Reave


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Most commonly found on Acheron, over recent centuries the reave have been expanding across the Great Wheel, offering their prodigious combat talents to any that would have them. Although still not common enough to be a well-known sight, the reave are increasingly starting to make a name for themselves.

History

Reaves first made their appearance on the planes approximately 1200 years ago, after a full force of nearly 100,000 — known today as the "first-comers" — were summoned from an unknown Prime world by an Acheronian general to fight in one of the plane's numerous wars. They suffered heavy losses in the battle, almost 90% of their number being wiped out including the general herself, but the opposing side was entirely destroyed. With no means to return home, and with a great appreciation for what they've seen of the plane, the surviving reaves decided to make the best of their situation and make a home for themselves. Over the centuries, bands of reaves spread from the plane, making homes on Baator, the Outlands, and beyond. Though never having been a prominent people, they've served as a mainstay in any number of wars and battles since their arrival.

Culture

Reaves are an extremely militaristic people, their entire species divided up into various bands themselves subdivided into smaller squadrons. A solid chain of command runs through each band, divided up into 4 ranks of "enlisted" and 4 ranks of "officers", officers being those that receive specialized training in one field or another. Each band is led by two figures of equal rank, the most powerful man and woman in the band. The man is charged with directing the band in battle, maintaining discipline, and managing training needs, while the woman chooses what jobs, contracts, or positions the band is to hold, arranges equipment and materiel needs, and sees that everyone has what they need to fight. To quote a common reave saying, "the woman points the cannon, the man fires it." Neither role is seen as any more or less important than the other, and this egalitarian aspect echoes down through the ranks, although these gender roles do tend to hold throughout any given band. Female fighters or male quartermasters are quite rare amongst the reaves.

Reave schooling begins early, as soon as the child is able to speak and walk. Surprising to some, reave schools are not limited to, or even focused on combat. Their schools are as comprehensive as any, covering history, planar geography and cosmology, mathematics, reading, and more. However, once a reave reaches the age of 14, they are given an aptitude test as a coming-of-age to determine what areas of specialization they will begin working towards. Unlike some, such tests present a suite of options in which the individual reave is deemed to have potential, and they are allowed to make their selection following a month or two of introduction in each. Those deemed to have potential at command are allowed to move into the "officer" track, while those not are sent to the "enlisted" track. However, both still continue in general schooling as well as specialized training up to the age of 19.

While they do appreciate the effectiveness of ranged weapons, reaves (owing to their physical structure) are very much inclined instead towards melee weapons, personal combat. In large part due to this, they have evolved a complex system of honor describing how and under what circumstances a foe can be attacked. In war, any combatant is open, but outside war one can only attack another if they have in some way personally caused offense. Either a win or a loss is sufficient to wipe out the offense, and should a reave be either victorious or defeated, then all those under the reave's command similarly have their offense wiped clean (although this does not wipe out future offenses as well, as many enemies of the reaves have learned).

Offense in reave culture can range from something as minor as an unintended insult to something as major as a personal betrayal, but despite their prickly reputation, reaves usually will only result to combat for more extreme offenses. It should be noted, of course, that dishonesty of any level (even social) is seen as a fairly significant offense amongst the reaves, viewed as disrespecting the person being lied to enough that they do not deserve the truth. In any military, honesty amongst the ranks is important, and this is carried through by the reaves to outsiders as well. A reave may refuse to answer a question, but a reave will rarely lie (even a lie of omission) without extreme circumstances involved.

The militaristic and semi-nomadic society of the reaves tends towards a general lack of individuality, little in the way of personal possessions or accomplishments. As a result, personal identity is one of the most valued possessions a reave owns. Every reave holds a personal name in addition to their social one, told only to those closest to them, deep friends or intimate companions. Similarly, a reave will never expose their face unless in private company, and to be forced into doing so is a great offense. Even in death, a reave's face is kept covered, either by a full helmet in battle or a cloak and veil when in public. Reaves tend to be quite skilled at recognizing one another through body language and voice, and thus little is needed beyond this to stand out, but for groups of reaves that spend a great deal of time amongst others, each will usually personalize their outfits in some way, bearing some form of identifying signet pin or brooch or the like.

One of the ultimate insults one can commit to a reave is depriving them of their identity by any means; from exposing their face, to revealing their personal name, to altering their memory or controlling their mind, such an act is the one offense that can never be forgiven but through the death of the offending party. And even given that, if such an act was in public view of others (strangers or kin), such a reave still often feels a deep sense of loss and violation at that which they can never regain, one which cannot be easily healed even by time.

Ecology

Reaves are complete carnivores, getting little to no sustenance from any sort of plant matter. Reaves and reave bands tend to feed in cycles, spending a full day of gorging themselves before a major endeavor followed by one to three weeks of fasting. Feeding in this manner serves both cultural and biological purposes: the former serving as a great time of revelry and celebration amongst the reaves, the latter allowing them to move and act more efficiently due to not needing to stop for food.

The average reave reaches age of maturity at 17 years, and will likely live to be 95 in the best of circumstances. Of course, circumstances amongst reaves are rarely so light, with few living beyond 50. Should a reave begins suffering the weakness of age, they are allowed to "retire"; no longer serving actively with their band, they are still kept on as an advisor and reserve combatant. They are no longer allowed to advance through the ranks of their band, but should they wish to fight they are not prevented from doing so either.

Reaves have four arms, two at each shoulder with one pair in front of the other, and are naturally ambidextrous. Unfortunately, they are only slightly better at multitasking than most humanoid species, and thus have no natural ability to do two things at once with their two pairs of arms. They do, however, tend to perform quite well at tasks where all four arms can do much the same thing, accomplishing such tasks quite a bit more quickly. Due to the positioning of their arms, most reaves find wielding a bow or similar device much more difficult to most, and thus tend to shy away from such weapons and devices (as well as ranged weaponry in general).

The "fading" — the natural psionic ability of reaves to escape to the Astral — seems according to their histories to be an inborn talent they had even when they still lived upon the Prime. Akin to the githyanki zhez'rathki if not quite as effective, it allows them to, at some spiritual strain to themselves, jump through the Astral in order to escape their enemies. A reave that uses it tends to be left quite exhausted, however, and as such they prefer to use it only in the worst of circumstances.

Appearance

Reaves are large humanoids, both men and women tending to be around 7 feet on average. They have broad frames as well, usually around three feet wide at the shoulders. Their hide appears quite similar to leather, ranging from light tan to dark grey, with multiple small bumps giving it the texture of cobblestone. Reaves are utterly hairless, instead having a series of bony ridges across where a human's scalp would be, and unlike most humanoids they possess four eyes, arranged horizontally across a reave's face at the expected eyeline. As previously described, reaves also possess two pairs of arms; two from each shoulder, aligned horizontally with one another rather than the vertical arrangement held by most multi-limbed humanoids.

In battle, most reaves prefer a combination of bright, even garish platemail and chain skirts. Out of combat, though, they tend towards subdued clothing, dark cloaks or shawls covering their outfits and attached veils across their faces.

References

  • Planescape Monstrous Compendium II, pp.80-81
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