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The Kings of the Cliffs: The Eyriefolk

A crow-person with a rifle, glasses, a hat on their back, and some kind of bandolier. They are wearing a scarf.
A Corvados sharpshooter, from a sketchbook found in the desert.

The Eyriefolk are made up entirely of the Corvados, Adler, Volo, and Striggan peoples, whose ancestral lands string all along the Howling Herald Mountains and portions of the region's central deserts. As with most the rest of the races they've taken an interest in the Howl Basin given this recent season of settlement and development, and are seen by those in the basin as somewhat aloof, even uncaring. Born with the power of flight, the Eyriefolk see themselves as the people of the sky, and the isolation of their homeland has meant that these recent explorations are a sort of "breaking down" of a long history of cultural isolation for them.

Eyriefolk can be aloof and insular, but they can also be charismatic, and are highly driven. In cosmopolitan areas, stereotypical Eyriefolk can be found in positions of authority, such as clergymen, lawmen, or government officials, and the other Folks of the Basin tend to expect them to be taciturn, honourbound (sometimes to a fault), and concerned with appearances.

Lifestyles and Culture

Moreso than many of the other folks, the actual lifestyles of the Corvados, Adler, Volo, and Striggan are quite highly unique to each individual line. However, they can be broadly seperated into three cultural groups and share a common cultural core, which is why they see themselves as a single polity (as much as any polity can be).

Cultural Values

Eyriefolk culture as a whole favours a few key ideals, though each of the heritages that make up the Folk tend to place their own spin and emphases on these ideals. These principals in general can be collectively thought of as "honour" and fall into three broad strokes: Right Standing, Right Action, and Right Speech.

Right Standing

Right Standing, amongst the Eyriefolk, is the awareness of one's position in the social heirarchy and the social performances and obligations responsible to that role. One who upholds the principal of Right Standing understands their role in their community and the culture of the people they hail from, and plays that part well. A Striggan philosopher described Right Standing as "Nobility Without Rank" and argued that a Corvados beggar who fully devoted himself to the role of the city beggar was every bit as noble as a great chieftan of the Adler.

This virtue is controversial, and is thought to have factored heavily into the long-standing isolationism of the Eyriefolk as much as their natural ability to fly and correspondingly remote settlements has. Under the idea of Right Standing, a member of another folk, such as a Lagos from the Landfolk, is performing Right Standing by being a Lagos of the Landfolk and is violating the virtue when they attempt to integrate themselves into Eyriefolk culture. This has been used as an excuse for some Eyriefolk who prefer the isolationism or wish to feel superior to dismiss all other folks as uncivilized outsiders, though yet other Eyriefolk argue that Right Standing says nothing about civilized behaviour at all.

Right Action

Eyriefolk honour calls for a concept of Right Action, which implies that there are Right and Wrong things that can be done in any situation. It is not Right Action to steal something, for example, but it may be Right Action to punish a thief. Violence may or may not be right action depending on the offense that prompted it and the degree and method of violence chosen, which conflicts with some of the more pacifistic attitudes in Howl Basin. Like Right Standing, Right Action calls social heirarchy and occupation into account when considering whether or not an action is right. It might be perfectly justifiable for Corvados clan leaders to exile a repeat thief from the community but entirely against Right Action for a random selection of members of the same community to do so, even if the same inciting incident exists.

Right Action is also not merely about what is permissible but also what is required. Right action calls for the strong to protect the weak and the righteous to defend the mild. It also calls for the rich to espouse the poor, though as this runs contrary to many Eyriefolk stereotypes (for complicate historical reasons), they are rarely given credit for this.

Right Speech

Right Speech is another social queue that calls upon Eyriefolk to carefully consider their words. This goes beyond knowing the nuances of various modes of address (which is, in reality, a very small part of Right Speech) and addresses more the overall idea of expression entirely. While it is cited as a governing principal when it comes to taboos and cursing and so-on, it runs considerably deeper. It is considered a violation of the idea of Right Speech to show great outbursts of any strong emotion (which has lead to a reputation for stoicism amongst the birdfolk). An Adler philosopher explained:

It isn't at all accurate to say that Right Speech and Anger are antithetical to one another, nor Joy, nor Sorrow, nor any other of the Ten Thousand Emotions. Emotions are emotions, as natural to the Kings of Birds as the sun is to the sky. We do not scold our fledgelings for their outbursts because it is morally wrong for them to feel slighted by us, or for their hunger or weariness to be upsetting to them, or because they have any other unmet need. Right Speech requires that we comport ourselves as the moment requires. Before we lash out in joy or hate or sorrow, we must understand what it is that has us so enthused. We must do this so that we can communicate that need, and we must do so calmly to be the better understood. In this manner, the cry of an unworded babe is Right Speech, the cold order of exile is right speech, the slight of the jester to the chief is right speech, and the roar of the warrior is right speech.

Right Speech over the years has evolved into a catch-all simplification of a sort of extension of Right Standing to cover all of behaviour. Volo teachers will tell you that Right Standing is motive and Right Speech is action.

Alpine Traditionalists

In the forests and mountains of Howl Basin and the Howling Herald Mountains one subset of the Eyriefolk culture exists. This is made up mostly of the eyriefolk-aligned subsets of the Striggan, along with Corvados and Adler cultures, the latter of which could be considered the dominant cultural influence. This is also the most stereotypical of the lifestyles of the Eyriefolk in the eyes of outsiders and other folks as a result. This is double down upon where the Adler culture is also a strong underpinning of the culture of the Federation as a whole.

Such communities are staunchly self-reliant and even territorial. Adler chiefs are somewhat famous for territorial bickering even in their prehistory and federalist "modern" Adler are know different, though such territoriality may be abstracted to areas of responsibility in a single organization rather than literal violence over borders of land-claims... though the latter happen as well. Adler communities tend to be especially lofty and removed from areas of overland travel and are therefore rarely visited by most of the people who call Howl Basin home.

In contrast communities of Corvados and Striggan occasionally spring up - far more commonly the former, as the Corvados tend to be far more social overall. These communities can be somewhat remote but are usually not extremely so and often trade with the surrounding area. This is especially true because the Alpine Traditionalist faction of the Eyriefolk is strongly aligned to the Federation and is considered non-native to Howl Basin (except perhaps for a few of the Adler clans). This is because the Corvados Clans that were native to the basin are actually socially aligned to the Woodfolk, and the same is also true for the native Columbian Parliament of the Striggans.

Mesa Traditionalists

The Volo are a unique people, inhabiting both the Castle Badlands and Proctor Erg since prehistory, which is aligned with the Eyriefolk through centuries of cultural interaction with native Adler bands. More populous than the Alder, they are therefore the largest population within the Eyriefolk proper which consider themselves nativist rather than federalist, and by and large they tend to be against the Federation's expansion into Howl Basin and the corresponding disruption of their way of life.

Cosmopolitan Eyriefolk

Many Eyriefolk are cosmopolitan. Their native abilities of flight make them handy travellers and the relatively solitary nature of most of the cultures that make up the folk tends to give them motive to get around. What's more, Corvados are ubiquitous throughout the World anyway.

Eryiefolk will happily settle into other communities, including cities, so long as their needs to live as they see fit are met. Many come to occupy positions of authority owing to a combination of their own ambitious natures and their general suitability for such roles, though it helps that federalist propaganda often features them (especially Adler) in such roles of authority, pre-seeding the notion.

Hatched and Brooded

Growing up among the Eyriefolk can be tough, because the road of their three virtues is demanding. However, childhoods vary much among the different peoples that make up the folk, so it is hard to speak in broad generalizations for them.

Birds of a Feather

It's not unheard of for people to become part of the Eyriefolk community, though it is almost unheard of for those without the power of flight to do so. Therefore, most such "assimilants" are Corvados or Striggan Woodfolk who have come more attuned to the newcomer Eryiefolk than their native clans. This process is actually somewhat formal and legalistic and requires sponsorship by existing Eryiefolk who are able to stand for your suitability and involves a social ritual known as the Oath of Cups.

Eyriefolk Exiles

Before joining the Federation, Eryiefolk justice was brutal and capital punishment or several corporal punishment was common. While Federal law has largely changed that, in the Frontier and especially Howl Basin, laws only apply as long as they can be enforced. It's not uncommon for criminals and other social outcasts in Eyriefolk society who live in isolated Eyriefolk communities to therefore go "on the wing" and exile themselves from their communities than to risk facing the "old justice" some feel Right Action still calls for.

Gameplay Rules

In the Howl Basin campaign setting, folks serve two roles. If your character was raised within the cultural context of the a Folk, they take that folk as their Background. On the other hand, circumstances occasionally lead to a character becoming a member of a folk retroactively. This happens at their discretion as long as they have and maintain a Connections score above 60% with that folk. At the player's discretion, such a character becomes an "adoptee" member of that Folk. Facilitators are encouraged to roleplay out this adoption as much as fits the taste of the party. Each folk's "lifestyles and culture" section includes a section on any additional requirements to join that faction permanently.

As A Background

When taking Eyriefolk as your starting background, you develop your starting skillpoints and acquire a character trait as a result of your upbringing. For the purposes of determining your starting skillpoints, there are three subtypes of this background: Mountain Eyriefolk, Mesa Eyriefolk, and Cosmopolitan Eyriefolk. You must pick from one of the three types when creating your Eyriefolk character, but please note you may still have had a mixed history, having lived the lives of any or all of the three subtypes prior to becoming an adventuring character.

Starting Skill Points

All Eyriefolk start the game with Analysis * 3 + Intuition * 1 + Presence * 1 skill points which they may distribute among any skills they so choose. These represent the skills you acquired during your youth as a rounded member of the Eyriefolk society.

In addition, Eyriefolk characters add the following skills as Occupation Skills depending on their subtype:

If one of these bonus Occupation Skills is already a feature of your chosen occupation, the Facilitator should work with you to come up with a substitute skill. If no substitute skill can be found, take 5 extra Occupation Skill Points in lieu of the substitute.

Eyriefolk Trait: Martial Tradition

Regardless of subtype, Eryiefolk characters start with the Background Trait Martial Tradition. This is a Passive Effect. The character may select any one combat skill as a bonus occupation skill. It starts at its normal base score, plus Analysis, to represent offhand martial training acquired in the course of growing up.

Starting Connections

All Eyriefolk characters begin with the following connections at a score of (Presence + Intuition + Wisdom):

  • Eyriefolk
  • The Character's Hometown or County (as appropriate)
  • The Character's Family

As a Connection

Adoptees who meet the faction alignment requirement and exemplify the traits of the Eyriefolk to the point of becoming cultural adoptees to the faction retain their original backgrounds and do not retrain skills, for obvious reasons: the past is fundamentally immutable and moving your house doesn't change your capabilities. That being said, they do acquire a new trait.

Eyriefolk Adoptee Trait: Wrong Standing

This is an Active Effect. Whenever a character with this trait is making a social check (excluding connections checks), the character's player may choose to reduce their Connections: Eyriefolk score by X points. If they do so, they may lower the result of their social check roll by X points. This decision may be made after the roll. Points spend in this way are lost, but may be made up for with the normal ebb and flow of Connections points. If the player has fewer than 50 Connections: Eyriefolk points left, they may not use this effect (doing so would represent overstepping the hospitality of their adoptive folk).

The Eyriefolk Adoptee may not use Wrong Standing against Eyriefolk characters, who are sufficiently aware of the nuances of their culture to mark the outsider. Given the rarity of outsider adoption into the culture, they may even be aware of their status in advance.