Kraet Styles

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Kraet Styles is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.

In the Arena with the Kraet: A Guide to Elanthia’s Preeminent Gladiators

Those of the Isle of Kraet are known for their gladiatorial prowess, bringing to Bloodriven Village several examples of their weaponry, defense items, and garb. Speaking both Common and Krolvin, but being far enough removed from both, they often have a tendency to name their items in a hybrid of both languages, creating terms that are often unique and sound almost as if they come from another language entirely. It’s limited to specific terms, however, and is not indicative of any sort of overall new language development, at least not at this point in time.

Interestingly enough, several terms appear to be the same as ones in common usage throughout Elanith today, such as pugios and parmas. Linguists will be cheerfully distracted for years to come trying to determine the origins of these shared terms. Did they come from Skaellig Reive with the humans who would become the Kraet? Did some enterprising Kraet travel and spread only some of the unique terms? Did they somehow spontaneously occur in both places? Already, heated discussions in scholar-frequented pubs are taking place, with numerous pet hypotheses and impassioned defenses of flaws in logic. The Kraet are silent on the matter, though one enterprising gladiator has offered to teach a few scholars how to fight Kraet-style and take their differences to the arena.

Weaponry

Acinaces: Just a bit too long to be considered a dagger, an acinaces is a double-edged short sword. In Kraet fashion, the hilt and/or pommel is most commonly bone or teeth/tusks of creatures found near Kraet — when possible, polished zmiulan ivory. It is personal preference if additional adornments are used, such as gemstones or blade etchings and inlays.

Arcus: The arcus is a recurve composite bow, typically made of locally sourced wood on the Isle of Kraet with sinew and horn coming from any variety of fauna found on the isle or taken from elsewhere. In addition, there is a unique custom amongst the Kraet to occasionally utilize sinew from fallen gladiators when the individual had wished it; it is seen as a way to carry on and assist in their people’s victories.

Contus: Typically made of sturdy wood, the contus is similar to the javelin: meant to be thrown but useful in melee combat for those so inclined and skilled. A Kraet using a contus will have their various victories or defeats etched along the wooden shaft so a careful study of the weapon can provide insight into the strengths, weaknesses, and abilities of its wielder.

Fuscina: A fairly common trident, a Kraet fuscina will have each prong vary slightly from one another. Legend has it that the most successful Kraet fighter of all time used a fuscina she had made herself out of bits of scrap, creating an uneven and unusual trident. As she won match after match and proved herself on the battlefield as well, her fuscina became legendary, and imitation morphed into a distinct and effective weapon. Prong variations include dipping each in different poisons, unusual shaping of each prong, various types of jagged edges and pointed tips, and many more. As a side note, there is a type of bog orchid, the green fuscina (or green bog) orchid, named for its resemblance. It is comprised of two leaves thrusting up on either side of the flower-filled stalk. Gladiators who specialize in the fuscina are often fond of the green fuscina orchid also.

Gladius Graecus: While the gladius is a common short sword known throughout Elanthia, the gladius graecus is unique to the Kraet. Sporting a solid, comfortable hilt, the blade of the gladius graecus is leaf-shaped and always etched at the base with a spiral. The spiral can be interwoven with other symbology unique to the individual. One common example is a pair of crossed palm leaves cupping a single spiral, said to represent the coming of two peoples into one.

Hasta: The hasta is a polearm most similar to a spear, consisting of a long shaft topped with a sharp blade. Made most often from wood, the hasta may have its shaft etched with scenes from the arena or in a pattern pleasing to its wielder. Great care is taken in choosing the best blade to top one’s hasta, including material, adornments, any additional spikes or offshoots, etc.

Lancea: Used both for throwing and melee, the lancea is a type of short javelin favored by many Kraet. The main grip is often paired with additional strips of leather along the haft, allowing the wielder to gain purchase wherever they choose to grip, and the javelin’s head is exceptionally sharp

Plumbatae: Plumbatae are typical throwing darts weighted with lead. Each plumbata features a sharp metal tip and a bulbous lead weight affixed to a sturdy wooden shaft. Each gladiator specializing in the plumbatae has their own unique fletching, and good-natured (usually) brawls will break out if a gladiator feels another has stolen their design. Stylized markings on the lead weighting are also very common.

Pugio: With a leaf-shaped blade paying homage to their signature gladius graecus, the pugio is a small dagger that is often kept as a backup or surprise weapon when in battle. In the arena, the pugio may be used by itself in conjunction with a shield, or dual-wielded either with another pugio or a larger weapon. The wide, flat blade is conducive to decorative etchings, and the hilt runs the gamut from utilitarian simplicity to ornate complexity.

Spatha: Like the spatha the rest of Elanthia uses, Kraet versions are long broadswords with a wide variance in hilts and hilt adornments. A newer trend among spatha-wielding gladiators is to have a representation of each victory etched along the flat of the blade, similar to those using the contus but foregoing the depiction of losses.

Verutum: Shorter than the average spear, the verutum is light and lends itself well to throwing. Gladiators and warriors alike will often carry multiple verutum, allowing them to get several throws at a combatant before needing to either switch tactics or retrieve a spear. The butt end of the verutum is frequently capped with an ornamental design doubling as a slightly weighted balance for optimum throwing.

Armor Accessories & Shields

Galea: Helms are an important part of a gladiator’s attire, and the galea serves that purpose for the Kraet. At their most basic, galea are plumed helmets with visors and small eye holes, and many choose to keep them just that simple. For those that do not, there is great variance in the style of plume, as well as the decorative trappings of the helm and visor. A purely decorative galea is awarded at some arenas, its plume of bright, incarnadine feathers and its visor covered in golden spirals.

Manicae: Manicae are strips of protective leather and suede, wrapping from wrist to elbow to upper arm with articulated metal plates along the outer arm. A single manica is most common, but two manicae may also be worn (albeit quite rarely).

Ocrea: Ocrea are the standard leg guard or greaves of the Kraet. Fashioned of metal and running from knee to ankle, the ocrea are usually padded on the interior and strapped on with sturdy leather. Ornate or elaborate metalwork, etchings, and inlays are common on a gladiator’s ocrea.

Parma: Kraet parma are medium-sized shields strengthened with metal in their frame, with a shield boss of metal or hardened wood. Designs on the parma range from carvings to inlays to painting, with painted parmas being the most common as painting lends itself to frequent changes and flexibility. Groups of Kraet may distinguish themselves as a cadre by carrying identically painted parmas, and imitators are dealt with harshly.

Parmula: Known for its lightness, the parmula is simply a smaller version of the parma.

Pugnam: Used for thrusting, this small, circular shield is typically crafted of one piece of metal, including its shield boss. The design is usually just simple, hammered metal, but recent years have seen an increase in etchings and inlays to the pugnam.

Traditional Garments

Balteus: Worn at the waist, the balteus serves as a sword belt for the Kraet. The balteus is made of high quality leather, cinching at the front and just off-center, allowing two leather straps to dangle to mid-thigh. The straps and belt are often heavily adorned with decorative metal plates and ornate buckles.

Caligae: Crafted from a single piece of heavy leather, caligae are openworked boots with hobnailed soles for durability. Each caliga rises to mid-ankle where it laces tightly, and the strapwork found on caligae varies between artisans. Indeed, one can often tell the cobbler by careful study of the strapwork, leading to a popular pub game of trying to identify the bootmaker (this is mostly an excuse to get roaring drunk).

Chiton: A tunic made from a single piece of artfully folded cloth, the chiton drapes at the shoulders, creating sleeves with the proper placement of pins along shoulder and arm. Initially simple in both material and design, today’s chiton run the gamut from the simple to the exquisite, and much emphasis is placed by some Kraet on the designs of the primary shoulder pins. There are three common design styles — the gladiator, the observer, and the worker.

The Kraet have mastered an understanding of the dual nature of things, and they bring this through in their clothing as well. With only two rectangles of fabric, they have created a garment that can be either utilitarian or elegant based solely on proper folding, pinning, and draping of the fabric. The chiton is a prime example of this design in action. It can be either short or long, and the fabric can be anything from linen to silk, wool to cotton. Additionally, the fabric can have a border, be plain, or be patterned.

The Gladiator: Designed to be worn in combat, the folding and pinning of this chiton prevents loose edges from being snagged by opposing combatants. The shoulder pins are sparse with little to no decoration, and the cording binds the fabric close to the torso while leaving the shorter edges to create a modesty skirt below the hips. Frequently, a balteus or cingulum is worn at the waist, each trailing pteruges for protection.
The Observer: Elegant folds and decorative pinning turn this chiton style into a garment worn while entertaining or in casual company. The fabric is typically edged in a knotwork or scrollwork design or the occasional abstract pattern, which once worn falls along the lower edges of the elegant overlay. Unlike the gladiator style, this garment's edges are left loose and flowing to display that the wearer is comfortable and unafraid of challenge or attack
The Worker: Multiple pins between the two pieces of fabric form sleeves in the worker chiton, helping protect the skin from both the sun and the biting insects prevalent in the jungles and along the coasts of the Isle of Kraet. The overall loose design allows for the free flow of air through the garment, keeping the wearer cool during the workday.

Cingulum: Similar to the balteus, the cingulum is wider, made from sturdier and thicker leather, and often strengthened with metal plates to protect the waist. While other weapons can be placed in its scabbard, the cingulum is favored by wielders of the gladius graceus.

Palla/Pallium: These shawls are a rare example of gender-specific garments among the Kraet. The palla are mostly affiliated with the feminine and the pallium with the masculine, but choosing which to wear is an individual decision. Both are long, rectangular shawls roughly eleven feet long and five feet wide, and both have a variety of methods to wrap them about one’s body before affixing them in place with a brooch. The primary differentiation between a palla and a pallium is that a pallium is always embroidered along the outer edge in a knotwork pattern and the palla’s edge is scrollworked.

Pteruges: Pteruges refers to the strips of leather or suede defenses attached to loincloths or skirts used to protect the upper thighs. A pteruges loincloth or pteruges skirt will be covered in these inch-wide strips, and while they can be dyed, they are typically unadorned (or minimally adorned) otherwise.

Sagum: Made for rough conditions and battle, the sagum is a heavy-duty wool cloak with a leather or metal clasp. Kraet serving together may dye their sagum to match; otherwise, there is little to no adornment. These are warrior’s garments made for battle and use.

Stola: While similar to the chiton, a stola is longer and generally sleeveless with a heavier material. The stola often rests over an undergarment, such as a light tunic, and that garment will frequently have sleeves. Stolas range from simple to elaborate and are generally worn by any with a nod toward the more feminine. The quality of a person’s stola can be seen as a reflection on their general social status.

Subarmalis: Made most commonly of linen, the subarmalis is padded (often with straw) and worn under armor to prevent chafing and perhaps add extra protection. Given its utilitarian nature, one would expect the subarmalis to be simple and utilitarian; one would often be wrong. Indeed, a decent subset of warriors and gladiators have taken to ensuring their subarmalis is as fine as their armor itself while still ensuring functionality.

Subligaculum: Subligacula (singular, subligaculum) are loincloths worn by gladiators. Most frequently made of cloth, supple leather or suede subligacula can be found. The most common style of subligaculum consists of one piece of cloth wrapped and folded into place, leaving a draping of cloth at the front.

Adornments and Jewelry

Kraet make little differentiation by gender when it comes to cosmetic adornments. In general, all tend to wear multiple rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, often lavishly adorned in both precious metals and lustrous gems, and many of these items will be quite familiar to the rest of us as they are found across Elanthia. However, there are a few unique styles particular to the Kraet.

Armilla Worn on the upper bicep, armillae are armbands typically used to portray status, arena honors, or military standing. Wearing an armilla one has not earned will be met with scorn, derision, or other more painful consequences. The band itself is generally metal with adornments ranging from etchings to inlays, usually forming stylized pictorials. Status-based armillae are most frequently worn in pairs, while arena and military representations are more commonly singular and worn on the left arm.

Bulla: Fashioned to hold small items or tokens of import, bullae are often considered protection against evil and danger. A bulla is rarely ornate, but it is frequently made of an intricate combination of metal and wood, the choosing of each component feeding into an individual's symbolic preferences. Originally given only to male children, bullae are used by many who either take to the seas or choose a life in the arena.

Fibula: Fibulae are brooches used to pin or fasten garments, typically made of metal. The three components (body, pin, and clasp) range from simple to ornate, and the quality of the materials used often serve as an indicator of an individual's social status. Particular styles of fibulae may also indicate a particular service performed, societal position, or family grouping. One found to be wearing one of these limited styles of fibulae unearned will face the wrath of their community.

Lunula: Crescent-shaped necklaces, lunulae are typically made from a singular piece of metal that rests upon the collarbones but can also refer to a necklace with a moon-shaped pendant (particularly crescent, but other moon phases are not uncommon). A lunula may be left plain or adorned with intaglio specific to the wearer's tastes or desires. Historically, lunulae were considered more of a feminine jewelry choice, and while that may still be somewhat true, it is also adopted by any Kraet who feels a particular affinity to the moons and their symbology. Like the bullae, lunulae are often seen as protection against evil and danger.

Maniba: Similar to an armilla but worn on the wrist, a maniba is a wide cuff of metal. Manibae are frequently, but not always, worn in pairs, and they are always crafted from a singular piece of metal. Adornments are quite common, with etched knotwork being popular along the band's edges.

Pectoral: Pectorals are wide metal collars covering the entire upper chest region. For males, these may be sculpted to resemble the natural contours of the muscular pectoral region (hence the name). Regardless of gender, a pectoral is frequently decorate with etchings, engravings, and inlays and can be as simple or ornate as its wearer desires. It is, however, purely decorative and provides no protection in battle.

Somasida: An intriguing adornment, the somasida is a body chain that centers at the chest with a coin, medallion, or gem. Somisidae chains rise over the shoulders to drape the wearer's body in an "X" pattern, with lower chains wrapping about the waist to join with the upper chains at mid-back. Somisidae are most commonly worn by gladiators when at celebratory events, and while it is unusual for most to wear them as part of daily wear, a small subset of dedicated gladiators and their supporters have started a recent trend of doing just that.

Kraet Symbolism

Originating with specialized knots and rigging for sailing, Kraet symbolism frequently revolves around the intertwining of disparate items or ideas, holding to the belief that combining strengths creates something greater than the sum of its parts. Thus it is not uncommon to find layering and comingling of different woods, stones, cloths, and metals in Kraet craftsmanship.

It is believed but not yet confirmed that Kraet knots hold not only several symbolic references and meanings but also linguistic ones as well. Rumor has it that some knotwork serves as Kraet communication tools, such as indicating a particular item is claimed by someone else or guiding people to a specified locale. Given their propensity toward symbolism, it is not unusual for Kraet knotwork to translate from a ship's literal knotwork to a garment's decorative knotwork while maintaining its symbolic nature.

Reference Table

Weapon Profiles

Name Weapon Profile
Acinaces Short sword
Arcus Composite Bow
Contus (already exists) Javelin
Fuscina (already exists) Trident
Gladius Graecus [NOUN is gladius graecus] Short sword
Hasta Spear
Lancea Javelin
Plumbata (Plumbatae, plural) Dart
Pugio (already exists) Dagger
Spatha (already exists) Broadsword
Verutum Spear

Shield Profiles

Name Shield Type
Parma (already exists) Medium shield
Parmula Small shield
Pugnam Small shield

Armor Accessories Profiles

Name Accessory Type
Galea Visored helm
Manica (Manicae, plural) Arm greaves
Ocrea Leg greaves