CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Children of the Mithril Tree

Jinin Elves of Tian-Xia

This week we continue to take a look at some of the lesser known subcultures of non-human races. Last time we explored the orcs of the Mwangi Jungle and we’ve already looked at the snowcaster elves, cannibal halflings, and desert dwarves. In a reddit discussion about the jungle orcs a commenter mentioned the Jinin elves. Now I had never heard of them, so I looked them up and found an interesting group of lawful elves who live by the samurai code. So this week, we will take a look at the elves in the Jinin province in Tian-Xia.

History


The history of the elves of the Jinin province goes far back to the ancient – and now overrun – city of  Celwynvian in the Mierani Forest in Varisia. When the earthfall was imminent the elves of the region did not flee to their off-planet home, but fled into the Darklands with a number of other elves. But unlike the elves that would become the drow, those that became the Jinin elves would follow a vein of mithril back to the surface of Golarion.

It took almost a thousand years, which saw two generations born among the long lived elves, before they would rise from the bowels of Golarion and into the Dragon Empire. The forested land into which they arose they claimed as their own and named it after the oracle who led them to the light, Jininsiel. Influenced by their travels through the underground they would be further changed by the societies that surrounded them.

When the elves first emerged they found themselves in a lush forested land. Their numbers were small and thus they did not spread far at all. There were new terrors to deal with, including the horrific oni, and so the Elves were insular and spend much time reinforcing their homeland.

The Dragon Empires were far less affected by earthfall, but the elves of Jinin remembered it well. Some two millennia after they surfaced,  the great mountain Shibotai erupted and sent waves of terror through the people of Jinin. They feared that they would once again have to travel into the darkness to save themselves. Luckily the long-lived elves take much time to discuss anything and the ashes dissipated in a few months, allowing them to breathe a sigh of relief.

It was nine thousand years before the elves of jinin truly met the rest of humanity in Tian Xia. Minkai explorers –  who were expanding the Lung Wa empire – made contact with the elves and there was a mutual understanding made. The people of Jinin were impressed with the honorable and powerful samurai, and in a surprisingly speedy manner adopted many of the Tian-Min traditions and declared themselves a shogunate.

A thousand years later, spurred by the death of Aroden, which was felt even in Tian-Xia, the Imperial Lung Waempire collapsed. Jinin remained steadfast in its defense of its people, although to the south the region fell to banditry and the Hobgoblin tribes to the north began to organize into their own official empire. The southern region would eventually reach a form of stability under the guiding hand of a small detachment of the Taldan Military, becoming the nation of Amanandar, and the hobgoblins would unite in their own military controlled empire, christened Kaoling.


Physiology


The elves of Jinin are incredibly similar to their forbearers from the Mierani Forest. Tall and slight the years of scant resources in the Darklands have made the Jinin elves frames seemingly leaner than most elves. Many of the elves also have slightly paler skin, in some cases almost appearing translucent. One physiological difference between the Jinin and the Avistani elves is that some of them retain the darkvision that the third generation of travelers began to develop. These elves, however, are also blinded by brighter light.

Mechanical Note: Some of the Jinin elves replace their low-light vision trait with the darkvision trait

Family


Family is extremely important to the Jinin elves. Every elf is a representative of his or her family and to bring dishonor to oneself is to bring dishonor to one’s family. Although love and respect for one’s family has long been an elven tradition, the adherence to family honor is something that has been added to this dynamic with the appropriation of much of Minkai culture.

Although most of the lower class families see little more three generations within its walls; grandparents, parents and children, noble families tend to be much larger. Traditionally in Minkai the eldest male below what could be considered retirement age is the head of the household. But the elves are a lot more egalitarian in their stance on gender roles and it may be either the eldest male or eldest female.

Families go beyond those that are living. The Jinin elves have taken up a form of ancestor worship. Small shrines to revered ancestors are kept somewhere within the household. The elves will also set a place at the table for any unnamed ancestral spirits that wish to visit for dinner. For the elves, family is important even after death.

Society


The Jinin elves have adopted much of the societal structure from their Tian-Min neighbors. The have a very strict hierarchal society led by a shogun, currently JininsielRyukiatsu. They have not only blended much of the Tian-Min culture into their own, they have also adopted their name conventions and many of the family names of the Jinin elves are actually Tian inspired.

The class structure starts with the nobles. The shogun is the leader of the people of Jinin. Unlike the Minkai emperor, who is seen as almost the equivalent of a god, the shogun is still just a mortal although hereditary leader of the elves. The elves use the title of shogun because they were originally beholden to the emperor of the Lung Waempire, but when that fell the shogun became the defacto ruler of the sovereign nation of Jinin.

Although often synonymous with each other in Minkai, the Daiymo ranks under the shogun and controls individual territories within the nation. The Daimyo rule over the samurai clans which, although respected and romanticized among the elves, are the lowest ranking nobles.

The farmers, artisans, and merchants make up the common man or peasant class. The divide between the commoners and the noble classes is not as stark as it is in some cultures, but it is still there and the peasants know it. For their part, mistreatment of the peasants within their domain is considered dishonorable to both a noble and their family.

Art is still a major part of the lives of the Jinin elves. However, their creations tend to be far less experimental than their capricious kin in Avistan. Mastery of artistic precision is the most sought after quality in an artist. Being technically proficient is preferred over all else. This is shown off especially in JInin architecture which often includes designs made in mithril for the wealthiest patrons of the arts.

Alignment and Faith


Most of the noble houses of the Jinin elves live the by rigid traditions of the samurai code introduced by the Tian-Min. The society as a whole tends to be lawful good, but like most races there is some variance among the people of Jinin. Although, even with a less capricious lifestyle, they still retain a love of art and beauty.

A belief that many of the gods abandoned them, which is why earthfall happened, means that the Jinin elves have turned their backs on many of the deities they worshiped in Avistan. The samurai of Minkai brought the worship of Shizuru, who is now considered the official patron of the state. The elven alliance and friendship with the samsarans has made their patron deity Tsukiyo, husband of Shizuru, also common. The elven penchant for magic use has made Qi Zhong popular among spellcasters of the region.

Of the gods not in the Tian pantheon, Desna remains revered as the elves believe she aided them in their travels and Shelyn is still popular among artists. Yuelral is the only purely elven deity still worshiped among the Jinin people for her use of crystal, which is mined alongside the mithril that infuses the land beneath the elves’ feet. Lastly there are small sects dedicated to the Empyreal Lord Benorus as the god of hidden wonders and mines, who some believe lent the elves protection in their time in the Darklands.


Relations


The people on Jinin have little to do with Taldan military state of Amanandar to their south. Although both peoples originated in the west, the Jinin have acclimated themselves much more to the culture of their new homeland than the Taldans have. This sometimes leads to contention but not outright hostility. The Jinin elves will trade with the people of Amanandar as long as the westerners don’t press their borders. The mithril mined by the elves is worth much to the military state and so they keep open, if cool, relations.

To the north is the hobgoblin empire of Kaoling. Although brutal, the hobgoblins are far from barbaric. Their culture is a strict bureaucracy that answers to military leaders. Although not officially at war, the hobgoblins and their allies – ettins, ogres, and giants of all sorts – sometimes raid the borders of Jinin for slaves. Kaoling officially decries these actions a s they wish to trade with the elves for their mithril. Sadly they have their eyes set on the lands of Zi Ha, home of the elves’ samsaran allies, which leaves relations strained at best.

Although the immediate border between Jinin and Zi Ha is the monster filled so-called ‘Wild Peaks’, the region is actually controlled by the blue-skinned samsarans. The elves of Jinin happily trade with the enlightened samsarans, with whom they feel some amount of kinship. Even though a full samsaran life is shorter than elves – although longer than a human’s – their memories of their reincarnated lives means that they remember about as much as one single elf lifespan. Their goodly and spiritual nature, a well as a traditional love of magic, means that the samsarans and the elves have much in common.

Adventurers


Between being beseeched on two sides by aggressive forces and the elven romanticized views of the noble samurai, there are many warriors among the elves of Tian-Xia. Samurai, fighters, cavaliers, paladins, and rangers are all common adventurers among the Jinin. Even if one is not of the samurai class many call themselves samurai and almost all follow a code of honor regardless of class.

Even before returning to the surface, those with attachments to the divine have been well respected among the elves. Clerics were very common and continue to be so. Because of their savior from the dark Jininsiel, oracles are revered. Although they live in the forests of Tian-Xia the Jinin elves have all but abandoned the ways of druidism and the green faith, however there are many spirits in this land and shaman taken the reigns of the elves’ connection to the natural and spiritual world from druids.

Magic is now and has always been popular among the elves. Wizards and arcanists abound, and many elves are born with one form of magic in their blood or another. Elves have traditionally found a way to blend magic and swordplay together. Among the elves are a tradition of magi who mesh the arcane with the ways of the samurai, including following much the same code of honor.

What kind of cultures for other races would you like to see? Would you use these Jinin elves in your Golarion campaign? Would you adapt them to your homebrew world? This is just a short write up, but what other information would you like to see about the elves of Tian-Xia?

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