One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
What do we know about the Sharifate of Risay? To answer this question, I've looked at three areas.
I. Published Sources
There are two primary sources for information about Risay: Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (2000) and "The Rock of the West," Living Greyhawk Journal 5 (July 2001). Based solely on these sources, we learn that:
- Risay is a state on the Gulf of Ghayar.
- Diplomatic relations with Zeif extend back to the rule of Sultana Ismuyin the Wise (2529-2577 BH).
- Risay was ruled by an Imam. In 3186 BH, the government was overthrown. No information about subsequent government exists.
- Risay has been visited by Deshani, daughter of the sheik of Barakhat. Risay is now a sharifate, and we know it is south of Barakhat.
II. Secondary Sources
Again, there are two secondary sources for information on Risay: articles on canonfire! and background developed by the Zeif Triad. From these, we learn that:
- Risay fashions mirror those of the other Baklunish states around the Gulf of Ghayar. It tends to be flowing as the summers in Risay are often very hot. However, this clothing can also be surprisingly heavy, or is intended to be worn in layers, because winters can be as cold as the summers can be hot. Changing clothes throughout the year is a necessity, not just a fashion statement. ("Fashion in the Flanaess - The Baklunish," by gvdammerung)
- Risay may be seeking any of the Baklunish artifacts (Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty / Cup and Talisman of Al’Akbar) for its own purposes. It might seek to weaken Zeif, or even establish its own claim on the easternmost part of the Baklunish West, however tenuous this might be. At times Risay is either neutral or hostile toward Zeif, and would certainly like to thwart Zeif's ambitions both in the east and at home, if possible. Spies and assassins from Risay are present in Zeif, although it still has normal diplomatic and trading relations with the sultanate. Zeif’s importance as a supplier of food and precious chrysoberyls means that Risay must not anger it. ("Living Greyhawk Gazetteer Addendum: The Baklunish West, Part II," by CruelSummerLord)
- Komali ships have come under increasing attacks, with Zeif, Mur, and Risay seeming to be the likely culprits. This is driving the Matriarchs to negotiate an alliance with the Janasib corsairs. ("Komal," by Galiana)
- Risay is rumored to be smaller than Komal and Mur, though its boundaries are uncertain. (Zeif Triad)
- Risay was settled after the Invoked Devastation by followers of Ghayar Khan, a Baklunish commoner who claimed to be the last descendant of the royal family. Ghayar installed a satrap in Risay, eventually known as one of the Imperial Pretenders. (Zeif Triad)
Other than the addition of the character of Ghayar Khan, there is no significant addition to the lore on Risay here.
III. Word Meanings (courtesy of Wikipedia)
In 3186 BH, Risay was said to be under the rule of an "imam." Imam is an arabic word meaning "leader." The ruler of a country might be called the imam, for example. However, the capitalized term or The Imam has important origins in the Islamic tradition, especially in Shi'a beliefs. In the first few centuries of Islam, it was used to refer to the Caliph in both Sunni and Shia religious text. It is also an honorific title; for example "Imam Abu Hanifa" could arguably be translated as "the honorable/leader father of Hanifa."
Risay is currently a Sharifate. "Sharif" is a traditional Arab tribal title given to those who serve as the protector of the tribe and all tribal assets, such as property, wells, and land. The sharif is charged with protecting the cities and their environs and ensuring the safety of travelers and pilgrims.
The titles "imam" and "sharif" appear to connotate similar roles - the safeguarding and welfare of the people under them. Sharif is purely tribal, leading me to believe that Risay is now controlled by a dominate tribal group. Imam has more religious significance, which might mean that, before 3186 BH, Risay was under the control of church leaders. The imam's fall could be read as a move to a more secular society.
Risay is on the Gulf of Ghayar, south of Barakhat. I would place the Sharifate at the tip of the Gulf, perhaps hugging a river flowing north out of the Sulhaut Mountains. Risay has never been said to be on the western shore, as have Mur and Komal, so I would draw its western border from the spur of the Salhaut that rises closest to the Ghayar, north-northeast to the coast.
The gulf state of Mur is said to have mountainous regions. Placing Risay as suggested would most easily allow for this to fit. If Komal is assumed to occupy the lands to the northwest of Mur, one would expect that Risay was effected by the Brazen Hordes migration from southern Komal to the Plains of the Paynims.
Risay is probably made up of grassy plains and steppe, with desert and wastelands to the southeast.
I would give Risay a long history, a mixture of subjugation and independence. At different times it could have been ruled by the Baklunish Empire, Ghayar Khan, and the Celestial Imperium. Each would leave its mark on religion, language, customs, and laws. The Baklunish Empire would promote religious beliefs. Ghayar's influence would leave a lingering mystery of magical might and terror. The Celestial Imperium could built a framework of a bureaucracy and civil law, allowing trade to flourish and prosper in Risay.
2529-2577: Treaty with Zeif under Sultana Ismuyin the Wise
Late 2900s: Melek II of Zeif incites the Brazen Horde to leave southern Komal and enter the Plains of the Paynims, passing through Risay en route to their new home.
3186: Imam overthrown in Risay
Risay has a predominately baklunish (90%+) population, with the occasional immigrant from neighboring lands. There are sizable minorities of nomadic clans in the southeast, and immigrants from the Celestial Imperium in the southwest. Dwarves are rumoured to live in a great mountain to the south, though the few that visit Risay never speak of it. The main occupation for a Risari is in the army or as a merchant. Though there are thieves present in Risari cities, their activities are not tolerated and harshly punished.
Risari culture is similar to that of the Baklunish West. Sandwich'd between the Dry Steppes and the so-called "western reaches," Risay is a mix of settled and nomadic cultures. Eastern and western baklunish traditions would find eachother in Risay, as well as whatever lasting influence the Brazen Horde and Celestial Imperium might have left.
Neighboring Mur has likely spread many influences in dress, food, and religion. The horsemen of the Dry Steppes have made their impact on the armies of Risay, which have a large proportion of cavalry.
Risay is a land of wealthy cities and poor villages, great learning and unsolved mysteries. It is famous for its ruins, lost tombs, and strange monsters. The dark forest of the Shai, and the monsters of the Narian Gap present continuous challenges to adventurers. Perhaps there are even more wonders to be found throughout the land.
I had assumed that perhaps the Celestial Imperium, while not actively populating ancient Risay, may have had political control. The rise of the Baklunish Empire would have stifted this control eastward, perhaps.
Note: I haven't settled on a decent name for the capital of Risay. However, I've been toying with some elements of their government structure (below). When you see 'CAPITAL," pretend a cool name is there.
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The traditional Risari pattern government is a complicated system of checks and balances, where power is designed to stay within a ruling family's eldest generation, rather than within the direct descendents of the ruler himself. The various Risari princes serve as vassals to an overlord, who lives in CAPITAL, the federal capital. Next in line is the viceroy, typically the overlord's oldest surviving brother, who who rules the dynasty's home city much as the Risari princes do. Lastly comes the prince of CAPITAL (the district), who shares power with the overlord and the viceroy. The prince is usually the overlords son or, if no son is available, his nephew. Should the overlord die, the Risari throne descends, not to his son, but to the viceroy. The prince of CAPITAL stays in office unless all the brother of the overlord are dead. In that case, the prince becomes the new viceroy, enabling the overlord to name his own son (or nephew) as the new prince of CAPITAL. The Risari system of bilateral descent worked remarkably well, only breaking down during the rule of the Imams, when sons more often succeeded fathers to power.
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Created by Me
Last edited by ephealy on Sun Jun 24, 2007 10:31 am; edited 1 time in total
I thought I'd delve into Risari culture a little - something to get my mind off the map for a while and a chance to exercise the creative juices. Again, until I figure out just how much influence Baklunish has on Risari, I won't be naming any of these. I just thought y'all might like to take a look-see.
Holidays and festivals are great ways to insert hooks for your campaign, but they’re also an opportunity to introduce elements of local culture to your players. Common folk, especially in small villages and towns, have a broad array of superstitions and beliefs. These can easily be used to drive a story forward, or help players get immersed in the world in which their PCs live. The rituals that follow can be used as the central theme of a Risari festival, but can also be inserted as elements of holidays you’re already using in your world. Eventually, I hope to add examples of related adventure hooks after each ritual.
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NAME (Meaning "Luck," or "The Luck")
New Years is a special time for family and friends to get together in shared community. It is common for extended families to have a large meal, often lasting for hours. NAME is a ritual which involves the baking of a special loaf of bread. The recipe for the bread differs from family to family. Some are plain loafs of heavy bread, while others are creations of braided dough, filled with raisons or jam, and topped with glaze. Regardless, each one has a coin, the NAME, baked into the bread. Once dinner is finished, the NAME is brought out. Each member of the family takes one piece, it being considered good luck to get the one containing the coin.
While most NAME are mundane, bestowing no real benefit on its owner, some of the rituals performed during the creation of the loaves have been known to have mystical results. NAME from such loaves are single-use magic items, similar to potions. In most cases, the spell held by these coins is relatively weak, but some have been found to hold a spell of up to 3rd level. NAME can be activated by any user, and generally contain spells beneficial to the user. None of these items have ever been known to contain spells of offensive power.
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This annual ritual marks the retreat of winter, and the advent of spring. Strands of red and white yarn are braided together, and placed in decorative coils, which are exchanged between friends. NAME, as the totems are called, are worn on the lapel. In some places, larger ones are placed on door lintels, or even over the town gates. The red yarn is said to bring luck – the white, prosperity. NAME are displayed until the recipient sees his first stork, at which time it is placed on a nearby tree, or under a rock. It is believed that this act blesses the land, ensuring fertility and growth for the year to come.
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When a child takes his first steps, the neighborhood gets together to perform NAME. The infant is taken by the other children and paraded around the home three times, and then placed before a stump or low table. Before the child are placed various items, representing possible vocations and lucks. The carpenter might place a hammer and the cobbler a small shoe. Someone might place money to represent wealth, or a miniature horse representing travel. Whichever item the child chooses, that is considered an indication of what he will be when he grows up. In some villages, NAME is taken quite seriously, dictating the training a child is expected to receive as he matures. These cultures frown on the one who forsakes the path laid out for him by this ritual.
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When the first buds appear on the trees, and the flowers begin to bloom, some cultures believe it is the right time for mating. In areas where NAME is practiced, maidens who are eligible for marriage gather flowers and make garlands for their hair. They then walk throughout the town, singing songs and dancing. Upon reaching the local stream, the girls take their garlands and toss them into the current. Waiting downstream are the unmarried males of the town who have come of age. When the garlands reach the waiting men, they are taken out and placed on the arm. In some towns and villages, this is the means by which mates are chosen, and NAME is considered as binding in the eyes of the entire community.
Spoken in: Risari Empire (extinct)
Language Extinction: SOME DATE (TBD)
Language Family: possible language isolate, but some suggest ties to Murian
Ancient Risari is an extinct language, which was spoken by the ancient Risari. It was an official language of the Unogonduri Empire from the XXX to XXX centuries CY?. The last written records in Ancient Risari appear about the time of the conquest of the Komali Empire by Gamaei.
Ancient Risari Scripts
- Proto-Risari is the oldest known writing system from Risay. It was used during a brief period of time (ca. XXXX - XXXX); clay tablets with Proto-Risari writing have been found at different sites across Risay. The Proto-Risari script is thought to have developed from an early form of cuneiform writing (proto-cuneiform). The Proto-Risari script consists of more than 1,000 signs and is thought to be partly logographic. Since it has not yet been deciphered, it is not known whether the language it represents is Risari or another language. It has been suggested that some early writing systems, including Proto-Risari, may not relate to spoken language in the way that modern writing systems do.
- Linear Risari is a writing system from Risay attested in a few monumental inscriptions only. It is often claimed that Linear Risari is a syllabic writing system derived from Proto-Risari, although this cannot be proven. Linear Risari was used for a very brief period of time during the last quarter of (NEED A DATE REFERENCE HERE). Linear-Risari has not been deciphered, despite the efforts of notable scholars such as NAME and NAME.
- The Risari Cuneiform script was used from about XXXX to XXXX, and is related to the Sakuri Cuneiform. The Risari Cuneiform script consisted of about 130 symbols, far fewer than most other cuneiform scripts.
Ancient Risari was an agglutinative language, meaning it's grammar featured case agreement between nouns (Suffixaufnahme). It also had a class of animate nouns with separate markers for first, second, and third person.
Relations to Other Language Families
Ancient Risari is mostly thought to have no close relation to the neighboring Baklunish languages, or to the Oeridian languages, even though it adopted the Suloise syllabic script.
Risari Language Tree
Created by Me
SAMPLE RISARI LEXICON
Meaning: land of the gods
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