The Living History of Tikor
The memory of Tikor lies within the heads of the Griots. Their duty is to recall the tales of old to inform people of the new.
I think every kid grows up with this fun, fictional version of a Griot in there head. Half grade school teacher, half storyteller. Then you get older and realize they're actually the world's most annoying gossiper. Now I tell the young'uns two things about them. One, if they're in your town they know your business. And second, so does everyone else now.
Truth Above Loyalty
Where there's a party and nobility, there are Griots nearby
Keepers of History
A King brings their Griot to every encounter. A wise King brings their Griot to every victory.
Power of Song
The power that Griots wield is called the Power of Song. They're able to use lyrics and melodies to perform divination. The instrument used doesn't matter as long as the Griot is physically able to play it.
The most basic element of the Power of Song is the Griot's ability to recall every aspect of a moment. Where the normal mind has gaps in attention and subjective grey areas, Griots remember every detail as they happened. Even implicating or embarrassing information is recalled in this process. Any event they were there for is cataloged using all of their senses. Sight, taste, smell, touch and hearing are all recalled. Even the time of day is perfectly remembered. They retain it all and recount it at will. With practice and time, Griots can apply this to the material they've read or watched as well. Not just as an observer, but as a participant. A talented Griot can faithfully recount a historical event they've only studied in books, but with such detail that you would think they were there.
Master of Instruments
The spoken word is the most common tool of the Griot, but it's not always the most effective. Humans have long had a special relationship with music, and it is something that they are very tapped into. Human history contains songs and music as well as stories and prose. Because of this, the songbirds can play almost any instrument they pick up, without practice. They can then combine the instrument with the Power of Song to deliver the effects musically. A song becomes a walk down memory lane or a musical journey that tells a story. For many people, the image of the story plays in their heads like a vivid memory. Garuda has several famous tales of Griots who were able to quell whole armies with the power of one deep and rousing song. More than once, rousing empathy in the invading army has caused them to ultimately retreat in shame.
For a Griot, history is more than just a dry recounting of past events. It is also about reliving the moment and connecting to the feelings of the time. No song connects quite as much as one that rallies your emotions and ignites your soul. A talented Griot can strike raw inspiration in listeners. They not only tell the story, but inspire listeners to their core. Grimm Griots are famous for leading caravans of people to the tune of their kora. This effect is more than just mental though. The affected often feel physically empowered as well. The songs of the Griots can increase their strength, speed or sometimes both. The human mind is part of the key to using Hekan, and the Power of Song can help unlock part of that. Inspiring people in this way can lead them to their full potential.
While a Griot aims to stay neutral, there are times when even they have to be deceitful. Crafty Griots can weave their songs to manipulate emotions rather than inspire. Instead of the music washing over the person, the Power of Song pierces them, bringing them along for the ride. A calm person can be turned into a mess of rage as the song riles up their emotions. The story of the song helps them to justify brutish behavior. Or it can do the opposite. A Griot's song can put someone to sleep during the height of anger. There is, in essence, no limit to the emotions that can be swayed as long as the Song can be heard. It's a fearsome ability, and one that often garners distrust in the people around them. It's a secret weapon Griot carry with them, and use only when needed.
Griots sit in a strange position of being highly respected and feared, often by the same people. Their unique abilities make them sought after by almost everyone, including the rulers of nations. In a way, this automatically puts them in a vaunted social position. Having so many people and entities vie for your attention gives the Griot social power. They get to dictate where they want to be and who they want to be seen with.
Conversely, there are just as many powerful people who have something to hide, and nations with secrets they don't want to be recorded. This will always keep a Griot from ascending too high in social circles. According to many of the songbirds, this is more of a benefit than a drawback.
This is the primary instrument of the Griotsw. It is a 23-stringed instrument that is plucked to make a note, and it is thought by many to be the precursor to the guitar. Superficially, it carries many similarities to a harp, and early on it was jokingly called a "Walking Harp". It has several optional pieces that can be added or removed to adjust the pitch and melody of the instrument. This unique design allows a Griot to play a wide range of sounds. The kora is most commonly used alongside singing or spoken word. It's popularity often overshadows the skill it takes to not only play, but even to tune the highly-variable instrument.
A goje is a type of violin that comes in two different styles, some being one-stringed and others two-stringed. Both have the same trademark gourd-shaped body with the strings connected over a bridge. Unlike a kora, the string isn't plucked. Instead, it's played with a bowstring. The sounds that come from the stringed instrument seems to cut right to the soul. This is the instrument many Griots use to manipulate the emotions of their audience. When Griots gather in groups, a goje is sometimes paired up with a talking drum to create a full arrangement.
Of all the standard Griot instruments, the balafon is the only one that they can't actually take with them. A balafon is a 21 key long instrument that uses special gourds to produce an amazing sound. While it looks similar to a xylophone, the gourds that make up the sound are arranged in a precise way, making transporting the instrument an ordeal. For special occasions, however, they will make the effort to haul it out. This has also made seeing Griots in a formal setting a special event. The thudding ring of a balafon can't help but inspire people to their feet to dance. Or march, as the occasion calls for.
The final instrument used by the Griots is one that often carries considerable punch. A xalam is a small, oval-shaped, lute-like instrument that can have anywhere from one to five strings. It's strummed with one hand while being held with the other, much like a lute or guitar. However, the small and specific shape of the instrument produces a uniquely soft yet sharp sound. It's to this tune that Griots will often shape their most witty narratives. When this is played to a crowd, this is often at the expense of whichever poor soul is the subject of the tale. When people hear the first strums of a xalam, they know a witty but true tale is about to commence.
On Sale Now!
Griots Eyes Only Glow When They Recall the Past
The Ultimate Betrayal
- Alternative Names
- Famous in the Field
A secretive culture revered and feared alike for their ability to read the future
Arbiters of History
The organization that centralizes Griot knowledge and lessons
The grassland and forest region of northern Tikor. Home of The Divinity and The Karu.
As any Griot will proudly declare, anyone has the potential to become one of them, but few are actually capable of doing so. The Power of Song isn't taught, it's picked up independently. It's an ability one has to earn. The skills of a Griot are born from a thirst not only for knowing history, but also for sharing its lessons. That sort of fire comes from within. Eventually, it leads most to learn from another Griot. The rest is about your willingness to study hundreds of years of history.
The songbirds live in a strange area outside of the law. They aren't trying to sell anything or cause harm, so no real regulation is needed. They simply want to observe, record and share the truth of a situation. The weight and importance this task carries protects most Griots from local laws. As long as they aren't trying to enact bodily harm, The Power of Song is always allowed. And more often, it is explicitly needed.
When a Griot works for a city or government, they are rarely paid for their services. Instead, the oral historians are given free room and board. Some people will try to compensate them with gifts, trinkets, and precious metals. However, these gifts are almost always returned. Griots don't want it to seem like their songs can be bought, and they often avoid any payment that exceeds what they consider to be living expenses.