Chal

The Chal (X-aal) is a human ethnicity. Most Chal are dark of complexion, often with jewel-toned eye color. They are fond of bright, lavish colors and gaudy jewelry.

The Chal are wanderers who live outside civilization, traveling about in horse-drawn, barrel-topped wagons called vardos, which they build themselves.

The Chal are flamboyant. They dress in bright clothes, laugh often, and drink heartily.

Chal are silversmiths, coppersmiths, haberdashers, cooks, weavers, musicians, entertainers, storytellers, toolmakers, and horse traders. They also earn money by telling fortunes and selling information. They spend whatever they earn to support a lavish lifestyle, display their wealth openly as a sign of prosperity, and share their good fortune with family and friends.

Each family or clan of Chal is its own little gerontocracy, with the oldest member ruling the roost. This elder carries the bulk of the responsibility for enforcing traditions, settling disputes, setting the course for the group's travels, and preserving the Chal way of life. Chal elders make all the important decisions, but whether by choice or because of their age, tend to speak in cryptic, flowing riddles.

Chal families and clans are closely knit. They resolve disagreements through contests that end with reconciliatory singing, dancing, and storytelling. Although they can seem lazy and irresponsible to outsiders, the Chal are serious people, quick to act when their lives or traditions are threatened. They are merciless when they believe they must be. Chal who knowingly bring harm or misfortune to others of their kind are banished – the worst punishment a Chal can imagine, even worse than death.

The Chal have deep-rooted beliefs and superstitions that they pass down from one generation to the next.

Chal possess a powerful wanderlust, and do notusually stay within a mile of a given point for more than a week.

Chal society has ranks:

  • Raunie is the title of the female Chal in the camp with the most power in the Sight.
  • A Darkling is a Chal criminal who has been cast out from the tribe; they hate and are hated by Chal.
  • A Dukkar is a male Chal born with the Sight who has grown to adulthood. Such a being will inevitably bring great suffering to the Chal.
  • Mortu: Chal who give up the nomadic life to live among settled peoples are called mortu. They soon lose their powers of foresight and emerge as nervous, suspicious individuals who demand solitude on a regular basis. Some live by faking the talents of true Chal, others join thieves’ guilds or become adventurers. They are driven by a yearning for their former life and community, but are somehow never able to recapture it. In combat, they often fight wildly and ruthlessly, driven by a desperate despair.
  • Fahtah: The reclusive fahtah, often called a witch or a hag by non-Chal, is a woman of the Chal who has left her tribe to spend her days communing with spirits. Now she cackles gleefully at the shadows that flit past her campfire, as she speaks in long-dead languages to spirits that only she can see. Fahtah are loved by the spirits with which they commune, and any attack upon one will subject the attacker to a swarm of noncorporeal undead, as well as curses great in both number and power. A fahtah often retires from Chal life because of some great tragedy, curse, or madness that has afflicted her or her immediate family.

Nations


The three distinct nations of the Chal are the Kaldresh, the Boem, and the Manusa.

Kaldresh: The Kaldresh are ”camp followers”: tinkers, smiths, animal trainers, and healers. They pride themselves in their ability to supply armies, trade caravans, adventurers, and others with the proper took needed to defeat enemies, as well as needed healing after a battle. The Kaldresh have been known to supply both sides in a conflict, not really caring about the disputes of non-Chal, but more interested in making a living. Tribes include the Kamii, Equaar, and Vatraska.

Boem: The Boem are consummate entertainers. Their camps are rife with bards, dancers, musicians, and con men. They seem to have the ability to turn even the most hostile audience into an adoring crowd, and frequently a charming Boem can convince an entire village to gamble away months of savings on a rigged game with a smile and a few well-placed words. They have a darker side; they also hire out as smugglers, kidnappers, and assassins, using their innate charm to circumvent obstacles that stymie others. Like the Kaldresh, the Boem might accept such assignments from all sides in a conflict, performing what they view as necessary, preordained tasks. Tribes include the Naiat and the Corvara.

Manusa: The Manusa are the rarest of the major tribes and are seldom encountered in numbers larger than a single family. They are the most mysterious and reclusive of the Chal and the ones closest to the oldest legends of the race. They are tinkerers in the arcane: amulets, charms, potions, and lore. Rumor says they have the power to bend time and space to their will, and that they know much of ancient evils and how best to ward off or escape them. It is believed they guard the other Chal from the retum of their age-old enemy. Tribes include the Canjar and the Zarovan.

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