The Cultures of Nisia
There are five different cultures living in Nisia. It would be incorrect to call them nations or kingdoms; politics are not nearly unilateral enough for such large entities to exist. Instead shared culture is the commonality to each region of Nisia.
The folk of Dobrava reside in the wide steppe and dense taiga of Nisia. While many have settled in grods, some still roam the wilds following the caribou herds. The culture of Dobrava is inspired by early Slavic cultures such as the Veneti and Kievan Rus. Respect and Hospitality are highly valued by the Dobravians.
In the eastern mountains and surrounding jungle, the Huaxenalc (pronounced way-shun-ALK) culture has built massive cities. The traveling merchants of Huaxenalc have been successful in placing their homeland at the top of the economic system. The culture of Huaxenalc is inspired by Mesoamerican cultures, particularly the Aztecs. The Huaxenese are driven to push themselves because of a belief that only through personal sacrifice can anything of value be gained.
Across the western ocean the people of Kaitera live on scattered islands. Many of these islands only last a generation, and communities are frequently broken apart in search of newly formed islands. Despite their shifting homes, the Kaiterans maintain cultural unity through traditions of gift exchanges over vast distances. The culture of Kaitera takes inspiration from polynesian cultures such as the Maori. Reciprocity and Freedom are central concerns in Kaiteran philosophy.
The lands of Sybellos have shifted over the eras, but the people who live there have stayed and welcomed these changes as new opportunities to excel. The culture of Sybellos is inspired by the Ancient Greeks, from the Minoans to the Spartans. Sybellean philosophy places Excellence and Glory as the highest virtues.
In Nisia’s southern deserts the culture of Taharka lives along the banks of the Ketaru river. The land of Taharka has recently reclaimed its sovereignty after generations of Sybellean control but still retains its own unique culture. The culture of Taharka takes inspiration from the Egyptian Old Kingdom. Taharkan philosophy values Duty and Humility.
The stories and themes we want to explore in Ouroboros are outlined by what we call the Story Pillars. When creating a character, it is important to consider which Pillars you are interested in exploring. The Pillars are used by the writing team to prompt and organize the story threads; by making a character interested in one (or more) of these areas you will ensure that your character will have situations and exploits to engage with during the game.
Discovery and Archaeology
The world of Nisia is mired in layers of history. Past events have had a radical impact on the people and geography. Cities and entire cultures have been lost. In addition, navigation and cartography are inexact skills which means there are still many places that are scarcely explored.
The stories within this Pillar will be about uncovering lost history and exploring strange lands. You might find yourself translating inscriptions, spelunking in ruins, meeting phantasms, creating and deciphering maps, and making discoveries that could place your name in the historical record.
Politics and Civics
Political power in Nisia is centered around landed nobility, called Lairds, and their ability to channel the reserves of magical energy in their lands through a practice called Sorcery. Even though only Lairds are able to work Sorcery, they alone cannot cultivate this energy, called Mana, without common folk to inhabit and enrich their domain. Thus every Laird makes use of councils of common folk to determine and implement civic developments.
The stories within this Pillar will explore the challenges and dynamics of civic and diplomatic problems. You might find yourself as an adviser to a Laird, or working to influence the political machinations of other councils, or investigating magical anomalies that disrupt the lives of locals, or assisting a Laird in a sorcerous ceremony to cleanse a fresh water spring, or receiving the praise of a monarch for the prosperity your council has brought to the world.
Monsters and the Wilderness
There are many unsettled regions of Nisia. In these places of wilderness, mana can coalesce like storm clouds bringing thunder, monsters germinate from unseen places, and outlaws prey on travelers. Roads are a luxury only found in major cities, and long distance travel by land is a time consuming task. Neo Phythos is surrounded by the threats that emerge from the wilderness.
This Pillar explores the struggle of holding back the wilderness. You could find yourself tracking a drekalo back to its nest, or studying the aura of a mana current that is drifting ever closer to town, or luring a tanifa out of a farmer’s reservoir, or working a thaumaturgical ceremony to bring calm weather to the path of a departing envoy, or slaying a gorgon that has invaded a mine, or winning acclaim for saving your community from disaster.