“Once were free. Our ancestors were once mighty warriors, and our empire stretched from the frozen waste of Marithal to the Poison Sea. It was a Golden Age of prosperity.
That was before they came. The Jandoshan, on their horrible warmounts. They drove our fathers before them like cattle, taking what they wished, and burning what they had no use for. The Linaos Empire crumbled in less than a year, our warriors slain, our homes pillaged… Now, the Jandoshan have all that was ours, and still they are not content.”
- Jin-tae, slave of Razxian
No one is really sure where the Jandoshan came from. Some say that they are the demon spawn of C’tax, the World Devourer. Some said that they arose from the blood of the Great Uborous, slain by the hero Tessen. Some said that they were the foot soldiers of Yinas, He Who Walks in the Dark. The Jandoshan themselves say that they were born of Vykrandia, the Wyrm Mother, sons of her consort Atas, the Demon Prince.
Really, it is immaterial where they come from. All that matters is that they are. They are like locusts, devouring and destroying everything in their path. Their society is based on the domination of the weak by the strong, and they see other peoples as inferior at best. In the last thousand years, they have swallowed up the Golden Linaos Empire, the kingdom of Bestail, and all of the Trackless Desert. They have enslaved all they conquered, and exterminated all who resisted. This wholesale invasion was accomplished by a surprisingly small number of Jandoshan: there are less than a thousand of them.
Their realm is wherever there are Jandoshan that can defend their territory. They are centered on the city of Vinxchal, which is held to be the capital of their empire. It is speculated that they do not handle extremes of temperature well, since though their territory extends to the frozen wastelands and the desert, the Jandoshan are reletively scarce there.
It is entirely possibly that one may run into one or two isolated warriors, far away from the rest. However, that does not mean that defeating them will be easy. There are, after all, the warsteeds to consider.
“Listen? Do you hear that? The beating of wings, the growling and snarling, the shrieks? That’s the sound of the warsteeds. Know that sound well, young one. That is the sound of death and worse. That sound means the infernal Jandoshan have come. That sound means that very soon, people will die. If it is one or two, then you might kill them, but you’ll lose men. If it is a raiding party, then all of your men will die, but you might be able to give the rest of your people time to flee. If it is more than that… then I charge you, as our finest warrior, to see to it that the women and children are dead before they come, for there is no hope, then.”
- Minl, Lorespeaker of the Keshin
One of the most feared aspects of the Jandoshan is their fearsome warsteeds. These huge, black scaled monstrosities resemble nothing so much as small dragons, down to gouts of firey breath. There is nothing quite so terrifying as seeing the sky blotted out by thousands of winged mounts, and well do the Jandoshan know it.
They say that the secret of breeding these fearsome creatures is a gift from thier primary goddess, Vykrandia. Other, and less charitable views speculate about unholy bargains, centuries of magical experimentation, and other, less savory things.
The warsteeds are vicious, unpredictable, extremely strong and fast, and always hungry. Fortunately, they’re not very bright, either, and a lone warsteed can be outwitted by the quick-thinking. However, since the only place one is likely to find a lone warsteed without a rider is well inside of Jandoshan territory, there is usually much more to worry about.
“It is said that none who behold a Jandoshan shall ever forget the experience. That is true enough: they seem to take pains to exaggerate their normal unnatural appearance. The trick is to live long enough to make use of this information.”
- Father Selan, Priest of Deneth
A typical Jandoshan is tall and almost thin to the point of gauntness. Their faces are angular, cruel, and often appear malevolent. They have very pale skin, which contrasts unpleasantly with their dark hair and almost black eyes. The few albino members of the race are even more disconcerting. Those who take a closer look can see the scales and claws every Jandoshan is born with; however, few care to get that close, and fewer still live to report.
They tend to tattoo themselves all over their bodies (especially thier faces) with wild, swirling patterns, stylized dragons, and proverbs in their native language. It is thought that the tattoos are merely painted or etched into their scales, although it is entirely possibly that the Jandoshan have techniques unknown to other peoples. Many of these tattoos are so designed and placed to make themselves look fiercer and more frightening.
“Do you see this? How could you even think about fighting something this glorious? Our mother has given us armor that is superior to anything you have ever seen and speed that is unrivalled. Our father has given us weapons that your feeble mind cannot even comprehend. Your army will be nothing more than a late afternoon diversion.”
- Ulthas, Jandoshan praetor
The Jandoshan somewhat resemble humans. However, closer inspection reveals that their bodies are covered with small, tough scales, except on their faces, hands, and feet. These scales serve them well as armor, and they usually layer more armor over the top of it. Despite this, they are remarkably fast. It is said that if you fight a Jandoshan, you will die several moments before you realize you are dead.
When fighting, the Jandoshan typically rely on swords and pole arms, but they have other weapons at their disposal. Their fingers and toes are tipped by sharp, inch-long claws which they will not hesitate to use, and many treat them with poisons before battle.
Perhaps a greater danger than the Jandoshan’s physical prowess are their subtler weapons. Many of thier warriors are adept at elemental magic, and use it to good effect. Others have made bargains with demons, and will not hesitate to summon them in the heat of battle.
But the worst scourges of the battlefield are the Scions of Atas.
“You know the Jandoshan are monsters that masquerade as men. They are the demonic soldiers of He Who Walks in the Dark, and have committed countless atrocities in his name. But the worst of them, worse even than those who have stolen Din’s Gift, are the White Ones. You will know them when you see them, and you must kill them quickly and from afar if you are to have any hope of coming away victorious.”
- Keishan t’Amos, Ikarani Warmaster
The Scions of Atas are abnormalities, even by Jandoshan standards. The Scions are albinos, with dead white hair and dark red eyes. What makes them so deadly, however, is that seemingly without fail, they are gifted with a variety of strange mental powers. Telepathy, telekinesis, pyrokinesis, precognition, or some other psionic or psychic ability manifests in conjunction with nearly every case of albinoism.
For this reason, the Scions are revered as children of the gods, and have unmatched power in Jandoshan society. If current monarch of the empire isn’t a Scion, invariably at least advisor to the throne will be. Male Scions are typically automatically made military officers, and female Scions enjoy high political status. All of the priests of the Wyrm Mother and her consort are Scions.
“It really amazes me, some of the misassumptions that are made about the Jandoshan. Everyone seems to assume that they are a patriarichal society, and that their women have no rights. This is far from the truth. In fact, the women have more power than the men, and most aspects of their culture are skewed to favor females. It is no coincidence that their primary god is Vykrandia, the Wyrm Mother, and that her male counterpart is only secondary.”
- Cayanos the Elder,
The Book of Conquerers
Jandoshan society is based on the concept of domination of the weak by the strong, and thus is very closely tied to military strength. All males are trained from birth to fight, and their status is based on their rank in the army. Females, while they can enter the military if they so choose, are typically expected to keep things running smoothly at home. This includes households, the government, and matters of economy. This is less due to a perception of women as weak as it is a lack of male interest in politics.
Part of this view is because of an unequal balance between the genders, there being many more males than females. In response to this, the Jandoshan have developed the custom of female polygamy- any given woman may have as many husbands as she cares to. This naturally results in a strongly matriarical society. Clans are headed by a strong female, and are composed of her husbands, her children, and her daughters’ children. When a female Jandoshan comes of age, she typically goes out on her own to start a satellite family, which in theory answers to the Clan Mother. In practice, they are typically left to their own devices unless they get caught doing something inexcusable. Males either live in the barracks with other soldiers, with their mothers, or with their wives.
“The habits of the Jandoshan deserve special notice. Few are born that are as nature intended: the Jandoshan agressively attempt to improve themselves, and constantly experiment on unborn children. Whether this is through magical or other means is not for me to say, but it remains a fact that it is done. This, coupled with the abominable practice of destroying weak and imperfect infants leads to a grotesquely high infant mortality rate…”
Of Medical Practices Among the Barbarian Nations
The Jandoshan constantly experiment on themselves, trying to improve the genetic stock of the race. In vitro and genetic manipulations are common, as are magical modifications. However, many of these result in miscarriages, or infants born with odd deformities and mutations. The Jandoshan, untolerant as they are of weakness, immediately kill many of these children. However, the improvements that succeed can result in juggernauts or absurdly gifted mages. Approximately forty percent of the fighting force is made up of these improved subjects. It is supposed that the Scions of Atas are the result of a particularly successful experiment that was incorporated back into the regular population.
The Jandoshan are reptilian, and therefore coldblooded. They don’t handle extreme heat or cold well, although they don’t have quite as much problem with heat. They also can’t handle rapidly fluctuating temperatures.
The Jandoshan are meant as an omnipresent foe: cruel, expansionist, generally evil invaders, with few if any redeeming qualities. They have a survival of the fittest mentality, and see non-Jandoshan as inferior and/or property. One or two at a time might prove an interesting encounter, the empire could be a background element, or higher level PCs might have to hurry to stem an invasion…
This is a result of Matan Thunder’s challenge to come up with a better version of the Melniboneans. This is my response, going off of what was listed in his write up and never having read the Elric books.