Since the fall of the great genie empires that once ruled south of the Marching Mountains, humans descended from the slaves of the genie lords have ruled the successive empires of Calimshan. From the shores of the Shinning Sea, Calishite have migrated northwards in large numbers as far as the Fields of the Dead and the Nelanther Isles, and eastward into the Lake of Steam, the Border Kingdoms, Lapaliiya, and the Shaar. Some fled disasters in their homeland or sought new economic opportunities, but most came as conquerors under the banner of the Shoon Empire. Outside their homeland, Calishite form the primary racial stock of the Border Kingdoms, the Lake of Steam cities, and the Nelanther Isles. Calishite also comprise a large fraction of the population of Amn and Tehtyr. Calishite ancestry, language, and culture have influenced all the lands nearby.
Calishite regard themselves as the rightful rulers of all lands south and west of the Sea of Fallen Start, a birthright passed down to them by the genies who once rules the lands between the Marching Mountains and the Shinning Sea. Calishite point with pride to the unbroken line of Calishite empires dating back thousands of years. With the notable exception of the Mulan, whom they consider their equals, Calishite consider themselves culturally superior to the hordes of “unwashed” barbarians that dwell beyond their lands.
Although often perceived by other cultures as avaricious, lazy, and corrupt, in truth most Calishite seek nothing more than a lifestyle of comfort and the respect of their peers. Calishite hold the circumstances of an individual's birth as equal in importance to his or her achievements. The class system is strongly ingrained in most Calishite, as is the ideal of a life of pampered luxury. Money is simply the means by which one achieves idleness. Calishite place great stock in pride – in one's own achievements, family, city, and culture. Family and the role as host are likewise held in great esteem. Magic use is ubiquitous, rivaled only by the natives of Halruaa, and genies are both highly respected and feared.
Although all native of Calimshan are know as Calishite, only those whose ancestry dates back to the slaves brought from other worlds thousands of years ago are considered members of this ethnic group. Calishite are a bit shorter and of slighter build than other humans. Their skin is dusky brown, and their hair and eyes are most commonly of that shade as well.
Calishite are skilled rogues, fighters, and wizards, and the legacy of ancient genie bloodlines ensures that many are powerful sorcerers as well. Religious fervor and monastic devotion are largely absent among most Calishite, except among the clerics of Ilmater who minister to the poor, and the Tyrrans who uphold justice.
Calishite believe their culture is the only bastion of civilization on the Sword Coast and Shinning Sea, if not the entire surface of Faerun. To the descendants of a 7,000 year-old empire, the short-lived “barbarian” cultures of the northern lands are barely worthy of notice. Calishite arrogance is nutured and codified in the class and gender divisions within their society, with a person's station at birth playing an important role in how he or she is measured. Although few speak of the class system in Calimshan or the lesser status of women, most Calishite live out their lives according to their station, risking death or enslavement if they do not. Calishite dwelling in the old Imperial lands view themselves as superior to non-Calishite and often act as if the Shoon Imperium had never fallen. Likewise, Calishite dwelling within the borders of Calimshan view themselves as superior to their provincial cousins.
Calishite are typically drawn to adventuring in hopes of quickly amassing a great fortune that will allow them to retire to a life of idle luxury. Those of lower birth often see the life of an adventurer as a way to escape the strictures of their station in distant lands where the status of their birth is unknown. A few Calishite adventurers see themselves as guardians of an ancient culture and commit themselves to recovering ancient Calishite treasurers that have been lost amid the unwashed hordes of the northern realms.
Magic has long played a role in Calishite culture, making both wizards and sorcerers commonplace. The latter group consists largely of Calishite who can trace their ancestry back to the genies who once ruled the Calim Empire and Memnonnar. The influence of various faiths has waxed and waned in Calishite culture, but clerics and monks have rarely played an important role. Whereas monks located elsewhere on Toril have strong martial and mystic traditions and are responsible for the preservation of the lore of fallen realms, the monks of Calimshan devote their energies to relieving the suffering of the lower classes.
Perhaps the most common classes among Calishite are rogue, fighter, and fighter/rogue, for the history of Calimshan and the states it once dominated is strewn with bloodshed, corruption, and thievery. Calishite barbarians are almost unknown, except among the nomads of the Lands of the Lion. Likewise, bards are rarely seen outside Calishite harems, and there is no druidic tradition within Calishite culture. Calishite paladins are almost unknown outside the church of Tyr and the city-state of Saelmur.
Traditional Calishite culture caries little across Faerun, even among the Calishite who dwell outside the borders of Calimshan. Although exceptions exist, Calishite strictly adhere to the traditional roles of their social class. In ascending order, those classes as the slaves, the labor class, the skilled labor class, the merchant class, the military, the advisor class, and the ruling class. From birth, Calishite are raised to recognize such class distinctions and treat others accordingly, even though many class distinctions are lost upon outsiders. Hard work and thriftiness are not held up as ideal, although many successful Calishite got that way through such “vices”. Instead, luxury and pampered idleness are seen as the ideal, and many Calishite culture has long harbored a fascination with food and magic, particularly magic that reduces the need for labor, so meals and frivolous magic items play a large role in Calishite daily life.
Calishite revere their immediate family and show more loyalty to their kin than they do to their deities or employers. Men are expected to enter into business and support their family's standard of living. Women are expected to maintain the home, raise the children, and manage the funds. Children are always educated in the home unless they have a strong aptitude for magical schooling. Those parents who can afford them employ tutors and wizards. Upon reaching the age of maturity (15 years), children are expected to marry and establish themselves within five years. Only women may marry above their social class. Those who fail to marry are disgraced and must either live with their parents in shameful charity of be ejected from the household (many Calishite adventurers active in other lands once fell into the latter category). Children are also expected to care for their elderly relatives and to give them an opulent funeral upon death.
Social moves are particularly scrutinized within Calishite culture, engendering an emphasis on maintaining one's personal and familial pride. Saving face demands that a Calishite treat others as they present themselves, regardless of whether such facades bear any resemblance to the truth. Once a person or family loses face, they also lose status and may be relegated to a lower class. Privacy is a most precious commodity, for it allows an individual to act as he or she wishes without needing to save face. Calishite also place great stock in hospitality, with strictly defined responsibilities for both guest and host. Guests cannot inflict harm on their host while receiving his or her hospitality. Likewise, hosts must display as much generosity as they can afford and protect their guests from harm, for to do otherwise is to lose face.
Various Calishite faiths and religions have waxed and waned in popularity since the Time of Genies. At various times in history, the Calishite religious tradition has included the worship of dark, forgotten deities, the veneration of genies as divine beings, and the belief of a single sun god. In modern times, Calishite worship the deities of the Faerunian pantheon, and the folk of Calimshan pride themselves upon accepting all creeds and religions. Although Calimshan contains major temples to the loin's share of the deities worshiped in Faerun, ten faiths have long been prominent in Calishite society, suggesting that some or all those deities may have once formed the kernel of an ancient Calishite pantheon. Those deities include Tyr, Azuth, Talos, Shar, Ilmater, Savras, Sharess, Siamorphe, Umberlee, and Waukeen.
Relations with Other RacesEdit
Calishite have poor relations with members of all other human ethnic groups, particularly Tethyrians (who are generally viewed as members of the lower class, regardless of birth) and Illuskans (who are seen as the epitome of the unwashed northern barbarians). Only the Mulan receive any measure of respect from Calishite, as their culture is nearly as long-lived as that of Calimshan.
Despite their disdain or dismissal of other human cultures, Calishite have decent relations with members of other races. Dwarves and gnomes are valued for their skill in metalworking, although many shield dwarves have not forgotten the role Calishite played in the fall of Shanatar. Elves and half-elves are both distrusted and envied. The former status derives from Calimshan's long history of animosity with neighboring elven nations, such as long-vanished Keltormir. The latter stems from the inherently magical nature of the Fair Folk, which magic-crazed Calishite cannot duplicate. Halflings have long been enslaved by Calishite, and, as a result, most Calishite classify all halflings as members of the lower class. In turn, halflings (at least those who dwell along the Sword Cost and whose ancestors fled Calimshan) regard Calishite with suspicion, viewing all humans of this ethnic group as potential slavers. Curiously, half-orcs often receive better treatment from Calishite than they do from other human societies. Although they are invariably seen as members of the lower class, in that respect they are seen as no better or worse than Calishite of low-birth status.