Concentrated in the harsh and dangerous reaches of Faerun, the Rashemi are tough and sturdy, undaunted by extremes of weather or human cruelty. Despite their relative isolation from the rest of Faerun, most Rashemi are surprisingly well versed in affairs of other nations, for many travel extensively as youths as part of a coming-of-age ritual known as a dajemma. Although Rashemi barbarians and rangers are widely known across Faerun, members of this ethnic group also make skilled wizards, sorcerers, and clerics.
Descended from the nomadic tribes that fought and won the Orcgate Wars and later built the empire of Raumathar, the Rashemi are the most numerous human ethnic group on the Priador plateau and in the lands that border Ashanath, the Lake of Tears. Outside Thay and Rashemen, Rashemi minorities are also found in Aglarond, Damara, the Great Dale, Impiltur, Mulhorand, Narfell, the Wizards' Reach, Semphar, Thesk, and Unther. Although not widespread, Rashemi culture has had a significant influence on both Damaran and Tuigan culture, and in its day the Rashemi empire of Raumathar rivaled the power of Mulhorand and Unther.
Most Rashemi average about five and a half feet in height, with stout and muscular builds. Most are dusky of skin and dark of eye, with thick black hair. Rashemi males are usually hirsute and often sport bushy black beards. Although handsome, many seem almost ursine in nature. Baldness is almost unknown among Rashemi males, although inhabitants of Thay are known to shave all body hair in imitation of the ruling Mulan. Female Rashemi wear their black hair long, often in elaborate braids.
The Rashemi display little of the cultural arrogance common to other major human ethnic groups whose ancestors once ruled empires. Instead, they see themselves as inhabitants of a harsh but beautiful world rules by place spirits, and cherish their strong and abiding ties to the land. Most Rashemi identify themselves by national origins (for example, Rashemaar, Thayan, of Theskan) rather than ethnicity, although centuries of harsh rule by the Mulan in Thay have done much to strength sympathies between the Rashemi of Thay and the inhabitants of Rashemen. Little emphasis is placed on the acquisition of welth or ancestry, as each child is expected to earn his or her own place in the world.
The Rashemi view life as an unending series of challenges to be faced and overcome. They place a strong emphasis on strength, whether it is physical strength among the folk of Rashemen or magical prowess among the Thayan Rashemi. Respect and status must be earned, and a great deal of emphasis is placed on individual accomplishment. Childhood among the Rashemi reflects this cultural outlook, as youths are subjected to greater and greater tests as they mature. Admittance into the ranks of their elders must be earned.
The most common reason for adventuring among the Rashemi is the coming-of-age ritual known as the dajemma. Rashemi youth are encouraged (required, in the case of males in Rashemen itself) to go on a yearlong journey to see the world, after which they are accorded the status of adults. Naturally, some fall into a life of adventuring during such a trip, although most eventually return home to settle down. The Witches of Rashemen have their own reasons for setting out in to the world, including the recovery of ancient magics hidden across Faerun and the effort to oppose the machinations of the Red Wizards of Thay.
The Rashemi have a long-standing warrior tradition dating back to the Orcgate Wars, and barbarians, rangers, and fighters play a prominent role in Rashemi society. Likewise, the Rashemi hold arcane spellcasters in great respect, including the mysterious wychlaran and the greatly feared Red Wizards. Clerics, druids, paladins, and monks are relatively rare, for the Rashemi do not have a strong tradition of organized religion outside the Witches of Rashemen. Rogues are almost unknown, for the Rashemi have never placed a strong emphasis on the accumulation of wealth.
Rashemi culture varies widely from Rashemen to Thay to Thesk, although each society exhibits some common traits. In Rashemen, contests of physical and martial prowess are common, including snow-racing, skiing, and wrestling, drinking, and the like. In Thesk, most contests revolve around the accumulation of wealth through skill at trade. In Thay, the influence of the Red Wizards has raised magical prowess above all other forms of contests. The Rashemi of all three lands share a common suspicion of excessive civilization, which is often seen as soft or weak, and place little on inherited titles or wealth.
The Rashemi have never placed a strong emphasis on schooling for a variety of reasons. In Rashemen, the land is continually beset by outside threats that require warriors, not scholars. Those who study as children are usually tutored by one of the mysterious witches. In Thay, the ruling Mulan have long been suspicious of academic inclinations among the lower classes and discourage the lower class (specifically , the Rashemi) from excessive study. Rashemi youths are given to carousing and competing with their friends. As adults, the Rashemi are expected to settle down and contribute to society, although industriousness is not as highly respected as it is in other lands. Elderly Rashemi are respected for their wisdom and their mental strength, even if their physical faculties have faded. Their past accomplishments are not forgotten, even if they no longer can perform such feats. Death is seen as a time of celebration, for it is then that a Rashemi's deeds enter into legend.
Outside their native lands, the Rashemi congregate in groups of fellow exiles. Their nights are spent wandering from tavern to tavern, challenging the locals to contests. Few find steady work except as mercenaries, and those who do quickly spend their meager coin on their fellow expatriates.
Traditionally, the Rashemi venerate “the Three” - Chauntea, Mielikki, and the Hidden One (Mystra), a trio of goddesses introduced centuries ago to Rashemen by the folk of Thesk. They also venerate a host of local place-spirits and spirit-heroes little known elsewhere in Faerun. The spirits of Rashemen do not have names, but express their actions through miracles, omens, and by dispatching servitors. Outside Rashemen, many Rashemi nominally venerate the deities of Mulhorand as well. However, centuries of persecution by the Red Wizards of Thay have ensured that such worship is confined largely to the home. Small cults of the four elemental deities, particularly Kossuth, exist as well, legacies of Raumviran influence over the culture of the Rashemi.
Relations with Other RacesEdit
Northeastern Faerun is largely devoid of nonhuman civilizations, leaving the Rashemi generally ignorant of nonhuman cultures other than the centaurs and gnolls of the Thayan Plateau. Dwarves are perhaps the best-known race, as the dwarven kingdom of Siremun in the Firepeaks to the east has long traded with Rashemi traders in the markets of Almorel. Elves, half-elves, and halflings are viewed as object of wonder, long associated with the fey creatures of the North Country. Gnomes are also regarded with as creatures of magic. Half-orcs, tieflings, and genasi are regarded with long-standing suspicion, the legacy of centuries of folklore that have grown up around the Orcgate Wars and the conflagration unleashed by Narfell and Raumathar. Aasimars are closely associated with the various Mulhorandi priesthoods and treated accordingly. Among human cultures, the Rashemi get along best with the Nars and the Sossrims. Despite the close proximity in which many Rashemi and Mulan dwell, relations between the two cultures are tense at best, with hostility (usually cloaked) the norm.