Regions: Amn, Calimshan, Dragon Coast, Lake of Steam, Nelanther Isles, the Shaar, Tethyr, Vilhon Reach, Western Heartlands, Calishite.
Since the fall of the great genie empires that once ruled south of the Marching Mountains, humans descended from the slaves of the genie lords have ruled the successive empires of Calimshan. From the shores of the Shining Sea, Calishites have migrated northwards in large numbers as far as the Fields of the Dead and the Nelanther Isles, and eastward into the Lake of Steam, the Border Kingdoms, Lapaliiya, and the Shaar. Some fled disasters in their homeland or sought new economic opportunities, but most came as conquerors under the banner of the Shoon Empire. Outside their homeland, Calishites form the primary racial stock of the Border Kingdoms, the Lake of Steam cities, and the Nelanther Isles. Calishites also comprise a large fraction of the population of Amn and Tethyr. Calishite ancestry, language, and culture have influenced all the lands nearby.
Calishites regard themselves as the rightful rulers of all lands south and west of the Sea of Fallen Stars, a birthright passed down to them by the genies who once ruled the lands between the Marching Mountains and the Shining Sea. Calishites point with pride to the unbroken line of Calishite empires dating back thousands of years. With the notable exception of the Mulan, whom they consider their equals, Calishites consider themselves culturally superior to the hordes of “unwashed barbarians” that dwell beyond their lands.
Although often perceived by other cultures as avaricious, lazy, and corrupt, in truth most Calishites seek nothing more than a lifestyle of comfort and the respect of their peers. Calishites hold the circumstances of an individual’s birth as equal in importance to his or her achievements. The class system is strongly ingrained in most Calishites, as is the ideal of a life of pampered luxury. Money is simply the means by which one achieves idleness. Calishites place great stock in pride—in one’s own achievements, family, city, and culture. Family and the role as host are likewise held in great esteem. Magic use is ubiquitous, rivaled only by the natives of Halruaa, and genies are both highly respected and feared.
Although all natives of Calimshan are known as Calishites, only those whose ancestry dates back to the slaves brought from other worlds thousands of years ago are considered members of this ethnic group. Calishites are a bit shorter and of slighter build than other humans. Their skin is dusky brown, and their hair and eyes are most commonly of that shade as well.
Calishites make skilled rogues, fighters, and wizards, and the legacy of ancient genie bloodlines ensures that many are powerful sorcerers as well. Religious fervor and monastic devotion are largely absent among most Calishites, except among the clerics of Ilmatar who minister to the poor, and the Tyrrans who uphold justice.
The history of the Calishite people is largely the history of Calimshan, detailed in the FORGOTTEN REALMS Campaign Setting.
Calishites believe their culture is the only bastion of civilization on the Sword Coast and Shining Sea, if not the entire surface of Faerûn. To the descendants of a 7,000-year-old empire, the short-lived “barbarian” cultures of the northern lands are barely worthy of notice. Calishite arrogance is nurtured and codified in the class and gender divisions within their society, with a person’s station at birth playing an important role in how he or she is measured. Although few speak of the class system in Calimshan or the lesser status of women, most Calishites live out their lives according to their station, risking death or enslavement if they do not. Calishites dwelling in the old Imperial lands view themselves as superior to non-Calishites and often act as if the Shoon Imperium had never fallen. Likewise, Calishites dwelling within the borders of Calimshan view themselves as superior to their provincial cousins.
Calishites are typically drawn to adventuring in hopes of quickly amassing a great fortune that will allow them to retire to a life of idle luxury. Those of lower birth often see the life of an adventurer as a way to escape the strictures of their station in distant lands where the status of their birth is unknown. A few Calishite adventurers see themselves as guardians of an ancient culture and commit themselves to recovering ancient Calishite treasures that have been lost amid the unwashed hordes of the northern realms.
Magic has long played a role in Calishite culture, making both wizards and sorcerers commonplace. The latter group consists largely of Calishites who can trace their ancestry back to the genies who once ruled the Calim Empire and Memnonnar. The influence of various faiths has waxed and waned in Calishite culture, but clerics and monks have rarely played an important role. Whereas monks located elsewhere on Toril have strong martial
and mystic traditions and are responsible for the preservation of the lore of fallen realms, the monks of Calimshan devote their energies to relieving the suffering of the lower classes. Perhaps the most common classes among Calishites are rogue, fighter, and fighter/rogue, for the history of Calimshan and the states it once dominated is strewn with bloodshed, corruption, and thievery. Calishite barbarians are almost unknown, except among the nomads of the Lands of the Lion. Likewise, bards are rarely seen outside Calishite harems, and there is no druidic tradition within Calishite culture. Calishite paladins are almost unknown outside the church of Tyr and the city-state of Saelmur.
Prestige Classes: Calishites have a long tradition of assassination as a tool of political influence and personal vendettas, so the assassin is a common prestige class in Calimshan. Secretive guilds of lower-class rogues sometimes study the mysterious arts of the shadowdancer, or more commonly take up the guild thief prestige class. Powerful Calishite
wizards often choose to become archmages.
Traditional Calishite culture varies little across Faerûn, even among Calishites who dwell outside the borders of Calimshan. Although exceptions exist, Calishites strictly adhere to the traditional roles of their social class. In ascending order, those classes are the slaves, the labor class, the skilled labor class, the merchant class, the military, the advisor class, and the ruling class. From birth, Calishites are raised to recognize such class distinctions and treat others accordingly, even though many class distinctions are lost upon outsiders. Hard work and thriftiness are not held up as ideals, although many successful Calishites got that way through such “vices.” Instead, luxury and pampered idleness are seen as the ideal, and many Calishites will do whatever it takes to acquire such a lifestyle. Calishite culture has long harbored a fascination with food and magic, particularly magic that reduces the need for labor, so meals and frivolous magic items play a large role in Calishite daily life.
Calishites revere their immediate family and show more loyalty to their kin than they do to their deities or employers. Men are expected to enter into business and support their family’s standard of living. Women are expected to maintain the home, raise the children, and manage the funds. Children are always educated in the home unless they have a strong aptitude for magical schooling. Those parents who can afford them employ tutors and wizards. Upon reaching the age of majority (15 years), children are expected to marry and establish themselves within five years. Only women may marry above their social class. Those who fail to marry are disgraced and must either live with their parents in shameful charity or be ejected from the household (many Calishite adventurers active in other lands once fell into the latter category). Children are also expected to care for their elderly relatives and to give them an opulent funeral upon death.
Social moves are particularly scrutinized within Calishite culture, engendering an emphasis on maintaining one’s personal and familial pride. Saving face demands that a Calishite treat others as they present themselves, regardless of whether such façades bear any resemblance to the truth. Once a person or family loses face, they also lose status and may be relegated to a lower class. Privacy is a most precious commodity, for it allows an individual to act as he or she wishes without needing to save face. Calishites also place great stock in hospitality, with strictly defined responsibilities for both guest and host. Guests cannot inflict harm on their host while receiving his or her hospitality. Likewise, hosts must display as much generosity as they can afford and protect their guests from harm, for to do otherwise is to lose face.
Language and Literacy
The native tongue of Calishites is Alzhedo, a language derived millennia ago from Midani (the language of Zakhara) and Auran. Alzhedo is one of the two major root tongues of both Thorass (“Old Common”) and Common. Alzhedo employs the Thorass alphabet, a set of characters used to represent the trade tongue that came into use thousands of years ago along the shores of the Lake of Steam. Most Calishites also speak Common, particularly the singsong Calant dialect. Those who trade with or live in the Realms Below prefer Undercommon, the trade language of the Underdark.
Given their extensive contacts with genie-kind, Calishites often learn Auran or Ignan. Other common second languages include Chultan, Halfling, Lantanese, Shaaran, or Tashalan, languages spoken by many who dwell along the shores of the Shining Sea. Few Calishites learn other nonhuman tongues. All Calishite characters are literate except for barbarians and commoners (that is, characters with the commoner NPC class described in the DMG), who must spend skill points to acquire literacy.
Calishite Magic and Lore
Calishites have a strong arcane spellcasting tradition, in part a legacy of the genies who once ruled the lands now claimed by Calimshan. Many Calishite wizards and sorcerers favor the school of Evocation, mastering a great number of fire and wind spells. Although rare, necromancers are not unknown as well, a spellcasting tradition dating back to the court of the Necroqysar, Shoon IV. Shadow weave magic, although still largely unknown, is attracting an increasingly large set of adherents. The divine spellcasting tradition among Calishites is essentially restricted to clerics, who also favor spells of air and fire.
SPELLS AND SPELLCASTING
Calishites favor spells that ensure personal comfort or defense, summon creatures from the elemental planes, or otherwise unleash the elements. Despite the widespread use of magic throughout Calimshan, Calishite spellcasters are not well known for creating new spells, except for a brief surge of experimentation during the Age of Shoon. Some scholars attribute this cultural characteristic to the traditional Calishite penchant for indolence, while others claim it derives from a reverence for tradition at the expense of innovation.
Spellcasting Tradition: The study of arcane spells harnessing the power of the elements is the highest form of the Art in Calimshan. Many Calishite sorcerers and wizards consider themselves air or fire elementalists. The Calishite Elementalist feat reflects this tradition of magic. Unique Spells: None.
CALISHITE MAGIC ITEMS
Magic is an important aspect of Calishite culture, and many mundane objects are crafted to pamper the whims of Calimshan’s idle rich. Doors and gates that recognize those allowed inside and open automatically for them, clothing that sheds stains and dirt, torches that extinguish and relight automatically as needed, or levitating feather fans to keep air circulation constant and cool are all examples of Calishite arts of this sort. Weapons are generally crafted with flaming, keen, shock, and spell-storing special abilities, reflecting Calishite culture’s longstanding fascination with magic and the elemental natures of geniekind.
Common Magic Items: Commonly manufactured Calishite items include carpets of flying, efreeti bottles, horseshoes of the zephyr, pearls of power, pearls of the sirines, rings of djinni calling, rings of mind shielding, and slippers of spider climbing. Due to the prevalence of these items in Calishite society, they may be purchased at a 10% discount in any large city in Calimshan.
Iconic Magic Items: The scimitar of the sirocco is made in Calimshan. This weapon is highly prized by Calishite nobles and adventurers. Many warriors of Calimshan wear Calishite mail.
Various Calishite faiths and religious practices have waxed and waned in popularity since the Time of Genies. At various times in history, the Calishite religious tradition has included the worship of dark, forgotten deities, the veneration of genies as divine beings, and the belief in a single sun god. In modern times, Calishites worship the deities of the Faerûnian pantheon, and the folk of Calimshan pride themselves upon accepting all creeds and religions. Although Calimshan contains major temples to the lion’s share of the deities worshiped in Faerûn, ten faiths have long been prominent in Calishite society, suggesting that some or all those deities may have once formed the kernel of an ancient Calishite pantheon. Those deities include Tyr, Azuth, Talos, Shar, Ilmater, Savras, Sharess, Siamorphe, Umberlee, and Waukeen.
Relations with Other Races
Calishites have poor relations with members of all other human ethnic groups, particularly Tethyrians (who are generally viewed as members of the lower class, regardless of birth) and Illuskans (who are seen as the epitome of the unwashed northern barbarian). Only the Mulan receive any measure of respect from Calishites, as their culture is nearly as long-lived as that of Calimshan.
Despite their disdain or dismissal of other human cultures, Calishites have decent relations with members of other races. Dwarves and gnomes are valued for their skill in metalworking, although many shield dwarves have not forgotten the role Calishites played in the fall of Shanatar. Elves and half-elves are both distrusted and envied. The former status derives from Calimshan’s long history of animosity with neighboring elven nations, such as long-vanished Keltormir. The latter stems from the inherently magical nature of the Fair Folk, which magic crazed Calishites cannot duplicate. Halflings have long been enslaved by Calishites, and, as a result, most Calishites classify all halflings as members of the lower class. In turn, halflings (at least those who dwell along the Sword Coast and whose ancestors fled Calimshan) regard Calishites with suspicion, viewing all humans of this ethnic group as potential slavers. Curiously, half-orcs often receive better treatment from Calishites than they do from other human societies. Although they are invariably seen as members of the lower class, in that respect they are seen as no better or worse than Calishites of low birth-status.
Calishites favor loose-fitting, airy clothing appropriate for hot climes. Almost all adopt the traditional keffiyeh (headcloth) that covers the head and hangs down the neck.
ARMS AND ARMOR
Due to the scorching heat of their homeland, Calishite warriors do not often wear medium or heavy armor. They favor chain shirts, and shields are common. If necessary, well-off Calishites wear full chainmail, but even then the ever-present heat means that this is reserved for situations in which battle is imminent. Calishites favor curved blades and view the scimitar as the perfect weapon, a deadly and beautiful blade well suited for mounted combat against lightly armored foes. Daggers are even more common, especially the jambiya (hooked dagger) and the katar (punching dagger). Calishites employ shortbows as missile weapons, a martial tradition adopted from the elves of long-vanished Keltormir.Common Items: Chain shirt, scimitar, falchion, composite shortbow. Unique Item: The jambiya, a hooked dagger worn by almost all Calishite men.
ANIMALS AND PETS
Calishites favor small creatures of a magical nature as pets and familiars—the more exotic the better, such as shocker lizards and tressyms. Mephits, particularly air, dust, fire, and steam mephits, and small elementals, particularly those drawn from the Elemental Planes of Air and Fire, are commonly summoned by Calishite conjurers.
Among animals, trained falcons and dogs are most common. For steeds, Calishites employ camels in the vicinity of the Calim Desert and horses elsewhere. They favor light warhorses, as few Calishite warriors wear heavy armor or rely on clumsy weapons such as the heavy lance in battle. Flying steeds, including hippogriffs, griffons, and pegasi, are highly favored by those who can acquire them.
Most characters of Calishite descent choose the Calimshan character region, which reflects a character from the sophisticated cities of the country. The Calishite region described here embraces Calishites from the wild hinterland of the country, such as the lands west of the Alamir Mountains or the Lands of the Lion, east of Tethyr’s forests.
Preferred Classes: The Calishite region is preferred by bards, fighters, sorcerers, and wizards. A character of one of these classes may choose a regional feat and gain his choice of the bonus equipment below as a 1st-level character. A Calishite character of any other class may not select one of the regional feats here and does not gain the bonus equipment at 1st level.
Automatic Languages: Alzhedo, Common.
Bonus Languages: Auran, Chondathan, Elven, Ignan, Shaaran,
Regional Feats: Bloodline of Fire, Genie Lore, Harem Trained,
Bonus Equipment: (A) Scimitar* or jambiya*; or (B) chain mail*;
or (C) scroll with one 2nd-level spell and six 1st-level spells.