The Lowlanders are a recently formed splinter group of Stonemire, formed in the year 232 of the Dark Age following tragic events. The original herd members were phae that were exiled from the main herd following an avalanche that caused the death of three young fawns. The second-in-command, Adira, and mate of the Tiarna, Egon, was the mother of one of the fawns. Arguments following the death of their child lead to a build up of tension between the herd members, as Adira blamed her mate for causing the deaths of the fawns due to his zealous pursuit of S’ral and pushing the herd to climb ever higher into the mountains. Eventually, the divide in the herd became unmendable, and when many herd members blasphemed Stonemire’s perception of S’ral alongside Adira, they were banished to the lowlands. The banished phae banded together in the far milder low-lands, learning to live among grass and trees as opposed to rock, snow, and minerals.
While much of their culture was developed from Stonemire’s way of life, they are far less focused on defense because they believe that S’ral has already granted them much of the protection they need to survive. They generally view Stonemire as overzealous, and try to branch away from their traditionally survival-of-the-fittest viewset. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t value physical strength, but they believe that the mind is as critical as the body. Rather than turn away any phae who don’t meet the Stonemire’s standard of strength, they accept and nurture them, as they believe that everyone has valuable skills to contribute. As long as a phae is a productive, contributing member of the herd, they are considered strong.
Since departing from Stonemire, some phae of the Lowlands have lost faith in S’ral. Many do still worship them, but it is generally a practice that is done privately.
The Lowlanders tend to be more open to outsiders, and will welcome any phae into their herd as long as they can prove their loyalty in the Test. The Lowlanders are also far more open to interacting with the other herds, and are friendly with all other herds, though they tend to have less contact with Mirroweld and occasionally trade with their ships when they land on the south eastern shores.
Rituals, Traditions, and Ceremonies
As a newly formed herd, they are still growing and developing into their own society with individualized rituals, traditions, and ceremonies. Many are adapted from Stonemire tradition, while others were simply left behind.
The Rite is a ritual adapted from Stonemire’s Travail, and while it is similar in concept, the core lesson to be learned is vastly different. In their fifth year of life, fawns are expected to take their first steps away from their parents and the herd to walk the numerous paths winding through the lowlands. The goal of the Rite is for young phae to learn to trust their senses and instincts, learning to rely on themself and finding their own inner strength. While walking the path, they must reflect on their life and return with an important revelation. After sharing their revelation with the herd, they add a small, personal cairn in the lavender fields near Ravenmoor, symbolizing their official entrance into the herd. The Rite must also be taken by any phae wishing to become a full member of the herd.
Now that they live in a climate that truly experiences all four seasons, the Lowlanders like to come together at the start of each new season to celebrate the changing weather and prepare for the time to come.
With the coming of Rainfall also comes the shedding of coats and antlers. For the Lowlanders, it has come to be seen as a celebration of their new life. Out with the old and in with the new. This early tradition usually involves “rainfall cleaning”, where herd members will tidy their homes and clean out their possessions.
On the longest day of the year, the herd comes together to partake in freshly brewed alcoholic beverages and partake in the telling of stories. This is a time of togetherness and being grateful for the abundance of the land they have come to call home.
Traditionally, the Gathering is a celebration of phae entering adulthood and beginning their Rite. At the start of Leafturn, all members of the Lowlanders will gather at Ravenmoor Cairn to send off the young or prospective herd members, wishing them luck and offering any pieces of wisdom they might need.
The Frosthold ritual comes in the middle of Frosthold when the season is coldest and the snow deepest. This ritual is a time to reflect on the past year and to look forward to the year to come. Whispersong is usually held between family units during the day, where members will exchange gifts with one another. In the evening, the herd will gather around a grand bonfire and sing together.
Legends and Stories
Stonemire largely operates under a “survival-of-the-fittest” philosophy and the Lowlanders have striven to be the complete opposite. Most of the Lowlanders lost their blood family when they were banished, so they had to come together and adapt as one unit. Those who would have been considered “weak” became core members of society, proving that there is more to each phae than the strength of their limbs. The Lowlanders regard one another as found-family.
The Lowlanders don’t place much emphasis on the appearance of the herd members. Living in the milder climate of the lowlands allows them far more freedom in color and traits. However, there are still some coats that have come to be seen as especially beautiful or tasteful. Browns, dark reds, and darker lilacs are among these, as they blend in with both marsh and forest. However, all coats are accepted. All builds and body types are also accepted by the Lowlanders. The beauty of character is more important to the members of the Lowlands. A phae who is virtuous, loyal, and diligent in the care of the herd are always seen as beautiful.
Gender and Sex Roles
One of the few areas where the Lowlanders hold similar views as Stonemire, they also believe in receiving the blessing of each partner(s)’ parents before becoming mated. However, they do not need to do so via a feat of strength. Something as simple as a conversation or a thoughtful gift is adequate.
Monogamy is generally the common and accepted marriage and relationship practice in the Lowland, but it is not uncommon to see other types of relationships as well. Becoming mates and holding an official ceremony is still a cherished piece of Lowlander culture, as marriage is seen as a blessing and promise of a better future. Thus, divorce is similarly uncommon among Lowlanders as in Stonemire (unless under extreme circumstances like criminal activity, adultery, fawn abandonment, etc), so phae need to be certain of their partner(s) before becoming bonded for life.
Becoming a parent is seen as an immense responsibility, because fawns are vulnerable and need protection and guidance for at least the first 5 years of their lives. It is the responsibility of the parents to raise their fawns, and abandoning a fawn is looked upon as poorly as divorce.
Marriage and Romantic Relationships
View of Other Herds
These are the general views of the average Lowlander NPC concerning the other herds of The Elaphaea Archipelago.
Stonemire is mostly viewed as a bunch of stubborn lug-heads who take history a little too literally. The core of their disagreement lies in the level of zeal towards living in the mountains, versus using them for protection. The Lowlanders believe that all the work has already been done for them, and all of the land ought to be utilized well.
Mirroweld will always be regarded with distrust, but the Lowlanders are also optimistic of the herd’s reform in the last two and a half centuries. They are wise scholars with much to teach and give, so the Lowlanders have no qualm with swapping goods and knowledge when they are able.
Vinelocke is perhaps the greatest ally of the Lowlanders. They have long assisted Stonemire with the construction and development of their mines, but some of their earth-wielders also helped to rejuvenate Ravenmoor Cairn to be more liveable. Regular trade routes run between Vinelocke and the Lowlanders.
The Lowlanders currently have less to offer Dawnspire in terms of trade, but will still occasionally enlist their services when needed for construction purposes.
The Lowlanders have a good relationship with Helmfirth, though it can be a bit awkward at times given the conflict with Stonemire. Trade still flows regularly between Helmfirth and the Lowlanders, though the Lowlanders do not enjoy as much wealth as the main herd.
The Lowlanders are far more accepting and welcoming of Renegades, though they do still expect a healthy level of mutual respect be given.