Rise of the Runelords
The Shoanti (pronounced show-AHN-tee) are a barbaric, often nomadic people native to the Storval Plateau and Velashu Uplands regions of Varisia. Like their Varisian cousins, these humans descended from the enslaved workers of the ancient empire of Thassilon, but have, since its fall, developed a unique and advanced culture of their own.
Unlike the true human ethnicities, the Shoanti–who are not technically an ethnicity, given their minimal impact and limited presence in the world as a whole–didn’t exist until after the destruction of Thassilon, when they, the combat caste of Thassilon’s enslaved populace, ended up having to fend for themselves in the Age of Darkness which followed. This group consisted of equal parts Varisian, Ulfen, and Kellid and their language is a combination of all three as well as the Thassilonian language into one unique tongue called Shoanti, after the people.
For thousands of years the Shoanti lived in relative peace with the Varisians who shared their lands. Their primary conflicts were with the wild beasts of the region, raiding orcs from the east and barbarians from the north, and the harsh landscape itself. When the Chelaxian Empire expanded into southern Varisia through Bloodsworn Vale in 4406 AR, the Shoanti found themselves facing a new enemy: colonizers from the south. The battles between the people of what would become Korvosa and the Shoanti raged for decades, finally ending in 4488, but the bad blood sown between the two peoples has remained even until today.
Despite their common heritage, the seven tribes (or “quahs” in their native tongue) of the Shoanti are quite different from one another in terms of traditions, beliefs, and overall world-views. In most cases, loyalty to one’s tribe is paramount in the life of a Shoanti, but what this means is specific to the individual clan.
The Lyrune-Quah are said to be among the best archers of the Shoanti people. Traveling under the bright Storval moon, and hunting by the illumination of the stars in the vast Varisian sky, members of the Moon Clan recognize that a well-aimed arrow is as effective, if not more so, than a whole band of raging brawlers.
One of the few Shoanti clans who utilize permanent homes, the sea-cave-dwelling members of the Shadde-Quah are noted divers and fishermen. The Axe Clan plays a vital role in protecting Varisia from seaward invaders from the west, defending their homeland in a way completely different than their land-locked brethren.
The Shiikirri-Quah, of all the Shoanti tribes, possesses the strongest animal affinity. Ever learning from the beast with whom they share the land, the Hawk Clan is perhaps the most peaceful of the quahs, and they serve as the emissaries between their people and the Chelaxians in the south.
While the Shiikirri are skilled diplomats with outsiders, members of the Shundar-Quah act as go-betweens among the other Shoanti clans. Their primary ambition is to see the Shoanti unified as a single people, despite the differences that separate the seven quahs.
By far the most xenophobic of the Shaonti clans, the fierce members of the Sklar-Quah are almost constantly at war. Whether they fend off the orcs from Belkzen or the Chelish invaders of the south, the Sun Clan has learned to use the heat and fire of the Cinderlands as much as a weapon as it is a hardship for themselves.
Life among the Skoan-Quah revolves around death. Whether they are fighting against undead, acting as guardians for the deceased among all the clans, or tracking the oral history of the Shoanti people, the enigmatic members of the Skull Clan are an enigma which sometimes troubles even the most understanding of their fellow Shoanti.
Members of the Tamiir-Quah are among the most territorial of the Shoanti people. The Wind Clan makes its home in the mountains of northern Varisia, and may the gods help anyone who threatens these areas.