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Calishite was the name given to the majority of humans who came from Calimshan.
Since the fall of the great genie empires that once ruled south of the Marching Mountains, humans descended from the slaves of the genie lords have ruled the successive empires of Calimshan. From the shores of the Shining Sea, Calishites have migrated northwards in large numbers as far as the Fields of the Dead and the Nelanther Isles, and eastward into the Lake of Steam, the Border Kingdoms, Lapaliiya, and the Shaar. Some fled disasters in their homeland or sought new economic opportunities, but most came as conquerors under the banner of the Shoon Empire.
Outside their homeland, Calishites form the primary racial stock of the Border Kingdoms, the Lake of Steam cities, and the Nelanther Isles. Calishites also comprise a large fraction of the population of Amn and Tethyr. Calishite ancestry, language, and culture have influenced all the lands nearby.
Although all natives of Calimshan are known as Calishites, only those whose ancestry dates back to the slaves brought from other worlds thousands of years ago are considered members of this ethnic group. Calishites are a bit shorter and of slighter build than other humans. Their skin is dusky brown, and their hair and eyes are most commonly of that shade as well.
Calishites regard themselves as the rightful rulers of all lands south and west of the Sea of Fallen Stars, a birthright passed down to them by the genies who once ruled the lands between the Marching Mountains and the Shining Sea. Calishites point with pride to the unbroken line of Calishite empires dating back thousands of years. With the notable exception of the Mulan, whom they consider their equals, Calishites consider themselves culturally superior to the hordes of “unwashed barbarians” that dwell beyond their lands.
Although often perceived by other cultures as avaricious, lazy, and corrupt, in truth most Calishites seek nothing more than a lifestyle of comfort and the respect of their peers. Calishites hold the circumstances of an individual’s birth as equal in importance to his or her achievements. The class system is strongly ingrained in most Calishites, as is the ideal of a life of pampered luxury. Money is simply the means by which one achieves idleness. Calishites place great stock in pride—in one’s own achievements, family, city, and culture. Family and the role as host are likewise held in great esteem. Magic use is ubiquitous, rivaled only by the natives of Halruaa, and genies are both highly respected and feared.
Calishites believe their culture is the only bastion of civilization on the Sword Coast and Shining Sea, if not the entire surface of Faerun. To the descendants of a 7,000-year-old empire, the shortlived “barbarian” cultures of the northern lands are barely worthy of notice. Calishite arrogance is nurtured and codified in the class and gender divisions within their society, with a person’s station at birth playing an important role in how he or she is measured. Although few speak of the class system in Calimshan or the lesser status of women, most Calishites live out their lives according to their station, risking death or enslavement if they do not. Calishites dwelling in the old Imperial lands view themselves as superior to non-Calishites and often act as if the Shoon Imperium had never fallen. Likewise, Calishites dwelling within the borders of Calimshan view themselves as superior to their provincial cousins.
Calishites are typically drawn to adventuring in hopes of quickly amassing a great fortune that will allow them to retire to a life of idle luxury. Those of lower birth often see the life of an adventurer as a way to escape the structures of their station in distant lands where the status of their birth is unknown. A few Calishite adventurers see themselves as guardians of an ancient culture and commit themselves to recovering ancient Calishite treasures that have been lost amid the unwashed hordes of the northern realms.
Traditional Calishite culture varies little across Faerun, even among Calishites who dwell outside the borders of Calimshan. Although exceptions exist, Calishites strictly adhere to the traditional roles of their social class. In ascending order, those classes are slaves, the labor class, the skilled labor class, the merchant class, the military, the advisor class, and the ruling class. From birth, Calishites are raised to recognize such class distinctions and treat others accordingly, even though many class distinctions are lost upon outsiders. Hard work and thriftiness are not held up as ideals, although many successful Calishites got that way through such “vices.” Instead, luxury and pampered idleness are seen as the ideal, and many Calishites will do whatever it takes to acquire such a lifestyle. Calishite culture has long harbored a fascination with food and magic, particularly magic that reduces the need for labor, so meals and frivolous magic items play a large role in Calishite daily life.
Calishites revere their immediate family and show more loyalty to their kin than they do to their deities or employers. Men are expected to enter into business and support their family’s standard of living. Women are expected to maintain the home, raise the children, and manage the funds. Children are always educated in the home unless they have a strong aptitude for magical schooling. Those parents who can afford them employ tutors and wizards. Upon reaching the age of majority (15 years), children are expected to marry and establish themselves within five years. Only women may marry above their social class. Those who fail to marry are disgraced and must either live with their parents in shameful charity or be ejected from the household (many Calishite adventurers active in other lands once fell into the latter category). Children are also expected to care for their elderly relatives and to give them an opulent funeral upon death.
Social moves are particularly scrutinized within Calishite culture, engendering an emphasis on maintaining one’s personal and familial pride. Saving face demands that a Calishite treat others as they present themselves, regardless of whether such facades bear any resemblance to the truth. Once a person or family loses face, they also lose status and may be relegated to a lower class. Privacy is a most precious commodity, for it allows an individual to act as he or she wishes without needing to save face. Calishites also place great stock in hospitality, with strictly defined responsibilities for both guest and host. Guests cannot inflict harm on their host while receiving his or her hospitality. Likewise, hosts must display as much generosity as they can afford and protect their guests from harm, for to do otherwise is to lose face.
Calishites make skilled rogues, fighters, and wizards, and the legacy of ancient genie bloodlines ensures that many are powerful sorcerers as well. Religious fervor and monastic devotion are largely absent among most Calishites, except among the clerics of Ilmatar who minister to the poor, and the Tyrrans who uphold justice.
Magic and loreEdit
Calishites have a strong arcane spellcasting tradition, in part a legacy of the genies who once ruled the lands now claimed by Calimshan. Many Calishite wizards and sorcerers favor the school of Evocation, mastering a great number of fire and wind spells. Although rare, necromancers are not unknown as well, a spellcasting tradition dating back to the court of the Necroqysar, Shoon IV. Shadow weave magic, although still largely unknown, is attracting an increasingly large set of adherents. The divine spellcasting tradition among Calishites is essentially restricted to clerics, who also favor spells of air and fire.
Various Calishite faiths and religious practices have waxed and waned in popularity since the Time of Genies. At various times in history, the Calishite religious tradition has included the worship of dark, forgotten deities, the veneration of genies as divine beings, and the belief in a single sun god. In modern times, Calishites worship the deities of the Faerunian pantheon, and the folk of Calimshan pride themselves upon accepting all creeds and religions. Although Calimshan contains major temples to the lion’s share of the deities worshiped in Faerun, ten faiths have long been prominent in Calishite society, suggesting that some or all those deities may have once formed the kernel of an ancient Calishite pantheon. Those deities include Tyr, Azuth, Talos, Shar, Ilmater, Savras, Sharess, Siamorphe, Umberlee, and Waukeen.
The native tongue of Calishites is Alzhedo, a language derived millennia ago from Midani (the language of Zakhara) and Auran. Alzhedo is one of the two major root tongues of both Thorass (“Old Common”) and Common. Alzhedo employs the Thorass alphabet, a set of characters used to represent the trade tongue that came into use thousands of years ago along the shores of the Lake of Steam. Most Calishites also speak Common, particularly the singsong Calant dialect. Those who trade with or live in the Realms Below prefer Undercommon, the trade language of the Underdark.
Given their extensive contacts with geniekind, Calishites often learn Auran or Ignan. Other common second languages include Chultan, Halfling, Lantanese, Shaaran, or Tashalan, languages spoken by many who dwell along the shores of the Shining Sea. Few Calishites learn other nonhuman tongues.
Calishites favor small creatures of a magical nature as pets and familiars—the more exotic the better, such as shocker lizards and tressyms. Mephits, particularly air, dust, fire, and steam mephitis, and small elementals, particularly those drawn from the Elemental Planes of Air and Fire, are commonly summoned by Calishite conjurers.
Among animals, trained falcons and dogs are most common. For steeds, Calishites employ camels in the vicinity of the Calim Desert and horses elsewhere. They favor light warhorses, as few Calishite warriors wear heavy armor or rely on clumsy weapons such as the heavy lance in battle. Flying steeds, including hippogriffs griffons, and pegasi are highly favored by those who can acquire them.
Calishites have poor relations with members of all other human ethnic groups, particularly Tethyrians (who are generally viewed as members of the lower class, regardless of birth) and Illuskans (who are seen as the epitome of the unwashed northern barbarian). Only the Mulan receive any measure of respect from Calishites, as their culture is nearly as long-lived as that of Calimshan.
Despite their disdain or dismissal of other human cultures, Calishites have decent relations with members of other races. Dwarves and gnomes are valued for their skill in metalworking, although many shield dwarves have not forgotten the role Calishites played in the fall of Shanatar. Elves and half-elves are both distrusted and envied. The former status derives from Calimshan’s long history of animosity with neighboring elven nations, such as long-vanished Keltormir. The latter stems from the inherently magical nature of the Fair Folk, which magic-crazed Calishites cannot duplicate. Halflings have long been enslaved by Calishites, and, as a result, most Calishites classify all halflings as members of the lower class. In turn, halflings (at least those who dwell along the Sword Coast and whose ancestors fled Calimshan) regard Calishites with suspicion, viewing all humans of this ethnic group as potential slavers. Curiously, half-orcs often receive better treatment from Calishites than they do from other human societies. Although they are invariably seen as members of the lower class, in that respect they are seen as no better or worse than Calishites of low birth-status.
Calimshan has long been the dominant power of southwest Faerun, with a tumultuous recorded history spanning nine thousand years. It has always been a hot, damp, verdant land, suitable for growing olives and dates and grazing by huge herds of livestock. Its forests are filled with fragrant carving woods, and its and sandbars and coastal shoals bristle with oysters, crabs, edible fish, and rocks harboring both gems and metals. In short, Calimshan has always been a land worth fighting for—and so there has been much fighting for it.
In ancient times, the great forest Keltormir cloaked the region and was home to warring giants and elves. Humans also lurked in hiding among the trees, and the dwarves founded Deep Shanatar and flourished beneath the earth.
Then came the mighty djinn from “otherwhere”, geniekin and their halfling and human slaves led by the djinni Calim. They founded the Calim Empire, clearing trees from the lands south and west of the Marching Mountains, slaughtering or driving out dragons, and establishing a domain whose borders correspond with the Calimshan of today.
The djinni ruled over humans in the Calim Caliphates for a thousand years before an efreeti of great power, Memnon, arrived from another “otherwhere” and established the realm of Memnonnar. The two empires broke into all-out war in the Era of Skyfire, a protracted struggle that so damaged the land that the elves used a form of great high magic to bind the spirits of Calim and Memnon into the ground and air, leaving them to struggle to this day in the sandy waste of their endless battle: the Calim Desert.
Humans and dwarves overthrew the few remaining geniekin in mere decades. Coram the Warrior founded the realm of Coramshan over the ruins of the genie empire. Riddled by intrigues and dynastic strife, it soon fell under the sway of evil human priests, but arose again as the reunited realm of Calimshan.
Ylveraasahlisar the Rose Dragon conquered Calimshan and ruled for over a century before being slain—whereupon beholders seized power. Humans drove the beholders out and established colonies across western Faerun, but plagues weakened their empire. Tethyr and the Vilhon Reach shook off Calimshan’s rule and became independent.
Human power in Calimshan peaked under the Shoon dynasty of a thousand years past. In more recent times, Calimshan has seen a Rage of Dragons (1018 DR), a Black Horde of orcs that slew its ruling Syl-Pasha (1235 DR), and the Time of Troubles (1358 DR), when the criminal underworld of Calimport was rocked by the death of all Bhaal-worshiping assassins.
The current ruler of Calimshan, Syl-Pasha Persakhal, has made an alliance with Tethyr. He hopes to study its ways—and then annex the land.
Most characters of Calishite descent choose the Calimshan character region, which reflects a character from the sophisticated cities of the country. The Calishite region described here embraces Calishites from the wild hinterland of the country, such as the lands west of the Alamir Mountains or the Lands of the Lion, east of Tethyr’s forest.
- "Calimite" was a deeply insulting name for these people.
- The shapechanging aranea sometimes take the humanoid form of a Calishite.