Members of the Janoa tribe are tall and athletic in stature, standing around 6'3" (190cm) like the Brudvir, but weighing only 175 - 200 lbs (79-91 kg). (They have developed a longer and more powerful upper-body than most other tribes, attributed to an evolutionary need to reach higher branches and move around comfortably in the canopy. The Janoa generally have olive or tan skin, enabling them to blend in better with the surrounding flora, and have further evolved striping on their skin from pronounced Blaschko's lines - which provides additional camouflage when stalking their prey. They typically have dark brown, brown, or light brown hair and imposing yellow eyes. The combination of yellow eyes and tiger-like stripes gives the Janoa a wild, feral appearance. In common parlance, asking if someone has "Janoan blood" is an idiom for stating that they appear dangerous and should be approached with caution.
All living creatures in Elyria are rated along three axes of attributes: Physical (Strength, Agility, Stamina), Mental (Will, Reason, Focus), and Social (Persuasion, Intuition, Leadership). The values below represent the Janoa's predisposition toward certain attributes. Note that the actual starting values of a character's attributes are based on their specific parents, but a character's bloodline also determines how easy or difficult it is to raise one attribute over another.
Long before the Janoa and Dras evolved their unique traits, the two tribes were one. Over time, members of the population started to develop the striping which they are known for today. This wasn't a ubiquitous evolution, however, and those that would eventually become the Janoa banished those who were "Unmarked". As the tropical tribe continued to evolve in the rain forest, so too did their predators. In time, the stripes became a necessary survival trait and those that lacked them became a liability to the rest. With the Unmarked gone, the thick underbrush, poisonous plants, and forest predators allowed the Janoa to live in relative isolation from the rest of the world for much of their history.
But not all was easy in the jungle, and the Janoa have seen their share of hard times. Nearly a millennium ago, a massive drought settled over the rain forest. The forest caught fire and large swaths of trees became ash before the Janoa's very eyes. They feared that nothing would remain so they sought the aid of the shamans who had insight into the world between the worlds. The shamans determined the cause to be a great phoenix spirit trapped between the physical world and the spirit world. They bid their best hunters to enter the spirit world and slay the phoenix, and once defeated, the drought ended and the rains returned. But, the hunters that were sent never returned and are said to stalk the Astral Plane for eternity.
In addition, even today the rain forest is a cruel mistress. The very same things that discourage others from entering, are also a constant source of conflict for the Janoa. Every day, leaving a settlement is a test of strength, agility, and will. And each season is a gamble. With the potential for evolving predators, locusts and other pests, landslides, and even drought, the forest will just as often bite the hand as feed it.
The Janoa are a proud people, and their society is built upon and consumed with the idea of "The Hunt". In their culture, much is determined and judged within the guise of The Hunt and your worth as a member of the pride is only earned through your skill as a hunter and the trophies you acquire. Trophies, especially of fierce or respected prey, hold great value.
They are also an outwardly-facing culture, concerned more with what's shown or demonstrated than what is hidden or implied. The physical ornaments in which they adorn themselves - pelts, skulls, claws, feathers, and teeth of their prey - serve to distinguish their standing within Janoan society. They judge others through the same superficial lens - even outsiders, which often leads to dispute. When a dispute does arise among the Janoa, you can be sure it will be settled through physical means. Friends and family are expected to stay out of such things, as the pride of a Janoan is theirs alone to defend.
The Janoa are Faedin, an animist religion that roots much of its belief in the forces of nature. The Faedin believe that the physical and spiritual planes are inextricably linked, and that all living things - not just Mann - are filled with spirit. This belief is demonstrated throughout many, if not all, facets of a Fae's culture, from their ceremonial practices, to the prevalence of animal and plant symbolism in their artwork.
Like other religions, all Faedin share the same basic tenets but there are individual differences between the various tribes of Mann. For example, while the Kypiq believe that all living things are filled with spirit and should be protected, the Janoa believe that the spirits of each living thing are the ultimate source of power and enlightenment.
Unlike the Brudvir, who hunt out of necessity and view their kills as an opportunity for the spirit to reincarnate, the Janoa believe that killing and consuming another creature causes it to become a part of oneself; that the hunter will inherit some part of its spirit and attributes. It is for this reason that The Hunt is so important to the Janoa, as only through conquering the fiercest and most cunning creatures can the Janoa demonstrate their outer strength, and increase their inner strength.
Having long resided in the tropical rain forest, the Janoa speak a language of their own which we're temporarily referring to as "Tropical". Due to the resources that exist within the rain forest - plenty of food, water, and shelter - the Janoa have little need to communicate with outsiders. Combined with their prickly temperament and feeling of superiority towards the other tribes, this has negated their need or desire to learn anything other than Tropical. When the need to talk to outsiders does occur, they enlist the To'resk, or less often the Dras, as intermediaries.
It should come as no surprise that most of the entertainment in Janoa society is centered around competition, but this isn't limited to physical combat. Among the Janoa, casually-competitive skill-based social games such as Toad in the Hole, knife throwing, arm wrestling, and more, are equally as common. Having a strongly oral tradition, they revel in the stories told by their shamans of past kills, and will gather around to hear the reading of a Trophy Tree, where the shaman will speak of the hunts that occurred for each beast on it.
The ritualistic nature of the Janoa is reinforced in their music. At gatherings, both before and after a hunt, as well as when preparing for a long journey, they will often sing songs of the spirits which they worship and look to for strength, often featuring the mightiest creatures - some considered mythical, some not. Songs of those who have absorbed the spirit of a particularly legendary beast are shared from settlement to settlement and act as inspiration for young Janoan hunters.
Tales of The Hunt - from those which exist in recent memory to ancient hunts that have been passed down through many generations - frequently take the form of song and are accompanied by instruments to represent different spirits or beasts in the story. Instruments like flutes and pipes represent birds of prey and are fashioned from wood or bone, while drums may use animal hides or wood to create the resonate sounds of a various rumbling beasts. Typically, the instruments are created by the commoners and non-hunters as a way of paying respect to their superiors.
Because physical appearance is important to the Janoa, they spend a non-trivial time creating interesting and ornate clothing and adornments to wear. Utilizing materials from their environment - including feathers, bones, and pelts - their clothing is easily recognized, but not often mimicked.
Janoan Trophy Trees, of which they are commonly known for, are created by taking logs, carving an animal or beast's face upon it, and then stacking it upon an existing Trophy Tree. And while not generally as good at woodcarving as the Brudvir of the north - due to their lack of dedication, the isolation and readily available crafting material has given the Janoan a keen hand for the craft. These trees, akin to totem poles in our own world, contain the records that are worth remembering. While many Janoa have the skills necessary to make a Trophy Tree this is a task that only the shamans are officially allowed to undertake, as they are the only ones considered capable of judging the worth of a spiritual conquest. Those spurning tradition have been known to carve their own totems, although it is frowned upon. Properly prepared, a Trophy Tree developed over a lifetime is a thing held in great reverence, and is a sight to behold.
The Tropical Rainforest, while very dangerous, is also incredibly dense with impressive beasts. For the Janoa, that makes the Tropical Rainforest the perfect place to call home. Their biome contains plentiful amounts of resources on which to subsist. With the Janoa's unique adaptations being most suited to it, it's unlikely they will grow out of it.
Their homes reflect their culture's Hunt-centric mentality. Homes regularly feature a dedicated trophy room, as well as areas for the many herbs, medicines, and hunting equipment they use. Insulation against the rain is near-ubiquitous, with only the poorest lacking it. Homes are typically situated on short stilts to keep them level over the roots and vines criss-crossing the jungle floor, and also to keep the home from sinking into the mud when it rains.
Janoan society values the individual and the Hunt. The social classes are as follows:
To even be considered a full-blooded member of the pride, a Janoan, once becoming an adult, must complete a hunt as a right of passage. Completing a hunt does not a Blooded make, however, and it is expected that one will acquire trophies in order to earn the right of a Trophy Tree. The tree is almost always a prominent location on the property owned by the Janoan. The more prominent the trophy, the more decorated the Trophy Tree, and the stronger the individual, the higher a Janoan may rise.
The Honored frequently see to the border patrol of their own territory personally, as it is only natural that invaders meet - and are subsequently defeated by - the mightiest one in the area straight away. If a non-hostile invader is found, it is also their right to gauge the threat.
The most powerful and revered hunter among the Honored takes the title of Prime and accepts no royal guards while in the borders of his or her Dominion, as it would show weakness. Below the Prime, are the Klave who oversee the military prowess of the Janoa and rule their own domains, called Anktree. Within each Anktree, the Talar run the individual counties, or Gleem, while individual settlements are know as Rings and are managed by a Proven.
To become a Janoan leader, one must be a capable hunter who possesses many sought-after trophies, and a demonstrated warrior. Once achieved, they remain Honored or Proven until their time of death. As the Janoan hold great respect for the bloodline of an Honored or Proven, the children of the Honored or Proven are expected to take over the mantle of their parents, when they die.
When a power vacuum occurs, prestige of trophies is not enough to choose a new leader, as a seasoned Hunter past his prime would not be respected as ruler. Casus Belli is given to whomever among the eligible hunters proves themselves most potent in trial by combat.
Primarily, Janoan youth receive training and tutelage from their parents. Perceiving children as a reflection of an individual's prowess, at least until adulthood, there exist steep expectations for the next of kin. Parents put in effort to pass on techniques and knowledge through practical lessons, by bringing their children on training hunts or sending them to the local hunting academy. While incredibly rare, there are times in which a child is born not bearing the marks of their parents. These individuals are shunned from engaging in The Hunt and, many times, become gatherers or alchemists.
As part of their learning process, many Janoa will find a rival with whom they can practice their skills. Valuing individual prowess and domination, schools or institutions pit student against student for nearly every subject taught, be it herbalism or mathematics. There are some slightly less competitive organizations that exist and operate on an economic level, primarily being the alchemists and merchants who make much of their living off of the excess of hunted materials not used for trophies or adornment.
The Janoa remain fairly isolated due, in part, to the dense jungle they call home as well as their hostility toward outsiders. In ages past, the Janoa have attempted various conquests, but their predation turned inward as they typically found more to gain from within their borders than without. With plenty of fresh water, food, shelter, and interesting things to hunt in the jungle, Janoan basic needs are easily met.
That said, when not under threat from predators within the jungle, the Janoa often look outside to help maintain their skills. It's exceptionally common to see Janoan mercenaries and assassins for hire in most of the tropical and warm temperate regions across Elyria. This kind of work is most common among the Unblooded who are earning the right to a Trophy Tree. The Janoa are not very picky about what they hunt and fight as long as it is worth hunting.
When a threat does come against Janoan territory, their military, similar to the Kypiq, operates very heavily in Guerrilla warfare. Believing the best defense is a good offense, an invading force will find itself harried in greater and greater numbers the more they press. This has less to do with a distinct military strategy, and more to do with word-of-mouth and hunters not wanting to miss out on a good trophy. Small squads may form and coordinate with the overall offensive efforts through a kind of semaphore system. Utilizing distinct markings and signs that are observable in key locations in the environment give the various squads and solo hunters a way to communicate without revealing their locations. War drums or other audible cues are sometimes used as a distraction.
Fear is also a common tactic utilized in their predation, and more aggressive traps may be utilized in areas which present unfavorable conditions or environments to their general tactics.
To'resk - The closest thing to neighbors the Janoa have, and with having existed so close by for a great length of time, the two tribes get on well enough. The To'resk, at times, will trade things such as Maize and Milk of the Talonreed (a powerful stimulant found in the wetlands), while the Janoa will trade sturdy lumber, gold, or alchemical solutions and opiates. Though diametrically opposed in cultural and social sensibilities, the To'resk don't tend to keep a standing army, relying instead on Janoan mercenaries for much of their active military.
Dras - They have a complicated past and, from the perspective of the Janoa, there is enough validation of the actions taken in the past towards the Dras. While there isn't any open feud currently ongoing, there is quite a lot of animosity. The Dras are more than happy to give any Janoa a wide berth, even one unblooded by their first hunt, since they have become so accustomed to consensus-building that they are quite inept in dealing with the bold individualism most Janoa possess.
Kypiq - As the Janoa prize physical strength and accomplishments regarding The Hunt above all else, the Kypiq are looked at with great disdain; not only for their diminutive size, but for how they willingly choose to deny themselves the glory of The Hunt. While they would never admit it, they do begrudgingly respect the Kypiq's prowess at stealth. The Kypiq prefer not to hire Janoan mercenaries - one of the few tribes that don't - because of the callous and wasteful manner in which the Janoa treat the Fae spirits like a sports drink.