The Slagte Nisse (Dark Elves) are a sub-species of Nisse who specialize in the art of the hunt. Slagte Nisse are known by their pointed ears and the blacked scars on their forehead and around their eyes. Slagte are a proud and austere species, focused and calculating. The Slagte Nisse are stereotyped as being fiercely talented at pursuing and taking down their prey.
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In ages past, when Nisse were all one people there were those who began to question their own mortality and that of the shorter lived species in the world. They wanted to understand why Nisse lived much longer lives than Dur and Human. Like minded Nisse decided to retire from the large gathering that were the first Nisse cities and sequestered themselves into the wilderness to better understand this question. This is the origin of the Slagte Nisse. The Slagte Nisse see the flow of time as a cycle of life and death, with actions causing chain reactions within the world. They hold a belief that the death of others is necessary for the world to function in a proper and healthy manner. This is why the concept of the Hunt is so crucial to their society. If the way in which things pass reverberates through the world, then the tone and timber of that death knell must resound in harmony rather than dissonance.
Over the course of centuries they have kept mostly to themselves, honing their beliefs and the art of the Hunt. Eventually they began to journey out into the world so they could continue to shepherd harmony across Sha’uru.
Government and Politics
Slagte Nisse lands are similar to others insomuch as they have family units within towns and cities. Within these towns and cities are also groups (sometimes within the same family, sometimes spanning several or the entire town) who will leave for days or weeks at a time on hunting expeditions. All Slagte Nisse who have earned their scars or are attempting to earn their scars are welcome to join on these expeditions.
Slagte Nisse utilize the same currency as the rest of Lerna and Calydon, the Kroner. The cornerstone of the Slagte economy revolves around hunting: the buying and selling of raw game, cooking, tanning/leatherworking, weapons/traps construction and repair, poisons, etc.
Slagte are very appreciative and even slightly covetous of well-made weapons and armor, hence their agreeableness with the Vuono. There are many who always keep themselves well-stocked with poisons and are always keen on new innovations in these areas.
Slagte Nisse can live anywhere on Sha'uru, though they tend more toward smaller towns/cities and rural areas. Though they spend a great deal of time hunting, they are not migratory, and their dwellings are just as technologically advanced as other intelligent species. Slagte are so uncommon in larger metropolitan areas, it's widely believed a sighting of a Slagte in such a place can only be a harbinger of bad things nearby. There are three major communities populous enough to be considered cities, but only one of them (Enclave) is known outside of the Forbund Af Nisse, the other two are known only to the Slagte. The cities of Skygge and Hviske are situated to the north and south of Enclave, located deep within the woods in Calydon.
The Slagte regard themselves highly and do not find much joy in organizations outside their own, preferring to deal with any and all outside entities only when necessary.
Culture & Traditions
Slagte are represented in the Frobund Af nisse just as Afsla and Vand Nisse are. However, unlike their cousins, the ordeal to choose a new consul is a year long process. Consuls are chosen via the Great Hunt. Every 12 years, potential consuls must hunt down 12 specific beasts on their own with no other weapon save a knife and whatever they can rig or scavenge in the wilderness. Within Slagte communities, the top of the social ladder are typically those who are renowned as 'best' in their chosen field; Teoboldo Darkblades is a well-respected hunter and Amarië Edwards is a distinguished blacksmith in the Slagte Nisse culture. Those with the most scars are typically considered of highest authority and the social ladder of Hunters.
Any Slagte can assume any role within their society. As with all species, Slagte are able to marry outside of their species and in cases of child care (adopted or otherwise), the non-Slagte partner(s) is/are expected to care for the children when the Slagte partner(s) attend a hunting expedition.
The Day of Silence is a Slagte Nisse holiday celebrated each year on January 6th. Slagte are to spend the entire day, beginning at midnight, in complete and utter silence and devoid of written communication. Though the origins of this celebration have been lost to the sands of time, Slagte use it as a reminder to never become reliant on one form of communication; body language and subtle gestures can speak volumes that the word cannot. This is especially true, and especially important, when hunting. Not all targets can speak for themselves.
Though Slagte would not be considered a superstitious species, most do heavily believe in some form of ritual before a Hunt. It may be as simple as a prayer to the god they worship or the sharpening of their blades and cleaning of their guns in a particular order, to very complex day-long rituals such as only eating certain foods, wearing certain clothing and prayers throughout the day.
It is customary for the placement and design of the scars received after a successful Hunt to be very carefully thought out before they are carved into the flesh. Slagte take their Hunt very seriously and successes are a source of pride, they do not take these visual trophies lightly.
The Slagte value control of both the body and the mind. It is often taught that self-discipline strengthens the soul, soothes the mind and toughens the heart. Slagte often only show muted signs of emotion—small smiles, a sneer, etc—if any at all, as grandiose displays of emotion can be perceived as a lack or loss of control.
It is taboo for a Slagte Nisse to trade or sell any part of a creature felled during a Hunt. It is either consumed and/or made a trophy for the home or left where it was felled fully intact, depending on the circumstances of the Hunt. This taboo does not apply when they are contracted to perform a mundane hunt.
Slagte Nisse do not take solo contracts. Though they are fiercely competitive, it can be dangerous to go on even the most mundane Hunt alone and thus at least one other must be somehow involved, even if it's just to scout or be a lookout.
Murder is a grave crime is Slagte society. They regard it as a cheap and tawdry thing born of the loss of control of one’s emotions, with no art or skill. Murder is not the same thing as a assassination.
Slagte Nisse are not above accepting assassination contracts, but they refuse to kill sentient creatures that are innocents or can be redeemed. Before they agree to kill another sentient creature they must spend no less than six months studying it for any qualities worthy of redemption.
Braern is considered the greatest hunter in Slagte Nisse history. They are a historical figure credited with having slain the last, and largest, dragon on Sha'uru and is rumored to have had so many scars, they ran down their cheeks, neck and even onto their chest. However, the actual number of scars has been a point of debate for years with some arguing 53, some arguing 161 and any number in between. There are several fantastical tales of their Hunts, the slaying of the final dragon being an epic tale of a three day long struggle with a 100 foot long elder dragon.
Dur—The Slagte and Vrachos have a very equitable and respectful relationship with regard to the sale and purchase of poisons; in fact, Slagte are the Vrachos largest customer base. Due to the generally dour nature of both species, their relations are typically brief and concise. The Slagte and Vuono also have cordial business relationships, though in the form of weaponry and traps. The Ouranos and the Slagte have a bit of a strained relationship. Ouranos find most Slagte to be uptight and Slagte often find Ouranos too rambunctious and their flying cities ostentatious and unnecessary.
Other Nisse—The different species of Nisse tend to get along rather well. Afsla and Vand find the Slagte and their art to be a bit morbid. Slagte will always patronize an Afsla magi first (if Slagte hedgemages are unavailable) before any others for Warding Charms and other rituals, and Vand Nisse ships are priority for travel when necessary and possible.
Humans—Another group that is rather high on the list of Slagte employers are Imperial Humans. They are more likely than Goblins or other intelligent species to approach the Slagte with a contract, but significantly less likely than Goblins to get the contract signed. Slagte find the political and societal games they play to be monotonous and ultimately uninteresting. The relationship between Slagte Nisse and the Tribes of Barlethan are oddly pleasant; Tribals have a large demand for contracting Slagte hunters for furs and leathers and Slagte will sometimes purchase alchemies from the Tribals. Slagte can appreciate the Tribes mastery of alchemy and their discipline in maintaining simplistic lifestyles. Tribals see no reason in disrespecting or fearing the Slagte; it is very seldom an assassination contract is taken out between the two species and the Tribals have much more interaction with Slagte than city-dwelling species, so there is far less correlation between Slagte presence and imminent death amongst the Tribes of Barlethan. The Wayfaring Seekers are another species the Slagte rarely come into contact with, due to differing preferences in living space. Slagte find the concept of a magical artifact preposterous and often consider Seekers to be weaker than Afsla Nisse in the realm of magic and magical understanding.
Goblinites—It is typically believed that having non-Nisse Goblinites, especially a Homunculi, present while on the hunt will taint the experience. Slagte have no use for Homunculi and would not normally purchase one. Homunculi often find the Slagte intimidating and relieving that they are not very likely to be purchased by one. Kobolds are not allowed in Slagte hunting parties and for this, the Slagte are resented. Slagte find Kobolds significantly more palatable than other Goblinites, but coupling to create them is still met with ostracism and often the Slagte who willingly participate in these couplings are shunned from hunting. Slagte have little interaction with Gnomes or Halflings, as both are banned in their lands and prefer city dwelling, so beyond their mutual dislike, there is not much to say.
Goblins—Without hesitation, and by a large margin, the Goblins are the most likely to contract the Slagte for their art. The Slagte feel Goblins are little more than pests, but their Kroner are good and Goblins tend to understand the terms under which a Slagte work, so Goblins are tolerated.
There are two different kinds of hunting parties- a regular hunt and a Hunt. regular hunts are as they seem, to fell creatures and harvest their meat, hide and as much useful bits as possible for consumption, trade, etc. A Hunt is either the expedition where a Slagte or several Slagte intend to earn their scars, or it is a contracted Hunt.
Slagte will take a contract to Hunt another intelligent species, but it must be deemed that the individual deserves it. This is a purely subjective process, though targets of a higher caliber or a major dangerous contract may be brought to and discussed with a trusted hunting party before a decision is made. Slagte hold these contractual agreements in the highest regard and do not break them of their own accord. However, this does not mean they will not find loopholes or adhere to the letter instead of the spirit of particularly vague, poorly written, or less lucrative contracts.
The rite of passage for Slagte to receive their scars is participation in a successful Hunt. It is typically decided by the individuals who oversaw their training to determine the goal of the Hunt- extermination of a dangerous nearby nest of creatures, succeeding at a contracted Hunt, etc.
Each scar represents a successful Hunt. So, Slagte who have recently passed their rite of passage will have very few scars whereas older, more experienced Slagte will be covered in scars. The scars are very deep and the process is quite painful, and are blackened with a special, long lasting ink (much like modern tattoo ink). The darkness of the scars helps to camouflage them while out hunting.
Slagte Nisse who fail their Hunt are cast out of Slagte lands and considered, for all intents and purposes, Hus Nisse from then on. They imbibe, whether voluntarily or by force, an alchemy brewed only by other Slagte alchemists that permanently renders them unable to speak of the Slagte rite of passage, but otherwise does no harm to them. When these newly dubbed Hus Nisse are asked about the Rites, they are described as going slack-jawed or having a 'faraway look in their eyes'. This does not affect their ability to react to aggressive actions, their ability to recall the conversation, or cause any sort of inhibition. It appears to be just a strange symptom of the alchemy. As the potion is known only to trusted Slagte alchemists, very little research has been done on curing this.
There is a 13th entry on the list of beasts for slaying, that is known only to the Slagte themselves, in order to become Consul: the other potential Slagte Consuls. This is never spoken of outside of Slagte culture.