Peril Breeds in Shadow
Languages: Mujinese, Common
Government: Confederate Regional Stratocracy with Feudal Elements
Example Names: Xyng Sogo, Angae Janggu, Shan Seng, Se Liuxia, Suona Yazhen, Xyao Biqi, Xun Dangjok, Jeke Huzuo, Qyn Daehaegum, Tai Ruan
Most Muninese names are constructed [Stronghold Name] [ROLE] [Personal Name]
The lands of Mujin have seen the rise and fall of countless strongholds since the fall of the Imperium, leaving the history of Mujin fragmented and unclear. Each stronghold tells its own history of the formation of Mujin and no two are the same. Common features of the Mujinese cultural history speak of a time before the Mist when Mujin was united under a single ruler known as the Shēngyīn or Zhufa who dwelled in a now lost city in the Ivi Mountains. By most accounts this lost city, alternately referred to as Gē chéng or Ga Su is said to have fallen to the first mist, but the exact timing of this fall is unclear; some histories claim it occurred concurrently with the fall of the Imperium while others say it survived for centuries after the great calamity before falling. Whatever the truth, Ga Su and Zhufa were the key to Mujin unity and their loss forced each stronghold to fend for themselves against the Sucha and the dangers of the Mist, giving rise to the insular, militaristic and feudal culture of modern Mujin and its associated philosophies.
According to Shamans and Lorekeepers the legacy of Mujin martial prowess extends back to the era before formation of the Imperium. In this history the Mujin tribes were one of the few not directly conquered or annexed by the Imperium. Instead they were brought to alliance by careful negotiation for even the Shapers and Shifters of the First Imperium feared their skill.
Xiá / Ujia: Elite supernatural warriors who wander Mujin appeasing local gods and hunting Sucha. Believed to be altered by exposure to the Mist.
Bó wù / Wen: A class of shamans and wise-folk who are the heart of religious life in most strongholds, acting as spiritual intermediaries and healers and overseeing blessings and ceremonies.
Plagued by an arcane regional phenomena, the mist known as the ‘Jī’è Wen’ or ‘Angae’, which blankets their densely forested and craggy land unleashing a panoply of eldritch horrors, the Mujinese culture is reclusive and isolationist. The Mujinese culture survives through strict martial traditions, military leadership, resilient social hierarchies, pragmatic alliances and practical ingenuity. Mujin is a mystery to most outside the Jade Forests with few aware of anything other than the Mist the Xia and their highly developed martial philosophies.
The land of Mujin resides almost entirely within the dense temperate woodland known as the ‘Jade Forest’ or Og Sup. Here the people of Mujin survive in sturdy strongholds, outposts, and monastaries in the shadow of mountains and ancient redwoods. There are 14 major Mujin strongholds; Ai, Aohur, Jeke, Luo, Nao, Qyn, Se, Suona, Tai, Teer, Xun, Xyao, Zhu, Zuo. Each strongholds territory extends as far as the walls of the stronghold itself and all land beyond the walls are considered common Mujinese territory. This is largely due to the Angae which regularly rolls over the land, filling it with deadly monsters known as the Sucha. The Mists of Mujin, also known as the Angae, Jī’è Wen, the ill mists, the shroud, or the breath of the outsider, is an environmental phenomena found only in the region of Mujin. The mist is thick and pervasive and rolls across Mujin at seemingly random intervals. The rise of the mist is always preceded by a resonant sound not unlike thunder or a vast bell, which can be heard echoing across the region. The mist itself is thick enough to obscure anything more than a few feet away but presents no direct danger, it is what lurks in the mist that drives the people of Mujin to shelter; the Sucha. These monstrous entities are even more deadly and aggressive than the already dangerous Aeldan fauna, aberrations that take a variety of forms but seem driven by a common hatred of humans emerging from the mists only to drag their unfortunate victims to a grisly end. There are two theories regarding the Angae; one posits that the mist itself pours from a single region in Mujin, a gateway from which the mist and its hidden horrors pour while the other argues that the mist is a reaction to the sound, produced across Mujin by some means, awakening the Sucha who are always present but remain dormant until the rising of the mist. Areas of Mujin which are safe from the mist are: the strongholds, with their fortifications, wards, and trained warriors; the high branches of the tallest trees and peaks of the the craggy hills; enclosed ruins of the first age; and in the presence of a Xia or powerful Wen. The length and coverage of the mist varies, sometimes encompassing the entire region for hours or days, while other times it seems to gather in certain areas, lasting for weeks or in some cases months before dissipating. During these periods the people of Mujin retreat into their strongholds for weeks or months at a time, surviving off the stores build up during those periods when the mist recedes. As a result of centuries of this the Mujinese have built their society around the strongholds, crafting fortress cities capable of housing entire regional populations and ample supplies to survive any siege by the mist.
While Mujin Yunfa project a common culture and resistance to outside incursion by Sucha or human, the concept of Mujin confederacy is tenuous at best. The Yunfa are willing to work together to repel Ossandrian aggression or stamp out particularly powerful bandit clans but there is always squabbling and territorial ambitions and the underlying current of competition for honour and glory. This internal fragmentation has led to a largely static history, with only minor and highly localized shifts in power and territorial control.
Most Mujin strongholds have a highly stratified and hierarchical civil structure with limited mobility across class lines. The highest power is vested in the Yunfa or warlord; next are the Xia and the Wen, both of which are accorded the highest respect; next are soldiers; below that are tinkers, artisans, and skilled workers; below that are farmers, peasants, drudges and entertainers; the lowest group in Mujinese society are merchants who are only barely considered better than criminals.
The Mujinese are renowned through Aeldos for their martial prowess, boasting perhaps the most sophisticated martial traditions in all of Aeldos. Mujin warriors are known for their expertise, discipline, courage, and loyalty. Children from soldiering families undergo rigorous and constant training in a range of martial skills, attending martial schools, apprenticing with warbands, and even training in remote monasteries called Mogaizhan under the warrior monks known as the Muni. Even outside of soldiering families many Mujin are exposed to martial training in some capacity as a result of cultural values and expectations regarding military service. The result is a pervasive warrior ethos and sense of duty and discipline that is difficult for outsiders to fully grasp and Mujin warriors who are resolute in the face of danger, rarely break ranks and are largely impervious to attacks on their morale. This has allowed and been reinforced by centuries spent fending off the Sucha and has allowed the numerically inferior Mujin to repeatedly turn away invasions by ambitious Ossandrian Legions.
Mujin Military Organization
Yunfa: Warlord, ruler of a stronghold and overlord of all soldiers and commanders.
Siling: Commander of two Lujang plus their 558 soldiers (560 individuals)
Lujang: Commander of three Yijang plus their 279 soldiers (281 individuals)
Yijang: Commander of three Tajang plus their 90 soldiers (93 individuals)
Tajang: Commander of three Lijang plus their 27 soldiers (30 individuals)
Lijang: Commander of a unit of up to 9 soldiers, typically specialized (archers, lancers, infantry, cavalry)
While the Mujinese lack the facilities to produce advanced technology found in [[Selene]] and [[Victra]] they have maintained a specific familiarity with Folding Armour as a result of a tradition of hereditary inheritance of martial artefacts. Mujinese swords and armour are family heirlooms, imbued with spiritual power and highly valued and First Age folding armour is no exception. Folding armour uses a folding design to store a large and durable surface area in a dense space. This allows several pieces of jewelry to unfold into a full set of plate armour. Mujinese folding armour is so iconic it is often known simply as Mujin armour. Surviving examples of folding armour have been handed down through dozens of generations of Mujin warrior and bear scars from hundreds of battles.
The Mujinese are superstitious of wreckage and relics of the first age and many believe that the calamity of the Urul left a form of spiritual corruption on their ruins and artefacts which damages the soul and can attract the Sucha. As a result many Mujin will not enter a ruin or handle an artefact until it has been purified by a Wen shaman. The Xia are widely considered exempt from these prohibitions.
Customs and Culture
Outsiders and Quasi-Humans
As an isolated culture under regular siege by alien forces, the Mujinese are understandably suspicious of outsiders and it is often difficult for visitors to attain any form of respect or honour. This is even more true of quasi-humans who they often associate with the Sucha. Actual treatment of quasi-humans varies significantly between strongholds, with some Yunfa banning them entirely and others welcoming them as valuable assets. The only universal method of ingratiation is approval by a Wen or Xia.
Gender and Sexuality
Mujinese attitudes towards gender and sexuality are flexible with a cultural acceptance of fluid sexuality deriving directly from the Wen. While there are no prohibitions on sexuality, marital fidelity and loyalty is considered fundamental and infidelity is considered a grave dishonour to the perpetrator.
Food and Drink
Mujinese food primarily consists of lentils, beans, and squash supplemented with chicken, river fish and cervids and prepared with intense spices. The two most common drinks are Tsai, aromatic leaves soaked in hot water with a mildly stimulating effect, and Soju a potent distilled sorghum wine.
The Mujinese love of music is well known and both aesthetic and practical as they use music as a tool for survival in everyday life, with massive drums and haunting flutes beating out everything from the time of day to warnings of approaching mist.
Translated roughly as “water-tree-ball”, Muteugon is a distant relative of both [[http://www.aeldos.com/?page_id=181#harphan|Ossandrian Harphan]] and [[http://www.aeldos.com/?page_id=183#sport|Selenian Aphorax]] which is played on structures grown out of a particular sort of aquatic tree. In this highly vertical variant of the game players utilize hooked gloves to scale the tree while attempting to gain and retain possession of the ‘ball’, a fist sized leather pouch on a strap. Players are permitted to throw the ball between one another using the strap as a sling. Points are scored by a given team placing the ball in the goal at the apex of the tree. After each goal the ball is then dropped into the water below with the players following after and a new round is started.
The Xia are a highly respected class of elite and errant warriors who wander the dangerous country hunting monsters and criminals. In addition to being legendary for their martial prowess the Xia are rumored to possess arcane abilities, granted to them by exposure to the mist, that enable them to move with frightening speed and agility and even teleport short distances.
Shamanism, as embodied in the Wen, plays a key role in the politics and religious life of the Mujinese. Wen (alt Bó Wū) shamans operate on behalf of the general populace to appease the Ayr in various ways. They hold services to procure good fortune for clients, cure illnesses, or appease local spirits. Services are held for coming of age, marriage, birth, and death and Shamans are seen as the only people who can guide spirits to the netherealm. The Mujinese believe that spirits and local gods are a genuine presence in Mujin, inhabiting trees, sacred caves, standing stones, and other notable landmarks and these spirits can be both beneficial and malicious. As a result rituals to appease or communicate with them can last for days. Wen are thought to take on a portion of the gods, spirits, and ghosts they work with and are attributed special abilities because of this. Some legends even speak of Wen able to channel a portion of the Ayr. Wen are respected and consulted by all levels of Mujin society for their services. For their part Shamans show no preference to warlords over servants. Fees are based on the wealth of the client but the fee itself is not kept by the Shaman alone. A minor portion is kept to maintain the Shaman and the rest is donated to less fortunate members of the area.
- The use of intoxication, possession, physical pain, and altered states are common to the Wen. In fact, the first step in becoming a Wen involves spirit-sickness, a spiritual affliction which causes the nascent shaman to fall into a waking sleep, able to see the spirits of the world. In order to progress further the Wen must seek out and be possessed by a spirit.
- Wen are universally skeletal in appearance, owing to their staunch vegetarian/fungal diets.
- Wen are often gender flexible; taking on the gender of the spirits they deal with or are possessed by. They are sexually liminal beings and sex is a part of some ceremonies.
- Ceremonies: Fortune of the Village, Spirit Cleansing, Passageway to Death, Initiation Rite, Marriage, Healing, Fruitful Crops, Mist Warding, To/Blade Blessing, Role Assignment, Safe Travels, Bountiful Seas, Lunar New Year, Recovery of Spirits from the Sea, Shamanic Initiation, Appeasement of the Ayr.
- Wen and doctors play a complimentary role in medical traditions. The Mujinese believe that true health is a state of spiritual and physical balance. Imbalances or disharmony can be both the cause and source of illness and injury. The Mujinese have a variety of techniques for regaining or assisting in regaining balance. One example is massage and bodily pressure applied via the hands and feet known as Anma. Techniques are applied in patterns or chords that are intended to restore bodily harmony.
- Wen have an acute and arcane sense of their own mortality and when death approaches many Wen end their life by engaging in a strange tradition known as Mellification. The Wen spends their final days consuming only honey and when they die they are bathed in honey becoming mellified mummies whose corpses are purported to have curative properties if ingested.
Presence and Values
The people of Mujin know well the dangers of inattention. Letting one’s guard down in Mujin is a good way to end up in the maw of a Sucha. As a result the Mujinese strongly value attentiveness and the concept or ‘presence’ in all activities. This makes them keen and intuitive observers.
The Mujinese also espouse a moral philosophy that emphasizes Honour, Respect, Dignity, Propriety and absolute loyalty to one’s superiors.
Mujinese utilizes at least two distinct dialects; Formal or archaic language known as Goeo or Kogo and an almost entirely distinct conversational lexicon recognized generally as ‘Common Mujinese’. Most Mujinese are fluent in both and while they are functionally interchangeable, use of one term over another can convey different connotations. Both Goeo and common terms are provided below. (Goeo / Conversational)
Goeo / Kogo: Archaic language, often used in formal settings or by Lorekeepers.
Jan Gun / Yunfa: “Warlord”, the leader of a Yosae or Stronghold.
Bó Wū / Wen: “Mist Shaman” the heart of Mujinese religion and spiritual life.
Xiá / Ujia: “Errant warriors” gifted with alien abilities.
Sēng / Muni: “Monk”, warrior ascetics that choose to live in isolated monasteries.
Yāo Rén / Tsukai: “Sorcerer” or “Witch”, referring to anyone with supernatural abilities.
Qai / Kai: Honorific meaning “Strong” or “Triumphant”.
Ailuran: Semi-domesticated species of arboreal mammal.
Zēnjá / Rongar: “Scout” or “Ranger”, one who delves the mists. Latter term is derived from a legendary sub-species of Ailuran.
Osá / Yavan: “Savage” or “Barbarian”, often used to refer to non-Mujin and Ossandrians in particular as the former term is derived.
Jian / Geom: “Sword” specifically referencing a type of double edged longsword wielded by many Mujinese warriors.
Sucha: Dangerous and aberrant monsters that originate in the Mists.
Jyudǎn / Yosae: “Stronghold”, the centers of Mujinese civilization.
Mǎ Dāo / To: The name given to the specially crafted curved blades wielded by elite warriors of Mujin.
Yùlín / Og Sup: “Jade Forest” the name given to the vast and ancient woodland that encompasses Mujin.
Jī’è Wen / Angae: The Mujinese term for the Mist.
Huài: The concept of corruption attributed to first age artefacts which necessitates their cleansing by the Wen.
Mogaizhan: Semi-religious martial fraternities, dedicated to rigorous training regimens.
Oyamog: “Neck” or Boss, typically referring to the head of a gang or criminal group.
Trade Goods: Te, Precious Gems, Rice, Alcohol, Spices, Metals, Minerals
Mujin martial doctrine favours mobility and though they are renowned for their folding armour most Mujin soldiers use lamellar as folding armour is a rarity. Armours are frequently adorned or made to mimic frightening creatures of the mist. Mujin weapons include curved single edged great swords and claymores; curved longswords and short swords (lighter in design than Nehep); Sectional staffs and clawed weapons which can be used to aid climbing. More exotic arms like chains and meteor hammers are also Mujin in origin. Ranged weaponry includes both bow and crossbow. Shields are not common, though use of a secondary shortsword for parrying is.
Wind brings Duty as Mist brings Sacrifice