The dominant culture on the eastern continent is called Rén (plural Rén and adjective as Rénese). With it is own language and various subdivisions, it does share some very small similarities to the Taika culture. However, these similarities are so small that it takes an expert to locate them. A fun fact about the Rén culture is that ‘Rén’ means ‘people’ in their language.
- 1 Regional distinction
- 2 Religion
- 3 Language
- 4 The Classes
- 5 Clothing
- 6 Names
- 7 Traditions
- 8 Warfare
The differences among the Rén isn’t the same as with the other known cultures. The various Rénese subcultures are more evident by their respective region, which is smaller than the Taika for example. The various Rénese cultures aren’t named West or East but more by the Fractured Kingdom they are located within. So are the Sevudian Rénese different than the Rongese Rénese as the values on integrity is higher among the Sevudian. In general, at least.
It should be noted so close to the start that the information on the Rénese culture applies on all the Fractured Kingdoms. But Rong is an exception. Due to the Chant, the Rénese culture is slightly different. Much of the traditions still stand but there is no clear class system for those born with a need are needed to be served by those with the ability to help. As Rong occupies most of the eastern continent, they try to implement the Chantnd its virtues upon the people. This has caused a lot of friction, leading to the occasional revolts and rebellions. Which in turn are oppressed and crushed within no time by Rong’s military. The surviving Fractured Kingdoms, however, still uphold the traditions of their ancestors.
Religion plays a huge part within the lives of many people on the eastern continent. Despite Rong having a large impact and converted large parts of the continent to the Chant, there are still various small religions. Usually flourishing within the Fractured Kingdoms, safe from the harsh religious persecution of the Rongese.
The language spoken on the eastern continent is largely Rénese. There are various dialects that usually hint towards one’s origin. It is a known fact within the Rénese culture that those of wealthier origin have a slight different intonation, which is considered a source of prestige for the Rénese. Many wealth merchants as lower nobility, for example, try to educate their children to adopt this particular intonation that is slightly higher than that of the commoners to stand out. The Rénese that live on the western side of the continent do, however, speak somewhat Taika. This is likely the product of some meagre interaction between people.
A similarity that the Rénese have with the Taika is that they also follow a class system. It is, however, much more rigid. Advancing or decreasing from one to another class is virtually impossible. The only one that has any control over one’s movement within society is the sovereign ruler. However, with the dawn of Rong, this class-society is only found back within the Fractured Kingdoms.
Those who are born within the dynasties are considered chosen and divine. Harming them is considered a sacrilege. It is by this divine right that many Rénese rulers have managed to hold a firm grip over their subjects. Many sovereigns go by the title of: Huangdi (皇帝, pinyin: huáng dì, which is translated to: huang (皇 "august, magnificent") and di (帝 "God, Royal Ancestor"))
The Shi is a vague term for outsiders. Where as one would expect that the nobility would be producing fine warriors and being quite militant, such as the Taika and Chonobi cultures, they are quite the opposite. The Shi are aristocratic scholars and provide an educated bureaucracy. Since access to books and knowledge is limited to those with enough funds, those with a scholarly background are highly respected as valued. Other vocations that belong to the Shi are for example eunuchs and concubines of the sovereign.
The Nong exist out of farmers and those involved around the production of food. The Nong are considered second to the Shi. This is much in the same light as the Taika culture, where they bring up the most food as state revenue with taxes. The Nong’s status is, however, further amplified by the threat of famines.
Artisans which have skills to make objects of everyday use. Despite they are producers much like the Nong, they are essentially landless. Which means that they don’t generate as much revenue for the state as the Nong. The Gong is more respected than the other classes, such as merchants, because they pass on their skill from generation to generation. In this certain class are also those with low ranked military occupations, such as the common soldiers.
The Merchants and Traders
Merchants and traders were considered the lowest of the classes. Only above the outcasts and criminals. This is because they didn’t produce anything, which is considered a disgrace. Many wealthy merchants do buy plots of land to improve their prestige as command more respect in society. But seeing the rigid class system, they will still be considered merchants. A popular belief of the Rénese is that the merchants are only motivated by greed and do not contribute to the greater good of society.
As one might have assumed from the start, there is a difference between men and women’s clothing in the Rénese culture.
Most women wear three collars with narrow sleeves. This is what makes their upper clothing most of the time. Pleated skirts are also popularized among the Rénese and make clothing more graceful for women. Light colors are very popular among the women of the Rénese culture. Embroidered capes are also a part of the ensemble for women’s clothing. It is worn over the shoulders which are called “Rosy Cloud Cape” due to its rosy and cloud-like shape.
The traditional clothing for men are depicted with broad sleeves and circular collars. Most of the men also wear a drooping strap with black silk ribbons and soft chuddar. Tunics are also worn by men. These have short sleeves and reach the knees. Most of these clothing are made of cotton or silk, but silk is immensely popular by the Rénese. A padded jacket is worn over the upper garments to keep them warm during winter.
Names are without a doubt immensely important. The majority of the Rénese culture actually don’t have a surname. Only those of truly aristocratic origin are bestowed with a second family name. The Rénese people do follow a tradition where they state their place of birth. Two example might thus be:
Huan of Lei’s Street.
Zhuan of Kurokotan
- Behind the Name
- The Fantasy Random Generator provides both surname and first names but no additional information on their meaning.
The traditions among the Rénese can vary but these variations are quite small. Most Rénese have similar traditions.
The Rénese are quite fond of painting. There are even three different schools of painting. The Whu, which appeals mostly to the intelligentsia; and the aim of the eccentric group which is freedom of expression and spontaneity. Narrative painting, with a wider colour range and a much complex composition is quite popular among the Rénese as well.
Music and Kunku
Music and drama is quite loved among the Rénese, regardless of wealthy or poverty ridden origin. Soft melodies are the most popular, both for romantical as soothing kind of music. Kunku is the most popular theatrical form, which is patronized by scholars and the educated elite class. Kunku involves complex acting techniques, delicate singing, and constant dance-like movements.
It is considered quite rude to introduce yourself when somebody else is introducing you. This might seem quite self-explanatory but it is a bit more complex, for outsiders, than it seems. For the Rénese have various rules when it comes to introductions. These rules being:
- The junior should be introduced to the senior first;
- The female should be introduced to the male first;
- The inferior should be introduced to the superior first;
- The guest should be introduced to the host first.
These ways of introduction is to show high respect to the senior, the male, the superior and the host. In informal cases or lower classes, it is less frowned upon mistakes.
A multitude of etiquette considerations occur also when dining among the Rénese. There are some special differences in table manners from the other (western) cultures.
- A round dining table is more popular than a rectangular or square one. As many people who can be seated comfortably around it conveniently face one another. The guest of honor is always seated to the right of the host; the next in line will sit on his left. Guests should be seated after the host's invitation, and it is discourteous to seat guests at the place where the dishes are served.
- Dining may only begin once the host and all his guests are seated. The host should actively take care of all his guests, inviting them to enjoy their meal.
- On a typical Rénse dining table there are always a cup, a bowl on a small dish, together with the chopsticks and spoons. Dishes are always presented in the center of the table.
- Apart from soup, all dishes should be eaten with chopsticks. The Rénese are particular about the use of chopsticks. There are many no-no's such as twiddling with chopsticks, licking chopsticks, or using them to stir up the food, gesture with them or point them at others. Never stick chopsticks in the center of rice, as this is the way to sacrifice and is therefore considered to be inauspicious.
- Keep your dining pace accorded with other people. Never smoke when dining.
- A formal dining is always accompanied by tea, beer or distilled spirit. The one who sit closest to the teapot or wine bottle should pour them for others from the senior and superior to the junior and inferior. And when other people fill your cup or glass, you should express your thanks. Guests can not pour tea or wine themselves.
- A toast to others is a characteristic Rénese dining. When all people are seated and all cups are filled, the host should toast others first, together with some simple prologue to let the dining start. During the dining after the senior's toast, you can toast anyone from superior to inferior at their convenience. When someone toasts you, you should immediately stop eating and drinking to accept and toast in response. If you are far from someone you want to toast, then you can use your cup or glass to rap on the table to attract attention rather than raise your voice. However, it is impolite to urge others to drink.
- Conventionally, if you are invited to a formal banquet, all the dishes should not be eaten up completely, or you will give the host the impression that he has not provided a good banquets and the food was insufficient. After dining, guests should leave once the host has left the table
As for the question as to who should offer his hand first, there are some basic principles you should follow. Generally speaking, the elder, the senior, the teacher (compared with the students), the male, the married (compared with the unmarried), the superior should reach out their hands first. If you have to shake hands with more than one person, you should shake hands in succession with the senior and superior to the junior and inferior, from the nearest to the furthest.
Specially, when the host meets the guest, the host should shake hands first to show his welcome; however, when they say goodbye with each other, it is the guest who should offer his hand first.
There are also some exceptions. If someone, no matter whether he is superior or not, offers his hand before you, it is courteous to give an unreserved response.
There are also some things that are unacceptable when shaking hands:
- Shake hands absentmindedly.
- Shake hands with left hand.
- Shake hands while wearing a hat, gloves or sunglasses.
- Shake hands crossways.
- Having your other hand in your pocket.
- Shake hands while seated unless disabled.
- Refuse to shake hands with others.
Rénese don’t gesture very much and regard a lot of hand movement as excessive. Chinese don't gesture very much and regard a lot of hand movement as excessive. Winking and whistling are considered rude. Eye contact tends to be indirect. Both the thumbs up sign and tugging on the earlobe are signs of excellence. An outward pointing and raised pinky means you are nothing, poor quality or not very good at something. Some Rénese point with their middle finger without realizing that it has a vulgar meaning in other cultures. Conversely, a thumb placed between the middle and index fingers (the "nose stealing" gesture) is on obscene gesture.
Don't point or use your finger to beckon someone (this gesture is used for dogs). To get someone's attention and tell them to “come here” place your palm down and move your fingers towards you. This gesture is used with children or waiters but is considered very rude when directed at an older person. The most polite way to attract someone's attention is to make eye contact and bow slightly. Holding your fist up is an obscene gesture in many of the Rénese culture dominant regions. The Rénese way of saying thanks with a gesture is by tapping two fingers on a table.
Signs of Affection
Public displays of affection between members of the opposite sex’ such as kissing, hugging and holding hands---are considered rude, while holding hands and hugging among members of the same sex are perfectly acceptable. Young people in their twenties have, in general, never kissed a member of the opposite sex and never even seen their parents kiss. Kissing is regarded as just one step shy of sex. ‘French kissing’ is seen as some kind of exotic, forbidden experience. In many urban areas there are rules that state that students can not "touch, embrace or kiss."
Because there is little privacy at home and young lovers often can't afford a place of their own or always a place at an inn, couples that do display their affection go to smooch behind trees at public parks, or other private places.
Rénese consider it rude to say "no" directly. They often say something like "maybe," "I am busy," or even "yes" when they really mean "no," or convey a no answer in way that those from other cultures don't understand. This behavior sometimes causes confusion with Taika, Chonobi as Yakimara who like a yes-or-no answer, and who tend to believe there is a possibility of a "yes" unless they are told "no" straight out. Rénese consider it rude, kind of mean and too direct to say "no."
Rénese are not as big on gift-giving as the Taika or Chonobi. Nevertheless it is polite to present a small gift when meeting a Rénese. Gifts exchanged in business and social situations include fruit, handkerchiefs, sweets, alcohol or paintings. Don't give anything that is green. Green is a symbol of cuckoldry. Avoid white. It is associated with death and funerals. One should not give anything that has to do with time, which to the Rénese symbolize death or the end of a relationship, as a gift. For the Rénese, to “give a clock” sound like ‘seeing someone off to his end." Don't give a book because “giving a book" sound like “delivering defeat." Don't give an umbrella because doing so implies that the family of the gift receiver is going to be dispersed.
The recipient of a gift should make sure to shower the gift giver with thanks, smiles and compliments. When receiving a gift don't open it immediately unless requested to do so. For the Rénese, gifts are meant to be opened in private. Don't give too much attention to an object when visiting someone' house. The host may feel obligated to give it to you.
Within the Rénese culture, the standing as opinion of soldiers or anything militant isn’t that high. The only exception is Rong, which actively works with propaganda to promote more men to enlist themselves - saving cost on conscripting and drafting men into the military. The reason for why military endeavours or careers are considered less isn’t entirely clear. Some scholars attribute it to the fact that soldiers train to kill. Which is a sin. Other scholars claim that it is because only the weak-willed and barbaric love the way of violence or simply don’t know any better. Military officers are not only subordinate to civil officials, but generals and soldiers alike are degraded, treated with fear, suspicion, and distaste. Military service in the Rénese culture enjoys far less prestige than its civil counterpart or as it does in other cultures, partly due to its hereditary status, but also because that many of its members are illiterate. To say that the Rénese don’t have an understanding of warfare is wrong though. Even while they might be less eager about it than other cultures such as the Taika and Chonobi, they know how to fight and organise themselves. A large difference between Rénese and other cultures is that women aren’t allowed to enlist for many military occupations.
Many of the Rénese Fractured Kingdoms even have something that is called a ‘hereditary military’. In this system, soldiers are meant to be self sufficient. They provide their own food via military farms (called tun tian) and rotate into training and military posts. Several posts are orientated for specialised training. The families that are part of these hereditary military are fully dedicated to warfare. For example, sons follow their fathers into becoming soldiers where as daughters work into facilities that produce leather for various other products that the military requires to function. The hereditary soldiers are grouped into ‘guards’ (wei) and ‘battalions’ (suo), otherwise known as the Wei-Suo system. A guard consist out of 5.000 soldiers, each guard is divided into regiments of 1.000 soldiers. Each regiment contains 10 companies of 100 soldiers, each company contains two platoons of 50 soldiers, and each platoon contains five squads of 10 soldiers.
The Liúwáng (meaning ‘Exiles’) are a military cast that are almost treated with as much disdain as normal exiles and criminals. The Liúwáng are the shinobi-counterpart in the Rénese culture. Much like the other cultures, there isn’t much trust for the ninjutsu-trained military. Many see it as a pure necessity with the centuries ongoing struggle against Rong. Yet, that doesn’t mean that the Rénese are fond of the Liúwáng. Many don’t join the Liúwáng on a volutinary base. Even as the organisation provides shelter and training for those with a talent for moulding chakra, many who eventually wind up there are either forced or pressed into. Contrary to popular belief though are there some who volutinary join the dangerous occupation of becoming a member of the Liúwáng. The ranks and rules of the secret organisation are only known to a few but everybody is aware of that they are always operating near the front as behind enemy lines in attempt to disrupt the plans of Rong.
The equipment of the Rénese are in general inferior when it comes down to quality. Compared to the militant Taika and Chonobi, the Rénese equip the majority of their soldiers with some protective gear and a few weapons. The spear is the most popular weapon, for it is easy to produce and train. Another popular weapon is the sling, for which the Rénese produce small lead balls to sling away at foes. They also equip their soldiers with bows, swords and maces. Shields are used and are typically small and square. The more elite part of the Rénese military are usually retinues, being a small part of the Rénese forces. The Rénese elite military are usually equipped with heavier and sturdier protective gear as better quality weaponry.
Mounts and Beasts of War
The disdain that the Rénese have for military endeavours isn’t shown in their pragmatic outlook on using animals for war. The typical horse is used both to pull waggons as being a mount for in battle. Some Rénese even have started to use Dargs but those creatures are quite despised and considered to be too affiliated with the Rongese military. The Rénese cavalry is usually equipped with lances to deliver a good shock before pulling back or pressing on. Their sidearms often aren’t much different from the infantry, only being in some cases of longer design to suit their needs better on horseback.
However, the Rénese have a particular mount that instils dread and fear on the battlefield. The elephant is one of the most dangerous opponents one can find on the eastern continent’s battlefields. Where some people tame and train them to be of aid for agricultural or construction work, the animals have been used as beasts of war for centuries. The damage that they do to the morale of the opposition together with the amount of damage that they soak up is considered beneficial compared to the expensive maintenance as risk of the creatures going amok.
An elephant charge can reach about 30 km/h (20 mph), and unlike horse cavalry, can not be easily stopped by an infantry line setting spears or pikes. A charge of elephants is based on pure force, crashing into an enemy line, trampling and swinging their tusks. Men that aren’t crushed by the charge risk being swatted away by the tusks or knocked back by the brute force. Even as horses can outrun elephants, the smell of elephants cause unaccustomed horses to panic easily.
The thick hide gives the elephants considerable protection, while their height and mass protects their riders. Some Rénese generals manage to arrange armour for their war elephants to further protect them. The Rénese war elephants are equipped further with towers upon them to provide space for another one or two soldiers - usually equipped with javelins or bow and arrow. War elephants are favoured by generals for the height provides a good view on the battlefield.
Tactics and Strategy
The Rénese don’t wage war in the same way as the western continent’s cultures. Where as Rong has developed a taste for aggressive manoeuvrers, many of the Rénese military are fond of defensive stratagems. Making use of the terrain, it is highly unusual to see the Rénese advance in an aggressive fashion. They prefer to occupy and hold their ground. Strategic positions that will lure or force their enemies in advancing towards them is quite favoured. They don't deploy much special formations in battle, generally forming a line of infantry to hold the line while cavalry as skirmishers harass the enemy when advancing.