Ronso

The Ronso are a tall, proud race resembling humanoid lions. As magically active as they are physically impressive, their sharp claws and thick, muscular bodies leave little doubt as to their prowess in battle. Males of the species sport flowing manes of hair and often massive beards, as well as a long horn that grows from the forehead. The Ronso cherish this horn as a symbol of manhood, seeing it as the source of a warrior’s powers; its loss is treated as seriously as that of an arm or leg. Dishonored warriors have their horns cut as a matter of custom, though only the most serious crimes provoke such an act. Unsurprisingly, Ronso subject to this ritual ‘castration’ are almost always exiled. Females, though smaller and more compact, are no less aggressive than their male counterparts in battle, and shoulder a substantial share of the fighting and hunting.

Both genders dress sparingly, and even then only for the sake of modesty; jewelry, charms, and bangles, some of which may have occult significance, are a common part of a Ronso’s ensemble. More superstitious warriors also apply ‘magical’ oils to their bodies before battle, believing that this protects them from harm.

Vital Data

Representatives: Kimahri Ronso (FFX)
Typical Height: 2.4-2.6m (Male) / 2.1-2.3m (Female)
Typical Weight: 125-150kg (Male) / 95-115kg (Female)
Hair Colors: Black, grey, brown, red, blond, white
Fur Colors: Blue, tan, sandy-gold, brown
Eye Colors: Yellow, blue, green, brown
Habitats: Mountains, Tundra
Lifespan: 50-70 years
Young: 5-10 years
Average: 15-30 years
Old: 50-60 years

Society

Ronso live in isolated family-tribes called prides, sustaining themselves as hunter-gatherers led by a single elder. They rarely acquire many possessions, keeping only what they need and moving wherever food and opportunity take them. Social standing within the tribe is derived from fighting prowess and physical appearance, and determines an individual's food-share and breeding rights. To the strong and beautiful go the spoils; a custom other races may find distasteful, but one the Ronso believe is essential to maintaining a tribe's strength.

Ronso begin their training as hunters at onset of puberty. For males, this event is known as the horn-molt, during which the outer layer of the male's horn is shed in order to give the larger, harder adult horn room to grow in. Young hunters learn their survival skills by ‘shadowing’ elder members of the pride over a period of several years. Their rite of passage requires them to match their teachers in personal combat, or at least put up a fight respectable enough to assure the elders that they are ready to take on the rigours of the hunt. Challenges like these punctuate a Ronso’s progress within their tribe; those who want leadership must fight hard for it, and fight even harder to retain it.

Ronso too weak to prove themselves in combat are shunned, and may be driven out if other members of the pride feel that the 'weakling' is a liability to the pride’s survival. Exceptions are made for the aged, who frequently become advisors and teachers; older Ronso who can no longer defend their power often bow out voluntarily rather than risking the humiliation of being defeated by a younger challenger.

"Pick spot. Shut up. Wait." —Kimahri Ronso, Final Fantasy X

If competition within the pride is fierce, competition between prides is outright brutal. Each tribe lays claim to a tightly-defined territory and defends it to the death; though alliances between tribes are common, these allegiances are ever-shifting, sometimes lasting a little as a single hunt. Marriage between prides is rare, and involves significant competition between the two groups as both try to gauge the strength of their counterparts. Unless the prides are evenly matched, there is little chance that the pairing will be consented; no pride will jeopardise its strength by bringing in blood weaker than its own. In the same vein, altruism is almost unheard of—a tribe that finds itself in trouble neither asks for nor expects assistance from others.

This attitude extends to their religion. The Ronso practice a primitive animist faith that sees the world as one dominated by great and invisible spirits. Such forces are never deliberately courted and feared for their fickle natures; though great warriors inevitably attract these supernatural powers, they rely on them at their own peril. Tribal folklore speaks of days when warriors possessed the ability to communicate with native spirits through their horns; even if such tales are true, this knowledge has long since faded into obscurity.

Roleplaying

Due to their harsh upbringings, Ronso place great importance in displays of strength and martial prowess, and go to great lengths to ensure their bodies are honed to the fullest. Adventuring parties who pick up a Ronso member will find them to be dedicated warriors and honorable—if aggressive—combatants, fiercely loyal to their charges and friends. At the same time, they show little patience for weakness or indecisive leadership, and can cause significant friction within the group. Fear of losing face may spur them into taking on more than they can handle; few Ronso will willingly acknowledge their limits, let alone act upon them.

Ronso have a high natural body temperature, allowing them to thrive in colder climates; other races find them unusually warm to the touch, sometimes uncomfortably so. In warmer climates, their prodigious sweat production keeps the lion-men from overheating, creating in a powerful, musky body-odor particularly repellant to creatures sensitive to smell. Ronso horns are innately sensitive towards magical energies, and may tremble or vibrate slightly in the presence of such forces.

Though they can learn to speak Common Tongue, most Ronso will do so in a gruff, clipped manner, wasting as few words as possible. Accordingly, Ronso names are short, rarely exceeding two syllables in length; typical monickers include Biran, Zamzi, Gazna, Argai and Zev. A Ronso’s ‘last name’ is their tribal name, and shared with all other members of their respective pride.

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