From the high mountains along the elves’ southern border, the land rapidly descends into a vast plain of steppe and desert known as Nyashightgaro. It is inhabited by a violent mixture of nomadic peoples and demi-human monsters who skirmish incessantly for control over scant resources. This violence, combined with the low terrain and the region’s difficult to pronounce name gave rise to a wide-spread colloquial term for the area; the Pit.
It is doubtful whether the lands south of El’Atol have ever been truly settled. Harsh terrain and weather patterns combined with an abundance of all sorts of vicious monsters make it an unattractive venture for any race. The elves themselves practice a policy of containment towards their southern neighbors and have never made any move to try to colonize it, though the elves are not known for their ambition.
The history of the land is largely a puzzle, especially the distinct appearance of its people, the Naranbataar, for which no explaination exists. The idea that they migrated from another continent is a relatively popular one amongst sages but the Naranbataar show no inclination or skill for maritime technology and it is difficult to imagine any people voluntarily choosing to settle in Nyashightgaro. The Naranbataar themselves believe that they have been placed there by Andel as penance for some kind of failure related to the Sundering, and only Usay defies his wife to offer them protection.
Since few scholars travel there, little to no history is documented for the region. Because almost all its inhabitants are nomadic one cannot even draw lines of control beyond the eastern gold mines that the Naranbataar hold at all cost. It is known that sometime soon after the Sundering, some managed to flee across the Bay of Batal and settled Magua.
The Naranbataar have a horse and cattle-based culture. Status and wealth are determined by control of the animals and they are often used as currency, as silver and gold have little meaning in the interior. Most Naranbataar live in large tents and follow the supply of grass along the steppe for their animals. Horsemanship is a highly valued skill and is strongly tied to masculinity and power, as are archery and hunting. Competitions are frequent and champions are usually gifted with exceptional horses, bows or head of cattle.
The nomadic peoples have a strong affinity for Usay, god of the steppe, wind, and travel, and every tribe and sub-tribe has at least one of his priests. They serve as judges, advisers, and counselors, listening to the winds to determine Usay’s will. They are often the only literate members of their groups. Most wear special white robes to signify their status and often lay Usay’s symbol, a spoked wheel, on the ground while settling disputes with the interested parties standing around it. Potential priests are taken from their families as young children to be trained by the resident cleric and may be male or female.
Over the centuries, the Naranbataar have developed a strong imperative to defend their lands and wipe out the demi-humans which plague them. Belief is widespread that when this is accomplished, Andel will give them her blessing and their sins will be forgiven and the lands made rich. This utopian future is referred to as khun and every Bataari tribesman is obliged to strive towards it. Leaving the Pit is to abandon this calling and betray one’s duty to one’s tribe and all Naranbataar. Tribe members who are discovered away from their tribe, especially near the northern border, are arrested and brought before a priest of Usay for punishment which often consists of being relegated to some essential but unsavory duty; such as spending the rest of one’s life as his tribe’s designated stable cleaner while wearing shackles. Those who leave for particularly shameful reasons such as mercenary work may be executed.
Despite this imperative, raids between tribes for horses and cattle are commonplace and feuds are frequent. Usay’s priests generally try to arrange duels or races to settle these feuds, but the harshness of life on the steppe means that is inevitable that the raids continue to occur. If a tribe is sufficiently wounded, its members and possessions are often absorbed into its neighbors.
Naranbataar look very similar to Maguans (or, it is more proper to say, Maguans look very similar to Naranbataar). They have darker skin and taller stature than is typical, with the males sometimes reaching 6’6”. Their hair is generally black but there are some brunettes. Their eyes are smaller and their cheekbones higher.
Most of their clothing is made of leather.
Horsehair is viewed as something of a lucky charm and it is common for it to be tied to weapons or armor, or the outside of a tent.
Government and Relations
Most Naranbataar are organized along tribal lines, with a chief as a leader. Chieftains are often hereditary positions though frequent warfare means that tribe members can be surprisingly upwardly mobile.
Since there is no single ruler, each tribe is free to maintain its own relations with outside countries though few do. The other countries of Tantas have shown little inclination to aid the Naranbataar in their wars though Ravennan and Termecian merchants do often trade weapons for goods from the Pit. Ravenna in particular does a brisk business through the Golden Passage.
Nyashightgaro has no capital, but it does hold permanent settlements in the eastern mountains where it jealously guards the gold mines whose proceeds are traded in the north for timber, metal, and weapons. It has no symbol or flag.
The economy of Nyashightgaro is largely based on horses and cattle rather than monetary currency. Gold is accepted in the north where trade with El’Atol is possible, but tribesmen in the interior are not likely to be interested in it. Fermented mare’s milk is a favorite drink and often traded.
Most exports come from the east of the region in the form of gold, furs from ermine and sable, and myrrh. Some horses are also exported to Magua, where the Naranbataar’s cousins value the smaller, faster breeds raised in the Pit.
Combat and Military
As a culture built around horses, all fighting is done from horseback. Every Bataari is competent if not excellent with mounted archery with spears used as secondary weapons. Leather armor is commonplace as metal armor is difficult to come by.
Warfare against the Pit’s demi-humans is incessant, with gnolls being particularly hated due to their speed, height, and fondness for taking down Bataari horses. Goblins, on the other hand, have become masters of the ambush in the southern lands, going so far as to dig holes to hide in with grass overtop, to spring up as tribesmen pass.