Also know as God’s chosen people, the Holy People. In their own language Re’chot means the chosen people and is the common name of the community. The more polite name of the Ten’chot (or valley people) is used with foreigners (or was by the old aristocratic class,) as it’s more tactful.
Starakand refers to them as the unteri (slave people) and the Tawy refer to them as the Pwn’chot or the pyramid builders. Both of which are pretty despised titles amongst the Re’chot. Foreign diplomats will use the Valley People’s own names in meetings.
As a starting point I’ve used the old MERP culture write ups as a start.
Build The People as shorter than Starakandians people but about the same size of the Tawy. So men are around 5’6” – 5’8-5’10” are considered tall. Women are typically around 2-4” shorter. They do tend to be stocky and broad shouldered. Women are typically heavy at the chest, hips and buttocks.
Colouring People tend to have olive skin and eyes are usually brown though green and blues do infrequently occur. Hair is usually typically black or brown. Blond or red hair is disapproved of being seen as a sign of Reichsvolk ancestry down the line.
Lifespans For the poor 50 is a very respectable and venerable age with people often dying before they’re 40. For the Rich it is considered normal to live into one’s sixties unless war, disease or accident takes one first.
Endurance and Resistance The people are very hardy and have a good resistance to disease. They see this as a sign of their God’s blessing. Their former conquerors regard them it more as a sign of the weak having been killed off during their respective times as slave drivers of the people.
Special Abilities There are no special abilities attributed to the people.
Lifestyle As previously discussed the Re’chot were a pastoral people but have gradually urbanised particularly due to the influence of the Tawy. Essentially there are clusters of villages with fruit, olive, vegetable farming around the market towns (or polis) which forms independent feuding city states. Between them there are extensive free pasture, homesteads and ranches which owe nominal allegiance to one or other of the polis. Therefore there is a large variety of lifestyles contained with in the Valley.
However one thing that shapes the lifestyle of Re’chot whatever their economic background is the worship of Turan – the God of Re’chot. Turan being the public name of the God – roughly translated as ‘Celestial Father (of the Re’chot.) There are other hidden names which form a significant part of Re’chot mysticism (see musings on magic.)
So how does the worship of Turan impact on the lifestyle of the Re’chot?
Firstly there are the dietary restrictions – pork, shellfish, bird flesh, lizards, predators species and rats are forbidden. This is due to cleanliness concerns or surprisingly in the case of Pork and Predators – due to the intelligence of the potential food, meaning they are favoured by Turan. Re’chot are raised to consider these food sources with disgust and it would be rare for one to break these restrictions. There is no diary/non-diary taboo but meat is required to be drained of blood before butchering begins and officially a priest should be on hand to officiate. It is therefore not surprising that every drover or cowherd band (or VC) has a ‘Cleric’ who is merely the most scholarly of the party or the son of Priest who supposedly performs this function when they cook something they hunt.
The typical meal will consist of bread – some form of cheese (fresh, soft at home or hard, mature tasting if travelling) with salad, olives and vegetables for flavour. Animal protein is usually limited to the evening meal and often little more than a garnish of preserved jerky style rinds (sometimes softened by stewing with tomatoes or root vegetables.) Despite the prohibition on bird flesh, eggs are allowed and are usually served at breakfast or hardboiled as a portable snack. There is a niche cuisine of hard meat and cheese pasties for ranch riders and shepherds which are also popular.
Then there are the demands of prayer – the Scriptures require worship at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Amongst the more rough and ready this is pretty much ignored but it is a definite must amongst the respectable. That includes the poor, as religious devotion is a cheap way for a poor family to gather status. In normal everyday life this will be an apt verse for the day from the scriptures favoured by the local temples said before the meal. On high days and holidays it can be much more elaborate, though at least one meal will be consumed with other celebrants at the temple from sacrificial meat (the particular meal depending on the festival.).
Despite the warm summers – the Scriptures all agree that both men and women should be modestly dressed. This is interpreted diffidently. For men it is not such an issue and long trousers and tunics with long or short sleeves are usually accepted as modest dress. For men it also usually includes close cropped hair and beards being trimmed or shaved.
For women however a lot of disagreement exists over the limits of modest dress. Some think it matches male models, others believe it requires the covering of the hair by scarf, wig or hood (the covering depending on the local Temple.) At its most extreme a few towns believe women should be covered by an encompassing shift. These measures do not apply to ‘Blessed Virgins’ of which more in the section on family life.
Then there are the lesser and greater festivals. The Greater Festivals – of Mid-Winter, High-Spring, Midsummer and Last Harvest – all require worship at the Polis Temple and are very busy times for such cities. A lot of business is also concluded at these times both on the forum and in the Courts are the towns are so crowded with celebrants. The Lesser Festivals – First Blossom, First Harvest, Winter’s Night and First Bud are alternatively festivals designed to be celebrated in the home. Keen observers will note I have ruthlessly borrowed from the Pagan ‘Wheel of the Year’ in choosing those festivals. There is no day of rest so these festivals often spread out over 2-3 days as a real unwind.
Entertainment takes several forms. Storytelling is very popular both from community elders and itinerant travelling tale tellers. In the cities theatre is coming on with the larger town having a couple of companies with their own managers-writers-directors whose supporters can sometimes fall out violently. The old aristocratic sports of jackal or warthog hunting on horseback (for sport and pest control not food) with hounds is still done by some ranchers. Sometimes villagers will act as hunt followers. However the true craze is boxing – bare-knuckle with no rounds or breaks and only blows above the waist it is a bloody and violent sport with different fighters having very keen supporters and touring parties of boxers visiting villagers to offer winner-takes the purse competitions. It’s only rival is Baboon v badger fighting which can be found in sunken pits in rough pubs.
Speaking of alcohol – it is far from prohibited. In fact at Mdisummer and Mid-Winter drunkenness is demanded by Scripture (so people can confess their sins to their neighbours prior to the drinking and then forget the trespasses through it.) Mead and ale is imported from the Reich. The Valley produces its own white wines (which are usually pretty poor) while the best wine, beer and spirits are exported by the Tawy. Water quality means watered wine or beer is served with every meal to diners of all ages. Unsurprisingly milk is also a popular drink as are various herbal teas.
All Polis produce their own coins but as all are base don the size and weight of the old Tawy currency which is still accepted most places there is practically a unified currency in the Valley and between it and the Tawy to the North.
Marriage Patterns & Family Life
Marriage is accepted as the Union between a man and a woman. Polygamy did exist in scripture but is now frowned upon by all the most extreme sects. A involves the payment of a bride price to the family of the bride which is often negotiated between the best man and the maid of honour when the groom calls to take her to the Temple for the ceremony. A religious service followed by a signing of a contract between bride, groom and Turan form the ceremony. In the countryside simpler ‘common law’ marriages exist but the offspring have no paternity in law. This isn’t as big a problem as it might be as property rights actually pass down the female line – which is why a bride price is paid for marrying into a family it gives some entitlement to that family’s inheritance. It also tends to encourage sons with all male siblings to try and marry female cousins with entitlement to ‘their’ inheritance. Some sects frown on cousin marriage but economic concerns often outweigh such niceties.
There is divorce in Re’chot society – for men. They can divorce their wives but all property goes with the woman. Therefore many ‘dead’ marriages persist.
In most scripture a woman’s place is seen as the home so even if she inherits a business a man is brought in to run it. There is an exception however. In times past war and slavery led to a shortage of men so women where allowed to take a vow of ‘blessed virginity’ which permanently transforms their legal status to that of men. They dress as men, are required for military service, can run businesses and marry women – all subject to them maintaining their virginity. Blessed virgin status can only be revoked by marriage to a man. There are cases of men wanted to getting their hands on a woman’s property paying others to seduce a blessed virgin husband in order to free up a marriage opportunity. (The Blessed Virgin idea is based on an institution in Albania where blood feuds led to a shortage of men.) Blessed virigins do tend to have respectible short, manly hair.
Strict sexual conduct rules existent he scriptures. Seed is a blessing of Turan and while joy in procreation should be encouraged it should not be wasted. This removes a number of options in the bedroom. Furthermore sex outside marriage is forbidden. Close reading of the texts by some has led to the theory that ‘wasteful’ sex outside of marriage might be okay. This is not encouraged by any sect or temple but has provided sexual outlets for the unmarried for many a long year.
Outside of the legal fig leaf of the Blessed Virgin – same sex relationships are considered sinful and potentially punished by death. The same goes for relations with siblings, half siblings or step siblings. In part this can be seen as a bit of reaction to Tawy where incestuous marriage is standard for the Pharaoh family. Sex with children is also forbidden – the acceptable age for marriage seen as 16 though betrothal can happen earlier say from age 12. This is often the case if a match-maker has been hired to make a good match. Adultery is also punished by death – at least for women – it doesn’t seem to prevent flourishing prostitution in all but the modest puritan cities (though the signs of prostitutes are subtle – secret signs or funny little signs like ankle bracelets and it varies from city to city.)
Routinely children are raised in the home till they are around 12. Education may be provided by a local holy man or if the local government or rancher has paid for a school to that age. From 12 children are often fostered with relatives from the extended clan – if possible in another city and apprenticed. The idea is that the difficult teenage years are turned to good use and the child gets to learn a useful skill. Typically from 16 children can either say with their fosters, return to their parents or make their own way in the world. It is not uncommon for bands of 16-21 former apprentices to travel as itinerant craftsman to outlaying villages developing their trade, contacts and skills. To be unmarried at 21 is unusual, to have never been married as 30 is suspect. Such ‘oddballs’ would be the types to find themselves drawn into VCs and other fringe activities.
Originally there were 12 tribes of the people. Each settled a city however the various periods of slavery meant this all got a bit mixed up and now members of all the tribes are found all over and a person’s first loyalty is to their city. However the tribes can form a useful networking opportunity. More important are clans – these are normally spread across 1-3 cities and trace their ancestry back they form a close alliance for trade, match-making and financial support. A clan leader usually the most prominent and prosperous male in the clan officiates between clan members in disputes. Given the fractious nature of the City states clan members can find themselves at war with each other in which case the clan splits for the duration of hostilities. Eh there is the family – often 3-4 Generations under the same roof or in a cluster of buildings. Again the senior male (including Blessed Virgins) is regarded as the head and officiates and husbands the clans resources. In the absence of banks such family and clan networks are a great source of finance. They are also a source of protection. In their own way networks of VCs perform a similar function for their members.