The Zen'da are hunters, herders and raiders who rule most of the continent's largest plain. They have had a dramatic effect on the kingdoms of the west. Between the years 520 - 600SA, a massive Zen'da host assaulted the Plain of Cholchara, sacking every city and village in the area at least once. At the end of this epoch, two tribes, the Cho'mas and the Ea'brad, settled on the Plain of Cholchara and held civilization in thrall for more than a century. Later, they played a key role in the formation of the Kingdom of Marentia by Jhamal Karestian.
Later (800 - 830SA), a greater force formed in the western steppes - the Don Host. The host was led by Xalan Horse - brother, a powerful Bra'mani shaman, and "the son of the moon" Don (The name Don is not native to the Zen'dali tongue.). With Xalan's aid, Don formed a pan - tribal religious cult with thousands of followers. In the later part of the eighth century (785 - 800SA), this group was persecuted by the tribes and driven into the forests of the south. At this point Don determined that a continuation of the struggle for the steppes would be foolish. His host moved south.
Over the next two generations, under Don and his son, the host burned its way through Thaliba, Zarun, the Empire of the Ced, Salaq and E'lici. At the end of their epic migration, they conquered E'lici and began the formation of the Kingdom of Donara. This invasion altered the course of western history and brought a new force of law into the area to help balance the might of Clima.
Since the last migration, the Zen'da Plains have been quiet. The tribes concentrate on their normal pursuits - raiding, hunting, herding and war. All is well in the eyes of the Zen'da.
The Zen'da divide themselves into three major groups. Each speaks a different dialect of Zen'dali that is understood by people who speak any of the other dialects. The divisions are the Western, Central and Eastern Zen'da.
The Western Zen'da have seven tribes. They are the Bra'mani (28,000), the E'ponischa (22,000), the A'giat (19,000), the Stel'gult (18,000), the Cu'truna (14,000), the Feir'paz (12,000) and the Lap'schi (7,000). Their total population is 120,000 with 24,000 warriors.
The Central Zen'da have four tribes, the Fel'oros (26,000), the Draca'epi (23,000), the Fel'masa (17,000) and the Otte'mas (14,000). They have 80,000 people and 16,000 warriors.
The three Eastern Zen'da tribes are the Ga'fel'ora (35,000), the Noya'bova (23,000) and the Ser'manda (17,000). Their total population is 70,000 with 15,000 warriors.
The total population of the Zen'da is 275,000. They can field 55,000 warriors.
NOTE - The Lap'schi are a new tribe composed of Feir'paz, Stel'gult and Cu'truna tribesmen. It formed as a result of a major war among the western tribes. The tribe's "Ga'sha" is Vlad Stonehand. They are supported by the Bra'mani (They were allowed to occupy part of the Bra'mani range as a homeland and took the western part of their land from the Stel'gult.).
A barter system operates on the plains.
The Zen'da are shamanistic and animistic. They worship Elder forces, especially animal spirits, the sky and the wind. Lately, the Noya'bova have begun to embrace the chaotic faith of L'p'nth. The Feir'paz have always had a chaotic cult of some size (one of its priestesses died giving birth to Vlad Stonehand, whose father was a demon).
Zen'da warriors are dedicated to combat and the acquisition of useful property, i.e., animals, weapons, tents, wives and children. They are brusque and straight - forward men. It is critical to Zen'da warriors that their honor be beyond reproach. They will go to any length to prove, or defend, their honor if it is questioned.
In dealing with other men, i.e., warriors and strangers who are spoken for by warriors, the Zen'da are honest and honorable. Once a Zen'da warrior gives his hospitality to a man, that man has it forever unless he violates that warrior's trust in some way. (In such cases, the betrayed warrior will seek to kill the betrayer. To turn a man's trust into a lie is a great insult among the Zen'da.)
The Zen'da can be domineering and amoral toward non - warriors. By their definition, non - warriors are foreigners who are not spoken for by a warrior, Zen'da men who chose not to fight, women who are not spoken for by a warrior and women who are not members of their tribe. All fit in the "non - warrior" class because they are viewed as either enemies or as unclaimed property. They are without rights unless they win some by proving their valor in combat.
Savage treatment of enemies and people who violate their taboos is a Zen'da tradition. In both cases, a Zen'da warrior is expected to be merciless. In cases where his trust is violated or his family is injured, the honorable warrior will pursue the person responsible tenaciously. If he finds him, he will try to kill him painfully.
The Zen'da are governed by their war chiefs. The one chief who the most warriors choose to follow is the tribal chief. The other chiefs lead their warriors under his direction.
NOTE - The Zen'dali word for chief is "Sha." A tribal chief, i.e., the chief that the most warriors choose to follow, is a "Ga'sha." Rarely, a powerful chief gains so large a reputation that warriors from more than one tribe follow him. These rare leaders are called "Ho'ga'sha." The requirements to become a Ho'ga'sha are:
1) The chief must be a deadly warrior. (Total OCV, DCV and best combat EL greater than THIRTY-FIVE)
2) He must have a reputation for leading his warriors to victory. (Many years spent raiding and leading warriors into battle successfully, i.e., at least 5 to 1 success to failure ratio.)
3) He must be charismatic or intimidating in the eyes of his fellow warriors. (Of the two, the loyalty given a charismatic chief is much greater.)
Currently, there is a Ho'ga'sha on the plains. He is Karistos Sierva, Claw of the Bra'mani, Ga'sha of the Bra'mani Black Claw lodge. Claw is a charismatic chief whose ability is legendary among the Zen'da. He has been followed by many of the western and central Zen'da tribes, primarily the Bra'mani, the Lap'schi, the E'ponischa, the A'giat and the Fel'masa. He personifies the ideal that Zen'da warriors try to attain.
Among the Zen'da, a crime is ANY action that interferes with the rights or property of a fellow warrior unjustly. Depending on the severity of the crime, the penalties are ridicule, a weregild, corporal punishment, mutilation, death and banishment. Trials are conducted by the shamans. They can include magical trials, trial by ordeal, trial by combat (always to the death) and trial by the felon's peers (if he is a member of the tribe's warrior society). The Shaman determines the type of trial and presides over it while it is in progress.
Crimes committed by an outsider are not subject to this system. (An outsider is any person who is not a member of the victim's tribe.) These crimes are avenged by hurting the felon to the same or worse degree as his crime hurt the warrior or his family. Nothing less will do.
EXAMPLE - An A'giat warrior steals a horse from a Bra'mani. To retain his honor as a warrior, the Bra'mani must steal a horse from the A'giat (if he can't do something more damaging). If he fails to make this effort, he is dishonored. If he tries, and fails, he may suffer ridicule for a time, but, eventually, his failure will be forgotten.
The Noya'bova are tributary allies of L'p'nth. Their acceptance of this status, and their conversion to L'p'nth's faith, brought great laughter to the other Zen'da tribes. They consider the Noya'bova to be cowards and fools. The Ser'manda have close relations with Ba'rual. It is a friendship that has grown over centuries. Many blood ties exist between them. Karistos Sierva is the blood - brother and friend of Maros Karestian, the King of Marentia.
The western Zen'da despise the Kazi. There is almost constant warfare between these groups. Most tribes fight their neighbors, Zen'da or not. (This, in most cases, shows a love of battle, not hatred.) The eastern Zen'da, especially the Ga'fel'ora, hate the Sarghut, the Humagi and the Helva. They are always on the lookout for these enemies.
*There are three dialects of this language, as explained previously. They are mutually intelligible.
**Where a given Zen'da tribe borders on another culture, the members of that tribe will have a 10% chance of speaking that culture's native tongue.
Bows, Scimitar and Lance
American Plains Indians, Cheyenne, Sioux, Blackfoot
Most Zen'da warriors carry bucklers and rarely use armor. When they are armored, they use leather or banded ring. They dislike helmets. In general, they prefer to have maximum mobility and unrestricted vision in battle.
Special Note - Zen'da Warrior Societies
Each tribe has a warrior society. These societies vary from fraternal lodges that most warriors can join to elite societies that only the finest warriors can hope to enter (due to strict entry requirements and/or severe initiation tests).
The tribes with fraternal lodges are the Feir'paz, Cu'truna, Stel'gult, E'ponischa, Otte'mas, Fel'masa, Ser'manda, Ga'fel'ora and Noya'bova. Twenty to forty percent of the warriors in these tribes belong to the warrior society. Most of the others are young warriors who will probably earn he right before they die. The tribes with elite warrior societies are the Bra'mani, A'giat, Lap'schi, Fel'oros and Draca'epi. In these tribes, less than 10% of the tribe's warriors will ever earn membership in the society. All have severe initiation test or severe entrance requirements or both. Of these societies, the Black Claw Lodge of the Bra'mani is the most feared and respected. The Fire Lodge of the Draca'epi has the most severe initiation test (the warrior must enter the Valley of the Dragon, find a dragon scale or tooth and return alive).