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The Darsai
harkovast at 3:57PM, July 8, 2010
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(I realised recently that I had talked about Darsai religion, but said very little on the specifics of Darsai Culture! Since they are a central race to the story, its time to set things straight!)

Darsai appear physically similar to what we call cats and have a culture somewhat similar to medieval europe (all be it a very romanticised ideal of medieval Europe.)

Darsai are a brave, bold people. They admire courage and fair play, and despise cowardice and under handedness.
They wear their emotions on their sleeves, weeping openly when they are sad, being quick to fight when angered and laughing heartily when something amuses them. It can be odd to see a powerful Darsai knight wail in tears when tragedy strikes, but to the Darsai the idea of holding back emotions is quite alien.
Darsai are honest and straight forward, what you see with them is usually what you get.
They are very tactile; slapping each other on the back, holding hands and hugging each other are considered a normal part of conversation. If you don't get into the other persons personal space a bit, Darsai consider this rather cold and stand offish.
Darsai society is based on feudalism. The society can be thought of as a pyramid, with peasants at the bottom supporting a smaller cast of knights above them, supporting layers of increasingly important nobles right up the king.
The king grants land to the lords, who grant some of it to lesser nobles below them who in turn grant it to the peasants below them to farm and live on.
This structure works both ways, however, as knights and nobles have a responsibility to lead and protect the people below them (as well as laying on feast days and celebrations) for the community under them. Darsai are a wilful people, and the peasants are well aware of their rights under law. They certainly don’t see themselves as oppressed serfs and a lord treats them this way or ignores these responsibilities will not only risk sanctions from his superiors, but rebellion from his subjects! There are many examples of Darsai nobles meeting an unpleasant end due to peasant revolts, and the nobility are all too aware of this. After these events, the towns people will generally petition the a higher lord, or indeed the king, to send a replacement.
Darsai consider the feudal system the natural order of things, with everyone knowing their place and supporting society. Darsai consider Nymus democracy to be mob rule, manipulated by scheming, corrupt politicians behind the scenes, and consider their own government far more logical and practical, being based as it is on honour and codes of conduct, rather then selfishness and a thirst for power.
Central to Darsai culture is knighthood.
The knight is the ideal of what a Darsai should be; brave, honest, strong and ready to battle evil and protect the innocent at a moments notice.
Male members of the nobility are almost universally knights, and it is possible for peasants to be granted Knighthood, thus allowing them to join the lower ranks of nobility.
Because they have peasants to work the land and provide for them, knights can focus almost entirely on martial training, becoming warriors of tremendous skill.
As well as general fighting skills, some key abilities a knight must learn are fighting in heavy armour (with the tail wrapped around the body like a belt, giving better protection but making it hard for the untrained to balance), fighting from Suss back, and most importantly mastering the energy weapons of Thane.
A Darsai knight will generally be skilled enough in the use of this energy (after a life time of training) to produce a range of weapons, including lances, spears, swords and axes, as well as javelins bows and arrows (as opposed to using regular bows and just producing energy arrows as normal soldiers do) and throwing axes.
This makes Darsai knights exceptionally versatile, able to change their tactics to match what ever opponent or situation they come up against.
There is more to being a Darsai knight then being a great warrior though. Equally important is living up to the ideals of chivalry.
All Darsai are taught to live by chivalry's laws, and to knights it is their central creed.
Some of the basic tenants are as follows-
Not striking an unarmed opponent, or one who is not ready.
Being honest.
Being respectful to women.
Treating prisoners well
Fulfilling your duty to your superiors in the feudal system, and your responsibilities to your inferiors.

It should be noted that the rules for combat are applied to personal duels rather then mass battles. In times of war, knights are not expected to avoid striking enemies in the back or attempting to gang up on opponents etc.
Also, since the First Nameless War, it has been decreed that the rules of chivalry do not extend to the Nameless. Nameless can thus be killed without warning or mercy.

Darsai Chivalry is often mocked by other races (mainly the Nymus) as a weakness, but the rules often make a lot of sense. Those relating to personal combat assume the opponent will obey them as well, and if the opponent does break them (or clearly intends to break them) then they do not apply.
The rules regarding the treatment of prisoners in particular can actually be a surprising asset in war time. Though the Darsai have to take care to look after prisoners, this means enemy soldiers know they will be safe if they surrender, making them far more likely to give in rather then fight to the death. It also encourages people to treat Darsai prisoners well. After all, if you kill Darsai prisoners, you will forfeit your prisoner’s right to fair treatment.

Due to their lionising of knighthood and their warrior caste, Darsai culture is inherently war like. Throughout their history they have fought wars with many nations. In ancients times they battled the Tolpish, then the Nymus for a long period and most recently the Ivos and Junlocks. The Darsai are currently involved in a series of “Crusades”, which they consider to be taking war to those races they consider to be in league with the forces of the West. Most Darsai consider these crusades a heroic mission, while most foreigners tend to consider them an excuse for violence and conquest that is just making Vellastrom more unstable.
A powerful force driving these crusades is a group of knights known as the Hevallic order. This warrior brotherhood has become a powerful force within the kingdom, with a large private army. The order (whose full title is The Knightly Order of Our Sacred Lady Hevalla) live a tough, puritan existence inside their fortresses and believe an extremely hardline version of the Darsai faith. They consider foreigners and their religions to be pagan barbarism and a threat to the Darsai Kingdom, but their greatest wrath is reserved for the Asholites.
Asholites are a small subsect of the Darsai faith who believe in an additional God (Ashol, who they think is the mother of Thane). The Asholites are often viewed with distrust by other Darsai, but Darsai consider it very crass to pry into other peoples private lives, so as long as they don’t make too big a point of their odd beliefs, they are generally tolerated. The Hevallic Order consider the Asholites to be heretical and in league with the West and the forces of darkness. The current Darsai King, Arax the 4th, is known to be especially tolerant of the Asholites, allowing them positions in government, a fact that has upset the order deeply!

Darsai society is inherently rather sexist. Just as peasants and lords know their place in the order of things, so should women and men. Though women can achieve important roles in many fields, they are excluded from Knighthood and thus inherently disenfranchised. Darsai women are just as strong willed as their men folk though, and so despite being legally excluded from some of the elite levels of society, they're opinions are rarely entirely ignored from important decision making.

Homosexuality is disapproved of by the Darsai and considered immoral in their religion. But as with many things, as long as people are not too open about it, what they do in their own homes is no ones business but their own.
'Every Darsai is king in his own home' is the saying used to describe this attitude.

Half castes are generally tolerated by the Darsai, though they can expect some prejudice or preconceptions in life. Unless they are part a race the Darsai are at war with, then they will generally be okay.

Special mention should be made of the relationship between the Darsai and the Nymus.
Though they have not been at war for many years, and have in fact become close allies in the defence of Vellastrom, the two races always have dim view of each other.
Darsai consider Nymus effeminate, cowardly, weak, arrogant, dishonest and pompous.
They also believe that the Darsai did all the serious fighting in the Nameless war, and the Nymus only came in at the last minute when the tide had already turned in Vellastrom's favour.
For their part, the Nymus consider the Darsai stupid, uncultured, ignorant, violent, crass, boastful, drunken and obnoxious.
The Nymus believe that during the last war it was they that rescued the Darsai and won the war when all seemed lost. They consider the Darsai ungrateful for not appreciating this obvious truth!

(Phew! Tired now! More will follow, hopefully tomorrow, including descriptions of Darsai food and darsai entertainment.)

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
Renard at 4:24PM, July 8, 2010
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No treachery in war? What's wrong with them, some of the best military campaigns and offensives had a solid foundation of treachery and shock! I'm thinking they would love to lynch Machiavelli if they ever heard of him!

Although it is good to know they don't outright murder prisoners, and I'm going to assume that those captured can go home after hostilities have come to an end. the only problem with that is if the enemy troops are promised a terrible end upon returning from captivity. A good example of that would be the Russians during WW2; one volunteer I heard about had been imprisoned for not shooting himself (ostensibly with his holster, ‘cause they never got around to issuing him a weapon). That would keep people fighting hard against them!

I’m sad to say I think I like the outlook of those conniving Nymus a bit more; I hate fighting fair :)
Sweat save blood, blood saves lives, and brains save both. -Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
harkovast at 11:53AM, July 9, 2010
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Darsai entertainment and socialising involves a large amount of alcohol consumption.
Getting blind drunk is generally frowned upon, unless it is a particularly significant celebration like a wedding or a public holiday, but drinking socially is expected. Anyone not drinking would be considered extremely rude and anti social.
Offering a drink to guests is considered important good manners by Darsai and to not do so would be a great snub to the guest in question.
Darsai enjoys plays, and troops of travelling players go around the kingdom putting on shows for the people. Darsai plays are invariably comedies, with all the parts played by men. The comedy is based almost exclusively upon slap stick, smutty innuendo and making fun of the Nymus. Indeed, almost every Darsai play features a miserly Nymus character (played by a Darsai with a prop beak, tiny wings and great big feet) who ends up appearing foolish for his greedy ways.
The most important form of entertainment in the Kingdom is tournaments. Here, knights gather to engaged in mock battles, jousts and tests of skill in front of very large crowds. These events are conducted mostly using real but blunted weapons, rather then energy ones, as to avoid combatants killing each other, though there is still plenty of danger to taking part in such full contact sports!
Knights can gain a lot of fame, renown and wealth by winning at these events. The joust is considered the most prestigious event, as it represents the highest ideals of knightly achievement. Before a joust, Knights will ride before the audience and collect hankerchiefs from women in the audience on their lances (known as ‘favours’). For a particularly renown knight, there can be near riots as women struggle to get their favours to him!
As well as serving as great entertainment for the public, these events are useful to hone the skills of knights ready to put them to use in battle.
In times of war, the Darsai armies are well known as some of the most powerful in Vellastrom.
At the core of a Darsai army are the knights, the military and social elite. Wearing some of the best heavy armour found anywhere in Vellastrom and wielding powerful energy weapons from atop their suss birds, Darsai knights are a formidable force on the battle field.
Knights will usually have retinues of troops raised from the lands they control. These troops are known as men at arms. Some of them are kept as standing forces, but most are recruited from the lower classes as the need arises. Conscription is rarely necessary for the Darsai, as there are always plenty willing to sign up to earn the kings coin battling the enemies of Thane! Darsai are natural adept at fighting and take to military life very well (many having served stints in the army at least once previously) so it is quite easy to whip them into a powerful force of warriors. Though not as well equipped as the knights, the man at arms are usually provided with shields and chainmail armour. Men at arms are generally only adept in the creation and use of a single type of energy weapon, such as a spear or sword. Darsai bowmen are not as skilled as the knights and so use a regular bow to fire arrows made of energy and then carry a hammer or sword for close combat.
Darsai leaders come from the upper levels of the nobility, who have been schooled in tactics as well as personal combat their entire lives. They are generally tactically very competent, and many currently serving are highly experienced, due to the Darsai’s history of warfare. While Darsai do not favour subterfuge, this suits the age of war fare they live in. To be effective, armies need to remain together so they can be controlled and manoeuvred properly. Forces of thousands of men have little chance to be able to hide from the enemy and the limits of existing ranged weapons makes attacking in large formations the most viable way to fight.
Discipline, organisation, courage and raw aggression are the corner stones of the Darsai art of war.
Darsai energy weapons burn with a magical fire that does not harm the wielder but does terrible damage to his enemies. These weapons are created through mental discipline and strength of will, giving physical form to the Darsai’s fighting spirit. They have weight, much like a normal weapon, but strike with much greater force and a keener edge.
The ability to create such weapons gives Darsai warriors a noticeable advantage over those of other nations, a sign in the eyes of Darsai of their war gods favour.
Because these weapons are based in a large part on faith or belief, when the spirit of the Darsai is strong, their weapons become more empowered. Suitably inspired, even untrained Darsai can produce energy weapons! Of course, this means dispirited Darsai would produce very weak weapons, or no weapons at all. Fortunately the Darsai’s fighting spirit is remarkably strong, and very rarely broken.
Most Darsai produce energy weapons that are firey and purple, but not all do. Due to their different practices, sects within the Darsai produce differently appearing weapons.
The Asholites produce smoky grey weapons, with those of the Hevallic order glow red.

Asholite culture is very similar to mainstream Darsai culture in most ways, but their religious practices set them apart. The Asholites say different preys, use different symbols and their church ceremonies are very different indeed. Where as most Darsai ceremonies are sombre affairs with songs and worship directed towards statues of the gods at one end of the church, Asholite churches are filled with boisterous singing, dancing and shouting, as the worshippers are often over come with what they consider to be the power of their gods.

Darsai are omnivores, but greatly prefer meat. Their bodies can digest meat very effectively, and so can survive by eating less often then most races, as long as their meals are almost entirely made up of meat. They eat a whole range of meat based foods, using most parts of an animal. Brains, tripes, haggis, stews, black puddings, jellys made from bones and a whole range of other foods at variety to the Darsai diet.
Darsai don't care for sweet things very much, their diet is generally very savoury.
Meals are, of course, almost always accompanied with some alcoholic beverage.

(if you want more on the Darsai religion, there is an article titled “that old time Darsai religion” elsewhere on the forum)

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
Vendetto at 12:49PM, July 11, 2010
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Hmmm, very enlightening, all of this. As they are a monarchy, do the Darsai ever experiance any problems with thier kings? How do they handle a corrupt, insane, or otherwise inept ruler?
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
harkovast at 1:45PM, July 11, 2010
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Darsai are loyal to their social superiors, but also well aware of their rights and what their rulers are obligated to do.
A superior, even a king, who neglects his duties too much will risk being over thrown. In the past, Kings have been forced to abdicate, or even executed, to be replaced with another member of the aristocracy with some connection to the royal blood line.

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Vendetto at 5:28PM, July 11, 2010
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Alrighty then. Now, about these Crusades of thiers… in the Junlock article it stated that they were subject to Darsai crusades, and now that its known what they crusade, I have to ask what is thier evidence for races being in league with The West? How exactly do they come to that conclusion? Are they even correct in thier assessments?
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
Renard at 5:36PM, July 11, 2010
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I'm willing to venture that anyone who hasn't shown themselves to be enemies of the West would be under scrutiny, and since the Junlocks don't seem to mind banditry and murder then the Darsai would see those “dishonorable” actions as proof that they must be in league with evil.
Sweat save blood, blood saves lives, and brains save both. -Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
harkovast at 10:33AM, July 12, 2010
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Renard is pretty spot on with his venture.
Other factors are Nameless armies using Junlock and Ivos mercenaries.
Since the beginning of the Crusades, Nameless troops have supported Ivos and Junlock forces in battle.
Many Darsai point to this as evidence that they were right, while others are concerned that the crusades may be driving other nations into allying with the West for protection.
As to who is right and which nations are under the West's control…I'll leave that to your speculation.

An interesting point about Darsai and Tsung-Dao.
I always get a bit sick of the way Japanese (or pseudo-Japanese) characters in shows and comics always seem to go on about honour.
“Oh no, I am dishonoured!”
“This is not the honourable thing to do!”
Etc
This is trite, cliche and kinda racist.
It is also misleading, as the western idea of honour (based on knightly chivalry) is very different to the Japanese concept (a better analogy for the Japanese concept of honour is avoiding ‘losing face’ and bringing shame on yourself or your superiors, rather then some idea of fair play.)
In Harkoast, the Tsung-Dao samurai have codes of conduct, as most warriors do, but it is the Darsai who make a big deal of honour and chivalry all the time.
Darsai consider death preferable to behaving like a filthy cad!

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
Renard at 1:28PM, July 12, 2010
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So the Nameless employed mercenaries from Vellastrom? I couldn't imagine the Nameless armies having the restraint (or ability) to contact other races and pay for their help, or did the race that controls them hire the mercenaries?
Sweat save blood, blood saves lives, and brains save both. -Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
Vendetto at 1:32PM, July 12, 2010
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One would assume that thier controllers did so, and simply ordered the Nameless not to attack those particular people fighting on thier side.

And boy howdy what a cruel irony that would be for the Darsai… thier suspicions and crusades being the very things to turn a race over to The West. Wonder what Darsai honor says to do in the event you massively screw things up for everyone….
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
Renard at 3:21PM, July 12, 2010
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I can see their code of honor not having provisions for a national blunder, that the people who wrote it didn't imagine it possible for the whole race to screw up that bad.
Sweat save blood, blood saves lives, and brains save both. -Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
harkovast at 7:51PM, July 12, 2010
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Well we have already seen the Nameless have non-Nameless agents and leaders, like The Speaker and the Heretic.
And lets face it, The Speaker would be pretty good at persuading people to work for them.

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Renard at 8:10PM, July 12, 2010
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How did I forget about the hideous bird-man in the big hat who makes people kill themselves?
Sweat save blood, blood saves lives, and brains save both. -Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
Vendetto at 9:09PM, July 12, 2010
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Must have slipped our minds XD Buut yeah, with that nasty piece of work on the side of the Nameless, it'd certainly save on expenses that might otherwise go out into legitimately HIRING warriors….
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
harkovast at 6:44AM, July 13, 2010
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It is said that The West has no allies, only enemies and slaves.
So getting enemies to kill each otehr for you is win/win.

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Renard at 8:12AM, July 13, 2010
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Play them off against each other (maybe provide a bit of behind-the-scenes help here and there to shape events) and then annihilate whatever weakened enemies remain. Are you sure the Art of War doesn't exist in Harkovast?
Sweat save blood, blood saves lives, and brains save both. -Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
harkovast at 9:11AM, July 13, 2010
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The King in the West is smart as well as powerful, and though he makes few mistakes, those he does make he learns from quickly.

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
Renard at 9:59AM, July 13, 2010
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He'd need to be both powerful and clever to conquer a whole continent, and so would his agents. The West obviously has some pretty spooky stuff on their side, and no doubt the green-blooded Nameless hordes are only the tip of the iceberg. Do the Darsai believe they can defeat him without the help of any other people? Would they only try to keep the enemy off their land, or would they actually consider sending troops overseas and into uncharted territory?

P.S. Every time someone mentions the King in the West some reason I picture a bunch of Cheka agents (just search “Strelnikov” and there should be a dude in a leather jacket) haphazardly strapped into a big wicker man, with one in the head talking in a “scary voice” with a loudhailer. I really need to stop reading about Soviet history.
Sweat save blood, blood saves lives, and brains save both. -Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
harkovast at 5:21PM, July 13, 2010
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Renard
P.S. Every time someone mentions the King in the West some reason I picture a bunch of Cheka agents (just search “Strelnikov” and there should be a dude in a leather jacket) haphazardly strapped into a big wicker man, with one in the head talking in a “scary voice” with a loudhailer. I really need to stop reading about Soviet history.

DAMN IT!
*screws up pictures and starts drawing the KITW to look different.*

Seriously though, the Darsai are aware that the Nameless threat is potentially vast, but consider a lot of other nations to be inactive in dealing with it or to be actively supporting it. Since they consider themselves the only people dealing with it seriously, they are taking the lead. Acting impulsively is a strong Darsai trait!
Actions speak a lot louder then words, and why sit around when you can be doing something about a problem?

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
dwrean at 8:41AM, Sept. 2, 2010
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do darsai take the shape of different breeds of different looking cats, such as the persian or egyptian mau? are there any particularly ‘fluffy’ kinds of darsai?
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM
harkovast at 2:42AM, Sept. 3, 2010
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Since I am going to need to draw a LOT of different Darsai before the story is over, I intend to draw as many different breeds as possible in order to give them some variation and help the audience tell who is who.

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:18AM

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