Athem Shards

Region: The Wylds, Sector 7
Name: Athem Shards
Positive Traits: Spiritual, Close Knit, Survivalists
Negative Traits: Grudge Holders, Standoffish, Overprotective
Consider This Culture If: You like Reincarnation, Wandering Nomads, and Stories about Rivalry

Overview: A nomadic and equestrian high altitude dwelling people, The Athem culture is often confusing to outsiders as from a distance the different tribes of people look and behave very similarly, despite having very ingrained differences. People belong to one of 9 core tribes, and these tribes live a nomadic life that only overlaps in the lower altitudes at the edges of their nation, or in the rare oasis or permanent settlement in the desert. The clearest way to tell which tribesman you are dealing with is to see the breed and decoration of the group’s horses – and mistaken identity is a grave insult. Tourists are welcome by some of these tribes, and held in disdain by others, but intercultural trade booms in the lowland edges of the nation.

9 tribes, known as Shards, categorized by the primary color of their ornately patterned clothing (Red, Yellow, Orange, Blue, Green, Purple, Brown, Black, or White), and called so because the 9 tribes were born of a shattered family parting ways after conflict, each leaving with their own supporters. Each tribe has their own opinion on who was correct, and what the conflict was. Regardless, this original argument has been lost to the sands of time, and those of the Athem desert.

Religion [Creation, Inspiration]: The Athem people practice a form of Animism, believing that all things, from plant to animal to rock to air, has a spirit and life within, and that due respect must be shown when ending said life through use of the natural world. Similarly, the belief that through creative work one can imbue an object with its own spirit. When a person, horse, or other cherished soul dies, the surviving family will construct a delicately embroidered square flag to add to their horse’s reins, or in some larger caravan’s cases the sides of the main tent so that the deceased may always travel with their family by inhabiting the embroidery.

If a Shards tribesman comes across evidence of death – bodies of people who died unnaturally or from accidents, as well as at sites of natural disasters like rockslides, they will complete a small and simple “faceless” embroidery, leaving it at the site so that any wandering spirits have a safe place. It is believed that spirits who do not find a space to inhabit in time will become ghouls, and seek out the living to enact revenge. People of the Athem Shards believe that there are only a certain number of souls at any given time, and that they are constantly reborn in other forms. Deliberate, ritualistic even, creative acts being the only way to create ‘new’ souls, or repair damaged ones.