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The Aire
The Aire are derived from the Aiel, a society of people in Robert Jordan's fantasy novel series, The Wheel of Time. I have adapted some of his material for use within Andurin. Some changes may be noted below. --Stash

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Unless otherwise noted, players who want to create Aire PCs use rules given for standard humans in the PH. Players with access to the d20 Wheel of Time Roleplaying Sourcebook may use that volume for RP notes and material not presented below.

Physical Description

Aire live between the League of Thendras in the north and the Haunted Steppes in the east, in a desert which the Aire call The Three-fold Land and which everyone else calls The Wastes. They have earned a reputation as skilled warriors; little else is known about them in the wider world. Aire can be recognized through their height, characteristic pale eyes, and red or blond hair. Physically, they are reminiscent of the Celts; culturally, of Native Americans and the Bedouin. Their short spears with sword-like blades, their three-pronged encircling tactics, their outrunning of horses, and their washing of spears in blood are all derived from the Impi warriors of the Zulu.


History

Modern Aire are descended from the Da'shain, servants of the Aes Sedai during the Second Age, and sworn never to touch a sword (a non-violent philosophy known as the Way of the Leaf). Some time after the Aes Sedai first appeared on Andurin, however, the Da'shain turned from one people into three: today's Aire (which means "dedicated" in the Old Tongue), the Tuatha'an (also known as Traveling People or Tinkers), and the Jenn Aire (literally, True Dedicated). The split between the Aire and Tuatha'an was acrimonious; certain members of the Aire refused to continue the task entrusted to them by the Aes Sedai, and left in order to search for the type of peace they had enjoyed long ago. The remaining group of Aire themsevles split when some members of their group killed in self-defense (though in doing so, they used only instruments which had practical uses, namely knives and spears, and refused to use a sword. Over time, more and more Aire joined those who would kill in self-defence, leaving only the Jenn Aire who would still hold to the Way of the Leaf. The two groups remained together, the violent Aire defending the Jenn Aire, and this compound group made their way across the Plains of 'Athaq into The Wastes. They were helped, during their journey, by those who lived in what would later become the Empire of Mel'Cendia. In the Wastes, the Aire prospered while the Jenn Aire dwindled; the last Jenn died hundreds of years ago, leaving only a holy city, Xentorxes.

Today, the Aire have all but forgotten their ancient ways; only their leaders remember that they once served the Aes Sedai, and no trace of the Way of the Leaf remains in their culture other than a total unwillingness to touch a sword, and the forced pacificism of gai'shain.


Reputation

Not much is known about the Aire by the outside world. Any wetlanders (as they call those who live to the north) are killed on sight; only traders, dwarvenkin and Aes Sedai are given free passage. Tinkers can also move freely in The Wastes if they so choose, as no Aire will go near them. Aire have a reputation for being vicious fighters, and "black-veiled Aire" is a common epithet for belligerence.

The Aire once allowed a fourth class of wetlander to traverse their lands: the Imperials of Mel'Cendia, in honor of the help they had given the Aire during their wandering. The Imperials were allowed to travel through the Wastes to Derome-denen, where they were able to obtain precious silks, spices and other luxury goods. The Aire also gave the Mel'Cendians a small tree: Avendoraldera, a cutting of Avendesora, the Tree of Life. Unfortunately, several centuries later, an Imperial governor with more ambition than sense, Nesarias Ancillus, cut down Avendoraldera to make himself a throne. The Aire, outraged, boiled out of the Waste to bring back his head. Four of the twelve Aire clans went, led by a charismatic Tardaad clan chief named Janduin, but the assassination-in-force was complicated when several Imperial armies mistook the Aire for an invasion force and started fighting back. The Aire cut them to ribbons, and by 1278 they had pushed the multinational force all the way back to Nith'Tar Valon. The battle there, known as the Blood Snow, saw the Aire succeed in killing Nesarias; the next day, they went home. Wetlanders call this the War of the Aire; the Aire call it business as usual. Since then, however, the Aire have been even more hostile to the Imperials than to other wetlanders, calling them "treekillers" and "oathbreakers."


Social Customs

The Aire have a number of cultural practices that are quite strange to outsiders. For example, women frequently become soldiers and fight alongside men. In addition, the taboo against nudity is much weaker amongst the Aire than in some cultures. The Aire moral code is called ji'e'toh, a word which roughly translates to "honor and duty" or "honor and obligation"; it codifies the Aire responses to honor and shame (which is essentially synonymous with obligation). Outsiders consider it labyrinthine--one Aes Sedai who studied it for a month reportedly ended more confused than she started--but the Aire live and die by it.


gai'shain

One of the most bizarre convolutions of ji'e'toh has to do with the taking of gai'shain, "those sworn to peace in battle." Aire earn honor and prestige for deeds in battle--or accumulate shame by misdeeds--but killing an opponent earns the least honor; any fool can kill, just as any fool can die. What earns the most honor is touching the opponent who is holding a weapon, but without harming them (similar to the system of counting coup among certain Plains Indians). An Aire so shamed is considered to have toh--obligation--to the person who touched them, and will march straight to that person and demand to be made gai'shain, at which point they don white robes, become that person's servant for a year and a day, and forswear to touch a weapon during that time. Becoming gai'shain is a way to annul toh; it is totally voluntary and can be used to atone for non-battle-related shaming as well. Gai'shain are not slaves, and any wetlander who suggests it is soon straightened out.

Wise Ones, blacksmiths, children, and women with a child under the age of ten cannot be taken gai'shain. Exact "ownership" of the gai'shain is a variable matter; though each gai'shain swears only to one person, they can be and are often instructed to obey commands from other people as well.


Gender differences

Though only men can become clan chiefs, only women can hold property. The owner of any given roof (house) or holding (settlement) is the roofmistress, and she must give permission to step under her roof. Only women, likewise, can become Wise Ones. Only women can ask for marriage; a man may accept or decline, but may not ask, although he may make his interest known in other ways.


The Aire are organized on several different levels. There are twelve Aire clans, each of which has a clan chief; clans are further divided into septs, and septs subdivide into holdings (which are individual settlements; each clan and sept also has a central hold). Aire warriors also affiliate themselves with various warrior societies, of which there are twelve: Mountain Dancers, Thunder Walkers, Stone Dogs, Brothers of the Eagle, etc. The Far Dareis Mai, the Maidens of the Spear, is a society made up entirely of women; their members 'marry' their spears and are forbidden to take men into their lives on a permanent basis without forfeiting membership. The lines of loyalty amongst clan, sept and society are tangled; but, roughly, allegiance to one's warrior society trumps clan allegiance. This appears counter-intuitive until one remembers that the clans are in a state of almost perpetual twelve-way warfare; since Aire from any clan can join any society, and will not raise spear against fellow society members, this allows open lines of diplomacy between all clans at all times. (Some Aire even sojourn with their societies to avoid participating in clan feuds.)


Wise Ones

Aire women who can channel are not sent to the White Tower; instead, they remain among the Aire and become Wise Ones. Some Aire women are also skilled in walking Tel'aran'rhiod, the World of Dreams; they too become Wise Ones (even if they cannot channel). Wise Ones undergo a grueling testing period, culminating in a trip to Xentorxes; inside there are ter'angreal which administer the final test.


Game Information

+1 Dex or Con
-2 Cha

1% chance of one of the following powers (roll 1d100):

1. Beast Tongue -- You are able to command up to 5 HD of domesticated or wild animals. This power lasts for up to 30 minutes and is useable once a day.

2. Berserk -- +5 Con and +5 Str. This power is useable once a day and can be invoked at any time, even during the midst of combat. Once invoked, it lasts for up to 30 minutes or the duration of combat, whichever is greater. Once the effect ends, -6 Dex and you must rest for one hour.
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