The Masked

The Masked are a people who have lived under a tradition of forsaking their own humanity, though the specific reasons have been lost to time. This rejection is most visibly manifested by the wearing of masks. Different tribes wear different masks following a variety of local traditions, with the only reliable detail being that the masks represent a separation from the nebulous concept of “human.” Masks can be helmets, face masks, cloth strips, tattoos, body paint, scarification, fleshweave modifications, or even thick cosmetics, and can conceal the whole head or simply add or enhance patterns on the face. Many tribes also go to various lengths to conceal the humanity of their body and behavior, but this is not universal. The masks that tribes hide behind determine a great deal about their culture, but three overall forms are most common: Beast, Hive, and Lithic.

The Beast Masked are the most notorious, but are not the most populous. Their masks represent various beasts, usually predators, and they usually dwell in relatively primitive bands in jungles and other heavily-forested terrain, subsisting on hunting and gathering and occasional raids. They are known for favoring clawed weapons, primal magic, stealth, and ambushes, and are notoriously superstitious. They are known for being savage, violent, and unpredictable, but very loyal and caring warriors, so they are often sought for military alliances, if only to ensure that they will not be enemies. While the masked are otherwise universally blond, on rare occasions one is born with vibrant red hair. These children are treated as living omens, and are usually either left to die of exposure or trained as spell casters or spirit-talkers, and often become a driving force in the tribes’ activities.

Hive Masked have patterned their behaviors on colony animals, usually insects such as bees, ants, wasps, or termites, and have developed complex societies to reflect their totems. They create communal villages, cities, and even kingdoms, usually focused on agriculture – some believe they were the first humans to utilize agriculture – which they have mastered to a fuller extent than any other culture. This has made them the most populous of the Masked and the most likely to associate with other cultures. While many assume that the Hive Masked must lead dreary lives, they have a great many festivals, concerts, sports, and other group-oriented activities, though they produce very little that can be enjoyed privately, such as books, portraits, and other pocketable items. Their masks are usually practical affairs; either adapted to be useful tools for their work, such as protecting or shading their eyes, or are simply tattooed on. Their settlements are masterfully efficient, practical, but also complex and beautiful, with lots of swirling or geometric patterns.

The Lithic Masked are less populous than their Hive brethren, but have at least as much impact on the world at large. The Lithics reject not only humanity, but organic life itself, and consider their existence as organic beings to be a curse and all other such life to be an infection on the pristine world. While they are ambivalent about spirits, they feel that the ideal state for sentience is elemental, and their civilization is built on the dream of obtaining a pure and perfect state as living stone, metal, crystal, or even fire, sterile water, unmelting ice, or untaintable air. To this end, Lithics mask themselves with metal plates, mica dust, magical crowns of flame, veils of crystal beads, and so on. Some even manage to partly transform their faces, replacing skin with scale-like plates of minerals. The most powerful and accomplished are rumored to have obtained the secret to obtaining inorganic bodies, or to be near to it, but if so they are hiding it from their fellows for reasons unknown. Despising life of all sorts on principal, Lithics do their best to keep it out of sight. Their cities are made of stone or clay and eerie statuary of geometric or fluid shapes replace trees and parks. Fountains, glasswork, and other inorganic art fills their sterile streets with motion and color, and ornate writings and design can be found everywhere, perhaps to stave off the gloom. Food, healthcare, hygiene, and children – the unavoidable requirements of life – are treated as a quiet shame, hidden from the streets, and never spoken of without true need, not even in jest or insult. Such matters are usually assigned to a single class of people; the lower class, slaves, or a class of “others” who are kept ritually purified. Raiding, slavery, and trade are all common means of minimizing the exposure or organic needs, but some clans find self-efficiency better allows them to avoid the unmistakably organic lifestyles of other peoples.

Masked of all traditions are usually blond, or, rarely, red-haired, have green or gray eyes, and pale to light-tan skin. Because their culture is based on the rejection of humanity, however, even the Lithics will quickly adopt anyone who dons a mask and takes up their traditions as one of their own, at least once they have proven themselves.

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The Masked

Jalan: Mysteries of the Haunted World Incenjucar