Camari General Description
The Camari are a lean, hardy race of sea farers who travel their archipelago home on small, swift catamarans and outriggers. Their ships are the fastest of the Aether Sea. They tend to have dark hair, light eyes, and pale skin tanned and weathered by the elements. Their settlements cling to the rocky shores of their islands and they survive by fishing, whaling, and aquaculture. They are a matriarchal spiritual folk who worship the Twins: The Goddesses Saerun (Godess of Fertility and the Sea) and Anelena (The Hearth Goddess, protector of the home) who embody the fertility and bounty of nature and the warmth and protection of the hearth and home.
Camari women often give birth to twins which is traditionally considered a blessing from Saerun. Twins are often accorded great affection by their families and respect in their community. Identical twin girls often become Aspects.
The Camari utilize nature to manufacture most of their goods and equipment. Metals are rare on the islands and few people know how to extract and work them. Whale bones and ivory are the most commonly used materials in weapons and tools. While bronze is not uncommon, only a handful of working mines extract it on Cathas and only a few know the secrets of smelting. Mining is difficult, heavy labor and the sea-focused Camari usually prefer plying the waters for their survival. Additionally, what little iron there is among the Camari is most often meteoric in origin. This sky iron can be turned into tools by the few skilled smiths on the islands.
The technology the Camari have can be be described as high bronze-age (with many exceptions). As mentioned, Iron is extremely rare in Camarath and copper or bronze is generally used for metal goods. Even copper and bronze, however, are uncommon because few Camari mine or smelt ore into useful tools. Only one settlement produces appreciable amounts of copper and bronze: Waihi Village.
The majority of weapons used by the Camari are made from objects they live with every day: bones & teeth from sea creatures (giant sea snakes, whales, dolphins, sharks, seals, etc.), wood, coral, and rock.
Similarly, their books are made from vellum and ink made from sea urchins and other dyes. Their clothing tends to be made from linen created by woven threads of sea grass. The Camari are dependent upon the Aether sea for their livelihood.
Because the Camari are so focused towards the ocean, heavy armor is uncommon (the better to drown you with my dear) while platemail has never been developed (and platemail is outside of the technological bounds of “bronze age” anyway). If there is a question about tech, talk to me and we’ll discuss. I would rather fit something in than say no if it can be made to work.
The Camari are born seafarers and many grow up fishing and harvesting the sea from dinghies and fishing boats. Camari ships are built to be swift and light to evade danger. Because of that, ships equipped with armaments are unheard of.
The vast majority of Camari ships are long, narrow and close to the water. They rely on outriggers for stability but their sails catch the wind and allow them to soar across the sea. Heavier ships include large hunting catamarans.
How do they Survive?
The Camari depend on the bounty of the sea to survive. Their islands are often rocky and windswept or densely forested and populated by deadly threats. They lack a strong agricultural tradition and harbor a cultural taboo against living too far from the ocean. Because of this, the interior of their islands is relatively untraveled. However, they are experts at aquaculture and depend on that, fishing, and whaling for much of their dietary needs. Hunting is also not uncommon but the seas are bountiful.
The Camari are a matriarchal, spiritual people. Their lives are governed by their dependence on the sea for survival, their religion, and their belief in natural spirits that must sometime be appeased. They lack a strong agricultural tradition. Two events of great import to the Camari are the two annual whale migrations that pass through their territories at the beginning of each spring and at the end of each fall. These migrations are said to be led by a whale of unimaginably monstrous proportions they call the Herald of Saerun. The whale migrations are times of plenty and the Camari hunt the weak and the old, dragging the whales ashore to dismember. Whales are revered by the Camari and treated with great respect, even during the hunt.
Their legend says the Camari once fled a great city of pearl during the Great End before the Lost Age. They were saved by the great hero Camar, a servant of the the Twin Goddesses who brought forth islands from the mist for the people to shelter upon in the wake of the Great End.
Saerun is the Mother Goddess who brings all life into this world. While also being the visage of wild, sometimes deadly nature.
Anelena is the Hearth Goddess whose protective aspects guide and ward the Camari faithful from danger as the fire wards the black beasts of the night.
Priests of the Twins (called Aspects) must always be identical, female twins. Each takes on the aspect of one of the Goddesses, speaking for their aspect with authority.
While a few of these Aspects are gifted with magical powers, all of the Twins’ priestesses are among the most highly educated people in the realm. They learn herb-lore and weather-lore as well as history, medicine, and spellcraft. Many of the priestesses who represent Anelena are also battle-trained. The priestesses lead the Camari in prayers within standing stones, along sea cliffs, and other areas of natural power. They hold positions of respect and awe within their communities and often hold influence over the leaders of their settlements.
In opposition of their Twin Goddesses the Camari believe in an entity called Bael-Gorm – the Bringer of Sorrow. He is also called the Crawling Destruction, the Plague-Dark, and the Father of Nightmares. He stands in opposition to all of creation and the natural cycle. He is bringer of plague and terror and a being of destruction and entropy, battle and war. His words whisper to both weak and strong, undermining hope and righteousness.
Death and the After Life
The Camari believe that when a being dies, it’s soul is swept into the Great Sea where it swims until reborn anew. The souls of the dead linger in the world until the passing of the Herald of Saerun. Each spring the herald ushers in new life to the world and each autumn the herald retreats from the world, ushering in the months of cold-death. The lingering spirits are guided to the Great Sea by the song of the Herald.
Camari who die are bathed and dressed by family and their remains brought to the sea cliffs just outside town. There they are put on a pyre and burned and their ashes are allowed to blow into the sea.
The Camari believe that all things have two souls: life force and personal spirit. Upon death the life force vanishes but the personal spirit can linger before being called into the Great Sea by the Herald of Saerun. There, their spirits swim in peace until reformed anew by their goddess.
The Sea and Camari Diet
As Camari life depends upon the sea, they venerate the creatures within and the tempestuous moods of nature. The annual whale migrations of spring and fall are the most important times of the Camari year. They are so important that the Camari begin and end their years with their occurrence and treat the dark, cold months between as “dead” and not truly part of the yearly cycle.
Whales are held in awe and great respect by the Camari and many of their stories tell of a white whale of monstrous proportion called the Herald of Saerun. Some who see her claim she is as big as an island with flukes and fins larger than sailing ships. She is viewed with a reverent awe when she is seen.
The Camari diet is based around fish, seaweed, and whale meat. A traditional wedding desert is jellied jelly fish sweetened with berry juice and served cold.