|Common Names||Mountain Callers, Yodelers, and Top-tillers|
|Social Classes||Herders, Miners, Merchants, Priests, Guards|
|Major Cities||Z’Nünivilmal, Abelburger, Haaschmiär, Schriftsprache, Helvetsuissie, and Zahlenzwietel|
The Genevaud are a unique people, dedicated to ideals of protection, cultural pluralism, and traditions built up by 200 years of isolation within the mountain ranges. These traditions are strong and tinged with odd and ancient ideas, but are also mixed with a staunch worship of Unionism. In fact, the entire Genevaud population are dedicated to Unionism, so much so that routinely, a small grouping of Genevaud go every year to Basta and enlist in the School of Lancyon to fulfil their culture’s dedication to the protection and the central faith of the Regalian Empire.
- 1 History
- 2 Language and Dialects
- 3 Lifestyle and Customs
- 4 Holidays
- 5 Literature and Folklore
- 6 The Arts
- 7 Recreation
- 8 Symbols
- 9 Trivia
The Genevaud came about fairly recently in the history of the Regalian Archipelago. Following the unification of the Archipelago and then the explosion of new Cultures and groups that followed in the wake of this event, newly created Lordships pushed their boundaries and enveloped previously untamed and unaffiliated areas of the Archipelago. One of these regions was the Genevaudin Mountain Chain, positioned at the crossroads of numerous Cultures. Unlike in other areas, where colonists and migrations of people were needed to fill the landscape, Regalian scouts and surveyors found an already present local Ailor population insular and unaware of outside affairs. They had lived in the mountains for 200 years, and still believed in the threat of raids from the Allorn Empire which had caused their ancestors to retreat into the peaks. These people were quickly brought up to speed on what had occurred in world history since their retreat into the mountains two centuries ago by Unionist missionaries, who converted the entire population in a matter of years. Then began the battles of influence. Each of the surrounding Lordships pushed their boundaries up into the Mountain Chain while also pushing for the local people to adopt their Culture and their way of thought.
The local people bore this for only so long before suddenly, as a united force, they revolted and demanded to be seen as their own Lordship. The battle soon turned in their favor as they retreated into their mountainous terrain and resisted attempts to quell them for 10 years. Eventually, deciding it was not in anyone’s best interest to use overwhelming force to crush Unionist Ailor citizens of the Empire, Imperial bureaucrats authorized by Tarnan and Sarvan Kade as well as Emperor Allestrain I, who himself was very aware of how protracted the conflict could become given the terrain. Thus, the sixteen Cantons were established and the Lordship of Genevaud was born. Since that time, the Genevaud Culture and their Lordship have been a relatively peaceful people, and are seen by many as having led the charge in ideas now seen in modern Imperial Culture, that of taking, adapting and using the practices and features of other Cultures in their own while also retaining unique traits and features.
Language and Dialects
The Languages within the Genevaud Cantons are diverse, owing to the surrounding regions’ various Languages and Genevaud’s history as a former part of various Lordships. The Genevaud Dialect, their native tongue, is derived from Proto-Regalian and has much in common with modern Alt-Regalian which has influenced the Genevaud Dialect over the past century. They do not have mutual intelligibility. There exist three other Languages, of which at least one each are known by a sizable proportion of the population. These Languages are Dressalo, Leutz-Vixe Dialect and D’Ithanie, found in the south, east and west respectively.
Due to the various Cultures that intersect in Genevaud, how a parent names their child is dictated largely by their family background or the parent’s choice. Surnames are simple and one word, with the complexities of the New Regalians and Ithanians shed for the style of names used by the traditional Genevaud.
Lifestyle and Customs
Genevaud Culture strictly adheres to monogamy and the ideal of the nuclear family, that they are extremely forgiving of remarrying as long as the spouse in the previous marriage is dead. This is based on the religious beliefs of Unionism and the spread of Ailor-kind imparted by their rapid, aggressive conversation that had made them such ardent followers of the faith. They additionally dislike homosexuality but with the changes over the past several years, in their firm adherence to the Creeds and the Holy Law, it is now more acceptance so long as one’s duty to produce children has been accomplished. As for families as a whole, a typical Genevaud mountain-dwelling family has anywhere from three to five children in order to help them herd their animals and survive out in the generally harsher climate. Those families who live at lower altitudes or within the urban centers are more likely to just have two to three children as their lives are easier and there is less need for extra hands. Families are also patriarchal, with the man of the house having full control of the family but is still expected to listen and take his whole family’s council into advice, even the women.
The Genevaud founded a unique system where autonomous provinces band together for common defense and welfare, known as the Cantons. Catons are the Genevaud word for barony, with barons leading each of the sixteen that have existed since their independence almost a century ago. These positions are not always hereditary, however, and instead see a man elected from several candidates at the Canton-wide Bürgerversammlungen (Citizen-gatherings). Each baron serves for ten years before new elections are held or until he dies, whereupon an election is held to choose his successor. Each Canton has wide powers in deciding their laws, taxation, and other general affairs and in enforcing them, however, Confederacy-wide laws are decided by the Baronial Council and the Common Assembly. The Common Assembly is a group of 160 men, ten from each Canton, between the ages of thirty to forty-eight who are elected by their Canton to represent their specific interests at the Common Assembly (held every five years). The Assembly debates topics important to several, if not all, of the Cantons and makes a recommendation or resolution that must then be passed up to the Baronial Council (which meets at the same time) for approval and implementation. In addition to this concern for each other’s well being, bonds between the Cantons are enforced by marriages by the children and relatives and commonly-elected Baronial families, thus making a functional noble confederacy. This system has kept the Genevaud under one banner for the past several decades and despite the linguistic and ethnic barriers, thriving.
Gender roles are rather traditional in Genevaud society, with women taking care of the home and children while the men work in their various professions. Women receive very little in the way of independence, and the owning of property is rare, except under extraordinary circumstances. Even the female nobility of the region rarely have much power in such matters, and a Baroness being elected is completely unheard of. One cultural surprise of note is that women still do get an education, just not as extensive as a man’s. Instead, while general topics and knowledge are instilled in them, the tutelage system for girls passes down their traditions and teaches them more about housework and other similar menial tasks. Childrearing is also taught in this system of tutelage. Despite these limits, women are still treated with great respect in Genevaud Culture and in recent decades, more and more women have slowly been working to help shape better conditions and opportunities for themselves within the Cantons. But, this process will likely take a long time due to the domestic role enshrined in the variety of Unionism the Genevaud follow.
The Genevaud have several annual traditions that are celebrated without fault across their mountainous Lordship. Lederhosegemachttag is a day where all young men at age sixteen climb a Hochberg, the designation for the highest mountain in a single Canton. Once they have reached the peak, they are allowed to don their Canton’s distinct form of Lederhosen (a style of clothing). Fathers typically either make this special Lederhosen themselves or have it made by a trusted family friend. This is also the first time that a youth is allowed to properly yodel, together with all of his friends, in an act said to carry good feelings and powerful emotions across the land. The other major celebration is Stadtmarkttag, a day where an entire town comes together in the Altstadt, or ‘Old Town’ area of their region and tour the various market shops, take a walk in the park if the town has one, and eat fine finger foods like tarts and chocolates. At the end of the day, groups of related or friendly families come together and sing lighthearted songs about fellowship and the Spirit.
Literature and Folklore
The literature of the Genevaud isn’t very diverse in subject. Almost all of it is focused on Unionist-based philosophy, ideology, music and poetry, many of the more complex works often produced by devout groups living in communes higher up in the mountains. The remaining aspect of their literature is based around the study of geography and minerals, including observations and information collected by a Culture that has spent two centuries in the high mountains intelligently interacting with those surroundings. These texts show diversity in the Languages they are translated into, that being all of the Languages of the Cantons including Common, though that is a recent development.
The Genevaud are a people who adapted to their surroundings. While their ancestors and in a few rare communities, elders, resisted those Cultures and Lordships that sought to dominate them, they did so to reinforce their own value but not to completely cleanse out external influences on their existence. For that reason, Genevaud philosophy and ideals are generally more fragmented than one might expect, those in the south influenced by Dressolini ideals of active political participation to those in the north and west more influenced by militarism, stoic dispositions and other traits of Leutz-Vixe, New Regalian, and so forth. This openness to new ideas extends to them as people, meaning they are generally accepting and open to other Cultures, particularly foods, drinks, and clothing. This eclectic and open nature does not discount some central Genevaud principles however, as non-Ailor Races and non-Ailor Cultures may expect customary reactions from a people so firmly dedicated to the letter of the Creeds of Unionism. The Genevaud are also dedicated to the ideals of protection and helping others through armed service. 200 years in the harsh mountains gave their Culture plenty of chances to defend themselves and rather than attack their fellow mountain dwellers, they took the bold step of trusting them. These series of mutual defense pacts helped create the modern sixteen Cantons, but also helped to focus their society on the protection of others. When Unionism missionaries arrived, the word they brought was deemed so valuable and important that a number of Genevaud guardsmen known locally as the Mendail Pimpel fully adopted Unionism and vowed to protect these missionaries to the death. What sprouted from this early relationship is the fact that a number of Genevaud go to Basta every few years to train and become Helerians, which they are quite good at given their Culture’s focus on such a profession. Also as a result of this focus and the value and honor put into the act of protecting others, they make fierce friends once trust has been established.
Despite the Genevaud conversion to Unionism, such an event occurred very late into their history, and their rich background of 200 years of Old Faiths has been retained through their local folklore. The most popular tales are coming of age stories (focused on boys becoming men) and a brave battle up some dangerous mountain to save a beloved figure from their lives from a monster, from giants to great birds to some variety of witch or warlock. Some of their myths also explain these creatures and how they came to be, and here Unionism shows itself as most of the original backgrounds have been altered to show how wretched sinners against the true faith of Ailor-kind were turned into monstrous creatures. Other bits of their mythology dealing with the background to things are some of their natural features, with the tales ranging from the childish and simple, to connective parts of coming of age stories. A final aspect of their folklore, now dying out hard in the face of Unionism, is the idea of the spirit of the mountain. To the Genevaud, each mountain has a spirit that denoted characteristics, as an angry, fierce spirit might cause rockslides and avalanches more open than a calm, peaceful spirit. The Lederhosegemachttag was originally meant to serenade and calm the spirit of the mountain, with the climb also being an act of worship, but as can be read, has since been pivoted to other meanings.
The Genevaud Culture has limited local art as the mountainous terrain did not make it conducive for their ancestors to spend too much time devoted to the craft. However, artistic inclinations were satisfied in more subtle ways. Small sculptures serve to add decoration to the external beams and surfaces of buildings, with wood carving being an especially appreciated art. Many businesses inside of the Cantons sell genuine wooden carvings of the varied beauty of nature made by local carpenters. It is so prevalent to learn how to capture the scenic sights of the mountain life that even women are allowed to be taught to do it when they are young, which can at times lead to women maintaining some autonomy into adulthood.
The most popular music of the Genevaud people differs within each Canton, but a common tread of interest are Unionist carols. Their other major form of musical expression is the unique practice of Jodelgesang. Called the yodel or yodeling in Common, the Jodelgesang is used as a call and response to let one another know that all is well by those in mountain-bound professions. Since the calls echo through the mountains, climbers may communicate for long distances depending on the power of their lungs; miners use it to give warning of a mine collapsing, the end of the day, or imminent danger in regards to the air quality down in the shafts. This is also sometimes accompanied by long narrow horns that reach to the ground which produce a loud, similarly carrying sound. Jodelgesang has many uses for many things, but is also a fun pastime for many families. Other neighboring Cultures can get a laugh out of it, but your usual Genevaud hardly takes offense to it. After all, they know it is a bit strange, but it makes sense to them and that is all that matters.
Fashion in Genevaud society is dictated by the weather and seasons. Since Genevaud is mountainous, winter is especially cold. As a consequence, winter fashion is almost exclusively based in New Regalian styles of dress, only heavier, with imported furs seen among the wealthier Genevaud and other warm, conservative clothing among the middle and lower classes. In the spring, light and breezy Dressolini-inspired clothing are normal while during the summer, more revealing Ithanian attire can be donned so as to keep cool. In the fall, Leutz-Vixe-styled attire is adopted. While this cycle of clothing is not a hard and fast rule, generally it is followed due to practical use and limits cultural antagonization. A unique practice for Genevaudian tailors is embroidering the cuffs of sleeves, pockets, and collars with designs of flowers or crests. To the people of the mountains, this is their signature and stamp of approval on the clothing they adapted to fit their needs. The other unique feature of Genevaud fashion are Lederhosen, unique dress meant for males at major times of celebrations comprising short-length breeches with straps. These are often accompanied by small black felt hats known as Gene Hats with a prominent, often vertical bunch of plumage or cloth-based “vegetation.” Women also sometimes wear these hats, but only at the times of celebration when Lederhosen are donned.
Genevaud architecture is incredibly diverse: each Canton adopting its neighboring Culture’s architecture and inspiration for street names while utilizing simple materials such as wood and stone. However, there is one practice that all Cantons adhere to when considering architecture: Die Altstadt. Translated into common as ‘The Old Town’, Die Altstadt is the central forum of any Genevaud town, where all horses and carriages are forbidden to operate, and where the town clock resides. The clock itself is very ornate as it is seen as a sign of prosperity and pride to own such a magnificent device from the outside world. It towers at least a full story above the buildings and shops located around it and is often tall enough to see up to a mile or two away.
Being a general hotpot of Cultures, the Genevaud Cantons borrow many traditional foods from the Leutz-Vixe, Ithanians, Dressolini, and New Regalians. With many lavish food sources unavailable in the mountains, the Genevaud diet is based on the products once can acquire from sheep and goats or smaller, more leaner game. Stews are aplenty in many Genevaud households, a notable one being Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, a veal and mushroom soup more for the upper classes due to its use of such young meat. As for more common food, Hardefel Pandella is a common breakfast casserole made of onions and potatoes, providing a hardy opening meal to the day. Desserts a rare sight outside of times of celebration and are often that of other Cultures.
The Genevaud are a very active society, well-built well built thanks to their constant climbing up and down slopes or walking about their town squares. Their active lives are also displayed very well in their sports, which certainly contributes to their healthy bodies. Skiing is a popular one, as is a unique invention of theirs, competitive sledding. The sport sees various teams depart from the top of a large snowbank or mountainside and steer down a carved out track by leaning in sync atop a sturdily built wooden sledge. It was first invented by a Genevaud mountaineer who found that, to much of his own dismay, he was trapped on a mountain with little way to get down. He found a fallen log, and slid his way down. By the following year, his harrowing adventure was turned into the sport now adopted across all the Cantons. Neighboring Cantons love to hold temporary festivals around these events and are seen as a source of pride for their people. Betting on these sports events is very common in Genevaud society, with the currency oddly still being animal skins despite the existence of the Regal.
To many other Cultures, the Genevaud people are most known for their Lederhosen and their Jodelgesang, but another symbol that the Genevaud people cling to is their Canton coat of arms. Many Cantons have a similar design for their Canton's coat of arms but can differ in the types of animals present, colors, and overall design. All coats of arms do possess one symbol though, a lance with the Imperial Eye at the bottom serving almost like a handguard to the individual who would hold it. This is thought to represent the united forces of Genevaud warriors in defense of the Spirit, themselves enhanced and made better by possessing the word of Unionism.
- Genevaud children learn to do their first Jodelgesang at a young age, as it can be commonly used as a call for dinner, though it is often far quieter.
- Athletes are highly praised in their Cantons and more so idolized when they win against rival Cantons.
- In an unfortunate accident, Anglian Shepherds brought to the region to help herd animals. Some eventually retreated to the wild, now becoming feral have spread into somewhat of a problem, with such feral populations across all of the Cantons competing with wolves and other predators causing a disruption to the local environment of the mountains.