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History and Political StructureEdit
Ragosh actually began as two separate and distinct cultures – a group of peasant herders, ranchers, and occasional-farmers, and the nomadic raptor-mounted raiders who plagued them. The peasants began setting aside some of their wealth and food every year specifically to pay off the raiders, who in turn began limiting their migrations to specific territories of communities they would visit repeatedly, year after year, in a predictable pattern. This allowed the peasants to prepare the tribute in time, and eventually the payment turned into tribute given to a ruling class, rather than a payment to avoid harm. In this way, the former enemy became the new elite.
Thus, a new social order was created. Now, the (semi-)nomads no longer preyed on their territory, but would instead go on excursions to raid the peasants beholden to a rival, while simultaneously doing their best to defend their own golden geese, so to speak. They maintained their migratory patterns, as the lands of that many grazing communities were simply too large for any central defensive location to be feasible. Over time, the rulers discovered that if shepherds tired of being abused, or if you were not defending them well enough, they could easily begin paying tribute to your neighbor for his protection (or simply disappear with their herds into the wilderness). For this reason, a philosophy emphasizing a leader's duties to his followers was created, speaking of relationships between captains and soldiers, lords and retainers, the different castes, and so on.
The lord of any particular clan may have many thanes or retainers, but each has two of highest honor, who literally fight at his left and right hands in war. While both must be accomplished warriors, within the community, the right-hand thane is in charge of civic matters such as infrastructure, agriculture, and overall relations with the peasants; while the left-hand thane governs the military, including training and equipment. While the lord always has final say, these two zhadii are his most trusted advisers on such issues. There is in fact a third high thane never spoken of to outsiders: the master of spies.
Patterns of ConquestEdit
While the clans remain largely separate, it seems that every so often a strong and charismatic leader will arise and unite them into a vast horde. On such occasions, the Ragozhadi invariably invade Vasugu, Bizu, or both, and are often quite successful at first. However, none of these attempts at empire have lasted longer than three generations (and most failed in the first), as even the strongest lines eventually produce a leader without the exceeding skill to keep the varied factions working together and hold together vast swathes of land across the harsh desert. With the growing dominance of Vasugu and the seeming impregnability of its walls, it is unclear if such a horde will rise again, or at least, if it will ever again turn south.
Due to the continued semi-nomadic existence of the elites, Ragosh has maintained a long history of elite cavalry using raptor mounts. They are best known for heavily-armored soldiers who ride raptors bred for sheer viciousness, eager to charge into melee and capable of scattering most opposing forces. While it is less famed outside of the region, there is also a strong history of mounted archery in Ragosh, and the Ragozhadi themselves see no dishonor in such a useful tactic. As firearms have trickled into the region over the last century or two, the hit-and-run tactics of archery have been adapted to mounted gunners as well.
Ragosh worships a trinity of gods reflecting their social system. There are three gods: the chief of the gods, Tirifi, and his left- and right-hand thane gods, Pashu and Gruda. Likewise, of course, there is a fourth god whose name is never said aloud outside of specific ceremonies, Tirifi's own spymaster.
This religion was largely forced onto the peasants, though it was accepted given the terms. However, a host of small home and local deities remain – cooking gods, and crop gods, and gods of that particular hill or this special grazing site. This is generally ignored by the ruling caste, as these minor spirits do not challenge the supremacy of the chief of the gods.