The Oasis Folk are a people of Prax and the Wastes. They live in the oases of these barren, arid lands, and live off the bounty of these fertile places.
Descended from Tada's People, the Oasis Folk are the shattered remnants of a once-mighty empire, stretching from the forests of Prax into Genert's Garden itself. But, the fall of Genert and Tada, together with the destruction of Prax and the blasting of the Wastes destroyed what power the Oasis Folk had.
To outsiders, Oasis Folk are lazy, surly, slovenly, stupid people. Even the slaves are next to useless. The only ones who are of much use are those with nomad fathers – at least they have some gumption about them.
However, the Oasis Folk see things differently. They were promised their land by the Earth King, as long as they stay true to their ways. Their oasis provides everything they need – water, food and family. They pick their food from the trees that bloom almost all year. The waters always run clean and clear. Their families live nearby and provide them with mates and children.
The Oasis Folk know of the Earth and of the Land. However, they are only interested in their own Oasis and know nothing of what lays beyond.
Each Oasis Tribe has its own myths and stories of the Golden Age, a time of plenty where food sprouted from the earth as it was planted, of Kings and Queens and magical beasts. However, unlike other people, the oasis Folk never name their gods or goddesses, apart from the founders of their Oasis. Instead, they talk about the Copper King, or Serpent Woman. Their myths are primitive and simple, consisting of short stories or poems, each telling a small part of a tale. When they tell their myths, the shaman recites the myth and the people join in at certain points, sometimes singing, sometimes dancing, in an apparently random order. But to the Oasis Folk, this tells them a story of themselves, in which they play a major part.
Travellers between the Oases who manage to participate in the holy day ceremonies find that the stories are a mishmash, with some stories common to all the oases but others unique to an Oasis or containing parts of other stories. A collector of tales might be able to piece together different stories to work out the story that lays behind them, but this would be difficult.
The reason behind this is simple. When Genert was the Earth King, he told stories to his children and they told the stories to their children and so on. However, when Genert was slain, his story was also destroyed, leaving each clan with its own stories and traditions. The death of Tada and the loss of the forests meant that the Oases did not communicate and became insular, thus fragmenting the tales even further.
There are, however, some common themes to the mythology of the Oasis Folk.
The Earth King ruled a great kingdom that stretched beyond the Oases. This was a land of plenty, with fat women, happy babies and plentiful food. The Earth King was father of many, with Lords and Ladies amongst his many sons and daughters. One of his many wives was the Queen of Wells, a water goddess who lived within the earth. The Earth King poked himself beneath the earth to join with her in many places and the waters filled the hole that he left behind.
Where the water and earth mixed was born an oasis, with two spirits – Father and Mother. Sometimes Father was the water and Mother the earth and sometimes father was the earth and Mother was the water, but in all cases, the water was sweet and plentiful, never running dry, and the earth was fertile and bountiful, producing an abundance of bounty, all of one particular type. Father and Mother had many children and these became the People, or the Oasis Folk.
Lord of the People, the Copper King ruled where the Earth King simply gazed. His army of copper warriors guarded the people and the Golden Age prospered under his rule. When the Great Storm cast down the Sun, the Copper King marched away to fight those who invaded the lands of the Earth King. Many of his warriors were cast away to protect the Earth King and eventually the Copper King received a wound that was so great that he could not recover. So he was buried beneath a mound where his warriors sleep even now.
Each of the Oases has a tribe or clan of Oasis Folk. The members of each oasis look similar, as they are clearly related, in fact a traveller between the oases should be able to tell which Oasis one of the Folk comes from simply from his appearance. Most Oasis Folk have olive skin, brown or black hair and brown or green eyes, although some Oases have fair or even blond hair and occasionally blue eyes. Men and women of the Oasis Folk are expected to marry someone from their own Oasis and very rarely marry outside. Where they do, their children may resemble their own folk, but sometimes resemble outsiders. Generally, Oasis Folk do not suffer from inbreeding, as Father and Mother keep them strong. In fact, some very small oases can survive with a dozen or so families.
An Oasis is virtually a monoculture, for the Oasis provided whatever food its people need to survive. All the Oasis Folk need to do is to gather the food and store it. This is what gives them a reputation for being lazy – why should they work had when all they need is at their fingertips? Most Oases provide a surplus, so the Oasis Folk may trade with outsiders or can afford to lose food through taxation or raiding. Many Oases produce fruit or nuts of a single type, but some produce edible tubers, lizards or other food. Sometimes, the Oasis Folk raise other foods as well, but this is mainly for show.
Oasis Folk hold all wealth communally. In fact, everything in the Oasis is there for their use. This sometimes means that Praxian Nomads, Lunars and other outsiders accuse Oasis Folk of stealing. However, as far as the Oasis Folk are concerned, the outsiders have very helpfully brought things in for them to use. Most Oasis Folk have storage cellars or rooms built beneath or on top of their houses. These are usually full of food, allowing the Oasis Folk to survive through lean periods. The shaman and headman have similar storage areas that can be full of magical items or treasure. However, they normally look very poor and nobody would dream of the treasures stored beneath their shrines.
Oasis Folk typically live in ramshackle adobe buildings, made from sun-dried bricks plastered with a mixture of straw, mud and dung. These are usually square on each side, thus forming a cube to reflect their earth heritage. Steps on the outside lead to the roof, which is used for ceremonies or for sleeping in the summer heat. Many Oasis Folk buildings are clustered together, forming squalid villages. Often these fall into disrepair, so it is easy to move between houses without leaving them.
The Oasis Folk are a font of secret knowledge. Every nursery rhyme, every dance, every style of painting pottery and every myth holds part of the Story of Genert.
One clan might have a children's dance that contains the secret of a war dance or a martial art practice. Another might know part of a rhyme that when put together with other parts, indicates where Genert lies. Several shamans might each hold knowledge that when put together allows the Oasis Folk to awaken sleeping parts of the Paps.
Oasis Folk worship a variety of deities and many Spirit Lords. In fact, such is the fragmentation of their beliefs that it is difficult to identify any commonly worshipped deities.
Each Oasis Folk clan worships the equivalent of Mother and Father, but they do not call them by that name. One is a water deity, the other an earth deity. All Oasis Folk may worship these deities, no matter their gender.
Oasis Folk Shamans conduct ceremonies to their gods and goddesses. They provide magic to the other worshippers in the normal Spirit Cult fashion.
One deity who is known at multiple Oases is the Golden Girl, who is not spoken of by the Oasis People. Each clan has a number of women who worship the Golden Girl and they have a very specific place in society – they are the ones who take upon themselves the burden of being chosen by Praxian Raiders for their rapes. Others shun them for this, but their presence means that most women can endure the raids without being shattered.
The quiet, dull, lazy Oasis Folk have a very important part to play in the future of Prax.and the Wastes. They are the inheritors of Tada and Genert and hold many secrets of those deities.
There will rise one man among the Oasis Folk, Molak the Sleeping Shaman. He will awaken and throw off the lethargy of his people. Molak will visit many different Oases and will learn the secrets of many Oasis clans. After several years, he puts the pieces together and begins HeroQuesting. He learns how to awaken individual Oasis Folk and starts a band of people, drawn from different Oases. These Molakings travel from Oasis to Oasis, attracting new members and learning new secrets.
After many HeroQuests, Molak travels to Pavis and brings together the Grisly Portions of Tada. A great ceremony ensues that lasts a week, and Tada is reborn. With this act, all the Oasis Folk awaken from their lethargy and begin remembering.
Startled by this act, Lunar HeroQuestors act against the Oasis Folk, to try and put them back to sleep. In doing so, they unleash a new disease that affects everyone but the Oasis Folk and this Sleeping Sickness rages through Pavis and Prax, rendering many people senseless. Molak returns from a HeroQuest with a cure.
The Molakings then assist the Pavis cult in reaching the Green Age and bring Pavis back to the world. He refuses to marry the Red Goddess and the Lunars are expelled from Pavis and Prax.
Tada awakens the Sleeping City and his warriors. Many Praxians march against them, but the Molakings show their kinship with the Nations of Prax. Waha and Tada greet each other at the Paps and the tribes are united. Jaldon Toothmaker returns and enters Prax for the first time in centuries.
A united force of Oasis Folk, Praxians and Copper Folk enter the Wastes and return with Genert. Clearly this takes more than a simple ceremony and is the culmination of centuries of HeroQuesting. Genert sets up his base on the Plateau of Statues and begins restoring the Garden.