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The Soolera

Baron

Sovereign
Retired Staff
The Soolera

It takes a certain strength to be of the Soolera.
In the heart of the heat, where one can not always be certain of what they see...


It takes a certain strength to brave the arid lands that none other dares lay claim.
To tame the sands, to not only survive- But to flourish, to create the heaven and haven that cannot be found anywhere else,


And then they leave.
As quietly as they came.


The Soolerans are seen everywhere, yet never truly known. For these Sooleran people come from the most unforgiving of places, yet only the most privileged could seek such secrets ... and live to tell the tale. - Baron




The Soolera (Sooh-Leh-Rah) are a culturally-linked group of nomads of all races, travelling in caravans across Altera.​

Physiology

Appearance: The Soolera are generally dark-skinned with grey eyes, though black and brown eyes also show up, depending on the caravan. Soolera are also renowned for the colourful clothes they wear. The long, winding routes the caravans take lead to some excellent trade opportunities, which include access to rare and vibrant dyes they use in their clothing. Skin colouration is, of course, a feature of the founding human population.

Some Soolera caravans have identifying tattoos on their bodies, but it's not a widespread thing, and most only wear temporary skin markings during Fadma.

One of the core identifying features of any Sooleran is the mangrove. To be more clear, because of their heavy reliance on mangroves during the winter (the dryer parts of Greymoor are a nice place in winter due to prevailing warm southern winds caused by the two central mountain ranges funnelling hot summer air, and the caravans themselves are constructed mostly of mangrove, and mangroves are a food source.), Soolerans will often make jewelry fashioned in the shape of mangrove leaves or made of mangrove wood. Common identifiers include bracelets or pendants embedded with semi-precious stones or stained to match a caravan's prevailing colour scheme (different caravans have access to different markets, and so different dyes and colours prevail). Soolerans generally don't go much for piercings, but among the permanent residents of Sool piercing is fairly common to indicate that they are not Rooted, but pious.

Permanent residents of Sool are generally those too old for the constant travelling lifestyle of the caravans, and those who willingly choose to dwell there and become pious, for Sool is both the cultural and religious home of the Soolera. In Sool a temple sits, and twice per year, on the equinox, a ray of light will shine on a marked area on the altar, marking the beginning of Fadma.

tl;dr: Stained wood jewelry and prevailing colour schemes in the clothes.

Lifespan
Soolerans live an average of 85 years, assuming they live to adulthood. Infant mortality is common (as it is everywhere) but the constant exercise of being nomadic and the varied diet of the people promise a long and healthy lifespan for a True Sooleran. The Rooted generally don’t live as long due to a more sedentary lifestyle and fixed diet, averaging 67-70 years.

When a Sooleran becomes too old to continue travelling, usually in their late 60s or early 70s, they will not leave with their caravan at the end of Fadma, choosing to spend the rest of their life in Sool tending to the horses and the temple. True Soolerans, of the kind that originate in Sool, are a very hardy people, and can easily survive the desert heat, even in old age.

Adopted Soolerans can be expected to live as long as their race generally allows, given the shifting climates and foods the nomadic lifestyle imposes.

The oldest Sooleran recorded was el-Mazim Wahas, who lived to the age of 103 before keeling over while gardening in the middle of the summer in Sool. However, the myths of the people tell the story of Great Ancestor ja-Rawis Ehar, a man who lived to be two thousand years old, siring each of the First Caravan families that left Sool in ages long past. Rawis eventually sailed away on the greatest voyage any Sooleran has ever taken, and crossed the horizon into the stars, where his constellation now stands watching over the wandering caravans. His eyes are the two brightest stars in the sky, and the constellation of the Ancestor always points southward to Sool, the vast desert, and the home of the people.


Society

People
The Soolera are divided into three loose “factions”. The True, the Rooted, and the Adopted.

True
True Soolera are those who live amongst the roaming caravans that traverse Altera’s huge eastern continent. They are almost universally dark-skinned with grey eyes, though Adopted Soolera are often included in their ranks. The True are notable for their nomadic lifestyle; a True Soolera will never settle in one place, but prefers to roam with his family.​
Rooted
Rooted Soolera are those that have settled down in a town permanently. They are often pitied by the True for having given up the true way of life and “becoming as still as the trees”, but are always welcomed back with open arms if they wish to rejoin the True caravans as they pass by, though they can never rejoin the caravan they left. Rooted Soolera are visually identical to a True Sooleran, but their clothes are often more drab as they cannot obtain the vivid dyes the Soolera trade amongst towns. The Rooted are viewed as lost family by the Soolera, and when one settles down, he is mourned as though he had died. When a True and Rooted of the same family meet, the True always greet the Rooted politely and formally, but with no great enthusiasm. To be Rooted is almost as bad as being exiled in the minds of the Soolera. It is an incredibly rare event for a Soolera to decide to root.​
Adopted
Adopted Soolera are those who are not born into the culture, but decide to join the Soolera of their own free will. Adopted do not have any unifying features besides their wanderlust and charisma. The Soolera do not lightly invite people into their family, so those that do make it are often those who would make exceptional politicians, were it not for the fact that they want to be Soolera. The Adopted are viewed as True equals in the caravans, given enough time, but at Fadma other caravans are often suspicious of the person unless they bear the distinctive mangrove dye tattoos of the culture.​
Groups
The Soolera consider all members of their culture to be their family. The great caravans that roam across Altera are often but a single family of Soolera, though they may come from all walks of life. A Sooleran will forever be a brother, an uncle, or a father once he joins the family, and it is reflected in how they act. A Soolera human is as much brother to a Soolera Elf as he is to a Soolera Caparii. Among the caravan, the Soolera are as welcoming as can be, and they extend this hospitality to visitors and customers when they sell their goods. However, every member of a family will become hostile towards a person if they threaten or harm one of their own.

In the caravans, all members of a caravan are family to each other, and they are taught from a young age that outsiders cannot be trusted and that only other Soolera families can be relied upon. Despite this, they will gladly trade with outsiders, and the rare outsider that proves trustworthy might even get invited into the caravan family.

On a larger scale, the Soolera are divided into multiple families, travelling in multiple caravans. Twice a year, all True Soolera would meet in the Great Desert at the site of their ancestors’ homes to bury their dead, mingle, and celebrate the Equinox in a massive festival they call the Fadma. During Fadma, Soolera will often join with different caravans from the ones they were born in, to experience different parts of the world and meet new love. Teenagers especially look forward to Fadma, as it is where they often meet those they will wed.

On the individual level, the Soolera express no difference between their blood relatives and the other members of their particular caravan, be they adopted or born into the group.

Family (the man-woman kind)
At Fadma, Soolerans will often meet the person they will marry. Soolera are monogamous once wed, but it is usual for them to have multiple partners through their lives. Because of the relatively short 6 month wait between Fadma, caravans are often glad to exchange members of each others’ families to see if the one they will marry is there. Soolera will only ever wed on Fadma, at the site of their people’s birth, the desert town of Sool.

Soolera weddings are brief and formal in nature, though afterwards the new couple will often host enormous parties consisting of both their families. There generally aren’t more than five to twelve weddings in a year.

A Sooleran couple, on their wedding, will swear loyalty to each other and to the god of their choice, usually Jax or Sallana. After this brief process, witnessed by both families, they are considered united despite no legal bond being declared. Indeed, a wedding is seen more as an official declaration of love and loyalty than anything, and if a partner dies, the surviving one is free to pursue others after they mourn.

A Sooleran couple can expect to have many children throughout their lifetime, though only one to three will be borne by the couple. Others are fostered from other caravans or adopted into the family at a young age, but all share a strong familial bond.

Soolera will likely never marry outside of the culture, but marrying into the culture is possible for Adopted, as they become True by default when marrying a True Sooleran. Non-Soolerans can pursue relationships with Soolerans if they want, but the relationship will be unsteady at best because Soolerans will never place a bond with an outsider over the bond with the caravan/family, making Adoption the only way marriage is possible unless the Sooleran becomes Rooted (which is itself an exceptionally rare occurrence, as doing so permanently alienates the Family) or exiled (even rarer).

Of course, that's not to say Soolera don't enjoy relationships with outsiders. To the contrary, Soolera will gladly engage in short-term relationships with outsiders, with a very small number of those relationships ending in the outsider deciding to join the Soolera and being accepted by the family. It is one of the more fun ways the Soolera boost their population, though it is very uncommon.

The Caravans
Soolerans spend their entire lives travelling in one caravan or another. Caravans are composed of several carts and wagons, carrying tents and goods; some wagons are particularly spacious and are used as small houses on wheels. These large wagons generally can house only two or three, if they don’t mind being packed like sardines.

While travelling, Soolerans will travel in two groups. There are the wagon-riders, and the vanguard horse riders. The horse riders will travel out during the morning, then return in the later half of the day, navigating by the position of the Sun. The riders will move ahead of the caravan, exploring sites where the caravan may stop for the night, or where food may be gathered.

The goods caravans carry vary depending on what part of the continent they are on. In the south, they generally carry silks and rare dyes from the desert. It is from these same bright dyes, along with those they trade for at the borders of the large forests, that they make their brightly coloured clothing. It is considered a sign of high status for all members of a caravan to be in bright colours. When in the northern part of the continent, they’ll usually carry rare herbs and spices gathered in the north plain plateaus. It is these that they’ll trade at coastal cities for even more exotic goods. A Soolera caravan visiting a town often brings great wealth, though the Soolera have something of a reputation for theft and heresy among the rest of Alteran society, who look down on the nomads.

Despite the Soolera desert origin, their caravans are almost exclusively made of the wood of the mangroves. The wood is preferred because of its strength and resistance to rot, making it an excellent material in the multiple climates the nomads traverse throughout the year. In fact, mangrove products are one of the only products the Soolera produce themselves, with every part of every tree felled having some use. The bark of the upper branches, still soft, is boiled to create a dye that the Soolera use in temporary stain tattoos, which they wear with pride during Fadma to identify their caravan, familial relations, and to decorate their bodies in general. The fruit of the mangrove is buoyant, and is often split in half and the contents boiled for food.


Diet
The Soolera have the most diverse diet of any Alteran culture, living off the land and trading for food in towns they visit. They are largely omnivorous, but their diet mostly consists of vegetables and fruit, as meat is expensive and less easily gathered during caravan journeys. Soolerans do not herd or own domesticated animals besides the occasional dog or cat, which eats whatever scraps the Soolerans may give to it.

Sooleran meals are a simple affair. A single large fire is made at the center of the caravan camp and a meal is cooked using simple cooking instruments. Pots and pans are heavy, and so few exist among a caravan. Meals are generally made on a simple and large scale, in the form of stews and soups, which are then communally consumed. Individuals may spice their food to their particular liking from the caravan stock, though most prefer using mangrove leaves for their saltiness and particular tang. The leaves themselves are too tough to be eaten.

In the morning, Soolerans will eat the leftovers of the meal along with a tea of boiled mangrove leaf. It is salty and bitter, but it is believed to have strengthening properties by the Soolerans, who treasure mangroves.

During the day as they travel, Soolerans will consume food gathered from the surrounding area or from the food stores of the caravan, which are mostly jerky.

When in town, Soolerans may choose to feast on local food rather than staying at their camp. During the times they’re in town, anything goes, food wise.

Religion
Despite popular opinion, Soolerans are not heretics. They are not particularly devout, but do worship Jax on Fadma. He is thanked for giving them luck enough to survive.

Soolerans do not generally wear icons of their faith, but respect the principles of the devout, and are cooperative, if somewhat sullen, when given a sermon.

Attitudes Towards Violence and Weapons
The view on violence generally isn't favourable, as Soolerans prefer trade over war, though in the event of a war they don't have a stake in they will definitely take advantage of new markets (weapons n' such).

Because of the general high value and importance of the caravans, some Soolerans are very well trained in disarming and crippling tactics in the event of bandits, but they'd never hold up against a trained soldier instead of a brigand. They instead rely on the number of people in the caravan to ward off would-be attackers.

Soolerans are extremely good at horseback riding, and not too bad at horse combat, due to the constant travel their lifestyle imposes. They are among the finest riders in Altera, and the desert-raised stallions of Sool are legendary for their speed, stamina, and character.

When it comes to weapons, most Soolerans go for lightweight items, mostly because heavy things make for less total cargo, and can slow the caravan down.

At a Sooleran's coming of age, usually taking place during the biannual Fadma (the only marked calendar event in the culture; age is measured in how many Fadma's a Sooleran has lived through), it is customary to present the adult with a ceremonial dagger made of steel and mangrove wood. The hilt will carry the name of the family and the name of the Sooleran being given the item, and signifies acceptance into the family from one brother to another. Women do not have this ritual, simply becoming adults when their body matures to a certain point.

It is by this ritual that an Adopted Sooleran may become accepted by the entire culture. When presented with the knife, the Adopted will cut themselves and mingle blood with the giver of the blade, signifying that a blood bond has been created and that the Adopted has become True.

Soolerans will carry their knives for the rest of their lives, and when they die the knife goes with them.

To return to the question of fighting styles: Soolerans will never use their dagger in combat, not wishing to taint it with foreign outsider's blood, but will use similar light weapons if the need arises. Violence is a Sooleran's last resort, and the culture as a whole only condones fighting when the family or caravan is threatened and there is no other option. To initiate fights is looked down on, and to kill without just cause often brings exile on the killer.

Language, Naming Schema, and Common Phrases
Soolerans were once a desert people, and to this day their language is as dry and coarse as the sands they were born in and go to die in. To the uninitiated, the language of the Soolera, Marjash, is a language filled with hard consonants and tricky vowels. Marjash is not overly difficult to learn, with only three tenses and many words belonging to a group having common roots. For example, the verb “to eat” is expressed as “vamarh”, while the noun “food” is said as “valosh”, both words sharing the root “va”, indicating the words belong to the foods group.

Other group roots include ja, mar, and ik, meaning Legend, Knowledge, and Motion respectively. The name of ja-Rawis Ehar means Legend Rawis Ehar, in essence. Marjash, the name of the language, literally translates as The Knowledge of The Legendary, due to the root combination of mar- and ja-, with the sh suffix added to define it as a noun.

The naming schema of the Soolera people is simple, to those with a basic understanding of the language. Prefixes are used to assign age, similar to Verba, but the prefixes of Marjash can also assign to a person the caravan they belong to. Suffixes also appear, though much more rarely, and are exclusive to caravan leaders and elder priests to indicate their status. Rooted Soolerans have a single prefix, reh, which means “Abandon.” Rooted Soolerans are seen as having abandoned the family and the true way of life.

The prefixes of Marjash that indicate age are thus:​
Ve: Youth. From birth to the 20th Fadma, a Sooleran will have this prefix. Sidenote: Vemar is the Sooleran word for “ignorant” or “idiot” as it means “small in knowledge.” To call someone a vemar” is to call them immature and ignorant, essentially.​
Ish: Adolescent. From the 20th Fadma to the 40th, a Sooleran’s prefix will be ish, the root word for Growth. In their teens, Soolerans will mature, choose a caravan for life, and often find love before their 20th year.​
Jal: Adult. Literally meaning Travel, the word in context means Travelled, or knowledgeable. To be a Jalik is to be a True Sooleran, as the word Jalik means Constantly Moving. A Jamarik is a wise man indeed, and renowned among his people.​
El: Elder. The root word for a Sooleran past their 120th Fadma. An Elmar is a Wise Elder, and the term is used with great respect.​
Other prefixes exist, but are reserved for outsider ranks that do not exist in Sooleran society, or are adapted root words used as descriptors of the person. Root words can be combined and juggled to have different meaning, but the language is not overly difficult to learn, given a good teacher and a good ear for the sounds.

Suffixes are much more rare, but come down to the same thing. A caravan leader is a Jamarik by description, and earns the suffix of wal, meaning guide, in essence. Therefore, an active caravan leader with the given name of Rewaj Jimat would be known as jal-Rewat Jimat-wal, or even jal-Jimat-wal. Prefixes and suffixes attach to names seamlessly, and are equally compatible with first and last names. Suffixes and prefixes are not used outside of formal situations, in general.

In terms of actual names, Soolerans, be they born into the caravan or Adopted, will be given a first name by their father and will then take the last name of their mother, unifying their name as the family is unified.

When it comes to common phrases, the most common of them all are the formal greeting and farewell between Soolerans. The Sooleran to approach will say "Rawis smiles upon our meeting." and the other will respond with "And our fortune shines as the sun."

When saying a formal goodbye, the exchange is "May your path be safe." responded with "And may your travels be eventful."

Demographics, Racial Views, Magic
A caravan is equivalent to a family among the Soolera. A caravan’s numbers vary and can shift each Fadma. The Soolerans are generally friendly, and hold relatively few grudges. The only race that Soolerans actively hate with a passion are the Greylings. Essentially dwarves in their eyes, but with no market potential and with a tendency to raid caravans passing by, many Sooleran fairy tales feature greylings as small, vicious imp creatures that should be trod on. They are rarely found in these times, however, and Greylings have become a sort of myth to them, to warn children against.

Soolerans are a primarily human race, but as mentioned, will accept any into their numbers, except for Greylings. The most common races within the culture, ranked in order of descending numbers, are Human, Elf, Halfling, Caparii with the other races making minor representation. Halflings of the Pikey variety are the ones most commonly seen with Soolerans, and Forest Elves are the type that roam with the caravans. The least common race to join is the Dwarves, who generally aren’t compatible with Soolerans despite being an excellent market. There have even been sightings of Nakam among caravans, though this may only be hearsay as Nakam and the desert homeland of Sool don’t play nice.

In terms of their view on each race:

Human: The opinion varies, but Soolerans generally like humans because of their general friendliness and widespread cities (i.e. rest sites). Humans are the largest market of Sooleran caravans, and are the likeliest to feel the wanderlust that compels them to join up.​
Elf: Elves, in similar fashion to humans, are well liked because they are an excellent market to sell metals in. Among the Elf subspecies, Forest Elves are favoured the most, as they generally find more in common with Soolerans than Silver or Moor Elves.​
Dwarf: Soolerans will happily poke fun at Dwarves and make jokes about them. In their eyes, Dwarves are the essence of a Rooted lifestyle, living in massive caverns and being too short to travel with ease. However, a Sooleran will avoid making these jokes with a Dwarf nearby, as Dwarves are the primary source of metals and valuable gems and minerals, making them one of the primary buying markets and highly respected for their wealth.​
Halfling: Halflings are well-liked, due to the similarity in lifestyle. Just as the Soolerans, Halflings are nomadic and skilled traders, and the two cultures are amenable to each other. Halflings are the third most common race found in the ranks of the caravans.​
Caparii: Similar to Halflings and Elves, they are well liked for their similarities and are often found amongst the Sooleran caravans, trading forest and desert goods of meats and fur.​
Greyling: Absolutely, utterly despised. Soolerans hate Greylings with a fiery passion, telling their children stories about Greylings as filthy, malnourished imps that seek only to gnaw on Sooleran bones and raid the caravans. They hold no market potential and are universally looked down on.​
Nakam: Respected and liked, albeit rarely seen now. The Nakam, despite being somewhat incompatible with the Sooleran way of life, are liked for their knowledge, expertise, and trading opportunities. The ones in the Eastern Continents are often shrewd merchants in their own right. It is rare to see Sooleran caravans with hired doctors, who are often Nakam, thanks to their excellent knowledge of practical, non-magical medicine.​
Earthspawn: Soolerans have no issue with the rare Earthspawn so long as they keep a healthy distance. They aren’t well-liked, being thought of as brutish and stupid, but they are frequent buyers of Sooleran goods of all kinds, including metals, foods, and fabrics. Earthspawn guards are sometimes hired for dangerous stretches of road, it being believed that bandits will be frightened off by the ugly green beast.​

When it comes to attitudes about magic, the Soolera people find it practical but generally unnecessary. Sooleran are not known for inherent magic, but if given the chance, they tend to appeal in the bending of minds and the healing of bodies. Combat magic is incredibly rare, going only about as far as needed to light a campfire, and soul magic knowledge is an unknown myth to them.

Agriculture
Soolerans, being nomadic, don’t farm or tend to crops outside of the shade gardens of Sool, which aim for aesthetic over function. In the garden are grown a variety of herbs and valuable spices that thrive in the hot, yet shaded environment, and it is these herbs and spices that Soolerans use on their food during travel to make it more appetizing. As described earlier, Sooleran cuisine widely varies depending on their current location and if they are travelling or not, but it is most always delicious because of the spices of Sool (the spice must flow!), gathered during Fadma and used sparingly until the next equinox.

Soolerans, generally being well-off despite not having permanent homes, are able to buy the food of whatever locale they are visiting. Being expert merchants, they’ll sometimes barter some worthless item for the food for a laugh. It is this behaviour of taking advantage of gullibility that has spawned the reputation that Soolerans aren’t trustworthy. The reputation isn’t entirely undeserved, but making a friend of a Sooleran is making a friend for life, and Soolerans take care of their own.



Credit:
Writing Baron
Editing/Updating Solus 08/09/18
 
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Baron

Sovereign
Retired Staff
Clarification regarding this culture will be posted here in the following format.
Q: [Question]
A: [Answer]

You've seen the Nakam clarification thread, consider this an analogue.

All answers will directly apply as lore.

Q:
I got a question, how would this culture react to the ideals of the Engems..? :p Seems like it'd make interesting RP~
A: The Soolera would likely react to the ideals of the Engems as they do most things, which is with a charismatic curiosity. Upon finding out just how polar the two cultures are, they’d likely look down on the Engems for a clearly inferior way of life. The Soolerans prize civilization above most everything else, and believe themselves to be proud bastions of the way of civilized life as they travel through the wilderness. There are some similarities however: As the Engems believe civilization to be the downfall, the Soolera believe cities are stagnant and wasteful, though they really appreciate them as rest stops and trade points.

Q: What are their names actually like?

A:

Regarding the naming schema:

Prefixes and how names are given have been listed, but the actual names have not.

Male:

Common first names:
  • Kiwel
  • Ituk
  • Livoc
  • Lysel
  • Taleak
  • Jerait
Common last names:
  • Mazim
  • Vilesj
  • Povik
  • Jashi
  • Erudn
  • Solivu
Female:
Common first names:
  • Marai
  • Jivel
  • Lysla
  • Marvei
  • Nemein
  • Sevaisa
Common last names:
  • Mazim
  • Vilesj
  • Povik
  • Jashi
  • Erudn
  • Solivu
 
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