Known for their warlike nature and proud traditions, the Shoanti are a disparate people, bound together by honor and tradition. Shoanti history is steeped in conflict, from their brutally heroic legends to the defeats of the recent past and the harshness of their modern lives. Shaped by strife, the Shoanti are stalwart, tenacious, and suspicious people, oath-sworn to regain all that was once theirs and honor-bound to avenge themselves against all schemers who would dare call them barbarians.
When Shoanti youths reach majority, they must undergo a rite of passage to become adults. Upon completing this rite of passage, they receive their first tattoo. These tattoos are an important part of Shoanti life, and can be quite extensive and beautiful. Hundreds of different tattoo designs exist; each is chosen and traced by a tribe’s shaman, drawn from an expansive traditional assortment of symbols with their own varied meanings and implications.
The Shoanti are given a birth name when born, but once they becomes adults, they are also given a full name—it is generally by this honorific (which is always a short phrase) that they are called in everyday life. These full names can change several times during a Shoanti’s life. Birth names are generally used only by close family or lovers. Shoanti who abandon their clan to live among others typically revert to using their birth names as their standard name—a practice that many traditional Shoanti find shameful.
The Shoanti are not one people but rather many quahs (“clans”) united by heritage, tradition, and lifestyle. These various quahs largely respect one another and their lands, making disagreements over resources, territory, and politics—widely held to be distasteful and duplicitous—few. When conflicts do arise, small skirmishes and individual battles between the quahs’ champions quickly determine whom the spirits favor.
The current seven Shoanti quahs:
- Lyrune-Quah (Moon Clan)
- Shadde-Quah (Axe Clan)
- Shriikirri-Quah (Hawk Clan)
- Shundar-Quah (Spire Clan)
- Sklar-Quah (Sun Clan)
- Skoan-Quah (Skull Clan)
- Tamiir-Quah (Wind Clan)
Shoanti possess widely varying skin tones from deeply tanned to dark brown, although most are of a ruddy complexion. Hair is considered a dangerous weakness in hand-to-hand combat, so both men and women typically shave their heads, save for shamans and the elderly.