Kalashtar Society and Culture
The kalashtar were born in the mountains of Adar. Descended from a race of immortals, kalashtar have endless patience and a firm conviction that their traditions will some day usher in a golden age for all creatures. They do not want to change in any way; they know what needs to be done to fight the Dreaming Dark, and they will continue until they succeed or have been destroyed. This attitude is reflected in the rigid monastic lifestyle of the Adarans, which has remained unchanged and uncontested for more than a thousand years.
Almost all of the kalashtar live in one of the eight temple-fortresses that dot the mountain sides. What time isn’t spent in meditation or prayer is devoted to defense of the realm, holding the natural battlements against the endless onslaught of the Inspired. The Adaran kalashtar have no time for cultural change and no reason to believe that change is necessary.
Things are different on the continent of Khorvaire. The kalashtar of Khorvaire come from a variety of backgrounds. Some migrated to Khorvaire before the Inspired arrived on Sarlona, blending quietly into the humans of the Five Nations before Galifar united them. Others have been sent by kalashtar elders over the course of the last few centuries. Some came to study Khorvaire, while others were sent away to ensure that kalashtar society could not be eliminated in a single blow. The kalashtar of Khorvaire have more interaction with other cultures and don’t have to deal with the constant distraction of war.
As a result, the kalashtar of Khorvaire are generally more optimistic and innovative than their Adaran counterparts, and they enjoy experimenting with new things. The most significant innovation has been the development of the path of the atavist.
The kalashtar population of Khorvaire is split between a number of racial enclaves in the major cities of the continent. This pattern has largely been driven by the war with the Dreaming Dark. The Inspired might be able to arrange for the destruction of a small rural community, but they would never get away with smuggling an army into Sharn. By placing themselves in the capitals of Khorvaire, the kalashtar are also able to monitor the activities of the Inspired ambassadors: They already have strong roots in the cities the Inspired are now working to infiltrate. They cluster together not because they are uncomfortable around members of other races, but because they need the sense of safety in numbers, and it’s easier to spot the actions of the Dreaming Dark in a closed system.
Within a kalashtar community, the most influential form of social group is the lineage—the quori spirit that a kalashtar is bound to. This is not the same as a family group. Kalashtar inherit the spiritual bond from their parents, but the bond is always based on gender; a son always takes the father’s bond, while a daughter inherits from the mother. Thus, each lineage is composed of a single gender. All members of a particular lineage think of the others as brothers or sisters, even if they are actually distant cousins at best. Most kalashtar live with other members of their line.
There is no tradition of marriage among the kalashtar. Members of different lines socialize together and procreate (with the children being adopted and raised communally by the others of their lineage), but it is difficult for a kalashtar to imagine living with a member of another line for the rest of his life. In Khorvaire many old traditions are being questioned, however. A kalashtar adventurer would be especially likely to break the old traditions, since he spends so much time away from his line to begin with.
The kalashtar respect age and wisdom, and most kalashtar communities are governed by a council with a representative from each lineage that has a presence in the community. Conflicts between lines are uncommon; the greater threat of the Dreaming Dark has always held the kalashtar together through periods of possible unrest. The method used to select a representative varies by lineage; in general, the leader is simply the person who has the overall confidence of his line, and it will change if that confidence is ever lost. The different communities are linked by lines of psionic communication; most communities have one psion who can manifest correspond, which is used to check in with the guiding councils of the other cities in Khorvaire and the elders of Adar.
As a whole, kalashtar are inclined to be of lawful good alignment. Mental discipline is part of kalashtar life, and this is reflected by their well ordered society. Kalashtar generally act in the interests of what they consider to be the greater good, and mercy, kindness, and hospitality are important virtues within their society. Well-mannered visitors are always welcome, though a shadow watcher keeps a sharp eye on outsiders until he is certain they are not agents of the Dark.
Most people find kalashtar communities to be austere; the disciplined kalashtar have few vices, and most donate any extra income to the community in the interests of defense, so they have few luxuries. But they are capable of enjoying life without much in the way of material goods, taking pleasure from the company of their kin. Some humans find this admirable, while others simply find it to be disturbing—because humans can’t understand the mental bond between kalashtar of the same line, the level of cooperation and lack of conflict often seems unnatural.
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