The Ivanvil are one of the four races of men inhabiting the human kingdom of Parna. Taken as a whole they are the least threatening to the well-being and sovereignty of the Dwarfish nation, but when dealing with individuals there is no race of humanity more deceptive or sinister than the Ivanvil.
Ivanvil occupancy of the lands of Parna predates the founding of the Bronzebeard dynasty. It is believed that the first characterizations of humanity by dwarfs found on walls of the Chronicle cave were descriptions of ancient the Ivanvil tribes. Thus the Ivanvil clans have lived in the Swamps, forests and plains of the Lands of Parna for as long humanity is known to exist. The Ivanvil’s long history of proximity to the dwarfish homeland did have some positive effects on their culture, as will be discussed, but it wasn’t until the founding of the Kingdom of Parna that our Chroniclers treated them as little more than an antagonistic race generated by lesser gods.
Here in I will briefly discuss, the material culture of the Ivanvil, their religion, their social customs and their history.
Dress and Appearance
In human kingdoms it is not always easy to distinguish one clan or tribe from another because hair color does not always correspond to their tribe. The typical Ivanvil is fair-haired, with blonde hair so light as to be almost white. They are tall for a race of men, with even the women standing over 5 and three quarters dwarven feet. They can range from lithe form to a more robust and broader body shape, though I never saw a stout Ivanvil. There faces are generally fair, with thin lips, light eyes, and often with a large hawkish nose. The men shave their beards, and both men and women wear their hair long. Like most humans their hair does grey or fall out as they age. The blonde, blue-eyed Ivanvil may make up at least half their number, but I did see brown, black and red haired specimens. Thus judging the tribal origins of human by skin and hair color alone can lead to some embarrassing missteps. It is better to judge tribal orientations by dress and mannerisms.
The Ivanvil dress is distinctive and maintained by strong social mores. Their clothing is made almost entirely of wool or leather, and is dyed either black or bleached white. Wearing browns or greens is considered a faux pas, perhaps because of association with other human tribes, and reds are considered mourning colors. (Workmanship of Ivanvil fabrics rivals that of even dwarfish looms and in Mountain Halls such as Diamondspike or Tincrown they fetch a good price.) The typical Ivanvil male wears black leather boots, black wool breaches, a black leather belt with a steel dirk and perhaps a steel long sword. The shirt may be white or black, but often they wear a hardened black leather breastplate and either black leather bracers or gauntlets. When traveling the men typically wear a steel cap or small half helm. Depending on the season men wear either a cloak, a full cape or half cape. The capes may be black or white depending on the season or the task. The Ivanvil men I observed did not wear any jewelry and their weapons, leathers and fabrics are drab and unadorned. Occasionally designs will be painted on their faces or hands with red yellow or blue pigments. The red designs are for mourning, revenge, and/or war, blue for men on seasonal holidays and yellow for personal holidays such as marriages or birthdays.
The Ivanvil woman, unless in mourning or seeking vengeance wear black skirts or frocks made of heavy wool. The dress always compliments with a black belt and a steel dirk, and often black leather boots. The typical Ivanvil dress is low cut to expose much of the breasts, but more importantly to reveal the lace undergarments. Ivanvil lace is a fabric of truly exceptional craftsmen ship. It is traditionally made with black or white wool fabrics, but more recently flax fabrics produced by the Mitirangu have been used by Ivanvil lace cutters. The lace is very much a status symbol among the women, and often dresses are cut so that lace exposes itself at the sleeve or below the hem of the skirt. The women sometimes were jewelry either a necklace, a light crown, bracelets but inexplicably never rings. All grown women also have a tattoo somewhere on their right arm as a mark of sexual maturity. The tattoo is clan specific and matches the tattoo of the highest-ranking female in their clan.
Society and Culture
It is important to correctly identify an Ivanvil because they are a quickly offended and violent people. When interacting with the Ivanvil it is important to familiarize yourself with the allavets. Allavet is an ancient Ivanvil word that literally means '
everybody knows'. Today the term in used to refer to practices that set the norms for Ivanvil behavior. The Allavets are very much related and the Ivanvil themselves do not list or enumerate them, but I was able to observe four distinct allavets which dictate Ivanvil behavior. They are very similar to the
Virtues followed by Dwarven Noble Clans, and the concept was most likely stolen from our culture long ago.
Allavet is pride in the family or sota barn in the old Ivanvil language. This is the exact equivalent of the Noble Clan virtue off vanity. It means that every family member must appear clean, well clothed and strong. The result of this is that when encountering and Ivanvil, no matter their material wealth, you will likely be confronted with a well-groomed individual in clean and polished clothing. It is common for both Ivanvil men and women to carry leather polish, sewing kits, perfumes and even cosmetics. Additionally, the Ivanvil consider it an offense to one's family to express physical pain, or complain of discomfort. (This stoicism does not apply to emotional or social stress however and both Ivanvil men and women have no qualms about emoting anger or sadness.) The Ivanvil desire to represent strength may also contribute to the fact that every Ivanvil adult is always armed. Sota barn also goes a step beyond appearance and refers also to loyalty to one's family and respect for the decisions of the family. More often than not these are decisions made by the family matriarch.
The second allavet is the blood debt or blodskulder. Again this is similar to the old and outlawed Nobility practice of honor debts. However, in Ivanvil society the blood debt is shared by the whole family not just the individual, in short Ivanvil blood debts require that members of family revenge any wrong doing against another member of their family. An Ivanvil matriarch explained to me that blood debts are not always negative, and that every family member would return an act of kindness towards one member of an Ivanvil family. Additionally, she assured me that blood debts were only paid against individuals and that a family would never hold a whole family responsible for a the crime of an individual. While this may be what she truly believed, I observed that blodskulder truly amounts to clan warfare. To illustrate this I will share an anecdote from my time spent with the Ivanvil.
During the fruit harvest festival many families come together to harvest pit fruits and berries from well-known orchards and berry thickets. I was staying with a family named Slone and working as blacksmith for the family matriarch. On the third day of the festival another family, Ackhart, arrived at the Orchards. It was immediately recognizable that the two families shared animosity. The Slone matriarch explained to me that a daughter of the Ackhart family had enchanted the husband of a Slone woman. The Ackhart daughter married the woman’s husband, and sent the wedding night blanket to the Slone woman as further insult. The wronged Slone woman had a sister named Tilda who avenged her family by seducing the son of the Ackhart woman and bearring him a son, but refusing to marry him and thus denying him the rights of a father. The Ackhart boy’s sister, as revenge, kidnapped Tilda’s daughter before her accession to womanhood and marked her with the symbol of the family Ackhart. The feud went on for generations, eventually descending into blood shed, and as I counted the generations of family that were involved I realized that the blood debt was over 170 years old. During the festival I saw that the two families definitely intended to do each other harm, and they spoke openly about the animosity, but I witnessed no confrontation.
What prevented open conflict between the two families was the third allavet called imorker. Imorker literally means '
in the dark' in the old Ivanvil language and it is a more nuanced concept than we dwarves are use to grappling with. It refers to the need to carry out actions as quietly and subtlety as possible so not to disturb the status quo. When slaughtering the spring lambs, Ivanvil sheepherders invoke imorker, and in that context it refers to not disturbing the rest of flock and to keeping your clothes clean while you do it. Imorker was also invoked at the fruit festival I attended, but in that case it kept the feuding families from disrupting the festival by openly attacking one another. As the festival went on I came to suspect that almost all families shared some negative blodskulder with other families. Imorker allows Ivanvil society to cooperate when they must, but the morning after the festival's closure the matriarch's grandson was found dead in a cave two miles from the festival village.
Imorker and blodskulder lead directly to the fourth major allavet I identified, that is the honest lie or what they call alrigochlognare (all-RIG-oh-cha-log-n-air). Again a concept completely undwarven in nature, but it refers in part to the constant assumption that you are being deceived. For example if I asked an Ivanvil man how many berries he picked today, he would likely say 3 buckets when indeed he had picked 6 buckets. What is more important to this concept is that both the person asking the questions and answering the question are aware of the lie. What the berry picker is actually saying is that
I am willing to tell you about three buckets, and it is possible that the asker may feel entitled to steal that many berries from the person. Quite amusingly I also observed that unnecessary honesty could be offensive to the Ivanvil. For example, when of my sponsor's daughter-in-laws bragged about purchasing four horses for her husband's birthday, the matriarch was extremely offended to actually see the horses delivered. The matriarch had assumed her daughter-in-law was lying about such an extravagant gift. The daughter-in-law should have known of the matriarch’s assumption, and thus matriarch was offended when the daughter-in-law embarrassed her by being honest.
It was explained to me however, that alrigochlognare does not apply to every situation and that some moments call for alrigalrig; or truth within truth. There were no clear guidelines for when honesty was required of a member society. As far I could tell complete honesty was the exception and not the rule. There are many more allavets then what I listed here, and thus the term should not be thought synonymous with the above concepts. But the four I chose to mention, I found to be most important to the Ivanvil cultural identity.
Random encounters with Ivanvil can be dangerous for several reasons. First many, though not most, Ivanvil living in Parna have little respect for the laws of the current Ator king and view highway robbery as a fair and reasonable tax on anyone passing their lands. Be doubly wary because, murder itself, is not considered a crime among the Ivanvil, and many Ivanvil speak nonchalantly about the murdering days of their youth. In short, of all the human races you will encounter in the lands of Parna, an Ivanvil is most likely to be a murdering robber. Also, an Ivanvil is most likely to be sorcerer or learned mage. The Ivanvil themselves are aware of these tendencies, and their social interactions reflect it.
When Ivanvil, men or women, meet for the first time or by accident they will address each other only nonverbally at first. They will then cross the distance between each other and embrace, only after embracing will they begin to converse. They will continue to lock arms or keep hands on each for a good deal of their conversation. This touching while talking occurs in all formal communications. At first I thought it was sign of affection or in the case of the women an expression of sexuality. Only after numerous observations did I observe that this was more of a wrestling stance. The Ivanvil touch each other so that if one were to go for a weapon or attempt to cast a spell the other could attempt to quickly disrupt it. This embrace is the same if it were a man and woman talking, two men or a woman and a woman. This social convention limits most formal conversations to one on one exchanges. I did observe conversations without the touching, but they were very either informal exchanges among family or semi-hostile exchanges among rivals. Of course many Ivanvil are very worldly and experienced in Dwarven customs. A traveled Ivanvil such as a merchant or mercenary will often forgo this behavior, which can make their behavior hard to interpret. If an Ivanvil is speaking to you from across glade or a room is he being respectful of our customs or threatening? After spending a year with the Ivanvil, I learned to prefer the conversational embrace, because after a year I did not trust many.
When speaking to an Ivanvil it is important to start the conversation with a note about your family and declaration of your purpose. Of course they expect that declaration to be a lie, and this could be hard for many dwarves who follow the path of Droven closely. If you cannot bring yourself to lie, I suggest speaking an irrelevant truth or giving an incomplete explanation of your purpose. Directness in conversation can be offensive. Once the initial exchange is over it is customary to introduce the rest of your party. The leader or senior member of Ivanvil party is usually the eldest adult female in the group. If there are no females in the group, then one should wait for a leader to present himself.
Ivanvil society was and is governed by the family matriarchs. From time to time, our records or lore tell us that an Ivanvil family would gain the loyalty of several other families, and the families would subjugate large sections of what is now Parna. These small nations were not ruled by a single leader or a body of law, but rather by a group of powerful individuals and families who had shared interests. The alliances that our Chroniclers were aware of never lasted more than a generation. A millennia ago, when these oligarchies were the undisputed rulers of Parna, is referred to as the Golden age by the modern Ivanvil. The exemplary hero of this period is Queen Johannick. She is credited with constructing the Old Fortress at what is now known as Parna's Throne and making the alliance with a Dragon Queen which has kept the Strong Reach free of Dragons. There is likely some fact to these stories. The Chronicle of the Bronzebeard dynasty identified a human Sorceress named Johanna being invited to and present at the arming ceremony for Prince Hudd Bronzebeard. She was listed as being from the Western River lands (the land was not yet known as Parna). Additionally. most scholars believe that there must be a Dragon living incognito somewhere in the Strong. However, there are no records of formal human governments prior to the founding of Parna by its namesake, and the word Queen was not used among humans until the time of Parna.
Today though what political power the Ivanavil wield is divided between the appointed Lords and the family matriarch. The Ator King has promoted several dozen Ivanvil to the ranks of the peerage. These lords however are still subject to the rules of Ivanvil society and anywhere there is an Ivanvil lord there is a powerful matriarch and family behind that Lord.
Trade, Industry and Resources
In the years since the conquest of Parna by the Ator, the use of the Parnan Gold Plank has essentially ceased. With the Ator Lords either hording the gold or melting it down to produce personal items, all current trade is conducted using either a barter system or our dwarven silver pieces. The Ivanvil are no exception to these changes and I found dwarven silver to be the preferred currency among them. The primary Ivanvil industries are sheep and goat herding, trapping, hunting, weaving, tanning and herbalism with a every adult individual experienced in at least on of these trade. The secondary industries among their people are blacksmithing, smelting, sewing, stone cutting, masonry, agriculture, mining and spell craft. With the exception of weaving, sewing and spellcraft all their industries are inferior by dwarven standards. Ivanvil steel, which makes up most of the steel used in Parna, is tempered with nickel and various impure blacks. It holds an edge but is far more brittle than our dwarfish steel. I believe one reason for the inferiority of the Ivanvil workmanship is that few industries are practiced year round. Ivanvil forges, mines and villages are often abandoned or partially vacated for most of the year while the herds are moved to greener pastures or the game is followed. Ivanvil spell craft is an enigmatic presence among the tribes. Magic is often taught mother to daughter, though there are some male mages, and the source of this magic knowledge is unknown. It has been said that magic can learned by
wagering your shadow in the deep, and that the ones that survive return to their families with
knowledge ready for the (spell) books. Where this happens or if it happens I did not discover, but spell craft is ubiquitous enough that no family is without at least two or three mages. These mages are all learned mages who employ the ancient art of the Wiz'guards.
Most of the Ivanvil wealth is in their herds. Their mines, the location of which is a secrete among each family, produce almost nothing by dwarfish standards. Their agriculture is inefficient and produces little surplus. Orchards (pit fruits are their most abundant crop) are maintained not through planting but by chopping down all the undesirable trees around the fruit trees. Grain crops are planted in the spring by scattering seeds across a field and then having the herd cross the field. They are often abandoned until harvest time, and the yield is pitiful but reasonable considering the effort. Most dwarfish trade goods are well received by the Ivanvil. Despite their famous steel industry the Ivanvil will take unworked Dwarven steel to use in their own forges, and as most Ivanvil smelters also have a herd, so ore may be traded for wool or animals. It is a point of pride that the family forge the dirks and swords they use, but steel spearheads, traps, axes and armor have been traded.
The Ivanvil speak a language which is very similar to dwarven in grammar, and is obviously the parent tongue of Ator. Every adult Ivanvil male that I met also spoke Mitirangu passably, and a few even spoke a few words of Dwarven. The closeness of the Ivanvil and Ator languages in both grammar and phonetics allows most Ivanvil and Ator speakers to communicate effectively. The Ivanvil have no written language in their own tounge and the spellcasters and priestess employ the Ancient Word (Natal). The Priests of Droven are commonly employed by Ivanvil of means to scribe tombstones, border stones, ledgers, contracts and letters. However, I would judged that less than 1 in 20 Ivanvil could actually read Dwarven or the Ancient Word of Natal.
Unlike the Mitirangu or Ator the Ivanvil national and cultural identities were and are not linked to the ethos of single religion. The Goddesses Telm’erase (Murder) and Greeth (Jealousy) are commonly evoked by the Ivanvil, and I noticed that several of the families I met contained dedicated Priestess. At the large family gathering I noticed that small but significant number of the Ivanvil were living as followers of the Goddess Ya’naw (nature, life). But the followers of Ya’naw do not trade, and do not keep the customs of the Ivanvil as I have described them. On numerous occasions I found that Ivanvil men will take their herds or children to Mitirangu towns to get blessed at a House of Bell’ra. On even more occasions I observed Ivanvil men visiting Houses of Bell’ra to drink and socialize. On the whole, the Ivanvil use religion much as they do magic. They invoke the Gods when they need something, but I found that few Ivanvil let the wisdom of the Gods drive their actions.
Overview of Ivanvil history prior to The Conquest of Parna
The Ivanvil are a nation conquered three times. One-thousand years ago we know that Ivanvil villages and fortresses covered all the land drained by the river Parna. They were not a united nation, families were constantly warring with each other and with the neighboring Orc and Goblin tribes. Human raiders would even enter our lands, and sometimes with notable success. The Ivanvil were a formible warrior people. They built stone keeps, forged steel weapons and could weave powerful enchantments to augment any attack or defense. Yet, they could never unite, over come individual differences or put aside the demands of pride vanity and family loyalty that still define them today. I believe it is a failing of the Ivanvil spirit that has led them to be conquered.
Their first conquerors were passive. To the West of Parna are the Mitirangu nations, and over a five centuries ago our chroniclers started noting that Mitirangu villages were appearing in what is now Parna. The Mitirangu had no steel, knew little of stone cutting and had no knowledge of magic. Yet for over 500 years their villages grew in wealth and strength, while the Ivanvil warred among themselves. Legends speak of great battles in which Ivanvil warriors swam the moots and climbed the earthen walls of Mitirangu fortresses to slaughter all the people inside, but if such battle did occur they were too rare to stymie the Mitirangu tide. The Ivanvil were always more at war with themselves then they were with any external enemy. They could not present a unified front against any force. Over time the Ivanvil numbers have decreased, some through violence, but more through intermarriage and migration to a Mitirangu life style.
Three hundred years ago a degree of unity came to the Ivanvil with second conquest. The warrior Parna united all the human tribes all the River that would come to bear his name. This was the first human kingdom and Parna was its first king. All the tribes and families within the Kingdom swore loyalty to Parna’s throne and whoever may sit upon it. The Ivanvil steel fueled the military campaigns that Parna and his successors undertook to enlarge and enrich the human Kingdom and the Kingdom was defended from walls made of Ivanvil cut stone. The Ivanvil began to buy land and trade with the Mitirangu.
They remained a people, keeping their own ways and human sages have argued that were nation within a nation and not part of Parna. This is foolishness. They used the coin of the King, the gold plank, they bent their bows and drew their swords for the causes of the King, they spoke the language of the King, and members of Ivanvil families were admitted to the peerage. As any dwarf sage will tell you this made them part of the nation. Having spoke with many of Ivanvil for numerous families, I can also tell you that think of themselves of Citizens of Parna. Indeed, their own mythos has Parna born an Ivanvil, and they claim that his mother was a descendant of Queen Johannik though our Chroniclers report he was of pure Mitirangu birth.
The Conquest and the Ivanvil place in Parna: Some scholars of humanity assert that the fact several Ivanvil families sided with the invading Ator army proves that Ivanvil were a subjugated people who rebelled. This again brushes over the shifting winds and underhanded nature of human politics. I assert that it was because the Ivanvil tribes believed they were part of the Kingdom that they joined the invading Ator army.
The King on Parna’s Throne 37 years ago, before The Conquest, was of Mitirangu birth. His name, which has been stricken from all human records, was Shumba. He had designated as his successor an Ivanvil warrior/mage named Svengard. Svengard had been Shumba’s most trusted advisor and a close friend. Svengard had been born to a small Ivanvil family in south eastern Ator, but grew to be a respected man among all the tribes across. Shumba had been 57 years old when he had designated Svengard and it was believed Svengard would soon assume the Throne. No one expected Shumba to live for 40 more years, and when Svengard died before he could take the throne Shumba appointed his own grandson successor.
Svengrad had married into the powerful and ambitious Jocit family. The family lived along border south eastern border of Parna. The Jocits commanded at least three dozen warriors and half a dozen relatively powerful mages. They public denounced Shumba in the streets of Parna’s Throne; claiming that he had died years ago and that the kingdom was now ruled by an evil undead abomination, and that Svengard (who had acted as regent for a decade) had named his own son successor. They further accused the Church of Bell'Ra of supporting this plot and of betraying the laws of the Gods. The House of Jocit gained support from some locale families by they were unable to gain any real political traction for their cause. Shumba was a popular King and all of Parna had been growing in wealth during his 60 year reign. Most citizens of Parna, both Mitirangu and Ivanvil, seemed content to let the Jocit families grievances go unanswered.
Ulleena Jocit, matriarch of the family, then took up arranging an alliance between her family and one or more of the Barons in the nation of Ator to the southeast or Parna. Her documents were all scribed, sealed and delivered by the Priests of Droven and thus the nature of her correspondence is matter of undisputed fact. Ulleena Jocit promised the Baron Moltov that if he could raise an army, she would aide him in conquering Parna and see to it that he was made King. Specifically, she promised to obtain permission of passage for his army from the Dragon of the Green. The Dragon woods lies in the Ven pass between the Greyspine and Ven mountain ranges. Normally the pass is impassable because it is the domain of unpredictable and violent beast. Ullena made a deal of some sort with the Dragon to allow an Ator army to pass through the forest. Additionally Ulena would give her Daughter Margar to him in marriage and provide him with military and material support once he and his army entered Parna.
The conquest of Parna by Moltov and his army came to pass as did the marriage of Margar to Moltov. Ulleena was not a woman of letters however, and she did not understand the Ator view towards woman. She believed that Moltov would be joined to her family by marriage. I can only assume that Moltov’s style of absolute rule and his lack of respect for the Ivanvil Family loyalties has come as a shock to Ulleena and her kin. This is supported by the rumors that her son, Weir, has traveled north to the Wind forest and is seeking to forge an alliance with the Orcish tribes to strike against Parna.