Curse of the Crimson Throne
The seven quahs (clans) of the Shoanti roam the harshest environments of Varisia, from the Cinderlands to the Calphiak Mountains and from the Curchain Hills to the Storval Plateau. Known for their warlike nature and proud traditions, the Shoanti claim all of Varisia as their own, although they have been forced to cede its southern lands to waves of Chelish conquest. A disparate people, bound together by honor and tradition, the Shoanti share a history steeped in conflict, from their brutally heroic legends to the defeats of the recent past and the harshness of their modern lives. Shaped by strife, the Shoanti are stalwart, tenacious, and suspicious people, oath-sworn to regain all that was once theirs and honor-bound to avenge themselves against all schemers who would dare call them barbarians. The essence of “Shoanti” is more of a set of warrior traditions than it is a true racial group. While by and large most Shoanti are humans, some quahs have adopted foreigners and exiles from other races. Among individual, open-minded tribes, those who demonstrate that they share Shoanti ideals and face the trials of their adoptive quah find themselves welcomed after a measure of persistence. As such, a small number of dwarves, halfelves, and non-native humans on occasion live among the Shoanti. Indeed, in many ways, demihumans have a much easier time overcoming the Shoanti’s ingrained mistrust of outsiders than Chelaxians.
Shoanti possess widely varying skin tones, reflecting the broad diversity of their ancestry from the time of the Azghat, the cruel gods their lore claims carried them to the Storval region in the time before time. Regardless of pigmentation, almost all Shoanti are vigorous, with powerful builds. Most adult males are more than 6 feet in height and adult females are only slightly shorter. Hair is considered a dangerous weakness in hand-to-hand combat, and both men and women typically shave their heads, save for shamans or the elderly. This practice is more pronounced among the eastern tribes, who are typically born with straight hair, and less so amongst the westernmost Shadde-Quah. Some young Shoanti men and women forgo this practice as a sign that they are not bound to another and seek a companion. Their culture besieged, their world changing, the Shoanti fiercely struggle to hold onto the traditions of their people and fight against a world seemingly intent on their destruction. Yet, having survived against the giants of the Kodar Mountains, the predators of the wastes, drought, starvation, and lands that burn for centuries, the people of the Storval Plateau alone will decide when their time is at an end—and that time is not now.
Lyrune-Quah (The Moon Clan)
Known to be expert bowmen and hunters, the swift-footed and keen-eyed warriors of the Lyrune-Quah hunt by dusk and travel by the light of the bright Storval moon. The Clan of the Moon embraces wisdom as much as strength, knowing that one arrow loosed from a precisely aimed bow can fell a giant more effectively than a band of wildly swinging brawlers.
The Moon Clan’s true traditional rivals are the Sun Clan, and centuries ago the two quahs fought bitterly to establish the borders of their respective territories. The two quahs are far more alike than each cares to admit, though, and each quah respects the martial prowess of the other. Now that both have become irrevocably invested in battling their own separate wars with outsiders, they are far more frequently riding to each other’s aid as allies than as enemies. Warriors of the two quahs value nothing more than bragging rights gained by helping members of the other quah out of a tough scrape.
Territory: The Clan of the Moon traverses the open lands east of the Wyvern Mountains, ranging between the Kazaron River and the Yondabakari River.
Sklar-Quah (The Sun Clan)
More so than any other clan in recent memory, the Sklar-Quah find themselves embattled by their foes. Since its retreat over the Storval Rise from southern Varisia, the Sun Clan has found itself in a vise between orc marauders from the Hold of Belkzen and foreign invaders. The Sklar- Quah now acts as an unwitting buffer, protecting its two enemies from one another, a reality that has cost the blood of countless sons and daughters.
Sun Clan youth are taught to hate tshamek (non-Shoanti) at an early age. Their day-to-day prejudice is viewed as a necessary component of their well-honed survival instincts. Indeed, the xenophobia is clan-deep; the Sklar- Quah’s shamans are the most warlike among the shaman of any quah.
Many Sklar-Quah warriors aspire to join the ranks of the Sklar-Quah’s famed burn riders, their elite mounted cavalry who are able to coax their horses to race through the flames and wildfires of the Cinderlands. Burn riders frequently shave much more than just their heads to protect themselves from the flames, and tend to wear minimal armor and clothing.
The quah’s oral history claims that its ancestors once inhabited the fertile lands east of the Fenwall Mountains, and honored their totems from a sacred site upon a massive pyramid (now the site of the city-state of Korvosa) but that they were driven into the Cinderlands by Chelish colonists after decades of battle (see Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to Korvosa).
Territory: The warlike Clan of the Sun inhabits the eastern and central reaches of the Cinderlands, both south of the Kazaron River as well as the plains south and east of the Yondabakari River.
Skoan-Quah (The Skull Clan)
All six of the other quahs still shudder on occasion when they deal with the enigmatic Skull Clan and its impenetrable skull shamans. Warriors of the Skoan-Quah cake their bodies with a mixture of mud and ash, making their skin smoky white. This ritual is said to give them protection against the walking dead, whom they are sworn to destroy.
The Skull Clan is zealous in its protection and honoring of the dead. Many Skull Clan tribes sojourn far to consecrate the burial sites of their fellow Shoanti. This service is grudgingly appreciated by the other clans, who respect the power of the Skull Clan and their totems, even if their morbid shamans quietly unnerve them. The most honored dead of each tribe are entrusted into the Skull Clan’s care, leaving the guardians of the dead to transport such heroes to the Shoanti’s most honored burial grounds—the Kallow Mounds to the east and the Life Falls to the west. The Skoan- Quah also shoulders the duty of acting as the historians of the Shoanti as a whole. In this way, the memories of many Shoanti live on with the Skoan-Quah, long after their own quah might have forgotten.
Territory: The Skull Clan keeps to the ancestral burial lands of their people, primarily surrounding the Kallow Mounds of the southeastern Cinderlands and the Life Falls northeast of the Stony Mountains.
Shundar-Quah (The Spire Clan)
The Shundar-Quah see themselves as the diplomats and storytellers of the Shoanti people, smoothing tensions between the various clans. Their tribes travel far and continually remind the other quahs that every clan is first and foremost Shoanti, and that brotherhood and bringing honor to their people must be the ambition of every warrior.
Members of the Shundar-Quah hold the monolith wonder Spindlehorn sacred. Once a decade, the shamans of the Shundar-Quah perform a pilgrimage to the shadow of Spindlehorn, on the eastern shore of the Storval Deep. There, they commune with their totems, share what they have learned, and discuss matters that concern their quah and all others.
Because the Shundar-Quah see the welfare of all Shoanti as their sacred trust, by necessity they must also have an interest in each clan’s warfare. Whenever a quah loses ground to a significant foe, it is the Spire Clan that is first to bring offers of reinforcements. To this end, Spire Clan braves train to duplicate the tactics of their fellow quahs so that they can swell their brethren’s ranks as seamlessly as possible.
Territory: To this day, the Clan of the Spire wanders across the northern Storval Plateau, ever seeking to unite the Shoanti tribes into a single people. They fend for themselves in the custom of the local Shoanti tribes in whose territory they wander.