The Provakh are a massive, enigmatic race of large, mountain-dwelling humanoids native to Varstad. They are an extremely elusive people during the warmer seasons, preferring to remain in the higher altitudes of the most unforgiving mountain ranges, where none but the wyverns dare to go. During the winter months, some daring provakhi have been known to venture out to trade with nearby human settlements to acquire weapons and equipment of superior craftsmanship.
|Hair Color:||Dark brown or black|
|Country of Origin:||Varstad|
|Language:||Provakhi Varstakh dialect|
The origins of the provakh aren't particularly well known. If asked, most provakhi would simply claim that their people were birthed by the mountains themselves, given life by the generosity of the Stonefather, their primary religious figure. The provakh have been spoken of by human cultures living in Varstad or passing through for as long as there have been humans to observe them.
Provakh history follows a long and winding path through time due to their particular oral tradition. Storytelling acumen is highly regarded among provakhi, and the tales of their early days during a more primordial age are as long as they are extraordinary. Legends are in abundance in provakh culture, with tales of mighty heroes accomplishing tremendous feats of strength, daring, and cunning. No herd ever hears the same story twice, as embellishing legends is a common pastime.
From what other cultures have been able to independently determine (because provakh history is notoriously exaggerated), the provakh have been around for an extremely long time. They have historically confined themselves to Varstad and the surrounding mountain ranges, and childbirths are only as common as is needed to maintain the population.
Competition permeates provakh culture to its core and is so prevalent that it has significantly shaped their view of the world at large. Keeping score is as natural to a provakh as remembering a friendly face. While this mindset is strongly encouraged among other provakh, this highly competitive nature sometimes rubs other races the wrong way. Provakh compete against each other in almost every aspect of their lives, and the spirit of competition is what maintains their friendships.
The base social unit in provakh culture is the herd, which is headed by a chief. Herds generally consist of a few dozen individuals comprised of multiple small families or mated pairs. Contribution to the herd is of the utmost importance to a provakh. While their intensely competitive nature is often light-hearted, there is a more callused aspect to it. Those who are unable or unwilling to compete and pull their own weight among the herd are exiled. There is no sympathy given to provakh who are grievously injured or crippled: they are simply abandoned and left to fend for themselves without farewell or apology. A lucky provakh in this position may happen upon another herd. Upon proving themselves capable, the herd may well accept them as one of its own.
Several principles are held sacred to all provakh. Equal opportunity is expressed in the common maxim "today me, tomorrow you". The central idea is that every provakh gets their turn eventually. All are afforded an equal opportunity to attain greatness and acclaim by their chief and their herd. This sentiment runs so deep that provakh found in other cultures will often regard authority figures with mild disdain, and will look upon the downtrodden commoners with pity. Provakh do not tolerate unfair conduct and will often offer assistance to those that they believe have been unfairly denied opportunities for betterment.
A provakh's worst enemy tends to be one's own competitive spirit. They are constantly motivated to not only best their herdmates, but also themselves, leading them along a path of constantly escalating daring. Provakh are renowned for their fearlessness, which crosses over into recklessness in many cases. If a provakh kills a bear on its own, it may well attempt larger, more dangerous feats. The wyverns of Varstad are seen as extremely dangerous, and therefore worthy targets.
Provakhi enjoy large meals when they can get them, but can subsist on astonishingly little if they have to. They are creatures of ravenous appetites, and tend to spend the day hunting for what they will eat that evening. Consummate hunter-gatherers, they are faster than their mass would lead some to believe, and even stronger than one might expect. Herds will also keep a fair number of livestock, preferring a domesticated breed of dire goat native to Varstad.
Coming of age is a significant time for them. A young provakh is expected to prove themselves in some way, be it a feat of strength or a demonstration of hunting prowess, it generally doesn't matter. What is required is that a provakh make their capability well known among their herdmates. By the time provakh have reached the age of majority, they have spent many long years learning under the tutelage of their herdmates. The role of teacher falls upon each and every member of the herd, with "each one teach one" being an almost universal philosophy. This tends to cause provakhi in the wider world to regard the smaller, less physically capable races with a certain solicitous regard.
Typical Racial Characteristics
Provakh are massive humanoids, generally standing between 7 and 8 feet tall and weighing 350 to 450 pounds, with the women tending to be about the same size as the men, if only somewhat lighter. The men are always bald and beardless, with the only hair appearing on their bodies, while the women grow their hair very long and keep almost all of it braided. Tattoos are of massive significance to the provakh, and they tend to be almost completely covered in them by the time they reach the age of adulthood. Provakh tattoos tend to vary by herd, with individuals able to recognize the herd of another by the sight of their tattoos, but the general style is relative common among provakh, favoring long, thick, symmetrical lines covering the entire body, including the head and face. Provakh tend to wear very minimal clothing, even in the coldest months, in order to display these tattoos.
Stony protrusions along the arms, shoulders, hands, and in men, the superciliary arch, are common and incredibly tough. These protrusions can often be used as natural weapons when unarmed, and are commonly embedded with gems acquired from other nearby cultures.
Provakh are almost entirely unaffected by natural cold, and can go shirtless and barefoot in weather that would kill an unprotected human within minutes. Cold weather simply doesn't penetrate their skin or bother them at all, but they do appreciate the comfort of a warm fire and a fur blanket after the day's work is done. Great feasts tend to consist of yak and goat meat and grokka, a particularly pungent and potent alcoholic beverage made from fermented milk.