Riz Tribes is a broad term for the numerous, individual tribes that consist of both Rizlin and Rizkul, so it is not one united nation. All of these tribes live in firm settlements in the rainforest known as the Starless Jungle. These settlements coexist with the rain forest that surrounds them and adapt their shape to the environment, instead of adapting the environment to itself. Rizlin believe the Starless Jungle to be sacred and that it is very important to live in harmony with nature, or otherwise the dangerous jungle will reject them and kill them, like it has killed so many before them. This belief has led to the the scaled humanoids living in a primitive fashion and becoming rather superstitious, they even believe the Rizkul to be guardian of the jungle, descendants of mighty jungle spirits, and worship them as if each of them were a little deity, to make sure they will be protected by them. However, one should not mistake the Rizlin for weak followers. They are skilled stalkers and ambushers, thus feared by those who dare set their foot into the Starless Jungle.
Placed in an unforgiving jungle, the Rizlin half of the Riz Tribes are forced to base their society on strength and survival. The weak and sick end up being picked off by predators or even killed by their own Rizkul counterparts. Therefore, everyone in society has a place to be and something to do, day in and day out; idle hands are dead hands or hands that will soon have the blood of the tribe on them. Laziness is not tolerated by either half of the tribe. So, young, old, male, and female all are expected to have something to do, no matter what it is. The youngest members of the tribe are given tasks nearly from the day they can stand as a start to earning their place within it. When born, they take far more than they give, and they must start to give back what they take as work, even if it takes years. Naturally such a harsh environment does not allow for a lot of culture to manifest itself. While the Rizlin are great fighters and especially good at stalking and ambushing their prey, no matter if it is an animal or a group of humanoids, they are no militarists. They are merely survivalists. One defining trait of Rizlin culture are their strong religious beliefs about plenty of the Starless Jungle's aspect. More about their beliefs and superstitions can be found in the Religion category.
Riz tribes are not nomadic like the Truzlin, but live in firm settlements similar to the Sozlin. Although these settlements are placed in the horrifyingly dangerous Starless Jungle, they usually lack fortifications. The Rizlin are not insane, they simply do not wish to alter the jungle greatly. They believe the jungle to be sacred after all, so every tree they cut down is like a wound they put in its flesh. Thus Rizlin build their houses with caution, paying a lot of attention to making sure they do not destroy their environment. Usually Rizlin build their houses into the trees, using their strong branches for support. For outsiders it can be incredibly hard to find these settlements thus, as they just blend into the vegetation. Usually outsiders don't manage to reach the villages alive anyway and if they do then only tied down to be given as a sacrifice to the local Rizkul pack. Rizlin and -kul do not like intruders. On a side note: Rizlin also do not domesticate animals, because they believe no creature should keep another against its will. Hunting and killing animals is fine, because it merely frees their spirit, but trapping their body while its spirit is still within it is seen as a crime.
Each settlement is inhabited by a single tribe, which is the smallest social group among the Rizlin that matters. A tribe consists of a small number of individuals, never exceeding more than two hundred people, and is led by its chieftain, shaman, and local Rizkul matriarch. Theoretically the chieftain is the most important among these three, but due to the influence the latter two can have on the rest of the tribe, this isn't always true in practice. Each Rizlin tribe belongs to a Rizkul pack, which is led by aforementioned Rizkul matriarch. There is also tribes without a pack, but that is usually only a temporary state. A Rizkul pack consists of a matriarch, her subordinate females, and her male suitors. The males usually outnumber the females between 3:2 to 3:1. Each Riz tribe is its own sovereign entity and completely independent from the other tribes, which means that the relations between tribes can vary from alliance and trade to outright war. It simply depends on the actions of the tribes in question. Usually tribes do not come into contact a lot, due to the vastness of the Starless Jungle.
Sexism doesn't exist among the Rizlin of the tribe. Males and females have equal expectations placed on them; there's no roles considered "only for females" or "only for males". There are female and male hunters, female warriors and male warriors, etc. The pressures the environment puts on them forces equality of the sexes, even if one may be built slightly different from the other. This transfers into courting, as well - both sexes may initiate courting, rather than one or the other being the constant head of the couple. Courting usually begins at a young age before sexual maturity; there's no reason for it not to, after all, as there's no socially imposed "age of maturity". A lot of work is required to impress the opposite sex, generally in a show or strength or bravery. The most proving acts of one's strength are hunting large and dangerous creatures or undergoing a challenging trip such as exploring the jungle for days by oneself, which is, in most cases, a death sentence. The biggest show of strength is challenging the tribe's chieftain in a duel to the death. Anyone can challenge the chieftain into a duel to figure out who is the strongest in the tribe and therefore the best and most capable leader. Whoever wins is the new chieftain, effective immediately. While this isn't usually done to impress mates, it's certainly one of the most effective ways in getting one, considering attractiveness, ability, and usefulness all revolve around one's personal strength. The Rizkul matriarch wants to see the Rizlin tribe under her guidance to grow and thrive, thus she forbids the coupling of members of the same sex. Rizkul see it as unnatural and wrong, so they spread the same opinion among their Rizlin.
Not everything among the Rizlin is all work and no play, however. To ease tensions and encourage bonding amongst tribe members, feasts and celebrations are often held. A good hunt, a successful season, or a great year for Rizkul clutches are all seen as wonderful reasons to celebrate with various foods, drinks, and games. During a feast, everyone is expected to eat everything they're given with very few exceptions. Food is very common in the jungle with all of the fruit and game nearby, so wasting food isn't ever seen as an issue after a large feast; the only worry is predators catching scent of left-over food and coming to wreak havoc. Once these celebrations are over, it's immediately back to work for everyone. The only lin not allowed in these feasts are sentries, though the kul generally keep them well-guarded anyway; they take little interest in the fruits and roasted meat of lin celebrations. They just enjoy the attention they're given in them. Music and singing, outside of chanting during religious ceremonies, are strange concepts to the Rizlin. The Starless Jungle, especially its exotic birds, produce more than enough noise already, so there is no need for creating some on purpose. All it would do is attract unwanted attention to the tribe after all. Even art, even body paint, is also pretty much unknown.
Compared to the lin, the Rizkul half of the tribes is very relaxed. Nearly the apex predator of the rain forest, Rizkul can afford to laze around. The Rizlin have no complaints about this, however; if the tribe ever were to come under attack, the Rizkul are the invaluable front-line of defense and are honored as such. The Rizkul also do not really answer to the lin chieftain of their tribes, but instead have their own matriarch they follow across the jungle. The only real reason the Rizkul even stay around the lin is the fact that the lin hunt for them, essentially worship them, and take care of them; they sharpen claws, clean scales, and take care of the eggs and hatchlings (under the scrutinizing eye the matriarch and her suitors). The Rizkul have learned to love this special attention and spend a lot of their day under their care, especially the matriarch and any subordinates; the lin flock over her, as she is the largest and strongest of all of their beloved Rizkul.
As well as honoring the Rizkul for their immense strength and generous protection, the Rizlin see them as descendants of the jungle spirits, and therefore holy. Their blessing of protection and assistance is only gained by properly honoring and taking care of these kul, in the eyes of the lin. In fact, they even have a shaman for interactions with these great beasts, who has learned the best ways to get on the best side of the Rizkul matriarch (See 'Religion'). Occasionally, this Rizlin shaman and sometimes even the chieftain will ask for favors of the Rizkul matriarch, who then has the final say in matters. Her word is seen as law, no matter how frustrating it may be; after all, she can easily fly herself and her suitors away from the group of Rizlin and survive on her own if they displease her. Any Rizlin chieftain or shaman who manages to offend the Rizkul so are seen as horrible fiends that drove away their blessing.
To try and please the Rizkul matriarch, the Rizlin may also try and present her with gifts they find or create in the jungle; this may be jewelry made from nuts and plant fibers, colorful dyes for her scales, or just a very large favored prey animal. The matriarch is also generally surrounded by Rizlin who constantly ask if she needs assistance for anything. She usually ends up covered in favorite gifts from her Rizlin. If she feels like being especially generous, or if the Rizlin tempt her with her favorite foods, she may dye her scales out of vanity and show up to their celebrations to bless their festivities. These small things generally assure her the loyalty of the lin, but either way, she can usually count on it; it's only in outlandish circumstances that the lin will abandon the kul. This scenario generally means the dissolving of the tribe, as well, as no Rizlin will live without a Rizkul; they'll split and try to join other tribes rather than live on their own as one.
At the top of the social ladder is the commanding trio: the chieftain, the shaman, and the Rizkul matriarch. The chieftain is the strongest and smartest warrior in the Rizlin tribe, the shaman is the caretaker of spiritual and medical needs, and the Rizkul matriarch is, well, the Rizkul matriarch - she gets the final say in all matters relating to the Rizkul. Both have a lot of influence on the chieftain's decisions for the tribe, but in the end, he makes the final say, even if the matriarch decides not to honor it. Such an occurrence can lead to a lot of strife in the tribe, because the other members want to make sure that the matriarch's blessing and the protection her suitors provide is not going to go away. It is quite easy for the matriarch to get rid of an unwanted chieftain.
Below the leading trio are the Rizkul males, seen as mightier and higher then the Rizlin that follow. After all, the Rizkul males are much better at protecting the tribe against the threats of the jungle than the Rizlin. Their guardian status brings them a lot of respect and the religious admiration of the Rizlin. No Rizlin warrior would dare to claim he is better than a Rizkul, unless he wants to draw the ire of the matriarch and chieftain. Rizlin are sorted among themselves by strength and capability. The most capable at the most respected among all; those that bring back the most kills, survive the most dangerous encounters, and simply survive long periods of time. Sexism does not exist, as males and females are both seen as equal and have to fulfill the same roles.
At the very bottom are the scoundrels of society; the lin that have caused the death of other lin or failures of hunts, those that haven't managed to hunt successfully themselves, and so on. These lin are looked at as weak and prey for the predators that lurk in the dark. It isn't unheard of that a tribe will exile them, abandoning them to try and make it on their own, or that the Rizkul matriarch simply eats them to punish them for their deeds. The latter is primarily used as punishment for Rizlin that managed to upset the local Rizkul pack; a terrible crime in the eyes of the superstitious Rizlin.
Rizlin hatch unceremoniously into the tribe and are raised by them collectively, though most of the burden is put onto the parents. As soon as they're old enough to walk and work, they're put to some sort of task they can manage to begin repaying the work that's put into raising them. They aren't faulted for being young, but they are expected to pay back what's given out of respect. As they grow older, they gain more responsibilities until they hit adulthood right at sexual maturity (~12 years old), when they may take a mate and must act as a full part of the tribe's workforce and hunting party. Many other Threan civilizations would consider a 12 year old to not be ready yet for the responsibilities of an adult; most societies believe that adulthood begins with the end of the 16th year of living.
At first, Rizlin youth begin their work by gathering fruit alongside older Rizlin who teach them the ropes - what to gather, what not to gather, etc. As an adolescent, they begin to hunt and take care of Rizkul hatchlings' food and cleaning up after them. The tribe's hunters will teach them how to make and use a bow, how to track animals, and such. Most importantly, they're taught how to fight. The jungle is unforgiving and dangerous, so a Rizlin who does not know his way around a spear is a dead Rizlin. A Rizlin who does not know how to produce the items he needs to survive is also likely to die, so not only do the young Rizlin learn how to make a bow and arrows, but also how to make various other items that will help in the long run, such as containers out of clay, leather pouches, and similar.
Meanwhile, Rizkul simply crawl out of their egg and are cared for by the Rizlin, the matriarch herself, and sometimes, subordinate females. Rizkul males are raised until they are five, when they are kicked out to find their own tribe to be a suitor in. Females, on the other hand, are kept until sexual maturity. They are guarded ferociously by the Rizkul and the Rizlin very rarely get to interact with them compared to the males. At sexual maturity, the Rizkul female is then kicked out as well to found her own tribe or join another as a subordinate female. Some Rizlin may follow her in hopes of being chieftain of their own new tribe elsewhere, but the grand majority stays.
Rizlin are equally religious and superstitious. Each tribe believes in different superstitions and deities, but they all have two beliefs in common: They believe that the Rizkul are true descendants of the jungle spirits that both created and protect the jungle as it is now, and also consider the Starless Jungle to be sacred and to be the home of many different jungle spirits. Rizlin dedicate their lives to serving their holy Rizkul, essentially founding their tribes around packs of the wild kul. Rizlin will care for, serve, and protect the Rizkul like it's their sole purpose in life - and do the same for their sacred jungle . They permit very few into their jungle and those that are permitted most likely bribed their safe passage via trade. This is not all tribes, however; some disapprove of it and attack the caravans despite any treaties others have made.
As they believe the spirits of their ancestors live in the trees around them, watching the living, they are also extremely hateful and guarded about logging. They do not allow anyone to cut down their trees because they see the lost tree as essentially releasing their ancestor's soul from the safety of the jungle. However, if the tribes themselves need wood, then the shaman marks trees for them that they may cut down. Only the shaman and the matriarch know which trees are safe to cut down, but the matriarch doesn't want to bother dealing with things like logging.
The only religious figure living among the Rizlin is the shaman. They take care of the spiritual matters of the tribe as well as medical ones, as well as keeping the tribe together. They also assist the chieftain in any religious matters. Due to their importance to society, they are considered doing enough of a duty already and therefore are not required to fight and hunt like other Rizlin. In fact, they're prohibited to; they have to send out young Rizlin to gather herbs or small animals for them for their duties rather than go out themselves. These herbs and animals are used in sacrifices or medical applications, generally. What kind of rituals and ceremonies a Riz tribe conducts varies wildly from tribe to tribe. Some may throw sacrifices in gigantic holes in the ground, such as the Maws (See 'Starless Jungle' under 'Geography'), while others hang decorative jewelry on a tree in the center of their village, believing the tree to contain a holy spirit. Small altars may be build to honor whatever deity the local tribe has, but never do the Rizlin build gigantic structures. That would conflict with their ideal to keep the jungle as untouched as possible.
The first shaman of a newly founded tribe picked through his affinity with the Rizkul tribe the lin associate with. From then on, he chooses his own successor based off of his own best judgment of atonement with the jungle spirits and forest. This youth ends up being tutored entirely by the shaman. They're taught knowledge of the jungle spirits, the seasons, herbs, how to please the Rizkul, and so on. When the shaman dies, his successor takes over for him and chooses his own successor to begin the cycle all over again. The shaman is the best lin to go to when it comes to matters with the Rizkul for this reason. The Rizkul themselves generally favor the shaman and prefer female shaman above all, due to their own bias towards females. The shaman simply knows how best to praise them as the great kul they are.
Some of the Rizlin are specially favored by the Rizkul to protect and tend for the eggs laid by the matriarch. These lin keep close to the eggs at all times and keep watch, raising an alarm if anything they cannot easily handle gets close. These lin also tend to be favored by the matriarch herself due to the amount of time they spend together; the matriarch always stays nearby her clutch to warm it unless she's currently 'dealing' with her many suitors. The Rizlin chosen for the protection of the eggs are seen as holy by the rest of the tribe. Many shamans are picked from this lot of lin.
What kind of ceremonies and rituals are present varies from tribe to tribe, as mentioned before. Tribes do not have all that much contact with each other and usually prefer to stay out of each other's way, so there is not a lot of cultural exchange going on. Below ceremonies and holidays will be mentioned that all tribes share.
When a Rizlin dies, they are buried at a free spot in the forest and a tree sapling is planted above their corpse. Supposedly, the spirit of the dead Rizlin will live on within the tree, making it a place for the family members to think of their passed loved one. As trees, the ancestors keep watch over the jungle and their descendants. Some tribes have a slightly different belief. They do not think that one tree equals one ancestor, but that a single tree can house multiple souls. These trees usually stand in the center of their settlement and are treated with great respect, greatly taken care of, and honored with sacrifices.
If a Rizkul male or a subordinate female dies, the Rizlin just bury them. The matriarch does not care what happens to the corpses as long as they are out of the way. The Rizlin believe Rizkul are reborn, while the Rizkul themselves do not believe much at all. If a matriarch dies, then her Rizlin followers hold a big funeral for her. Foods and drinks are served, while the shaman conducts a large ritual to try and release the matriarch's spirit from the body in order to have it be reborn as another guardian of the jungle. The entire tribe will mourn for weeks. Their sorrows are alleviated if a subordinate female takes over, or when the tribe found a new Rizkul group to stick to.
Riz tribes are the least artsy civilizations of Threa. Neither Rizlin nor -kul sculpt, write, paint, or create music. Rizlin already live in an environment that's stuffed with vivid colors, beautiful sights, and where the air is filled with the song of exotic birds. One could say they already live in an environment created with art; art that was created by divine entities. And exactly that is what does drive them towards the arts in the end, at least towards carving and painting various symbols on totems, Rizkul hides, or sacred trees. A wide variation of symbols exist that the Riz tribes use. The fact their meaning differs from tribe to tribe makes it near impossible to give a proper list, but there are a few examples mentioned below. All symbols usually praise some form of deity, ward off some form of evil, or invite kind spirits.
As mentioned, the Rizlin love to draw their symbols on their Rizkul matriarch, trying to make her look her best to please her while also trying to bring good fortune over her and the tribe. For example, they draw large circles on her stomach to hint at how it swells when she's gravid with eggs, hoping these symbols will enhance her fertility and gift the tribe with more Rizkul males to guard it and more females to worship. Some also draw frightening images on the Rizkul, trying to instill the power of ravenous spirits in them. Only browns, greens, and blacks are used for these markings, so they do not ruin the Rizkul's natural camouflage. Usually the painting of Rizkul and other sacred beings or objects is done under the careful watch of a shaman, who turns it into a ritual. Religious ceremonies also inspire the Rizlin to chant and dance.
Rizlin do not wear clothes, not even some kind of jewelry made out of bones or flowers. They try to wear as little as possible, even keep functional clothes like backpacks and pouches to a minimum, just so they can completely and utterly rely on their natural green camouflage in the dangerous rainforest. Even body paint isn't commonly used, just to prevent that a foe or predator can spot the Rizlin in the woods. Again, religious rituals loosen these tendencies a bit and can be the cause to use dyes and jewelry after all. Some shamans richly dress themselves in what they believe to be spiritual objects to stay on the good side of the spirits. In a few cases this can even be a tribe-wide thing. A whole tribe could wear the same sort of tooth on a string around their neck to prove that they belong to a certain deity they believe in, for example. Other tribes may go as far as wearing parts of their deceased ancestors, thinking they will stay with them and guide them.
When it comes to food, the Rizlin certainly have an unfair advantage over the other civilizations - they are surrounded by naturally tasty things! They are practically drowning in sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter fruits, nuts, vegetables, and other kinds of edible plant matter. Then there's also the beasts. Large game, small game, fish - the Riz can have it all. Combine all of the aforementioned with the plentiful herbs and spices that grow in the Starless Jungle and the number of possible combinations to create tasty meals is nearly infinite. Yet the Rizlin nor -kul are good cooks. Rizlin bother little with the art of cooking for themselves, they just eat what's around during work or while they hunt. It isn't common to sit down to eat together outside of feasts. Due to their beliefs, Rizlin do invest a lot of time into studying just what their Rizkul love the most. However, Rizkul, especially the males, are simple creatures. Their taste isn't very refined and they most of the time prefer raw meat, preferably from prey they hunted themselves. When Rizlin do put effort into their own meals, then primarily into roasts for the entire tribe. They just take a whole prepared animal and lather it with a spicy mix. Rizlin actually quite enjoy to eat very spicy meals. It increases one's tolerance to pain, the Rizlin believe.
The Riz tribes have their own unique language, called Riz, which evolved independently from all modern languages. This makes it very hard for foreigners to learn it. It includes a lot of Zs, Ss, Os, and Es, which makes it sound a hissed and kind of angry, which just adds to the scary tales revolving around Rizlin and Rizkul. The Rizkul tend to actually hiss a little when speaking and expand their vowels more than necessary, forcing them to speak slower than their lin counterparts. There is no written version of Riz.
There are many Riz dialects. Some could almost be considered languages of their own even. Some Riz tribes have so little contact to other Riz tribes, that they developed a dialect over centuries that is very far from what could be considered "normal Riz", if such a thing even exists. The numerous different versions of Riz make learning it even more difficult. While a Sokan who learned Riz might be able to converse with those in at the north eastern borders of the Starless Jungle, he will likely be almost completely unable to communicate with Rizlin that live near the northwestern border, which it shares with the Gren Kingdom.
Because of their neolithic technology level many complex concepts, such as war machines, mills, or even brick houses, do not have a word in Riz. Usually the tribes either adopt words from Aez, Gren, Sokan, or Trez, depending on who they have contact with, if they even have contact with them. If they can't adopt a word from another language, they have to make one up. Saying stone house is rather simple, but a crossbow may be called flatbow by the Rizlin instead, due to how it is held when used.
Many of the proverbs and idioms the Riz tribes have are about their superstitions and the jungle. Common phrases are: "Turn the frog before you lick it." ('Be careful of what you do', based on a type of frog whose adults are poisonous but the juveniles cause hallucinations when licked. Adults and juveniles are kept apart by a red mark on their belly.); "Strangers are dangers." (Simply a warning regarding foreigners); "May the spirits guide you through the thickest brush." (Farewell); "Even scratches can kill." (Referring to poisoned arrows and similar, means that sometimes a small deed can have great consequences).
Rizlin only have a forename, as they do not have the need for a family name or similar. If they want to certainly identify themselves, they might give the name of their tribe. The name is given to them by the tribe's Rizkul matriarch. If she isn't available, this is done by the chieftain. Of course a Rizlin may earn honorable titles which speak of their feats. The naming convention for the Rizkul is the following: [Name] of [Matriarch]. The name is often something relating to their own feats or special body features. An example would be Sharpclaw or Quickfeet. Since it is the matriarch who names the Rizlin, this also applies to them.
Riz tribes are governed by a simple tribal system. The head of the entire tribe is the chieftain. They can be male, female, young, or old; it all depends on who manages to successfully duel the previous chieftain and come out with his life intact. The chieftain is both the absolute ruler and judge of the tribe; he decides of everything. Chieftains are kept in check via the dueling system, however. If a chieftain acts wrongly, he faces endless duels by angry tribe members who feel they can lead better than he can. It's best to please the others than endanger your life. Given how small Riz tribes are, it is not necessary to mark the chieftain somehow. The tribe members, at least the Rizlin half, usually know who their chieftain is because they know everyone by name anyway. Since it can still be useful to know at a glance who is in charge, the chieftain is sometimes given a special spear or some kind of head garb. It varies from tribe to tribe how they wish to mark their ruler.
Both the shaman and the matriarch of the Rizkul assist the chieftain in making decisions in his daily life. The former gives the chieftain spiritual advice, such as how best to please the jungle spirits. He may also try to predict the upcoming weather and events or give an idea as to how long the current chieftain's reign may last and how prosperous it may be. He can also suggest the chieftain's current standing with the jungle spirits.
The matriarch has a different role: getting her way. She may as well have absolute power over the tribe because her word is what rouses the Rizkul to war, defense, or for hunting for the Rizlin. If the chieftain does what she doesn't like, she has all the power to move the Rizkul away and abandon the Rizlin. Of course, any sensible Rizlin chieftain would avoid this at all costs. Usually, they do this by consulting their advice on any large actions of the Rizlin tribe. The chieftain still has the power to do whatever he wishes, but ousting the local Rizkul is essentially a death sentence; duels would be unending for the chieftain that drives out a part of their religion.
Minor factions among the Riz tribes are the individual tribes. Known tribes shall be listed here.
Rizlin tribes are rather primitive, that extends to military matters. They do not have a standing military, not even a guard, but rely on all their adult members to fight if need be. War itself is seen in a rather binary fashion - it is unnecessary or necessary for survival. Nothing else decides for the Rizlin if they go to war or not, merely if it helps them survive or not. An exception to this would be the matriarch ordering them to go to war, but because the Rizkul only care about surviving as well, these cases are dictated by the same binary process of thought. It is important to note that the Rizkul of the tribe are controlled by the matriarch, while the Rizlin are controlled by the chieftain. He is expected to lead his people into battle from the front.
Overall, Rizlin can be considered very good fighters. Battle formations, mass warfare, and logistics are completely beyond their horizon, but they excel at stalking, ambushing, assassinating, and dueling. The Starless Jungle has hardened the Rizlin that live in it, turned them into great hunters and warriors. Even professional soldiers will have trouble winning against the dexterous and agile Rizlin. Rizkul are great threats as well. They are naturally armored, strong, agile, capable of gliding from the canopies, moving stealthily through the woods, and also able to spit armor corroding acid! Even a large group of lin could not beat a group of Rizlin fighters and their Rizkul allies. If multiple Riz tribes were to work together, they could even wear down a small army via guerrilla warfare.
All items the warriors use have been made either by the warriors or other tribe members; when is about defending the tribe, everyone will give and do what they can to achieve victory. Bows with stone tipped arrows are the most popular offensive weapon amongst the Rizlin, but spears, hatches, and clubs covered in stone shards are also commonly used. Armor is never worn by the Rizlin, due to the lack of metal or hard leather to their disposal, the Rizlin charge into battle naked. The lack of clothing and even body paint means they can rely on their scale colors to hide in the brush. Their natural camouflage is extremely good. The warriors of the Rizlin like to coat their arrow tips in the venom or toxins of various creatures of the jungle, such as snakes, spiders, and even some frogs. Rizkul are covered in natural armor and have naturally sharp claws and teeth, they can even spit acid! They require no tools of war.
Through scavenging and more rarely through trade the Rizlin have acquired a few more advanced weapons over the last couple of years. Metal tipped spears and arrows, even swords and shields have fallen into the hands of a few lucky Rizlin tribes. They have no idea how to maintain these weapons, so their usage is usually short lived. However, Sokan shortswords in the hands of a Rizlin can be deadly tools. Instead of using them in combination with a shield and heavy armor, the Rizlin rely on their agility to use it like a short spear, weaving through enemies, dishing out stabs wherever they can. It is quite rare that a Rizlin knows how to properly use these weapons; they simply have no training with them.
Naturally the Rizlin know nothing about shield walls or firing in large salvos, but they certainly know how to terrify their opponent. Terror is the best weapon the Rizlin have, right next to poison and their accurate archers. An enemy who enters the Starless Jungle will be spotted easily and kept under watch from that point on, while another Rizlin warns the tribe. The chieftain analyzes the situation based on the report, then leads his people into a battle or not, if the situation doesn't require it. Hidden from the senses of their enemies, the Rizlin will stalk them through the brushes. However, the idea isn't merely to surprise them, but to scare them. The Riz tribes want that their victims know that they are going to die to destroy their resolve.
To accomplish that, they create noises. On purpose they rustle the bushes, throw rocks, or call threats in their hissed, angry language. The Rizkul excel at terrorizing. They spit small bits of acid into the paths of those they are stalking, force animals to run towards them, or use their scream. Whoever hears that scream will suddenly be very aware of their own mortality. It is a strange, gurgling scream, which makes one tremble in fear. By now the enemy will become paranoid. They have been bothered for hours, but not openly attacked once. If they aren't on the retreat yet, then they are likely suffering from infighting between those that want to run and those that think they are strong enough to brave the jungle's dangers.
Now is the time for the Rizkul and -lin to strike, no matter if the enemy is retreating or not. They trespassed, that has to be punished! On a designated signal, all the archers let their arrows fly. Most will strike true, hit their intended target and likely fell it. Those that do not outright kill will poison. Some of the poisons the Rizkul use even have psychotic effects, they cause the afflicted person to suffer from bloodthirst and anger. They will even attack their friends! The sudden attack is likely to have broken the enemy formation and cohesion; now the warriors can jump in and start cutting them down, while the archers end those that try to run or regroup. If Rizkul are present, they will shoot their acid upon hearing the signal, then just leap on the enemies from the thick tree trunks and start tearing them apart. Once every foe is killed - none are allowed to escape - the Rizlin scavenge what they can, then leave the area. The Rizkul will devour the corpses.
Rizlin would never consider what they do diplomacy. Diplomacy involves messengers, skilled diplomats, and holders of high titles. When a Rizlin tribe picks up communications with another group of people, it is more like a normal conversation. Most of the time the chieftain, assisted by the shaman, engages in diplomacy. The matriarch only influences the two before they engage in diplomatic talks, not wanting to show up in any talks herself. Rizkul do not like those from outside the Starless Jungle, so they prefer to limit contact to them. It is quite rare that the Rizlin conduct diplomacy; no one usually wants to and the Rizlin themselves prefer to not contact strangers. Everyone could be a potential threat after all. Caution is always advised, and most Riz tribes are simply outright hostile to anyone, even other Riz tribes. This is mostly the case because matriarchs are easily upset by other matriarchs settling too close to what they consider their own territory.
It is hard to pin down the relations the Riz Tribes have with other nations or even the relation between the tribes. Since every tribe is in fact its own separate entity, they can wage war against each other or ally each other. Both actions are commonplace. The same counts for foreign relations of course. Some may make deals with another nation to sell them fruits and drugs, while others raid their caravans.
With the Gren Kingdom and the Sokan Empire the relations are abysmal. The border between the Temperate Zone and the Starless Jungle isn't strictly set, so the Riz tribes sometimes clash with overeager explorers hailing from their two northern neighbors. In rarer cases it is the Rizlin who move too far north. There is multiple reasons for this. Sometimes they just want to scout out the borders of their sacred rain forests, at other times their intent is to hunt other lin and steal their things. Many interesting objects are carried by their caravans after all, so why not lighten their load and slit their throats?
The relations to all five Blazkul Hightribes are equally bad. It isn't uncommon that the Blazkul in the north invade the woods sometimes to try and get some of that pristine jungle wood. It makes for great longbows and weapon grips, so the Blazkul do like to get a hold of it. Rizlin and Rizkul do their best to prevent it, fighting the Blazkul woodworkers wherever they can. Only rarely do the Blazkul go on these logging trips, but if they do they have to expect being fought viciously by the inhabitants of the jungle. Diplomacy is nonexistent, desert dwellers are shot on sight pretty much.
Relations to the Sozlin are better. Rarely do the Rizlin clash violently with the shore dwellers that also happen to inhabit the shores of the Starless Jungle. They do not contact each other a lot to begin with, but mostly ignore each other. A few Sozlin and Rizlin tribes engage in trade, but they are an exception. At least the Sozlin also respect nature, that earns them the favor of the Riz tribes. Enough favor to make sure the Rizkul won't hunt them down to eat them. However, even the friendly relations can go south extremely fast if the Sozlin cut down the wrong tree or accidentally upset a Rizkul.
The best diplomatic relations the Riz tribes have is with the Republic of the Zule. Rizlin trade the various plants they find with the Aezkul, either for more refined medicine or bronze items. In some cases the Rizlin mostly avoid the Aezkul, but do allow them to gather the herbs in the Starless Jungle themselves. Not all Riz tribes take so kindly to the presence of the Aezkul. A couple of them believe that the rainforest extends beyond the few northern outliers of the Aezrikka Zule, and thus fight the Aezkul for them now and then. Rizkul-backed Rizlin hunters can be an extreme threat to even skilled Aezkul fighters. The Aezkul do not let these hostilities destroy their opinion of all Riz tribes, but try to figure out who exactly is responsible for them and then fights the appropriate tribes, or even try negotiate with them.
|Nation ▼||Relation ▼|
|Hoz Kingdom||No contact (hostile)|
|Monarchy of the Free Caverns||No contact (hostile)|
|Republic of the Zule||Mixed relations (peace - minor conflict)|
|Sozlin Tribes||Mixed relations (peace - minor conflict)|
|Treztown||No contact (hostile)|
|Truzlin Tribes||No contact (cautious)|
|Gren Kingdom||Minor conflict|
|Sokan Empire||Minor conflict|
|Wolshak Packs||No contact (hostile)|
The Riz tribes have no ongoing treaties.
The tribes do not think much of the people outside of the jungle. Either they are people the Rizlin exchange wares with, or people they exchange blows with. Either way, the Rizlin often to not think too well of these folks because for both of these activities - trade and war - they've to enter the jungle. Rizkul and -lin alike prefer it when the outsiders remain just that, outside of the rainforest. They only bring trouble and cut down trees. It has benefits to trade though, some of the tribes near the borders of the rainforests can't deny that, so they tolerate at least the traders and ambassadors of other nations. Not all tribes are so kind though, many just turn them into pin cushions with their bows and leave it at that.
To be more precise, there is two people who the Riz tolerate - Aezkul and Sozlin. Both are only interested in trading, but otherwise do not interact much with the Rizlin. Rizlin believe the Aezkul to belong to the tall mountains. Some even think they are like guardians of the mountains, just how the Rizkul are guardians of the jungle. Others disapprove of their high and mighty attitude, and think that they must be fiends who come down to burn the woods with their fire.
Sozlin are tolerated by the Rizlin to even live in the rainforest, at least at its shores. Sozlin and Rizlin rarely cross paths, but when they do it tends to end in trade or a fight. Both are tribal societies, both know how harsh it can be to simply survive and both respect nature for what it is. The Rizlin appreciate that, but some of their tribes are still unsure what to think of the Sozlin. However, the Sozlin seem to have lived in the Starless Jungle for as long as the Rizlin have, so who are the Rizlin to just kick them out? As long as the Rizkul do not call for a fight, the Rizlin tend to prefer to stay away from the Sozlin.
Gren, Sokans, and the Blazkul Hightribes are hated, because they cut down trees, raid the tribes, or simply hunt Rizkul and other beasts of the jungle for sport, leaving burning trees in their wake. Especially the Blazkul tend to cause trouble, which is why they are seen as the opposite of Rizkul, as spirits of destruction. Gren and Sokans do not dare trespass the Starless Jungle all that much, but when they do then only with ill intent. Sokans are quite fond of Rizlin slaves and the Gren beastslayers like to try their mettle against Rizkul. Rizkul and -lin alike will gladly gut them on sight.
Rizlin have a primitive, mutually beneficial economy. A tribe is a rather small group within which everyone has a high interest in making sure that everyone else receives what they need to survive and thrive, because it strengthens the whole tribe. As a result, the Rizlin simply share whatever they have with everyone else. Personal property only exists in the form of small personal trinkets, such as favorite spears, little pieces of jewelry, and similar objects. Currency, banks, and other higher concepts of the world of finances are beyond the Rizlin. Rizlin produce only what they need and use it to the best of their ability.
The land of the Riz tribes - the Starless Jungle - is rich in various resources. First and foremost they have great quality lumber, but even valuable ores such as gold can be found in their territory. However, the Rizlin do not tap into any of these resources. They only take whatever wood they need, only from trees the shaman marked as unholy. Since they do not know of mining or any form of metallurgy, the Rizlin don't even use the surface deposits in the jungle. The only resources the Rizlin do gather are fruits, leather, meat, drugs, spices, and herbs. The latter three can often be found exclusively in the jungle and are thus very exotic to foreigners, which grants them a great price on the global market.
There is no real variety or assignment of professions among the Rizlin and everyone who can work is expected to work, no matter their age or sex. Most Rizlin just pick up on something they find they are good at doing and become specialists in it. All Rizlin have a rough idea on how to do most crafts or activities; some are just more efficient at fishing, hunting, or gathering fruit. The most important profession is not chosen, however; this is the shaman, who is a specifically picked tribe member by the previous shaman. (See 'Religion' for more information). Professional merchants or scholars do not exist among the Rizlin.
Rizkul, on the other hand, have no real profession. They hunt for and guard the female(s) they copulate with. Some may guard the eggs their matriarch lays and will raise female hatchlings mostly alone. Rizlin do not even dare to ask to utilize the Rizkul for hard labor, but prefer to do everything themselves. A guardian spirit of the jungle shouldn't have to deal with things such as carrying wood for Rizlin huts or digging up useful flint.
Trade is primarily done by the chieftain. He or she is expected to, with the guidance of the shaman and the matriarch, negotiate deals with whatever other tribe or foreign merchants want to exchange wares. While there are no official laws regarding trade among the Riz tribes, the shaman will usually take a close look at foreign powers before allowing them to trade with the tribe. They could be mistreating the jungle after all and Rizlin would never want to trade with someone who harms their sacred rainforest.
When a tribe engages in trade, both parties meet at a designated spot. Location and time where exchanged via messengers beforehand. Tribes do not like to invite people into their settlement, because the more hidden it remains the harder it is to fight it. Once both parties arrived, they may show off what they have to trade and negotiate a deal. In some cases what is meant to be traded will have been relayed in advance as well, but not in every case. The chieftain, shaman, and an appropriate bodyguard will be present to handle the negotiations.
Proper trade routes do not exist within the Starless Jungle. The tribes near the borders are simply contacted by the neighboring nations. Establishing first contact is rather difficult - most Riz tribes will great strangers with arrows instead of words. However, once a tribe has been found who is willing to talk, things tend to be rather easy. Primarily the Riz tribes trade with the Republic of the Zule and the Sozlin tribes that settled at the rainforest's shores.
The jungle is lush with vegetation of exotic kinds; it is no surprise that the Riz Tribes trade away herbs, fruits, vegetables, spices and drugs. Especially the last two groups of wares mentioned has made some Riz Tribes quite wealthy. They only export them to the Aezkul and the Sozlin. Aezkul buy the various medical herbs to research them and to refine them into more potent medicines. The spices, fruits, and vegetables are imported to make their diet more varied. Sozlin only rare import food, they do not care much about a varied diet. They do important the drugs to spice up their festivities.
Riz tribes are capable of filling all their basic needs on their own, so the only objects they import merely improve their quality of life. From the Aezkul a few tribes important quality antidotes and medicines, because it helps them greatly in fending off the jungle's worst toxins and diseases. Rizlin may be naturally toxin resistant, but there is also some seriously toxic creatures and plants in the Starless Jungle. From the Sozlin they sometimes import salt, because it allows them to preserve their food. From both Sozlin and Aezkul they buy metal weapons. It has to be noted that the Sozlin can't produce themselves, but simply bought them from a third party. The Aezkul can produce bronze weapons themselves, but all the lin-sized ones are produced by humanoid citizens of the Republic. Rizlin important these weapons because even they know a bronze tipped spear penetrates better than a stone tipped one.
No ware is considered illegal by Riz Tribes. They buy whatever, as long as it is useful for them.
The Riz tribes consist mostly of the Rizlin. Within the lin, males and females are equally balanced. The young are the most populous of all; many hazards in the jungle make living past one's youth a very big challenge, after all. The average Rizlin tribe consists of roughly a hundred members, while the Rizkul group that resides near them often has around ten to twenty members. Non-Rizlin are not permitted to live within a Riz tribe. They are not meant to live within the Starless Jungle after all. In extremely rare, odd cases, a Sozlin or such may be accepted, but would require that Sozlin to be seen as a Rizlin in the wrong body, or some other superstition.
On the Rizkul side, the males heavily outnumber the females and are all generally very young. Males tend to die or fly off to new horizons quite often, leaving a space for a newly grown male to fit into. Within the Rizkul, there are at max three females; the matriarch and up to two subordinates. Subordinates generally are only accepted if the Rizkul males end up hampering in the matriarch too much or if there are far too many of them. The females are very protected by the males, nonetheless, due to being rather rare in general when it comes to being hatched. Not allowed to hunt or anything, the Rizkul matriarch and subordinates can grow to be very old in comparison to her suitors. The older she is, the wiser she is considered by both lin and kul alike.
Neither Rizlin nor -kul can read or write in the grand majority of cases. Riz has no script, so the lin or kul in question would have to somehow have an interest for a foreign language and its script and access to an appropriate teacher. For both to align is rather rare. The most likely candidates for teachers would be the Aezkul, so the Rizlin that are capable of writing, or speaking a foreign language for that matter, most likely speak and write Aez.
Overall, the Starless Jungle isn't very densely populated. There is a lot of space in between the tribes, which makes it less likely that they meet, and thus that they fight over territory. The rainforest also provides a lot of food, so while the tribes may be far apart, each individual tribe can grow relatively large given the dangerous environment.
A lack of specialized, professional craftsmen and educated scholars means the Rizlin only randomly manage to come across new inventions or discoveries. Frankly speaking, they do not care much about researching their surroundings at all. They merely want to survive. The environmental pressure does not allow them to spend their time idly thinking about how to improve a process or a product. Only one member of a tribe bothers trying to figure out new things at all - the shaman. Shamans often try to find new ways to receive visions (hallucinations) or to find ways to cure the ailments of their people. They have a pretty good understanding of the uses of the herbs of their jungle.
The Riz tribes are very primitive overall. They only use stone, wood, vines, and bones as materials for tools and their huts. Said huts aren't really complex either, but the Rizlin have at least learned how to support a home in the trees using vines. Metalworking is completely unknown to them, but they make pretty fine bows and arrows. They even use bird feathers as stabilizers and tip their arrows with shaped rocks. They are also well-versed when it comes to knowing what kind of effects what toxic plant or animal has.
Rizlin are only known to build two types of structures: Huts and altars. Their huts are shaped like orbs and are build into the tall, strong trees of the rainforest. These huts are build out of thatch, branches, and large leaves, which gives them the appearance of an oversized bird's nest. Ladders made out of vines and sticks lead down to the ground and platforms out of woven branches and twigs connect the trees the huts are placed in. That way the Rizlin do not have to be on the ground while they sleep, eat, or do various other daily activities. It saves them from any ground-bound predators that can't climb and also makes it harder for scavengers to steal their food stockpiles.
They are usually large enough to house around three to five Rizlin and rather bland when it comes to the furnishing. Only bedding, usually made out of soft plant matter or hides, containers for various objects, and perhaps a small altar may be present within the average living hut. Other types of huts exist as well. Some of them are only utilized as material or food storages. Others may serve as smoking huts or perhaps serve a religious purpose. Speaking of religious purposes, the Rizlin also build altars. These altars vary wildly in shape and make-up. Some consist of a bunch of rock slabs staked on top of each other with a special symbol on top, others use an entire decorated tree.
The Rizkul build no real structures and simply wrap themselves around trees to sleep or rest. Nests for the eggs are created by them, though, or their Rizlin followers. These nests are generally large woven branches and leaves in a specially chosen crook of a tree branch. The matriarch prefers to do the framework and most of the structure to be sure, but she allows the Rizlin to line her nests and lay the leaves down.
Rizlin construct their aforementioned huts in tight clusters within as few trees as they possibly can. That means their communities are taller than they are wide usually. Due to how and of what the huts are made, they blend in well with the environment, so Rizlin settlements are well camouflaged and difficult to find, especially if one forgets to look up. The huts within the same tree are connected with ladders and platforms made out of vine and sticks. All the clusters are connected to each other with small rope bridges that go from tree to tree. A Rizlin never has to touch the ground to move from one hut to another. Each settlement also features some type of religious structure, as mentioned under Architecture.
Rizlin do not know how to do complex woodworking, so they couldn't even build a wall around their settlements if they wanted to. They do not, as a wall is far too easy to spot and doesn't help all that much in the densely forested rainforest. They do place down a lot of traps around their home and mark them in ways that only their fellow tribe members could know. Common traps include but are not limited to: trip wires, that create a bunch of noise, alerting nearby guards; spike pits, which can have poisoned spikes or be lined with toxic plants; trip wires that trigger a log or rock to fall down on the person who triggered it.
No written history exists of the Riz Tribes due to their own lack of writing. The only pieces of documentation that do exist are scout reports from Aezkul and other species who talk about some primitive societies that have been living in the deep jungles for hundreds if not thousands of years. The Riz tribes themselves have any proper records of their history, only oral tradition. The accuracy of those tales is questionable in most cases.
The life of the Riz tribes has not been altered for hundreds of years. Everything has been the same - a struggle for survival. The various wars that have been waged just outside their jungle have never bothered them. Most do not dare to move deeply into the Starless Jungle and no nation wants to lay claim to it, so the greatest problems of the Rizlin remain the usual - predators, dangerous plants, other Riz tribes.