THE BIRNI BROWNIES

APPEARANCE - COAT OF ARMS - TERRITORY - PEOPLE - HOUSING - CLOTHING
DIET - WEAPONS - OCCUPATIONS - GOVERNMENT - PRODUCTION/TRADE
 
NATURAL RESOURCES -
FESTIVALS - ACHIEVEMENTS - HISTORY

Ancient records found in the Everbark and corroborated by ancient elven texts describe an ancient Brownie kingdom called Birn (a corruption of this term is the modern Tharian word "Brownie"). Considered to be a lost Golden Age by modern-day Brownies, Birn supposedly lasted for five thousand years, although the accuracy of this figure is sometimes disputed by modern historians and archeologists. Centered on what is now the north edge of the Paelelon Forest, it dominated the south of what is now the southern Sarvonian continent during much the same time period that the ancient elven kingdom of Fá'áv’cál''âr dominated the North. No trace of Birn now remains, with the notable exception of the Everbark. Much of current-day Brownie culture, language, and customs were purposfully reconstructed from ancient records pertaining to Birn.

Appearance. Brownie appearance has not significantly changed in the more than 10.000 years since the fall of Birn. Then, as now, Brownies have hair, eyes, and skin all of the same color, either red, brown, green, yellow, blue, white, grey, or black. The only exception to this description were and are the Rat Brownies. Return to the top

Coat of Arms/Sign. No coat of arms was ever needed for Birn. Different dynasties would use various symbols for their reigns, but these were only used internally. Return to the top

Territory. Birn was located in what is now the Paelelon forest, especially at the nothern edge. It also had a definite influence on many areas to the south, some up to dozens of furlays distant. Brownies share the belief with the elves that they had been created in the Thaelon forest with the burning of the Tree of Life. They then are said to have immediately migrated southward, all Brownies ending up in the area of what is now the northern edge of the Paelelon forest within three hundred years after their creation.

The Paelelon forest is known for being slightly damp; as the Seanian Swamps are not too far away. In the early morning a fog shrouds the floor of the forest. Alltogether the Paelelon is a chilly place due to the dampness and lack of sun. There is little breeze however; it is as if the forest emanates the cold.

In the summer, though, the area can get a little muggy; the dampness of the area creates a sticky heat. It does not rain often in the Paelelon, if it does it is a gentle mist-like shower of drops. In winter, the fog that usually rises becomes frozen on the ground, and it creates a glistening wonderland. Leaves snap at one's step, and the trees are coated in a thin layer of frozen dew. However, it does not snow in the Paelelon.

After the fall of Birn, Brownies scattered to the four corners of Caelereth.
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People. Brownies in Birn utilized lifemagic in their daily lives to such an extent that, as a direct result, they began to hold life in contempt. They could be categorized as cruel and heartless when dealing with those they saw as below them, which included plants, animals, anyone not of Birn, and classes lower than their own within Birn. In the last two epochs of Birn, they also began to develop a mischievious quality in defiance of the unfairness of life, delighting in playing practical jokes on hapless victims, most noteably on their new neighbors, the Eophyrhim drow.

Red-colored
Brownies, making up less than 6% of the population, are natuarally adept at lifemagic. In Birn, this skill was used extensively, even recklessly, with many common items being imbued with a life of their own.
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Housing. Upper classes generally made their homes in adlemir trees, with larger buildings being cut into the trunk itself, with holes cut through the bark to let in the sunlight. Smaller houses and other buildings would be constructed of lashed together twigs, often utilizing many still-living twigs, built along branches and on the trunk.

The lower class lived in the raised root mazes of trees closely related to urban trees. They built huts of lashed together twigs, daubed with mud to provide firm insulated walls.
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Clothing. The lower class, both male and female, dressed much as modern-day Brownies do, either in skins of hunted animals, or in leaves, bark, and other plant parts. The upper classes dressed much the same – with one noteable exception. For the upper classes, one’s place in society was highly visible. The more clout someone carried, the more things they would wear that carried some sort of life still. A fur cloak might have a tail still attached – which would still twitch, and if pricked, would bleed. A leaf skirt might stay green and fresh year round. These living clothes were produced by redbark Brownies, using lifemagic to keep pieces of plants or animals alive even after they have been taken apart and made into clothing. Return to the top

Diet. The staple food in Birn was a kind of bread baked from greenbark moss, which was farmed on the lower parts of the trees the Brownies lived in. Various cultivated and gathered vegetables, fruits, and berries, such as vinterberries, as well as some small wild game, added variety to the diet. Various herbs were used to lightly season the food. Return to the top

Weapons. Spears and darts, the latter shot from blowtubes, were the main weapons used in Birn. Spears were up to two palmspans long, made of wood, and tipped with poison. Blowtubes were about two or three nailsbreadths long, and hollow. The poisoned darts they shot fit snugly inside, so that a puff of breath could launch them with devastating accuracy in the short range. Various traps were also used, including deadfalls, nets, triplines, pits, and others even more imaginative. Return to the top

Occupations. Birn had a highly stratified society, in which an individual had no possibility of advancement beyond the class in which they were born. One's class was not neccessarily determined by the family into which he or she was born, but by the coloration of their hair, skin, and eyes. The level in society of one’s class differed from epoch to epoch, as shown below.

The highest caste during the Second Epoch was composed exclusively of redbarks. As adepts in
lifemagic, they were seen to be so essential to the survival of everyone in Birn that they went unchallenged until the Third Epoch. A redbark Queen ruled and made the laws, and all redbarks lived in luxury, at least when they weren't on guard duty, which they did in turns to protect Birn, using their lifemagic to discourage dangerous animals from causing havoc in the growing community. They also altered plants and animals to assist them in this task, creating pendrowe, drasil, and other species in the process. Among the Redbarks of Birn, lifemagic was a highly developed art. The Redbarks of Birn spoke their own secret language, and kept extensive records, a few of which have survived to the present day.

During the Second Epoch, the next caste consisted of the two classes of Brownies who were considered to be citizens; the Greens and the Browns. Each speaking their own language, and constantly in competition with each other, they nevertheless formed the backbone of Second Epoch Birn society, culture, and learning, and their languages became the languages of general commerce.

The last caste in every epoch consisted of Brownies who were denied citizenship. It was composed of Bluebarks, Yellowbarks, Whitebarks, Greybarks, and Blackbarks. They were despised, in theory because of the results of the 500 year war of the First Epoch. Possessing their own distinct language, they rarely had the leisure to learn to read or write it. These non-citizens were refused every benefit of society, and they became slaves, beggars, and prostitutes of and for the citizen and ruler castes.

The Third Epoch saw a reworking of this class system. Greens and Browns predominated on the throne, and so these two would alternate as an upper class and an upper middle class, while Reds became a middle class, restricted to their guard duties and producing living coins, clothes, and other such items on demand.

The Fourth Epoch saw a series of disasters, begun in the minds of many because of the ill omen of a member of the lower class, a grey, taking the throne. He tried to abolish the class system, but only succeeded in causing general unrest. The ripping apart of Caelereth during this epoch, and the arrival of the Eophyrhim drow to the Paelelon forest did not help matters. It was pretty much each surviving the best he could in whatever way he could during the entire epoch. In effect, every Birni besides the monarch himself became lower class, and the monarchy itself was virtually lost.

The Fifth Epoch apparently saw a restoration of the class system of the third epoch, with green and brown claimants contending for the throne. However, the redbarks were no longer just a middle class, as in the third epoch. They were now the power behind the throne, the true rulers of Birn. The middle class was composed of whichever of green and brown was currently out of power.
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Government. Beginning in the Second Epoch, Birn was an absolute monarchy, yet not strictly hereditary. Whenever the right to be sole heir to the throne was challenged, the two claimants would play a game of tree ball for one day, from dawn until dusk, with the winner taking the throne. Those that shared class and coloration represented by the monarch became an oligarchy of sorts, receiving all of the best jobs along with the lesser privileges of government office. For details as to which particular group controlled the throne in each epoch, please refer to the Occupations and History sections.

In the First Epoch, the proto-tribes were not yet unified. Each of them was governed at first by a member of the first generation of Brownies. After these died, each was governed by the most senior Brownie in the proto-tribe.
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Production/Trade. Trade betweeen Birn and Fá'áv’cál'âr, or any other kingdom for that matter, was very difficult logistically. Brownie traders found it difficult to carry large amounts of items the Big People desired for trade, while the Big People found it difficult to keep track of tiny Birni money, or even to tell the different denominations apart. However, some few individuals, both Brownie and Big People, did manage to make their living through trade. Birni were able to gather rare herbs and other plant-based substances found in minute amounts with an efficiency and of a purity that no Big Person could match. They would gather these into several-ladle pouches, and use these for trade. Return to the top

Natural Resources. The resources utilized by the Brownies of Birn are all directly derived from the living plants and animals of the Paelelon Forest and of the plain directly to the north. They had little interest in developing the other resources available, and traded plant- or animal-derived products with other races if ever they felt the need to obtain minerals, metals, rare woods, or other curiousities. Return to the top

Holidays, Festivals and Observances. Birni celebrated several holidays, many of them for political or religious reasons. The birthday of the reigning monarch was always celebrated, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Lightning day was celebrated with feasting, gifts, dancing, and merryment as all Birni celebrated the day they were formed from pieces of bark from the Tree of Life. Various days to appease the spirits of specific trees, rocks, and streams were also celebrated. Birni saw themselves as being the spirits of the bark of the Tree of Life, and thus as being themselves a vital part of the spirit world found in nature. These celebrations were thus seen as being for their own distant cousins, and just as real and relevant as a birthday party for that strange uncle that you were always afraid of. Return to the top

Important Achievements. The Everbark was an amazing Birni fortress made by hollowing out an adlemir tree, and enhancing it by means of lifemagic. All that we know of Birn today comes from records and artifacts that have been found, primarily by Keekoo and Greybark, perfectly preserved within the Everbark.

The Second Epoch of Birn saw the creation of a common writing system for the four classes of society. It was pictorial, with additional letters used for different forms of the word and endings, and was originally used by reds, but was quickly adopted for both the brown and green languages. It turned out to be difficult to learn and was thus rarely used by the lower class, as they lacked the leisure time in which to learn it. Meanwhile redbarks shifted to using a syllabic written language.

Lifemagic was used extensively in Birn, and many items were imbued with a kind of life of their own. Wooden coins imbued with lifemagic were used throughout the history of Birn. The clothes of the upper classes was often alive in its own right. Drasil and pendrowe were plants that were given full mobility by the redbarks of Birn.

Blowtubes and devious traps were invented in the First Epoch of Birn, as were various poisons, many of which are still used today by Brownies.

A highly-developed religion based on the appeasement of the spirits of nature, spirits of rock, tree, and stream, was developed early in Birn’s history, early enough that the Rat Brownies shared these beliefs. Unlike modern Brownie beliefs, they believed that they themselves were each the embodiment of a spirit of nature, and that they were thus appeasing their own distant cousins.

The mischievious attitude thought today to be typically Brownie was developed out of a kind of self-defense in the Fourth Epoch of Birn.

The sport of tree ball was invented as well in the Second Epoch as a way of choosing between claimants to the throne of Birn.
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History. Birni history lasted for five thousand years, and is divided into five epochs, beginning in c. 15.000 b.S. Each age lasted for a thousand years. Birn collapsed in ca. 10.000 b.S., just before the War of the Chosen really got started.

Time Table of the Birni Brownies (*)

First Epoch of Birn (ca. 15.000-14.000 b.S.)

ca. 15.000  b.S.
-14.000 b.S.
The beginning of Browniekind. Individuals become groups. Groups join together to form proto-tribes. Four of these proto-tribes join to form Birn. The fifth left to become Rat Brownies.
ca. 15.000 b.S. Tree of Life hit by Lightning
The first 272 members of the Brownie race, speaking 144 different languages, are formed from pieces of bark from the Tree of Life.
ca. 14950 b.S. Pairing off of Brownies
The members of the first generation of Rat Brownies pair off, forming 127 groups. Of these groups, only 13 have found a mate that speak the same primal language. The others each develop a compromise language midway between their two (or three or four, in some cases) original languages.
ca. 14900 b.S. Combining of Groups
Many of the first generation of Brownies have died, causing their proto-tribes to lack leadership. For this reason and because of finding common affinities with other proto-tribes, the groups begin to combine. This is mainly a peaceful process. By this time there are 70 different proto-tribes left, with only four left that still speak a pure language that dates from the Brownie creation.
ca. 14850 b.S. Consolidating of Groups
The groups further consolidate, forming 63 proto-tribes, 4 of which speak an original language.
ca. 14800 b.S. 59 proto-tribes, 4 speaking an original language
ca. 14750 b.S. 47 proto-tribes, 4 speaking an original language
ca. 14700 b.S. 19 proto-tribes, 4 speaking an original language
ca. 14650 b.S. 9 proto-tribes, 4 speaking an original language
ca. 14600 b.S. 6 proto-tribes, 3 speaking an original language
ca. 14550 b.S. 5 proto-tribes leave, one predominated by reds, one by browns still speaking an original language, one by greens still speaking an original language, and two mixed groups.
ca. 14.500 b.S. End of First Brownie Generation
The last of the long-lived and prolific first generation of Brownies dies.
ca. 14.500 b.S.
- 14.000 b.S.
The 500 Year Brownie War
The five remaining proto-tribes fight for dominance, each pouring their resources into a different area of expertise in an attempt to overwhelm their rivals. The reds develop lifemagic to an awesome degree. The greens and browns get into an arms race, inventing blowpipes and various traps in quick succession. One of the mixed groups specializes in taming animals, while the last one specializes in poisons. Shifting alliances, betrayals, and ceaseless warfare characterize this period. For centuries, no proto-tribe can achieve a clear victory over the others. Near the end of this time period, the reds mount a last campaign, allying with the greens and browns against an animal-training mixed proto-tribe, while keeping them from allying with the remaining poison-using mixed tribe. The alliance conquers the animal-trainers decisively, completely subjugating them. The remaining proto-tribe, fearing that they would be next, flees north to Fá'áv’l’âr, becoming the Rat Brownies.

Second Epoch of Birn (ca. 14.000-13.000 b.S.)

ca. 14.000  b.S.
-13.000 b.S.
Redbark monarchs rule an upper class of reds, a middle class of greens and browns, and a lower class made up of everyone else.
ca. 14.000 b.S.
-13.984 b.S.
Reign of Queen Huatl
She organizes the social classes, introduces a common writing system for the various languages of Birn, and mints Caelereth’s only living wooden currency. She was also the Queen that named the kingdom of Birn.
ca. 13.984 b.S. The First Game of Tree Ball
…determins which of Queen Huatl’s two daughters becomes Queen. Upon her victory, the winner, now Queen, promptly executes her rival, and proclaimes the First Epoch of Birn to have begun with the creation of Browniekind from the Tree of Life a thousand years earlier, lending added legitimacy to her own reign. From this time on, the sport is played between claimants whenever there is a dispute over the throne.

Third Epoch of Birn (ca. 13.000-12.000 b.S.)

ca. 13.000 b.S.
-12.000 b.S.
Two dynastic families, one green and one brown, struggle constantly for the throne during this epoch. Reds become the new middle class.

Fourth Epoch of Birn (ca. 12.000-11.000 b.S.)

ca. 12.000 b.S.
-11.000 b.S.
Various disasters are the norm during this epoch. The social system falls apart. Most Birni die.
ca. 12.000 b.S.
-11.960 b.S.
Reign of King Poppy
As he is a grey, a member of the lower class, this is regarded by most as an intolerable situation and a bad omen to boot. He tries to abolish the class system, but only succeeds in creating a state of general unrest.
ca. 11.900 b.S.
-11.750 b.S.
The Great Sundering
Caelereth is literally, physically torn apart.
11.700 b.S. Saban settles in the Paelelon
Saban and the Eophyrhim drow settle in the Paelelon.
11.700 b.S.
-11.000 b.S.
The Eophyrhim drow hunt Brownies at will
The hounds of the drow mercilessly hunt down Brownies, mostly for the Eophyrhims’ sport, sometimes as a variation in their diet. Reds make the Everbark, a hollowed-out lifemagic-enhanced adlemir tree-fortress, to keep the Brownies of Birn from being completely exterminated.

Fifth Epoch of Birn (ca. 11.000-10.000 b.S.)

 11.000 b.S.
- 10.000 b.S.
Drow hunting parties no longer enter the now well-protected Birn. Greens and browns struggle for the throne, as in the third epoch. However, reds are now the real power behind the throne. From its new center in the Everbark, Birn expands and becomes strong once again. They regularly send raiding parties to make life miserable for the Eophyrhim drow.
10.020 b.S. Saban corrupts five reds
…promising them power in return for support. He will later be one of the participants in the War of the Chosen.
10.010 b.S. Beginning of open Civil War
…between the corrupted redbarks and their followers and the few remaining uncorrupted reds and their followers.
10.003 b.S. Collapse of Birn
The wilderness closes in. Many Birni ware eaten as Birns defenses disappear. The survivors scatter to the four winds, ending up as pets (or worse) of the other races.
10.000 b.S. The Harsh Years
Traditional date for the beginning of the Harsh Years
9.998 b.S. The last Inhabitant of Birn dies
...after recording and concealing much of Birns literary and cultural heritage in the Everbark fortress. This heritage is later gradually rediscovered, most notably by Keekoo and Greybark, and is used as the basis for much of modern Brownie language, culture, religion, and customs.

Shrouded in the mists of time, it is extremely difficult to pin down the earlier important dates in Birn with any exactitude. The preceeding dates are based on the best estimates currently available for the date of the Tree of Life being hit by lightning. Dates after 11.700 b.S. have been corroborated by drow records.


See also Aohu'o (Akdorian tribe), Brownies (the race), Etherial Void (mystical region), Keekoo the Deliverer (Brownie hero), Llaoihrr (Vale Brownies), Memnoor (Void Brownie tribe), Milken (Milken Brownies), Rat Brownies, Seven Schools of Magic
   

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