Uclain

Dominating a vast majority of Kardia is Uclain, tribal lands spread across the southwestern side of the continent. Geographically, Uclain is now shielded from its neighbours by natural land borders, such as mountains, marshes, and steppes, albeit some of these land-borders are more effective than others. Uclain did not start out as large as it is, having spread its territory across the continent by way of conquest; as such, Uclain is the most militarily advanced nation in Kardia, and many tend to fear them, view them as barbarians, or both. As Uclain is tribal, its overall culture and social environment is rather variant, but the Uclainian tribes do have a few unifying features. Uclain is bordered to the east by Efrea, and to the north by the tail end of Shuya. Uclain does not tend to pick sides - or, it is the reason the other nations are picking sides.

Climate

Much of Uclain is relatively humid, falling under subtropical and temperate climate zones. The northwestern coast of Uclain is relatively humid, but more seasonally varied. The interior of Uclain is notably less humid than the coastal areas, and there are a few zones of dry forest around transitions. In the narrow space between the subtropical forests and the Sagovax Steppes lies the Uclainian cloud forests, often shrouded in a dense fog. Much of the moisture available to these cloud forests comes in form of fog drip instead of rain, whereas the other areas of Uclain typically see a lot more precipitation.

Uclain generally sees very humid, sticky summers, and mild winters. Rainfall is often most heavy and consistent in summer, though some parts of Uclain see more uniform rainfall cycles, but always lack any dry months in summer. While the rainfall is often consistent, it is also relatively short-lived, as a storm may come by and be done within a few minutes to maybe an hour. Tropical lows from the ocean occasionally batter the coastlines, and once in a great while, morph into tropical storms and cyclones before making landfall. In winter, the weather is far less intolerably hot, and the middle of winter, in many locations across Uclain, see very little rainfall, and become very dry as a result. Brush fires and water shortages are not uncommon in the drier midwinters.

Culture

Above all things, Uclainians value power. This may be influential power, on a smaller scale, but mostly it is proven ability in battle or tactics, often both. While most other nations in Kardia view Uclainians as being particularly barbaric, they do have some civility, and value intelligence, just on a different level than other nations. Uclain's ever-dangerous landscape and wildlife mean that, aside from the warring amongst one another, there are plenty of other threats that Uclainians need to learn to defend from, and those unable to do so themselves need the assurance of someone else within their tribe that can. Those that are considered weaker than others are not typically looked down on, however. Every member of a tribe has a role to play, and each carries their own weight. None are excluded from contributing to the tribe's overall well-being, and in this way, the tribe takes care of each other.

Uclainians are not known for their well-carved sculptures or furniture, nor are they known for their paintings and mosaics. They are, however, known to leave pottery artefacts behind wherever they roam, and some of these pieces are rather quite detailed and interesting. Further, they may not make lacquered armoires, but they do carve wooden figures, varying everyday tools, and wood and metal accessories, such as hairpins, combs, sword sheaths, and similar. Some could consider these somewhat primitive in nature, but the Uclainians rarely want for what they have little use for, and what they do have use for, they occasionally make quite beautiful.

Music and dance, as well as oral storytelling, are hallmarks of Uclainian culture. All know how to sing, perhaps not very well to ears accustomed to the even, practiced tones of other nations, but this is perhaps part of what makes Uclainian music and song unique. All have a voice, and all voices join together sooner or later. While they may not be perfectly harmonised, and are certainly never even or practiced, it is their wildness that gives them some of their charm. No music in Kardia sounds like Uclainian music, except Uclainian music. Dance is both an art, and a form of expression, of both internal emotions and turmoil, and carnal pleasure. Most other nations find Uclainian dance often too explicit and suggestive, but above all, dance is how one connects to who, and what, they are, and creatures designed to reproduce is one of those things humans are.

Many in Uclain have a difficult time fathoming the concept of a god, or the structure of an organised religious doctrine. Uclainians do not worship, not in the same way. While they may pay homage and respect to their ancestors, those that have come before them, and recognise that a being greater than themselves exists, none of these requires worship, for life itself is believed to be enough. Many Uclainians routinely roll their eyes at Shuyans, who seem just a little over the top to Uclainians, but even Efrean religion is too much for them.

Education in Uclain is never very formal, instead, extremely practical. Those of Uclain are educated in necessary skills and abilities needed to survive, that is, combat, perhaps agriculture, hunting, husbandry, foraging, fishing, all things related to pathfinding, tracking… perhaps they may learn how to build shelters and fire, how to find their way by following the stars, but they have no need of maths and science. As such, many Uclainians are highly superstitious in regard to exact sciences. These things are overcomplicated for what they are, to Uclainians, but never has a Uclainian truly wanted to understand the universe. That is not for them to understand. Perhaps the smaller men with the larger foreheads can understand it, but the Uclainians prefer the magical tales passed down through generations. Never forget where you came from, after all.

Sexuality is generally fluid a concept in Uclain. The idea of heterosexuality, or homosexuality, is somewhat moot to those living within it, as they see no reason to put labels on anything. They like what they like, and that is all that is important. Further, polyamory is rather wide-spread a practise, and formal marriage is something of a foreign concept. Some may adopt it, but most just like who they like, and fraternise with who they fraternise with, and no one thinks about it too hard beyond that. The tribe raises children, as a whole, anyway, so there is no need to be exacting about which male in a tribe is a child's father, because all are.

While transgenderism is a concept that is familiar to Uclainians, they do not really have the technology to perform changes from one to another. Magical means of doing so are found with the ilim tribes, but it suffers the same pitfalls as the magical techniques of Shuya, wherein the biological systems do not shift with the physical attributes. As such, those that would prefer to go the full transition often seek out such assistance in Zetrium, albeit they used to be able to find assistance with transitioning in Efrea before the political hub-drub over the Paskia Desert. This has changed in recent years.

Currency and Trade

Very rarely will one find a Uclainian willing to accept druz. Uclain, on the whole, has little to no means of minting their own druz pieces, and even when they are capable of it, they choose not to. Uclainians are oft too nomadic to be able to keep a constant supply of druz available, and would rather barter-trade. Once in a while, one will find a non-native merchant willing to take druz, or even a native one that travels a lot, and sees merit in keeping druz on their person, but beyond these instances, expect druz to mean absolutely nothing.

Demographics

It is difficult to say how long Uclainians live for, or how many births and deaths there are within its borders, as Uclain does not tend to track these statistics as religiously as other nations. However, their natural war-like inclinations tend to lead to people of all age groups dying off, often in large swathes, every once in a while. The precise time-frame is hard to pin down. Uclainians do not typically have, nor use, any sort of birth control, so children can be assumed to be born about as fast as their elders die off, as outside sources say the general tribe populations have remained relatively the same over the last several decades.

Most tribes of Uclain are nomadic, in some form, often following herds, seasonal plant-life availability, traditional tribe migratory patterns, or just wandering where work is. Even tribes that are not entirely nomadic will leave and gather in the ancestral lands once a year, because it is tradition in Uclainian culture to do so. People disappear in the forested wilderness of Uclain all the time. Keeping absolute 100% true demographical data on Uclain would be quite the undertaking. In short: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Geography

Dominated by forests, Uclain is a bit over half forest of some form. The southern region of Uclain is primarily tropical rainforest, and this area carries most of its population. Agriculture is only practised in the larger cities within the rainforest, but foraging and hunting provides enough sustenance for the nomadic tribes. Further north, the northwestern coast of Uclain has subtropical and temperate rainforests. The northernmost parts of Uclain are covered by the Sagovax Steppes, which it shares with Shuya. Somewhere in there is the border between Uclain and Shuya, but neither side is entirely sure where the border actually is. It is considered neutral ground by most Uclainians, and Shuya tends to just leave well enough alone.

Marshland lies on the border between Uclain and Efrea to the south. Like the steppes, the line between the two countries lies somewhere in there, but few venture into these marshes. The ground is constantly flooded, with no clear indicator between shallow and deep water. Quicksand and wet mud are real dangers here, and it is very possible to take one step, fall into a hidden bog, and drown. Many have lost their lives in the marshes, but some say that it is just as full of buried treasure as the Paskia Desert, you know, if you don't mind removing them from dead bodies.

The interior of Uclain is covered by grassland and savannah, though there is some tropical forest in the transition zones. To the northwest lies the Paskia Desert, disputed territory between Uclain and Efrea. The cloud forests lie between the subtropical forest and the steppes, and is home to several plants such as bromeliads and epiphytes.

Government

Uclain is separated into several smaller groups, tribes that fall under the Uclainian header, and each of these smaller groups or tribes have their own leaders. Similarly, each tribe has its own leadership rules; where one tribe may be led by the eldest of the group, there are probably plenty of others that are led by the individual that is considered the strongest of them, while other tribes are led by the most intelligent, or a council comprised of several that match one, two, or even all of these descriptions. Uclainian tribes do not typically consider themselves allied with other tribes; they are just as likely to go to war with one another as they are another nation, albeit Shuya is protected by natural mountain regions, and Zetrium by sea (many Uclainian tribes are afraid of sea travel). At the yearly gathering in the ancestral lands, Uclainian tribe leaders come together, and may discuss varying difficulties each faces, but most are hesitant to discuss true problems, as they are not willing to look weakened in front of other tribal leaders. In most cases, these gatherings tend to operate more like insult contests than anything truly productive.

Despite Uclain's tribal leaders collaborating on certain, large-scale issues that Uclain faces, one couldn't call their government unified, as each tribe still operates however they want, and each tribe's leadership structure is at least slightly different. Due to the varying environments that Uclain is home to, different tribes have different everyday problems, and tribes in the steppes have no idea how to handle issues that crop up within the forests or marshes. Any attempt to unify Uclain beneath one banner, and form a single government over all the tribes that live within its borders, tends to end in a lot of disagreement, name-calling, and occasionally civil war.

The vast majority of the ilim tribes, most of which are in Uclain's forests, have nothing to do with the human tribes, and are their own thing, albeit they operate much the same way in that each tribe is led slightly differently.

Religion

Where other nations in Kardia have either an organised, dominant religion, or no real religion at all, Uclain is something of the middle-ground. In general, Uclain's people are more spiritual than they are religious, as they believe in a power greater than themselves, but also believe this power is unfathomable, and should not be placed in a box with a label on it. They view Efrea's pantheon of deities, and Shuya's Lady of Light, as all individual facets of the same Great Spirit that lives in, and of, everything and everyone alive. In much the same way that the power behind magic, spirit, accumulates within and expels out of, all living things, Uclainians tend to believe that "god," or the closest thing to it that humans can understand, does the same, that a little piece of the divine is within and all around everything.

Uclain's Great Spirit is in all people, in the rain and the storm, in the sea and the sky, it is in the dawn and the dusk, in love and in loss, and it is the chain that ties all living things together. All things come from the Great Spirit, and someday must go back to it, are both the Great Spirit themselves, and of it. Some Uclainian tribes have a slight ancestral worship lean, in that they may respect and pay homage to those that have walked the land before them, but the Great Spirit is that which ties them all together.

Technology

Uclainians are very traditional. Much of their technology is not of the flashy lights and sleek machinery style. However, due to the dominating wilderness of their territory, and their innate war-like tendencies, Uclainians have some of the most knowledgeable healers and doctors in Kardia. Most expect that award to be handed to Zetrium, but Uclainians have had to learn to understand the natural world, how it interacts with humans, and how humans interact with it, without the aid of machines. Not only can a Uclainian healer help remedy everyday ailments, but they can also help with more complex ones in ways other Kardian nations would never think of, and are capable of treating ailments that aren't rooted in the physical, such as depression. Not everything works for everyone, but to call their advancements insignificant or less than another nation's is rather incorrect.

Likewise, some of the best smiths and metallurgists are Uclainian. What Uclain lacks in skyscraper and machinery, it makes up for in very strong metal alloys, and truly battle-ready weaponry and armour. There is no such thing as a decorative weapon in Uclain. All weapons made by a Uclainian hand are deadly, as Uclainians, as a general whole, do not understand the concept of a weapon that is not intended to be used in battle. Even weapons on display instead of used, that could be argued to be decorative in nature, are kept battle-ready in times of need.

In contrast to the rest of Kardia, much of Uclain's weaponry and armouring technology are mixed with a little magic. The native ilim tribes have worked alongside Uclainian weaponsmiths to craft bows that generate off the wick of the user's spirit, using a single, often metallic, stick as a backbone, and firing magic bolts. Several kinds of bladed weapon and varying shields will also use its user's spirit as a magical augmentation, or may have regeneration magic woven into them.

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