A Nithian Helmet design from c. AN 1200.

A Nithian Helmet design from c. AN 1200.

The territory of Nithia extends east from the Nithian Forest, continuing far inland across a vast, featureless plain. Its people roam these lands on horseback, maintaining their borders (with both Elden Nayor, to the west, and Elibia, to the south) with ferocity and expanding their holdings when possible.

Little is known of Nithian culture beyond the fact of their nomadic lifestyle and their reputation for blunt honesty (Nithians' notoriously poor skill at gambling is a truism perhaps born of this latter cultural trait).

To speak of the Nithian people is to speak of their army: Nithian political and military structure are one and the same. Its organization tends along familial lines, with various clans inheriting dominion and military authority over a certain region. This combination—obedience to the central rulership, with autonomy within one's own boundaries—permits Nithian clans to launch their own campaigns of expansion, while lessening the tendency for internecine conflict.

Nithians are uniformly excellent archers and horse riders, and their military makes extensive use of cavalry. The Nithian bow is far superior to Nayoran models, both in design and manufacture, and Nithians train continually in its use (particularly while on horseback—it is a truism that Nithian children ride before they can walk and shoot before they can speak).

Upon their native Steppelands, Nithians are considered practically invincible. In skirmishes with Nayorans in the Nithian Forest, however, where their favored weapons and tactics are nullified by the terrain, they have proven to be more tractable.

Nithians are particularly hostile toward mages. While the penalty for magecraft has been death throughout the Peninsula for centuries, among Nithians it is rumored that entire villages are sometimes held responsible for the presence of any user of magic (called a haza by the Nithians) in their midst. For the average Nithian, then, vigilance against hazas is thus very much a matter of self-preservation.

Recent evidence upon the subject is suggestive but inconclusive: A Nayoran reconnaissance to the eastern edge of the Nithian Forest, undertaken in AN 1260, revealed a handful of survivors of what they claimed to be a Nithian haza purge. Their account corroborated the brutal physical evidence of the scene; out of 97 Nithian bodies discovered, three bore the telltale stained left hand of a haza. The rest were, apparently, innocents.

Nithian villages may be best understood as temporary settlements, capable of pulling up stakes and relocating at a moment's notice. Most bear no official name; they are known locally by their clan affiliation and nearby geographical features ("The Village of the Martens, near the foot of the mountain," e.g.). As a result of this nomadic tendency, Nithians carry few possessions; their wealth is measured in the amount of land their clan controls.

The capital, Nith, is one of the few permanent cities of any consequence in the entirety of Nithia. It lies far inland, visited seldom by any save Nithians themselves—Nayorans seldom dare venture far beyond the shores of the Tarno, the most recently agreed-upon border between Elden Nayor and Nithia.

Since the end of major hostilities between Elden Nayor and Nithia (in AN 959), the two nations have enjoyed more cordial relations than at any time since they first encountered one another. Yet the truce is uneasy, and Nayorans commonly speak of sleeping "with one eye to the East."

The Nithian Marshal best known to other nobles of the Peninsula is Urdus Marks, who appears at least to bear responsibility for communications between Nithia and the outside world. The composition of the Nithian political apparatus, and whether Marks himself rules the Nithian people, are the subject of much speculation in the noble halls of both Elden and Ceres Nayor.