The Nuum are the desert-dwellers of central Eastern Arad, and are thought to be the first and longest-lasting large-scale civilization on Arad.
Their naming scheme is Egyptian style.
The empire was founded in the Nuum Desert by immigrants from the arid Ancient Lands to the north. These immigrants settled the land along the life-giving Twin Serpent rivers. The Nuum were the first of the ancient Aradic peoples to evolve their belief system beyond that of being subject to gods and spirits, instead seeking to wield mystical powers themselves.
In modern times, the Nuum are known for being the most magically-apt (and thus often considered the most powerful) civilization in the world, and tend to shun technology in favor of magical solutions. Their powers have led their upper class to live a life of extreme ease and luxury, and due to this, the Nuum have also gained a reputation for their love of aesthetics. They use their magic to beautify everything from their bodies to their architecture, and they are said to be the most beautiful people in all the world, particularly well-known for their large eyes with sparkling, crystalline irises.
Culturally, the Nuum tend to consider themselves to be the first and enduring greatest nation on Arad. They are typically a very proud people, with even the lower classes considering themselves better than anyone from another, lesser nation. The exception, of course, is the slave class, who are so demeaned and belittled by their masters that they are humble and timid, and may well consider those of the noble classes and leadership of Nuum to be something like gods. Many of the Nuum are reclusive, preferring to live their lives of luxury without caring what those of the lesser races do.
All that said, a fairly recent cultural phenomenon has caused some of the Nuum to feel a need to help those of other races, whether out of pity, out of a sense of superiority and hence responsibility, or out of disgust. This can range from aestheticians seeking to enhance the appearance of other cultures’ architecture, products, and people, to the occasional generous ones that simply wish to see others be able to live and appreciate a more comfortable, luxurious life. All thanks to the grace of the Nuum, of course.
Nuum fashion is considered exotic and luxurious, yet minimal in coverage. Living in the arid desert and magically-adapted to resisting the heat and beating sun on their bare skin, the Nuum make a point of wearing very little, using their scant garments and jewelry to accentuate what they consider to be their flawless natural bodies. The males often wear little more than a decorated loincloth and metallic accessories such as armbands, bracelets, legbands and amulets or pendants, decorated with opaque gemstones such as turquoise and opals. Females prefer light shawls, scarves, or robes (preferably sheer, such as gossamer) and jewelry such as circlets, bracelets, necklaces, and rings, adorned with translucent gemstones such as diamonds or rubies. For footwear, Nuum will often wear light slippers or simply leave their feet unshod, wearing thicker sandals only when conditions demand.
Little in the way of cosmetics are used, save some enhancement to the eyes - usually blue or black - and the lips. Except for the hair on women's heads, both genders prefer to be completely clean-shaven over their entire bodies. In place of hair, men will often have elaborate tattoos upon their shaven heads.
The magical skill of the Nuum is legendary. In place of technological engineering, they perform advanced construction feats with the aid of magic, giving their architecture a simple, smooth, and refined feel. They make use of some physical tools, mainly among the slave class, with more important and impressive works being wrought magically by professional magicians. The exception, of course, is metalworking. Thus it is that the magically-inept amongst the Nuum will often instead try to make a place and name for themselves as metalsmiths.
The Nuum do not subscribe to a single magical philosophy (such as elemancy or sorcery), instead attempting to embrace, master, and blend every aspect of magic that they are able. However, there are few thaumaturgists among the Nuum for whatever reason - some speculate it is due to their pride, selfishness and haughtiness that hinders their channeling of thaumaturgy, others claim it is due to their casual acceptance of sorcery and the ability to use sorcery to perform similar feats with no moral restrictions or limitations, and it may also be partially due to the fact that thaumaturgy simply does not “mix” with other methods of channeling.
Another semi-magical pursuit of the Nuum is that of alchemy - that is, mixing various materials and extracts together to result in various potions, salves, and even weapons, such as acids or liquid flames. Such practice was originally more prominent, but as the empire’s magical aptitude and affinity grew, they desired less and less to rely on physical busywork or material components. Like metalsmithing, alchemy is another way in which the magically-inept Nuum might hope to make a name for himself.
The Nuum were originally very religious, believing in a plethora of different gods and immortals of varying degrees and turning to them for guidance and assistance in different areas. As the empire’s magical aptitude increased, however, they came to rely less on their gods, and began seeking to instead be on par with the gods themselves. While some gods remain prominent (such as the gods of the Sun, the Body, Death, the Afterlife, and the River), many others appear to have faded into obscurity as the Nuum have become less reliant on them.
The general justification of this apparent abandonment of many of their gods is that it was the gods’ purpose to elevate and exalt the Nuum, and when a god is no longer needed, he is freed from his duties and may then enjoy a leisurely existence. Yet there remain some sects that fear the ire of the abandoned gods, and seek to fervently worship and appease them in order to prevent them unleashing their wrath upon the Nuum.
(To be added)
Naturally, Nuum education is primarily in the areas of magic. However, magic cannot be wielded effectively without knowledge of basic principles, and so traditional and practical schooling continue. Young Nuum are taught at home by their families, then later attend general education schools. Any that show a specific aptitude are sent off to more specific education centers where they will live and learn for years, depending on how well they perform.
(To be expanded)
- A Nuum student who performs extremely poorly in school may be considered a hopeless case and transferred to the slave class.
- A Nuum slave with particularly beautiful eyes will often be adopted by an upper-class citizen and have their status thus elevated from the bottom to the top.