Near-human nomads, once native to the Western plains. With the advent of the rail lines and the subsequent rush of expansion the Thirteen Tribes of the Kebah-Di'i found themselves under constant pressure from private militaries, merchant companies, and missionaries of the Faith. Faced with the inevitable destruction of their people the Hierophant Shamans of each tribe met for long palaver on the holy site atop circle hill. When they emerged from palaver after 17 days and nights of deliberation, the Shamans announced that they had divined a message from the White Sand God, patron of their race. The White Sand God, claimed the Hierophants, had revealed himself as an aspect of the Deity. The changes to come would be confusing for the People, but they would also be holy.
After the Long Palaver, most Kebah-Di'i ceased resisting foreign advances into their territory. Prospecting companies were greeted by curious natives, eager to learn and assisst. Merchant houses woke up to find ques of fierce natives applying for posts as guards, asking to be paid in equipment. Missions of the Faith found themselves besieged by pilgrims and medicine men, rabid for knowledge that could further their understanding of the White Sand God's intentions.
The Kebah-Di'i embrace the advances of science and industry, but they do so in their own way. They have never abandoned their nomadic lifestyle or their traditions, they simply adapt them to meet their changing world. Anywhere the faith touches, that is their territory now. If they encounter a new marvel of technology, well the White Sand God knows many things, and he provides wondrous tools for the faithful.
The Kebah-Di'i are almost human, but disturbingly not quite. Their skin thick skins are sun-darkened brown in color. Their limbs are slightly too long, their torsos a touch too compact, their mannerism and movement too much like a hunting heron. Their hands and feet are also too long, with a short extra joint in the wrist and ankle, and they walk perched on the balls of their feet. Their bald heads are wide, with grinning mouths that stretch literally ear to ear and great staring eyes that rotate independently of each other. A nodule at the end or a Kebah-Di’I’s tongue allows it to “taste” the air like a snake, and when they become particularly curious or excited they pant like dogs to get a better sense of their surroundings. While typically wiry in build, almost emaciated, a Kebah-Di’I is preternaturally quick and strong.
Kebah-Di’i tend to dress sparingly, often in little more than gear harnesses and bandoleers, both composed of colorfully braided rope. Complex foot wraps and poncho-like blankets are also traditional, with a particular Kebah-Di’i’s history picked out in intricate pattern-writing on his blanket. They have a love of complicated things, and any piece of equipment that remains in the possession of a Kebah-Di’i for long invariably becomes festooned with elaborate scrimshaw and carved fetishes. Many of the People who frequently work with other races have taken to wearing large goggles to conceal their somewhat disturbing eye movements.
Personality and Beliefs:
- All of the People are pilgrims, students of the White Sand God.
- The White Sand God is the giver of territory and the knowledge of tools.
- All students of the White Sand God are welcome to share in his territory and his tools, provided that they abide by the laws of hospitality and respect.
These three laws define the traditional outlook of the Kebah-Di’i, and have enabled them to adapt surprisingly well to the invasion of their ancestral lands.
- The White Sand God is a part of the Deity worshipped by the Faith. Therefore, all adherents to the Faith are students of the White Sand God in one form or another. Therefore, they are all members of the People, although this term is still typically used to refer exclusively to the Kebah-Di’i.
- As followers of the White Sand God by another name, human adherents to the Faith possess much territory and have the knowledge of many wondrous tools. They must be blessed indeed to be so favored, and their holy “scientists” prove that blessing over and over with the invention of each new tool. Surely folk so blessed are welcome to the territory of the People. They must know how to best use such territory and the People would do well to learn as much as they can from them.
- Just as these newcomers are welcome to the People’s territory, the Kebah-Di’i are welcome to theirs. In fact, the two have become inseparable, a single great territory.
The Kebah-Di’i are extremely curious, almost naïve or childlike in their desire to learn. They see it as a holy imperative to acquire knowledge and tools, which in this day and age often translates into science and machines. Everything that can be used is a tool, be it a rifle (a tool to hunt for food or kill an enemy) or a pipe (a tool to relax and an aide in palaver). Alcohol and other items that inhibit functioning are not tools and therefore irrelevant except as trade goods. A large component of trust makes up the Kebah-Di’i mindset. They believe in the communal bond that they share with men as fellow students and put great faith in palaver, or talk at a neutral ground or camp for the purpose of settling disputes. That said, the People see the value in defending one’s territory and tools. They hold no malice towards their enemies, but a fervent belief in inevitable reincarnation means that a Kebah-Di’i has no compunction about casually killing a man who makes himself an enemy.
Relations to Other Races:
The Kebah-Di’i expect to be treated with respect, not seeing themselves as separate from the humans whose lands they now inhabit. However, as students of the White Sand God they believe that the most knowledgeable deserve the most respect and they are therefore extremely polite and willing to serve any human that they perceive as possessing more wisdom, tools, or personal territory than they. This relationship, while occasionally exploited by humans, is perceived as being akin to that of a teacher-student agreement. The Kebah-Di’i expect to receive knowledge or tools in exchange for their services, and to be given full use of a patron’s territory as guest right while they serve. From the human perspective the Kebah-Di’i demand curious and unpredictable forms of payment, from guns to books, and are prone to setting up camp in the dining rooms of private studies of their employer. Having a seven-foot tall, staring-eyed primitive politely ask you what the problem is out of a mouth wide enough to eat your head is, for many humans, enough to let this sort of behavior slide.
In fact the Kebah-Di’i have made themselves invaluable in human society. Their loyalty, strength, speed, and alien intimidation value make them excellent bodyguards or mail-carriers, and an employee who asks to be paid in bullets and canvas is easy to satisfy. However, the main reason that the People have carved such a niche for themselves is their unshakeable confidence and utter belief in that niche.