh enclaves tend to favor simple functional clothes, defined gender roles, respect for elders and ancestors, a love of oral history, informal polythesism leaning towards Korus, distrust of half-breeds, value forthrightness and truth telling, and a fondness for slow cooked meals.