Chondathans are hardy folk, not afraid to take risks, travel, or settle new lands, and are always looking to better themselves and their families monetarily. As Chondathan culture has taken root in so many distant lands, Chondathans are comfortable in most human societies. Many Chondathans are merchants of one sort or another, selling their skills and the fruits of their labors for coin. Although Chondathans make skilled mercenaries and cunning rogues, Chondathan culture has not encouraged study of the Art of great religious fervor. Notable exceptions exist, particularly in the study of the Art among the Netherese-influenced Chondathan cultures that lie north and west of the Inner Sea.
From the cradle of Vilhon Reach, Chondathan emigrants have settled most of the western and central Inner Sea region as well as much of the Western Heartlands. Outside their homeland, Chondathans form the primary racial stock of Altumbel, Cormyr, the southern Dalelands, the Dragon Coast, the Great Dale, Hlondeth and the north shore of the Vilhon Reach, the Pirate Isles of the Inner Sea, Sembia, and Sespech. Thanks to for-wandering Chondathan traders, the Chondathan tongue is spoken even in regions where the number of pureblooded Chondathans is small or nearly nonexistent. Chondathan ancestry, language and culture form a significant portion of Damaran, Vassan, and Tehtyrian heritage.
Chondathans are slender, tawny-skinned folk with brown hair ranging from almost blond to almost black. Most Chondathans are tall and have green or brown eyes, but all builds and hair and eye hues may be seen. Those Chondathans who dwell north and west of the Sea of Fallen Stars (except in Sembia) are more likely to have blue eyes and have fairer complexions and darker hair than those born in the South, evidence of a significant Netherese heritage. In Chondath itself, particularly in the lands bordering Sespech, a significant Shaaran influx in recent centuries has given many natives of Chondath more of an olive-skinned hue.
Chondathans regard themselves as having come to dominate central Faerun almost by accident; they have “conquered” more land through trade and settlements than with armies. They show little arrogance and only a small amount of pride regarding the predominance of their language and culture. Likewise, Chondathans are more apt to identify themselves by their national origins (such as Cormyrean, Dalesfolk, or Sembian) than by their ethnic group. If Chondathans do have a common vice, it is perhaps their cultural focus on wealth and its acquisition. Among Chondathans, prestige and influence are often directly tied to wealth, and it is no accident that the merchant nobility plays a strong role in most societies influenced by Chondathan culture.
Chondathans measure others by how much wealth and influence a person or family has acquired. To a Chondathan, all things are for sale, assuming one can agree upon a price. Intrigue and covert manipulation are simply means to an end, but unnecessary bloodshed is destructive and wasteful. Chondathans have found that power inevitably swings to whoever controls the purse strings, not whoever carries the biggest sword, and set their aspirations accordingly. Fierce competition in all walks of life is the guiding rule of Chondathan society, and those raised within its confines are used to seeing fortunes won or lost, with commensurate gains or losses in stature. Chondathans expect each individual to look out for himself or herself, and they are often surprised when others act selflessly.
Chondathans are drawn to adventuring for one of two reasons: Some take up arms and spells to defend that which they hold most dear, a tradition hearkening back to the early Chondathan settlers. Others are drawn to a life on the road by the same impulses that send Chondathan merchants into unfamiliar lands in search of trading opportunities, a hunger to search for wealth in the unknown. Most Chondathans who adopt adventuring as a career are drawn to the potential of acquiring great wealth by looting some long-forgotten tomb or recovering some fabulous treasure from an ancient ruin.
Chondathans typically make good fighters drawing on their culture's long-standing mercenary tradition. Likewise, many Chondathans find their calling as rogues, a product of their culture's emphasis on the acquisition of wealth and the wide ranges of skills. The most common multiclass combination among Chondathans is fighter/rogue. Chondathans are rarely barbarians, sorcerers, or wizards, as no sizable group of Chondathans has reverted into barbarism; ancient Jhaamdath had relatively few relations with dragons, social or otherwise; and wizardry had long been associated with the unleashing of plagues in Chondathan folklore. Those Chondathan sorcerers who do exist usually hail from lands north and west of the Inner Sea and have one or more High Netherese ancestors in their heritage.
Chondathan culture varies widely across Faerun. Compared to other cultures, particularly Calishite and Mulan, Chondathan societies have relatively weak class divisions. Hard work and good fortune have been enough to catapult more than one member of the lower classes into the merchant nobility. Commerce plays an important role in all Chondathan-dominated cultures, giving rise to the maxim that everything is for sale at some price. Chondathans honor their word, although not for moral reasons. One's reputation is like a purse with a fixed number of coins that, once squandered, is costly to repurchase.
As Chondathans place a high value on book learning, many receive some amount of schooling while growing up. Chondathan youths are apprenticed to a master by the age of 12 and are expected to learn a trade during their apprenticeship. Chondathans have little patience for able-bodied indigents, and all adults are expected to earn their own keep in whatever field they were trained. Wealthy persons are afforded great respect in Chondathan societies, and those who squander money foolishly are looked down upon. Chondathans are expected to work until no longer physically capable or until death. Even those too infirm to earn a living often pass their days at their former place of work, offering advice to those who have replaced them.
Outside Chondathan-dominated lands, Chondathans strive to integrate into the local culture, even if that means learning a new tongue or converting to the worship of the local gods. Of course, such integration strategies do not interfere with sharing Chondathan necessities and customs with the local populace, a practice that over time slowly subsumes the local culture. Chondathan minorities usually organize themselves into merchant houses or trading costers for protection and to maximize their opportunities for profit.
Chondathans honor the deities of the Faerunian pantheon. Such is the magnitude of the Chondathan diaspora that no deity is particularly favored by the majority of Chondathans across Faerun. In fact, Chondathans have traditionally adopted the deities of other cultures, incorporating them into their sprawling pantheon. Gods and goddesses venerated in regions inhabited primarily by Chondathans include Azuth, Chanteua, Deneir, Eldath, Helm, Kelemvor, Lathander, Lliira, Loviatar, Malar, Mask, Mielikki, Milil, Mystra, Nobanion, Oghma, Selune, Silvanus, Sune, Talos, Tempus, Tymora, Tyr, Umberlee, and Waukeen.
Ancient Jhaamdath was one of the first human cultures to develop the written word, and, as such, literate Chondathans have long honored Deneir, the Lord of All Glyphs and Images. The church of Deneir has spread to other cultures as Chondathan traders spread the trade tongues of Common or its antecedent, Thorass, bringing with them the Thorass alphabet. At present, the church of Deneir has its greatest influence among those literate Chondathans who dwell in Cormyr and Sembia.
Similarly, ancient Jhaamdath's wars were fought with horrible magical plagues, so Talona has been part of Chondathan culture since the rise of that culture. The church of Talona is widely feared and reviled among moder-day Chondathans, despite the activities of other faiths that have wreaked far greater devastation across Faerun in recent years. Nevertheless, a small number of Chondathans turn to the Mother of All Plagues precisely because of the fear and misery she has engendered and in hopes of acquiring the ancient plague-spawning magic her cult is said to control.
Relations with Other RacesEdit
Chondathan history is replete with clashes with carious elven realms, and, as a result, few Chondathans (with the exception of some Cormyreans and most Dalesmen) have good relations with the Fair Folk or their half-elven brethren. Likewise, Chondathans have traditionally regarded the planetouched with a great deal of suspicion, as Chondathan culture has never had a great deal of interaction with outsiders and most planetouched they have encountered were representatives of rival cultures (such as air and fire genasi of Calimshan, or the aasimar and tieflings of Mulhorand and Unther). Half-orcs are considered little better than their full-blooded brethren by most Chondathans. They are seen as little more than raiding party scum intent only on disrupting the flow of trade and pillaging the farms of hardworking settlers.
Chondathans have good relations with dwarves, gnomes, and halflings, for all have proved to be good trading partners and have traditionally d welled in small enclaves within Chondathan societies. Among human cultures, Chondathans get along best with Calishite, Damarnas, Shaarans, Tethyrians, and Turami. Relations with the Mulan have never been warm, Illuskans are regarded as little better than orcs, and other cultures are largely unknown.