Sharing a lineage as Proto-Neran, the Hrothi share many characteristics with their neighbors, the Neran. Typically a fair bit shorter than most Neran, the Hrothi have an average height of about 4'9" (145cm) and, due to their propensity for more muscle mass and an overall bulky stature, weigh approximately the same at around 125-150 lbs (57-68 kg). Due to a preference and heritage to dwell in caves and subterranean tunnels, the Hrothi have adapted fair skin with hair colors that are slightly more red-toned than Neran, ranging from chestnut, to auburn, to bright red. Their eyes are typically varying shades of brown, ranging from light to dark, a nod to their Proto-Neran ancestry, but a mismatch to their upbringing in the deep caverns of the Mountain Steppe.
All living creatures in Elyria are rated along three axes of attributes: Physical (Strength, Agility, Stamina), Mental (Will, Reason, Focus), and Social (Persuasion, Intuition, Leadership). The values below represent the Hrothi's predisposition toward certain attributes. Note that the actual starting values of a character's attributes are based on their specific parents, but a character's bloodline also determines how easy or difficult it is to raise one attribute over another.
Before the Neran, Kypiq, Hrothi, or Brudvir, there were what scholars refer to as the "Proto-Neran". It's believed that the aforementioned current-day tribes are all descendants from this pre-historic race of Mann. It is unknown how their distinct evolutions began but, at some point in the distant past, a catalyst lead to the fracturing of the Proto-Neran and forced them to flee from their established homelands.
During this Fracturing, the early Tribe of Mann fled in multiple directions in order to escape some unknown enemy or ailment. Some of the Proto-Neran headed to higher ground, traveling up to where the air was so thin and the trees so dense that no one, or nothing, could follow them. Others headed south, into the broad-leaf forest and took shelter within the trees themselves. And yet others still burrowed deep within the mountains that bordered the temperate steppes, creating a home and economy for themselves in the security and safety of the timeless stone. Over countless years, from a time before written record until to today, those Proto-Neran who fled into the mountain have become the Hrothi.
The Hrothi are a strong people, deserving of the title "Shields of Virtue". Resolute in their morals, and stuck in their ways, the Neran often comment that the Hrothi's heads are as hard as their stone. The Hrothi value wisdom and time above all else, and work ceaselessly at their crafts in order to create works of architecture and art that will stand the test of time. As a result, the Hrothi have long been regarded as master masons, smiths, jewelers, and scribes, with their armor, weapons, and buildings being among the most durable and resilient in all of Elyria, although not often lauded for beauty.
But their stubborn nature and reverence for the enduring is not all positive. Their respect for the lasting comes with an inherent dislike or distrust of the transient. As a result, most Hrothi detest inclement and seasonal weather, instead preferring to stay indoors or underground with caves and underground systems maintaining a near-constant temperature and climate.
As well, the Hrothi have long memories, and family feuds are not uncommon. To the Hrothi, all sins should be remembered, and all crimes paid in interest. They have a saying which roughly translates, "your misdeeds will be your grandchildren's misgivings."
The Hrothi are one of the two Virtorian tribes (the other being the Neran). Among the Virtori, the Hrothi are known as "The Shields of Virtue". Indeed, in the battle between Virtue and Vice, it was the Hrothi who were called upon by the Creator to defend the world against the Vices, and to protect Mann-kind from being lead astray.
While the Hrothi are less institutional in the practice of their faith, they are no less dedicated to the Virtues. Monuments of the Virtues can be found throughout Hrothi civilization, with large statues filling massive chambers, and relief sculptures filling cathedrals of varying sizes which depict historic events in the Virtorian religion. As well, while the Virtori refer to the Hrothi as the "Shields of Virtue", in their own language it translates more to "Stalwart in Virtue". Indeed, while the Hrothi have a duty to the Virtues and an unyielding dedication to their faith, they view the Neran's structured hierarchy of priests as somewhat distasteful, as titles and rank are temporary, while the Virtues are infinite and undying.
Strangely, while the Hrothi value dedication to the ideals of the Virtues, they have no particular negativity toward the other religions, nor do they view Hrothi who identify with other faiths in any negative light, so long as they uphold their virtue.
Owing to their historical and religious ties to the Neran, as well as their frequent trading, the Hrothi are able to speak a modern day dialect of what is believed to be the original Proto-Neran language. However, over the years their close kinship with the Brudvir has lead them to develop a shared language that outsiders frequently refer to simply as Northerner, which they speak among themselves and when in the company of the Brudvir. Strangely, the language is also used by the Yoru, though nobody is quite certain how they came to learn it.
To the Hrothi, their occupations are their art and stone golems are a common feature among the mountains they make their homes in - carved as solemn and un-moving guardians, representative of the Virtues they worship. They're frequently found in varying sizes and shapes in front of houses, important buildings, and noble houses.
Employing reductive or relief techniques in their art, the Hrothi are known for their great stone carvings and tableau with which they take great pride in. This is visible in their use of gems, unique stones, or rare minerals inlaid or garnishing various types of crafts, such as the famous Hrothi Lockboxes, or their illuminated manuscripts.
Being lore-keepers and historians, songs of ages past are a frequent element of their music. Not just of their history, but of many peoples', some of who have almost entirely fallen out of the annals of the other tribes. A proud people, they will also sing songs of their greatest feats, but also of something as simple as a well-made shield.
The Hrothi can be found both inside and outside the great mountains that border the cool temperate steppes. Over the years the Hrothi have created vast networks of caves, caverns, and tunnels which lie deep underground, while they use the fields and forests on the exterior of the mountains to cultivate food, hide, and other natural resources which cannot be grown or raised inside. In general, the Hrothi have or use the following resources:
Overall, there is an emphasis on fire-resistant clothing.
The architecture of the Hrothi heavily features geometric shapes and patterns. They have one of the most unique looking of architectural styles, being almost entirely comprised of triangles and circles. This is largely a result of the necessity for structural integrity, because living within the mountains means living under ceilings that at any time could collapse; they simply can't afford to not be pragmatic. They found inspiration in the form of some unique creatures found in the mountains.
The business of the Hrothi is largely capitalistic, with guilds making up a large portion of the economy. These are controlled by local governments (meaning counties and larger settlements), which make up an integral part of a kingdom's economic infrastructure.
Because of the Hrothi's partial dependency on the outside world for their survival it's difficult for them to grow too large in one place. Instead, there are generally half a dozen entrances scattered around the mountain ranges which provide additional access points to valuable land outside. Each duke within the Hrothi kingdom takes ownership of the safety and security of a particular entrance, with their vassals managing the resources gathered from both inside and outside. As a result, the majority of counties within a duchy lie on the inside of an entrance, connected to other duchies through a complex tunnel system, while a minority of the counties in a duchy reside outside, lying on plateaus created for farming and for raising goats, sheep, and other animals.
Among the Hrothi, the most common professions are:
Social classes in the Hrothi society follow the traditional feudal system seen in many regions of Earth's Europe during the dark and middle ages. In particular, Hrothi society is divided up into the following four major categories:
The Nobility of the Hrothi are formed by the Kings & Queens, Dukes and Duchesses, and Counts and Countesses. As the Hrothi value age and wisdom as the most desirable trait a Mann can posses, they view their nobles as holding those titles through experience and good judgement. In short, the Hrothi believe that only through age and experience can only gain the wisdom necessary to lead a people.
The Hrothi are led by the Shield King and their leadership hierarchy mirrors that of the Neran. That is, it's predominantly composed of the Nobility and Aristocracy, with leadership passing to heirs at the death of a titled noble or landowner. However, unlike the Neran who value reputation and prestige for determining who their next leader will be, the Hrothi value age and wisdom. In the event that no direct heir exists, a power vacuum is created and the oldest individual who is an underling of the deceased will be given Casus Belli, and a reason to take possession of the land and titles.
The Hrothi, as a people, value the preservation and transmission of knowledge as one of their highest ideals. They believe that our memories as individuals and as a society are one of the few things that can last forever. As a result, the Hrothi train talented scribes who use bright, beautiful inks containing pigmentation made from minerals dug from deep within the ground. These scrolls and manuscripts appear brightly illuminated and serve as a record for both their own people and the rest of the Tribes of Mann. These illuminated manuscripts are then stored in countless libraries and vaults built beneath the ground, designed to preserve the manuscripts in their original state so they can withstand the passage of time.
Members of the Hrothi who are looking to further their education can either seek an apprenticeship with one of their local guilds, or can seek out one of the many schools that train people in the ways and crafts of the Hrothi. If one is lucky enough, they may even join a school or university that has access to one of the Great Libraries.
The Hrothi are highly skilled in warfare, particularly in defensive strategy, owing to their time in the mountains as well as their role in the war between the Virtues and Vices. While the Hrothi don't generally maintain a standing army, each duke is responsible for the protection and safety of one of the entrances into the mountain. Additionally, those counties on the outside of the mountain are often outfitted with a garrison of soldiers who can be called upon in-case someone were to attempt an assault on of their mountains.
Strangely, while the Hrothi are generally a thoughtful, peaceful tribe, intruders discovered beneath their mountain without permission, or deeper than allowed, will find the Hrothi an unfriendly host. Understandably, the Hrothi are deeply protective of their domain, and will fight fervently to protect their boundaries.
Neran - Being resourceful can sometimes mean being pragmatic. They have traditionally been strong allies with the Neran, possessing a long and dense past thanks to their shared faith and lineage. There is a substantial amount of religious iconography featuring the Hrothi and Neran depicted side-by-side, with shields representing the Hrothi and swords representing the Neran. You can find quite a lot of Hrothi designs and influences in modern Neran armaments as the Hrothi were at one point the chief blacksmiths of the Neran's holy army.
Brudvir - The Brudvir have long been neighbors to the Hrothi, even sharing a spoken tongue. In addition, the Brudvir's capabilities with wood is only rivaled by the Hrothi's abilities with stone. This dedication to their art creates a mutual respect between the Hrothi and the Brudvir. Finally, the Brudvir and Hrothi maintain a symbiotic relationship, with the Brudvir helping the Hrothi with food and protection, while the Hrothi provide the Brudvir with metals and stone for their tools.
Kypiq - The nature of the Hrothi's underground civilization makes the short tunnels inhospitable to the taller Tribes of Mann. The need to duck or crawl dramatically slows their pace, making them easy targets for the Hrothi to deal with. This provides their civilization a natural defense against most of the other tribes, that is, all but the Kypiq. The Kypiq's ability to move around the Hrothi's tunnels unhindered makes the Hrothi nervous, and the natural curiosity and propensity toward shiny things makes them untrustworthy.
Dras - While the Hrothi have long been regarded as the best masons and smiths in Elyria, the Dras' growing volume of Bog Iron is posing a threat to the Hrothi's monopoly on metals.
The Waerd / Erishé - Similar to the Dras, the number of Erishé and The Waerd venturing out of the desert into the temperate lands, bringing their own clay and minerals, is slowly diminishing the value of the Hrothi's own supply of resources.