Out of all the Tribes, the Neran are most similar to Homo Sapiens on Earth. They are typically of medium height, with an average of about 5'7" (170cm), and an average weight of about 150 lbs (68 kg). They have medium skin tone with hair colors ranging between brown, chestnut, and auburn. Their eyes are typically various shades of blue, ranging from dark slate to sky blue.
The Neran are, out of all the different tribes, the most similar to Humans on Earth. As such, they have no single distinct adaptation. Instead, they are the most flexible of all the tribes, and the basis by which all other tribes are measured against. Specifically, their ability to survive in different biomes, as well as the rate at which they are able to develop their attributes, is the neutral value in which other tribes are compared to.
Of all the tribes, the Neran can function at varying levels of effectiveness in the largest number of biomes. While most commonly found in temperate climates, it's not unlikely to find Neran in both semi-arctic as well as semi-tropical regions, with fewer in the tropics, and virtually none found in the Tundra.
Mechanically, the skill curves and predilection for acquiring new skills is slightly higher in Neran, with this tribe receiving approximately a 20% increase in the rate of learning new skills. Note that learning new skills doesn't necessarily increase their capacity to perform such skills. So, in a sense, they are the jacks-of-all-trades but the master of none.
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, what happened to the Proto-Neran to lead to the splitting of the tribe, or whether the Proto-Neran - in their original form - exist anywhere today.
The Neran's primary society has long resided among the grasslands, going as far back as recorded history. It's said they built their civilization on top of the remains of an even more ancient one that was lost to a great catastrophe. Luckily, the Neran themselves have managed to avoid such a fate but have still experienced their fair share of woe. Being among the grasslands, they lay claim to one of the most valuable commodities: large expanses of farmable land and food.
The Neran are, at their core, a resourceful people. They value resourcefulness and ingenuity above all else, and are quick to befriend others who demonstrate either of those qualities. This attitude is driven by the demands of their environment. While the grasslands are a bounty of farmable and cultivateable resources, it gives nothing for free. Only through the process of innovation and resourcefulness can the bountiful harvests of the grasslands be reaped, so to speak.
Owing to their history as a Proto-Neran tribe, the Neran speaks a modern day dialect of what is believed to be the original Proto-Neran language. As the Neran actively trade with many other tribes, the Neran language has, in general, become the most common language in Elyria. As a result, few Neran learn a language other than Neran, unless specifically drawn to do so for personal reasons.
The Neran are one of the two Virtorian tribes (the other being the Hrothi). Among the Virtori, the Neran are known as "The Swords of Virtue". Indeed, in the battle between Virtue and Vice, it was the Neran who were called upon by the Creator to enforce the will of the righteous upon those who would seek to corrupt Mann-Kind.
As a result of their calling, the Neran continue to take pride in their role and responsibility. Monuments and statues of the Virtues can be found throughout Neran civilization. In addition, the core belief in the Virtues leads the Neran to maintain a stoic sense of order and commitment, with their religion - like their civilization - having an established hierarchy. Members of the Neran tribe who do not embrace their responsibility to their faith are looked down upon and referred to as the "Fatherless" by other Neran.
There are many plays, songs, hymns, and other forms of media, all created in worship of the Virtues of which they honor. Song-priests - a specific sect of bards among the Virtori - are beloved among the people. It is a particular honor to have one present at the end of a family member's life, as a song written about a Neran's achievements are believed to be heard by the Virtues, who will escort the fallen along their path to the Akashic Records. Among the bards, ascending to the role of Song-priest is considered a lifetime achievement.
Artists, in particular sculptors and architects, are revered throughout Neran society and are often hired to create magnificent religious structures and statues by the Virtorian Church. The wealthier of the Neran have the resources to fill their homes with similar structures and statues, and it is not uncommon to show appreciation to a patron Virtue. Among the most valued of the religious artworks are those of Hrothi-make. Commoners, only somewhat by necessity, are less bombastic in their worship. Taverns will often engage in song and dance as past-time - showing reverence towards the Virtues - with comedies being told about the Vices. Traveling merchants will often offer up a prayer asking for protection before leaving their hometown.
In smaller settlements, the town center or tavern functions as the place in which shows are put on, ranging from comedies to allegories, and frequently works thread in elements from both ends of the spectrum simultaneously. The larger settlements, and especially the capitals, can have buildings constructed solely to house shows (Theatres). This is viewed by some as an excess. These are often owned and funded by the individuals who hold power in their government, helping gain favor among the people, as well as keeping the citizens contented.
Long have the Neran made the Grasslands their home as it is there that the Proto-Neran first came to exist. Since then, the Neran have expanded dramatically and can now be found in virtually all temperate biomes, such as the Lower Montane Forest of New Haven. The resources provided by the grasslands continue to sustain their growth throughout Elyria. As long as the land provides, the Neran will continue to expand and strengthen their Kingdom among it.
The Neran, perhaps more than any other tribe, have a plethora of tools made up of a wide assortment of materials. These include tools for the various crafting professions they support, as well as tools of war. Tools are frequently made up of:
Clothing among the Neran range from common flax and cottons to - in the case of the higher social classes - silk traded from the local Kypiq.
Wooden chests, crates, and the occasional Hrothi vault are all common containers. In general, containers are created using the following more readily available resources.
The business of the Neran 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. As an association, the Virtorian Church is funded directly by the Nobility, as well as the wealthier members of the Aristocracy.
There are notable differences between settlements of varying sizes. Smaller settlements may or may not have any guilds within their town, instead depending on the output of their local townsfolk who pursue their trades independently. There is a greater prevalence of individuals being able to perform multiple trades in smaller settlements, often out of necessity.
Among Neran society, the following professions are seen in varying number, depending on the size and wealth of a settlement, with more expensive or exotic trades being found in larger settlements.
As a result of the Neran's ready access to good farmland, and various types of grains and wheat, Neran are most well-known for, and most respected for, their tailoring, weaving, distilleries and breweries, prized vegetation, and cultivated meats.
Social classes in the Neran society follow the traditional feudal system seen in many regions of Earth's Europe during the dark and middle ages. In particular, Neran society is divided up into the following four major categories:
The Nobility of the Neran are formed by the Kings & Queens, Dukes and Duchesses, and Counts and Countesses. As the Neran are a religious society, they view their nobility as holding their titles by Divine Right. In short, the Neran believe the Creator granted the nobles their titles, either due to their historical involvement in the War between the Virtues and Vices or on account of being Virtuous themselves.
Leadership in the Neran society is predominantly composed of the Nobility and Aristocracy, with leadership passing to heirs at the death of a titled noble or landowner. In the event that no direct heir exists, a power vacuum is created and peers or underlings of the deceased will vie for control of the title through reputation, prestige, and overall popularity. The person who is able to raise the most support for their claim will ultimately be given Casus Belli, and a reason to take possession of the land and titles.
Neran looking to enter a craft or trade have several different routes in which they can do so, often dependent on where they live. Those living in smaller settlements will either learn the family trade through their elders or seek out one of the local tradesmen in hopes of gaining an apprenticeship. Those wishing to join a guild for training can journey to a nearby town to find what they're looking for. Some guilds will only accept already-skilled and/or established members of their craft, while others will accept newcomers and train them from nothing. For those seeking the fastest advancement, larger towns and cities often hold schools or universities to join. This provides not only the opportunity for faster learning, but also an opportunity for further research.
All Neran are expected to have at least a passing knowledge of the Virtues, and part of the duty of the Song-priests is to spread this knowledge.
The grasslands occupied by the Neran is one of the largest biomes in Elyria. As a result, protection of the realm is distributed among the various Duchies, with each Duke or Duchess responsible for the safety and security of their contained counties. While the Duke or Duchess is responsible for funding the training and equipping of militia within the duchy, the formal army is often made up of trained soldiers referred to as the Holy Swords. These soldiers, akin to Paladins in other fantasy universes, believe they wield not only sword and shield, but the strength of Virtue that their faith affords them.
To become a Holy Sword, would-be knights are sent to either the Virtorian Military Academy or, in the case of wealthier aristocracy or nobility, are sent to remote duchies - sometimes as part of a negotiation - to be trained as a page and squire. In the case where someone is sent to a foreign duchy, it is necessary for the Duke or Duchess to be a Holy Sword themselves or to have an on-site Steward - a member of the Virtorian Church - responsible for overseeing the religious training of the up-and-coming Knight.
The Kingdom's sovereign ruler, through their vassals, wields the Holy Swords as their own - with the leader of the Virtorian Church serving as an adviser. The remaining forces of the Neran military are both cultivated through the local militia, as well as mercenaries-for-hire.
Owing to the advanced rate at which Neran learn new skills, their technology level is greater than the other tribes. That's not to say it's significantly greater; it is still akin to the Middle Ages of our own Earth. However, they do have mastery of their environment at a greater degree than other tribes. In particular, they have advanced architectural techniques - owing much to the Hrothi's influence - and their agriculture is sufficiently advanced to support the Kingdom though it does still require large amounts of manpower in order to be maintained. Furthermore, technology doesn't exist that is capable of mitigating the damage that nature inflicts and, as such, the Kingdom is vulnerable to periods of great strife as a result of potential food shortages.
Hrothi - Being resourceful can sometimes mean being pragmatic. They have traditionally been strong allies with the Hrothi, 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.
Kypiq - The Neran have an interesting and strange relationship with the Kypiq. Perhaps owing to a shared pragmatism and resourcefulness, the Kypiq can reliably be called upon as long as interests align. The Neran find the Kypiq's tree cities fascinating on account of their unusual and occasionally perplexing design. Additionally, the Kypiq's propensity for interesting and complex technology, as well as shiny objects, opens up an opportunity for trade between the Neran and the Kypiq; specifically for sundries such as fine silks, which are cultivated by the silk worms found within some Kypiq forests.
Brudvir - The Neran and Brudvir have a long history together - not always positive - with the Brudvir being another of the Proto-Neran tribes. While they share a language, the religious and cultural differences between the two causes them to be uneasy allies. The Brudvir view the Neran as disrespectful and prodigal. In spite of that, the skillful wood-working of the Brudvir is highly sought after by the Neran, and the Brudvir value the high-quality fabrics and food the Neran provide that make a long, harsh winter easier to weather.