Zazaruo Ethnicity in The Kaleidoscope System | World Anvil


Table of Contents
A nomadic people that used to live in the Arotunon Wasteland before the Final War.


Due to the groundquakes and lack of water in the wasteland, few people of the surrounding nations were in contact with the wandering clans. Legends from the eastern shore of the Zugnur Sea hint at their presence as early as 2000 NZR. The oldest confirmed encounters were documented by Ran-E-Zu scientists when they explored this region in 438 NZR.   The isolated clans were mostly neutral throughout the Era of the First Civilization. However, records from the late years of the Final War show that the Ran-E-Zu military relied on their guidance when they crossed the Arotunon Wasteland. By the time the Rilsu were able to explore the area, no trace of the Zazaruo was left to be found.


Culture and cultural heritage

Much of their culture was built around the mutrofo which ensured their survival in the wastelands. Most of all, the cacti provided them with water, and the clans traveled between colonies of these large globes to ensure that the plants could recover afterwards.

Average technological level


Each Zazaruo clan kept a flock of medium-sized beetles, bred from the wild ones found near the mutrofo colonies. These animals provided both meat and carapace parts that were used for jewelry, dyes and other decorative purposes. When they traveled to a different location, groups of adult beetles pulled the carts that carried the clan's belongings.

Mutrofo Products

Old, dead mutrofo were harvested for their sturdy outer shells from which the Zazaruo built their carts, tent frames and various tools. Younger, smaller plants were often hollowed out to create ornately carved bottles, bowls and other containers. The long, strong roots were broken into fibers by combing them over the cactus needles. After that, the fibers were spun into yarn and dyed with pigments made from insect carapaces. The resulting fabrics often sported colorful woven patterns and were used in everything from clothing and animal harnesses to bedding and tents.

Bone Products

Bones from wild lizards were used to make flutes, eating utensils, needles and other small tools. Larger bones left over from the funerary meals were often used to reinfoce the tents and carts.

Funerary and Memorial customs

With resources being scarce in the wasteland, dead clan members were often used as food. According to Zazaruo belief, this would allow their souls to keep traveling with their loved ones, as well as ensure that the rest of the clan could live on.   When a person's pulse and breathing stopped, the remaining clanspeople would wait for half a day to be certain. After that, they would begin to prepare a festive meal from the body, ensuring that nothing would go to waste. The entire clan would gather, honoring the deceased person in speeches and prayers before distributing the food among them.   Rilsu scientists assume that this custom accelerated the extinction of the Zazaruo after the Final War. As the radioactive fallout contaminated the environment, people were likely to die of radiation poisoning. The contamination would build up in the bodies of the survivors eating them, and consequently even more people would die, creating a vicious circle.

Common Taboos

Spilling water accidently was frowned upon, and doing so intentionally often led to severe punishments. Depending on the clan and the age of the culprit, these could take the form of physical pain, social exclusion or denying them food and shelter.
Formerly present in
Arotunon Wasteland
Encompassed species

Cover image: by Kathrin Janowski


Author's Notes

Oookay... I did not expect them to be cannibals, but it kinda happened when I was filling out the template sections. Oh well, the prompt did ask for people who could survive in an inhospitable environment - and when it's about survival, the ideals of modern civilizations rarely apply. Besides, they would not have enough fuel for cremating their dead, and burials would have been a messy affair with the yearly torrents of rain washing everything away...   Anyway. What do you think of this culture?

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8 Aug, 2021 19:47

Really fascinating culture. I'm always interested in ritual cannibalism, and I can see why it would be seen as honouring someone. The note about radiation and it creating a bit of a cycle of death was a little heartbreaking.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
10 Aug, 2021 09:11

I'm glad that you like it, I was kinda worried that cannibalism would be a sensitive topic. And yeah, a lot of the Final War's effects are heartbreaking, especially when they concern those who were not directly involved.

Creator of the Kaleidoscope System, an alien star system shaped by a colorful radiation source.