From Mizahar Lore
| Why does your race have so many arms? asked the traveler. Because the weight of glory demands them, said the wise one. |
- Common Eypharian Proverb
An old race supposedly steeped in divine blood, the Eypharians are the beautiful lords and ladies of Eyktol. Enthroned in the desert, they cling to the remnants of a once thriving culture, while balancing lives divided between the love of pleasure and the pursuit of excellence. Their most notable trait, multiple arms, fittingly reflects the complexity and grace of the race.
|Height||4.5' to 7'|
|Lifespan||up to 100 years|
|Major features||Lightly gilded skin, multiple arms|
|Most common in||Eyktol, Ahnatep|
|Reputation||Sophisticated and racist|
|Racial gods||Syna, Dira and Makutsi|
|Racial bonus||+10 in any weapon of choice (Scimitar, Cutlass, etc)|
|Subraces||Halves, quarters, etc.|
The Eypharians are one of the oldest races in Mizahar, so their origins have taken on a myth-like quality. Their origin stems from a beautiful human woman, Eypha, and a river Alvina named Royet. Royet was a follower of Makutsi so devout that he had been elevated to the status of Alvina to serve Makutsi's purposes in watching over the great river that ran through what is now Eyktol. An ephemeral, spirit shape, Royet was one with the river and without any other physical form. He was confined to his post in an eternal route from source to sea through the six arms of the river. All he could see was what passed near the water, and for decades, that was joy enough.
For several years, Royet heard young Eypha and her family sing thanks to the river as they drew water, asking what it had seen in its travels, or he watched them sleep happily on the river's banks. He began to look forward to Eypha's visits and hearing her speak of her life. Eypha's family marvelled that when she was near, the river seemed to rise.
As Eypha grew into a young woman, Royet began to find disturbances in one branch of the six rivers and day by day, found blood to be spilled in his waters. When the blood finally stopped, stones were laid instead; the branch was being blocked up by a dam. Three times he broke through the man-laid stones, but on the fourth, he found he could not. It was with great apprehension that he then found another branch of the river beginning to dam. Turmoil rose in the faces beyond his banks, and in particular, Royet’s beloved Eypha. He listened to her tearful words of outsiders who had come to control the water, striking down any who opposed them. People were dying, she said. An immortal spirit himself, Royet felt deeply this first glimpse of human frailty.
As suddenly as the turn of a fish, one day Eypha did not return to the river. Royet was sorrowful, and daily searched the faces of those beyond his banks. Dams continued to rise in the many branches of the river, and each one was harder to fight than the last. Blood far too often polluted his water.
It was nearly a full moon's cycle before Royet saw his beloved Eypha again. She came to a remote branch of the river in the dead of night, thin and weak. Royet swelled to see her as she crawled into the water, and he longed to carry her away from the troubles that lined her face. Eypha cried with happy nostalgia to see the waters rise as they always did, and she whispered sadly of the harsh times the outsiders had brought.
Eypha rested there only a day before she was caught, and men carried her away from the river bank. Royet threw himself upon the dirt after them, but found that outside his riverbed, he was powerless. Instead, the choppy river followed them towards one of the dams. Eypha fought the men, shoving some into the water below where they mysteriously never surfaced again, but inevitably swords were drawn, and Royet watched with horror as Eypha's blood spilled into his waters. Overcome with fury, he drew upon the depths of his power, all the way back to the source itself, and swept up over the dam.
With two of his arms, he gathered Eypha's bleeding body to him, desperately willing the water to stem the flow of her life's blood. Two more arms reached out and dragged her assailants into his depths, kicking and screaming until their lungs filled with water and they fought no more. Finally, mad with anger and sorrow, the last pair of arms smashed through the dam, sweeping away the rocks and bringing his full might cascading into the riverbed beyond.
Emergence of the Eypharian Race
When it came out that Royet passed on his miraculous six arms to his and Eypha’s children, fascination grew as to how these traits were passed down. What started as common gossip grew into extensive documentation on the traits of the children that were produced when an Eypharian reproduced with a human. It was this documentation that produced the eventual comprehensive theory of aladjunn - the study of heritable traits and how they are passed down from one generation to the next.
With each generation, the Eypharian family grew prolifically in size as well as power. Many desired to become connected to the family of Eypharian Araka and subsequently the family grew exponentially, continuing to produce amazing six armed children. After many generations, the Eypharians were not just one large family, but entire communities. The study of aladjunn became a prominent one as, many generations away from Royet’s semi-divine djed, the prevalence of six-armed children became less certain. Four-armed children were born instead, still more divine than their two-armed brothers, but less so than those with six. Social divides became clearer, with many communities choosing to cast out two-armed humans, calling them mbene-shur – those who worship. The unspoken, conceited addendum to the name was ‘those who worship Eypharians’, and the upswell of worship for the god Yahal during this time among the outcasts only cemented the name. As the number of Eypharians grew, these outcast members of society became the targets of much racism and hatred, finding it difficult to procure housing and good employment, which in turn led many to become involved in indentured servitude to pay debts. For many, outright slavery became the only way to have a roof over their family's heads.
The mbene-shur would eventually band together as not only the cast-offs of Eypharians, but a people in their own right. At some point, they began co-opting the name they had been branded with as a rallying banner, the Benshira, meaning ‘children of faith’.
Due to the extensive record-keeping and interest (though some would say obsession) with bloodlines, vague details are still known about pre-Valterrian Eypharian society.
At the time, the Eypharians were the strongest and wealthiest race in the region. Research into aladjunn continued, and by this point, extensive records on every Eypharian existed in great halls with venerable scholars to update and protect them. A scientific approach to research into this area spread to others, and it was through precise timekeeping and experimentation that allowed the race to take full advantage of the vast farmland sustained by the bi-annual flooding of the great six-armed river.
The highest noble, the head of the house closest to that of Royet and Eypha, was called Pressor or Pressorah, and governed over four lower noble houses. The initial grant of power was through the bloodline to Eypha and Royet themselves, being most pure and closest to the divine. Titles were as valuable as blood and were passed through lineages. Possessing six arms was, and still is, a sign of closeness with the divine.
The region’s history with the empire was lost in the Valterrian, so no details remain of the Eypharians' annexation. It was a peaceful one, orchestrated by Pressorah Sunematra. They were the first civilization in the Eyktol region to join the empire and benefited because of their amenability. Eypharian nobles correctly reasoned that the empire would have little reason to enmesh themselves in the daily affairs of such a distant and hard to navigate territory. The nobles were granted the power to act as magistrates and governors over the Eyktol region and were also allowed them to keep their ceremonial titles. As the Eypharians hoped, little changed in their daily affairs, save they had to gather tribute or supply soldiers, both of which could be culled from the lowly Benshira. In return, the Eypharians had the weight of the empire behind them.
This weight only further solidified the extensive social structures that were in place, allowing them to keep the Eypharians on top, and all others below. The Chakatwe, who had always been nomads, were only respected as far as their tradable goods carried them, and the fact that few made the effort to live in one of the Eypharian cities allowed them to escape much of the more violent racism. The Dhani were much the same, being viewed as a more bestial race, but not commonly seeking to integrate with Eypharian society. The Benshira had no such luxury, toiling in the lower rungs of society. The nobles of the Eypharians were equal with the rulers of their cities, and Benshira were excluded from holding any power. Many Eypharians viewed the Benshira as being divinely purposed with occupying those roles. Though records of the happenings of this time no longer remain, the sentiment lives on.
When the Valterrian struck, it immediately tumbled the Eypharian cities of Menehat, Naphu, and Bisret, and ruining much of Ahnatep. Fire and wild djed rolled over the land, stripping much of the life from the soil and leaving desert in its wake.
The few Eypharian families that managed to survive were scattered, huddled in the buried ruins of their houses and halls. Much of the lower classes perished in the violence that swept through the land around them, and it was mostly nobles and those wealthy enough to have built sturdy stone residences that survived. By the third generation, the world was beginning to settle and people began to venture out of hiding. When the first brave souls ventured above ground, they found all but a single Eypharian city, Ahnatep, utterly destroyed. Miraculously, the Pressor’s family had survived there, his emergence popularly attributed to his divine bloodline and not the deep stone walls of his home. With so much of the remaining population of Eypharians being those who had spent their lives relying on social mores, an almost immediate return to their social hierarchies was a lifeboat of stability in the chaos.
Much of the third and fourth generations after the Valterrian was spent relearning how to survive. Nobles were not farmers, and many perished from hunger and the elements in the decades prior. Still, with the dedicated management of the Pressor, and a people who trusted his divine bloodline and ability to lead implicitly, the Eypharians began to rebuild. Slave labor was drawn primarily from stray Benshira and kelvics found straggling through the desert and much of the hard labor was done under the crack of the whip. Eypharians banded together to make Ahnatep their home, and while basic farming procedures had to be rediscovered, the traditional tracking of bloodlines continued to ensure the Eypharian race was not too diluted.
With bureaucracy preserved above basic agriculture, it was not too long before the Eypharian race felt the backlash of it. The fertile lands north of Ahnatep that had been chosen for farmlands began to produce less and less, and despite the warnings of those who worked the fields, farming was demanded to continue to satisfy the growing population. By the year 300AV, the area was completely barren, the soil sucked dry of any nutrients, and attempts to farm other areas around the city had failed. Despite rumors among the Benshira and Chakatwe that the famine was a curse from Caihya for Eypharian hubris, the Eypharians began to rely heavily on outside trade for food.
With the rest of the world beginning to stabilize, ‘functional luxuries’ became Ahnatep’s primary trade, in exchange for sustenance from outside races. Spices, primarily salt, dominated the export market, along with tools, fabrics, wadj (a form of paper), and oils. Much was looted from the destroyed sections of Ahnatep, allowing the race to get by while new production began in earnest. A yearly caravan to the northern Drykas, who passed closest to Eyktol in the winter, became a source of great bounty, with many venturing out into the desert to make contact with the men of the grasslands beyond. The Chaktwe and Dhani were also welcomed as traders, and it was during this time that many laws were passed to protect free Benshira in order to encourage their wandering tribes to trade with Eypharians. Such protective laws, while unpopular at the time, had limited success and would evolve into the limits of today’s slave trade in Ahnatep.
While many did perish in what was nearly a race-wide famine, in time, Eypharians began to prosper once more. Smaller farming areas, nowhere near enough to sustain the city, were carefully carved out of the surrounding desert. No longer on the brink of collapse, they attempted to forget their mistakes and turned, best they could, to business and trade.
A race that had always been fascinated with their own history now finds themselves, 500 years after the Valterrian, where they imagine their pre-Valterrian ancestors had been. With so much of their history lost, it is paramount to preserve what they have left, even at the cost of building upon it. The glory of the race comes before almost all else and while this makes the regulation of bloodlines far more important than it had ever been, it also opens up social positions to those who can distinguish themselves and the Eypharian race through personal achievements and skill.
As the Eypharian economy and society grows, slave labor continues to be a need for many Eypharians to maintain lives of luxury. As Eypharians now rely on trade with races including the Benshira, kidnapping them out of the desert is frowned upon, though many of the city’s traders covertly continue the practice and those in power turn a blind eye to pursuing claims. Kelvics are either slaves or pets and are not actively disliked so long as they remain in their roles. Chakatwe, Dhani, and other races are similar in status, accepted so long as they do not disturb the status quo.
Eypharians age much like humans, but have a complexion that allows them to age more gracefully than many. This longevity of looks may also be attributed to their consummate vanity that encourages the use of creams, oils and makeup to protect them from sun exposure. It is also for this reason that Eypharians are typically a physically fit race, with most Eypharians learning a weapon or method of combat from a young age. Fitness is not encouraged for military might or physical strength in and of itself, only for the glorification of the divine Eypharian body.
Eypharian skin tone ranges from tan to olive and appears faintly gilded in high light. Paler or darker skin tones are possible due to heritage, but are uncommon. Natural hair colors tend to be blacks and browns but many, particularly women, dye their hair vivid colors. Eye color ranges widely within normal colors, though paler tints are uncommon.
The most noticeable feature of any Eypharian is the number of arms. Due to the bone structures, the shoulders and chest of an Eypharian appear to be slightly wider than an average humanoid; averaging two to four inches wider.
The arrangement of the shoulders, and thus the arms, is primarily vertical and then horizontally staggered, allowing each of the arms to rest only partially on top of one another:
The top shoulder is centered and slightly extended outwards from the body, and is roughly where the shoulders are in two-armed beings. It is this shoulder that visually defines the breadth of the shoulders, and the positioning is the same for 4- and 6- armed Eypharians.
The middle shoulder is set down and slightly forward, meaning the back edge is an inch or two underneath the top shoulder. In 4-armed Eypharians, this shoulder joint is missing, resulting in the lowest shoulder developing further up and very slightly forward.
The lowest shoulder is the one set furthest back, the front edge an inch or two under the back edge of the top shoulder. In 6-armed Eypharians, these arms have difficulty moving forward unless the other arms are also extended outward. In 4-armed Eypharians, these arms are not set quite as far back, making them rest more underneath the top shoulder and consequently much more dexterous.
Another feature unique to the Eypharians are glands on either side of the base of the neck that excrete pleasant smelling pheromones. These glands emerged as a mutation in the Eypharian race in pre-Valterrian times, but there is no evidence that it was studied or even noticed at the time. Like the gilding of the skin, it was a subtle mutation that appeared during one of the periods of high incest, which, unlike the more undesirable traits that also appeared during this time, only increased the attractiveness of the bearer. In creating more attractive mates, the traits were able spread quickly and is now considered a defining characteristic of the race.
Physically, the glands produce a small amount of what can appear to be sweat at the base of the neck. On the surface of the skin, the small glands on either side of the neck are invisible, though with pressure applied to the area, it is possible to feel the sacs nestled under the skin just above the clavicle. Each gland is the size of a large peanut and feels soft and malleable. During high pheromone production, the skin of the neck may feel moist, but it is difficult to detect gland activity visually.
On an average day, pheromone production will only result in the Eypharian in question simply smelling pleasant. However, many factors can change pheromone production or their scent. Male pheromones in particular do not smell as strong as females', but are no more or less pleasant. In females, production is at its height during ovulation, to the point where it is as noticeable as strong perfume. This period lasts 3-5 out of every 28 days and is as regular as the women’s menstrual cycle. During pregnancy, female pheromones continue production, but at a lower rate and slightly different in smell, which reverts to normal levels after birth. In males and females, sweat will not increase pheromone production, but existing pheromones will smell stronger, combined with the scent of typical body odor. Immediately after washing, particularly if the glandular area is scrubbed, pheromone production will be low and the scent almost non-existent. During sexual arousal, pheromone production may increase, though how much varies from person to person.
In males and females, pheromones begin secreting at sexual maturity. In females, after the onset of menopause and the end of fertility, pheromone production may continue at a lower rate for 1-3 years before finally tapering off. Male pheromones are produced from maturity until death.
The scent of every man and woman is different, though only those highly experienced in the art of perfumery may be able to detect the subtle differences in similar-smelling pheromones. Scents have a wide range of bases, but all have musky undertones that tie strongly to, and often inspire, sexual attraction. Additionally, an Eypharian’s scent may change slightly throughout their lifetime.
Pheromone harvesting is a trade common in Eypharian perfumers, and a widely sought export. Collection methods vary from master to master, but in most cases, the subject is willing. Piercing the gland is ineffective – even if the harvester is able to successfully target the gland, only a small amount is stored in the small sac at any one time and damaging the gland runs the risk or altering or halting the production of pheromones altogether.
Exalted as Eypharian skin is, it is not enough to walk about with it bare. The need for betterment extends from the djed to the skin, and the meanest of Eypharians can scrape together a couple mizas for some method of adorning themselves.
Very elaborate makeup is widespread on women and even men line their eyes in kohl or use mica dust. Caretakers for the elderly and children are expected to be well-versed in cosmetology, to adorn those who cannot do it themselves. It is a common joke that Eypharian women are born with such designs on their skin. Hair is often painted and sometimes adorned with fine chains of precious metal. If an Eypharian woman is not in the habit of painting her hair, she will keep it exceptionally long. Either sex wears jewelry as a display of power and rank.
Clothing tends to consist of linen made from flax and is lightweight to combat the desert heat. Silk or exotic animal pelts are worn by the upper classes or those aspiring to such positions. Eypharians love color and bold patterns, especially since the richness of hue indicates the costliness of the clothes. Embroidery is another indication of wealth, and some Eypharian women spend extensive amounts of time embroidering their dresses, or purchasing a slave to do so.
Men wear solid color kilts that stop at the end of the thigh, a bandolier and some sort of light armor on their wrists. Women wear sleeveless robes or delicate sheaths of linen or silk bound at the waist with cords or gem encrusted belts. The neck is considered an erogenous zone by Eypharians, especially the glandular area, so women frequently wear collars or paint to highlight the grace of their neck or the curve between it and the shoulder. Footwear is a simple sandal of leather, wealth being shown by the amount of semiprecious stones on its straps. Indoors, the lower class tend to wear slippers made of reeds.
Due to societal emphasis on the caretaking of the body, it is not uncommon for the young and fit to dress in revealing clothing, though there is a fine, often blurry, line between what is revealing and what is revealing too much.
Aladjunn - The Study of Heritable Traits
The study of physical characteristics and how they're inherited through generations is called aladjunn by the Eypharians, meaning loosely ‘made of heaven and man’. The name is a testament to the origins of the field, studying the race’s own divine origins and how to maintain its gift of many arms. It is known that the traits for every facet of Mizahar, from the largest velispar to the smallest grain of sand, is blueprinted in its djed. What is known only to the Eypharians, through centuries of dedicated study and caretaking of knowledge, is the pattern heritable traits take when being passed down through generations.
In ancient, primitive times, the general knowledge was that djed was unique to each person and was determined equally by the traits of the parents and divine will. Children were expected to have only a blend of their parents’ traits, with the prominent traits determined by divine providence in conjunction with various local superstitions. For example, a mother may subside on a diet of thistle blossoms and cow’s milk to bear a child with fair skin. A potential father may sleep on his left side to sire children blessed with uncommon strength. Notions were highly localized and were deeply embedded in the culture of the area.
Such it was in the time of Royet, Eypha, and their first child, where word spread quickly of the child’s miraculous six arms. The Araka child was indeed blessed, and so were her eventual many brothers and sisters. When those children grew and had children of their own, it sparked intense curiosity that some of the children had four, or even two arms. It was thought that the children were either blessed or cursed by their future actions, and as fervent prayers for six-armed children increased, an unspoken prejudice against 4-armed children took hold.
As the Eypharian family grew with generation upon generation of seemingly random arm numbers, common thought as to their source shifted. That every child should be individually blessed, or cursed, seemed less likely, and focus shifted more towards the parents and their divine bloodline. At the time, Eypharians were hovering between status as a community and an extended family, but it was hard not to notice that the children of multi-armed parents always had multiple arms, whereas children with one non-Eypharian parent ran a 30% chance of being born with two arms.
With this observation, the idea of a receding divine blessing was becoming an unpopular one and the investigation began as to the true source. Records of bloodlines were created and pored over. Eypharians of the time had begun an era of science, and it was with the same industrial mindset that this issue was approached. It wasn’t until a single Eypharian, Takate re Ahnatep, published his theory of aladjunn that the race had an answer.
Traits were not a mere blending of those from the parents, he found, they were the result of the combination of djed where the expression of certain traits in the parents were either less or more powerful than others and it was this that determined the child’s characteristics. While it was a single trait that separated Eypharians from others, by means of their multiple arms, it was the result of a pair of traits that determined the number of arms. Particularly, Royet had introduced divine djed that allowed for multiple arms, but it was a particular set of variations in djed that already existed in the population of pre-Eypharians that determined the number. The people of Eyktol had been blessed with this djed, Takate said, at the beginning of time, to prepare those of the desert for Royet’s coming. Without Royet’s divine djed, this pre-existing variation had had nothing to act upon and had thus only lay dormant.
In a grand display that would seal his brilliance in the eyes of his peers, Takate took one hundred couples, all including at least one six-armed Eypharian and interviewed them extensively about their family histories. Nine months later, he was able to predict with a fair amount of accuracy not only the number of arms each child would have, but several other traits such as eye color and nose shape. Though his predictions relied on chance and probabilities, the level of accuracy was beyond any other predictions that had been made to that point in Eypharian history. The theory of aladjunn became fact almost overnight.
The idea brought a wave of deep inbreeding with the next generation as well as redoubled racism against outsiders in a community that was not quite big enough to support it. In the next decade before new science and propaganda from the Pressor could put a stop to the inbreeding, mutations appeared in swaths across the community. Cleft palates, shriveled arms, and club feet in babies brought many noble houses low as it was thought that attempting to return to purer blood so artificially had brought a scourge from the gods.
Takate, whose research was by now funded by the Pressor’s house and was personally held in as high regard as nobility, proposed an alternative after several years of study and cataloguing. Eypharians were not being punished by an unspecified god, it seemed their own djed was working against them. When djed was paired with djed that was too similar, traits that were far too recessive to normally present, particularly undesirable ones, would combine with enough strength to present in the subsequent child. The inbreeding craze died mostly out, and it became highly fashionable to have Takate, or one of his understudies, vet a possible match between branches of the Eypharian family.
In the subsequent years of his life, as the Eypharian family grew exponentially into a fully-fledged community, Takate established the society of the Zapatl, an ancient word meaning heritage, to continue and expand his work.
The Zapatl started as only Takate re Ahnatep and his family aiming to catalogue physical traits along bloodlines to better understand the nature of aladjunn and to warn couples of possible mutations if their bloodlines were too close. In a great hall in his home city of Ahnatep, entire volumes were kept on Eypharian families that marked prominent traits for each member. First indicated among these traits were the presence and number of multiple arms. The traits were marked in boxes with a series of letters to indicate what traits the person should have, even if they were not expressed.
The family would soon grow into a society that would later, after Takate’s death, move beyond simply cataloguing, but managing Eypharian bloodlines as well.
By the time the Eypharians were annexed into the Alahean empire, the Hall of the Zapatl had become a venerable monument to Qalaya and noble Eypharian history in the heart of Ahnatep, as well as containing locked records of every known Eypharian. Many joked it was as fortified as the Pressor’s palace. It had become required for all marriages and births to register there and submit to screening to be assured the Eypharian race did not become either too diluted or riddled with mutations.
Despite nearly institutionalized racism, pairings with non-Eypharians were occasionally required if the parent in question wished to reproduce at all, if it was determined an Eypharian’s blood was too risky to pair with another Eypharian. A class of Benshira who could miraculously have a chance at producing Eypharians, with an Eypharian parent, rose after the careful deliberation of the Zapatl, who called them the Children of the Zapatl. These men and women were descended from few two-armed Eypharian children who had escaped infanticide. They were considered Benshira and were subject to the common racism unless they managed to couple with an Eypharian, itself uncommon, and managed to produce a multi-armed child, even more of a rarity. While this ability no doubt existed rarely in the main population of Benshira, it was carefully cultivated in a class of sprisen, if they were male, and concubines, if they were female. These precious few fetched an extremely high price on the slave market and it was a harshly punished offense to mistreat one.
When the Valterrian struck, the Hall of the Zapatl was one of the only structures to remain mostly intact, though several wings caved in and scores of records were lost to the invading sand. Those who had been fortunate enough to have been inside huddled in darkness and impending starvation, like much of the rest of the world. When they emerged, only a few of the most resolute members of the society remained, and they were instrumental in the push to return to a pre-Valterrian hierarchy.
Now, they argued, it was more important than ever to be watchful of the divinity in the blood of the Eypharian people. With so few families left, it was vital to walk the delicate line between maintaining pure bloodlines and preventing them from becoming too pure. Pressor Kryus instituted law that gave the Zapatl authority to determine the best reproductive matches between the remaining Eypharians. For a people who were desperate to reclaim old ways, the measure was adopted with vigor into the recovering society. The next generation of children would grow up knowing their eventual matches would be determined by the Zapatl, men and women who knew their blood better than they did.
Current State of Knowledge
In the 500 years since the Valterrian, the Zapatl has lessened in power, but still exercises a great deal of it. Children are still required to be registered with the society and the penalty for failing to register a child, or for attempting to lie about one’s parentage, is either a hefty fine or imprisonment. For the wealthy, love matches are a luxury not often taken for the sake of appearances. Failing to do one’s part for the betterment of the race by engaging in a match governed instead by emotion was a sure way to lose face. For the poor, many do not bother asking for approved matches, but more than one joining ceremony has been interrupted by an unexpected Zapatl decree insisting the match would produce undesirable offspring. If an Eypharian is discovered in a far-off land, a demand will eventually make it to them, ordering their return to Ahnatep to continue the betterment of their race. The Children of the Zapatl all died in the Valterrian, and it is considered that their rare trait no longer exists in the current population of Benshira.
Most Eypharian children are taught the secrets of aladjunn as part of their schooling, to further instill the idea of Eypharian superiority as well as the loyalty to always seek to further the race as a whole. Under no circumstances is it taught to non-Eypharians, even if they were raised in an Eypharian family. The very poor, who wouldn't have had access to proper education, would only know the general concept of aladjunn from societal common knowledge.
In current day, mutations are watched for more carefully than the state of the Eypharian race’s djed pool. The below chart illustrates the different chances for offspring each type of parentage may produce. While historically, pairings between Eypharians and Benshira, such as the Children of the Zapatl, could very rarely produce multi-armed children, the djed pool of the current population of Benshira no longer contains the traits to produce multi-armed children.
Reproduction and gestation for Eypharians is identical to humans, being 9 months long. There can be occasional complications with additional arms, most often with 6-armed babies. Babies of any race born breech, that is, bottom down instead of head down, can be extremely dangerous for the mother and/or child. However, 4- and especially 6-armed babies born this way are doubly dangerous due to the additional width of the arms. Cesarean sections are uncommon due to the danger of such an invasive procedure and only performed as a last resort. Breech babies account for only 4% of births, so while it is a danger and a concern, it is uncommon.
The process of reproduction is one carefully monitored in Eypharian society, meaning all births need to be registered with the Zapatl. Traditionally-leaning families often instill in their children the idea that while they may leave Eyktol and venture into the world, a truly noble Eypharian will one day return to reproduce and share the divine djed in their veins. The idea is beginning to die out in modern day, particularly among the poor and those who grew up away from Ahnatep.
When Eypharians breed with other humanoid races, it will produce a child with only two arms. However, the child may inherit the powerful pheromones and gilded skin of the Eypharian parent.
It is for this reason that racism is so embedded in the race's culture - from without, none are as great as they; from within, the lazy and the unrefined only bring down the race as a whole. The slightly lowered status of 4-armed Eypharians is quiet and not often spoke of, save for the rare fanatic on the issue, but they are still considered Eypharians by all, only 'less pure'.
This hierarchy of races is reflected in the race’s own social hierarchy. Classes and social labels are of great importance and navigation upwards in society is something every Eypharian is expected to for. To this end, it is profoundly integrated into the Eypharian psyche that one must pursue excellence and perfection. This pursuit could be in any number of avenues: beauty, industry, physical strength, wealth, etc. Once an Eypharian has accepted where they are as the best they can achieve, they cease to push the limits of what their divine blood is capable of. The root of these aspirations, whether it be for the noble goal of bringing glory on the Eypharian race, or simply to surpass one’s neighbors, depends on the individual. Most Eypharians would claim to the former, while their true ambitions remain hidden.
Due to the fascination with themselves and their own history, Eypharians are largely literate and have a good knowledge of their history and politics. They are rarely barbarous or wild in nature and it is such traits they feel separate them from those they view as barbarians, primarily the desert-wandering Benshira. Even the lowest warriors are disciplined and tutored in basic strategy.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Eypharians will never pass up an opportunity to show off. In a world still recovering from the Valterrian, few races are as dedicated to throwing a good party as the Eypharians. A couple may spend a fortune to celebrate the birth of their 6-armed child, or a craftsman may spend half a year’s salary to properly celebrate his entrance into the Gilded. These gatherings are a test in balancing politics and revelry, where every Eypharian can practice sophistication, even if they have none.
While they are a cultured people not given to rampant bloodlust, the Eypharians are also known for a cold ruthlessness. For Eypharian glory, they will deceive, trample, or enslave anything that dares cross their path.
Eypharians live by rigid standards of rank and class. However, the lowliness of one's parentage can be conquered through skill or beauty. Entering the desired social circle is feasible, but earning respect from its influential members is the difficult part.
Eypharians are also open racists. They do not act superstitiously around lesser races like the Benshira would, but merely pretend the lower creature is not even there. More animalistic races are treated like pets they must tolerate or a glob of something foul. Dhani are the one exception due to their years of collaboration with the Eypharians. Humanoid races are largely regarded with cool politeness, save Myrians and Benshiras. Eypharians have an active dislike for Myrians, considering them a primitive and ignorant race that would not know order or beauty if it bit them. Benshiras, however, were once slaves to the Eypharians, so there is often a condescending tinge to interactions. Non-Eypharian inhabitants have risen in the city's rank either by sheer skill or a thorough embrace of Eypharian lifestyle.
From top to bottom, the social hierarchy is constructed as follows. Within each class, save the very top, there are even further distinctions based on bloodlines and/or power.
1. The Pressorah Bashti
2. Sun Bearers or Inkara: The Pressorah's family, including only those with royal blood.
3. Jibade: Non-royal family members. A form of nobility, despite not being tied to any of the Four Winds. Their "House" is considered to be the Pressorah's. Jibade roles tend to be ceremonial.
4. Scepters: The Pressorah's most trusted. Overseers of particular areas. Commonly drawn from either the Four Winds or the Gilded.
5. Hawks: Martial Leaders moving in ranks from 1st (highest) to 3rd (lowest).
And The Houses of the Four Winds: the noble houses divided by North, South, East and West, defined by their relation to the original grantees of the first Pressor's blessing. Each have their own guard and enough means to pose threats to one another.
6. Gilded: the wealthy and clever who populate the Pressorah's court and feasts, but lack a title from the Four Winds. The pool from which she draws those fit for higher purposes.
7. Jackals: members of the guard, divided into various ranks.
8. Servants to the city.
9. Palace concubines.
10. Foxes: general foot soldiers in training who have not yet attained the rank of Jackal.
11. All other Eypharians and Dhani.
12. Humanoid races.
13. Monstrous races.
The Throne and And Positions of Power
Nobility is a rare thing in Mizahar. Few cultures are stable or large enough to cultivate anything resembling a proper nobility. Immediately after the Valterrian, Bloodline became secondary in seizing power. In the current time, Ahanatep has become peaceful enough to allow the role of blood to be a prominent feature in the ruling class. No longer a subset of a greater empire, the Eypharians are a power unto themselves.
Rights to the throne pass amongst the Inkara (family of the Pressor) through a rigid hierarchy. The order always moves from male to female then eldest to youngest. Initially, throne passes from ruler to eldest male child. If no males were born, the privilege goes to eldest female child. Should all the Pressor's children be dead, yet they left children the throne passes amongst the grand-children, should the grandchildren be dead as well, it goes to the great-grandchildren. Next in line are the Pressor's illegitimate children from male to female, followed by the great, great grandchildren on down the direct line.
If the Pressor left no direct heirs, the throne goes to the ruler's siblings first to the males then the females. However, only full siblings may take at this juncture, not halves. The power then passes to the children of those siblings, the Pressor's nephews and nieces. If none exist, then the right falls to half siblings of the ruler. Then to the elder uncles and aunts of the ruler. Then to their children and so on.
Should the Pressor be younger than seventeen, a regent, chosen by the Pressor prior to his death will be appointed. The regents are usually Eypharians late in years and not from the Inkara to discourage a usurping of the throne.
This web to the throne is also a model for the prestige of each position. Greater regard is given those closer to the the privilege. The current ruler is Pressorah Bashti.
The Houses of the Four Winds
Each House of the Four Winds is a force in and of themselves with their own guard and traditions. Power is maintained through blood and a governing of specific resources. Occasionally houses create alliances with one another through marriage. Otherwise, Houses of the Four Winds are in active competition with each other.
The Eypharian language, Arumenic (Aru= river, Menic= language), has migrated the least from the Ancient Tongue due to the continual caretaking of their history by Eypharians. Out of the present day languages it resembles the Ancient Tongue the most. The sound patterns are similar to the Ancient Tongue but have been over the centuries influenced by Common. Significant traits from Nader-Canoch (The Ancient Tongue) in Arumenic include:
- glottal stops,
- a guttural consonant sound represented as "ayn",
- the softness of the letter "y",
- the interpretation of "w" as an "ou" sound,
- the interchangeable nature of the letters "b" and "m". (When "b" or "m" are used they are pronounced like the "mb" in the common word "numb")
- the main vowel sound being "u"
- And the pronunciation of "t" as "tsh"[/list]
For example, the word Aynwba, companion, would be pronounced (roughly) Aiy-een-noum-a
Sentence composition is also irregular, compared to common, and uses a verb-subject-object structure. However, sections of a sentence can be rearranged with the use of position-conjunctions after each part, such as ‘tu’ indicating a direct object and ‘ank’ indicating subject. Arumenic used this way is typically reserved for poetry, complex literature, and song.
High Arumenic is spoken by the upper class and any privileged enough to be trained in Semhu. It is an elaboration of Arumenic that includes both subtle gestures and nuanced tones to express deeper meanings than words alone. Amateurs in this style of language, and often children, may employ the above method of rearranging the sentence to match their intended gestures, but a master can take any spoken phrase and add new meaning to it with a seemingly innocuous gesture or change in tone. An outsider may hear an idea completely contrary to what the speaker is actually saying. It is also a treacherous style of speaking as it is difficult to pin a practitioner to a particular meaning.
Casual Uses of Multiple Arms
The use of hands in conversation and casual interactions, while integral to High Arumenic, is often employed in traditional Arumenic as well. For example, a simple handshake can convey commentary on the recipient’s social status. When greeting one of an equal class, each Eypharian will clasp one of their middle-set hands. When greeting one of lower, or perceived as lower, class, an Eypharian may subtly indicate their perception by offering instead a lower hand to clasp in greeting. When greeting one of a higher class, and wishing to impress by showing proper deference, an Eypharian may offer one of their top-set hands in greeting.
When dining or performing any type of public act that only employs two arms, Eypharians will typically use only the upper or middle set of arms, and have any lower sets folded in their lap. This avoids the appearance of flailing and needing to mindlessly employ an upper set of arms in order to give better range of motion to a lower set. When in private or while in some type of industry, the use of hands is up to personal preference. Upper classes will often use four arms while eating, leading to elaborate table settings and more room to move surrounding each person. Lower classes, especially if they cannot afford such table settings, typically stick to the highest set of hands.
However, despite having multiple arms, Eypharians are not perfect multi-taskers. As it is difficult for even two-armed beings to learn to do completely different things with different hands, such as simultaneously patting heads and rubbing stomachs, being truly ambidextrous is an ability that must be practiced and gotten used to. It is a common ability for Eypharians to put their minds to, but it is not automatic.
Eypharian first names tend to favor the use of the letters "T", "K", "H", "A", "S" and "R" and frequently end in vowels sounds. However, these rules are not absolute. Names are often a reflection of parents' estimation or aspirations for their child and any Eypharians spend their lives living up to or overcoming their titles.
Last names are not indications of family, as they are for other races. They are preceded by "re" and originally stemmed from names for the great river and its branches or the city in which one was born. Since the river and most the cities are gone, Eypharians maintain the names of their ancestors, regardless of where they were personally born. Current names are drawn from the four old cities (Ahnatep, Menehat, Naphu and Bisret) as the river families died out amidst the Valterrian.
However, last names involving the city of birth are only used in formal or legal proceedings. It is far more common for an Eypharian to identify himself by title or profession. Khafre re Bisret would usually introduce himself merely as Khafre, Khafre the Jeweler or, if titled, Khafre of the Eastwinds.
Housing for families largely depends on wealth and whether the family can afford to spread out. It’s not uncommon for the poor to live with extended family in a single home, with the younger generation growing up with the hope of being the ones to ‘get out on their own’. In the middle and upper classes, children occasionally live with their parents until marriage, but almost never after. Marriage is the point at which one is expected to start their own life, and taking responsibility of a household is an expected part of that. Upon achieving their first measure of financial success, many flaunt their independence by moving out and acquiring homes of their own. These early homes are often on the very brink of what the young Eypharian can afford, to show off as much as possible. Children grow up with the expectation that they must one day own a home grander than their parents’.
The family member who is considered the head is often up for debate. While the eldest is usually considered the matriarch or patriarch, family politics may move this position around a great deal. Even among families spread out over multiple households, power plays are extremely common, and can get turn deadly when inheritance of wealth is involved. Such intra-family intricacies are cultural mores and feature often in plays and literature.
In any class, well-bred children are precious. After the difficulty of finding a suitable match, that is, one from a proper bloodline, the resulting offspring are born with a tremendous amount of pressure on their shoulders: to further the family name, their own name, and as always, the Eypharian race as a whole. While the Pressorah’s house has schools funded for the poor, most of the middle and upper class choose individual tutors for their children. For those looking to save money, many tutors offer teaching several students at once, often with a guarantee that they will be of equal societal status. Such informal schools are centered around a single tutor who teaches the batch of children for several years before they move onto another. The wealthy rarely allow their children to take part in anything but completely personalized tutelage, though there is a current trend of high-class schools of this sort, which allow children from equally lofty ranks to form alliances from early ages.
As precious as children are, there is always the risk of bearing a misshapen child. Even with such emphasis on vetting blood, mistakes in djed can still happen and such a birth results in what is often a heartbreaking decision for the parents: kill the child immediately, raise it in either shame or secrecy, or leave Ahnatep to raise it away from the city's judgments. If the baby finds mercy in its first few moments, it will find precious little kindness in Eypharian society. A marriage, much less a family of their own, will be nigh impossible to arrange and their social status is only a hair above that of slaves.
House slaves and servants are at the bottom rungs of any family, rich or poor. The poor may own a single slave, or a part-time servant, for the manual labor of cooking and cleaning. The middle classes often have two or three slaves with varying specialties, such as a cook, maid, and butler. Among the wealthiest Eypharians, as many as a dozen different slaves is not uncommon. For these families, each member often has their own valet, in addition to maid, cooks, gardeners, etc.
Most Eypharian industry revolves around portable luxury goods. Due to their distance from other cities they favor goods easily transported and worth the effort of caravans and ships. While the race produces a broad range of product they are most known for their perfumes, cosmetics, wadj (a form of paper) and dyes. For greater detail on common industries, please see the [wiki]Ahnatep[/wiki] entry.
For those not borne into money, and even for many who are, industry is the primary method of gaining prestige. Apprentices are taken on with the expectation that they should seek to surpass the master, though few such masters ever expect their own work to be outdone. If it is, the master is expected to take what pride they can that they were the ones to refine such talent. After an apprenticeship, an internship may last for several years, depending on the complexity of the trade. At an undetermined point in an Eypharian’s career, they must make a decision: be made partner in the business, take it over outright, or leave to start their own business. Family politics often weave their way into this decision, with the Eypharian’s family often pushing hard for whatever end would bring the most prestige.
Entrepreneurs who set out without any manner of apprenticeship are given grudging, albeit grim, respect. Fresh, startup businesses run the risk of failure and those that succeed are seen to have done so through talent or great personal cost.
Much of Eypharian literature and written art features highly complex plot and language, twisting and turning as much as the complexities of High Arumenic. Intrigue and politics are common social staples, and while comedies have their place, oft-repeated works are usually dramas or mysteries. No literature survives from pre-Valterrian times, though many stories and epic poems are set in what authors imagine those ages were like.
Visual art, such as painting and sculpture, tends to focus more on the body and physical grace. Decorational art, as opposed to fine art, shares these themes, but are often more grand in style. It is not uncommon for a wealthy Eypharian house to have statues lining the courtyard, gilded with real gold jewelry. Most houses contain murals or mosaics along certain walls, depicting desert vistas or, if it is prestigious enough, an illustrated history of the house’s family.
One of the most popular arts is theater, namely [wiki]Semhu[/wiki]. It is one of the oldest traditions in Mizahar and one of the few precious traditions left from pre-Valterrian times. While the subject matter and training has changed, the performances remain a rare glimpse into Pre-Valterrian Eyktol. Semhu is an intensely physical and visual artform, combining acrobatics, mime, and martial arts to produce a highly stylized and often vigorous dancing style. This bodily expression is paired with ornate singing and vocal phrasing, comparable to an operatic High Arumenic. Semhu is extremely intensive for the performers, and as such, there are few masters.
Art is also considered a subject not necessarily separate from one’s own body. For example, one artform displays the prowess of the body while another may adorn it. Jewelry, cosmetology, and perfumery are not only highly respected industries, they can be elevated to the status of an artform among the most talented producers. Tattooing is not uncommon among Eypharians, but is typically styled as abstract shapes meant to accentuate the flow of the body. Some Eypharians choose to abstain from tattoos on principle, as the ink interferes with the gilding of the skin in those places.
Mastery of the body is also not limited to those on stage. The ideal Eypharian form is more than adorned with jewels, it is healthy and fit. Most Eypharians are trained from a young age in some manner of weapon or physical combat, not usually to fight, but to improve one’s figure and musculature. In these cases, the subject trains for grace and the optimal workout of muscle groups, rather than sheer skill.
Even among those who do aim for skill, this method of training results in a particular Eypharian fighting style that favors speed and precision over brute strength. Offensive maneuvers are intended to bite and bleed at an enemy, rather than lay them out quickly.
Heavy weapons such as maces and clubs are rare, giving way instead to lighter swords, polearms, daggers, and bows, often in carried combinations to be ready for any situation. However, this is not to say warriors often carry four or six swords and have them all in motion at once - wielding two primary weapons at once is difficult enough, let alone keeping track of more. At most, a warrior will attack with two offensive weapons, such as swords or a polearm, and the other two to four hands will operate more defensively with a pair of daggers or a shield. Mounted combat is also made easier with many arms, most often paired with a bow.
Warriors make full use of their multiple arms, a strong advantage over non-Eypharian opponents. Dual wielding, while a difficult skill to develop, is vital for those who rely on their weapons for their livelihood.
In regards to the gods, Eypharians are opportunists with a respect for past favors. They worship the gods they perceive as the most powerful or useful in their lives, with a tendency to honor traditional gods out of habit. The Eypharians are not an especially devout people, on the whole. They enjoy the pomp and power of religion, and use faith like a talisman.
Their belief in their own divine blood inspires a more self-reliant attitude than many other races. This is not to say they disregard the gods. Priests are welcome guests in any home, and those of Makutsi and Syna are highly sought-after to add an element of prestige to any gathering.
Makutsi and Syna have historically been the most popular deities in the region. It was by Makutsi’s divine will that the Eypharian race was blessed, though their origins have now taken on a myth-like quality. Water in the deserts of Eyktol can be worth more than gold, and even the proudest Eypharian will take an honest moment to ask Makutsi’s blessing.
The ever-present Syna is the giver of life and energy, so vital in the desert wastelands, but perpetually on a knife’s edge of danger. Syna’s touch may invigorate the soul and help shake off the cold dew of the night, but too much can mean death among the desert sands. Though the goddess does not ask for tribute, many will still make an offering before travel to ask that she not cast her burning gaze upon them too strongly.
Xyna and Sivah are also commonly worshiped, though it is a more sporadic following Makutsi and Syna receive. Business and revelry are two staples of Eypharian culture, but prayers are most often only performed before embarking on business ventures or festivities, respectively. For Sivah to appear at a party is a momentous occasion, and one that launches the host into instant popularity.
While the dominion of Qalaya permeates Eypharian culture, she is only actively worshiped by the Zapatl. The Hall of the Zapatl, which houses all bloodline records in Ahnatep, doubles as a shrine to the goddess.
Racial Skill Bonus
- +10 In any weapon, ideally so a PC can work towards Dual Wield which requires 30+ points in a weapon as a prerequisite (Racial Bonuses cannot be stacked with Starting Package Skills to reach a sum beyond 30)
If raised by Eypharian parents, knowledge of aladjunn, or how physical traits are inherited between generations. The level of knowledge should correspond to the class the Eypharian was raised in. For example, a child from a poor family would have only a passing knowledge of the general principles, whereas a child from a wealthy family may have been taught more in-depth knowledge. This knowledge is highly classified among Eypharians and any who even considered sharing the knowledge with members of another race would be shut out of society, and subject to imprisonment if ever caught actually doing so.
Notable Eypharian PCs
|Those who are rich of history and culture|
|Aventis||The Squire with Four Shining Shoulders|