Mashaad Caste System
- Emperor, Priests
- Deva, Dragonborn, Genasi
- Merchants, Scholars, Diplomats, Explorers
- Eladrin, Halflings†
- Crafters, Artisans
- Dwarf, Gnomes, Warforged‡
- Soldiers, Hunters
- Minotaur, Elf, Razorclaw Shifter, Human, Goliath
- Farmers, Workers
- Longtooth Shifter, Halflings†
- Half-races, Tiefling, Changeling
The caste system designates the highest level a member of a race may be born into, not the level into which all members of that race are born. Therefore, there exists members of any given race who fall below the ‘caste ceiling' but non above. Caste standing for an individual is permanent and entirely based upon birth, not achievement. Additionally, should two members of a race from differing caste backgrounds marry, their offspring will be born into the lower of the two classes. For example, a human could conceivably be born into a military family and live his entire life as soldier, whereas another human may be born as a slave and will remain a slave until death. If those two humans were to marry and have a child, all their children would be born as slaves.
Obviously, this is a stagnant system that disregards excellence, achievement, and a desire to overcome in favor of preconceptions and birth right. Yet, it is the belief of the people that this is the will of the gods as mandated by the Mashhad theocracy. For thousands of years, this religious order, led by a succession of Mashhad'dim, has ruled over the populace with righteous peace and order, and the Mashhad region has prospered in its perpetual cycles. Over the last few ten-cycles, the Federation of Mashhad Merchant Princes, comprised of, as the name suggests, Merchants, has begun to exert greater economic pressure on the caste system, using it to further their own ends.
Deva form the majority of the priest class and account for a sizeable number of diplomats, scholars, explorers, and merchants. A few Deva voluntarily enter into the Soldier caste, frequently as Avengers, Paladins, or Monks but more rarely in other capacities, focusing their religious zealotry to further any of the Mashhad'dim's militaristic goals and directives. Most importantly, every cycle a Deva, and only a Deva, is proclaimed to be the Royal Imperial Emperor or Mashhad'dim of Mashhad, his or her seat of power in the heart of Zahedan. It is a closely guarded secret how the Mashhad'dim is chosen. As Deva do not reproduce biologically and in fact reincarnate themselves, it is entirely possible and believed by many that there has only ever been a single Mashhad'dim who has simply reincarnated into a new body cycle after cycle.
Dragonborn and Genasi are unusual in that both races diverge from the normal caste system rules. Caste placement is still set at birth but is independent of parental standing. Rather, the individual's elemental affinity determines his or her caste placement. In this way, Dragonborn and Genasi are the most versatile races in the Mashhad region with generally even distribution across all six castes. Of note are those individuals belonging to the priest class as they inherently possess all abilities and attributes of the lower five classes. However, many Genasi and Dragonborn do not develop or realize their own priestly belonging until much later in life, whether due to puberty or some later evolution or advancement. Interestingly, this exists as the only circumstance in which an individual may publically and legally raise his or her caste standing. Individuals who transcend are given all the rights and responsibilities of their new priestly rank yet tradition holds that they remain connected to their previous caste as religious leaders.
Eladrin constitute the majority of the educated class of the Mashhad region, though none of the race are found in any of the other classes. Whether this is due to thousands of years of selective breeding, a ‘removal' of undesirable Eladrin, or simply a mass-migration of the lower classes is unknown. A notoriously detached and aloof race, the Eladrin have fit in well in the upper echelons of Zahedan society and find their place justifiably fitting, though most other lower races view them with a certain amount disdain.
The majority of Halflings are born into a hard life of back-breaking labor as farmers and workers, their position in life only a meager step above those kept as slaves. They are generally oppressed by the upper classes due to both their stature and status. Despite these hardships they are a good-natured people, prone to holding frequent parties and family gatherings that, due to the Halflings proclivity for having massive families, generally end up involving the entire community or township. A certain number of these stout people have been known to succumb to wanderlust not to escape the overbearing caste system, but rather just to simply explore the outside world. A few hundred years ago, a religious proclamation stating that the gods had a new plan for some Halflings was revealed. To facilitate this, a general lottery was held for the Halfling population in which the few lucky winners and their immediate families were drawn from their poor lives and groomed to become explorers, an easy fit for their natural abilities. Inevitably, some of these Halfling lines eventually developed mercantile and diplomatic abilities nearly rivaling those of their former overmasters. Since then, the few lucky Halfling families have been plying the seas, traversing the deserts, and penetrating the dark jungles across Mudraya and Voleir, whilst meeting and negotiating with its various peoples.
With no mountains to carve their underground empires and generally characterized by an arid, flat and oppressively hot environment, Mashhad does not at any glance appear to be hospitable for the dour Dwarves. Yet, Dwarves abound in the urban regions, especially Zahedan, where they ply their trade as master craftsman and artisans. Artifacts and wondrous items of Dwarven manufacture abound in the stalls of Zahedan and the majority of items found in the World Bazaar have felt the Dwarven touch at some point in their crafting. The majority of non-crafting Dwarves lives and work as soldiers or hunters, though many delve into the deep mines in the far southern reaches. As such, Dwarves naturally fill many adventuring roles in and around Mudraya, including Battle-Artificers, Tunnel Wardens, and Ornithopter Riders.
Gnomes generally fill the same social and economic niche in Mashhad as Dwarves, though there are far fewer Gnomes in the soldier and hunter caste as they have a tendency to be eaten by the Minotaur shock-troop allies or the Gnomes own quarry. Recently, affluent Eladrin and a few others have been keeping slave Gnomes as house servants, undeniably providing them with a much better standard of living. However, it is rumored that many are simply kept as pets, or even worse, pets, or perhaps food, for more exotic pets.
The Warforged that were created for the Last Great War have now all been appropriated for other purposes. Additionally, the artisans of Zahedan still retain the knowledge and ability to construct new Warforged, albeit at great time and expense. This has unfortunately led to Warforged being treated more like possessions than people despite the fact they posses individual personalities. This means Warforged exist independent of the cyclical caste system though they can fill almost any role their owner wishes, assuming the construct is capable.
Minotaurs compose a tiny percentage of the Mashhad population, working almost entirely as specially breed army shock troops. They are trained to fight in small wedge formations designed to break deep through enemy lines sowing chaos and destruction as they lay waste to all around them with weapons and horns. Though not true priests, the Minotaur clans are allowed to keep traditional shamans amongst their ranks to tend to the wounded and oversee the clans' mystic rites.
The Elf population in the Mashhad region is almost non-existent. They are rarely found in the urban areas though are more numerous in the Spice Jungles where they protect the jungle and its humanoid inhabitants from each other.
Razorclaw Shifter: ?
Humans are by far the most numerous race of the lower castes, accounting for the majority of soldiers, workers, and slaves in the Mashhad region. Rampant poverty and desperation in urban populations has led to countless gangs in the cities. Zahedan in particular is notorious for harboring criminals of all sorts and is infested by an intricate web of black market dealings and underhanded coalitions. Children flood the streets looking for easy marks to pickpocket and mug as part of intense initiation rites for gangs that unofficially own vast swathes of the many Zahedanian ghettos. Very few humans are able to escape the gangs of Zahedan and those that manage often find themselves on a spice barge or part of an explorers or traders crew.
Goliath: Elite soldiers, stone masons, workhorses.
Longtooth Shifter: ?
Half-Race: Any individual who draws split racial parentage is immediately classed as a slave, no matter their racial makeup or parent's castes.
Tiefling: All Tieflings are slaves, nobody trusts them.
Changeling: Officially slaves. Nobody ever knows what the hell they may be hiding as however. Altering appearance of race or caste is an immediate death-sentence. Not many changelings.