[Race] Benshira

(This is a thread from Mizahar's fantasy role playing forums. Why don't you register today? This message is not shown when you are logged in. Come roleplay with us, it's fun!)

This is where all lore articles are created, edited, noted on, and basically worked up. Feel free to comment, but please do so in the Lore Discussion forum, not here. Remember these lore articles are all WIP. Once the authors feel they are ready to be posted for Peer Review, they can be moved to the Peer Review forum. Lore articles should be a complete first draft before they goe to Peer Review.

Moderator: Scribes

[Race] Benshira

Postby Dovey on January 2nd, 2018, 1:27 am

Article: [Race] Benshira
Author(s): Dovey
Other development: None
Additional Info: Lore stub here; discussion thread here. Gossamer has given me permission to pursue this project. I haven't written anything specifically about their city because I am not the one developing it.

Peer Review Thread: None yet
Founder Review Thread: None yet

Synopsis: The lore article is slated for a total rewrite, but the Benshira will still keep their basic cultural identity as deeply spiritual desert dwellers. Their mode of expressing their culture is mainly what will change. I intend to include specific religious rituals, cultural activities, and traditional style of governance. The outline below is filled out with brief summaries of my planned content.

Outline:

  • History
    - Pre-Valterrian
    • The Benshira came into existence as a people in response to their mistreatment by the Eypharians. They were the two-armed outcasts of Eypharian communities, who banded together to form their own culture under Eypharian rule.
    - Post-Valterrian
    • The Valterrian provided the Benshira with an opportunity to escape Eypharian rule. They began relying only on their own insular, family-based communities, isolating themselves completely from the Eypharians. Once it was possible, many migrated into the desert, developing their current traditions in the centuries which followed.
    • Benshira clans gradually came together to dwell at a particularly large and fertile oasis. Permanent buildings were constructed and this oasis camp slowly transformed into a city. Some Benshira welcomed the change to a more settled, secure way of life, but other clans resented the breaks from tradition city-dwelling required and continued living in their tents around the city's outskirts, holding strictly to the old ways of doing things.
  • Appearance
    • Benshira are often short, with dark hair and tan or brown skin.
    • Most Benshira possess brilliant blue eyes.
    - Clothing
  • Reproduction & Aging
  • Psychology & Values
    • Benshira greatly value justice, generosity and hospitality.
    • Power and prestige are measured by the quality of hospitality and favors granted.
    • For the average Benshira, religion is involved in every aspect of life. Benshira pray often, and there are traditional ways of performing mundane tasks like cooking which are said to invoke Yahal and other good gods.
    • Benshira traditionally despise the Eypharians and, to a lesser extent, the Dhani.
  • Culture
    - Social Structure
    • Traditionally, Benshira live in extended family groups called clans.
    • Clan decisions are made by vote of a council, which consists of all women older than 12 years.
    • The oldest woman in the clan traditionally leads everyone in less consequential decisions as well as those which cannot be made by council. If a priest of Yahal is with a clan, they take on this role instead.
    • The Benshira consider women to be more intelligent than men and expect women to fulfill intellectual tasks, while men are in charge of defense and other labor requiring significant physical prowess.
    - Clan Life
    • [Note: earlier I had clans living at oases in the desert. Now I think these more "rural" Benshira will dwell in semi-nomadic fashion on the outskirts of the city. After all, Mizahar is an inhospitable world and the Eyktol desert especially so. Clans will be better able to survive with the city nearby.]
    • Benshira clans dwell in clusters of tents scattered around the city walls.
    • Clan life traditionally centers around religion and religious rituals.
    - Industry
    • Clan-dwelling Benshira, by necessity, mainly pursue agricultural trades.
    • Pottery and weaving are common trades.
    • Painting is a respected art. Benshira painters mainly decorate practical items, like pottery or tools.
    - Language
  • See the Shiber language page
    - Names
  • Religion
    - Yahal
    • Yahal is the Benshira patron god, and most worship him fervently. Unlike some racial deities, Yahal does not mark every Benshira at birth, but a significant minority have at least one mark of Ennervism.
    - Martial Arts
    • A slow, symbolic martial art is used in many Benshira religious ceremonies, sometimes as a form of dance, sometimes as mock combat.
    • There is also a full-speed version of this martial art, which is useful mainly for defense. Using it is considered a devotional act, only to be undertaken in service to the ideals of Yahal.
    • Due to their inherent physicality, martial arts are the main form of religious expression undertaken by Benshira men.
    - Sacred Art
    • The Benshira have a strong tradition of creating art extolling Yahal, as well as other admired deities. They create painted images and sculptures, filling their shrines with them.
    - Desert Shrines
    • These are religious shrines, built of mud, brick or rarely stone depending on the wealth and ability of the clan to whom they belong. They are constructed in the wilderness at varying distances from the city.
    • Clans make pilgrimages to these shrines while they are engaged in subduing the desert.
Last edited by Dovey on August 30th, 2018, 5:23 am, edited 6 times in total.
"Common" "Fratava" "Pavi"
User avatar
Dovey
One unlucky girl
 
Posts: 270
Words: 221676
Joined roleplay: December 31st, 2016, 10:42 am
Location: Sunberth
Race: Human, Mixed
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Plotnotes
Medals: 1
Mizahar Grader (1)

[Race] Benshira

Postby Dovey on February 17th, 2018, 2:40 am

Agriculture
Common crops include flax, millet, vesper peas, opal berries, viper cucumbers, pomegranate, basil, rosemary, and black pepper. Hik fruit and rose hips are not crops but are commonly scavenged by travelers and the poor.
Acacia honey is a luxury item
Bowbacked goats are the most common livestock, followed by desert cows. Horses are valuable and somewhat rare.
On the coasts, fishing is a popular way to make a living
Clan Benshira mainly follow agricultural trades, planting hardy crops in painstakingly irrigated fields outside the city. As the desert climate lends itself poorly to the growth of large amounts of crops, the Benshiran diet consists in large part of meat and other animal products.

Cuisine
Millet is a staple, and is by far the most common grain used in Benshiran cooking of all kinds.
Millet sautéed in opalberry wine is known as nightbalm, so named because of the twilight-purple tone the wine lends the millet. Tender, sweet and creamy, this is a dish popular among the lower classes due to its simple, easily acquired ingredients. Nightbalm is traditionally prepared on the winter solstice, using young wine made from berries harvested the previous summer and fall. The delicious food's association with the night adds a note of cheer to the long, dreary hours of darkness.

Holidays
Summer Festival (name TBD)
This summer holiday lasts three days. On the first day, a team of three female Benshira will rush to complete an intellectual task assigned at sunrise, with sundown as their deadline. On the second day, a team of three male Benshira will attempt a task of physical prowess, with the same parameters. The tasks are assigned by the city government and are unique each year. Contestants do not apply for their positions; instead, they are chosen by government officials based on their prominence in the community and their suitability for that year’s task. They may, if they wish, turn down the position. Tasks for female teams in past years have included riddle-based scavenger hunts, the skilled composition and performance of a hymn to Yahal, and the completion of a mindbending logic puzzle. Tasks for male teams have included the retrieval of a flag atop an almost inaccessible tower, the traversal of an obstacle course arrayed throughout the city, and the flawless demonstration of a ritual dance. If both teams successfully complete their tasks, the contestants are feted with a grand feast and city-wide festival. If either of the teams fails, the whole contest is considered a failure, and the city hosts a mock funeral parade for the contestants. This is not a genuinely sad event, however, but an occasion for friendly mockery of the contestants and lighthearted self-deprecation for the city in general.
End-of-Season Ceremony (name TBD)
In an effort to combat the power of the wild djed found in the desert, city Benshira perform a ceremony which has evolved from the desert-taming rituals of their nomadic counterparts. On the last day of every season, priests and priestesses of the more reputable gods gather in the city center to pray for protection from the dangerous magic in the new season. Devout citizens join the gathering and offer their own prayers, either for protection from wild djed or for their own individual causes. The main deity petitioned is Yahal, as the Benshiran patron, but one can hear prayers said to any from Makutsi to Tyveth. At midnight, when the watchtower flares and changes color, the voices of those praying rise to a shout in a chant which honors Priskil and asks that the season be full of hope and light. After the ceremony is over, those who stayed up to attend traditionally eat a midnight dessert of spiced and honeyed bread, which is meant to represent the sweetness of the gods' protection.

Clothing
The Benshira wear long, loose robes of lightweight fabric in several layers, with little distinction of clothing between genders. Their robes are mostly thin wool, as this is the most available fabric, and it is both fairly cool during the day and keeps them warm during the desert nights.

Aesthetics
The Benshira associate expensive materials and elaborate designs with their longtime oppressors, the Eypharians. As such, their buildings are generally simple and built for practicality. Similarly, their clothing is sturdy and practical, with little in the way of frills or elaborations even where that would not impede practicality. Jewelry usually follows simple patterns and is made of common materials. However, they do love bright colors as a culture; they paint their simple buildings with joyful abstract designs, and dye their clothing in every bold shade. While the Eypharians prefer elegance, precision, and monetary value, the Benshira associate those values with the snobbishness and entitlement of those who abuse their power. Their own styles represent, for them, the simple happiness of a truly free people.

Psychology and Values
The Benshira idealize humility, and as such do not object as strenuously as many other races to loss of face or loss of glory. They even have a saying for such times: “It’s good not to mistake ourselves for gods.”
The Benshira, having been a slave class under the Eypharians, now view slavery as utterly repulsive. Besides the severe legal penalties they face, slavers and those who own slaves are ostracized from the Benshira community. Most merchants will not sell to one they know is associated with the slave trade, even refusing something as insignificant as a mug of ale.
Last edited by Dovey on August 30th, 2018, 5:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
"Common" "Fratava" "Pavi"
User avatar
Dovey
One unlucky girl
 
Posts: 270
Words: 221676
Joined roleplay: December 31st, 2016, 10:42 am
Location: Sunberth
Race: Human, Mixed
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Plotnotes
Medals: 1
Mizahar Grader (1)

[Race] Benshira

Postby Dovey on April 8th, 2018, 2:38 am

Politics

As a formerly enslaved population, the Benshira are deeply wary of any form of coercive rule. Yet as a people of the inhospitable desert, cooperation is a matter of survival. After their escape from Eypharian rule, the Benshira learned through bitter experience how necessary strong leadership and cohesive teamwork can be for survival.

So the Benshira of the modern day have come to various forms of compromise between their ideal of freedom and the day-to-day necessity for coordinating leadership. Within their family clans, Benshira are guided by a regularly-convened council of all women over the age of twelve - women being considered more competent than men to make strategic interpersonal decisions. The eldest woman of the clan traditionally takes on the most authority here, and also makes any day-to-day decisions which affect the whole clan but are not important enough to bring to the full council. However, this role is not set in stone; if a priest of Yahal, or a great hero or other highly prominent person is with the clan, that person will take on the role of leader.

Within the city of the Benshira, leadership is a great deal more consolidated. A council rules, composed of several priests of Yahal as well as other prominent figures - whether particularly renowned artists, those who have performed a great service to the city, or anyone else deemed worthy. There is no designated size for this council, and in the past it has consisted of as few as three or - once - as many as twenty-seven members. The priests who serve on the council may be either male or female, as the divine wisdom bestowed by Yahal is considered to be above the merely mortal intelligence the Benshira believe women possess in greater measure than men. Other members are almost universally female; it would be a preeminent man indeed to earn a space on the council without possessing Yahal's gnosis.

The process by which a potential candidate joins the city council expresses the Benshiran ideal of freedom bounded by community order. When a public figure becomes admired enough, residents of the city will start to talk among themselves about the possibility of this woman joining the council, and fervent supporters will make their case to the council itself during those meetings which are open to the public. If the council sees that support for this person is prevalent, they will invite the prospective new member to meet with them and attempt to discern whether she is worthy of the position. If they decide she is not, they will reveal their choice and the reasoning behind it to the populace. If they decide she is, she will join immediately and possess all the privileges of the rest of the council, but with one major caveat: she will be on probation for a full year after she joins, and if a majority of the rest of the council agrees, they may remove her at once. After this probationary period, councilors almost always serve for life.

Councilors may, however, be removed from office by one other method. If the councilor falls foul of the people of the city, and they campaign furiously enough for that councilor's removal, the person will be expelled from the council either by the remaining members or by citizens who forcefully kidnap them from the governmental houses. The Benshira are accepting of such extreme measures only when an overwhelming majority stand behind the cause; if such is the case, the council is honor-bound not to oppose the person's removal, but in a situation where debate is present, they will defend their controversial member's position with all the force they deem necessary.

The council is limited in its ability to alter the law only by disagreement among the councilors and the risk of angering the people they govern. Each decision comes to a vote before the full council; a majority vote confirms the decision, while a tie strikes it down, but in the case of disagreement the council usually debates and compromises until they reach some sort of consensus.

[Note: This describes the idealized, fully-functional form of their government. These ideals are important to the Benshira but they don't always hold up. I need to write about the various ways corruption can still slip in.]
Last edited by Dovey on August 30th, 2018, 5:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Common" "Fratava" "Pavi"
User avatar
Dovey
One unlucky girl
 
Posts: 270
Words: 221676
Joined roleplay: December 31st, 2016, 10:42 am
Location: Sunberth
Race: Human, Mixed
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Plotnotes
Medals: 1
Mizahar Grader (1)

[Race] Benshira

Postby Dovey on June 9th, 2018, 9:19 pm

  • Magic
    - Subduing the Desert
    • Benshira engage in the ritual of subduing the desert in order to protect their lands from wild djed storms, which they fear as an existential threat.
    • This is a ritual traditional to Benshira clans; city Benshira do not participate in it.
    • The main element of the ritual is the use of Glyphing, and as such every traditionally minded Benshira clan will strive to have a master Glypher in its ranks.
    • Every year at a regular time, after making preparations for survival, Benshira clans leave their ordinary place outside the city walls and disperse into the desert.
    • Those clans with sufficiently skilled Glyphers confer beforehand, deciding on strategic areas for each to visit, and once they reach their destinations the Glyphers place down glyphs designed to weaken djed storms or divert them away from Benshira territory.
    • Clans without Glyphers skilled enough to combat wild djed still make the pilgrimage into the desert, but they remain at desert shrines and spend the time praying for the success of the Glyphers.
    • Clans with skilled Glyphers also pray during their journeys; indeed each clan engages in a multitude of religious rituals during this time. They sing to Yahal, perform martial artistry, and complete mundane tasks such as pitching camp in ways meant to symbolize the gods' protection and their own devotion. The Glyphers themselves must pray and meditate almost nonstop during the journey.
    - Attitudes Toward Magic
    • It is taboo to use any form of magic other than Glyphing, or to use Glyphing in any other way than as a defense against wild magic. Even Spiritism, Webbing, and other forms of world magic are considered illicit and dangerous. This distrust of Spiritism has created a relatively high population of Benshiran ghosts, and in the past the taboo has been reluctantly relaxed in the case of particularly dangerous spirits.

      The Benshira as a culture do not have a sophisticated understanding of the mechanics behind either personal or world magic; they simply know that magic involves manipulating the energy behind the very essence of things, and they consider this manipulation to be a perversion of nature. Glyphing is permitted because Glyphs do not automatically cause magical effects, and on a practical level, because their deployment against djed storms by master Glyphers has protected many Benshira clans from ruin.
    - Benshiran Glyphing Theory
    • In both its spoken and written forms, the Benshiran language Shiber bears a striking similarity to Nader-canoch, the ancient tongue. As arcane glyphs are, on one level, runic representations of Nader-canoch words, the experience of Glyphing is for a Benshira directly related to the experience of writing in a mundane manner. As such, the training of a Benshiran Glypher begins with their thorough education in literacy.

      Although every Glypher's runes have a unique appearance, Benshira-made glyphs are usually at least reminiscent of the Shiber alphabet. Even a non-Glypher, who is literate in Shiber, may be able to discern the shapes of letters - or occasionally whole words - which relate to the glyph's purpose. Sigils are treated not as machines or pieces of complex art, but as sentences, and most Benshiran Glyphers follow a sort of "grammar" when constructing them.

      The traditional education of a Glypher begins with this grammar, long before the student is actually initiated into the magical discipline. Children tapped for a Glypher's education are drilled in the construction of stock magical "sentences", using Shiber runes in place of Nader-canoch. Only once students have learned neat, consistent penmanship, and are able to construct new "sentences" within the grammatical rules, are they actually initiated and begin to develop their own style of genuine glyphs.
"Common" "Fratava" "Pavi"
User avatar
Dovey
One unlucky girl
 
Posts: 270
Words: 221676
Joined roleplay: December 31st, 2016, 10:42 am
Location: Sunberth
Race: Human, Mixed
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Plotnotes
Medals: 1
Mizahar Grader (1)

[Race] Benshira

Postby Gossamer on September 9th, 2019, 3:14 am



I'm closing and locking this thread since this never progressed or was completed. I rewrote the Benshira in just one day and I didn't utilize any of this material because it seemed rather off to me - either too close to the original writeup or completely off bounds to how I saw the benshira. I can't see nomadic pastorial people having crops, for example. Thank you for the effort on this, but it was simply just not ever finished enough to use.


Gossamer

BBC CodeHelp DeskStarting GuideRiverfallSyka
Special ProjectsSykafall Coordination
User avatar
Gossamer
Words reveal soul.
 
Posts: 20168
Words: 5732460
Joined roleplay: March 23rd, 2009, 4:40 pm
Location: Founder
Blog: View Blog (24)
Race: Staff account
Office
Scrapbook
Plotnotes
Medals: 11
Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (1)
Lore Master (1) Artist (1)
Trailblazer (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
Hyperposter (1) One Million Words! (1)
Extreme Scrapbooker (1) Power Fork (1)


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests