These regions fit into five geographical types. Two types possess readily available wood: boreal forests (cold, northerly, including mixed forest) and wooded steppe (temperate). The remaining three lack the availability of wood: desert (tropical to temperate), wooded steppe (temperate) and tundra (arctic). Archery, the wheel and deep mining tend to be lacking where wood is rare, though isolated copses of trees (from oases, river banks) will be appropriated for these techs whenever possible.
Some technologies will not have penetrated into the regions due to geographical obstacles. Issykiang and Trakhan are mountain kingdoms above 8,000 feet in the Tien Shan and Himalaya mountains, high above the treeline and virtually impassable by road or cart; trade is accomplished by donkey and mule. Boreal forests and tundra enable the herding of reindeer but not most traditionally domesticated animals.
EntitiesOccupants of these regions will possess three motivations: personal freedom, communal survival and the quest for power. In terms of encounters, this will translate into distinct groups: bands, clans, drovers and tribes:
EncountersOf the four factions described, bands are the most dangerous, with the least to lose. They are very dangerous to parties, as a band of humanoids are likely to prefer raiding or ambushing strangers to parley. Clans will tend to be very passive, preferring to trade information and goods. Drovers will be very protective of their herds and view strangers as probable thieves, acting to drive strangers away and adopting a very aggressive posture in order to ensure this happens.
Tribes will welcome strangers into a town, though a tribal warrior is certain to approach the party and ask what their purpose is, where they have come from, what they expect to do - and to challenge one of them to a one-on-one duel either out of respect (to match abilities) or to correct bad behaviour (if the player has broken a cultural norm). In the village, these combats are never to the death and rarely even involve weapons. Players who use weapons or kill warriors will be seen as cowards or as evil spirits, deserving of the whole village eradicating them and their friends for the good of all.
If food is abundant, the players may be offered three to five days worth of provisions freely. In scarce times, strangers will be threatened to go away. During the winter, most of the population will largely hibernate in their homes. Desert peoples will loll during the hottest months or during the hottest times of the day.
Training & WeaponsBecause there is no formal training or education, levels occur among those only because they have had obtained experience through direct combat. Warriors will be of 1st to 3rd level. 1-2 of the elders will be shamans, equivalent to 1st to 2nd level fighters. The chief will be 2nd to 5th level. Every leveled combatant will be proficient with the club and the short bow (except that most desert cultures will prefer a sling to the bow). In addition, the remainder will prefer either a spear or a javelin.
Animals will not be ridden into combat but may be used as transport to the battle, camels in the desert and horses in steppelands. Dogs will be domesticated, so that there is a 50% chance that a band or a clan will have 1-4 trained war dogs with them.
Most combats in the wild will be defensive and concentrate upon ranged combat rather than attempting to close for hand-to-hand (primarily because melee weapons are lacking). Ambush is always preferred to a straight-up fight. If there is no significant effect against opponents after three or four volleys, combatants will give ground, preferring to wear the enemy down over several days with guerrilla tactics, before asking for tribute to end the harassment.
Villages will close together and all persons will aggressively fight to the last individual rather than give up their villages.
AgricultureWith the expansion of herding and agriculture, the inhabitants diets are primarily founded on meat, milk and staple crops: grains and other starches and tuber vegetables. Because of a lack of irrigation, crops must be sturdy and able to survive weeks without rainfall. Most years produce just enough food for the community, as much of the food supply is lost due diseases among animals, poor weather (including violent storms that destroy crops), insects and drought. Approximately one year in seven will produce an bountiful crop that is stored in clay or crude stone granaries. When food is abundant, the herds are allowed to increase in number; when food supply grows scarce, a larger part of the herds is usually slaughtered.
Much of the food supply still comes from hunting and gathering, though this will be limited to within four miles of the cultivated fields. Thus, the supply of fish in the rivers, wild fruit, nuts and honey in the forests, hay from the meadows and so on is carefully managed rather than wholly depleted, which could mean the death of the settlement.
Shifting cultivation is the norm for the fields. Any piece of land that is farmed will become devoid of nutrients entirely after five or six years, with yields declining. Thereafter, farmers will abandon the old field, clear a new plot and allow the forest to reestablish itself through flooding or fire. Desert dwellers may abandon a depleted oasis and move to another, or spend a year digging out an oasis in the hopes that it will replenish itself. It may take 10-20 years for a used plot to become worthy of farming again. Where farming is the norm, a farmer's field may be as far away as a mile from their home.
SettlementsA substantial settlement will exist among the fields, with fixed wooden buildings when wood is available, clay structures in desert climes. Some regions will still employ tents as a primary dwelling, though these will be fixed around a reliable oasis or other natural food supply. Low brick walls, the sort that will not need engineering to build (three or four feet high) will surround all settlements. Houses will usually not include doors, nor lintels, wooden roofs (woven wood and thatch). Homes will be small, designed only for sleeping, with much of the resident's lives being lived outdoors.
These settlements will be scattered rather than tight in form. A single village of 500 residents may cover an area up to a mile in diameter. Individuals will raise small crop gardens around their homes and allow most animals to move about without pens (though larger animals may be tied off to trees or to the houses themselves). Settlements will be quiet and unoccupied during the day.as most of the population will migrate outwards to the fields, or to herd their flocks, in the morning, not returning until night. Most cooking and eating is done outside.
There will be no market, no money exchange, no services of any kind, nothing that can be bought or for the most part no work available for those seeking employment.
OrganizationThere is enough food in tech 6 regions that groups to slowly grow large and subdivide. Clans will produce multiple clans that will continue to identify as 'tribes' even though they may not live together in settlements - these disparate clans will make arrangements to meet one another at times of the year ('festivals') and help one another. Clans will spawn bands. Settlements will form when a tribe finds an area that can support several clans. A single tribe may include both settlement-dwellers and migrant clans.
Women will work alongside men and children will often be carried along or left at the edge of fields where they will be cared for by other children. Finding a group of untended children will not be unusual, but these will usually flee if approached.
Tribes, whether scattered or organized in a settlement, will typically be led by chiefs. By tradition, the chief of one of the largest or oldest tribes in the region will be responsible for choosing the monarch or overlord of the whole region (sultan, orkhan, subahdar, count, sheik, etcetera). Some regions, such as the Don Cossacks or the Zafara Bedouins, have no nominal heads of the various tribes. In such cases, joint policy is carried on by council. Typically all the tribes pay a tribute (spices, incense, mined gems, weapons) when a monarch of some kind exists.
Some regions will have ongoing blood feuds between specific tribes which have gone on for generations.
See Development Levels