The Axle, Notes on the Ro’pan

[Wow. So this project of mine is quickly consuming all my writing time :p. The Tale of Ayla has its own page now, where it can be read from the begining, so more tales of the Green-hammer soon :). In the meantime, here’s another of the four cultures that inhabit the Axle. These guys might actually be my favorite. Let me know if you like the Dunloc or the Ro’pan better. I’m curious.]

The Ro’pan

Called the Tayloc (people of the cliff) by the Duloc, the Ro’pan inhabit the shard field and the exterior cliffs of the upper Axle. Tall stature, lean muscle, and thin strong fingers mark this most adventurous of the Axle’s peoples. The copper skinned Ro’pan live their lives climbing the cracked and rough surface of the upper Axle and the shards beneath it. Master climbers who travel the rope-ways (built long ago by the first Ro’pan) they make the perilous trek across the shard field between the upper and lower Axle for profit and for adventure.

The Ro’pan have no written history, preferring to pass down their knowledge through stories and oral tradition. Even so, with the solitary lifestyle of most Ro’pan, much of their true history is lost forever. What the remaining stories do say, is that the Ro’pan came to the shard fields from the upper Axle after the Sundering and they have fought at least two wars with the Dunloc, though the reasons are lost to time.

The Ro’pan have a tradition of self-sufficiency and competition. Most live solitary lives or in small bands. A meeting between Ro’pan will usually involve a comparison of impressive climbs, hunts, and deeds. Though competitive, the Ro’pan are friendly enough, always eager to help if they find the task challenging enough to interest them.

Most Ro’pan prefer a life of constant motion. They live their lives attached to the rock, sleeping in cliff tents and hunting the birds and other animals that live on the cliffs as well. Those that do settle down often retain a solitary lifestyle, living alone on homesteads atop shards. Others who are less solitary often form loose communities in exposed Dunloc ruins.

The Ro’pan diet consist mostly of plants that cling to the rock, as well as hunted animals that dwell there.While food is not as precious to the Ro’pan as the Dunloc, it is still not as plentiful as in the Sunderlands.

Life on the literal edge of the Axle breeds a people who value preparation. A Ro’pan traveling the rope-ways will be carrying well over 100 meters of light, alchemically strengthened rope, climbing hooks, food, a cliff tent, and a pair of javelins at least. To a Ro’pan, preparation is a matter of life and death on a daily basis.

The Ro’pan rarely go to war. They aren’t particularly interested in holding territory or in settling ancient grudges. Despite this, Ro’pan are often seen on the battlefields of the Axle. Many Ro’pan see battle as another competition, a chance to perform more daring deeds and earn respect and prestige among their peers. In combat, Ro’pan are fast and direct. They favor a strategy of hit and run, leaving their enemies with no chance to counterattack.

The Ro’pan often find themselves at odds with upper Axle Dunloc, who see the Ro’pan as intruders in their ancient lands.

Ro’pan prefer to fight Dunloc at a distance, throwing javelins or firing arrows. When pressed into hand-to-hand combat, Ro’pan will often use whatever is on hand as a weapon; rocks, climbing hooks, rope, etc.

The Ro’pan have little interest in the sciences unless it directly affects their daily lives. As a result, while they have advanced very little in the fields of alchemy, mathematics and the like. They have, however, developed some rather ingenious devices; the kitewing and windship. A Ro’pan kitewing is a large bolt of sturdy cloth and light frame which allows the wearer to fall from great heights without crashing, and ride on updrafts. The Ro’pan windship uses a sack of hot air to raise a basket, and an attached kitewing to catch wind and guide it. The alchemical treatments needed to make the proper cloth for these devices is expensive, and so they are still relatively uncommon sights.

Ro’pan languages are fast, clipped tongues that foreigners find challenging to speak, and even more challenging to understand. Hundreds of jargon filled dialects and cants travel the rope-ways. Every generation more emerge and many are lost.

In the shard field and lower Axle, the most commonly heard Ro’pan tongue is Kabon, a somewhat slower dialect that Sundermen traders find easier to learn. In the upper Axle, it is not uncommon for words and syntax to be borrowed from Uulow (the language of the upper Axle Dunloc).

Ro’pan have little to no government, even in their settlements. They are not anti-social, rather the Ro’pan are simply too free spirited to be bogged down with bureaucracy. In settlements large enough to require some management, authority usually defaults to the Ro’pan who were there earliest, or to the eldest. Traveling bands of Ro’pan will usually follow the one whose deeds are most notable.

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