Amazon. The word conjures images of wild women, stronger than most men and skilled in the ways of warfare. There is the age old saying "Nobody wants an Amazon", and indeed in many societies women who take up the sword, or are outspoken frowned upon. However, there is a certain mystique to the image that makes the Amazon alluring, and something of a ‘fantasy’ for many men. Amazon's are no legend-they are quite real. The Amazon's are a race of humans-although they are not all human, as over time half breeds with elves or orcs have found their way in either through contact with other civilizations. A full head taller than most men, they are strong and long lived, beautiful and of all complexions, and found all over the world in the most savage lands and even on the seas.
Not all Amazon's stay with their homeland. Some leave and take up the life of the Adventurer, either because they were forced out through exile or for personal reasons. These "severed sisters" might be found within any civilization or kingdom of the world. They may take up the trappings of whatever land they are in, but they immediately stand out by their great stature and the way they carry themselves.
There are many forms of magic, and it has been debated by scholars for ages exactly what form is the eldest. Many hold that the oldest form of magic practiced by man is that of the Divine, but it is held by others that before formal clerical devotion and ceremony today, the first spellcasters used pact magic. This was a simplified form, not like the complex forms of the binder who actually allows them to be possessed by entities, but simpler pacts that would last a lifetime suffusing the soul of the warlock, and often their descendents for generations. It is believed by some that this even predates the blood magic of sorcery-before they were breeding with Outsiders, often the agents of deities, they were making pacts with them.
Many nations and civilizations have tried to subdue the Nameless Jungle of Hydra. Countless cities have risen only to fall into decline and be consumed by moss and vine. Long ago in time immemorial there was a mighty empire that for time beat back the giant arthropods, ferocious dinosaurs, and leviathan hydras. Several kingdoms ruled by wizard kings consolidated their power; together they conquered nearly all the jungle and subdued it. They achieved great feats of engineering and wizardry drawing on the natural magic that permeates the land with secret techniques-and some hold that they had learned the ways of Ur Priests. Little remains of their vast body of knowledge, but many dark arts and cruel twists of magic like the wounding Spell and other Fell metamagic are credited to them.
The Wizard Kings held that might makes right, and that there was no greater might than magic. They had no morals at all, and the quest for knowledge or power was all it took to justify the most phthartic "experiments"-often performed for their own amusements. It is unknown if they followed any gods, although some speculate that among the ruins there are clues that they were believers in The Dark One or The Nightmare King, while more point to diabolism or demonic cults. Their society was also completely dominated by men, who saw women as weak, stupid, and only useful for menial tasks or as concubines to satisfy their urges. There were no "free" women as there were "free men". All women were slaves as were their female children, and both were subject to casual rape and abuse without question.
All of that changed with the rise of Ama. Her exact history is a mystery, but it is known she was born a slave to a terribly obese, disgusting, greedy necromancer who was addicted to gambling and would make wagers on anything. Though women were seen as weak, it greatly amused men to see women wrestle and fight in the nude, and so there were tournaments in which men would enter their slaves. While her master was addicted to gambling, it was only fun for him when he won and he wasn’t afraid to cheat-he always did. It is told that he performed many experiments on Ama to improve her 'odds' in the tournaments, abuses of alchemy and permanent alterations through necromancy that would not be detected as opposed to typical enchantments and transmutations. Of course, he was not the only one who did such, it was well known such things were done but few could ever prove it.
Ama won many fights and made her master rich, not merely by her unnatural strength and agility, but also my skill and a keen eye. And it time, she also won her master's heart. Though she was made for the arena she had watched her master's and other's concubines, and saw what behaviors pleased them.
The Wizard Kings were never able to suppress the jungle's innate magic, which spoiled their divinations and so her master never foresaw his downfall and went quietly into the night never knowing his end. Ama fled with the remnants her master's harem and his stable of 'Pit Girls', quitting the city and fleeing into the forest. That first night Ama was visited by the fey, those mysterious beings so tied to nature. They came with offerings of power by which Ama might overcome and liberate the women from the empire of man. She asked what they wanted in exchange and they answered:
"Blood for the Thirsty Jungle."
And so the pact was made. Ama and all her sisters in arms accepted it. Over several years they would make small raids freeing both common and Arena slaves to increase their numbers as well as covert missions establishing contacts within the harems of wealthy houses. Through their fey pacted sisters, those that joined them would discover druidry and how to pray to the powers that be.
Wind and Storm, dinosaur and dire beast, plague and famine all ravaged the empire, straining even their magically aided resources. Assassinations of public officials were not blamed on women-but rather on other Houses and when they were not carried out by Ama's conspirators, they were carried out by men, goaded by "loyal" concubines who played on their emotions and paranoia. What resulted was not an immediate mass uprising, but the collapse of a weakened empire into a civil war and then an uprising against those who remained in power-if it could be called "power" at all.
In her name, Ama's followers and her descendants would formally called themselves "The Blessed Daughter's of Ama", or more informally "Ama's Own" which by misinterpretation by foreign ears and linguistic corruption by foreign tongues over time has simply become "Amazon" in the Common Lexicon. Although her reverence didnt grow large enough before the end of her mortal life for her to attain true demi-godhood, the Amazons still revere Ama and keep to her teachings:
- The Art of War -training in the weapons of war, as well as the strategy of combat.
- The Art of Survival - knowledge of nature, tracking, hunting, and living in the wild.
- The Art of Seduction - the skill to beguile, turning men against other men, and even themselves.
- The Art of The Oath - the proper way to revere and respect the natural world; the rituals to make pacts with Outsiders following the way of the Warlock; and the rituals to supplicate oneself to the higher powers often served by Outsiders. Amazon's have a great mistrust of "Book Magic" and do not practice it in any form. Although many in the world may simply be born warlocks, inheriting power through powerful pacts made generations ago, the Amazons usually make personal pacts that do not extend beyond themselves. They often begin as clerics who make pacts with agents of their deities and later become Eldritch Disciples, or they may go on a personal "vision quest" spending days or weeks alone until they are visited in person or in dream by entities drawn to them. Such beings are often fey, but they may also be demons, devils, other outsiders like Night Hags, and far realm entities.
Ama's teachings say nothing of morality, and some say she lived according to the values of Matra, others Frenzy, and a few say she respected them both.
The jungle would take back what for centuries, a blink in natures eye, had belonged to the empire. Ama would lead for almost two hundred years, and her people would remain within the Nameless Jungle for centuries after before the diaspora that would have them set sail. With each generation, the traits the Wizard Kings instilled in them would breed true, although only in the females. Though not all of Ama's original following were of the empires Pit Girls, their traits would become dominant as those not descended from them were more susceptible to the ravages of the wild.
In many ways the organization of individual tribes may be likened to that of neighboring Bazram, in that society is clearly stratified. However, there is considerably more social mobility, and ones rank is based on ones merits. Like Bazram, the highest social order is that of the clergy or those touched by the Divine, followed by the Warriors, and then everyone else beginning with craft trades, and then common farmers.
A sisterhood of Clerics and Druids headed by a High Priestess provides guidance though divination and well being though magical healing, leading the tribe. The deities they revere are usually ones of Chaos and freedom; when they are not, they are always ones of evil be it selfish cruelty, or tyranny. Some clerics will remain such all of their life, but others will make the pact instilling them with eldritch power, after which they will pursue their destiny as Eldritch Disciples of their deity. A few druids make the pact and undergo discipleship; some of them do so very early while others practice their druidic way developing those skills further -in either case all of them undergo some clerical training.
Not all those who undergo the pact are clerics or druids. Some pursue the Eldritch path without formal supplication to a deity. These individuals turn their eldritch power to warfare, often later retiring to become crafters. They use their supernatural power to create all manner of magical items imbued with any spell-both divine, and many magics limited to the arcane. These items aid the tribe, but may be traded with others.
The only other 'pure' magic practiced by Amazons is that of sorcery. Wizardry is book magic, and is not practiced among the illiterate tribes. Sorcerers of all heritages are found amongst them, and there are some individual clans with every tribe known for their sorcerous lineage. Sorcerers enjoy respect for their power, but they are always held secondary to those spellcasters who gain their power through devotion be it following druidic ideals, clerical servitude, or pact. Sorcerers primary function in society is to serve on the battlefield, and on occasion provide what magic cannot be performed by the divine. Sorcerous clans keep an eye out for those males of their lineage that show signs of magical power, and either exile them, kill them, or very rarely-allow them to develop further powers. They are especially careful of male sorcerors, as they usually try to keep magic out of the hands of men.
The tribes have warriors of all types though there is a special preference for rangers skilled with blade and bow, able to hunt, track, and survive in the deadly jungles and the wilds. Many are simple soldiers, but some apprentice under masters in the ways of Blade Magic, while others are savage and truly barbaric.
Amazons are not a single nation or group, but rather a race of man that shares a common lineage. The image of warrior women who live in a matriarchal society is an accurate one, but the idea that all Amazons treat their menfolk poorly is a misconception. Amazon's do tend to be universally mistrusting of "outsiders", more so if they are also men -although they may treat their own just fine. The way they relate to their menfolk varies between tribes and sometimes even within them.
It is greatly disagreed among them exactly what happened in the immediate aftermath of Ama's ancient revolution. Some believe that the men that remained willingly submitted, awed by her force of personality, while others hold that the men were subjugated and made to suffer as their sisters had under the fallen empire's hand. A few say that Ama loved her sons just as much as her daughters- both those men born of her own womb and those that would come under her rule, lavishing both with her affections.
There are numerous Amazon clans or families, which belong to larger tribes, the full number of which is uncertain-but several of the more well known ones are presented below.
Sisters of The Third Eye
(Raging Jungle) [CG]
Sisters of The Third Eye have settled in the misty sea of trees that is the Raging Jungle of Heaven's Tear. While Butasta is the only true city the Amazons have reclaimed ruins scattered throughout the jungle, building with stones already cut long before their arrival or putting up their standards in crumbling halls. The Sisters survive amongst the threats of the natural world, the Yuan-ti, and the cults of Demogorgan.
Tantric Warriors, practitioners of one of the more spiritual martial art styles, The Sisters of The Third Eye receive their name from their mystical and esoteric practices. They are also known for their consumption of Bhang during their rituals, a mixture of milk, sugar, almonds, and Baccaran-a practice adopted recreationally in neighboring Bazram. Outside of Bazram the beverage had the hallucinogenic Baccaran replaced with alcohol where it became accepted among known mixed drinks as "Milk with Knives". In seedier places or where they are legal, Baccaran may be added, as might other substances if one desires "sharper" knives.
The Sisters see men as inferior, not by any fault of their own, but simply by their inherent nature. They do not subject their menfolk to open persecution, but by their societal codes men are clearly second class citizens. Men do not own property and often perform domestic duties. They are usually given some sort of allowance by their wives, or when they do work their wives determine how the families money will be spent and how much he is allowed to keep. Men are never allowed to become warlocks for fear they may become like the Thugee. It is rumored that The Sisters once allowed their menfolk to such, but many of them left and they or their descendents would make the dark pacts that would allow them to become the earliest Jemedar- albeit the exact origins of ritual pact magic are unknown.
Silver-Eyed Witches of The Sea
The Silver-Eyed Witches received their name from the unique color of their slightly luminous eyes. Unlike the other tribes, The Witches are not 'children of men'. For countless generations they have used sexual magic to impregnate themselves without men and necromancy to ensure they only bear daughters and never sons. Ages of this magical infusion altered their eye color, until all their kind shared the trait. They are all human, with no trace of elven or orcish ancestry amongst them. They are tall, and fair skinned-though kissed by the sun, with black, brown, or blonde hair (always like their mother) which they traditionally wear in long ponytails.
Whereas most Amazons settled in some land or another, the Witches are nomadic and never stopped sailing. They are nomadic moving from island to island or sometimes living wholly under the sail and living from the sea. Strong swimmers, they bathe and swim nude in the ocean every day, and can hold their breath longer than most. Those of them who have made the pact can go without air for a day at a time through the least of invocations. There is no sorcery among them, as their blood is 'pure blood of Ama'.
The clans are not all allied with one another, as some venerate Yemaja and Matra or other neutral or good deities, while others revere Tiamat, Frenzy, Malcanthet and sometimes Dagon. The former make their pacts with Nymphs and fey, while the latter deal with Hags and demons. Neither one has any men naturally born amongst them, and each regards them very differently.
Those clans given to evil keep men as slaves and treat most of them like work animals; common slaves are completely shaven and sometimes also forced to undergo castration. They labor only in loin cloths or nothing at all, and eat and drink from troughs. At the best they may be treated as favorite pets-a status that affords them considerably better living and makes them envied by other men, and sometimes grants them power over them. At the worst they are just toys to be carelessly 'played' with and then replaced when they are broken. They have no qualms about killing or torturing them for their amusement, as there is no shortage of men. Male Slaves (and to the evil Amazons that’s redundant) may be bought from slavers, but more often they are captured from seagoing vessels, along with other valuables. No witch has a husband or a son, but almost every one of them has at least two slaves. Though women of these clans are very likely to become enamored with one another, they still have urges of their own which can’t always be scratched by turning to each other. Sometimes they enjoy watching slaves vent their frustrations on one another Knowing that sex is a more pressing need for males, the often Witches dress provocatively to stir their slaves urges as much to make them compliant with the hope of relief as to torment them for their own illicit pleasure.
Other clans of the Silver-Eyed Witches are not so cruel. While they are not wicked and commit no acts of piracy nor pillage of coastal communities, they are still amoral. They live similarly to their other sisters, but they hold no ill towards men. They simply see them as "unnecessary" -but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun. Commonly making pacts with the fey, they share in their playful sense of trickery and amoral attitudes. When ships pass in the night, they have been known to slip aboard and kidnap men from their beds if they cannot entice them to go away with them. Those taken are seen again, let go after many days or several weeks- albeit, some may be unheard of for months if a man is favored by his "hostess" and her sisters, as he may be 'passed around' by the former to the latter and all her friends. IF however the honored guest rejects their "hospitality" one too many times or raises their ire he may find himself marooned in some awful place.
They are different from the other tribes in that they do not reside in lands similar to their ancestral home, but the most treacherous lands on Therafim. The Midwives reside on the outskirts of Matrakal-not within the Forbidden Womb but in the frozen tundra that surrounds it for as far as the eye can see. The Barrier Glace serves as a ward to keep intruders away from the inner circle of Matrakal, and none are allowed to live within it. The Midwives while forbidden as all races were, save the beastfolk were not deterred and settled in the frozen lands.
The Midwives, like the Silver-Eyed Witches, are a tribe at war with one itself. Some clans respect Matra, while other clans of the tribe are followers of Frenzy each calling their respective goddess 'Mother-of-All'. In truth, the two entities are different sides of the same coin. While both sides venerate one form of nature or the other, there are various powers which they may follow individually, like Tamara or Zuggtmoy.
The Midwives on both sides of the conflict see themselves as guardians of Matra's Womb and the Thostean Cradle respectively. Periodically each side will send small groups of their druids beyond the mountains and into the valley on sacred pilgrimages. The Amazons also have druids on the Druid Council.
The more neutral clans regard their menfolk as valuable members of their community. In the frozen wastes of the Barrier Glace, everyone needs to pull their weight to survive. Men aid in all tasks, although only women lead. Even the followers of Frenzy acknowledge this; They do not use magic to interfere with birth seeing it as sacrilege, and though they have a disdain for males they need their help and it is rare that male travelers pass through the wastes. Those males living under the Midwives of Frenzy are not technically 'slaves' and there are no bonds that hold them, but they do not rebel or try to escape. The menfolk of this tribe see women as an incarnation of Matra or Frenzy, and seem to revere them in the former case and accept their place in the latter.
The Nameless Maidens
(Nameless Jungle of Hydra)[??]
The Nameless Maidens are not so much a tribe as the others but an extremely loose organization of clans mostly only by their adherence to Ama's teachings. When the original followers of Ama divided in beliefs, those of roughly similar temperament or ideals grouped together and left to find their own place. The Nameless Maidens of The Nameless Jungle are those who did not leave.
They have few permanent settlements though occasionally they take shelter in caves, always on the move both in the search of food and desire to avoid becoming it. The traditions of the individual clans are highly varied, but all of them know the art of tattooing, and many of them practice more extreme body-modification in ritual and as a form of self expression.
They made use of metallurgy for a time early in their history, but fell out of it returning to stone tools and weapons. Very few recall how to create such things, and what metal tools and weapons remain are ancestral, passed down through the ages. The Nameless Maidens span all temperaments and the way a man will be treated is highly variable depending on whom he runs into.