06 - Cultures

     Numerous cultures call the Sea of Tears Basin home and many of them can be found within the Kingdom of Aetaltis. The cultures are summarized in the form of Culture Templates that describe how people dress, think, and act. It provides a guideline to help players better envision their characters’ personalities and backgrounds.
     In game terms Culture define the character’s skills and cultural knowledge as well as a list of likely complications associated with people of that culture. 

Cultural Templates

    Every character must have a Culture Template. This represents the culture he grew up in and the impact that the culture had on his early life and personality. Each character may only have one Culture Template. This Template does not force a character to behave as described by the Template. There are plenty of people in every culture who don’t fit the norm. There are even people who do everything to the opposite of what people in their culture expect. The character doesn’t even have to like his culture. 
    The fact remains that the character’s culture is a part of who he is, regardless of later experiences. In addition, the knowledge of how to live, work, and behave in that culture will always be with him, regardless of whether he loves it or hates it.
Manner: This is the typical demeanor and behavior one can expect from a member of this culture. Members of other cultures will expect a person from this culture to act in the ways described here.
Values: This is a more detailed explanation of the cultural values listed in the data section.
Aversions: This is a more detailed explanation of the aversions listed in the data section.
Religion: The way the members of this culture worship their patron and secondary Enaros.
Magic: The opinion of magic and enchanted items held by members of this culture.

Included at the bottom of this page is an example of a fully detailed Cultural Template [HERO System] for the Icewalker.


    The aetaltan culture descends from the once grand society of the Aetaltan Empire. It is defined by its noble ideal of equal rights and its never-satisfied drive to expand its influence.
    Manner: Aetaltans are scrupulous. They follow the edicts of the King out of respect for the local authority and a sense of moral responsibility to their society. They take great pride in their culture, to the point that they assume that any other person would be honored by conversion to the aetaltan way of life. This can create fractious relationships between aetaltans and the people of other lands.
    Values: Aetaltans value the order of their society, believing it the foundation of the culture’s success. They also hold education in high regard and all citizens have at least a basic knowledge of letters and math. Land ownership is an important aspect of aetaltan life, and a person’s land holdings often act as a measure of his success.
    Aversions: Barbarian cultures, with their lack of codified laws and passion driven morals, are pitiable in the eyes of aetaltans. Many aetaltans see it as their responsibility to bless these backward people with the gift of aetaltan civilization.
    Religion: The clergy is a highly respected profession and a channeler in the family brings great honor.
    Magic: Essence shapers are highly regarded in aetaltan culture. Nearly every family owns some sort of enchanted object, and those who can afford it may even have a mage on retainer.


    The elegant Eloren culture remains relatively unchanged since the end of the Age of Sorcery. It is steeped in ancient traditions and represents the inner spirit of the Elori people.
    Manner: Elori are guided by their hearts and spirits, rather than facts or logic. They act on intuition and, when in doubt, they follow their feelings. Paradoxically, this emotional freedom falls within the immutable framework of a rigid set of traditions and etiquettes. The result is a culture of such subtle complexity that it is unfathomable to those who have not grown up with it.
    Values: Those who hold close to the old ways while still maintaining a free spirit are held in high regard. Considered an art, the masters of it receive great respect.
    Aversions: To Elori the complexity of their society does not excuse a failure to live up to its expectations. This holds especially true for outsiders attempting to mimic eloren culture. Elori also value their privacy and are deeply offended by intrusions into personal matters.
    Religion: Elori hold Aelos in high regard. Religious rituals for her are done outdoors by the light of the full moon. These ceremonies are performed in holy glades set aside specifically for worship. Worship of the other Enaros is performed in the home at personal shrines.
    Magic: Magic is intricately wound into the fabric of eloren life and found in every aspect of the society. Since so many Elori can create magic, there are few enchanted items


    The hardened individuals scratching out a life from the unforgiving tundra of the Icebound Plain are known as icewalkers. Their culture is one of strength and stoicism, and they maintain a strict code of honor, reveling in hardship and trial. To outsiders it may appear barbaric, but it is a way of life evolved out of necessity to aid in the survival of those living in the frigid northlands.
    Manner: Icewalkers are a proud people. They live and die by their word and react violently to any attack on their honor. These stalwart people refuse to break even minor oaths. Icewalkers have dispensed with social pleasantries and can seem crude and uncouth when measured against the standards of other cultures.
    Values: Among icewalkers, who live in a world where only the strong survive, physical strength is the most valued personal trait. Icewalkers also value courage and determination.
    Aversions: Cowards and weaklings are not tolerated in icewalker society. If a person flees from hardship or danger, they endanger the entire tribe. Such behavior receives a swift, harsh response.
    Religion: Icewalkers worship Droth before all others. They do so by building massive fires, drinking copious amounts of heartwine, and then dance by the fire light while beating themselves with spiked whips. This sort of ceremony is only held under extreme circumstances since asking Droth for aid is seen as a sign of weakness.
    Magic: There is little magic among the icewalkers since the nomadic culture can’t support the dedicated learning institutions needed to train shapers. Enchanted items are rare.

Icewalker Cultural Template


    The malderg culture is the new surface culture of the tsvergs. When forced from the Deeplands the tsvergs had to make the surface world their new home. This mass exodus from known lands combined with the rejection of the Enaros helped to form malderg culture into one of independent, hardworking people with a strongly cooperative spirit.
    Manner: Maldergs are proud and opinionated. Once they make up their minds on a subject they stick doggedly to that decision and will see it through to the bitter end. This makes them quite industrious and leads to many great accomplishments, but also makes them difficult to deal with in situations requiring compromise. Males and females wear their hair long and men grow long beards. Both sexes style their hair with intricate braids, the designs of which are representative of their clan affiliation. Malderg clothing is non-descript and utilitarian, normally dyed in deep earth tones.
    Values: Working hard for the good of the community is a major part of malderg life. Labor brings joy for the typical malderg, particularly when she sees results that bring a benefit to her family, clan, and neighbors. The common Tsvergic Unity of Purpose ability shared by many tsverg is seen as a manifestation of these values, reinforcing their importance.
    Aversions: Sloth is unacceptable in malderg culture. In Malador, failure to reliably perform one’s assigned work duties is punishable by imprisonment. Religion is also frowned upon by maldergs as a crutch for those unwilling to work for what they need.
    Religion: Maldergs do not worship the Enaros. To do is seen as a sign of weakness. Maldergs, and tsvergs in general, look at the community as the source of strength and stability. Maldergs venerate their ancestors ritualistically, reinforcing unity of family and lineage. They celebrate birthdays and passingdays, and nearly every home has a stonelog of the family tree. Malderg funerary rites are unique in Narosia as it involves using the Unity of Purpose to guide the spirit of the dead into their clanstone, a massive stone found in ancestral cemeteries (arranged according to genealogy). Spiritguides of Aelos believe, since they are not allowed anywhere near these cemeteries, that the stones allow the spirits to rest peacefully and must therefore be blessed by Aelos. Maldergs also practice a form of communion with these stones that allows them to receive simple answers from their ancestors on certain ritual days.
    Magic: Maldergs see magic as a tool and nothing more. Some individuals are more adept than others and they believe if a person does not know how to use the tool, they should not meddle with it. Enchanted objects are common but a malderg won’t use magic to do something that can be done just as


    Outlanders are hardy individuals who are carving a path into the wild lands of the Sea of Tears basin for civilization. They are blazing trails and opening up new horizons. Every day brings new challenges for outlanders but they refuse to surrender, determined to build a new life for themselves, their children, and their nations.
    Manner: Outlanders are straightforward and honest. They easily tell you where you stand and quickly offer their opinions. Cautious by nature, outlanders know that in the wilds any decision they make is one they will have to live with. Outlanders are helpful to strangers but are slow to accept anyone into their full confidence.
    Values: Outlanders are hardworking people and they appreciate those who pull their own weight. They are also very determined and respect anyone with a clear goal that she is willing to fight for.
    Aversions: The wilds are no place for freeloaders. Those who shirk their duties face strict punishments and possible banishment.
    Religion: Outlanders are highly religious and see the work of the Enaros in everything around them. From a tree that falls near the house to a freak rainfall at mid-day, outlanders are sure the Enaros are speaking to them through these events. To this end outlanders pray to the Enaros for just about anything, making elaborate offerings in the hopes of garnering divine favor.
    Magic: Outlanders would love to have access to magic but it is normally beyond their reach. Outlander children do not have time to study it, few shapers care to venture into the wilds, and enchanted items are just too expensive.


    The gruff and hardened folk known as provincials live a life on the threshold of war. They’ve learned to jealously guard whatever they hold dear and are slow to accept outsiders. Provincials are practical and hardworking and are stalwart companions once one earns their trust.
    Manner: Provincials do what needs to be done and then get on with their lives. They don’t dwell on past tragedies, knowing that life is filled with pain and that wallowing in it accomplishes nothing. They are private and distrusting, but those they call friend have their unwavering support.
    Values: A provincial remains true to his oaths and duties no matter what the cost, and he expects others to do the same. Provincials also value land since the amount she owns is the symbol of a provincial’s status in society. Unfortunately few non-nobles own any land at all.
    Aversions: Dishonor is unforgivable among the provincials. To bring dishonor on oneself or others through one’s own actions is considered the vilest of acts. Provincials also detest liars.
    Religion: Provincials are devoutly religious and have great respect for the holy orders. They make regular offerings to the Enaros, though more out of fear of divine anger than a sense of true worship. This comes from the result of the draconian teachings of the holy orders in the provincial homelands.
    Magic: Magic is rare among the provincials. The constant state of war in the Free Provinces makes it difficult to allocate resources to magical research. In the Free Provinces, shapers are also prime targets for enemies due to the danger they represent on the battlefield.


    A group of rebellious scholars and magi from the arcane college of Winterskeep were the founders of the free spirited selenthean culture. They set out to break the bonds of arcane tradition and are building a new society according to what suits them. Selentheans live by doing, and they aren’t content to accept a thing simply because it has always been that way.
    Manner: Selentheans proudly speak of building a new way of living and are eager to show off their knowledge and discoveries. Consequently, they quickly point out flaws they see in the way other people do things. This creates friction for them when dealing with cultures that are proud of their traditional heritage.
    Values: New ideas are the source of selenthean prosperity and are highly valued. Those who come up with new and better ways of doing things experience success and respect in selenthean society.
    Aversions: Selentheans avoid traditionalism, seeing the ways of the past as mire in which the mind becomes stuck and from which it cannot escape. They are annoyed by ignorance, seeing it as a personal failing on the part of the individual to take the time to educate himself.
    Religion: Toletren is the patron of the selenthean people. Selentheans love to discover new knowledge and they see Toletren as their guiding star. Offering a book to one of Toletren’s libraries is the appropriate manner in which a selenthean asks Toletren for aid.
    Magic: In a society ruled by magi, magic is an everyday part of life. For the typical selenthean magic holds little mystery and its benefits are taken for granted. Enchanted items are common.


    Sokaan are originally from the Scythaan Wastes — a blazing desert that lies south of the Scythaan Wall. The word translates to atlan loosely as “the tribe” or “the family” and refers to the social order shared by all its members. This is an insular culture separate from the regions through which they travel, and nearly all members of the culture are scythaa. However, once an individual is accepted they are part of the sokaan for life. Bound by honor, and highly religious, they believe what is best for the sokaan is the only law they loyally follow whether among their own kind or with outsiders. Their security is maintained by a dedicated group known as the Shaakdaar that act as both champions of the tribes but also internal enforcers of their laws.
    Manner: When in the company of strangers, sokaan are quiet and secretive. Among their own kind and trusted friends, however, they are open and effusive. They use dramatic body language when speaking, saying as much with the bob of the head or a flick of the tail as with the words that accompany the motion.
    Values: Honor is vitally important to the sokaan. Violence can rage between subgroups for decades over seemingly minor infractions of honor. Questioning a sokaan’s ability to protect his family and belongings is the gravest offense, although any insult may constitute a threat worthy of combat. They do their best to maintain as many of the old ways as possible, though their once lush homeland is now a desert.
    Aversions: Sokaan detest the practice of slavery. They react violently to slavers and see those who partake in slavery as the basest of individuals. They also react harshly to invasions of their privacy.
    Religion: Sokaan worship Vale by presenting her with offerings of food. These are left at the highest point in the local area and prayers are intoned over the offering.
    Magic: Magic is uncommon among the sokaan and shapers are respected for both their power and wisdom. Enchanted items are uncommon and greatly valued.

Shane Harsch,
Oct 5, 2014, 8:24 AM