Help writing / using the Bekyar?


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion


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I’m trying to find ways to present them as more nuanced in my Mwangi campaign than just “they’re the evil ethnicity,” but published canon isn’t giving me a lot to work with her. The most positive description of them I can find is “isolationist,” while almost everything else written just describes them as demon-worshippers, slavers, and generally mustache-twirlingly evil brutes. I’m not opposed to those still existing! I just want help showing that like, this ethnic group isn’t universally made of bastards across the region.

My current fix is “most Bekyar are isolationists, seeing interaction with outsiders as more trouble than it’s worth (and pointing to the oppression of the Zenj and Song’o as proof), so the few outsiders deal with are those hostile, aggressive groups,” but that still feels unsatisfying to me. They’re a human ethnicity, not old school drow, y’know?


Perhaps most Bekyar originate from southern Garund and the mean ones are descended from a group of demon worshippers they exiled to the north?

Obviously that wouldn't mean all Bekyar in the Inner Sea are like that still, but it could be a good way to introduce cultures different from the other stuff. In the intervening time, many of the exile-descended Bekyar could have abandoned demon worship and split off into several other cultures. The southern Bekyar don't interact much with the Inner Sea and the demon worshippers are more aggressive, giving the Bekyar a bad reputation overall. Even the demon Bekyar don't all need to be evil, it might be interesting to have good characters who venerate horrible creatures (out of fear, perhaps?).

The next step would be actually designing these cultures...

Liberty's Edge

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My interpretation of the Bekyar is sort of the mirror image of the Chelish (as in, people from Cheliax). The ethnicity's governing body and culture are both seriously unpleasant and Evil. That means that any organized forces you meet from that culture are probably gonna be Evil, especially outside the borders of the areas they control.

Individual members may be much nicer, but they'll have a tendency to want to leave their home area if so, simply because that area is so very unpleasant.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:

My interpretation of the Bekyar is sort of the mirror image of the Chelish (as in, people from Cheliax). The ethnicity's governing body and culture are both seriously unpleasant and Evil. That means that any organized forces you meet from that culture are probably gonna be Evil, especially outside the borders of the areas they control.

Individual members may be much nicer, but they'll have a tendency to want to leave their home area if so, simply because that area is so very unpleasant.

The difference being that Cheliax is an imperial state, whereas the Bekyar are an ethnic group spread across many tribes across the Expanse. It’s not like there’s a central Bekyar authority the way House Thrune and the Church of Asmodeus exist.

Liberty's Edge

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keftiu wrote:
The difference being that Cheliax is an imperial state, whereas the Bekyar are an ethnic group spread across many tribes across the Expanse. It’s not like there’s a central Bekyar authority the way House Thrune and the Church of Asmodeus exist.

This isn't exactly true, or at least is unintentionally misleading in its presentation. The Bekyar are the ethnic (and cultural) group currently inhabiting a specific area of Garund (specifically, the area just south of what was until recently Sargava...and extending a bit into that region). They are the people of a specific geographic area and share an ethnicity and culture as such.

There aren't just randomly Bekyar tribes mixed in among Zenj tribes, or not very often anyway (tribes can be mobile, so it's possible...but it sure isn't the norm).

As such, despite them not technically having a central authority, regarding them as a cultural region ala the Hold of Belkzen or Realm of the Mammoth Lords, if not a nation state proper, is quite reasonable. And as such a region, I'll again say they mirror Cheliax and its people as a region, even if they don't mimic its form of government (they are CE to Cheliax's LE).


Deadmanwalking wrote:
keftiu wrote:
The difference being that Cheliax is an imperial state, whereas the Bekyar are an ethnic group spread across many tribes across the Expanse. It’s not like there’s a central Bekyar authority the way House Thrune and the Church of Asmodeus exist.

This isn't exactly true, or at least is unintentionally misleading in its presentation. The Bekyar are the ethnic (and cultural) group currently inhabiting a specific area of Garund (specifically, the area just south of what was until recently Sargava...and extending a bit into that region). They are the people of a specific geographic area and share an ethnicity and culture as such.

There aren't just randomly Bekyar tribes mixed in among Zenj tribes, or not very often anyway (tribes can be mobile, so it's possible...but it sure isn't the norm).

As such, despite them not technically having a central authority, regarding them as a cultural region ala the Hold of Belkzen or Realm of the Mammoth Lords, if not a nation state proper, is quite reasonable. And as such a region, I'll again say they mirror Cheliax and its people as a region, even if they don't mimic its form of government (they are CE to Cheliax's LE).

Adding to this, the comparison to drow isn't all that inapt here. Both cultures are isolationist slavers that worship demons and therefore have an average alignment of chaotic evil. And a huge reason why both groups stick with these immoral traditions is simply that they don't know better. There's no opportunity at home to read scripture from other deities, for example, or even to learn that slavery is wrong. Those who through personal willpower or outside influence break free from their traditions tend to seek a life elsewhere, because it's hard to fight a one-person war against your leaders, especially when they have literal demons at their disposal.

There are probably good or neutral Bekyar out there somewhere, mingling among other tribes or living as lone adventurers to avoid prejudice from those who only see the Bekyar as evil -- just as the drow have characters like Drizzt. You don't have to portray their CULTURE as non-evil, although evil can have its own nuances and evil characters can have redeeming or sympathetic qualities. You just need to impress upon your players that an evil culture doesn't equate to genetic evil.


Personally, I feel that cultures that are "chaotic evil" as depicted in fantasy RPGs are often ones that should be logically unsustainable, but in order to address that you'd have to reimagine a lot more ancestries on Golarion than just the Bekyar.

I also find it strange that a bunch of these societies labeled chaotic evil (well, okay, really just those two) practice widespread slavery. Wouldn't that be closer to lawful evil, since it's forcing a person to work for you? Even if it's to work off a debt, that still requires a "lawful" structure in the first place.


Darth Game Master wrote:

Personally, I feel that cultures that are "chaotic evil" as depicted in fantasy RPGs are often ones that should be logically unsustainable, but in order to address that you'd have to reimagine a lot more ancestries on Golarion than just the Bekyar.

I also find it strange that a bunch of these societies labeled chaotic evil (well, okay, really just those two) practice widespread slavery. Wouldn't that be closer to lawful evil, since it's forcing a person to work for you? Even if it's to work off a debt, that still requires a "lawful" structure in the first place.

I don't think they're unsustainable as cultures, since chaotic evil doesn't mean omnicidal or without unifying values. It just means that these cultures are largely violent and exist in unstable social structures at any given point in time, and therefore can't really build extensive infrastructure or develop advanced form of governance. That means Belkzen and Bekyar make tons of sense, as they are primitive tribal peoples who don't have any sense of nation or state, build no infrastructure on their own lands, have no industry of their own and rely mostly on raiding neighboring cultures and hunter-gatherer traditions to feed and clothe themselves. Drow, on the other hand, needs a lot more handwaving to work believably. I personally portray them as a LOT less socially advanced than books usually write them, living in crumbling cities held together by decaying magic, built before their race was corrupted to demonic madness.

Slavery in my opinion is evil in general, without really leaning towards law or chaos. It's about disregarding another sapient being's right as an individual, after all. Lawful evil societies would have laws written down about the different forms of slavery that exist and a complex system to maintain its slave economy. Chaotic evil cultures simply don't HAVE written laws, and mighty individuals can easily use force of arms or magic to get weaker individuals to do what they want through intimidation.

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