Little has been confirmed about the origins of Song'os, though references to peoples who resemble them appear in histories of Osirion, Qadira, Taldor, Nex, and the eastern Mwangi Expanse before arriving at the Laughing Jungle of what is now known as Vidrian ca. 4100 AR. Most such references cast them as mysterious agents who quietly disrupted tyrannical empires from the edges by aiding more open rebellions.2
Song'os typically have dark brown skin and dark coiled hair. Their nomadic nature through dangerous environs lends them athletic builds that soften with age, and also favors short-cropped hairstyles decorated with flowers and foliage. Song'os who live in more permanent settlements such as Lakay Se tend to grow their hair into longer afros or braids.3
All Song'os wear facial paint and makeup for events, whether for decorative purposes or to convey meaning.3
Song'os are a storytelling folk and weave tales into many aspects of their lives, including their makeup,3 clothing,4 travel,3 and tents.5 Song'o history6 and relations with other peoples7 are also guided by oral traditions in which knowledge and advice is passed over generations, and elder Song'os are expected to spend their days sharing their knowledge and stories.7
Most Song'os are nomadic and travel seasonally in familial caravans along the Korir River and through the Laughing Jungle. Wider-ranged travel is less common, adventurers who leave the jungle even less so, and all Song'os plan their travels around returning for at least one of the three Kana Fete celebrations held each year in the people's sole permanent settlement of Lakay Se.4 Such celebrations also include meetings of the Ansyen Bann, a council of five druid matriarchs who collectively lead their families.6
Such traceless customs and nomadic lifestyles mean Song'o artists prefer ephemeral media and forms of expression. Musicians improvise their instruments from nature, and visual arts are expressed through body paints, floral arrangements, and sculptures made of earth and plants. Only their colorful and ornate tents persist and are passed down across generations.7
Song'os engage in a fighting style using specialized sticks not only for self-defense but also in pitched sporting competitions. The largest such competitions take place at the summer Kana Fete celebrations in the Estad de Bomaye near Lakay Se. Song'os also duel in unofficial stick fights to settle disputes; unlike tournaments in which fighting ends with a combatant yielding or at first blood, duelists sometimes fight to the death.8
Funerary rites involve preserving the deceased's body until it can be returned home, where they engage in protective prayer, a family memorial, and a procession in their community before the body is loaded onto a small boat by their closest kin and pushed down the river toward the Fever Sea. When such a ceremony is impossible, Song'os burn the body in a pyre along with all but the deceased's single most treasured belonging.7
At each Kana Fete, the prized items of all who died over the season are placed in a boat to collectively mark the deceased's passing.7
As befits their elusive reputation, Song'os are secretive to all, even those they aid. While they offer assistance to those they find in need in the Laughing Jungle, they never linger for fear of exposure.9 The recently established trading post of Bon Syasyon, built after the Vidric revolution, is a rare exception.5
Song'os were particularly involved in Vidrian's battle for independence, often through indirect support but in rare instances staging raids against Sargavan slave owners.9 The Big Slip, an overnight vanishing of every halfling slave in Sargava on 21 Desnus 4141 AR,10 has been attributed to Song'os and some halflings among the Song'os atypically resemble halflings of Avistani descent, though they refuse to acknowledge any such claims.11
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “Halflings” in Character Guide, 42–43. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “People of the Mwangi” in The Mwangi Expanse, 82–83. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “People of the Mwangi” in The Mwangi Expanse, 83. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “People of the Mwangi” in The Mwangi Expanse, 84. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “People of the Mwangi” in The Mwangi Expanse, 89. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “People of the Mwangi” in The Mwangi Expanse, 85. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “People of the Mwangi” in The Mwangi Expanse, 87. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “People of the Mwangi” in The Mwangi Expanse, 86. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “People of the Mwangi” in The Mwangi Expanse, 88. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “History” in The Mwangi Expanse, 17. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “History” in The Mwangi Expanse, 20. Paizo Inc., 2021 .