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The Dravish Drylands - Mini Gazetteerby Steven B. Wilson
Technology: Iron Age
Life-style: Agricultural city-dwellers and geoglyph makers
Location: Izcikmir Highlands (south of the Krugel Hordes)
Population: 200,000 (99% human, 1% tortle) divided among several independent towns and villages
Government Type: Theocratic-militaristic
Outer-World Origin: Great Northway/Yazak Steppes (Brun) ca BC 1750
Further Reading: Dungeon Magazine #6 & 7, “Tortles of the Purple Sage” by Merle and Jackie Rasmussen, and “The Dravish Civilization” by LoZompatore
The Dravish lands are hot, dry hills are covered with sparse thickets of shrubs. It is one of the most arid regions in the hollow world with an average annual precipitation of 4 millimeters (0.16 inches). Temperatures range from 10 to 32 °C (50 to 90 °F) with an average daily high of 21 °C (70 °F).
The Dravish society is divided into three main social classes. Power is concentrated in the sorcerer-priests and the military leaders who in general are the landowners. This elite has the capacity to organize community work and direct ceremonial activities, they live in truncated pyramidal buildings, in special sectors whose rooms are made with adobe walls covered with a layer of gypsum or lime to fill the cracks.
At the service of this leadership are the artisans (ceramists, architects, weavers, astrologists, musicians, soldiers) who live in small cities and ceremonial centers. At the base of the society are the farmers and fishers. The farmers live in thatched-roof huts situated outside of the cultivated surface, and grouped together in villages around an adobe pyramid which acts as a religious temple.
The Dravish society does not have a unified government, rather it is a group of individual manors. These manors have their own authority who is generally a priest, the rest of the territory is dedicated solely to agriculture.
Due to the arid region they lived in on the surface and currently in the hollow world, the Dravi have built extensive underground aqueducts (sometimes up to 30 feet deep) that direct water from the mountains to their fields. The underground passages are constructed (by tortles) to take advantage of underground water sources are the basis of agricultural irrigation for the Dravish inhabitants. Their hydraulic intervention by means of aqueducts, canals, and wells served to provide all the water needed to grow their crops.
At various points are pits with spiral ramps leading down to the aqueducts for the purpose of maintenance and repair. It is the tortle slaves who build and maintain these vital resources.
The Dravish economy is based on agriculture, its principal crops being corn, beans, pumpkin, squash, yucca, guava, peanuts, peppers and cotton (textiles being one of their most valuable trade goods). Fishing in the sea and shellfishing are of great importance for the inhabitants of the coast who through barter exchanged their products in order to complement their diet. Hunting is another activity which helps the Dravish economy.
However, the Dravi are not just peaceful farmers. The lack of resources has developed in them the will and the means to protect their farms and homes – with enough aggression to occasionally add to their coffers. Defenders who have proven capable in skirmishes and battles against the nearby Krugel Hordes often decapitate their foes, keeping skulls as trophies and status symbols. Their military leaders are held in such high esteem that many of them are immortalized in statues of stone and iron that surround their temples.
They also work gold and silver to make masks, ear flaps, nose rings, and other ritual objects. These metals, however, are exclusively for ceremonial or religious uses and not allowed to be owned by the lower classes.
Trade, not only among themselves but with their dwarven neighbors, has vital importance to the Dravi. In this way they satisfy the necessities of the population often affected by long droughts. They maintain a continuous exchange within their borders through the construction of magical teleportation gates that lay in the center of the major Dravish cities. Interestingly enough, these gates can only be activated by those wearing a fragment of a tortle eggshell. The reason for this is kept a closely guarded secret by the Dravi and their tortle slaves refuse talk about it.
Between these magical gates, through the deserts and hills of the region, are amazingly straight lines in the ground that continue their lines through hills and ravines without straying from their direction. These are not roads in the normal sense of the word as you would never see a Dravi walk along them. They are created by removing the top layer of reddish-brown pebbles to reveal a yellow-gray subsoil. The widths of the lines vary, but most are around one foot wide.
The Dravish culture has a morbid fascination with skulls and heads of both the living and the dead.
Many Dravi, especially among the ruling class, have elongated skulls, as a result of skull manipulation. This effect is achieved by binding a cushion to an infant's forehead and a board to the back of the head. Skull manipulation creates an ethnic identity, forms the individual into a social being, and defines social status.
The typical Dravish burial is a style of mummification. The social status of the deceased could be established by the complexity of the lining of the chamber and the number of objects which accompanied it (vessels, blankets, plumes, hats, bouquets, etc.). The body is placed in a fetal position, wrapped in layers of blankets until it forms a bundle. Some bundles include a so-called “false head,” a small bulge in the upper part, which simulates a head. The tombs of commoners are not luxurious, this is a distinct fortune of the nobility.
The mummification of heads is a custom among the Dravish, generally those of defeated warriors. The greater number of heads a warrior possesses, the greater prestige, power and authority he has. To make a trophy head, they take out the brain from the base of the skull, then sew the mouth shut and make a small hole in the forehead, where they placed a cord to hang them by. In some unique cases, these heads have been used to purposely create undead sacrols.
In addition to the teleportation paths that cross the dry lands of the Dravi, the people have also taken to using the same technique to create designs of enormous dimensions out in the desert. They faithfully represent animals, plants, and geometric figures. The size of these figures prevents individuals from seeing them at ground level. Only from the air or from nearby hills can they be seen for what they are. It is unsure if this is a practice that started on the surface world as none of these geoglyphs have be discovered…yet.
The Dravish civilization carried out rituals to their unnamed immortals of the sea (Protius), the sky (Ixion), the earth (Kagyar), and fire (Ixion again). They create these gigantic works of art (inspired by Kagyar) for their immortals, and they are of a magical/elemental nature. Rituals revolve around avoiding droughts and providing battle magic support against their enemies. Their religion also has much to do with the Dravi Lines, which are vital to their teleportation trade routes.
History on the Outer World
Existing between the years of approximately BC 2000 and BC 1200, the Dravish culture was established in the Great Northway Lands of Brun. Its capital, Dravya, was on the banks of the Great Northway River (later along the sluggish waters of the Empty Valley), and from there its influence radiated as far as Khuzud in the north, and to Risilvar in the south. They also expanded towards the east, reaching the high zones of the Bylot Hills.
(All dates are approximate.)
History in the Hollow World
- BC 3000 The Great Rain of Fire destroys Blackmoor
- BC 2300 Humans (mostly Oltec) begin arriving in the Yalu Bay area. In either a new practice or as an ancient tradition passed down by Oltecs, the passive tortles are dominated and enslaved.
- BC 2000 The first distinctly Dravish communities which developed in the basin of the Great Northway appear, constructed by tortle slaves. Aranea begin to disguise their race in the face of the increasing human population.
- BC 1500 A proper Dravish culture takes shape; the ceremonial center of Dravya is built. Dravi teleportation lines are built to connect the major population centers.
- BC 1750 Dravya is abandoned due to an earthquake (possibly initiated by the tortles in a kind of genetic memory-response to the great earthquakes in the Sea of Dread region?) altering the path of the Great Northway River. The culture begins its decline.
- BC 1200 The last remnants of Dravish society ends due to humanoid migrations and raiding.
- BC 700 Fleeing their ancestral homeland, tortles (who outlived, culturally, their former masters) resettle the ancient Dravish city of Zul (renamed the Monoliths of Zul).
After the earthquake of BC 1750, the Immortals recreated the city of Dravya along the Great Mud River just north of the World Spine mountains in Iciria, and transplanted a large population of humans and their tortle slaves. From there they spread out (slowly) from the Gomukudar Plateau in the north to the Izcikmir Highlands in the south. The Dravi began to painstakingly recreate their teleportation “roads” and also began to create new geoglyphs to honor the Immortals of the new red sun.
They eventually came into contact with the Kogolor dwarves, who had only arrived in the Hollow World approximately fifty years prior to the Dravi. The Kogolor were friendly and willing to trade and Dravi tended to alternate between trading and raiding. Nothing escalated to full out war as the Dravish heroes realized the futility of an all-out assault on the mountain strongholds.
Things pretty much remained that way for over a thousand years, until around BC 500 a new threat arrived: The Krugel Hordes. Having been placed between the Dravi and the far-off Neathar (with whom the Dravi never had much contact to begin with), the newly arrived horde swept over the Dravi lands again, and again, and again. Many Dravish cities were burned to ruins causing the borders of their land to greatly shrink.
However, instead of complete eradication, the Krugel Hordes settled into a pattern of raiding with the intent of taking food and what little treasure the people had, then retreating for a year or two to allow the village to recover so they can hit it again when there is more to take.
Although the Dravi have never fully reclaimed all of their previous territory, they have recovered enough to give the hordes as good as they take – raiding and plundering when their own harvests are poor. This is a rather dangerous proposition as the Dravi don’t have any kind of effective cavalry. They instead rely on ambushes, traps, and terrain to reduce or negate the Krugel advantages on horseback.
Relations with Other Races
One side effect of the arrival of the Krugel Hordes, is that the Dravi no longer bother raiding the Kogolor dwarves. They are content to trade with the dwarves and raid the orcs.
Outside of those two groups, the Dravi have very little contact. Antalian seafarers occasionally sail to the mouth of the Great Mud River for trading/raiding. The Dravi know about the Neathar, but it has never been worth going through the Krugel lands to maintain any kind of relations with them. There has been rare contact with the Oltecs, a people who the Dravi have mixed feelings for. They seem familiar, but at the same time very, very different. The Dravi would probably feel the same way about the Azcans if they ever met them.
Living Statues (Rock and Iron)