Scythia

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First appearance: Death Cult of NUM (1983).

Physiology

The people of Scythia, like most Khitaj, have skin that ranges from tan to dark brown, and have stereotypically Arabian features (large eyes, large nose, full lips). Scythian facial features tend to be somewhat more angular than their Cinnibari neighbors, however, and on average their complexions are lighter. Their eyes are brown, and their hair is typically wavy and dark brown or black.

Culture

Scythia, like most of Khitai, is populated by townsfolk and by the nomadic desert warriors, the Kohl Badeen. Scythia lacks the fertile soil of its neighbor, Cinnabar, but is fortunate to have more rivers and oases than is typical in most of Khitai. Most Scythian settlements are built along these rivers, and the plentiful water supply has given the Scythians a "soft" reputation among the other peoples of Khitai.

Castes

Central to the Scythian society is the concept of "caste". Each individual is born into a caste with ascribed social roles. An individual's caste provides her with an identity, security, and status. People of different castes tend to avoid intermarriage, sharing of food and drinks, or even close social interaction with other castes. Each caste has folk narratives, traditions, myths, and legends to bolster their sense of identity and cultural uniqueness.

Scythian culture is less mobile than that of other regions in Khitaj, both physically and socially. Each Scythian is born into the caste of her parents, and movement of an individual between castes is quite rare. There are seven major castes (commonly called the "six castes", because the Chained are not deemed worthy enough to count), and these are: priests (called the Gath Shemani), warriors (called the Kazash Tri), scholars, craftsmen, farmers, laborers, and the Chained. However, within each caste are several dozen subcastes (with the exception of the Chained), and movement from one subcaste to another is not uncommon.

Government

Scythia is ruled by the Priest-Kings, whose dictates and traditions form the laws of the land. New Priest-Kings are chosen by the current Priest-Kings from among the priest caste, and serve a lifetime appointment. The number of Priest-Kings varies with each generation -- there are currently five. Beneath the Priest-Kings, the priest caste rules each political division of Scythia, in a simple hierarchy of duty and obedience.

The Priest-Kings, in turn, answer to the Satrap, the representative of the Ilwraithe Imperium in Scythia. In practice, the Satrap does not interfere with the Priest-Kings' management of Scythia as long as their reign seems secure and the required tribute is paid to the Ilwraithe Emperor.

Religion

Scythian religious observance differs from that of Khitai and Archaea in that they elevate the Kohr Ah to being the most important Numina, and reduce the rest of the Numina to being their servants or enemies.

Another difference between the beliefs of the Scythians and those of their neighbors is that Scythians revere the head as the resting place of the spirit, rather than the heart. It is said that Scythians preserve the heads of their ancestors and enemies in ornate shrines.

Reputation

Scythians have a reputation for being decadent and sinister.