The Diipaa

The Diipaa inhabit the various islands of the Middle Sea. The Diipaa are first and foremost a seafaring people, their lives and livelihoods are shaped by winds and waves at least as such as the islands they inhabit.

The Dipan Islands that the Diipaa call home are hilly and rocky, and suitable only to limited agricultural pursuits. Since before recorded history, the Diipaa have relied on the sea to feed them. For this reason, their ships have long been the most important assets the Diipaa posses and their society is largely built around them.

Cultural Values: The Diipaa are a free-spirited and energetic folk. Travel and exploration are prized heavily, and great honor is won by captains who find new lands, chart new routes, or manage crossings previously thought too perilous. Seamanship is a way of life for the Diipaa and every child learns it, regardless of what station they may later hold. The Diipaa are also natural traders and merchants, and their trading companies are active across the world.

Organization: Diipaa authority and social structure is centered around captaincy of ships. Achieving the captaincy of a vessel recorded in the registry of ships, is a great honor among the Diipaa and takes many years of training and learning. Captaincy brings with it a host of privileges and a great deal of authority in Diipaa society, as well as being the ultimate authority aboard ones own vessel. The primary legal structure of Diipaa society is a council of captains. Mediating disputes, determining guilt, and all such similar questions concerning a limited number of parties are solved by assembling a council of captains and seeking their verdict. A council must consist of at least 5 known captains (and for heavy matters 7 or 9 are often called) who will deliberate upon a question and yield a verdict. The key law governing the council of captains, is that not more than two may “be bound by any common allegiance or purpose.” This is generally understood to mean, from the same family, merchant company, political faction, or established business associates. In some extreme cases, a party may challenge the validity of a council that ruled against them, in which case a larger council must be assembled to decide the matter. However, this is an extreme step and taken only in dire circumstances, as questioning the wisdom of a captains council risk a grave loss of reputation and standing.

Each island is more generally governed by a captains assembly. Similar to a council, any recognized Diipaa captain may sit on the assembly of their home island when it meets and any business before the assembly is debated and settled by a vote. Lastly, there is also a grand assembly meeting in the city of Yasha that handles matters before the entire Diipaa nation. Any captain from any Isle may attend, however to reduce the chaos of these proceedings speaking time is largely limited to only the most revered and respected captains.

Gender Roles: The Diipaa are a very egalitarian society and “all are equal before the mast”. Seamanship is the primary cultural currency of the Diipaa, and all children are given a chance to earn it. Indeed, the Diipaa value agility, quickness, and cleverness as much as they do strength (all any successful sailor must have at least a bit of each to offer), and many women find every bit as much glory upon the waves their male peers.

Family Structure: Family groups are important to the Diipaa, but much more fluidly constructed than in many other cultures. A Diipaa family is more concerned that its ships will find worthy captains and heir, than that their children necessarily inherit their wealth. Additionally, a family’s standing an honor can only be maintained by continuing to produce capable captains and sailors. As such, many worthy families will take children or orphans of lesser station onto their ships, and it is not unusable for a noteworthy and promising sailor to be adopted into the clan, ties of saltwater are often closer than those of blood to the Diipaa. Because the Diipaa so fluid with their inheritance and because many of them live largely at sea, they are also quite open on matters of sex and marriage. Marriage is not uncommon, and serves as useful tool to tie clans together or begin new ones, but their is no particular stigma attached to remaining unwed. Children born outside of wedlock are also of no particular bother to Diipaa society, and the clan of one parent or the other will take the child in.

Ships: Ships are the pride and joy, art and life to the Diipaa. The only office more respected and cherished among the Diipaa is that of master shipwright. There are many old ship-building companies on the Diipaa islands that hoard their knowledge, arts, and magics jealously. The Diipaa favor swift, agile ships, regarding the ponderous cogs and bulbous galleons that most societies use for trade with great disdain. The pinnacle of Diipaa artifice is the Wind-Runner, similar to the caravel but with a longer hull and a more complicated system of sails. These ships offer unmatched speed and maneuverability in the hands of a talented captain, although efforts to replicate the design by other peoples have tended to end with the vessels capsized. Such vessels are entrusted only to the most able of captain.

Rite of Passage: All Diipaa youths are expected to leave home and travel the world once they reach 17 year of age. Diipaa children are taught sailing skills from an early age, and most serve as hands on fishing boats or local trade runs, but this is the time when they are expected to truly learn seamanship and to become adults. There is no prescribed length to this journey, but returning after less than a year is frowned up and many take several years before returning again. This journey always begins with signing on as a hand on ship traveling beyond the Middle Sea, but there are no formal rules as to how this time must be spent, and while most spend it as sailors, some hire on as mercenaries, caravan guards, or other professions. The only real goal is to see the world.