The Maha'i

Geographic Distribution

The largest body of Maha'i population resides in the Niktean Wastes, in the southern half of Gallidus, and the plains immediately surrounding it, including the Savannah of Terztefr and the Forest of Shajran. A smaller group has, in the past centuries, settled in the Northern Gallidan Desert in a nation known as Gemsharia, and an unknown number are captive as slave on the Death Side of Thanor.

Map of the Maha'i Territory immediately surrounding the Niktean Wastes

Physical Description

The Maha’i are essentially humanoid, but are in many ways significantly different than any of the other races of Jenoa. Many of their features resemble what would be an Earth antelope: longish snout, long, arcing horns; protruding, movable ears; flicking tails; legs that end in cloven hooves and hands with two fingers and thumbs. Their bodies are covered in a short, thick coat of fur that protects their skin from the burning sun and irritating sand. The fur pattern can vary enormously from individual to individual, but it normally a mixture of three colors with various stripes: black, an earthy tan, and white. They are on average taller than humans, ranging from about six to seven feet, with a medium-sized build; you will not find a stout Maha’i. Given that, they are generally sinewy and strong, which in addition to their physical fortitude inspired some of the other races to enslave them in the past. They have an excellent sense of hearing, including ranges above and below human hearing which they utilize in their own language.

Maha'i-Human Size Comparison

Maha'i with fur markings typical of the Mawkhavi Tribe

Personality

The Maha’i are a very reserved, somewhat insular race. They readily do business with the traders that need to pass through their desert (the Niktean Wastes) – and, indeed, several tribes have grown quite rich, constructing magnificent oasis cities with large, rambling dwellings and ornately decorated architecture. For instance, the largest city of the Marqosian Maha’i, Jevereshk (administered by the Kathaara tribe), seldom allows foreigners within its walls; trade is conducted outside. The Maha’i are friendly and hospitable, but seldom flattering or diplomatic; they will host and feed you for the night, but are mostly terrible conversationalists. Though generally quiet with outsiders, when they speak they reveal a very blunt sense of honesty: to receive a compliment from a Maha’i is a significant gesture. Given this dedication to openness and honor, their art and dress are often very simple, lest they bring on criticism; however, Maha’i artisans, though relatively few, are renowned for their precision and skill in textiles, pottery, and sculpture. Patience truly is a virtue for the Maha’i, as their bodies can go for days without water even in the desert as they travel from oasis to spring. The cities are centers of learning, having libraries with a studied knowledge of the intricacies of the Jenoan sky, untranslatably beautiful epic poems, and works of philosophy and theology. Few Maha’i have travelled outside the lands immediately surrounding the Wastes, and even fewer have taken up residence there voluntarily (some communities of descendants of former Maha’i slaves exist in various cities). They reach an average age of about 80 years. They are also masters at handling all kinds of animals, though particularly herbivores.

Society

The largest unit in Niktean Maha’i society is the tribe, an ethnic grouping that often shares some identifiable physical characteristic as well as a history. Tribes range from the large and powerful Kathaara and Ledakkak to the tiny and marginal Mkentek and are divided up into any number of smaller clans. Clans, which usually include 50 but can include up to 200 or 300 individuals, consist of a head female (the one constant), a large group of females with their children, a head male, and whatever other males the head female decides to admit into the clan.

As a consequence of the selectivity of the head females, there are are many young males that are outside of a clan structure from the time of sexual maturity (Maha’i reach adulthood at about 12-13 years old) until they find a clan that will accept them. Some stay behind, having been seen as exceptional by their clan; for the rest, this is known as the Leavetaking: it is unlikely they will return. During this time they seek skills that will make them valuable and lead to their adoption into another clan, whether that be religious or magical study or strength or some sort of trade. The few Maha’i cities thus host a large number of unattached males seeking clans. They are allowed to reproduce under the direction of their adoptive head female only after adoption. Many of these unadopted males join together into peer groups that support each other in sustenance and companionship, although the underlying tension of each individual to outpace the others is always present. These groups have grown until the present day, where they have formed the basis of guilds, caravans, and, most notably, the luminary universities and seminaries of Jevereshk and Gtarrei. Every equinox, the Maha'i hold great concourses in which the males still unattached can display their abilities for representatives of many clans. Paramount amidst the activities, and a social requisite, is the Dancing: every male must present his skills, heritage and story in the form of a dance, which can be exceptionally long, athletic, and elaborate. The more tasteful and impressive his dance, the more likely that a high-ranking clan will accept him. Reproduction with other species is intensely taboo amongst the Maha’i of the Niktean Wastes, and any who attempt it are shunned. Even so, it has been discovered that Maha'i hybrids with other humanoid species are sterile, so it is seldom that any race and the Maha'i choose to mate even without the social stigma.

However, amongst the Freed Maha’i of Gemsharia, who have been outside traditional Maha’i culture for centuries due to their subjugation as slaves, a more liberal attitude prevails. The rigid tribe and clan structure is missing, and they have adapted the democratic system of the human nation centered at Hammerdine to choose their government. In most ways their society resembles more that of the other races than it does the traditional Maha’i ones, including the lack of a prohibition of interspecies procreation. Hence, one can find examples of Maha’i of all professions that travel in the north, and some of their half-Maha’i children. The Niktean Maha’i are not fond of the northern Freed Maha’i, as they consider them to have abandoned their customs.

Typical Maha'i Garb

Religion

The Maha’i worship several of same gods as the other races, with Pelor (who they call Teresh) and Ehlonna (who they call Ezderha) being the primary ones. Their theology is very different from the others, though, for they reinterpret the pantheon according to Maha’i familial structure, which itself is strange according to the other races’ estimation.

Because of this, the Maha’i see Pelor as the head male and Ehlonna as the head female of a clan; Ehlonna they represent as a white oryx – their version of her unicorn. This interpretation and representation leads them to consider themselves the children of the Gods, having been begotten in their image: they preach that the first Maha’i were the offspring of Ehlonna and Pelor. They also consider Markus the Noble to have been divine, an avatar of another son of Ehlonna and Pelor. While the majority of the Maha’i revere him as a hero, though human, a group known as the Order of Faris Attineen (Order of the Knight of the Dragon, or Farisiyeen for short) assert that Markus was Maha’i. Even more, they believe that when he revealed he was a God, the Knights of the Silver Dragons banished him to Arkenos as punishment for blasphemy and set another Grand Master up in his place (the one the history books record). Hence, the Farisiyeen preach that Markus will return in the next Dark Times, perhaps having cleansed Arkenos in the meantime, to purge Jenoa of hypocrisy and restore the population of metallic dragons (notably, most Maha’i believe in the return of Markus, but most believe it will be another of his avatars). The Farisiyeen are prevalent in the political elites – and form the majority of the religious establishment - of the city of Gtarrei, located west of the Niktean Wastes in the Savannah of Terztefr, while their headquarters is in the town of Markazi, where they believe the last Jenosian metallic dragon’s remains lie. The various sects of the Maha’i have a working relationship with each other with tolerance as its basis: they cooperate on common causes, but are quick to point out what they see as the faults of the others.

Another reason for friction between the Maha’i and other races is that some of the other races on Gallidus have taken Maha’i as slaves. Though this practice ended on the living side of the moon a long time ago, it still continues on the Death Side amongst the orcs; this is one of the grievances that lead the Farisiyeen to do battle against the orcs. (In addition, the dumber segments of the orc population confuse the Maha’i for their quadrupedal counterparts and eat them – which doesn’t go over well.) Most Maha’i also see the magical slavery of the chromatic dragons (despite their evil natures) with a degree of repugnance for that reason, and especially because other legends speak of the Maha’i as being created at the same time as the dragons.

The Freed Maha'i generally have adopted surrounding races' beliefs and religious practices as their own, creating an interesting amalgamation with little standardization.

Maha'i Mythology is an interesting amalgamation of their own legend and myth and that of the other races of Jenoa.

Maha'i History

Racial Traits

  • +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma
  • Size: Medium
  • Base land speed 30 ft
  • Weapon proficiency: All Maha'i have proficiency with the shortbow (including composite shortbow) and scimitar.
  • +2 racial bonus on Spot and Listen checks.
  • +2 racial bonus on Handle Animal checks involving herbivores.
  • +2 racial bonus to saving throws vs. illusion spells or spell-like effects.
  • Bonus feat: Track
  • For all effects related to race (i.e. spells that target a particular race), treat Maha'i as humans.