Baklunish, or “Bakluni,” is generally used in reference to the Baklunish people, a race of humans living in the Flanaess (as well as regions of Oerik further west), though the term may also refer to the language and culture of said people.
Descendants of the human inhabitants of the ancient Baklunish Empire, the Baklunish of today are confined chiefly to the northwest Flanaess, in that region known as the Baklunish Basin and other nearby regions, including Zeif, Ekbir, Tusmit, Ull, Ket, the Dry Steppes, the Plains of the Paynims, the Tiger Nomads, and the Wolf Nomads.
In some cases, the Baklunish mirror the real life Arabian people. Many similarities can be drawn between the two, including aspects of their culture and the influence of genies and other magical forces. However, other Bakluni groups have been compared to various nomadic horse tribes of Central Asia.
Baklunish language can refer to either Ancient Baklunish or one of its Low Baklunish dialects, which are spoken by the Baklunish people. Ancient Baklunish is one of the ancestors of the Common tongue, though there is little resemblance between the two in the present day, a thousand years since the two have diverged. It is still spoken by the nomads of the Plains of the Paynims, and by the faithful of Al’Akbar. It is the language of all official and religious documents west of the Yatil Mountains.
Low Baklunish refers to the contemporary, colloquial Baklunish dialects, descended from Ancient Baklunish but much changed by time.
The following deities make up the Baklunish pantheon:
•Tharoth the Reaper
Baklunish culture in the Flanaess has evolved in two distinctive directions. In the northwest as the Tiger and Wolf Nomads, and through the Dry Steppes and Plains of the Paynims of the west, the Baklunish have developed nomadic societies centered around raising powerful, fast horses for their own use and for trading. In the settled lands of Ull, Ekbir, Tusmit, Zeif and Ket, the Baklunish people have created an urban-centered society based on trading in all its forms. Located at the western edge of the Flanaess, they are uniquely situated for trading and exploration beyond its borders.
Beneath these differences are fundamental similarities. All Baklunish have been raised to believe strongly in what they call the Four Feet of the Dragon: honor, family, generosity and piety, which a good Baklunish will strive for in all things. All acts, great or small, serve to enhance or erode honor, and awareness of this affects many of a character’s actions. However, which acts will affect his honor in which way may not always be clear to outsiders. While loyalty is generally a virtue which enhances honor, there are situations where apparent treachery is the only honorable course, as when a character finds that his sister has dishonorably killed his current employer.
The family is considered the basic unit of Baklunish society, though the definition of family varies, from three generations living under the same roof, to a hundred-plus members of a nomadic clan and their often-distant family ties. Beyond the family, this loyalty is offered to one’s guild, school or military group (all of which are called “little families” by the Baklunish), and to one’s state. Most PCs have a large family back in their homeland.
Generosity includes the giving of alms and hospitality to guests. Baklunish are exhorted to acts of kindness to those less fortunate than themselves. For many, this takes the form of tossing coppers to beggars, but as a character’s wealth increases, so is his generosity expected to grow. He may donate to a public service such as a library or bath; he may “adopt” a small community and watch over it from a distance, offering resources anonymously in times of difficulty; he may supply scholarships or seed money for promising but impoverished youths; he may outfit adventurers who are down on their luck. Whatever he does is expected to be discreet.
Hospitality to guests is considered sacred. Baklunish have been raised to believe that anyone can request shelter from a Baklunish at any time, and that a man of honor must respect that request to the best of his ability. This can be an advantage for a Baklunish PC; he is virtually guaranteed shelter anywhere in the Flanaess he can find another of his race. On the other hand, he may also be called on in this fashion.
In a land of many gods, piety is a flexible virtue. Most Baklunish worship Istus, but may also follow other gods. Gifts to churches are not considered the same thing as generosity to others. In some communities, Baklunish are expected to respect taboos based on birth months as a sign of their piety. PCs have an 8% chance of being born during a festival week, in which case they are required to fast each year for the festival week of their birth; if they are born during a regular month (92% likelihood), they may roll once on the following table:
|01||May not eat specified food.||02||Must eat specified food at least once a week.||03||May not curse.||04||May not consume alcoholic beverages, except for religious ceremonies.||05||May not reveal specified body part in presence of the opposite sex.||06||Must spend one week a year alone in ritual fasting and prayer.||07||Must cover head when on sacred ground.||08||May not speak above a whisper in a specified situation (e.g., on holy ground, during a full moon, during a festival, etc.).||09||May not wear footgear during Richfest..||10||Must wash in salt water after each battle.||11||Must purify weapon in fire after each battle.||12||Must remain celibate until married.|
In all nomadic Baklunish tribes, the breeding and training of horses for farming, transportation, and warfare is a necessary and well-respected occupation, and as a result nomadic Baklunish characters often have the ride skill. The animals are treated well, receiving high-quality food and daily exercise. Their saddles, tack and harnesses receive careful attention. In inclement weather, some nomads actually raise tents or yurts for the protection of their horses.
The highly trained Baklunish cavalries are known far and wide. Anyone who has ever witnessed them in action has come away with wondrous stories to tell; anyone who has ever faced them in battle has probably not come away alive. The horses are swift and agile, the riders are skilled and strong; together, they are a force taken seriously by every opponent in the Flanaess.
Baklunish lore is filled with legends and tales revolving around horses. The legends tell of horses that saved entire clans from fire and stampeding hordes, those that saved their owners through not only strength but cleverness, and beasts that were sent by the gods to deliver messages of warning or encouragement. The tall tales include that of a gargantuan horse that tows Oerth through the heavens, the horse that became angered and stamped down part of the Barrier Peaks to form Ket, and the beast that several centuries ago splashed in the Dramidj Ocean to spare Ekbir and the Tiger Nomads from a severe drought.
These folk observe a number of customs relating to horses. In many homes, before beginning the evening meal, a toast is raised to the family’s horses, naming each of them before the meal is begun. Warriors typically exchange a lock of hair with their animals; the rider braids hair from the mane or tail into a necklace or bracelet for himself, and braids some of his own hair into a plait in the horse’s mane. Each animal’s birthday is also celebrated by placing a wreath of flowers around the horse’s neck and serving special treats to the animal.
All Baklunish are fond of singing, dancing and, curiously, puppetry. Their celebrations include a wide range of festive songs and dances. For major holidays, parades are conducted using life-size (and larger) puppets. Baklunish funerals have their own repertoire of slow, solemn, harmonic songs that are sung by all in attendance. Many Baklunish greet the morning or end of the day with a song.