I’m rushing headlong into the second year of writing Coldforged Material, and this year I hope to cover enough topics in preparation to print as is possible. I hope we’re in the home stretch. This week we’re going to look at our fourth Kingdomless nation, the Voskag, the tribes living on top of the Drimmen Mountains.
While the Drimmen lived within the mountains of Drimm in a very literal manner, when they first landed they encountered culture of tribal nomads and hearty hunters already living in the wide, green valleys and along the slopes and peaks of the mountains, higher than most people would have been expected to survive. In this formidable location, they cultivated what hearty plants they could, hunted sparse game, and build their secluded towns and enclaves. These groups may only be separated by a few miles, but the terrain was so inhospitable and deadly that they may never interact. Due to this isolation, each small group, rarely more than 100 individuals, is responsible for its own people, and own survival.
While the Drimmen initially found conflict with these people, they eventually learned to co-exist. Some of the Drimmen even choose to live with these nomads, called the Voskag, instead of driving deep underground. Over the course of generations, the humans, dwarves, and gnomes, integrated with the Voskag, and they were accepted as full-fledged members yet their presence changed the Voskag’s insular lifestyles forever. They have learned to welcome newcomers and allow them to become part of their society, provided that they can prove their worth and maintain competence.
Life as a Voskag
The Voskag may be the oldest civilization on Tysis. The only reason there is any debate is due to a lack of written documentation of the Voskag’s presence in earlier times while the ruins of Hyran speak for themselves.
The Voskag live as hunters, gatherers, and nomads in an area that boasts cold summers and brutal winters. They have adapted to these seasons by using the access they have to the sea via a number of long shallow valleys to make migrations east and south each year to the coast to survive. While this migration is laborious, it is required for the survival of the group, and those who cannot make it are left behind, not out of callousness, but of necessity. It is in this thankless environment that they developed their remorseless and merciless attitudes toward dependency and self-reliance. There is little mercy for those injured or aged, and those who cannot keep pace often choose to leave of their own accord to either survive in the greater world or die on their own terms.
This harsh outlook on life should lead to callousness and cruelty, but the Voskag remain capable of mercy and compassion in their everyday lives. They continue to tend the wounded, assist with childrearing, and shelter those in need. What they do not tolerate, however, is incompetence and dependency. Once you are given your name, if you are unable to care for yourself as well as provide value to the group overall, you will not be provided for. It is not within the capacity or interest of the group to sustain these types of individuals.
Leadership and social order
The Voskag, living in their groups throughout the mountains, have developed a fairly uniform culture. The Voskag attribute this to the lessons of their ancestors, who communicate in the afterlife and share their wisdom with each other and therefor their living relatives.
Each group is led by a pair of leaders, each with domain over specific aspects of living as a voskag. The Umar is the leader of farming, warfare, and custom, and the Taara is the leader of childbearing, hunting, and laws. These two are considered equals in terms of duties to the group and their respective level of influence. However, it is inevitable that one of the pair elevates themselves over the other, gaining more respect and deference to their choices by the rest of the group. This is normally unspoken, yet understood to be the best method of perpetuating the system, forcing the lesser respected individual to pursue activities and make decisions that will enhance the group’s respect for them, and hopefully, one day become the greater of two equals.
Within the group, duties are shared equally among the sexes and ages, with those of the greatest skill being allowed to advance to leadership positions and provided the opportunity to excel more often. Those who prove proficient in a role are noticed and encouraged, while those who show little skill are directed to other roles that may better suit their talents. There is no ridicule given to those who move on and attempt new jobs, seeking the one they excel at. It is praised as being aware of one’s own limitations and seeking to improve the group instead of bringing it down by insisting through hubris in continuing along a trail of folly.
The voskag primarily worships Decarin, the god of earth and Oranna, goddess of law, and Gestril, the god of storms. They believe in the strength and honesty of both mountains and traditions, but also see the ever-changing seasons and the need for regular migrations as a reason to test the boundaries of those customs every once in a while to see if they still reflect the truth of the world.
Through these gods, they also speak with their ancestors on a regular basis, performing rituals and communing with the dead in seasonal ceremonies. It is this link, of gods and ancestors, which hold the voskag together as a single people despite great distances separating their groups.
While the Voskag were originally all half giants, with their exposure to the Drimmen and their subsequent integration into the communities, their diversity significantly increased. They now have the skills and expertise of Humans, Dwarves, gnomes and the occasional elf and half-elf. The rare godtouched among them is considered a glorious omen and boon to the tribe that they belong to. The life of a Voskag is hard, but there is a joy to be found among them in their families, their groups, and their friends. They live a hard life, but they take time to enjoy it as well, for they know that it’s a short trip on this world before ages of strife in the Iron Marches
That’s about all on the Voskag for now! until next time!