Cultural Cues: Ikhten has been inspired by the desert cultures of the Middle East, most notably ancient Egypt and the early Ottoman Empire.
Costuming: The Ikhten people tend to wear flowing, light-colored robes to keep the sun off, and generally favor some sort of head wrap or scarf for the same reason. The Ikhten will occasionally tattoo themselves, and most will use thick eyeliner around their eyes. Large, heavy neckpieces are favored as formal wear. Nomads and desert-dwellers; favor loose, light clothing, occasional tattoos, elaborate neckpieces and headdresses, eye liner. Real world reference: Egyptian and Middle East.
Ikhten is a small desert nation, south and west of Illumin and directly north of the Wastes. Oasis towns dot the landscape in between large swathes of sand. Scrub plants may be found along the coastline in some places, and most cities are built along these coasts or on the banks of large rivers.
Several notable Ikhten cities are: Hieratis, where the mysterious Lazslo Dretch dwells; Paladne, called the City of Crypts, and Mirror Bay, half Verrakin pleasure-colony and half Illumin university.
Before the Illumin Empire was even a spark, there were the Necromancer-Kings: six beings of great and terrible power.
Each one was driven by the quest for immortality, and each one pursued different avenues of attaining it. They enslaved nearly an entire nation, putting Ikhteni to work building great cities and palaces – or using them as sacrifices and subjects for experimentation.
Eventually, these studies into dark matters drove each Necromancer-King mad. And as a result of this madness, they all slowly withdrew from the world, their great palaces becoming their tombs.
The Ikhteni themselves resumed their former ways of life – town dwellers continued to eke out their existences at oases, nomads conducted both trade and raids on these towns. They continued this existence for generations, happy to let the memory of the Necromancer-Kings and their horrors fade.
Eventually, the Illumin Empire arrived to conquer. The Ikhteni themselves did not put up much resistance, and the rule of the Illumin was a light one as a result. As easily as the Illumin once washed over Ikthen, eventually their tide receded, and Ikhten remained much as it had before.
Ikhten culture is divided along two general classes – the village or city dwellers, and the nomads.
City dwellers gather either around oases in small villages, or in the larger cities; where they pursue agriculture or small crafts and trades.
Nomads travel between these villages and cities, usually as traders in goods but sometimes as slavers – or even thieves. Theirs is a harder life, though they value the freedom being a nomad affords them.
Despite any given Ikhteni’s social class, however, one thing remains the same – their reverence for the dead. Many Ikhteni leave a place for their departed ancestors at meals, and consult with necromancers when seeking signs of their ancestors approval or disapproval. They draw little distinctions between the living and the dead in their laws – striking a corpse, to an Ikhten, is the same as battery against a living person, taking grave goods is theft, and a vampire-hunter who pursues his calling may find himself brought up on charges of murder.
Another custom best not violated in Ikhten is that of speaking the names of the Necromancer-Kings. To do so is considered a serious offense. As a result, the Ikhteni use epithets to describe the Necromancer-Kings, when they must be discussed at all. These epithets are: The Stealer of Dreams, the Biter of Serpents, the Enslaver of Hudakos, the Sender of Plagues, the Bender of Flesh and the Bringer of Night.
Their fear is perhaps not without cause – several years ago, the Stealer of Dreams arose, and began a campaign to reclaim Ikhten. Some Ikhten followed him, but others feared what a Necromancer-King might mean not only for Ikhten, but the world. He was finally put down at the Battle of Hieratis in A.N. 409 by a coalition of representatives from many nations. He surrendered, but disappeared soon afterwards.
Currently, while much of Ikhten continues to rule itself village by village, an Ikhten Council has recently been created and is attempting to lead Ikhten into the future. The current active members of the Ikhten Council are: Haret-Na, headman of Ankhtaert; Jahad-Re, a powerful necromancer and headwoman of Paladne; Khira, headwoman of the tribe at Khira’s Ridge; Lazslo Dretch, rumored to be a new Necromancer-King who rediscovered the lost art of classical necromancy; Mirestar Half-Troll, wife of Lazslo and headwoman of Hieratis; and Razeem, a serpent cultist and headman of Tet-un-Namet.
The Ikhteni believe strongly in hospitality – any visitor to a town or family may expect a warm, generous welcome. In addition, a nomad will almost never bring violence against someone with whom he or she has shared water.
Though shunned in most other nations, necromancy is a welcome and well-practiced art in Ikhten. Perhaps because of the legacy of the Necromancer-Kings, necromancers occur far more frequently in Ikhten than they do anywhere else. Necromancers are also charged with preserving the history of Ikhten, a responsibility many take quite seriously.
And while necromancers are the historians, sun acolytes are the keepers of law. A sun acolyte may take up residence in a particular village, or travel from place to place, lending their services as necessary. Wherever they go, a sun acolyte’s wisdom is generally respected, and they are always welcome guests in anyone’s home.
Invocation, mesmerism, and naturae are all uncommon in Ikhten lands. Practitioners of these arts do not garner especial fortune and fame, but neither are they particularly scorned.
Of special mention are the serpent cults: groups of people who are fascinated with snakes to varying degrees. Some cults merely venerate the snake as a figure of mystery; other, more dedicated cults seek full transformation into hybrid serpent-men. These snake cults are often credited with contributing significantly to topping the Necromancer-Kings, though the details of what precisely they did are unclear to many.
Ikhten tend to get along fairly well with outsiders, bearing no nation or people any particular ill will – though they may resist what they see are attempts by foreign powers to meddle in Ikhten affairs.
Due to the inhospitable climates of Ikhten, few supernatural races are entirely comfortable living there. As a result, most Ikhten do not have well-formed opinions of elves, sauren, trolls or other supernatural races (though a few nocturnal sauren might collect around an oasis village – if this happens, they’re treated just like anyone else). Almost unique to Ikhten are the ghuls, a reclusive species rumored to feed on the bodies of the dead.