As a race that was created by a combination of cats and magic, the Mau are wild creatures of instinct struggling to get by in a civilized world. They are humanoid in appearance with the following feline features: tails, claws, pointed teeth, ears, a slightly elongated face, and a body completely covered in fur. With their natural inclination towards stealth and a free-spirited nature, they make for excellent thieves and assassins.
Required: Feline ears, tail, whiskers
Attire suggestions: Is your Mau from Goa? Egyptian royalty might be appropriate. Afflicted by the curse of the Wraithwood? Wrapped limbs and dark clothing may serve to hide symptoms, perhaps even a mask. Did you hail from the wild? Animal pelts are fitting for such barbarians. For those hoping to distinguish themselves from lowly beasts, you might copy the style of other races.
Mau are powerfully influenced by their animal instincts. Developing behaviors that overcome these instincts is possible, though never easy. The relative strengths of these instincts vary. Some Mau may be more impulsive than they are solitary, while others may be more distractible than they are indifferent.
Impulsive — Mau tend to think in the moment, reacting quickly and making snap-decisions. While this makes them great for dealing with surprises, it makes them poor candidates for involvement in complicated plans.
Distractible — Mau are easily distracted by dangling objects or winged creatures. It takes willpower to avoid attacking them.
Curious — Mau are drawn to new things, such as creatures they have never seen before or new locations.
Solitary — Mau often have a preference for working alone, at least while hunting or crafting. When they join an adventuring party, it is usually due to necessity.
Stealthy — Most Mau have a natural affinity for avoiding detection. Their agility and claws enable them to reach high out-of-sight places while their flexibility allows them to squeeze into tight spaces in order to hide.
Indifferent — Mau tend to be lacking in empathy for strangers, and usually only act for self-gain or entertainment.
The Mau first arose in Rastemier sometime prior to the Age of Ascension. The immortal Antasia is widely considered to be their creator, though accounts vary on her motives for doing so. What is agreed is that the Mau were originally cats that were transformed into higher beings. It was not long after their creation that they began banding together to survive the harsh wilderness, allowing their population in Rastemier to grow steadily despite frequent in-fighting. Their development caught the attention of other Immortals, and a number of them gained a significant following among the Mau. After the Shattering hit, many Mau lost their homes and their resources were greatly depleted. As a result, the Mau panicked and began fighting amongst themselves with greater intensity than before. Fearing the ultimate self-destruction of their race, leaders arose who encouraged migration out of Rastemier for the first time. Many migrant groups perished, but a few survived and settled in other lands. Some elected to remain in Rastemier, though they would never regain what they had prior to the Shattering.
Listed here are the three most well-known Mau groups to migrate out of Rastemier, along with their founders:
Sekhma — The Lady Sekhma led a small number of Mau across the sea from Rastemier to Sirison. Through the use of wit, a bit of magic, and good fortune, she became the first Mau Sultana of Goa. Her followers, the Sekhmetian, have lived a comfortable life as an elite class ever since. To this day, the gift of magic runs strong in Sekhma's direct descendents. Unfortunately, the Sekhmetian exploit these gifts to pass themselves off as divine rulers even as they greatly oppress their subjects. The Royal Arena of Goa is an infamous symbol for this tyrannical rule. In it, prisoners are forced to fight each to the death for noble amusement.
Mjor — Another migrant leader and the patriarch of the Mjorlin clans, legend has it that Mjor made a pact with the two-headed dragon Drathenix to ensure the survival of his followers in Upper Metsar. The Mjorlin clans are known for their savagery as they consistently attack travelers and raid cities. The Mjorlin continue the tradition of paying homage to various dark powers through the sacrifice of captives. Sometimes Mau families abandon the clans and choose to dwell in the cities of Upper Metsar among the civilized.
Basiral — Inspired many to follow her to Lower Metsar in order live and build a better life. They flourished there until the rise of Jeddit O’Jorramn and his army of the undead nearly wiped them out. Many of the family lines that survived have since fallen to the curse of the Wraithwood that Jeddit left behind, leaving their bodies marked with arcane afflictions. Those that managed to escape the curse fare only slightly better living in the margins of society to the west. Whether cursed or not, the Mau in Lower Mestar are still collectively known as Wraithwood Mau due a persistent belief that the curse is not always outwardly visible.
Mau prefer to live in small clans with clearly defined territories. These clans are broken further down into families. Mau traders move freely through these clan territories, as they are considered to be independent of whatever controversy their home clan happens to be involved in. Many Mau families, or individual Mau, leave their clans and live among other civilizations.
Cat-reverence — Cats are the totem animals of the Mau. It is commonly believed that the arrival of a cat in a clan’s territory is a clan-founder’s attempt to communicate important messages from beyond the grave. As such, their behavior is watched closely. Killing a cat or wearing cat hides is considered a great affront.
Fashion — Reception to fashion varies from clan to clan, as each places a differing value how they are perceived by other races as "civilized". Among those who value that opinion more highly, clan members will adopt clothing and jewelry trends that happen to currently be popular among their civilized neighbors; some will even contribute their own on-trend designs back to the regional community and the most talented produce original work as well. The wilder clans prefer hides for their simple effectiveness.
Hunting — This is traditionally a solitary practice; all Mau are expected to be able to hunt and are not considered adults until they do so successfully for the first time. Many children’s games teach them the skills they need to be good at hunting. Spears, bows, and traps are the most frequent tools used in the hunt, though Mau who possess the gift of magic are encouraged to complete the hunt in their own way.
Cleanliness — Even the wildest of clans put much value in cleanliness for health and work. A popular children’s story tells the tale of a Mau trying to sneak into a castle getting caught because his stench gave him away. Rituals involving cleaning are common for dealing with figurative filth. To signify the resolution of a strife between friends, Mau pour buckets of water over each other's heads. A Mau trying to forgive oneself might meditate directly under a waterfall.
Independence — Among the Mau, doing things yourself is considered the best path towards success in life. When working on a large task, such as completing a quest, Mau prefer to break the job into smaller parts than can be accomplished without help, even if it sometimes takes longer. Volunteering to assist a Mau stranger is considered an insult, as it implies that they're visibly incompetent.
Territory — Personal space is highly valued among the Mau, and a lack of it is widely considered to be a catalyst for conflict. Areas were multiple Mau gather, such as living rooms and marketplaces, are considered to be places where territories overlap. To make it clear where their non-overlapping boundaries are, Mau carve or paint their names over entrances. A Mau household can easily be identified by the presence of a surname carved into the front door, and individual names on the doors of bedrooms.
Mau are usually indifferent to most races at first, though with time they can develop good friendships with any of them. Developing bonds with Ulf and Fae are more challenging, as their instincts urge them to be hostile, though this becomes easier to manage with individual exposure. Similarly, they are inclined to avoid the Empyrean. Sometimes a Mau’s philosophical leanings are reflected in the company they keep. Mau that think it better to live more on the wild side might keep company with Angori or Dwarfs, while those who strive for greater self-control might prefer the company of Elves or Dryads. The way that Mau relate to Zmajite is relative to their culture's view on Drathenix. For example, a Zmajite that traces his bloodline back to Thrinik might receive great hospitality from pro-Thrinik Mau, or outright persecution from pro-Maledreck Mau.
Loreyza — Many former worshipers of Antasia turned to this immortal after the Shattering, seeing her as the one true successor of their Creator. Mau worship of Loreyza can be found in pockets around the world, taking it upon themselves to protect nature.
The Company of Seven — The Mau became familiar with the rest of the Company of Seven through Loryza. Mau that choose the life of an adventurer often revere one or more of them. As the patron of rogues, Tenaebrus is especially popular.
Drathenix — Every Mau can identify with the internal struggle of the two-headed dragon. Curiously, those who believe that their nature cannot, nor should not, be tamed give greater reverence to Maledreck, while those who believe it is better to overcome their instincts prefer Thrinik. The Mjorlin clans in Upper Metsar are known for their worship of Maledreck, whereas the Mau who attempt to live among other civilized races make a point in keeping public shrines dedicated to Thrinik.
Syflare — Legend has it that the great serpent was personally responsibly for the sinking of many Mau ships that sailed out from Rastemier. Some historians have debated this, suggesting that these lost voyages were more likely victims of poor ship construction and management. Regardless, Syflare is an immortal hated by all Mau.
Dhuroscht — Another favorite of the Mjorlin clans. Captive sacrifices made to the King of Fiends are often long and torturous affairs for the victims. When Mau who have left the Mjorlin clans are asked why they did so, bearing witness to those sacrifices is the most common reason given.
For many Mau, adventuring is a reasonable compromise between savagery and society. Their penchant for stealth leads to many Mau becoming successful thieves or assassins. Monks and magic-users might rely on meditation or magic to tame their beastial nature. For some, adventuring also means making use of Dryft in an attempt to numb their instincts. Wraithwood Mau take up adventuring strictly as a means for getting away from Lower Metsar, provided they get the chance.
“Twitchy Tail” — Name for a Mau known for being particularly skittish.
“Tamed” — Derogatory term for pro-Thrinik Mau, implying weakness and loss of heritage
"A clean blade makes for a clean kill" — Originally just literal in meaning, but also can be figurative for taking care of any tool or even one's own body in order to better accomplish a task.
"Better to leave no trace than risk a race" — General advice for rogues. It's considered safer to just avoid detection than to try and out-run a potential adversary.