The inherent savagery of the Rephatians is barely held in check by a rigidly structured Caste system, strongly tied to the 'breed' of Rephatians.
This caste consist of the most heavily modified of the various Rephatians. In most cases they have been formed to provide analogs of various domestic animals as food and beasts of burden. They are generally the least intelligent of the Rephatians.
This caste consists of Rephatians greatly modified to provide more efficient forms of labour. They are divided primarily into two sub-groups - Artisan and Labourer. The Artisans are more subtly modified from the Labourers. Labourers have had their size and strength adjusted to serve different roles. Strongly imprinted with the desire to serve their betters, they show little independance.
The Warrior Caste consists of those Rephatians modified to provide advantages at war and in the Great Game. Most notable of the Warrior caste are the Tshagara - referred to by non-Rephatians as the 'Shark Warriors', though other types exist. This group has perhaps the greatest variation between the Six Nations of Rephatia. Warrior Caste prey on both Food and Worker caste, though in the case of the latter, only in emergency.
The Noble Caste is by and large pure-blood human, with little induced changes. Eugenics has been exercised to optimize their form, but no magic has been used to adjust this group en masse. There are individual clans which may have introduced some changes, but this is not typical. This caste includes virtually all of the political types and are all land-owners. Nobles exploit and occasionally prey on all of the lower castes, but usually only prey on Warrior Caste on rare occasions, such as after a battle or during the the Feast of the Great Game.
All but the most powerful of the Rephatian spellcasters are of this Caste.
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Mostly unknown except as rumors to the lower castes, this caste represents the height of Rephatian power. Unlike the Noble caste, these rare individuals have been adjusted to provide greater spiritual or magical power. Some have adopted truly strange and fearsome forms. This group preys on all others - including itself - but Nobels and fellow Trancendants only via subterfuge.
As already detailed, the dominate theme of Rephatian Society is their rigid caste system along with the institution of Cannibalism.
Within the Castes, Rephatian society is quite egalitarian. Gender is not considered a signficant determination of ones role within a caste. This is largely due to the fact that most of the 'breeds' are already specialized and that further specialization on gender lines is unnecessary. In the Food caste, all are eaten. In the Worker caste, all are employed. In the Warrior Caste, all fight.
Most of the Castes include numerous 'breeds' of Rephatians, each specialized for particular roles. Interestingly enough, all breeds can interbreed with each other, and with normal humans, assuming in some cases the physical differences can be addressed. As such none represent separate species, much the same way dogs have radically different breeds within the species.
The Rephatians are organized into six distinct nations, each with feudal structures and headed by an elected 'Monarch' drawn from the highest ranking nobles. Analogs for most noble titles - Duke, Count, Baron, etc, exist along with an established knighthood. This knighthood practices a code which mirrors the Rephatian society as a whole - adherence to authority and the subjugation of the weak.
All members of government, no matter the level, are drawn from members of the Noble (or Transcendant) Caste.
The term justice only really applies on matters within the same caste. The lower castes have no recourse when wronged by their superiors, and those accused of wronging their superiors are dealt with very harshly. In all cases, law is carefully codified including the relationship between the castes. Cases are heard by judges drawn from the noble caste with the exeception of issues between Food caste members. Members of this caste are little more intelligent then animals, so legal matters are generally beyond them.
When both parties are of the same caste, trial-by-combat is common and usually to the death. Selection of means of judgment is quite open, and whatever both parties will agree to is generally allowed, though combat is by far the most popular. These are often fought by lower caste proxies. This is true for both criminal and civil cases, with the losing proxy provided to the winning party as part of the judgment. Sentences typicaly involve fines, amputations, mutiliations or other corporal punishments. Typical sentences are eye for an eye type. Imprisonment is unheard of. If sentenced to execution, the body of the executed criminal is provided to the wronged party.
Diet Although now with a well developed agriculture, with wheat-like cereals and many odd vegetables, Cannibalism is firmly rooted in their culture. This is almost exclusively targeting the Food caste - higher level cannibalism restricted to post-battle, emergency or religious ritual.
Interestingly enough, on the odd times when trade between Rephatia and other cultures occurs, food items never seem to be a commodity they are interested in importing.
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Apart from war, one of the major activities of the Noble caste is the pursuit of the arts. Drama, music and visual arts play a strong part in Rephatian society, although the subject matter is often grim and repulsive to non-rephatians. Some Workers are employed in the creation of 'art' though not in a creative mode. Most Rephatian instruments are constructed from bone.
The Rephatians diverged from most other branches of humanity several millennia ago and their language has evolved in isolation. It is quite sophisticated with a very large vocabulary. Their writing system is a form of cuneiform.
Although their society is largely secular in nature, they have a pantheon of many bloodthirsty gods. As in their society, their religion emphasizes an unforgiving hierarchy. Interestingly enough, reincarnation plays a part, with the suggestion that to live well may allow one to be borne into a higher Caste next time around. Concepts of the circle of life are common themes within their religion. Human sacrifices and bloody feasts mark their frequent 'holy' days.
They are accomplished magicians with their greatest focus on the manipulation of life, both flora and fauna. Few areas of magic are unexplored by them, and numerous items and locations of power have been constructed. The Trancendants form the greatest of the spellcasters, forms manipulated to better channel and control the magic.
Ethos & Beliefs
Might makes right is the primary ethos of the Rephatians. The weak are to be exploited, and sentiment is a weakness. With the way they treat their own people, it is easy to imagine how they deal with non-rephatians. They believe they have dominion over the world and intend to collect, and to stage a rematch against the Giants of Stoneholt.
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The Rephatians burial customs vary widely from nation to nation and will often vary from what would seem obvious. Death by disease or poison is of course handled differently then death by accident or war. In cases where the corpse could be dangerous, it is generally burned, fed to Devourers or thrown into rivers. Unless the death is planned, the corpse is rarely consumed by fellow Caste members.