The Vand Nisse (also known as Sea Elves) are a proud, nautical-centric sub-species of Nisse, characterized externally by their pointed ears and blue tattoos on their forehead and upper facial area in tribal patterns.
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The Vand Nisse tend to live near the coast or on islands, but can be rarely found in areas further inland. Their culture is so strongly tied to seafaring that most outsiders think of the Vand Nisse as either the Forbund Af Nisse navy or a collection of pirates crews. However, there is more to the sea than piracy and war. The Vand Nisse control a great deal of merchant houses that run import and export businesses, fisheries, shipyards, and more. The Forbund Af Nisse ports are all Vand Nisse controlled including those that have been recently founded on the northern coast of Antioch.
The main source of Vand Nisse power comes from controlling five port cities: Sydlige Haven on the southern cape, Svardfisk to the south west, Mellemhavet to the west, Hvalfangstby to the north west, and Menneskehjem on the northern cape bordering the Human Republics. Menneskehjem is the largest of the port cities. Being near the Republics and the Forged Kingdom makes it the center of imports and exports by sea for the Forbund Af Nisse. It also contains the largest presence of navy ships and dry docks to maintain them. It is rumored that the best blockade-runners among the Vand Nisse are made in Menneskehjem as it is quite profitable to get past the prying eyes of the Republic naval blockades. Menneskehjem also quarters the embassies for the other Kingdoms making it one of the most culturally diverse cities in the Forbund Af Nisse.
The sea is a harsh mistress. While other cultures might seek to overcome nature the Vand Nisse know better and scoff at such endeavors. One must respect the sea and find ways to work with it to survive it’s onslaught. The Vand Nisse are one of the few cultures that try to predict the weather and keep long records of weather patterns and changes. There are rumors of Vand Nisse magics that can predict weather and even older stories of captains that could affect the weather to calm the seas.
Government and Politics
At sea, the Vand Nisse tend to govern themselves politically in small groups that are beholden to larger groups, electing captains to lead the crew, who then elect an admiral to manage the fleet. On land they elect officials to govern the local areas every 5 years. These elected officials (whether the elder of a small coastal village or the governor of a major seaport) create counsels to assist them in governing. Though there is no rule that specifically mandates this, most elected officials on land tend to be retired captains or rich ship owning merchants. Captains serve until they lose the confidence of their crew, and the same goes for elected officials on land. Should an official displease the masses, special elections to replace them may be organized by the community, which creates some of the more political savvy rulers in Sha’Uru. The Forbund Af Nisse’s position as a whole is that the slaying of corrupt officials is forbidden, however the sea is vast and accidents can happen.
The Vand Nisse utilize the Kroner system with no restriction on trade with any other intelligent race, though they are hesitant to make deals with any Ouranos Dur individual or organization unless they are at an extreme advantage or receive a disproportionately greater benefit.
It is fairly common practice for those who work on ships to collect and display mementos of the different places they have traveled. They are usually small things; a vial of the white sands found on Manama beaches, the pitch black bark from the forests of Enclave, and so on. Vand Nisse also put a lot of value in pearls and beautifully colored and preserved corals from all over.
The Vand Nisse have their own territories on the continent of Calydon, most of which are harbor towns and port cities skirting the oceans. They would not necessarily be considered migratory, but many wealthier members of Vand Nisse society will have several homes throughout these cities and towns for when they travel.
The Vand are a proud but not unnecessarily hateful people. As a whole, they do not see any issues with other organizations, groups, economies or religions (aside from the Cult of Rum’at Abi), though they will always believe theirs are somehow better, truer, etc.
Culture & Traditions
The culture of the Vand Nisse revolves around seafaring and so too does their social hierarchy. The upper crust consists of owners of several ships before singular owners, then come admirals, commodores, and captains. Slightly below them are first mates, quartermasters and sailing masters. Below that are the financiers, accountants, then merchants. Lower society consists of the workers, gunners and general crewmen. Politicians and members of the naval fleet (regardless of position) typically rub elbows with those of the middle and higher classes.
Roles in Vand Nisse society are dictated, for the most part, by each individual doing what they feel a calling to do. A notable exception to this is that, by and large, the task of tracking weather patterns are entrusted onto the more experienced and venerable members of the Vand Nisse.
The Vand Nisse take part exuberantly in the Feast of the Solstice each year on December 21st. Though every family has their own tweaks on tradition, a stereotypical meal to celebrate is fish and/or crab paired with a garlic butter gravy, a side dish of seaweed salad, another side dish of clams and mussels and bread.
In order for the Vand Nisse to receive their markings, they must complete their rite of passage. This is not known to other cultures except whispered half-theories and rumors. On average, a Vand goes through their rite of passage around age 17.
The blue markings the Vand are so well-known for are chosen by the individual Vand upon the completion of their rite. These symbols and patterns are sacred to the Vand Nisse and much time often goes into their design, as it reflects their accomplishment, their culture and their personal aesthetic.
The Vand Nisse believe very much in fairness and democracy, as evidenced by their governing bodies on ships and in their own lands.
Though not an overly superstitious species, the Vand Nisse consider it bad luck to sail on a Monday. Most Monday's are spent loading up, shopping for and tallying supplies and finishing paperwork instead.
It is considered good luck to have a Kobold on the crew when sailing outside Nisse waters.
There is an old tale of a sea captain born and raised on a ship. He inherited the ship from his parents when they passed and captained it from then on. He never set foot on land- not once. The tale goes on to say he died on that ship and his body was laid to rest on a small boat pushed out to sea, so that even in death, he would never have to touch land.
It is believed that elders are more suited for determining weather patterns because they both have more experience in how the winds and weather change, and can physically feel the weather more accutely. More naturalistic Vand (such as those who follow the ways of The Children of Sha'uru) believe these older individuals are more firmly rooted in Sha'uru and can feel the world shift differently, or that they are more in touch with Her.
Dur—The slower but cheaper and safer method of shipping goods or traveling via water is appealing to both Vuono and Vrachos Dur. The Vuono also enjoy the subtle snub using Vand Nisse service is toward their Ouranos brethren. The Ouranos Dur and Vand Nisse have been bitter rivals since the rise of airship technology. While both species are refined enough to refrain from starting all-out war, or brawling in public, there is very little in the way of kindliness between the two.
Other Nisse—While all sub-species of Nisse find their artform to be superior to the others, the Vand Nisse do not let this get in the way of creating bonds with either the Afsla Nisse or Slagte Nisse. The Afsla are more likely to call upon Vand Nisse for sailing and shipping than any other species, while Vand Nisse are a sizeable portion of the customer base for Slagte services. The Slagte do not need much in the way of traveling or shipping via sea, but they are happy to trade or sell/buy wild game for fresh fish and other seafoods.
Humans—The Vand and Tribes of Barlethan seldom come into contact unless the Tribal is on their 7 year journey, but they do get along quite well. The Vand find Tribal passengers and customers to be a bit quiet and stoic, but not rude. When purchasing goods from Barlethan farms, the Vand find them to be rigid with their pricing but fair. Vand Nisse find most Imperial Humans, especially the older generations or wealthier individuals, to be tiresome. These types of Imperials are wrapped up in their social schemes and games with no true art or work to call their own; instead leaving such things to their servants and Homunculi. However, a Vand Nisse would not turn away an Imperial for business and it isn't terribly uncommon for rebellious or adventurous Imperial youth to find themselves in the company of equally young and rebellious Vand. The Wayfaring Seekers and Vand Nisse get along very well. Seekers have a great appreciation for the Vand seafaring art and take great joy in learning from the crews of the ships they seek passage on. The Vand are pleased that the Seeker culture recognizes the greatness of their art.
Goblinites—The presence of Homunculi on a Vand Nisse ship is almost ubiquitous: they make for perfect cooks, surgeons, and ‘powder monkeys’. While they are still Goblinite and thus, disgusting, a Vand Nisse crew is not unwilling to hire a Kobold as they are often viewed as a sign of good luck on ships. Gnomes are easily the most disliked of the Goblinite species, especially those with half-Ouranos parentage. Some private ships may even vastly overcharge or outright refuse paid passage to Gnomes in non-Nisse lands, if they think they can legally get away with it. And of course, there are Halflings. Halflings and Nisse have a complex relationship, whereby they are found to be distatestful but are technically of Human parentage. Nisse will only discriminate against Halflings if they can get away with it (such as those not accompanied by Human allies).
Goblins—The Vand Nisse and Goblins tend to do a fairly brisk business. Vand Nisse generally don't see much issue with the creation of Homunculi and the strange alchemies the Goblins experiment with and manufacture. However, despite trading with the Goblins, they refuse to allow Goblins onto Vand Nisse lands and waters.
The Vand Nisse rite of passage consists of successfully traveling all the way around Calydon or Lerna without shipwreck, capture, or attack from pirates. It must be noted that the individual must be actively involved in the crew and not just a passenger. Any Vand who does not succeed in this rite by the age of 25 is given a potion designed by the Afsla to still their tongue from discussing the passage and they are no longer considered a part of the Vand; they are Hus Nisse. Though Hus Nisse are not dislike by Vand in any way, the individual is looked down upon, in a way, because they are no longer Vand.
The Vand Nisse Navy, known as the Stor Flade, is the largest and strongest navy in all of Calydon and Lerna, employing nearly 45% of Vand people. This is not just their military-persons, but also includes crafters and inventors, merchants and so on. The Stor Flade is the pride and joy of most Vand Nisse though the scourge of the sea to its seedier or more covert citizens.