The Pasu-Abhasa are the true people of Loka; in the earliest days of Loka, as the human men and women emerged from their secret lairs and the snows began to clear, the half-wild Pasu were the first to meet them, and although there was mistrust at the beginning, these days the cultures of each are intermingled, even though sometimes grudgingly and with some mistrust, by the passion to survive.
Clans were originally separated by classical archetype — canids, felines, avians, etc. — according to the pragmatics of their various niches of hunting, gathering, etc, as well by the tendency to form into groups that “bred true”. Today, however, they are often more political and cultural in nature, and can contain multiple types of Pasu. Typically, the more rural, traditionalist clans remain dominated by their original animal families, while the more urbanized clans have begun to take on many of the attributes of guilds or syndicates, dominating a particular urban lifestyle or area of business, and absorbing divergent Pasu — and even some humans — involved in that.
In the following breakdown, clan member terminology is displayed by the clan name. In cases where the plural is used as the singular as well, there is no distinction. Clan personality is no dictation of how a character is supposed to behave; these descriptions are only indicative of each culture on average and merely serve as inspiration for a new character and world flavor. This breakdown also provides granular communities that foster socializing and commerce.
Not all Pasu belong to a clan. Whether it is by choice or by outcast, some of them abandon the structure of clan life and make their way in the world at large, with or without help. The Pasu term for these floating peoples is “Vrataya”. These are not to be confused with the Heyokan tribe, which is a very loosely defined tribe that often just refers to city dwelling pasu in general.
Because of their overwhelming numbers and fierce, Spartan culture, the Ze’ev are the most politically powerful Pasu in Loka as well as the most internally structured. Although like-minded Pasu of other archetypes have slowly become part of ‘the Pack’, they are almost entirely canine, roughly 80% wolf.
The Ze’ev originate from the town of Estenne, and they work closely with the Viramarga to protect the boundaries of the country, a group which often contains members of the Ze’ev clan. They follow a council of six, which includes the Alpha and the Omega, two elder Ze’ev chosen by merit and lineage. These two are of mandate to have radically different viewpoints and opinions, which forces them to balance all decisions. Because of their well-known arguments, it is commonly held knowledge that anything the Alpha and Omega can agree on will be logical and beneficial. The other four council members are present mostly for additional insight and usually consist of a mother and a trader, and two representatives of the lucrative and destitute castes.
Kakshi are a group of lion pasu that group together in a sometimes militant traditionalist manner. While many types of felines are typically permitted to join, the lions tend to hold the most political power, often marginalizing other felinoids. This has caused many feline pasu to leave and seek their fortune elsewhere. The Kakshi have not been friendly to humans, considering the original decision to let them in a mistake. However, rumors have circulated for some time that despite the pride in their pure liniage, the royal line may have mingled with the humans shortly after they emerged from their underground shelters.
The loose-knit clan of Heyoka is threaded deeply into the urban population and live side by side with humans in an amicable relationship. They were traditionally a clan of foxes, although today the name “Heyokan” has become a blanket term for any highly urbanized Pasu of indeterminate heritage.
The Heyokan were one of the first clans to welcome the humans and their technology with open arms, and since then have been assimilated into general culture. Deeply tribal Pasu such as the Ze’ev and Arcto regard them as traitors to the Pasu nation for their sociability with humans and thirst for academics and games of chance. Heyokans are often seen wearing the sharp, tailored clothing of city-dwellers, and it is famously easy to run across a silver-tongued fox in the many gambling dens scattered across Loka.
Mostly comprised of hyena Pasu, the Crocuta clan is a group so nebulous as to almost be a non-entity; scattered across the country, most of them are destitute and homeless but they generally use pictographs to communicate with each other, drawn on walls and trees for the next Crocuta to see and understand. In essence for most, while “Crocuta” refers traditionally to hyena Pasu, it has become a catch-all term for the homeless.
This secret language is guarded very carefully, and for that matter is so chaotic that meanings vary from region to region and can even be misunderstood by foreign Crocuta. It is said that they are the background noise of Loka, the unseen and ignored beggars and wanderers, which makes them ideal thieves. Those Crocuta reformed by prison time or the rough life of a thief often make for crafty black market merchants and are usually a good source of fences and bookies.
The Deuter clan has its origins in a deeply religious sect that follows the teachings of a wizened old leonid Pasu named “Old Deuteronomy”, who gleans his sacred word from an ancient Svargan text called the “Bible”. They are generally good-natured and welcome anybody into their culture, but as they say in Loka, “the Lord help you if you cross the Deuters”. Traditionalist Deuters live primarily in and around Escorus; while there is a Deuterian presence in most towns, some of these smaller communities are much less observant, in some instances being little more than a street gang.
They are partially civilized, in that they wear articles of clothing from many areas and accoutrements like spectacles and prosthetics, but they eschew most technology and have a rural lifestyle of hunting and crafting. Deuters exhibit magical properties relatively rarely, but the few who do, sometimes show prodigious natural talent for it. The Deuter are known for refusing Cetayanti their children, citing religious texts and construing “magical talent” as “divine miracles”.
Where the Deuterians are relatively civilized, the mercurial Bastians have remained solidly in the architecture of the tribal. They are a nomadic, archaic cluster of hunters, living on the plains of Bhuma like a pride of savannah cats, in a roving tent city from which they sell various crafts and pelts to the travelers they happen upon. Some Bastians are more solitary, living in wilder places still and rarely associating even with their own kind. While they regularly produce physically imposing offspring, they rarely send any of their children to Basho to become part of the Viramarga. They will vehemently oppose anyone who threatens the clan or their way of life, but they are not altruistic and because they are so acclimated to the Whitemarch, they do not view Loka as integral to civilization and do not often dedicate themselves to the protection of Loka as a whole unless the danger threatens widespread death or destruction.
Their only political infrastructure revolves around the one of their own who shows the most physical power and diplomatic versatility, eschewing morality in favor of solidarity. Depending on the member in charge, the Bastians can be xenophobic and violent, or peaceful and outgoing. Atash Bahram has indicated that many Pasu responsible for mechanical sabotage over the latest fifty years may have emanated from the Bastian clan, but attempts to infiltrate their numbers and investigate have invariably ended in failure. However, since they do not pose an ongoing threat and are often one of the largest commercial sources of wild game through meat trading, no attempt has been made to eradicate or subjugate them.
Centzon Totochtin (Centzon)
Although it is comprised mostly of lagomorphic (rabbit) Pasu, the Centzon Totochtin clan has absorbed all kinds of Pasu with more body than money. It has developed into the lucrative underground powerhouse it is today only through word-of-mouth, which would be an amazing feat if it weren’t for the fact that it is a clan revolving around the practice of the intimate escort, an unsurprisingly popular culture. Their activity seems to depend upon Acre as a center of operation, but any harem found in Loka is probably going to be one of the many gentle arms of the Centzon.
The surprise comes from how structured and steeped in tradition the Centzon are; they take their reputation and appearance very seriously and have for centuries, grooming their young from childhood to impeccable standards to become the spotless epitome of what they do. While most of the rural population regards them as below acceptable social standards, the cities welcome them with open–if discreet–arms.
A scattered, nomadic clan that travels the borders of the Whitemarch, resistant to human influence and so well accustomed to the wasteland as to thrive in seclusion.
Bear Pasu are the main component of the Arcto, though it is pertinent to indicate that Pasu of other genotypes factor heavily into their society. It is believed that of all the Pasu clans, the Arcto is the only one that comes close to outright slavery. Using their formidable size as leverage, they assimilate other transient Pasu as they travel, offering protection from the elements and wildlife in exchange for crafting and domestic chores, in effect using fear to extort servitude. It is not unusual to see a group of lumbering Arcto escorting a considerable group of hyena or cervid Pasu across the slowly thawing tundra, like remoras clinging to the underbellies of blood-eyed sharks.
Their only political structure revolves around the strength of the largest ursine Pasu, a tradition that has served them well in the frozen wastes but an ideal that is gradually becoming obsolete in the highly civilized land of Loka. They are possibly the most atavistic and warlike gathering of Pasu in Loka, a dangerous element of modern society far surpassing even the militaristic Ze’ev. Crossing them can be a fatal mistake, so the Viramarga has attempted to allow them free roam of the farthest reaches of the border in exchange for their absence from the interior of the country.
More urbanized than its woodland counterpart Arcto, the Baluch bear clan is popular with the Viramarga for the overwhelming physical power of the Pasu it produces. They are said to have developed a distaste for the barbaric lifestyle of the Arcto and seceded to their own faction. Hulking, friendly Baluch Pasu in tabards and plate armor are a common sight around Helio and Gilead, royal guards with a friendly smile and a sharp blade. They are less a clan than a tiny militia, a subsection of the Pasu-Abhasa populace funded and employed by the monarchy, a powerful union played close to the vest.
While many clans of the Pasu-Abhasa are open to Pasu of many bloodlines, the Baluch is exclusively, traditionally ursine. They work side by side with the protective automatons of the government and it is said that, indeed, a furious Baluch in full panoply is little different from a half-ton robot.
A nomadic culture, the Hindvalians roam the plains of Bhuma gathering materials and selling crafts and foodstuffs to traveling merchants and adventurers. They are almost entirely cervid, that is to say, Deer Pasu, although some of their numbers are of sturdier Pasu who make a comfortable living performing the more physically demanding tasks. Due to their outstanding natural senses and excellent foot speed, Hindvalian deer Pasu are extremely valued archers and marksmen, and many of them are inducted into the Viramarga every year, particularly adolescent males, who are ejected from the clan when they are of age.
Next to the Ze’ev, the eldest clan in Loka is the Faras. The first to locate and colonize the burgeoning Plains of Bhuma, they were also among the first Pasu to witness the emergence of human kind from their centuries of subterranean imprisonment, and also the first to construct permanent dwellings within the borders of the country. Because of their geographical longevity, the plains can be politically considered as Faras tribal land, which means that almost all crimes outside urban centers are in Faras jurisdiction and are punished by Faras authority, and any new urban construction north of Helio and west of the Sastra forest has to be approved with the permission of the Faras government.
Unlike the Hindvalians, the Faras are patriarchal, and voluntarily retain all members of the clan, male and female. Displays of fondness are ordinary to the Faras, but open aggression is met with swift justice. The equine Pasu of the Faras could be considered the proudest and most fierce of the Pasu-Abhasa, even moreso than the Ze’ev. They do not display the feral fury of the canid, but they make up for it with near-unparalleled skill in weaponry. The sight of an approaching Faras regiment, the glint of their swords, and the thunder of their hooves as they swoop in like avenging angels is enough to strike fear into the hearts of all but the most foolish.
To facilitate swift travel, Faras have evolved a peculiar trait. Their hands are sheathed in a gauntlet of keratin that frames the hand, allowing them to ball their fists into hooves and essentially gallop with a full equine stride. Many Fara wear specialized harnesses that allow them to carry an assortment of weaponry securely as they move. One particular development of Fara blacksmiths is a blade that is strapped to the forearm and pivots freely at the rear of the wrist, allowing smooth transition from gallop to battle with a flick of the elbow.
The Tylopo are a primarily mercantile clan. Having recognized the importance of a lucrative trade, they have become synonymous enough with reputable business that a common saying is to call an honest, mutually beneficial trade a “red scarf deal”. It is easy to find camelids marching tirelessly along the roads of Loka, mountainous backpacks full of merchandise hoisted on their sunburned shoulders, a fluttering red scarf tied to the end of their walking sticks. Tyl are also well-known for being financial geniuses, and are frequently employed as bookkeepers and legal representatives.
Living in the dreary swamps of Meson are the Calaveras clan, which is mainly frogs but may contain a myriad of other amphibian or other hydrophilic Pasu such as salamander Pasu, or avian Pasu accustomed to being in an aquatic environment. Social status is important to the Calaveras, which is why marriage and mercantile are held so highly in general regard, even if they are not so easy to attain. Magical abilities are limited to the capacities of the Pasu comprising the clan, and since most of them are frog Pasu, instances of innate magic ability are few and far between. And because most amphibian Pasu are usually slender or dimunitive, they generally eschew the combative arts in favor of mechsmithing, mechanical crafting, and the smithing of munitions such as armor and weapons. The swamp around them makes for excellent quenching, which is why the water around Meson tends to be rather sooty black. To this end, they usually dress in simple clothing such as tunics and tabards reminiscent of the Old Ways, to avoid soiling their finery.
The patron Pasu of the mountain sanctuary of Cetayanti, the Ao Qin are the self-appointed servants and protectors of the Cela. Predominantly reptilian, they are a peaceful warrior culture steeped in ritual and tradition, given to pursuits of sublimation and enlightenment, such as meditation and architecture. Some of the finest craftsmen and smiths come from this clan, and they are renowned throughout Loka for their aptitude at unarmed combat through martial arts. The brilliant hues of their handmade garments and glittering swords are highly sought after, and they provide their beautiful robes and magnificent weapons to the Cela and the Viramarga, respectively, out of gratitude for their protection of the country.
Some members of the Ao Qin have ‘flight’ or ‘gliding’ abilities due to membranes under their arms, or frills around their neck. Because of this ability, they are often referred to as ‘dragons’, as they bear vague resemblance to the creatures of ancient tales.
The Ao Qin are also as known for their openness and hospitality, always eager to lend a hand or provide a warm place to sleep. Their social structure is rigidly aligned with age, disregarding gender and strength in favor of seniority and wisdom. Their elders are revered as sages and spiritual leaders, and lifted into sainthood upon death. Parables about the dubious and complex insight of gurus of Ao Qin are popular among storytellers and scholars throughout Loka.
Azi Dahaka (Azi)
Known colloquially as the “Sand Dragons”, the proud and rough-hewn Azi Dahaka is more of a bandit gang than a true Pasu clan, and they hold little to no political sway within the larger Pasu-Abhasa community. They roam the Samudran Desert as nomads, occasionally assaulting travellers that pass through the area. They are mostly reptilian, although they regularly keep females of other Pasu families captured after a road raid. Because of their resemblance to the creatures in ancient tales, fire mages from Azi Dahaka are often referred to as ‘dragons.’
While they are indeed a dangerous group, Viramarga generally leaves them alone as the advantages of their presence outweigh the risks. Not all of the soldiers of the Viramarga are conditioned to patrol the desert, and the Azi Dahaka serves as a formidable barrier to many Druj coming out of the Whitemarch to the southeast. They also send emissaries to trade with merchants in Abhi, which is a major stimulant to the economy there even if their wares are often stolen goods. And as criminal as they are, they most often leave their victims alive and well. They still retain a certain nobility that elevates them marginally above the Arcto clan, who can, will, and have killed indiscriminately.
They call themselves the Sand Dragons because for some reason–perhaps their affinity with the arid expanse–the few offspring they produce with magical abilities seem to exhibit prodigious natural talent for the manipulation of fire.
The Tseiqami are a highly traditional clan of avians. Finding other species among them is rare, due to the unique cultural elements caused by flight, and their coming of age ritual. Stationed in the south mountains, they push adolescents into the world to explore on their own. Most then eventually return to start their own families and repeat the process. They are open to trade, and generally friendly people, though living isolated on mountain peaks has given some of them an aloof mindset concerning the rest of the world, which others might interpret as arrogance.
Because of their skeletal structure, Tseiqami often only wear enough clothes to preserve modesty. Their arms are long enough to reach the knee at a standing position, with long fingers and angular elbows that support great fans of primary feathers; these semi-vestigial wings extend backwards from the forearm and fold along the upper arm when not in use. Swift and sharp-eyed, Tseiqami adolescents are often employed as messengers or inducted into the Viramarga as marksmen. Tseigami of smaller stature are able to achieve full flight, but as more modern agricultural developments have occurred, and full nutrition has become available, the Tseiqami often grow too large for proper flight. This has caused a movement of intentional partial starvation as a mark of beauty and grace.