Written by Trey Coonrod
It is widely believed within the E’Gath Empire that the Secotah are dishonorable, plague-ridden rodents, who will steal, cheat, or even kill anybody for any reason. No real form of government is in control, merely a system of “packs” in which the strongest is the leader. The truth is a bit different.
The Secotah do believe in honor, and will keep their word. However, they often reserve the right to renege on their promises should something unforeseen crops up, such as a crime or some personal catastrophe. When the reason is explained, the other Secotah involved will usually agree, and a new promise will usually be made. However, it is not acceptable to make a promise and then go back on it for something frivolous, such as “Because I wanted to.”
The Secotah do understand the purposes and benefits of staying clean and healthy. Their major cities do have a system of sewers. They do bathe and clean their clothes, although it does take a rather long time for them to become dry (wet fur and all that).
Secotah economy does make use of coin. However, it also relies upon a system of barter, trade, and personal honor, even in the largest of cities. It is an accepted norm that payment for a service can be paid later, or in trade for an item (s) or other service. Many Secotah shopkeepers will have small, cheap trinkets or food samples at the front of their shops, for any who want to take. In exchange for these small things, it is traditional for the person taking one should attempt to purchase something from the shopkeeper later, or attempt to send business his way.
The Secotah nation is a republic. Each region appoints someone to go to the capital to speak and vote for them. How each region chooses its representative is up to the populace living there. Some hold popular elections, while others use magic, or a test of martial skill. Some regions change their selection process from year to year, depending upon their needs. Those on the borders usually have a tournament of arms, or duels. Each representative is generally part of the ruling body for a period of three years, although politics, age, death, and other factors do come into play.
Secotah believe in dueling, and they believe in fighting. To them, the difference is that a duel has rules that must be followed, while anything goes in a fight. They look upon warfare as a fight, thus enemy commanders never know what to expect from the Secotah. Poisoned weapons, magic, traps, tainted food, and bribery/blackmail of soldiers and officers are some of the more common things that can be expected.
A Secotah household usually consists of a mother, a father, and multiple children. The rate of death for newborns is extremely high among the Secotah; roughly half of their offspring die within the first year of life, due to disease, infections, and other ailments (which further contributes to the Empire’s perceptions of them). Both boys and girls are brought up much the same, and girls are as likely to get into, and win, physical contests and brawls, as the boys are. In general society, both men and women are considered roughly equal. In some areas of society the males will be more respected (such as in the army), while in others the females will be (such as in the church or at home).
The Secotah system of justice is similar to that of the Empire. Theft, assault, murder, and other such crimes do take place, but there are some differences. First, all members of Secotah society are treated the same. Thus, it is possible for a member of the ruling body to be executed for a murder. Secondly, while they do sometimes execute criminals for a few crimes, they do not believe in branding, flogging, or dismemberment. Imprisonment, restitution, forced labor, and tattoos are far more common. Execution is reserved for the most heinous of crimes, which for the Secotah include murder and rape.
A common punishment among the Secotah is to ostracize a criminal. The members of the community will not interact with the person being punished unless they absolutely have to, such as fighting a fire. This punishment can last a day, or for years. The offender will still be allowed to keep his or her possessions and home, but that is about it. Merchants will not sell their wares to him, or even acknowledge his presence. Family members may interact with the offender, but they are usually looked down upon if they do so much more than is necessary.
© 2000 T. Coonrod & J. K. Wykowski