Forest for the Trees
Scrump hails from a tribe of nomadic desert halflings. Their culture is largely defined by the desert‘s scarcity of building materials – there is no wood for days’ journey in any direction, and the stone under the land is best used for small projects, not architecture. As such, the desert tribes mostly take their shelter in animal-skin tents, and don’t build permanent homes. The only permanent structures are the wayhouses.
Every year, a group of desert-dwellers makes the trek to the edge of the forest. There they barter finely-crafted weapons and jewelry (made from stone, bone, plant pigments, and the like) for a large amount of wood. When they return home, the best lumber is given to a master builder, who builds a wayhouse at a place their tribe deems appropriate. (The middle-quality wood goes to other master carpenters to repair old wayhouses, and the rest is given to apprentices for practice.) There, elders live the stationary lives that suit their age, and provide the tribes that wander by with a meeting-place for shelter, wisdom, and interaction with other tribes. Mothers and very young children also stay there until the child is of an age to travel.
While they all began with halflings, most desert tribes are not halfling-exclusive; if an individual proves their merit, they can be admitted regardless of race. Some tribes have more humans than halflings by now. Scrump’s tribe is one of the few that looks upon non-halflings as too different – which is not to say they are unfriendly to other races, simply that they cannot be part of the tribe.
The desert tribes are a creative people, and their above-mentioned jewelry is exquisite and distinctive. They use sharp angles and bright, unblended colours to make bold statements. A lesser-known form of halfling art is the desert murals – a stretch of land is cleared, and a giant image is drawn that can only be properly viewed from far above. In this way the tribes tell their stories for future generations.