Since the fall of ancient Imaskar, the Mulan have dominated the eastern shores of the Sea of Fallen Stars. Led by two pantheons of deities, the ancient Mulan empires of Mulhorand and Unther conquered at various times Ashanath, Chessenta, the Eastern Shaar, Murghom, Rashemen, Semphar, Thay, Thest, and the Wizards' Reach cities that lie south of the Yuirwood. In their wake, these empires have left ruling elites composed almost exclusively of Mulan. After millennia of rulership, the Mulan have become arrogant, highly resistant to change, and wholly convinced of their cultural superiority.
The Mulan are firmly wedded to the use of magic, with the only major point of disagreement being whether to pursue the arcane or divine tradition. For many generations the god-kings, powerful avatars of the Mulhorandi and Untheric deities long resident on Toril, ruled both empires as incarnate gods. The somnolent rule of the god-kings permitted the development of a powerful priest class in Mulan cultures that has long struggled with practitioners of arcane spellcasting for power. Their heavy-handed clerical rule prompted repeated rebellions by wizards and sorcerers, leading to the dominance of Thay by Red Wizards of Mulan descent.
Mulan are generally tall, slim, and sallow-skinned with eyes of hazel or brown. They lack much body hair, and many, including all nobles, shave any hair that they do have. Hair color on an unshaved Mulan ranges from black to dark brown. The lower classes of Thay, Mulhorand, and Unther often have significant Rashemi or Turami blood, leading to darker complexions. The folk of Chessenta have long mixed with the nearby Chondathans, and pure Mulan features are rare there.
The Mulan have a long and proud history, viewing both their society and their culture as eternal. Rapid change is regarded with suspicion, and the arcane arts either warmly embraced (Thay) or viewed with deep distrust (Mulhorand and Unther). Mulan believe themselves to be more civilized, more prosperous, more creative, more powerful (should they choose to be), and in all other ways superior to all other ethnic groups. Even in the face of evidence to the contrary, Mulan are dismissive of other cultures' accomplishments and openly arrogant with respect to their own.
The Mulan believe in order and discipline and are strongly resistant to change, the legacy of millennia of undying rule by the god-kings of Unther and Mulhorand. They haughtily believe that they are either the chosen of the gods (in Mulhorand, Unther, and Chessenta) or above gods (in Thay) and hold their culture above all others. Unlike most other human cultures, the Mulan believe they dwell in an earthly paradise, where stability and security shall reign for all eternity. The afterlife is merely a mirror of the mortal realm. In Thay, such beliefs have been twisted to regard undeath as the mirror of life, while in Unther the centuries-long tyranny of Gilgeam made a horror of both this world and the next. Mulan are indoctrinated from a young age to revere their cultural traditions, to respect the law, and to honor the servants of the gods (or the Red Wizards, in the case of Thay).
Although not drawn to adventuring, Mulan seen outside their traditional homelands are usually adventurers of one sort or another. Some have fled enslavement or been driven into exile due to differences with the local authorities, whether they be mercenary lords in Chessenta, cultist of Tiamat in the remnants of Unther, bureaucratic priests in Mulhorand, or autocratic Red Wizards in Thay. Others are sent abroad as agents of one of the Mulan realms, serving as representatives of a Thayan enclave, tracking down relics plundered from a Mulhorandi tomb, fighting in a Chessenta mercenary company, or spying on those who have designs on Unther's carcass.
Mulan typically make good fighters, whether trained in the mercenary armies of Chessenta, the church armies of Unther and Mulhorand, or the wizard-led armies of Thay. The road to power in Mulhorand and, until recently, Unther lies in the various priesthoods. As a result, many Mulan in those realms are clerics of one of the Mulhorandi gods, Hoar, or Tiamat. Chessenta has its fair share of clerics as well, many of whom serve various Faerunian deities, but only the churches of Kossuth and several evil Faerunian deities are strong in wizard-dominated Thay.
In Mulhorand, good-aligned deities with strong martial traditions employ many paladins in their service. Wizards and clerics are well established in Chessenta, Mulhorand, Thay, and Unther, although their efforts are much restricted in Mulhorand by the bureaucracy of priests. Bardcraft, brought back by Chessentan mercenaries from western Faerun, is held in high esteem in Chessenta but is otherwise almost unknown in lands dominated by the Mulan. Monks are found in large numbers only in Mulhorand, where most orders are integrated into the church of Thoth. Rogues are common in the teeming cities of Mulhorand and Unther, where priests are more corrupt than pious. Mulan are almost never barbarians or druids, as they have always lived in cultures established by the god-kings and the clerics. Likewise, Mulan rarely find their calling as rangers, for the Mulan dwell in long-settled lands with few forests or other areas of wilderness.
Despite the fragmentation of the Old Empires of Mulhorand and Unther, the Mulan have changed little despite the passage of centuries. Strict class divisions segregate Mulan society into the nobility (including clerics and arcane spellcasters), the commoners (farmers, merchants, and skilled craftsmen), and slaves (everyone else). Although upward and downward mobility is possible in Mulan society, primarily by joining the clergy or studying the Art, the Mulan discriminate against most other human ethnic groups and races and preserve strictly defined class roles.
Despite the centuries-long presence of the god-kings, the Mulan are not particularly reverent, nor are they overly interested in commerce. The Mulan aspire to power, preferably backed by magic, and engage in endless intrigues to accumulate personal power no matter what the cost to the ideals to which they nominally ascribe.
Mulan place great stock in education, and all members of the nobility and middle class receive some amount of instruction as a child. Many youths are apprenticed to a powerful wizard (Thay) or join the church of one of the god-kings (Mulhorand and Unther) at a young age and are raised apart from their families. As adults, the Mulan are expected to serve their role in society and not make waves. Death is a lifelong obsession for most Mulan, who spend their entire lives preparing themselves for the afterlife. The Mulhorandi epitomize this obsession, planning every detail of their journey into the afterlife.
Outside Mulan-dominated lands, Mulan keep to themselves, forming isolated enclaves apart from the local society. Thayan enclaves are simply the latest such example of the Mulan holding themselves apart from and above other races and human ethnic groups when dwelling in foreign lands. Of necessity, some cross-population of cultures does occur through trade contact with neighbors, but expatriate Mulan prefer to limit such contacts whenever possible. Mulan from the Old Empire almost never venerate deities other than their homeland's pantheon, and most Thayans can hardly be bothered with any gods. Few Mulan see the point of any languages other than the local dialect of the Common tongue.
The Mulan are the last major human ethnic group to venerate a pantheon of deities other than the dominant Faerunian pantheon.
Relations with Other RacesEdit
The Mulan view members of other human ethnic groups with disdain. The Turami minorities of Mulhorand, Unther, Threskel, and Chessenta are generally tolerated (except in Unther, where they are almost universally despised), but they are always considered members of the lower class. North of the Wizards' Reach, the Rashemi form the bulk of the lower class of Thay. The Red Wizards nominally restrict their ranks to Mulan wizards and sorcerers, but many look the other way if they find a Rashemi spellcaster skilled in the Art and willing to pretend to be a Mulan, although powerful Rashemi wizards can dispense with the charade.
The Mulan get along with the gold dwarves of the Great Rift, thanks to centuries of trade, and are inclined to view all the Stout Folk in similar light, although arctic dwarves and wild dwarves might prove as expect ion. Rock gnomes are largely unknown, so the Mulan view them as little dwarves. Halflings are similarly rare, as the largest nearby concentration of the hin lies in far-off Luiren, and are generally treated much like the dwarves as well. Elves and half-elves are almost unknown to the Mulan and the subject of pgreat superstitions, stemming in large part from the frustrations Unther's armies experiences long ago while attempting to subjugate the Yuirwood. In Mulhorand and Unther, the Fair Folk are seen as wizards by the bureaucracy of priests, and thus regarded with the same combination of fear and loathing as Red Wizards of Thay.
The Mulan despise half-orcs, a legacy of the Orcgate Wars handed down for centuries. Western Chessenta is a notable exception, particularly in the city of Airspur, where half-orcs are tolerated. Of the nonhuman civilized races, planetouched, particularly aasimar, are the only race looked up to by the Mulan. Afetr millennia of intimate involvement with the god-kings, aasimar of Mulan descent are seen as descendants of the gods and thus worthy of great respect. Tieflings engender fear rather than reverence, for they are seen as the spawn of Set and Sebek. Gensai are scarce, although fire gensai of Mulan descent are treated as full-blooded Mulan in Thay and welcomed into the School of Evocation.