Eons past, the progenitors of the Rephatians were driven from their homelands by the Giants of Stoneholt. Taking to the sea in a fleet of primitive, barely sea-worthy ships, they followed the islands of the Mhudarkin archipelago until they found the continent of Rephatia. Their flight had been largely unplanned, and though some food supplies and livestock were brought, they were all consumed prior to landing on Rephatia. As a result, they had little to restart their farming with and had to make do with the local flora and fauna.
The creatures native to Rephatia had never seen humans, and the other humanoid races of Rephatia were not major hunters. As a result, the local animals were easy prey to the invaders. The existing humanoid populations were forced into marginal territories or exterminated.
By the time the supply of easy food had been exhausted, the humans managed some agriculture with the native plants. This still left a great shortage of protein and so fishing and later cannibalism became commonplace.
As time passed, they developed a hierarchial caste system. Those of lower castes were subjugated and preyed upon by those of the higher castes. In an effort to address some of the problems the absence of suitable domesticatable animals caused, the mages among the Rephatians (obviously among the highest caste) began experiments with the lowest caste, breeding them and twisting them with magic.
Over the generations, the different castes have evolved in greatly different directions. Only the higher castes are still clearly human with little changes, but the lower castes of labourers, and food no longer appear normal.
Some, with the effects of magical intervention, are grotesque mockeries of the human form. They have been shaped into ‘Humanamorphs’ to fill all sorts of ecological niches on the island.
So now the land of the Rephatians is a nightmare kingdom.
The Rephatians were faced with many of the same issues as the tribes of the pacific islands, with some major differences. They are the instigator of the largest world-level plot in the campaign world of Neyathis. The cannibalistic, gene-modifying society is intended to provide a major enemy that is not supernatural in origin - no demons, undead or golems. Their weapons are the product of inhumanity to humanity.
Many ideas from this society and associated subs were inspired by:
Man After Man: An Anthropology of the Future,Dougal Dixon
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies is a 1997 book by Jared Diamond
I intend to add a lot more submissions linked to this society as time allows. Their great ships of Giant Bamboo. Their Beasts of War. The invasion of Nyathis, The Great Game and others.
Additional Ideas (4)
"Seeing the poor souls trapped in the grotesque form of some cow-thing did nothing but harden my heart further toward the invaders. The too-human origins were easily apparent to the eye once one was withing 60 paces of the things. No, no mercy would be granted these invaders, and these things will be put out of their misery...
The Bovinaform humanamorphs are the primary food source of the Rephatians and bred for their meat. As their name suggests, they are similarly sized and shaped to cows, with the exception that their heads are still strongly human-like, and they have hairless though tough human-like skin. Their jaws are much heavier then normal humans and have many more molars. They are deliberately very stupid and walk on all fours. Their hands have adapted for walking with extremely short fingers unable to grasp anything. Their stomachs have also been modified to be able to digest cellulose. This modification has been made effective enough that given enough passes through the digestive system, even wood can be digested.
The Bovinaform cannot speak, and can only understand the most simple commands. They occasionally low mournfully, as if despairing of their station in life.
"Out of a painful fog I awake - my last memory was the ground rushing at me as my warhorse threw me! We were charging the Rephatian lines of Trudges as the air flew thick with arrows, spears, and head sized rocks thrown by more massive creatures further back. As I neared the line - my lance lowered to transfix one or more of the front line troops, a ghastly troll-sized creature - mostly mouth - burst from the line and gave a hideous bellow. My horse, Damn it, was spooked and I was thrown..
Now I realize I am bound. And naked. To my ears there is a chorus of jeering laughter and jabbering in the incomprehensible Rephatian language. There is a hood or something over my eyes. Someone behind me pulls it up, allowing me to see. Before me is a small host of tiny human-like figures, though with exaggerated features and oddly bright hair. And with nasty looking daggers and spiked clubs. The hood is dropped back and I'm roughly pulled to my feet. One word is spoken into my ear, heavily accented, but unmistakable... "Fight!"
With the exception of the Jaggernauts, the Mites are one of the most extreme Humanamorphs yet developed. The mites average 10lbs in weight and are the size of a large domestic cat. They have brightly colored hair, with unnatural looking whites, reds, oranges and blondes common. They are used for a number of roles - as test subjects for alchemical substances, as taste-testers for poisons, as Canaries in mines and as food. They are also treated as pets and unlike most Food Caste humanamorphs are generally clothed similarly to the Rephatians. They are used in the Great Game, specifically by nobel children.
They are surprisingly intelligent for being so small, able to speak and understand Rephatian. No geniuses arise from their stock however, and they are subject to many genetic illnesses.
The Mites have personalities similar to small dogs - nervous and yappy. They are also terribly curious.
"The Rephatians did not expect the nighttime counterattack on their base camp. The complete destruction of Lord Urmor's heavy infantry earlier that day seemed to lull them into a false sense of security. We came upon their camp while they were in the midst of a ..feast. Though most of their common soldiery was surprised and easily bested, they had larger beasts - what they call Devourers. These huge creatures were like bipedal boars with vicious toothy maws and powerful claw-tipped limbs. Several fought on even transfixed by lances, and I saw one manage to disembowel both the horse and rider who mortally wounded it before it succumbed. It is best that they are quite stupid and small in numbers."
The Devourers are large porcine appearing humanamorphs. They move similar to an ape and have massive, bone-crushing jaws.They are very bad-tempered and will eat anything once living. When used as food sources they are fed food scraps but little meat - given the usual source of meat in the Rephatian lands. Some occupy a role as disposers of food waste and the dead - similar to the Yird-Swine. They are also used as guardians and sometimes as beasts of war. Those used as disposers of the dead are generally considered 'unclean' by the more intelligent Rephatians, but many still partake. Those who do make this a habit have a higher instance of insanity and occasionally develop a fatal neurological disorder.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.