My friend Mischa has been waiting for this day since I started posting Gazetteer entries. Todays’ entry is the Renardi, a vulpine people of travellers, helpers, and—if the tales are to be believed—heroes.
This vulpine people is not populous but they are widely distributed throughout Ipieros. Renardi tend towards sleek or lanky builds and sharp features. Like satyrs, their haunches and legs are furred, as are the triangular ears atop their heads and their thick, fluffy tails. While the stereotypical renardi is ruddy with red-orange hair and fur, their coloring can also be dusty brown, coal black, or even white. Stories about renardi (of which there are many) often focus descriptions on their eyes, which are bright orange and vertically slitted.
Renardi travel often, usually in groups of ten to twenty extended family members. Outsiders often refer to these travelling groups as “packs” but renardi call them skulks or earths. A skulk may arrive at a community, settle in for a span of years, and then pull up stakes and disappear. Skulks also fragment and rejoin at the whim of their members. Individual renardi often fulfill roles as travelling merchants, performers, trail guides, and groundskeepers. The common theme of outsiders making their living by securing the trust of other peoples has inevitably produced a popular characterization of renardi as lovable tricksters. Renardi also have a reputation as verdigris producers and traders, although this has far less grounding in reality.
But reality has little place in the public characterization of renardi, who seem to attract larger-than-life accounts of their actions. The “Ruhradim Vixens” is a classic example of this phenomenon, where a small number of renardi garnered lasting legend while travelling amidst a much larger kobold population. The outsized exploits of the dashing renardi hero is a popular and immediately recognizable trope. There are uncountable tales about why no renardi is allowed in the caverns of Yonishan, each version more elaborate than the last, and none of them agreeing on the details.
Despite their smaller population, renardi have sprawling families, mostly built out of monogamous romantic pairings. Not all such couples can produce children and not all such couples wish to raise them; to resolve this, each skulk has a “denelder” who sees that newborns are paired with eager parents, either within the skulk or in a related travelling group. Some denelders also dabble in matchmaking.
Most parents live with their own parents while raising their children, sometimes concurrent with their siblings, spreading the childrearing work around and providing children a wealth of adult caregivers and role models. Adopted children may be visited by their birth parents, who are treated like aunts or uncles by the rest of the family. Perhaps because of this communal approach, renardi childrearing roles are rarely differentiated by gender.
Renardi culture places a high priority on establishing and maintaining good relations with the local genius loci. It is a rare renardi who doesn’t know whose land they’re living on and which offerings they like at what times of year. Knowing where the local spirits may be found often dovetails into a broad understanding of the local ley lines. Their travel routes often follow these conduits of supernatural power, stopping to honor each genius loci along the route. On death, a renardi’s ashes are presented to the genius loci they honored most in life.
These guys are very loosely based off of the medieval folk tales of Renard the Fox, or at least they started there. Always outsiders but possessing a keen eye for the foibles of those in power, able to disrupt the status quo but always at the cost of their precarious life on the margins.
Also, foxes are cool.