Plainsfolk is a generic term for all the nomadic peoples of The Plains. As well as sharing a common language- Plainspeak- the Plainsfolk share a number of cultural values and practices, though their is a strong sense of identity and autonomy between the numerous tribes that occupy the region.
Furthermore, the term plainsfolk (not capitalised) is sometimes used by outsiders to describe all the peoples of the plains, including the inhabitants of the sedentary communities. Though the nomadic peoples are probably not aware of this practice, they normally draw a sharp distinction between themselves and their sedentary cousins, whom they refer to as settled peoples.
Unlike other peoples of the world of Empala, there is huge diversity in hair type, skin tone, facial morpholgy and eye colour amongst the Plainsfolk. Virtually every variation in these characteristics found elsewhere is present amongst the the nomadic peoples and their settled cousins. There appears to be no correlation between climate and these characteristics: the plains posseses a continental climate of warm, dry summers and cold dry winters with most rain occurring in spring and autumn. There would appear to be no evolutionary advantage conferred by particular phenotype, leading to a borad distribution of these characteristics.
This variation extends not only to the tribes but even down to bands. Amongst the Hulun, for instance, K'harg is black skinned with strong features; within the same band- and considered equally 'Hulun'- is Grimach, whose skin is pale and hair is red. However, some bands possess more homogenous traits. The Svord are light skinned, fair-haired and blue yed, traits the attribute to their ancient northern ancestry and have maintained through rigorous control of marriages.
Where the Plainsfolk do share common characteristics is in height and build. They are tall, with men averaging six feet in height and women five-feet-eight. Most Plainsfolk are athletically built. Of course, this could be attributed to their excellent, protein rich diet and very physical liestyle- i.e. as much nurture as nature- but has led to some interesting theories among Imperial scholars.
The Plainsfolk are nomadic, subsisting by herding livestock, foraging, trading with and raiding the settled peoples. They often come into conflict with one another, and all children are trained in warfare at an early age, with the vast majority receiving further training as part before attaining adulthood regardless of gender.
The Plainsfolk usually operate in autonomous bands numbering 100-300 persons. Leadership is assigned to elders, with the strongest warrior leading them in times of war. One band typically leads the tribe as a whole, and acts as the nucleus of the tribe's spiritual leader also. Factions based upon patrilineal and matrilineal descent groups, rival bands and other divisions often emerge, particularly during times of resource stress.
Most of the tribes are keen horseman, with the strongest horses being raised by the Tolda and the Hulun. Other animals are herded in additon to horses, including the semi-wild auroch (Hulun), goats (Moray ) and swine (Threem).
Main article: The Tribes
The Hulun are amongst the most renowned horseman, and have dominated the western half of the plains since the Battle of Rem.
The Threem are the most mysterious of all the tribes of the plains. Like the Raven, they dwell at the fringes, spending as much time in the temperate forests as they do on the steppe. Unlike other tribes, they do not herd livestock (apart from pigs), instead hunting and foraging during the spring and summer then tracking the wild herds through the colder months.
The Tolda are not so much a tribe as a huge confederation of various clans occupying the eastern reaches of the steppe. Though vast in number, the Tolda are not a belligerent people- accept amongst themselves. They are a romantic people fond of dance, song and drink, constantly feuding over doomed relationships between star crossed lovers. They produce a high number of bards.