The Myan are a human race living mostly in small settlements in the lands around Alnursti Vrasht. To the North lies the civilised Land of Three Rivers, to the East the Ocean, to the West across mountains Antaleea, to the South jungle.
Myan are slant eyed, brown skinned, dark haired, dark eyed and small in stature: SIZ 2D4+6.
Most Myan land is forested and hilly, difficult for travel, easy to get lost in.
It should be noted that what follows is a description of typical Myan culture. Due to local circumstances or contact with other cultures some Myan clans are quite different.
The Myan have a clear sense of racial identity, but no racial solidarity. One Myan will not favour another simply because of race.
Myan do not expect others to behave like themselves. They do expect others to be equally tolerant!
The important social and political unit is the clan. A clan is rarely over 100 in number.
Each clan has a leader, who holds power by popular approval.
Clan names are two words, a noun and an inappropriate qualifier, eg Purple Elephant, Hot Bush.
Myan do not engage in agressive warfare and are not territorial, believing land is there for anyone to use. Villages sometimes uproot and move for no discernable reason.
Some Myan clans are traders, guiding elephant caravans across the wilds. Such clans have no settled home, living in encampments which they regularly visit.
Myan culture is not literate, though individual Myan may learn the writing systems of other cultures. The Myan language, Myan-cha, is very much part of the culture, it is flowery and convoluted. They are numerate, having a number writing system and calendar borrowed from Three Rivers.
Between clans Myan have a barter economy, those in contact with Three River people take their money but it is held by the clan in common, not individuals.
Each clan has a shaman. The leader or the shaman can impose punishments. The worst punishment is to be banished; if a person might be a danger to others they are killed instead. Lesser punishments are generally unpleasant work or being deprived of pleasures.
Myan are monogamous. Divorce is by communal approval, in fact a couple can be forced to divorce if their relationship becomes disruptive and conversely refused a divorce if they are not thought to be trying hard enough.
Adultery is publically frowned upon and privately a source of gossip and entertainment. Sex before marraige is allowed, but unintentional pregnancies are regarded as stupid and thoughtless behaviour by both those responsible. The Myan are quite forthright in talking about sex, but do it in private: nothing more than handholding is acceptable in public, for anything else couples go 'behind the bushes'.
Unusual sexual practises are regarded by the Myan as just that - unusual. So long as they are not disruptive to the clan or harmful to the individual, they are tolerated.
The Myan are aware of the dangers of inbreeding. The normal rules against incest are applied. Cross-clan marraiges are quite normal: people who cannot find a partner within their clan will go on a 'boy/girl hunt', either settling with another clan or bringing their partner back.
In villages dwellings are single storey ranges with a communal front porch along the length and comprising several groups, which might be a family, several people the same age living together, whatever suits the moment. Fitting people into the right group is a responsibility of the leader.
Myan children are regarded as being a clan responsibility. Most children are raised by their parents, but some have closer relationships with other adults. Children are expected to be obedient when required of them.
Most cooking and child rearing is done by women, most hunting and beast tending by men, but nothing is exclusive. The concept of inequality between the sexes does not exist.
Myan have light breakfast and midday meals, the main meal is at sundown. They eat in their groups, cooking is by group or more than one group shares. Space is always left for a couple of visitors at a meal.
The Myan place a high value on rhetoric. Winning arguements logically gives social status, shouting someone down does not. While arguements can become intense and attract a crowd, they are not supposed to be taken personally: bad losers lose social status.
There is no automatic respect for authority or age - young people argue with elders, low status persons with leaders.
Faced with crisis Myan will debate, argue, delay until a consensus is reached or the leader imposes a plan, at which point everyone springs into action. 'What would we do if...?' is a common subject for Myan debate, they have plans for everything they can anticipate.
Once moved to action Myan behave differently. They use an alternate mode of language, Myan-chuda, that is shorter, more direct and excludes the possibility of debate.
A leader can ignore the majority, but in doing so runs the risk of being replaced.
It is Myan custom to give the appearance of being peaceable folk. They have simple weapons, axes, clubs, knives, machetes and leather armour. They use short bows and nets for hunting.
The story about not being territorial is... a story. If other people encroach on land used by Myan or might do so in future they sometimes move away, sometimes attack without warning. Clans will cooperate over this if thought neccessary.
Myan leave no survivors - they kill everyone, dismantle everything, leave bare ground.
Myan clans do not fight each other. If disputes arise, the clan with lower prestige (see Treetop) will be more inclined to make concessions.
They have a banana flavoured mildly alcoholic drink.
Myan clothing is functional, tunic and trousers for both sexes, green-brown to blend in with the forest. Hair is short for men, variable for women. Women wear bangles, rings, necklaces, men wear earrings. Property can be private if it is being 'used'. If someone else in the clan has a better use for something, they should be given it.
Myan sing communal songs, generally simple childrens verses. They tap or clap rythms but have no musical instruments. Singing is spontaneous, started by one with other joining in by choice.
A Children's Song
Did you hear, the dogs are barking
Did you smell, the elephant shitting
Did you see, the shaman spelling
Did you feel, the rain is falling
Myan names are mostly traditional and without meaning. Stress is generally on the first syllable: Taniko, Shidumpush, Flarit. Female names usually end in vowels, male names in consonants. A second word is sometimes added to distinguish between people with the same primary name, often descriptive like 'baby' or 'granny'.
A double tap on the shoulder means 'I want your full attention'. Not to comply is very rude, as is demanding attention without good reason. It should be noted that children are disadvantaged here by reason of height!
Repeated finger pointing at the ground at one's feet means 'come here'. Used on naughty children, who can expect a paddled bottom if they don't.
When Myan smile, they are negotiating, seeking compromise. When they do not smile, the matter is non-negotiable. If they rub their noses, they are not going to give a straight answer.
Village Myan have dogs, chickens, pigs, grow various crops, gather wild food from the forest and hunt. No village is complete without a few beehives.
A few clans are Traders, permanently travelling between villages and locations such as Alnursti Vrasht, Three Rivers, Hy-an, Antaleea.
They use elephants, trained by Myan in the south. These are docile beasts, unaggressive unless injured.
A few short haired tan coloured dogs accompany caravans, they are fed scraps, puppies are given rides but otherwise they are left to themselves. They bark alarm if wild beasts or non-clan approach, or if children wander off unaccompanied.
Traders travel dawn to dusk, with an hour or so midday break. They halt at regular camp sites, hunt/forage for food.
Now comes the catch! Myan culture cannot be understood without understanding Treetop.
Treetop is a complex never ending verbal game which all Myan play but time spent on it peaks during teenage years as it is closely linked to forming relationships and courting.
It will be seen by outsiders when a Myan suddenly says a word or phrase to another that seems nonsensical; the other will either ripost at once or go off to think. It is a multi-player game which really involves everyone in the clan. Success in Treetop adds to social status.
Helping others by suggesting a play is not allowed. Ganging up on someone is regarded as unfair.
A Teasing Song
She's not playing Treetop with the one she fancies
The Myan believe in Gods (who does not?) they just don't happen to have any of their own. They have no idea why this should be. There is no general position on Ultimate Answers.
There are spirits everywhere.
Clan shamen have Spirit Magic from various sources. Shamen also know herbal lore and use a psychotropic drug for trances.
Deceased Myan shamen hang about on the Spirit Plane ensuring that Myan are reborn as Myan, alerting living shamen to any spiritual dangers and passing on their spells to the clan. The Myan are thus rarely troubled by minor malevolent spirits.
The Myan believe that memories of past lives sometimes persist, in 'deja vu', when something is learnt quickly, etc.
Extinguish, Glue, Heal, Light, Second Sight, Spirit Screen, Visibility.
Repair Bones (V), sparkly beige: as for repair. Note that the location is 1 HP lower afterwards! Each point does 1D10 points of repair, which must at least equal the original HP of the location to have any effect.
Attract Insects (1), brown buzz: causes all insects (and anything of similar size eg spiders, fleas) within 50m of the target to find it attractive (smells like a mate, food, whatever). Used by Myan to clear away pests, but can be used as a distraction to enemies.
Mindtouch (1), pale green: the caster is linked telepathically with the person the spell was cast upon. More mindtouch spells can be used to bring others into the net. Each person in the net can hear the others thoughts and sense what they sense.
The spell can be renewed by expending another MP every 5 minutes.
This is the first spell taught, and all non-child Myan have it.
It takes practise to use mindtouch effectively: it is a tickable Knowledge Skill, default = POW, rolled in stress situations. A fumble has the same effect as a Befuddle! Failure means no information is received. -1% on skill per extra person in the net.
Frequent mindtouching helps people to anticipate and cooperate even without the spell being cast.
Preserve (Ritual): this is a form of Enchantment that protects dead things from decay by repelling the living organisms that cause it. It does not protect from non-living attacks such as fire or weapons.
The spell covers 1 thing or 1 metre cube of things. It requires a permanent point of POW, or the caster can set it to be removed at will in which case the POW is regained. Such invested POW still counts towards Current for POW gain rolls and the 21 maximum. If the things are destroyed then the POW is lost.
Myan in combat are in Myan-chuda mode. They cast a Mindtouch net and seperate, keeping silent. They prefer stealth and archery to hand to hand combat, confusing the enemy with threats from different directions. As noted above, the Myan prefer to leave no survivors.
At around ten years old - an assessment of intellect not puberty - a child becomes a young person. The candidate must leave the clan for a month and survive in the forest. Candidates can go out together, which makes them 'Forest friends', creating a special bond between them.
Young persons slide into adulthood by changing their behaviour, growing up, getting married - and being given adult plays in Treetop. In clan decisions young people have a voice but not a 'vote'.
Marraige, like divorce, is a clan matter. It can be refused, but no one can be compelled to marry. The ceremony is simple, the two being Mindtouched by the Shaman who checks to see if they are serious.
At death the shaman visits the Spirit Plane to ensure that the departed is guided to a Myan spirit shaman. Bodies are buried with ceremony but not given further attention; the Myan know they are no longer inhabited.
At times chosen by the shamen all adults can participate in Togetherness. Everyone eats a 'magic mushroom' type plant and joins in a single Mindtouch group. The resulting communal trip is just as unexplainable as Treetop, and it is another limit on clan size.
50 humans, 12 elephants, 12 dogs. They carry spices, luxury goods from Alnursti Vrasht to the East. Ten years ago they were a poor clan, but when the samurai adventurer Yoshi captured Hy-an from pirates they pulled a deal with him and have made a number of profitable trips.
Shidumpush, 47, is leader. He is committed to the new route.
The Myan villages along his old route, a circuit East of Alnursti Vrasht, were not happy about this so five years ago some Hotbush split off to follow the old route. They number around 20, and meet up with the main clan whenever possible. They could not be seperate because they have no Shaman.
The girl who became equal.
The couple who were left behind.