Commonly called the Travelers, the Jospei people are ocean nomads and gypsies.
Secretive, wily, soft-spoken but quick of tongue, the Jospei are a gracious and suspicious people. They are often found on the move, gathering the bulk of their families on large flotillas that slowly navigate the waters around vast island chains and bayous. They rarely set anchor in one place for a long period of time, and more often families with navigate a territory like nomads, slowly rotating through an area based on seasonal changes and superstitious signs.
They are expert traders, learning the art of trade and appraisal as soon as they are born. Bartering is a pastime for most Jospei, helping them to develop keen eyes for the value of objects where others see none. They are a people who love to display their wealth in finely crafted trinkets, bright baubles, and colorful clothing. They decorate their flotillas and ships in the same manner that they decorate themselves, often draping fine cloth and banners of their own design to help identify family units.
To the Traveler, family is valued above all. While they have a love of rich and fine goods, the size of one’s family is the true indicator of status. They will take on orphaned and abandoned young from any race to help bolster the size of their family, often incorporating aspects of those cultures into their own to help the adoptee feel more at home. As a child ages, they are traded between family members and flotilla rafts in order to mingle and train new skills.
Most day to day decisions on a family flotilla are made by the Ra-Ma, or Raft Mother. She is the mother with the most children, and is deferred to by the others on the raft. This is semi-matriarchal leadership, as once one Ra-Ma is in place, she will often remain the person in charge until she is old enough to step down, passing the torch to the next mother with many kin.
Possessing a ship is a mark of high achievement for Travelers, and represents their personal freedom as well as serving as proof that they can provide for the family.
The Jospei are aware that others do not understand the importance that they place on their own culture, and make little effort to teach others. Keeping secrets from those outside of the family is what they must do to survive and avoid scrutiny. When threats do arise, they will band together to bait and ambush those who mean them harm.
Most Jospei have startling blue eyes like well polished sapphire; a lineage trait that makes them stand out in close conversation. Eye colors do range though, and include yellow or gold, suggesting mixed racial bloodlines. Heterochromia is also quite common.
Skin color runs in brown and reddish skin tones. They typically sport visible tattoos, each with their own personal significance, usually for accomplishments. Jospei couples get matching or paired tattoos to represent their union.
Jospei have gently curled black or chestnut brown hair. It is usually kept long, tied with colorful scarves, beads or intricate jewelry. Braiding is also common. Jospei place an emphasis on keeping their hair clean and perfumed with spices. Both men and women keep this kind of grooming, though men will shave or crop their hair depending on their profession. Feathered headpieces are worn for ceremonial purposes and when possible contain the feathers of exotic species. The older a family, the more exotic the headpieces.
Culture and Relations
Jospei culture is mixed and while it can show signs of variant due to the mixing of other cultural groups, the majority are the same. Family units gather together on large rafts or barge ships that are tied together to form a Flotilla. The Flotilla serves as an ocean faring mobile home and are given a common name that is separate from the families that share it. This is typically what a group of Travelers call themselves between one another.
Each Flotilla is lead by a strong female figure that Travelers call Ra-Ma. She is usually the mother with the most children, adopted or through blood, but sometime the position is taken by the woman that all others simply choose to defer to. She makes the day to day decisions and acts as the arbitrator when squabbles arise.
Jopei parents take a very fluid approach to child rearing, trading their own children between rafts to ensure that they received diverse training before they come of age. This method also helps to take the burden off of families who may be struggling to make ends meets, letting others take up the mantle of “parent” while they get back on their feet. The constant flux in family makeup helps to sow trust between families and solidifies bonds.
Male and female children are often paired together at an early age. Families view this as a betrothal, and it is designed to encourage continued growth of a family unit. The betrothal is never forced, and the final decision is made by the ‘children’ themselves as they come of age. Jopei men and women come of age at 15. Women are expected to marry by the time they are 16 or 17, and the man’s family is the one to bear the responsibility of wedding arrangement and dowry. This is given directly to the bride to strengthen the family by providing for early needs. The soon to be wife is tasked with managing the new families finances.
Superstitious belief plays a large role in the way the Jospei conduct themselves. Many claim to be able to see the color of an individual’s soul and the aura it possesses. The color of a person’s is very important, and to that end those with the ‘sight’ take charge as the moral compass of the Travelers. They do what they can to maintains pure and good color hues to best please the ocean spirits. Divination, psychic ability, and witchcraft are all welcome forms of magic and are actively practiced.
Jospei are very generosity between friends and families. To their people it is just as important as trading and wealth acquisition. They do not see much purpose in hoarding wealth like a dragon, and take great joy in spreading gifts. Exchanging gifts is customary after time spent away from others, and can come in many forms, from practical to lavish, or simple with deep meaning.
Close relations will also share a piece of their own ship in order to track their movements, using special compasses that that Jospei call Kin Coin. Placing the ship fragment inside the compass will cause it to point to where the ship is. Without the fragment the Kin Coin functions just like a normal compass. This is one of the greatest measures of trust that can be bestowed on someone, as it leaves them exposed to others knowing where a Jospei family may be.
Newcomers are expected to provide something of greater wealth to establish their ability to trade and provide. Rare or exotic materials and spices are best, but unique gifts can go a long way toward establishing one’s position as well. A gift of gold is an insult as it looks to liquid, material wealth rather than a spirit of generosity.
Outsiders often opt to provide gifts of gold, not understanding the deeper meaning. Jospei remain hospitable to these people, but are always wary, and can remain so for years before trust is established. They are also quick to break ties when that trust is betrayed. As a result, many outsiders think that the Jospei are petty, even going so far as to brand them a thieves.
Jospei refuse to keep slaves as it goes against the wishes of the spirits. Spirits are to be free. Unfortunately, they are often the target of slave trade, and as such It is not uncommon for flotilla vessels to be camouflaged when non-Traveler ships are near.
Jopei love of the ocean and sailing culminates in competitive races between families using Skrim. A Skrim is a sleek single person sailboat. They are colorful, agile and very maneuverable. Each Skrim is built by hand and holds special meaning to each racer who put plenty of time and effort into its construction. The largest races are private and occur during the yearly gathering of families, but Skrim races occur any time Jopei are gathered together.
Regarding Men and Women
Travelers strive for an equal society where everyone’s efforts are the measure of their worth, regardless of gender. In their youth, boys and girls are each expected to pull their weight. They must know how to clean and cook for themselves, and how to rig and sail boats, or even gather and survive in the wild. Their training is rigorously upheld between the family flotilla boats that they fluidly move between as they are raised.
As a child transitions from their 14th year to their 15th, they undergo a rite of passage. The family will land an island, preferably uninhabited, and the child will spend the next 2 days on land surviving and putting their training to test. Adults will watch over them from afar to make sure nothing goes wrong. They may not receive assistance or companionship from others, as the trial is about reflection and represents their transition from youth to adulthood. Any interference will result in them having to redo the trail. After the trials larger differences separating men from women begin to appear
Young women are expected to marry by the time they are 16 or 17. This is sometimes done through arranged marriage, but more often is at the choice of the woman. She is the one to receive dowry payment from the family of her husband to help them begin their own family. She will be the one to track the family finances and provide direction over where the family goes next.
Men are expected to follow the direction of their wives. While arguments do crop up, her say for the wellbeing of the family is very important. The man will also pay close attention to the children during child rearing to make sure they are developing all of the skills they need to know as they grow. Eldest sons are charged with caring for their aging parents so none are ever left behind.
A Jospei’s home is wherever the heart is. They commonly make their home upon the seas on large family flotillas consisting of multiple barges, or even ships that have been roped together to form one large vessel. With this ship they travel between islands or wherever open open waters can take them. This is most commonly within the Isles, though some travel waterways into inland lakes. There are some Travelers who have even made the claim that they travelled through the Sea of Monsters and strange lands beyond, but even in Jospei family circles these are tall tales.
A Traveler’s ship is his or her home. It is well kept and always decorated with symbols of their prosperity, be that physical wealth, or wealth of family.
Jospei are a superstitious people, and they believe in Spirits from beyond the other side. Spirits are grouped between Solva, Emii, and Oni. Each of these spirits can attach themselves to objects, creatures, and people. For better or worse, knowing them and honoring them can go a long way toward keeping each pleased or placated respectively.
Solva are helpful spirits, sometimes playful and often calming. They often live inside physical objects. Jospei surround themselves with lavish goods and comforts to maintain positive energies in themselves to keep the Solva happy, or to invite them into their homes. Large families, laughter, song, and dance please these spirits.They bring positive omens, good tidings and even advanced warnings of events to come.
Emii are the most common spirits and often help to bolster a person’s abilities and attitudes. They have not chosen to follow any direction, positive or negative, and are instead influence directly be the Jospei people. They love to fill the figurehead of ocean faring ships serving as a guide or lookout for the vessel. Jospei often find driftwood or floating debris to craft their figureheads which serves to save or rescue spirits that may have become lost or discarded in their journey to gain direction. Jospei hope that the Emii will be thankful and aid them in their own journey. Once each year, when the seas are at their calmest, Travelers gather at a predetermined vacant shoreline or uninhabited island. At this gathering they remove the figurehead from the ship and burn them in a great bonfire, freeing the Emii within. As the fire burns, families at the gathering have a great feast and share stories, songs, and companionship. It is hoped that with the positive energy and freedom, the Emii will return to them as Solva. It can take years and even generations before an Emii gains a positive or negative hue. Most never do.
Spirits that are not surrounded in freedom or positive energy slowly begin to transform, becoming corrupted by things like greed, loneliness, and misery. They become vengeful and ultimately transform into terrifying Oni. Oni are dark and vengeful spirits that live to sow chaos, evil, and malcontent. Like other spirits, Oni can be found in both objects and living things, but they also have the ability to move between possessions, corrupting everything around them. They feed off of anger, loneliness, and pain.
Jospei seek to avoid places that have fallen to the curse of an Oni. When possession does occur they try to cleanse the individual's aura by correcting any injustice that may have created it. Sometimes an aura cannot be cleansed by a seer, and it must fall to the individual to correct it. In these cases they are exiled, willinging or by force in order to protect the rest of the people.
Exiles are left on islands that will provide them with enough resources to survive, but usually without enough to get them back out to sea. In cases where a spiritual hue is dark but not malevolent, a volunteer may stay behind to help protect and guide the exile until their hue has improved. In rare cases, the volunteer may stay as a guard, especially where the dead of a family may be involved, in order to put down any corruption that might rise from an Oni’s presence.
Jospei believe strongly in spiritual color hues. Vibrant and colorful hues are positive. As colors get darker and bold they can become more neutral or more pronounced in the way they affect a person or thing. Dark, angry or chaotic hues are negatively affected and great effort must be made to correct them or free them whenever possible. Spirits that cannot be freed or cleansed must be destroyed in order to prevent corruption from spreading.
Jospei believe the Gods to be second to the spirits of the world.
Romani Gypsy / Seafaring American Indian
Jospei Flotillas and Associated Surnames
Vela Kirana - Spirited Voyagers
- Trilande - Dry Land; known for having silver tongues and adept in their interactions with landfolk.
- Endili - End Day/Light or Night Watch; known for taking up the role of scouting and protecting flotillas.
- Reccer - Wrecker, or salvager; known best for making useless stuff usable again.
Lotrac - Lone Trekkers ; Clanless, known for trading between flotillas and creating "free" trade routes. Expert map makers and explorers.
Zoru Havera - Thriving, or prosperous wind
- Magudo - known for their prosperity. The loan money for favors. Their actions and acquisitions are often the subject of suspicion even among the Jospei.
- Mabbott - Water Maker / Brewer ; talented brew-smiths, they make their own alcohol and are often found liquored up. Their navigation skills are often the butt of jokes.
- Firo - Story Writer / Historian; They claim their version of the traveler origin is the true tale, most others think it false.
Arkaadi - Of Large Ship / Ark
- Arva - Head of the largest flotilla, their words often carry plenty of weight.
- Corlen - Talented of Hand; Artists and wood carvers. If you want a nice flag, filigree, paint job of figurehead, look to this family.
- Sunrider - Rider of Dawn/Dusk; known for being skilled racers, by ship and skrim. Very cocky.
- Halbert - Better Tides; a relatively new family name for the Jospei, the original Halbert's escaped bad times and found the spirits to be better at sea.
- Truwan - Truth Seeker; known for being scholarly / bookish. They like to trade in artifacts.
+2 to One Ability Score: Human characters gain a +2 bonus to one ability score of their choice at creation to represent their varied nature.
- Medium: Humans are Medium creatures and receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- Normal Speed: Humans have a base speed of 30 feet.
- Bonus Feat: Humans select one extra feat at 1st levels.
- Beguiling Liar: Jospei are experts at manipulation. They gain a +4 racial bonus on Bluff checks to convince an opponent what they are saying is true when they tell a lie.
- Scavenger: Jospei gain a +2 racial bonus on Appraise and Perception checks to find hidden objects (including traps and secret doors), determine whether food is spoiled, or identify a potion by taste.
- Sprinter: Jospei often find themselves on the run. They gain a +10 foot racial bonus to their speed when using the charge, run, or withdraw actions.
Languages: Humans begin play speaking Common. Humans with high Intelligence scores can choose any languages they want (except secret languages, such as Druidic).