The Children of OsirisThe Asar are known in other lands as men. When Ægyptus was young, they came to the Land of the Nile fleeing some long-forgotten evil, and the god Osiris gave them sanctuary, adopting them as his own Children. Peacefully, they dwelt with their fellow Ægyptians, acting as the administrators and officials of Ægyptus. All that has changed when Osiris was murdered by treacherous Set, and their city of Abydos was besieged by the dark god's army. Since that time, the Asar have become a fragmented people. When Abydos was razed, the Asar were left without a home. More so, they were left without their heritage and history. The Great Cities of the Gods are more than just protecting walls and sheltering buildings; they are expressions of the god's natures and reminders of their divine will.
Their own city destroyed, some Asar found shelter in the other cities of Ægyptus, and have come to be called the City-Dwellers. Over the centuries, these city-dwelling Asar have changed. Because Osiris was dead, the City-Dwellers began to worship the gods of other races. In time, they adopted the other races' customs as their own. The changes in the City-Dwellers are dramatic, and the adopted race of a city-dwelling Asar is easily determined by his appearance. But the differences are more than just cosmetic. Often, a City-Dweller's personality is even more extreme than that of his adopted race. Though a few among the Children of the Gods still scorn the city-dwelling Asar, with the passing of centuries they have come to be tolerated by the other races and accepted by the gods they serve. Some City-Dwellers have even been granted a taste of the divine Ka, and made Harbingers of their adopted god.
Not all of the Asar took up residence with the other races. Too proud to beg for shelter, too angered by the treachery that allowed Osiris to be killed, they remained in the desert, aloof from the other Children of the Gods. Divided into small tribes, they wander from oasis to oasis, waiting for a sign that their self-imposed exile is over. Their city destroyed by Set, they have made a home in the harsh desert, where ironically only the Children of Set were able to survive before. Mounted on hardy camels, they trek across the desert, all their worldly belongings bundled behind their saddles. Those unable to ride travel in howdahs on the backs of shaggy, four-legged behemoths called sauroths. The nomadic Asar are called many names by the other races - the Desert Dwellers, the People of the Sands, the Mourners - but they call themselves the Dispossessed.
The Dispossessed lead a difficult life of few luxuries. They dress in simple functional garb, and whatever jewelry an Asar wears is the sum total of his wealth. Both men and women are always armed, for the desert is a place of many dangers, and they have a skill with their weapons that comes with frequent use. From long days in the burning Sun their skin has become as dark as well-worn leather. Their grave, weathered faces are deeply creased, and appear as if carved from wood.
Despite all that has happened, the Dispossessed have not allowed themselves to be consumed by their hardships and the sadness of their loss. No other race is as adaptable as the Asar, and few are as enduring. Even to their current circumstances, the Dispossessed have adapted and survived. Though each man and woman lives a life filled with numerous hardships, they hold their lean bodies erect with pride. It is this pride which the Dispossessed consider the most precious of their possessions. They are proud that they have learned to survive in the hostile desert. They are proud that they have remembered their god, who adopted the Asar as his own Children, and the goddess, who was his wife. It is only their pride that has allowed them to survive the centuries - their pride, and the knowledge that someday Isis will return to Ægyptus and Osiris be reborn. On that day, the Dispossessed will be honored and rewarded for their steadfast devotion to their god and goddess.
History & Society
Even though the Dispossessed have little in the way of material possessions and no temples, they carry on the worship of their gods, Osiris and Isis, as best they can. The rites and rituals of Osiris and Isis are of the utmost importance to the Dispossessed, and over the course of their desert exile, the priests of the two gods have become their leaders.
The priests of Osiris are always men, and those of Isis are always women. The priests of Osiris value wisdom highly, and often speak in aphorisms and parables. In council, they advise patience and above all else, they are concerned with the safety and defense of their people. On the other hand, the priestesses of Isis are guided by their intuition. They carefully study their dreams for Isis is not dead, only departed. The goddess still cares for her husband's children, and sometimes advises the Dispossessed through the dreams of her priestesses. Their counsel is often more aggressive and warlike than that of the priests of Osiris, for they seek vengeance for the murder of their goddess' husband.
Regardless of the disagreements between priesthoods of the two gods, they both struggle to unify the wandering Dispossessed into a single people. Without their leadership, the tribes would have drifted apart centuries ago. More importantly, the priests and priestesses remember the last words of Isis before she departed Ægyptus. Speaking with fervent belief, they often remind the Dispossessed of the goddess' promise: that one day, Osiris would be reborn to rule his Children again. More than anything else, it is this promise that sustains the Dispossessed through the hardships of their nomadic life.
Allies & Adversaries
The Dispossessed have no love for the City-Dwellers. They greatly dislike their city-dwelling kindred, believing them to be fawning sycophants and betrayers of the god and goddess. So deeply ingrained is this animosity, that no matter what the circumstances, warriors of the Dispossessed will only fight for Harbingers of Osiris and Isis.
The Dispossessed hold themselves apart from the other Children of the Gods, venturing only rarely to villages and towns, and almost never to cities. They come only to barter for the barest necessities and then quickly move on. They do not disdain the company of the other Ægyptians. In fact, the tribes welcome the other Children of the Gods to their camp - though with caution. It is more than the Dispossessed are a proud, self-reliant people, wary of relying on others since the death of their god and the events that followed. Because of this, they find themselves far removed from the politics of Aegyptian society, and with the exception of an abiding hatred for the Children of Set, there is little difference in their feelings toward one race or another. Though wary and removed, they still consider themselves to be Ægyptians. To their credit, they have joined with the other races to fight against the enemies of the land when the cause was just and needful.
The Dispossessed fight with well-worn swords and battered shields. Their armaments were forged in better times long ago, and have been passed down through the generations from hand to hand. Once, their weapons were gilded and jeweled, and although the Dispossessed painstakingly care for their few possessions, the gold has flaked away and the gemstones have been lost or traded away in the course of their harsh nomadic lives. While their weapons are no longer resplendently decorated, those few items are their birthright and worn with reverence and pride. They are symbols of their past glories, and while they've lost their luster, they still hold a keen edge.
The Dispossessed commit to battle only when they have no other choice. When they do fight, they fight desperately, and will do anything necessary to survive. They organize their archers and slingers into skirmishing units, harassing the enemy with missile fire just to retreat before the enemy can close. Their melee units close quickly with the enemy - not out of lust for battle, but only to give the weaker members of the tribe time to escape. Surviving is always more important than winning to the Asar. They are fighting a war of attrition, awaiting the rebirth of Osiris, and the warriors will willingly sacrifice themselves to allow the rest to survive.
The City-Dwellers have completely abandoned the customs of Osiris in favor of those of their new gods, and dwell with their adopted people. Long years of close interaction have changed them in many ways, and they now share the same disposition of the Children with whom they live. They dress in the same custom and style of their adopted brothers and sisters. In their style of dress, the strive to make themselves appear more like the Children of their god, and this is done in many unique ways: artfully applied cosmetics, body alterations and gand, stylized attire. Further, they proudly wear an amulet of their adopted god, a symbol of their true faith and steadfast devotion.
The City-Dwellers of Cynopolis are morose and deeply spiritual. They wear dark cloaks, frequently covering their heads with hoods in the manner of mourners. In contrast to the Anubi's jet-black skin, they powder their pale faces, and darken their eyes with kohl to appear more sepulchral. In dark ink they tattoo their bodies with funerary symbols: scarab beetles, ankhs and the sacred name of Anubis. In the city of Cynopolis, the living devote their lives to the dead. Anubi and City-Dweller alike live an austere life, so that the dead are provided every comfort. Like the Anubi, the City-Dwellers bring daily offerings of food and drink to the necropolis and carry away the offerings of the day before. In this way, the Ka of the dead are afforded every luxury, every comfort. With a dutiful sense of purpose, the City-Dwellers carry out their tasks, and it is said that the City-Dwellers serve more than only their own dead. It is rumored that hidden in the tomb of each dead City-Dweller is a small statuette of Osiris, and the City-Dwellers of Cynopolis secretly provide for the comfort of their dead god by dedicating a portion of their offerings to his image.
The City-Dwellers of Bubastis are a glamorous and sophisticated folk. They wear little clothing, and cover their lithe bodies with scented oils. Only the finest silks are good enough for them to wear, with belts and trims of soft animal fur. Long "tails" of woven gold hang from their narrow waists. Ornamental claws made of silver or gold adorn their fingertips, and glittering gemstones hang from their ears. Their fine-featured faces carry an aloof sneer as they look down on the world through proud, painted eyes. Much like the Basti, the City-Dwellers are hedonists, living for fine things and the pleasures of the flesh. The City-Dwellers are seen as exotic to the Basti, and are greatly prized as lovers. However, as in all things, the Basti quickly tire of their partners and move on to other experiences. This matters little to the City-Dwellers of Bubastis, since they are as promiscuous and mercurial as the Basti. In times of war, the Asar are more reliable than the Basti. Their warriors are stronger in defense and less likely to flee when the fighting turns against them. Because of their superior discipline, the City-Dwellers have proven to be a valuable asset in the armies of Bast.
The City-Dwellers of Hierakonpolis are tall and broad-shouldered, their well-built bodies burnt golden by the Sun. They have strong jaws and aquiline noses. Their eyes are hard, and many pluck their eyebrows into upward-sloping lines to accentuate their hawkish stares. They dress in martial styles, corselets of mail and high sandals on their feet. Wide bracers protect their strong arms, and their belts are engraved with scenes of battle. The wealthiest wear capes of bright feathers, which shine and flash in the Sun's light. These City-Dwellers are amongst the bravest and strongest of the Asar. Despite their best efforts, they are simply not as strong as the Heru. As such, they organize into separate units: keen archers, auxiliary troops or lightly armed skirmish units. Outside of battle, many find other ways to aid the cause. The finest armorers and weapon smiths of Hierakonpolis are City-Dwellers. The Asar simply have more talent for the craft than the Heru. Indeed, a few of their master craftsmen rival the To-tanem in the manufacture of weapons of war - if not in beauty, then certainly in function.
The City-Dwellers of Elephantine are a peaceful people. They wear long and flowing robes of a simple cut, which are embroidered with hieroglyphs. Upon their heads, thin metal circlets hold back their long hair. Their eyes are deep and soulful; their brows furrowed with concern. Leaders and priests sometimes wear ornamental horns and long, woven beards. They often go unshod, so that their feet are constantly in contact with the sacred soil of Ægyptus. The inhabitants of Elephantine, both Asar and Khemru, are closely tied to the earth. Half of each year is spent farming. The other half, during the yearly floods of the Inundation, is devoted to other diversions: the worship of the gods, the arts and the study of philosophy. It is during the time after the harvest and before the Inundation that the City-Dwellers hold a solemn festival in honor of fallen Osiris. At this time, some tribes of the Dispossessed make the pilgrimage to Elephantine to pay their respects and to trade with the Khemru and City-Dwellers. Because of their lasting respect for Osiris, the City-Dwellers of Elephantine and the Dispossessed share a civil relationship that, while somewhat cool, has little of the antipathy that haunts the other Asar.
The City-Dwellers of Memphis are sturdy and strong. Their bodies are short and stout, well-suited to the heavy labor of working with massive blocks of stone. They shave their heads bald and often wear short, woven beards or sideburns. To protect themselves from the Sun, they powder their bodies with stone dust, red or gray. They speak little, but their eyes glitter with a quiet intelligence or greed, oftentimes both. Unable to excel as craftsmen (at least in the eyes of the To-tanem brethren) the City-Dwellers made for themselves a unique role in To-tanem society by forming a class of merchants and traders. The stubborn To-tanem can be difficult to deal with - they know the value of their creations and often refuse to bargain or haggle over the price. The Asar, however, are much more easy-going, and make excellent salesmen. Since the City-Dwellers came to Memphis, the To-tanem have enjoyed a boom in prosperity. Long caravans led by the City-Dwellers now carry To-tanem creations to the very borders of Ægyptus, and sometimes beyond. The caravans return laden with gold, iron and gems - the raw materials for the craft of Ptah.
The City-Dwellers of Crocodiliopolis are a strange breed: coarse, brawny and prone to brawling. They wear little clothing; loincloths made from stiffened reptilian hide and a hood of scales over their heads. Their heads are shaven bald, and wild eyes stare back from beneath heavy brows. Upon achieving manhood, they practice ritual sacrifice. Their backs, scalp and arms are marked in regular patterns to give an almost scaled appearance, in reverence of the impenetrable hide of Sobek. The hands of the Asar are far more articulate than those of the Sebeki, and the Sebeki can create only the simplest of goods. This is good enough for the Sebeki, for they have simple tastes. However, even the most coarse of Sebeki appreciates the value of a sturdy, well-made weapon, and no weapon-smith makes better wooden war-mallets than a City-Dweller of Crocodiliopolis.
The City-Dwellers of Tanis are a mysterious people. They shroud themselves in dark cloaks. Their dress is adorned with trophies: giant scorpion tails hanging from belts, gauntlets and boots make from a lion's legs and claws, and other trophies even more gruesome. They wrap their limbs and faces with tight wrappings, both to protect themselves from the harsh desert Sun and to hide their faces. Behind their shrouds and wrappings only their eyes are visible, flashing cold and sinister, casting murderous glances at any stranger. The Asar worshippers of Set never reveal their faces. It is said that they unwrap only in the presence of their spouse, and then only in the darkest hours of the night. They will not tell why this is so, but it is rumored that the City-Dwellers of Tanis have not forgotten impotent Osiris, and live in shame of their resemblance to the weak god. Many are suspicious of the City-Dwellers of Tanis. The Dispossessed whisper that they file their teeth to pints and sharpen their fingernails into claws - to better eat carrion, they say. Since the Dispossessed's hatred for the City-Dwellers of Tanis is known throughout the land, most others discount these tales as slander, but they do so with nervous laughter.
The City-Dwellers of Hermopolis are tall and lean, devoting their lives to scholarly pursuits. They wear elegant robes of pale blue or white, sewn with hieroglyphs and inlaid with pearls. Their heads are covered in close cowls or skullcaps, with long tassels hanging from their temples. The most esteemed and privileged, such as Priests and Sorcerers, wear elaborate headdresses of long feathers. Their pale eyes show a cold intelligence, with a gleam of self-righteousness about them. Tutored by the studious Tethru and gifted with access to the greatest libraries in all of Ægyptus, the City-Dwellers of Hermopolis are certainly well-educated. They are proud of their knowledge, and flaunt it with an air of superiority. Thus, they are disliked by most other races, who find it difficult to tolerate their incessant, pedantic recitations. Few City-Dweller Sorcerers will ever surpass their Tethru peers in arcane talent, but what they lack in talent, they often make up in ambition. City-Dwellers who become Masters of Words undertake the most dangerous sorcerous experiments, and put themselves in great peril to discover lost knowledge. While their Tethru mentors often warn them to be less headstrong and more cautious, none will deny that these City-Dwellers - when they manage to survive the dangers they brave - have added much to the knowledge of the Academy.