Ralstaan Customs
The people of Ralstaa, on the whole, are a superstitious lot, fond of their ceremony and propriety, and quick to take offence, or worse still to assume aggression, when slighted. At its core theirs is a culture that values skill and strength, and holds people to a high standard of physical and mental fortitude, though they remain open minded on matters of religion. But the Ralstaans are not without their quirks.

Monarchy, Ruire, and the Canonate

All authority in the High Kingdom derives from the Kings who rule the various fiefs. They in turn swear fealty to the High King, granting him certain rights, such as providing their heirs to him when they come to the age of majority, to serve as pages, and receive tutoring in the Canonate and at politics, providing men to his armies, paying him tithes, can answering his call to the Oercorast. But on the whole they retain the right to administer their fief, levy taxes, make war, and rule as they choose. Beneath them are the nobles, known collectively as the ruire, to whom the King dispenses rank, power, and favour in return for tithes and loyal service. Their role is largely a military one, protecting and policing his settlements.

Finally there is the canonate - the formal structure of the Temple of the Sun - the Ralstaan temple of Rallah. All Kings are indoctrinated into the canonate, and serve as head of the temple in their homes. The temple makes certain assets and funds available to them in return for their administering the church, and ratifies the worship of many ancestors of powerful noble lines within the temple, so that kings can use the temple to reinforce their power, and because it is a traditionally held belief that Rallah takes great heroes to her side as aid. As a result the largely monastic church has a slightly different tone, and set of beliefs, from fief to fief, and all Kings are heads of both temple and state, though no rule is also divinely ordained. Rather religion is seen as a central duty of kingship.


The temple of the sun emphasizes that Rallah made a sacrifice by ascending to the sky (alongside Erol) and leaving her people, and that she alone took upon herself the duty to keep the sun in the sky when the old divh abandoned the world, for the good of all mortals. The Ralstaans feel that this is noble, and so they too try to emulate Rallah's sacrifice, making the most generous offerings that they can possibly afford (and many that they cannot afford) in order to show their faith to Rallah by going without. Great wealth, and especially shows of individual wealth, are thought of as crude and impious, and even the wealthy habitually make generous offering - seldom to the temple, but by burning that which they hold dear. The way to support an ancestor cult, however, is to make sacrifice to the cult. It will then put the offering to good use.

Temple Virgins

In times of dire need, or great festivities, the Ralstaans also offer humans as sacrifice. Women of noble birth who do not stand to inherit land or title are often put into service in the monasteries, but some are not willing to or suitable for a life as a priestess. Other girls are orphaned and taken in by the temple to be raised. The maidens amongst them (those who remain virginal and pure) are kept in the local monastery, in the finest fashion possible, allowed to show wealth and enjoy position, as temple virgins. These girls live in the best manner the monastery can keep them, until time is needful, when they are drugged against all sensation and burned, alive and unconscious, upon a ritual pyre. Becoming a tiny earthly sun themselves.


The Ralstaans have, for a very long time, believed that long hair is a symbol of power and potency and strength. Great warriors grow their manes down to their waists, and braid bands of copper or brass into them to keep them strong, and a warrior must take care with the length of his hair, for it is a boast he must regularly prove. But it is not only might at arms that warrants such a display, merely power. Thus a king would wear his hair long, and no one at his court would be permitted to wear theirs longer. Similarly a ruire might do the same, as might a magician (though they often downplay their power so as not to attract the ire of already suspicious warriors) and a woman who is of age to bare children, or one who has done so, might do the same (as well as those who wield power). Children, the elderly, the poor, and the lowly are expected to keep their hair cropped short or even shaven, as they are weak and have little strength or rank. This does not mean they are inferior, merely that they respect their betters.


Criminals, or those that have done wrong or crossed the wrong man are often scalped (if they are allowed to live) to show that they have gravely dishonoured themselves. Many are immediately treated, to ensure that they survive with their shame. One who did not prove as worthy an opponent as their wearing their hair might state is likely to be scalped, while one who puts up a good fight but is bested might find his hair merely cut, while Ralstaan knights routinely take scalps as trophies, wearing them as intricately braided belts over one shoulder and wrapped around the waist.

Age of Majority

In Ralstaa men and women are though to come of age around fifteen, though formally it is on the advent of their fifteenth birth-month that they formally pass into manhood or womanhood. If a woman has not bled by fifteen it is thought to be a sign that she is chosen to serve as a temple virgin, and she is sent to the local temple (unless she hails from a community less observant of the temple of the sun). While men and women can be promised in marriage, often from around the age of eleven, they will usually not be married, or expected to reproduce, until the age of fifteen. Usually passing from childhood to adulthood is marked by a small ceremony performed by the local priestess or elder, but children usually do not leave the family home until the arrangements are made for them to raise families of their own - usually a year after the birth of their first child.

Birth Months

Ralstaans do not commemorate the day of their birth annually, but the last day of each month is a feast day, celebrating all of those born on that month, and espousing the virtues of the greatest and most accomplished amongst their number, one of whom is usually singled out to be the guest of honour at a single feast.


There are two ways a commoner can live in Ralstaa, either within a fief, or outside of it. While fiefs might have borders they respect amongst one another, they only control select settlements within these regions, and the lands these settlements survey. Other settlements are called 'free hamlets' and have neither the protection of, nor bow to the rule of, a king. A free hamlet can more or less own whatever it can hold, while only a king or ruire can own land in a fief's sphere of influence. Property like tools, furnishings, animals and the like can be owned by artisans and citizens, while villeins are serfs, and own only property allowed them by their lord.

A King's Rights

A king is though to own everything - including people of any rank - that reside in his kingdom. Thus he can claim anything he wants, from goods, to property, to people, for as long as he wants. Kings have used this to set various precedents in their fiefs for properties or resources that they have exclusive rights to, from the exclusive right to trade resources found in a ruire's domain, to prima nocta.


A parent of property has the right to choose an heir from amongst his children, and until an heir is nominated any property will be divided evenly amongst all children. This places pressure on a king to elect an heir hurriedly, lest his fief dissolve amongst all possible heirs. The Ralstaans are unique in that their Divhi is female, and so there is no preference for male or female heirs. This means that in any noble pairing all property is assumed to belong to the individual of greater rank, with those of equal standing deferring to a nominated heir. It is almost unprecedented for two nominated heirs to wed, thus the right to nominate an heir is always with one parent.


The Ralstaans have relatively little time to indulge themselves in their lives, but the tohls of the knives are filthy places, and to wash oneself is a happy escape. Meanwhile more sinister vices also abound.

Public Baths

The Ralstaans have long kept a policy of frequenting public bath houses rather than bathing in their own homes, though these establishments can be prohibitively expensive, so as to completely exclude the poor, and ensure that mere artisans can never share a bath with even the most minor of noblemen. The bathhouse is traditionally a place, like the temple, where enmities are set aside, and to speak of business is considered the height of bad manners in these places of rest.


Cloud dens are also unfortunately common in Ralstaa, especially in the northern cities. Cloud is a hallucinogen smoked from a long hookah derived from the same devil weed as the vision pipes of the Ghan mystics, but without the lore of the mystics the Ralstaans make a horribly addictive drug that breeds lethargy and dependence. Many a successful artisan has found business and family lost to him after a mere kiss of the cloud.


Men and women have equal standing in Ralstaa, but there is a distinction between their roles. Women can rule, without an eyelid batted, and if they are a nominal heir then marriage will not strip them of any rights or property, but women are generally considered to make poor warriors. While there is a history of women knights bucking the system, being a warrior in Ralstaa is to be constantly tested, so that the weak, or even the unremarkable, do not survive to full knighthood. Since the Ralstaans so celebrate their knights, and only knights are allowed to found dynasties, male rule is slightly more common. Women are on equal footing with men as courtiers, artisans, and in other posts.

Fashion, etiquette, and social circles remain heavily segregated between men and women, but there is no real difference in terms of social or political power wielded.

The Priesthood

One place of imbalance is within the canonate. Even though a king of either sex is the head of the temple in his fief, and heroes entitled to cults are more often male than female, women are thought of as closer to Rallah than men. The ability to give life in women is more celebrated than a man's ability to take it, and so the priesthood is exclusively female by temple law, save for an allowance for male tutors at the canonate itself. Men can serve the temple, either as tradesmen, warriors, or even missionaries, but they will not become members, nor be allowed to enter a monastery.


Marriage amongst the common folk is a partnership between a man and woman, negotiated by their respective families, as a method to continue a genealogy and pass on property, and more importantly work. Amongst the nobility it can be used to strengthen alliances, with shared blood and to have the ear of a higher ranking nobleman.


Often marriages are negotiated when children are around the age of eleven, usually it is frowned upon to betroth any individuals more closely related than first cousins. The betrothal will include the terms of the marriage contract, and nominate an individual (priestess or elder) who will now arbitrate the marriage should either family's fortunes wax or wane substantially prior to the marriage.

Marriage Contracts and Dowries

Marriage contracts usually try to present partners as equal to one another, thus if one partner is of lesser standing it is traditional for the family of the lesser partner to make an offering of some sort to dowry compensate for the shortfall. This is usually agreed at the time of betrothal and not marriage, and whatever is promised must be delivered, regardless of the promiser's change in fortunes in the intervening time between betrothal and marriage. A woman who can be proven to not be a maiden going into her marriage might be expected to pay a greater dowry (or lessen that demanded), and one who has already borne children even more so.

Royal Polygamy

A king (of either sex), or in some fiefs a ruire, can take multiple spouses if they wish, but these spouses must be drawn from a house of lesser rank than themselves. A king who wishes to marry from the house of another king may only marry once. This is often used to reaffirm alliances with all of the ruire in a given fief, by taking a wife from each, and also allows for love matches in many lands (if not exclusive ones).

The Ceremony

The ceremony involves making substantial offerings of goods to a ritual fire, sometimes at the marriages of kings a temple virgin will be offered, followed by the husband and wife being bound together by the hands. They will remain bound until the marriage is consummated, whereupon a ring is place on the thumbs of the bound hands (usually the left for a man and right for a woman) to remind them that they remain, at least symbolically, tied. The ceremony is conducted by the priestess or elder who arbitrated the betrothal, and is followed by a feast in which husband and wife may only use their partner's hand, not their own.


After the marriage ceremony and feast, the husband and wife retire to a curtained bed, where the bedding ceremony demands the marriage be consummated before it is recognized. Once this is complete and the arbitrator inspects the bride, and the rest of the night is spent in drinking and dancing and celebration.


A marriage that does not bear fruit - that is to say does not result in a child - after five years can be dissolved by either party, with no ceremony or acknowledgement by an outside party. All dowries must be repaid in full.

Religious Tolerance

Generally the Ralstaans are very open to other faiths, asking that outsiders and adherents respects the political and social role of the temple more than the spiritual one. They will not enforce their beliefs on anyone outside of the noble houses. The noble houses however are required by the high king's law to adhere fully and exclusively to the temple, and promote it at every opportunity.

Ancestor Worship

Ancestor worship is considered a part of the temple of the sun, though the canonate do not administer it, and each cult has its own unique beliefs, practices, and ceremonies. Being in a noble house does not guarantee the canonate will allow a house cult however. First the ancestor (usually a founder) the house wishes to worship must be recorded in the Hall of Heroes by the priests for some great feat in the service of temple or state, and second they must petition the canonate for permission to found a cult. No new cults have been permitted in nearly two centuries. Priestesses may never also be members of an ancestor cult, leading them to adopt their own clergy (which can include men), though often a noble family will limit worship in the cult to just their own house, or their house and their retainers. Others will allow all citizens and villeins to worship within the cult.

Spirit Worship

Worship of the elemental spirits, in such a wild land, is a very common and understandable form of alternative worship, and especially in free hamlets the temple of the sun embraces such alternative thought, except where it proves aggressive in its beliefs. Often they will even allow adherents of spirit cults to also attend the temple of the sun, reasoning that Rallah as the sun is not so different from an elemental now herself, but such unions can only occur of the individual proclaims Rallah the greatest amongst the spirits, and never amongst members of the canonate such as priestesses.

Other Landsmen Divh

The old divh are unpopular, and largely unknown in Ralstaa, but the other landsmen divh are acknowledged by the temple of the sun. Calling to one of Rallah's brothers alongside Rallah in matters of their speciality is perfectly acceptable, and temples will usually include a room with shrines to Haedra, Marn, and Galli, often with a separate shrine devoted to Erol. Though the Ralstaans recognize Nod as dead, they do also have a place to venerate him, which also seems to be subconsciously designed to appease the old divh. The Dunsain of Craigbyrn, Byrnham and Blackstone, however, venerate the horned divhi Rosker.

Tourney and Bloodsport

The knights of Ralstaa, man for man, truly may be the finest warriors in the world, and the tourney is for the most part responsible for this. Ralstaans take battle seriously, and they believe a man, especially one of noble birth, must earn his worth. As a result, what other cultures might leave for slaves or gladiators, Ralstaa assigns to its finest noble sons. When knights compete at tourney battles are frequently to first blood, or until one party concedes, but the vast majority of tourneys are fought to the death. This means that each and every knight who takes the field can claim to be undefeated, by virtue merely of being alive. These are not affairs of decorum or honour, but rather desperate, ruthless, bloody contests of life or death. While some young knights feel it best to show a more experienced opponent mercy, this earns them his scalp, and death holds less shame than scalping. Understandably, even the most seasoned knight only competes in a few tourneys in his life, but these are enough to test him against some of the world's finest, and see him victorious, or dead.

Matters of Honour

When a challenge to duel is made over a matter of honour this is quite different. Challengees are free to nominate a champion, but a challenger must always fight himself, making issuing a challenge a dangerous (but still common) affair. These can be fought for stakes, but usually they are to the death matters, however in matters of honour strict martial decorum must be followed, and the result of the duel does not stand (and often it must be refought by the dueller's seconds) should any minor infraction occur. Once the duel is over and the winner chosen no warrior would even thing to broach the offence again. It is settled. Poor losers oft find themselves skewered by the spear-armed overseers to spare them the shame of being seen griping.

Falling on the Sword

A knight who fails in his duty, either by receiving mercy when it was dishonourable, committing a crime, betraying his lord, or some act of cowardice, is expected to fall on his sword. This means that the knight's own sword is mounted, levelled at his breast, and he must impale himself upon it until the wound meets the hilt. To save face he must do this before his death without crying out or hesitating, but a knight who has cared for his warsword finds this relatively simple. Lleweith knights have allowed a fellow knight to step forward to care for the knight’s honour by beheading him should he be about to hesitate or cry out, but most other cultures consider this new tradition weak. Usually the knight is scalped immediately before falling upon his sword and his scalp burned. The scalping is a universal trait, but knights who belong to knightly orders usually have their own tradition, but it still goes by the name ‘falling on the sword’ regardless of the actual method.


To the Ralstaans death is not a very solemn affair. Once a person is dead the soul departs the body, going to find its way through the land of dust and shadows to the hall of its ancestors, guided by the second light of Rallah - that she casts into the otherwise black afterlife to guide only her chosen people. The body is then no more than meat, and is burned as an offering to Rallah with little sentiment. All it possesses go to its heir or, in the absence of heir or spouse, the individual's lord. Some spirit cults offer the body to the beasts of the land to nourish them, digging shallow carnal pits where large carnivores of scavengers gather.


Honourable warriors who fall in battle have their swords taken and buried in the ground in the swordyard of their lord. These are places of great significance and veneration amongst the Ralstaans, and to disturb a sword in a swordyard is unthinkable. Many who wander the yards, in awe, able to recite the histories of near every warrior whose weapon stands there. Usually these are founded on the sites of great victories or admirable battles for that lord's house.