LIFE ON FAEDRUN
The Calavera lived like many other Syndar did on Faedrun. They traveled and visited other places as often as they liked. They made friends with outside Syndar often enough that more than a few funerals had non-Calavera guests as well. These guests got to witness El Falleciemiento, the Ceremony of Death, where the Elders of the Calavera would return the dead’s mana back to the stream. Friends of Calavera would also be invited to their yearly month-long festival, Dia de Difuntos.
COMING TO MARDRUN
The Calavera were always a relatively small group compared to other Syndar groups. Procreation was never a big priority for them until coming to Mardrun. There was very limited space on the ships that came over, so they prioritized sending young Syndar and the Elders who could perform the Ceremony of Death (El Falleciemiento). Some parents chose to send their children without them, trusting the other young adult Syndar to take care of them. Splitting up families this way was incredibly hard for them as family and ancestry are very important to the Calavera.
They boarded their ship headed toward the city of Newhope that was under construction at the time. Unfortunately near the end of their journey their ship was blown hard off course. The captain did the best he could to right the heading, but the ship ended up on the eastern portion of the continent. Raiding ships from Clan Squallborn had travelled south and saw this colonist ship as ripe for the picking and set into pursuit. The captain was able to avoid the raiders and took refuge for a time on a small island off the coast of the continent to wait until the raiders returned north to Squallborn. Some time passed and the captain let The Calavera know that it was time to reboard the ship and plot a course for the mainland, but The Calavera took a liking to the island they found themselves on and in fear that their children and elders would be lost in a Squallborn raid on the high seas, they opted to remain on the island. The Captain accepted their choice and sailed away on his ship.
This form of religion and prayer was originally a coping mechanism for mourning dead syndar. As mana gets pulled from the dead syndar, they thought they might be able to reconnect to their spirits through the mana stream. This method of coping gave syndar a reason to celebrate rather than mourn. Syndar who were deeply depressed by the passing of a loved one could find comfort in believing they could meet again. Leaving offerings and shining a light to lead them home offered peace of mind and closure. This has also led to them being very family oriented.
MEDITATION & PRAYER
The Calavera meditate at their worship altars. Alters can be as intricate and grand, or as simple and small as one pleases. Altars typically have offerings like bread, sweets, and wine. If any syndar should be lucky enough to have a drawing or a painting of a loved one, it should be included in their altar. Some even go as far as constructing a doll to resemble a loved one. Altars can change throughout the day. In the morning or before evening time, offerings are geared towards children (sweets, juice), while by evening time altars usually hold adult oriented offerings (wine, breads). It is believed that the god Solar brings the sun and wakes the spirits of the children every morning to allow them to roam freely. At night, the goddess Lunara brings the night, putting the children to bed and making way for the adults to come. Flowers and candles are typically used as decorations for their altars. It is their belief that flower petals are beacons that can lead the spirits of dead loved ones to their prayer altar, so that they might visit them through the mana stream. Many of these syndar leave trails of flower petals from a place of rest to their home as a way of lighting the path back to them so that a spirit won’t get lost.
GARB & COSTUMING
The Calavera enjoy colorfully embroidered flowers, gold tassels, and soft furs. As most io’Larian have one animal they appreciate more than others, they tend to wear the fur of that animal as accent pieces. Face paint is required. A beautifully intricate skull is the Calavera’s traditional design, but each individual does their own style. Most describe it as, “the face of a spirit I see in my dreams.” Calavera syndar will fully paint their face, wear flowers in their hair or weave it into their clothes, and wear beautifully embroidered clothes. Syndar who choose not to wear face paint will wear head kerchiefs or completely veil their face.
Lawful marriages are uncommon among the Calavera. They do, however, have joining ceremonies. When these io’Larian syndar believe they want to spend the rest of their long lives by each other’s side, they dress in their finest clothes, build a grand altar together, paint each other’s faces as intricately as possible, transfer mana between each other, and meditate together. When they finish meditating, the party begins. Eating sweets, drinking wine, and just having fun, all to represent how they wish to live their lives together.
Coming of age isn’t a strict year or growth point, but when their parents/elders believe that they are ready. Usually fairly young children will be sat down, a crown of orange flowers placed on their head, and their face painted like the spirits they see in their dreams. Once it’s finished, they are allowed to build their own altar and place their own offerings freely. Building your first altar is an exciting and joyous occasion.
CULTURE & CUSTOMS
Many of the Calavera are bards. Music is another tool used to celebrate rather than mourn. Happy songs can lift the lowest spirits, and through music, they have raised each other up enough to celebrate the lives that have been lived rather than mourning every death. It’s also common to be a herbalist because of how commonplace the use of flowers and flower petals is.
DIA DE DIFUNTOS
Every year in early November, the holiday Dia de Difuntos takes place. The festival starts with a parade full of music and people in costumes dressed as skeletons. Sweets are given out along with drinks and common fair food. People are encouraged to throw flower petals amongst the crowd while the parade is marching.
After the parade, there is time to go home with your family and gather your altars. Everyone brings their altar to the town square and sets them up along the walls of the square as intricately as possible, with food and wines and more flowers as offerings to the adult spirits at night. Most will choose to meditate at their altar until everyone is finished and the party can begin. Musicians will play while everyone celebrates the life of those they lost, telling stories of their loved ones and dancing among their family and friends. For most of these Syndar, the party will go well into the night, usually until the sun comes up. This is when the altars will change to be filled with sweet bread and juice and candies as offerings to the children spirits who will come in the morning. Most will choose to meditate again before heading home, leaving their altars in the town square. The altars will stay there until that evening when the families are rested enough to gather their things and take them back home. Many Calavera Syndar have planned an easy-to-carry altar for this celebration.
Back on Faedrun, this festival was all month long. Invited visitors were allowed to come and go as they pleased, but most would just come for the initial parade and first night of party. The Calavera have since lost the resources required to celebrate for that long, since they are now located on an island away from the main population and have not established any trade with the mainland, and also have a much smaller population themselves.