Perhaps one of the most complex and unique society in all of Exodus is the one nation that really is not one… Let me explain. The Janus Horde is not a nation that is the result of a series of invasions, long wars or epic struggle for independence.
The lands of Sametia have seen war on a near constant basis since the dawn of time. Its flat grassy plains lend themselves to the passages of armies and the maneuvering of large forces. Many of the greatest battles between the Kaga and the First Ones took place here. When the Arman left their homeland, they landed here before migrating south. When the nascent empires sought to expand their borders, they did so here. Most of the Twilight War was fought here. The plains of Sametia have grown fertile by the blood of soldiers.
The end of the Twilight War and subsequent Unification of the major empires established the borders, leaving Sametia as a neutral buffer zone. It was not long before the Sametians organized themselves and petitioned for membership into the Imperial Alliance. But their petition was ignored and laughed at by the major empires all of whom still looked to Sametia as a potential conquest. The rebellion that followed was brutally crushed by the Imperial Alliance, making a show to ensure that rebellion would not be tolerated.
Fifteen years later, Sametian leaders gathered in a secret location and jointly decided that since civilization turned its back on them, they would turn its back on it. Declaring themselves sons of Janus – a war hero from the War of Mind and Magic – they turned on foreigners and slaughtered them. They slaughtered priest of the Sanguine Covenant. They slaughtered any opponent to their revolution. They burned their own palaces. They plundered their own cities. They packed everything they could on their horses and left their old lives behind. They embraced barbarism by turning their back on civilization and actively pursuing their inner beast. They burned books and scholars (usually together). Priceless magical items were smashed and smelted into jewelry for the hordesmen or their horses.
The action took the major empires by surprise. Under Janissary command, punitive expeditions were sent into Sametia. They found the cities already plundered and burned by the vengeful horde. The small hordes used hit and run tactics on supply chains and focused their attention on anyone they consider representatives of civilization first (priests and scholars are prime targets). The Alliance offered assistance to anyone seeking asylum from the vengeful Horde. The expeditions withdrew from Sametia as the Senate squabbled and debated about what to do with the rebels. Politics locked the Senate as none of the major empires wanted to take on the the war on their own.
Or rather, none wanted to give the other the chance to expand into Sametia.
Power struggles within the Janus Horde quickly broke out as warlords conquered and betrayed each other. This led to a long civil war within the horde. Finally, the Warrior-Queen Thais whose origins are unclear at best emerged victorious. Through her sheer will, she organized and created the Horde as it is today. She named loyal generals to command smaller hordes under her leadership, binding them to her through complex ceremonies. This system has worked well and allowed the Horde to defeat armies sent against them.
The people of the Horde are of extremely diverse origin. The Imperial Alliance does not have clear numbers and estimates the composition of the Horde based on warriors. These numbers are over-simplistic because they do not take into account the large number of serfs that accompanies the hordes. Humans are just over half the population (ethnic origin is extremely varied) with Dalreans in the jungles of eastern and coastal Sametia. Calibans (and Kalisans) form the third official group within the Horde. The bestial culture and harshness of caliban culture are valued highly among the horde. Cannibalism, while not encouraged, is accepted on one's enemies. Many calibans have moved to Sametia from other lands. Their numbers have swelled the Hordes' numbers.
Anyone who does not ride a horse or own a weapon is a serf, the lowest class. Serfs are expected to be subservient to any warrior. Foreigners are considered serfs. Unless the foreigner owns a weapons and horse, in which case he becomes a warrior. He just has to take them.
In the lands of the Horde, might makes right.
The Janus Horde is inspired by the Mongol Hordes that swept Europe and Asia in the 11th-14th centuries. Elements are also drawn from the Huns, later plains nomads (such as the Tatars and the Bulgars) and who could really say barbarian without thinking of Robert Howard's Conan. Like the mongols under Genghis Khan and later leaders, the Horde seeks plunder and conquest. They obtain the former by conducting raids across they borders onto enemy nations. Conquest is something they had limited success with. So far.
One of the major aspect of the Horde is that they do not want the life of their enemies, who they consider fat, weak and worthless. They actively seek barbarism and "un-civility". Few in the major empires understand them (or want to understand ), instead calling them savages, animals or barbarians. This simplification makes it much easier to demonize them.
I will expand on those later, but the Horde has turned to a series of new religions: the doom-saying followers of the Lawgiver and the bestial worshipers of the Cult of the Dragon. Both cults promote that a warrior should better himself by defeating the greatest challenges they can find. As such, Sametia large monsters are extremely rare in Sametia (or extremely well-fed).
The Horde's warrior caste is its army. Sametians favor hit and runs with lances or other two-handed weapons (such as great axes or great swords). The often use wolf pack tactics where they focus on a single target, then leaving before the enemy reacts. Some warriors, particularly Kalisans prefer to move about on foot. These serve as scouts and vanguard for the hordes. Horde attacks are rarely well-coordinated but extremely fast and brutal.
Hordesmen have trained animals and other magical beasts to fight with them. Bears, wolves, hawks, hyenas and large cats (tigers, cheetahs and lion) are common in Horde armies.
Warriors generally favor simple cloth to elaborate ones. Simple colors such as greens and red are most common, though many Hordesmen favor natural-colored leathers. Any elaborate fabric worn by Hordesmen is almost exclusively plundered. Armor is frequently patchwork, taken from fallen enemies and refitted. Repaired armor are common. Heavy armor is extremely rare.
Serfs wear simpler clothing, frequently discarded by warriors and it is common to see them dressed in a hodge podge of outfits, making males and females difficult to distinguish solely based on dress.