The Val Nyes[edit | edit source]
The Val Nyes live underground in the Northern reaches of the Western Content in the country of the same name. They evolved from a mixture of Suoro, Tirivahni, and proto-Fudorians, though you might not guess it to look at them. The Val Nyes are often considered the most Earth-bound of the Ul-Zaorith races and developed OreCraft (a steampunk-like technology that combines alchemy, chemistry, and clockwork). Being a subterranean race, they have excellent night vision, though their non-reliance on the Sun means that they set their own hours.
Appearance[edit | edit source]
The Val Nyes are the shortest of the mortal races, and quite stalwart. They have olive-hued skinned, often speckled with honey/brown/russet freckles over their faces, the shoulders and chest, back of the arms and hands and even on their knees or shoulder blades in extreme cases. Their hair is in the warm honey tones, from strawberry blond, to fiery orange, to watery red. Their hair often is curly to the point of ringlets and or frizzy tangles. Their eyes are wide and oval-shaped, often with a Suoro tilt or slant to them. Their eyes are either owl yellow or watery red to an almost russet hue with cat-slit pupils. These startling eyes have often been the most remarked on feature of the Val Nyes appearance. Their teeth are broad and straight in the Fudorian fashion, with rounded ears that point slightly on the upper conch. Their faces and bodies are squat and broad, and they are prone to being doughy due to their well-fed, wealthy, sedentary or gluttonous lifestyles.
Their short, bowed legs give them a nearly waddling appearance when they move and make them sluggish to run or move their bulk around. Their hands, while with a strong grip, are unique to the Val Nyes, with three thick fingers and an offset thumb. While not especially dexterous, they are extremely skilled craftsmen, and have brought the level of OreCraft on the earth plane to new exciting levels of hybridized technology between latent magic potential and manipulation of metals and elements.
Fashion[edit | edit source]
Almost all Val Nyes wear hats at all times, including sleeping caps. These are often elaborate decorations upon helmets that can protect them from tunnel cave-ins. They use a lot of worked metal in their decorations, and some extravagant Val Nyes will even have working clockwork parts as decoration. Goggles are also comment, especially in the labouring classes (miners, chemists, and machinists). Their clothing is often made with heavy brocades, corduroys, leather, canvas, and taffeta. These stiff materials enable them to create geometric shapes and disparate layers that often give them a colourful appearance. Their sleeves and pantaloons tend to be adorned with puffs or slashes with fitted wrists and ankles to prevent impeding movement. They always wear thick armoured boots (again to protect them from life in the tunnels). Pouches, belts, and external pockets are a perennial accessory. Earth tones are more common simply because of the environment they find themselves in, however their access to ores and advanced chemistry have enabled them to invite many bold and electric colours that are popular exports.
Culture[edit | edit source]
Val Nyes were the first truly egalitarian society, with no gender roles, and true equality in law, profession, and social life. They were the first democratic nation, and still maintain their elected governorship to this day. In the primaries of their elections, citizens can nominate whomever they feel would be a good candidate, and once these lists are printed, profiles are included for each candidate. Through a series of votes, the populace chooses which candidate they wish to represent them. The top thirty candidates comprise their parliament, and between them they vote on which member will become the governor. In this way, the Val Nyes do not have politicians per se, as those elected are typically members of the community who are admired for their responsibility, fiscal security, and good judgement.
The Val Nyes legal system is based on a quorum decision where the convicted presents their case before a jury, is cross-questioned by those jury members, and they come to a decision on their punishment. Most punishments involve community service, rehabilitation with doctors, or further training. However, for extreme crimes, excommunication and execution are both still options.
In general, the Val Nyes have a "work hard, play hard" mentality, and once one's required labours are done for the day they encourage their citizens to find enjoyment in music, performance arts (like shadow puppets or theatre), social gatherings, or feasts. One is most likely to be social with their local neighborhood, though transportation to distant cities can be granted by permit, so exchanges between families or businesses are common. Sports are also popular with the Val Nyes, as are competitive games (for example, board games and coin-based games). Some popular spectator sports include:
- Yishul (a game where in one flips/aims coins to try to sink marbles into various holes in a labyrinth board)
- Table Valan (a modification on the Speritanian stadium sport, this version is played on a table between four players)
- Gexipao (a mounted sport upon a subterranean mole-like creature, where a weight on a rope is swung to hit a ball into various tunnels that will spin the ball back up elsewhere on the playing field)
Val Nyes actually have four cities that are above ground, and these are the oldest in their nation. However, the northern climes of Val Nyes made farming and animal husbandry difficult. Many of the native animals in the region are subterranean, and so the Val Nyes swiftly learned to build underground. This gave them access to vast deposits of ore, mineral, and magical laylines (known as Manna). The early discovery of these resources heavily influenced Val Nyes development, making them among the first to discover the Uaharte's (the Earth realm in Ul-Zaorith where the sapient races live) unique Realm Craft. This combination of alchemy, engineering, chemistry, and crafting enabled the Val Nyes to fuse magic directly into their workings, enabling anyone in possession of the artifact to utilize its magical properties without needing to maintain casting themselves. Such a development may have directly contributed their egalitarian lifestyle.
Sexuality[edit | edit source]
The Val Nyes have very much a "live and let love" mentality towards sexuality, and consider all sexual expressions and gender expressions to be natural and normal. Those who are trans or feel a need to declare their preferences are accepted more easily than those who declare their major in university. There are no stigmas around any of these choices.
Perhaps because of their Suoro ancestry (as the Suoro have three genders), the Val Nyes have a high rate of intersex citizens, and have the option of either identifying with male or female pronouns, or of abstaining from gender entirely. The only area in which these choices have much barring is for medical needs, and so such preferences of gender are indicated on their citizenship papers alongside their biological sex.
Marriage[edit | edit source]
Marriage is a civil union in Val Nyes, and is not necessarily romantic, but is something like a business contract that can be modified, annulled, or bought out. These contracts enable the declared partner to be involved in choices that affect the household as a whole, including medical issues, business dealings, inheritance, and legal proceedings. However, the Val Nyes recognize that "marriages", romantic or otherwise, change over time, and so such contracts are expected to be updated as their relationship evolves (or disintegrates). There is no stigma towards divorce (or, more accurately, leaving these contracts); the only stigma is when divorce should have been sought and was avoided, leading to unhealthy home environments.
When children are the product of such a union, between birth and the ages of 10, they are wards of the state, which means in disputes surround households or marriage contracts, they will have an impartial representative to ensure their needs are provided for. Beyond the age of 10, they become an active participant in the marriage and are therefore capable of making their own decisions, and are able to determine which party they wish to reside with, and are given space to speak on any unhealthy environments in the home that may weigh on contract decisions.
Unions are between at minimum a parent and child (this is not romantic; it is perhaps similar to a single parent who actively listens to their child, giving them a say in how the household operates), and at maximum for multiple adult individuals and any offspring they may have under their contract. These household contract unions are often considered to be more enriching for children, and are often idealized in media. However, in practice, they can be more complicated and are still not the most common among Val Nyes marriages.
The household will typically take the surname of the one who proposes the contract, but like most Val Nyes aspects of culture, it is ultimately decided upon by all members of the contract.
Family Units[edit | edit source]
Family units are the backbone of Val Nyes culture, and this more than any other area is often competitive, a very "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality. Suburban Val Nyes families do not want to be seen lacking by their neighbours, especially because community affairs are so intertwined. Their children will often be "forced" to be playmates with their neighbours, regardless of interest or temperaments, at least until the child is 10. Likewise, the adults will jockey for admiration, often flaunting promotions at work, personal achievements, or financial windfalls. Though, these personal successes are expected to benefit the neighbourhood on the whole. In times of trouble, emergency or natural disaster, these neighbours ban together to ensure disaster is mitigated, and that the vulnerable are cared for.
Most Val Nyes will not own property, and will instead rent from either a landlord, or the state. This enables them more financial security in changing markets, and the flexibility to move in response to job opportunities, cave-ins, and changing family dynamics (including children moving out and new lovers entering the household contract).
Val Nyes have a long fertile period, enabling them to go through 2-3 parenting cycles in their lifetime. Some believe becoming a parent at different life stages will result in different experiences and rewards, especially when partners change as the Val Nyes grow older. As such, it is common for a Val Nyes to have many half siblings and cousins for large, extended families.
Coming of Age[edit | edit source]
A Val Nyes goes through multiple coming of ages (what humans might call milestones). These developmental checkpoints are used to determine a Val Nyes' aptitudes and intelligence and include unassisted mobility, speech, hitting the 10 year mark, graduation exams, post-secondary enrollment, and final diploma. While these landmarks are not age based, these markers are generally expected to have been achieved by the time the Val Nye turns thirty.
While certain parents may have dream expectations for what fields of study their child will undertake, as long as some diploma is achieved, the child is considered successful. Those Val Nyes that drop out of university are often considered counter-culture or bohemian, and may find difficulty in finding future employment.
Death[edit | edit source]
Perhaps because of the frequent challenges of living underground, death visits the Val Nyes frequently and in myriad guises. There is only so much that medicine and healing can do, and too often natural disasters like tunnel collapses or earthquakes effect broad regions with sorrow and loss. The Val Nyes response is a combination of commiseration through drinking, song, and story telling, and public outrage seeking ways to prevent future disasters. There is usually a mourning period, typically 1 week per death, where the community will gather to support the bereaved and remember the deceased. But, afterwards, they will often petition their local representatives, seeking policy change, reparations, or larger social overhauls.
Deceased bodies are often donated to science, but if they cannot be put to use in study or in organ donation, they are often biodegraded and worked back into the soil to enrich future generations.
Education[edit | edit source]
The other element of Val Nyes culture that has reached international fame is their universities. Val Nyes are unique in the races as they encourage enrollment from any race (granted, you'll need to be able to survive underground in order to attend their institutions). For centuries they have welcomed members from every nation to add to their collections, share their knowledge, and work together on new developments.
The most common areas of study at the universities are as follows:
- Casting Magics
- Realm Astronomy
- Social Sciences
In regards to early childhood education, all Val Nyes children over the age of 4 are expected to attend public school (there will often be a designated adult to chaperone the neighborhood's children to and from school). These lessons cover literacy, mathematics, democracy, and local affairs in order to better prepare every Val Nyes to be an involved member of society.
Cuisine[edit | edit source]
Val Nyes cuisine is often considered unpalatable to topside nations. It is mineral rich, and often heavy, and can be difficult for other constitutions to digest. Val Nyes constitutions are typically slow burning, enabling most to survive on one large meal per day, though highly active Val Nyes including workers and athletes may require two meals, or frequent snacks. Over the years, many programs have been initiated to work nutrients and vitamins into standard diets, leading to foods chocked full of nutrition but lacking in flavour (or perhaps an abundance of all the wrong flavours). Utilitarian meals like stews, meatloafs, and stuffed breads are common, and most have the same basic dishes day in and day out. Proteins like insects, rodents, and eggs of lizards or burrowing birds make up a large portion of their diet, while roots, fungi, and subterranean plants bring in topside nutrition. However, for special occasions, nutrition can be overlooked in elaborate meals full of feats of engineering, including pies with living contents, decadent imported seafood, and towers of intricately wrought baked goods.
Grain and fungal based alcohols are common, and watered versions supplement children's diets. Harder liquors are reserved for adults, and often form an integral portion of social gatherings.
Comparative Statistics[edit | edit source]
Intelligence: 15/16. The Val Nyes have a great mind for comprehending the logical - science, technology, invention, creation, mathematics, schematics, history, even language. They have both the capacity to remember details, as well as the vision to use learned facts to come up with new ideas or applications. Because of this they are fantastic inventors, blacksmiths, crafters and scientists. It is perhaps this intellect that has enabled them to so effortlessly use the OreCraft skills available exclusively to those of the Earth Realm.
Wisdom: 12/16. While their morality focusses solely on balance, justice and reason, it serves as a fine moral compass. Their compassion or emotional acuity is often overshadowed by their keen sense of right and wrong, often to a point of decisive judgment. The Val Nyes who breaks the law, or does wrong, does so with full understanding of the consequences - not just of the law, but also of its social implications. Their connection with magic and the energy of the world is developed through their integrated sciences and a following of tradition, rather than a religious or intuitive source.
Agility: 5/16. The Val Nyes are the least mobile race in the world, having short, squat legs with very little flexibility in their ankles or knees, making them waddle when they walk and bobble when they run. Their manual dexterity is somewhat stunted by their only having three squat fingers instead of four long digits like many other races. Their grip is strong, and their craftsmanship has the benefit of stability rather than finesse, but the finer flourishes of some techniques are lost on the Val Nyes.
Strength: 13/16. The Val Nyes, with their tightly wound muscle in a short, dense configuration have the bonus of an explosive strength. While not able to maintain exertion of this sort for very long, they are capable of applying it to heavy labour, combat and holding their own in defense regardless of their small stature. Their raw physical strength might often surprises those they deal with.
Resistance: 7/16. The Val Nyes have a touchy constitution. They require the same sorts of foods day in and day out in order to be at peak performance. Unusual foods or environmental stimulus throw their systems out of whack, and often lower their immune enough for them to catch illnesses. Also, living underground, their constitution is accustomed to quite a different variety of microbial organisms than those living in the above-ground cities. When it comes to raw damage, they can't take too much before they lose functionality, and so rely on a combination of strength and cunning (and often augmented weapons/supplies) to ensure a quick finish to their encounters.
Recovery: 8/16. When injured, the Val Nyes have a high chance of infection of catching a secondary ailment. Because of this, they rely heavily on medicine - often of a herbalist nature rather than magically based - to ward off infection while they heal. If ever there was a case of "mom's chicken soup" healing all ails, the Val Nyes are a race that highly benefits from down time and TLC. Their natural recovery - when unaided - is slow and often set-back by further strain due to aggravating the existing injuries or illness.
NMP: 3/6. While not the most dexterous at casting magics that require speed and alacrity, the Val Nyes can Channel energy well - being so closely tied to the Earth Realm. They also are efficient and proficient with those magics that require ingredients in their formulas - such as Alchemy, Charm Work, Rune Work, Spell Work etc. Their Enchanted Weapons are undeniably the best in the world, and their grasp of OreCraft unrivalled.