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Tuninthalj Tribe

So reclusive and mysterious, they are considered by many to be a myth. Those that claim to have met or interacted with members of the Tuninthalj Tribe say that they are strong, proud and formidable warriors, whose mastery over their frigid homeland is impressive enough in its own right. Though I have not seen or encountered them myself, I would be inclined to suggest that they be treated with respect, and perhaps avoided altogether, regardless of the riches that might be found in their territory. When Dragonborn do not wish to interact with others, it is considered foolish to try and force oneself upon them….
Extract from Maximilian Hoherberg von Zottehal’s History of the Known World.   Dwelling high up in the southern Felsspitze Mountains on the Eisig Plateau, the Tuninthalj Tribe are an extended community of Dragonborn descended from an ancient White Dragon, who is now thought to be deceased. Even by the standards of other Dragonborn, such as those in Zhisbon, the Tuninthalj are incredibly isolationist, and they rarely deal with those that live beyond the borders of the Eisig Plateau. Even then, their dealings with members of other sapient species will almost always be to drive them away, as, as a community they believe all other people who stray into their territory are their purely to gain riches for themselves at the expense of the tribe, which in all fairness is generally true.   Members of the Tuninthalj tribe can be distinguished from other Dragonborn descended from White Dragons, by the fact that they all wear intricately crafted pendants made of silver, that each contain a sapphire. Each of these pendants is unique to the individual who wears it, and they utilise the intrinsic magical power and potential of the gemstone within to aid the wearer in their daily tasks, or to augment the power of those who are magically sensitive.

Structure

Given their secretive nature and the rather inaccessible place in which they live, it is hard to get a full account of how the Tuninthalj Tribe works and operates, but the information that has been gathered by the few adventurers and prospectors that have managed to parley with them has revealed the following concerning their structure and governance:   Like all groups of Dragonborn, they originated from a Dragon, and in the case of the Tuninthalj they were brought into the world by an elder White Dragon, known in Draconic as Umujalid, or the Ice Mother, who took a liking to the permanently wintery environment of the Eisig Plateau and decided to settle down there herself. It is thought that Umujalid has since passed away, and this has been corroborated by an eyewitness account of an explorer from Zottehal, Manfred von Gerwig, who claims to have been shown the Dragon’s bones, still sat atop its treasure horde and lovingly guarded by handpicked members of the Tuninthalj Tribe. It is not known exactly how long ago the elder White Dragon passed away, but the lack of sightings of a White Dragon in the region of the southern Felsspitze Mountains over the last few centuries implies that Umujalid has been deceased for some time.   As with other Dragonborn tribes and groups that have lost their Dragon, the Tuninthalj now have a council of 20 elders that act as an oligarchic body, selected on the basis of their venerability, which effectively makes the tribe a gerontocracy. Below the Tribal Council, the rest of the Tuninthalj society is split, so that individuals are assigned to specific areas of work, based on their talents and abilities (not an uncommon thing in Dragonborn societies).   In the Tuninthalj Tribe, individual Dragonborn are separated into the following groups:   Artificers- A group that primarily focuses on the production of goods and tools, which can range from mundane items used in everyday life, through to arms and armour, along with the production of arcane items, in particular the sapphire pendants that each member of the tribe wears. Artificers will also oversee the maintenance of the tunnels and cave systems that the tribe live and work in, something that is especially important when it comes to the caves cut into the ice sheets which lie over the Eisig Plateau, and which require much more maintenance to ensure that they remain safe.   Cultivators- The primary focus of this group is to oversee the cultivation, harvesting and processing of the agricultural products that are the basis of the tribes diet. Their work partly encompasses the farming of fungi, mosses and lichens that naturally occur in the cave systems of the surrounding Felsspitze Mountains, some of which are consumed by the Dragonborn themselves, and some of which are cultivated to encourage Mountain/Cavern Caribou to venture into the caves to feed, and also to feed the domesticated herds of Mountain/Cavern Caribou. The Cultivators also look after the domesticated herds, and they also tend and maintain the arcane gardens, which are areas that have been magically climate controlled and lit, so that crops that would not naturally grow underground in such cold conditions, can grow.   Hunters- As their name suggests, Hunters are primarily focused on the procurement of game, mostly Mountain/Cavern Caribou, that then end up on the tables of the tribe’s members. The also act to hunt down, and either kill or chase off large predators that venture down to the Eisig Plateau that have the potential to be a threat to the tribe, and it is also the Hunters who are most likely to encounter members of other sapient species who have ventured into the tribes territory. Hunters are given leave to act as a border patrol force in such circumstances, and will generally always act to drive off or kill those that do not belong to the tribe, except in the most irregular of circumstances.   Recorders- The smallest of the five groups, Recorders are responsible for the administration of the tribes activities, and also create a written record of the tribe’s history. Recorders will also act as secretaries to the heads of each of the different activity groups, and there will be a scribe assigned to act as the assistant to each of the members of the Tribal Council.   Watchers- The last of the five groups, Watchers are the largest, strongest and most militarily adept of the Tuninthalj, who act as guards for the whole community. They will often be found protecting key sites and infrastructure belonging to the tribe, with a particular focus on the secret cavern within which lies the bones of Umujalid and her treasure horde. Despite their specialism, Watchers are not regarded as being the only military force of the tribe, as all tribal members are expected to act in its defence. Watchers are instead regarded as the elite fighters of the tribe.   It is possible for individuals to change the groups that they have been assigned to, though this will need to be justified to the Dragonborn that have been assigned to lead each of the groups, and may very well need the approval of the Tribal Council itself, which consequently means it is rare for an individual to change groups once they have been assigned.   Manfred von Gerwig, the same man who claims to have seen the bones of Umujalid, also claims to have seen a single egg, during his time with the Tuninthalj Tribe. This egg has been long dormant, and was laid by Umujalid before her death, and the tribe have been continuously trying to incubate and revive it for many hundreds of years, in homage to their now passed Dragon Mother, or so von Gerwig claims he was told. If this is indeed the case, then it is possible that the Tuninthalj Tribe may once again be ruled by a Dragon, an eventuality that they would all welcome, provided that the egg can be revivified.

Assets

Life is hard on the Eisig Plateau, but the Tuninthalj are well adapted to live in the cold climate and are able to successfully survive in an environment that most other creatures would consider to be a wasteland. The Tuninthalj have worked out how to run farms of sorts in the caves and caverns that run beneath the Plateau and through the surrounding Felsspitze Mountains, where they cultivate a variety of fungi, mosses and lichen that occur naturally in these areas. In addition, they carefully cultivate and manage the herds of Mountain/Cavern Caribou who move across the landscape of the Eisig Plateau from cave system to cave system and feed on the fungi, mosses and lichen that grow therein. Whilst many of these herds remain wild, and are merely tracked and sustainably hunted by the Tuninthalj, there are several herds that are kept in specific caverns and who are fed and reared by the Dragonborn to provide a source of milk, to be consumed as it is, and processed into other dairy products, including a fermented milk drink Qawizun, that is consumed by the Tuninthalj as their equivalent of a spirit or liquor.   In addition, the Tuninthalj are able to grow crops that they would not normally be able to cultivate at such a high altitude, or in such a cold climate, or for that matter underground, thanks to their more potent sensitivity to Magic, a common feature of all Dragonborn. Members of the tribe that are magically sensitive have manipulated the environment of some of the caves in and around the Eisig Plateau to create climates and lighting conditions that allow the cultivation of crops that would otherwise be impossible to grow in the region.   Perhaps the most valuable asset that the Tuninthalj control are the rich veins of silver ore, and the plentiful deposits of sapphires that are found all across the area of the Eisig Plateau. Both of these resources are collected in large quantities by the Tuninthalj, who highly prize the sapphires for their innate magical properties and for their aesthetic beauty. The sapphires and the silver are used to craft the amulets that all members of the Tuninthalj wear, as a symbol of their belonging to the tribe and also to provide them with magical buffs and skills to aid their day to day work and survival in their homeland.

Military

Rather than maintaining a dedicated military force, all members of the Tuninthalj Tribe are expected to act in the defence of the tribe, their lands and the home, along with presumably the hoard of their Dragon ruler. However, in order to ensure that the individuals best equipped to act in the defence of the tribe are able to operate in such a capacity, members of the tribe who display an aptitude for fighting, tracking or hunting are often given duties that draw on this, such as being assigned to duties with the Watchers or the Hunters. Those who have made the perilous journey up the Gefroren Valley to the Eisig Plateau, and made it back again, often tell tales of the ferocity even a single member of the Tuninthalj is capable of, and these stories are often regaled to children in the Dukedom of Zottehal, who are warned to not cause a fuss and get to bed early, lest an Ice-Lizard come down from the mountains and slay them in their beds.
Type
Geopolitical, Tribe
Demonym
Turinthaljii
Government System
Oligarchy
Economic System
Mixed economy
Parent Organization
The Mountain Principalities
Location
Eisig Plateau
Controlled Territories
Neighboring Nations

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Cover image: by Chris Pyrah

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