a Primer in Dalantian Culture

Editor's note: please remember that this document was written several years ago. It contains some information that is out of date and may be incorrect on several points. An updated version will be made available sometime in July 613.

The Dalanti are a culture of Gypsies that have settled in Dalantia and trace their ancestry to Dalanto Kytarm. They are peculiar in that they wear gems embedded in the skin of their faces. They receive one gem each year until their ninth year, the year in which Dalantian children begin their apprenticeships. The gems are in the color of the house to which that Dalanti belongs.

Government

They are lead by the Council of Elders, which is made up of the oldest Dalanti from each of the nine Great Houses who each has one vote. Also, the oldest Dalanti from each faction receives a second vote and is considered the Elder of the faction.

In addition, the Kris, a court of nine judges, can be called by any Dalanti to mediate any dispute. If the dispute is internal to one house, the judges of the Kris will be chosen randomly from members of that house. If the dispute is between two families within a faction, the judges will come from all families of that faction. If the dispute is between factions, one judge will come from each Great House. The judges may not be members of the Council of Elders.

Great Houses

Here are the Great Houses and factions of the Dalanti (for more information, read On the Nine Great Houses of the Dalanti):

  • Faction: Aalande (Bear)
    • House Kris'alis (Orange)
    • House Opalis (White)
    • House Akvar'us (Light Blue)
  • Faction: Dil'muna (Hawk)
    • House Em'raldus (Green)
    • House Turkv'os (Blue)
    • House Am'tistus (Purple)
  • Faction: Coredalia (Horse)
    • House Rub'eus (Red)
    • House Ka'citus (Yellow)
    • House Di'mondus (Silver)
  • Faction: Antracit'us (Spider)
    • House Antracit'us (Black) -- This house has been destroyed.
on the Rise and Fall of the Dalanti

Part 1: A Game of Dice

Many generations ago, there was a gypsy named Dalanto Kytarm who was bandolier (leader) of the Kytarm tribe. Dalanto was an avid gambler and would wager not only his own money, but the riches of Kytarm as well. He was only trying to increase the wealth of the tribe, but a number of his clansmen were afraid that he would lose the money and they conspired against him. They invited him to a game of dice, saying that only personal wealth could be wagered. One of the players had enchanted the dice to bring Dalanto bad luck. They also liberally poured intoxicating hooch into Dalanto's cup, but drank only unfermented juice themselves. Eventually, Dalanto had lost every coin he owned, plus all of his jewelry. He was drunk, and he was determined to win back his possessions, so he agreed to wager his final belonging, his own title. The conspirators had planned this all along and they had a declaration already prepared, which Dalanto signed, relinquishing his title of bandolier. Of course, the accursed dice and the liquor prevented Dalanto from showing his true skill at the game, and he lost the match and his title.

Dalanto appealed to the Kris, the gypsy court, to try to get his title back, but the Kris and the gypsy king hated Dalanto and sided with the conspirators, finding the wager to be valid. Dalanto, disgusted with the situation, took his family and left. The entire family dropped the Kytarm surname and called themselves "Dalanti," or "People of Dalanto."

Part 2: Of Factions and Family

Here is a record of the family of Dalanto. He had four wives and ten sons, and each of them brought their own families as well. Aalande was mother to Kris'alo, Opalo, and Akvar'o. Dil'muna was the mother of Em'raldo, Turkv'o, and Am'tisto. Coredalia was mother to Rub'eo, Ka'cito, and Di'mondo. The name of Dalanto's fourth wife is lost to history, but she bore him one son, Antracit'o.

Dalanto's wives constantly feuded with one another and the sons picked up on these prejudices. Upon Dalanto's death, the family split into four factions, divided maternally. The hatred grew down the family tree and soon the people began to consider themselves to be ten separate families. They called themselves "Great Houses" and aligned themselves according to the old factional divisions, but they continued to live and travel as a clan. The Great Houses are Kris'alis, Opalis, and Akvar'us in the the Aalande faction, Em'raldus, Turkv'os, and Am'tistus in the Dil'muna faction, Rub'eus, Ka'citus, and Di'mondus in the Coredalia faction, and Antracit'us in their own faction.

The people came to settle in the place they called Dalantia, where they found gems of great beauty and size. They had inherited Dalanto's love of wealth, so they dug into the hills and mined the gems. For a time, they traded these gems with outside gypsies and dwarves, but eventually they stopped venturing beyond Dalantia's hills and were lost to history.

Part 3: The Fractured Gem

The Great Houses continued to grow, and so did their fears of one another. They took the names of Dalanto's sons as surnames. They also began to wear certain colors to represent the Houses and distinguish them from one another. Kris'alis wore orange. Opalis wore white. Akvar'us wore a light blue. Em'raldus wore green. Turkv'os wore dark blue. Am'tistus wore violet. Rub'eus wore red, and Ka'citus, yellow. Di'mondus wore silver, and Antracit'us wore black. There were also lesser houses, started by the families of servants that followed Dalanto into the wilds or by small branches of families that broke with their Great House's allegiances, that tended to associate themselves with one of the Great Houses and wore its color or a variation thereof.

The Dalanti began to favor the gems of their house color. They coveted these gems and would trade anything for them or for the mine from which they came. House loyalties grew strong and so did distrust and hatred of the other factions. Seeking a way to permanently show a Dalantian's loyalty, House Em'raldus began surgically placing gems into the foreheads of their children at age nine, the age in which Dalanti children begin their apprenticeships. This would keep them loyal to their birth-house even if they were sent to an allied house for apprenticeship. The other houses, not to be outdone, quickly followed suit and developed a custom that grew into the highly ritualized tradition which is in place today.

Part 4: The Great Deception

In 582, the strongest house, Antracit'us, sought to gain more power through the Great Deception. They removed the face-stones of some of their own warriors and replaced them with the stones of rival houses. These warriors then began raiding the settlements of the other houses with the orders to kill every adult and enslave every child. The houses fell for the trick and began attacking each other. The plan backfired on Antracit'us, however, because their lack of alliances made them an easy target for the other houses.

The massacre lasted three years and resulted in the permanent deaths of almost every Dalantian over the age of nine, and the complete destruction of House Antracit'us. For this reason, there are very few Dalanti over the age of thirty.

Antracit'us has since become a degrading term for disloyal Dalanti, exiled Dalanti, family-less or homeless Dalanti, and Dalanti too poor to afford clan-stones, all of which are rare. The enslaving of the children, who were then mixed in with children of other clans and factions, helped purge the Dalanti of most of the old factional prejudices.

Part 5: Division Today

Today, there is competition between the houses and factions, but it is generally good-natured and confined to gambling, sports, crafts, and personal success. The Dalanti still seek to show that their clan is better than the others, but not through open warfare. It is no longer uncommon to find Dalanti with stones of multiple houses or even different factions, but all Dalanti wear clan-stones of some kind, and most wear stones of a single color. Many Dalanti still refuse to trust "two-faced" Dalanti, or those with two colors of gems.

Dalanti also believe that they are better than the other races, and will seek to prove this by outperforming others. However, they understand that humbleness and good grace are necessary for making money off of the other races, which is, of course, their primary goal.

superstitions and Customs

Superstitions

The Dalanti, as many gypsy cultures, are superstitious. Superstitions, however, will vary from House to House and between each individual.

Some superstitions are shared, such as the belief in numerology. To the Dalanti, the number "3" is sacred and brings good luck, as do multiples of that number. "4" on the other hand brings bad luck and death. "0" represents emptiness. "1" and "2" are fairly neutral, though "1" suggests travel and "2" suggests change. "5" represents courage and warriors. "6" is good luck, but also shows a change for the better (being the product of "2" and "3"). "7" represents magic. "8" represents stealth or trickery, and "9" is the most sacred number (being three "3"s) and represents wholeness. "10" represents superfluity or waste (going beyond that which is most whole). The system has been developed highly by seers within each house to become a system of divination. Likewise, a name can be broken down into numerical significance, so Dalantian families take great care in naming their children and often consult the house seer.

Another shared superstition surrounds the Lanterns of Death or Will o' the Wisps that can be seen on some Dalantian nights.

Facestones

One custom among the Dalanti is the cause of their most recognizable feature. On the first anniversary of his or her birth, each individual receives a small gem of his or her house color. This gem is placed into the skin of the child's face during a ceremony which usually consists of making a cut in the child's skin, then healing the wound. Finally, another cut is made to reveal the gem. This cut is allowed to heal naturally, so the gem will be visible for the Dalanti's entire life. This ceremony is performed each year until the child's ninth birthday. Therefore, all Dalanti who have come of age will display nine jewels in their family's color upon their faces. Prominent families may even carve symbols in the ninth gem to show their wealth. The pattern of the gems varies by family, and may even vary by individuals, but the pattern will be decided upon before the first gem is placed, and usually all nine gems are purchased before the child's first birthday.

No Dalanti would dare steal another's facestones, but they will be removed if an individual commits a great enough offense against his or her family or the Dalantian nation. If that happens, the individual will be forever scarred and will be exiled from Dalantia. It is only the most serious, rare offenses that require this punishment, however, and most Dalanti will be buried with their facestones still proudly displayed upon their faces.

Apprenticeship

At age nine, Dalantian children enter their apprenticeship. Each child will spend one year apprenticing to each of the Nine Guilds. At the end of this term of apprenticeship, the Dalanti will choose the role which he or she will fill. Then, he or she will join the guild which represents that duty or which will help him or her achieve his or her goals. The Dalanti will apprentice to that guild for a period of at least one year, after which he or she, with approval of the guild, may elect to become a journeyman or may choose to leave the guild to apprentice to another. Adult Dalanti always belong to at least one guild and may be members of several guilds.

Names

Dalanti always take the name of their house as a surname. Some Dalanti may have two surnames, and may take their House name as either the first surname or second surname. Male Dalanti names typically end in the letters "o" or "i" or "e". Female names typically end in "a" or "e" or "y".

Because of the general belief in Numerology, every Dalantian name has a number. The sum of the letters is added up and then the digits in the result are added until the final result is a number between one and nine. Letters that come before ' (an apostrophe) are ignored in the calculation. That number must bring good luck to the family (See Superstitions and Customs, above). (OOG: Here is a link to a name calculator that will help you sum the names: http://www.paulsadowski.com/Numbers.asp )

Example: Kris'alis

Kris'alis
K = 11
R = 18
I = 9
S' = 0 (note the apostrophe)
A = 1
L = 12
I = 9
S = 19
11 + 18 + 9 + 0 + 1 + 12 + 9 + 19 = 79
7 + 9 = 16
1 + 6 = 7
"7" represents magic