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The Ursans are a community living in what the Meritocrats call the Northern Wastes.

Settlement[]

The Ursans live in a densely-populated settlement on the back of a giant (~25-30-storey high) brown bear. The settlement is largely wooden, with multiple layers of buildings on top of one another and walkways between them. Most of the settlement rests on a giant wooden palisade, apart from the sacred space at the centre of the city where the Ursan Council meets. People and goods are transported up to the city with a 30x30 foot wooden platform suspended by thick ropes. The ropes are pulled through a large timber crane, and there are big blocks of stone acting as a counterweight. A small 'gatehouse' is set upon the bear's head, connected to the city by a walkway. the 'gatehouse appears to be spooling a strand of the aurora towards it and into the bear's skull. The weather above the bear also appears to be unusually pleasant. This sort of settlement would not be possible outside an area so full of wild magic.

Culture[]

The settlement is thriving, with people of all ages living atop the bear. When the party visits, they see humans (a small majority), elves, orcs, and halflings (this does not preclude other ancestries living there too). In addition, there are a number of Awakened plants and animals that seem to be functioning members of society. Community members wear brightly-coloured clothes, particularly reds, greens and yellows, and their clothing style is practical for the climate, and relatively simple: tunics, for example.

Ursic culture is druidic, with the council of elders comprising five druids that wear feather cloaks. The druids range in age between mid-teens to very elderly, and there are both men and women on the council. The council meets in a chamber that sits directly on the bear's back, and is decorated with totemic depictions of the bear. The five deities (or similar concepts) represented by the council are: Numi-Torum, Kaltas'ekva, Yerlik, Kaltes, and The Clawed One.

There is not much soil on the bear, and much of the food appears to be meat (with a nose-to-tail approach) and raw vegetables; it is likely that druidic spells help with the growing of the Ursans' food. similarly, 'parks' are wooden spaces lined with potted plants. The druids can shapeshift into eagles, and some of the more advanced druids also have other animal shapes at their disposal; these shapes are used to help run the city, for example in transport of people and goods via eagle.

The community is also pro-resurrection, something that is outlawed in Meritocratic lands. In the centre of the town is an open square containing a round, thatched building of plaster and timber with an open top is used as a space in which to resurrect members of society that have died before their time. The space has a sand floor and is attended by grey-robed acolytes; jars of prepared interplanar plants are used to provide a space in which the dead person and a guide may converse. Those that have been resurrected in this way return to life with pure white hair (or equivalent, e.g. horns). The bodies of those that have died (permanently) are laid to rest in the Garden of Yerlik, an unusual forest in the mountains.

The town does not appear to use any currency, instead using a soft-barter or even mutual aid culture, with stallholders giving goods freely to those that need items. There does not appear to be much, if any, visible inequality in the community.

The Ursans are also aware of the mountain range to the south east of where they met the party, which seems to have a giant bear skeleton at the top of each mountain, although they do not elaborate how the bear graveyard fits into their culture.

The name 'Ursans' is a translation of the community's own name for themselves, since representatives of the community are using language-sharing spells when they communicate with the party.

Relationship with other cultures[]

The Ursans have been known to trade with communities further east, and there is very loose communication and similarities between the cultures of the "Northern Wastes" and North America, in terms of food culture and use of interplanar plants and resurrection.

Ursic culture is very different from that of Meritocratic lands, and the Meritocrats have generally propagated the information that the "Northern Wastes" (i.e. north Asia) are uninhabited and uninhabitable. There is almost no communication between cultures of the "Northern Wastes" and Meritocratic lands (at least officially- Moscow is a small trading outpost, and it is possible central and northern Asian peoples communicate more than the Meritocrats think), and the Ursans have had only one Meritocratic visitor in the years prior to the party's visit.

Resources[]

The Ursans' culture is partially inspired by the real-life indigenous Khanty and Mansi cultures of Russia. you can read more about these cultures here:

Please note the above articles are not written by the peoples they describe.

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