Once believed to be the herd that had drawn the shortest straw of fate and environment, the resilient phae of the Desert are now renowned for their uncanny perseverance and shrewd business acumen. They have evolved from surviving to thriving in their circumstances due to their tenacity, keen trade strategies, and cultivating masterful artisans. A proud kind, and rightfully so, though perhaps less subtle in expressing it than they like to believe.
Despite their sometimes boastful actions and trade-oriented thinking, they are a very cordial and family oriented society. Their survival has hardened them to a certain degree, so kin will always come first to any phae in serious matters but they are welcoming to anyone willing to do their part. Anyone found leeching without working or contributing to the economy, be it visitors or inhabitants, without good reason is quick to fall out of social grace and possibly face consequences.
Having learnt to use every resource within their grasp to turn their herd’s tide, they discovered the usefulness of their magic in combination with keen spatial insight to hone the profession of architecture. Later outsourcing their architects to different herds for trade and compensation, which was greatly responsible for their growth in wealth and resources, they began to connect magic to power and prosperity. This is why the herd is also particularly invested in getting those with different magics to join their ranks. On the other side of the coin, the Phae learnt that practical and learned skills to be of great importance and thereby invest immensely in tutoring and education. They encourage anyone to find their niche, whether it be a trade, craft, or intellectual specialty.
Just as they believe in the importance of hard work, they believe celebration and recreation to be essential. To endure dire circumstances or muster the strength for tireless work, the energy must be cultivated through indulging in simple joys and festivities. There are many celebrations and festivals during the year, with smaller parties being organized by individual Houses and Ceremonies often held by the Superior, their family, and the Stewards.
Rituals, Traditions, and Ceremonies
The Great Resurgence
First day of the new year. A grand party city-wide, with elaborate colorful decorations, light, and entertainment. Many Houses are known to hold their own ‘closing parties’ in their homes that has become somewhat of a contest of grandeur but the Superior is known to hold their own private party with family and the Stewards.
Day of Proclamation
Yearly announcements from the Primary and presenting of new additions to royal society.
Festival of Prosperity
Celebrating the success of the herd with lots of culinary stands and entertainers and trade. Other herds are invited as it falls right before the feast of unity. The festival tends to span over a week and is one of the most lived-towards events of the year with the increase in tourism.
Feast of Unity
A dinner of the elite with higher ups of different herds, partly to highlight peace and partly to flaunt their wealth. Herd members outside of the closed circle tend to hold their own feasts in solidarity with the Superior keeping good standing with the other herds.
Dawn of Althene
First Sunrise of Sunhigh. The phae of Dawnspire often enjoy this intimate moment in the company of their house of family with an elaborate extended breakfast, taking a moment of pause in their normally extremely busy lives.
Day of the Prophet
Celebrating the prophet they believed saved their hide in the war. Little do they know (due to records Mirroweld is still trying to recover after the war) is that their prophet was a planted spy. Even so, the day of celebration remains with the herd none the wiser. This celebration is a humble and small one, as they recognize their decision was a grave one that cost other herds more lives.
Falcon’s Flight Festival
Different falconry contests held over the span of two days that can vary depending on the weather and time of year it is held. It is up to the stewards and primary to determine when the best timing for this festival is each year.
Biggest competition of the year for Falconry. It is said that the winning bird has won the approval of the deity Nehme and the competition is held in her honor as Phae have to have trained their birds after studying the winds of the Desert and instructing them during the flight accordingly. Typically occurs during the last days of Rainfall.
Legends and Stories
A class system exists in the desert herd, which is primarily based upon bloodline. These classes come with a title that will commonly proceed with the given name of the individual in said class. These classes do not define the jobs that phae in the desert may have, and any class of phae may have any job available in the herd. All herd members are expected to work and contribute to the herd’s success. To not work is considered a great shame upon the individual.
However, the herd strongly believes that hard work should be rewarded with abundant celebration. As such, there are many occasions for festivals and parties all year round. The Phae of Dawnspire truly go all out in these celebrations with elaborate decorations, clothes, market stalls, music, food, drink, and entertainment painting the towns, cities, and Citadel in color and liveliness.
Another important cultural phenomenon for the herd is their sport. All phae, and especially those of higher class, are incredibly invested in their Falconry and raising birds of their own is a point of pride for many herd members. Celebrations, shows, and yearly competitions are held for this sport alone making it one of the most popular downtime activities phae spend their time on between their work. The quality and obedience of birds, and exotic colors are cultural symbols of wealth and success. Some merchants specialize in breeding, training, and raising birds to sell to the different houses.
The herd is known for its hospitality and the Phae of the Desert take this to new extremes. Ever since they discovered the value of a varied populace in skill and talents, they have made it a point to make an art form out of welcoming outsiders. In part because they know the importance of outside relations to their survival and also because they wish to grow their numbers with those that might fill their workforce niches. Thereby, committing a crime against a visitor or guest is weighed more heavily than crime amongst herd members. These consequences for the Phae is more drastic not because the Dawnspire herd values their own as lesser but because they are aware of the domino effect that crime against an outsider could potentially cause towards their essential trade routes, agreements, or opinions of the other herds towards them.
To navigate the delicate etiquette of Dawnspire is no easy feat for an outsider. In fact, most herds have to study it extensively, consistently consult their emissaries, or even dedicate entire sections of their archive or library to it as is the case for Mirroweld (e.g. always entering a house or bowing with the right hoof forward). As they place such high importance on being cordial, should they take a dislike to any individual they can be incredibly witty and underhanding in tactics of insulting one another or even a guest. Finding obscure, subtle, and elaborate ways of showing one’s disdain is therefore another popular sport among the herd. One of the most popular methods is gift-giving.
Gift Etiquette in Dawnspire
When a phae arrives in the home to visit one of a higher class or if a guest is visiting Dawnspire, it is customary to exchange gifts. What many laymen may not be aware of, however, is that the Phae of Dawnspire have developed their own gift-giving language with common gifts carrying a certain meaning. Below are some examples of meanings for common (and uncommon) gifts but players are free to develop their own:
Wine brewed in the past two years: considering someone as lesser than/naïve/unknowing.
Bowl of only one kind of fruit; doesn’t care for being present at the party; is only here out of obligation.
Rare plant/Animal with a short lifespan; wishing a financial or reputational setback on the receiver’s family.
Chamomile Tea; The gifter is bored with your presence before the meeting has begun.
A Falconry Bird; An underlying friendly challenge to be respectful competitors.
Uncommon/Exotic seeds from different herds in a satin pouch in a mahogany wood case; the gifter wishes the receiver abundance and good fortune (more seeds = more prosperity, no satin pouch is an insult).
A peacock writing quill; The gifter is complementing the receiver’s appearance.
A turkey writing quill; Calling the receiver ugly/annoying.
Jewelry with a fire opal; Proclamation of deep admiration or absolute loathing towards the receiver.
Quality hoof shine; The receiver looks poor/unkept and needs to work on their appearance according to the gifter.
Expensive bowl of delicate material; The receiver is considered unfit for their role by the gifter.
High-quality silk shawl with gold embroidery; The gifter wishes you the warmest welcome and holds you in high regard/close to the heart.
Sand colors, golds, reds, and browns are seen as beautiful in the eyes of the herd. Darker coats are okay and still considered stately, but pink skin is pitied because of the likelihood of sunburn. Like Mirroweld, the phae of Dawnspire place significant importance on cleanliness and hygiene, particularly those of higher classes.
Unlike Mirroweld though, the herd highly praises those they consider beautiful and the ability to remain majestic and dignified with increasing age. This is why they will often protect their hide from the blistering sun with breathable cloth and cloaks designed in bright colors often trimmed with gold. Accessories are often also seen as a way to enhance beauty and many phae, especially of higher class, are often seen adorned in gold jewelry and with shining jewels.
Horns and racks often range from intricate and complex to simple and sturdy, with thin and simple being seen as most elegant. However, they are also considered as another accessory within the herd that is mostly considered beautiful if it fits and enhances one’s aesthetic presentation. Therefore it is not insomuch the horn/rack that is considered beautiful but rather the picture it completes that is considered. (E.g. a wispy stag with an overly hefty and jagged rack that almost causes him to topple over with each step would be considered off-kilter and somewhat ugly).
Gender and Sex Roles
Dawnspire generally has gender-neutral titles for their ranks and prides itself on having no true set gender or set roles. Within their philosophy, if you are capable, dedicated, talented, or able enough to perform a task or job you should be allowed to do so. Placing herd members in pigeon holes according to biology does nothing to help the herd’s survivability and prosperity when a doe could be just as good a fighter as any stag and any stag may be a better carer of fawns.
Pronouns are also something the herd takes great care in, as many Phae of Dawnspire are more fluid and nonbinary in their view of gender.
Marriage and Romantic Relationships
Harems are very common for any gender of Phae and polyamory is widely accepted. Both stags and does can form ‘harems’, often resulting in groups of unrelated phae connected by these relationships who work together as a unit to raise fawns and bring further prosperity to the Royal House as a result.
Marriage ceremonies can be held between individuals who wish to make that devotion to one another but it is not seen as necessary for anyone outside of the primary, their regents, and offspring of the primary as their marriages are considered to hold more weight and permanence. Higher classes will often place more importance on marriage partners but still be a part of harems outside of their marriage(s).
View of Other Herds
These are the general views of the average Dawnspire NPC concerning the other herds of The Elaphaea Archipelago.
Dawnspire has a particularly good standing with Mirroweld and the two have been considered allies sprouting from their shared dark history during the war. A lot of trade and agreements exist between the herd and visits are a frequent occurrence, however neither trusts the other fully. As two of the most politically inclined herds however, they recognize the value of keeping the other close and do thereby share a mutual respect.
In part, Dawnspire shies around its cautious neighbors because they feel guilty for their own role in the war, enabling the trauma that was caused to the folk of Vinelocke. At the same time, they feel they have not been fully forgiven by Vinelocke and therefore try even harder to regain their trust and respect.
Whilst Dawnspire’s relationship with Stonemire is strenuous at best, they view the transactional relationship they share with the herd to be crucial. Dawnspire is eager to trade the services of their magic users in helping ventilate their mines in return for precious ores and gems that are of essence in their own crafting and trading. Outside of their business interactions, Dawnspire (despite their own meddling nature) attempts to steer very far from being involved in the conflict with the Lowlanders. Though some may sympathize with the Lowlander’s plight, others might struggle to fully understand their independence from Stonemire or take them seriously as a wholly separate herd.
Though superficially Dawnspire might perceive Phae from Helmfirth as brutish and less refined, they take no issue in this difference as long as they themselves are not belittled or underestimated by them. They know that there is much more than meets the eye with the rough-and-tumble looking Helmfirth Phae, as demonstrated by their industrious innovations. Dawnspire is keen to keep building on their trade relationship and are eager to explore the combination of Helmfirth’s inventive minds and their own studied magicians, despite the boundary of their cultural differences.
Renegades are phae that Dawnspire see as a personal challenge to recruit. They do not understand their want for a detached life and try their best to persuade these unaffiliated wanderers into their herd.