The Väki are hunter gatherers and forest dwellers. They call home the vast forest that stretches from the farms surrounding the city of Mapesad to southeast toward Intietho.
The core belief of the Väki culture is balance with nature. People are part of the environment that surrounds them, and every living being (people, trees, plants and animals) has value and their own spirit. You take only what you need, and thank every creature for their sacrifice. Their shamans can literally see and communicate with the nature spirits, and have set the wards that protect them from the monsters living in the darkest parts of the woods.
Väki houses blend into the forest, and the people wear mostly clothes made of leather and furs. Other cultures may view them as a bit primitive but the Väki still proudly live off the land like their ancestors before them.
The Väki adopted literacy and some philosophical habits from the Inthi race centuries ago but their culture is still strongly oral and respects storytellers and singers. As a result, most Väki people have excellent memories.
Despite this early cultural cross-pollination, the forest-living Väki mostly keep to themselves. However, they do acknowledge the need to have good relations with their neighbours, and mostly do so by trading. For this purpose, a trading and farming village called Koto (Home) was founded at the edge of the forest.
The forest-dwelling Väki mostly spurns agriculture but they too trade with the Koto community for farming products. From the Mapatinshum they trade grown foodstuffs and metal. From the carnivorous Inthi, they buy bison meat and furs. In return they allow some logging in the forest, and trade medicinal herbs, dyes, berries and mushrooms.
The forest-Väki and the people of Koto have started alienating from each others culturally. Even though the people of Koto stick resiliently to the Väki language and most basic customs, they have become so intertwined with the Mapatinshum that the strictest “pure” forest dwelling Väki now regard them as cousins. Kotoans find this very silly and consider themselves fully Väki.
People of Koto look a bit more “civilized” than the rest of the Väki since they mostly wear clothes made of fabric and metal jewelry. They show their forest roots by sporting decorative furs. Despite this slight veneer, they are still the plain country cousins to the worldly and colorful Mapatinshum. Koto people they prefer natural hues and simple lines to their clothing instead of the city extravaganza.
The relations between these two people weren’t always so cordial, though. Fairly soon after the founding of Mapesad, the ship building and logging needs of the Mapatinshum reached the edge of the Väki forest. Väki regard trees as living beings with a spirit of their own who should not be cut down unnecessarily. They saw the Mapatinshum actions as sacrilege and the first logging parties did not return home alive.
Diplomatic negotiations restored the goodwill, and a trading and logging treaty was formed. Soon after Väki officially joined the five-fold Harmony the city of Mapesad has along with the three other neighbouring people. Väki represent the Wood element in the union. The Mapatinshum are the Earth, the mining Neapraco are Metal, the smiths and crafters of Ocebur are Fire, and the ocean dwelling sea elves are the Water.
Despite the union, the Väki are completely self-governing. They have councils of village elders, and the shamans who communicate and coordinate them as people. Their main influence in Mapesad comes through the single representative in the Mapesad Council, their official ambassadors and the wealthiest traders and crafters who are part of Mapatinshum Guilds.
There have been many intermarriages over the centuries and at least one in ten people in Mapatinshum has recent Väki blood in their family tree. And almost half of the people in the village of Koto have at least one Mapatinshum parent.
The Väki also form the backbone of the border guards, the Rangers, that employ a large portion of young Väki people from the forest and the village of Koto. So social bonds between the two cultures are strong.
Some Väki characters in the upcoming WarpWorld stories are rangers Sophira and Uskali, who are among the first people in the Mapatinshum area to meet the refugees, the Alush, who flee into the region. Also, in the two most recent Ruling Periphs of Mapesad, there is one spouse of Väki heritage in each.
One of the most defining things of Väki culture is their relationship with nature. I would like to hear from you about you and nature. Do you have some favourite places outdoors? Have you ever camped, hiked, canoed, rowed, or tried some other outdoorsy activities? Are you more a city person, or do you enjoy being out there in the wild, or in a park? Please drop a comment below.