The Grayfolk


The Grayburn region is home to many humans of varying skin colours. The populated terrain ranges from subarctic to tropical, resulting in a large variety of living circumstances. Increased trade has spread people around, so in most places skin colours are very varied.   As Grayburn's settlements grew, so did trade. Central villages grew into towns, and with the age of sail some of the coastal towns grew into cities. Nowadays, eight main cities stand at the coast, connected to each other by shipping routes. Different specializations of areas make trade very lucrative, resulting in a thriving middle class. The upper class broke through thanks to advantages they managed to wield and hold onto well, such as specific resources, lands, or technological innovations.   Small villages tend to focus on a few primary resources, though all grow at least some crops, so they do not entirely depend on trade. Specialties may include specific crops, cattle, ores, forestry, even salt villages exist. During the harvest seasons, villagers will travel to the towns for trading raw and processed goods. Most trade is in the form of bartering. In some cases, precious gems and metals are used as intermediary trading goods. In towns and cities, these are often transformed into more formal currency for payments.   Towns in turn trade with cities. Thanks to steamtrains and steamboats, these trades are more constant, taking place all year. Steamships are responsible for all trade between cities, with one exception: The two coasts are connected by railroad. This route is the only place where a railroad was succesfully created between areas.

Naming Traditions

Family names

The Grayfolk are relatively free in their family names, someone may choose a different name to signify a break from their family, or because their deeds are great enough to warrant becoming the first of their name. Their new name can originate from profession, a special location, tools, or simply be a variant of one of their own names.   On marriage, one keeps their own family name. If the marriage matters in social context, one will be referenced by own name first, partner's name second.   Children tend to receive the name of the most influential parent. Within the upper class families, the initial family name of a child is in itself an act of superiority. However, at any time may someone decide to take the other family name instead. Of course, often such an act of rebellion will be heavily frowned upon. Disinheriting is also an option, in which case one will be socially shunned if they insist on keeping their old family name.   Since the Industrial Revolution, namechanges are far more often. Those who suddenly struck it big, would name a new family as part of their rise in class. The lower class also often change name when moving to the cities, to prevent contempt against their name costing them a job. For example, a Talltree's lumberjack origins are often looked down upon, so they may choose to name themselves Steamsaw instead.

First names and middlenames

All Grayfolk have a first name, a middlename, and their family name. Middlenames can be either a concept, or the name of someone special that the parents choose to honor. First names have various origins, most of which people wouldn't even recall anymore. A lot of origins have been lost to the fog of time. Unlike family names, first names and middlenames are not made up with new references. It would be quite normal for someone to name their family Cogs. But taking Cog as middlename, that would be a rather peculiar thing to do.   Nicknames based on characteristics are relatively common in larger areas, especially when people have common family names. Alternatively, people can be refered to by profession. These bynames are normally used in combination with their first name, for example Greg the Writer or Growly Laura.

Other names

Villages and towns are often named after nearby geographical features. One example is Roottown, which is named as such for being a town located at the root of the Twin River. Deepwood Fortress is a fortified town located deep in the rainforest, hence its name. Cities add a color to a specific aspect of either the city itself, or its surrounding areas.   These names may change over time, for example Bluebay was renamed to Greenbay due to its bay getting polluted and overgrown with green algae. Whitecliff was renamed to Graycliff because the constant billowing smoke of steam engines caused the cliffs to grow gray over time.


Shared customary codes and values

Charity is very important for the Grayfolk. Those who can, will donate some of what they earned. These goods will be passed on to those in need, with the help of The Gray Church. This tradition is a long part of Grayburn's history, long before all areas grew closer together and became one big region.   In cities and towns, donations to the church are usually done either the day before or the day after payday. Some donate what they can spare just before they get paid, others donate first.

Average technological level

The steam engine played a large part in the Industrial Revolution of Grayburn. Unfortunately, the obsession with it has also caused stagnation. The upper class frowns heavily upon anyone not using steam engines, even if alternative techniques are cheaper or far more efficient. Since this scorn also comes with people taking their business elsewhere, technology levels have not advanced further.

Common Etiquette rules

Original religious gestures and habits varied, and even now differences remain. But with all Grayfolk donating to charity when they can, almost none care about whether one holds a fist at their shoulder, clasps their hand with a bow, or uses any of the other dozens of possible gestures.

Common Dress code

In towns and cities, people tend to wear gray or black clothing when outside. This way, soot will not be as visible. They also wear cotton masks, to deal with the smog. Inside they often wear bright colours in varying patterns. In villages, undyed wool and leather is used as work-wear. Dyed wool is used at other occasions. In all cases, when visiting church, or when the upper class comes to visit, simple black clothing is used. In those cases, none are interested in showing off.   Outside, the upper class also wear gray or black clothing, though tailor-fit and often decorated with small cogs. These cogs represent their use of steam engines, and often come from said engines after being replaced. Hoods and black tophats are used to cover one's hair, to prevent soot from getting into it. When inside, the upper class will wear elegant clothing with simple yet expensive colours. At special occasions they wear high-quality ballmasks, sometimes with cotton masks attached, and often even dyed wigs and coloured contact lenses. However, with all their clothing, a simple look is key. Anything else would be showing off, which they despise.   The middle class often mimics the upper class clothing when in office, yet will switch to comfortable clothing in their spare time. They can afford the better materials the upper class uses, yet haven't lost their taste, so often will go wild. But just like the lower class, they avoid showing off in church or to the upper class.

Art & Architecture

Bricks are the primary building material in Grayburn, due to wood being needed for powering its numerous steam engines. If there is no nearby forest, it is cheaper to import bricks instead. High wood costs also disallows the use of any iron or steel in construction. As a result, buildings tend not to be larger than three floors. Exact building techniques depend on the location, since a building in the rainforest needs to be constructed significantly different from a building that has to withstand cold winters.   Most towns and cities are built next to rivers, for easy transport. Railroads are used to connect towns and cities when no river is available. Villages usually depend on maintained roads to reach towns with trade caravans, though where possible river caravans are used instead. Cities are built near the coast and have a port area, allowing steamships to easily travel inbetween them.

Common Customs, traditions and rituals

On payday, the lower class will celebrate at bars. The middle class either goes to bars or to restaurants. The upper class has no such habit, due to not earning weekly income. However, they do follow the habit of donating the day after payday.   Most people will work for six days, then rest for three. For those that work during the weekend, they will take their restdays either at the beginning or the end of the work week.   In farming and livestock villages, where three restdays in a row is not always possible, people follow a two-one schedule instead. Two intense labour days will be followed by a single restday where only essential labour takes place.

Major organizations

  • The Gray Church - The main organization under which most churches fall, responsible for receiving donations and handing it out to those in need
  • Conventionalists - The upper class, obsessed with public image and the steam engine
  • Industrialists - Members of the upper class that are covertly developing new technologies
  • Alchemist Union - A secret coalition of urban magic users, masquerading as Alchemists to hide the true source of their success, while earning a decent income with it
  • Graycloaks - An espionage network that sells information and services, for those in need of keeping or obtaining secrets
  • Exploration Alliance - A collaboration of the Industrialists, Graycloaks and Alchemist Union, preparing an expedition to strange lands
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