The Toban people are kindred to those of Dulimbai, as their ancestors were the light cavalry sent aboard the invasion fleet that landed on the southern coast not long before the Shattering. The rolling grasslands of the Toba plains were good land for horsemen, and they soon killed or assimilated the native Din peoples and formed their own nation to the east of Dulimbai. Their peerless horse archers still fight for the regent, but they do so for the sake of coin rather than fealty. The Ka-Khan still sends token tribute to the Regent in Dulimbai, but all know that this is only a polite diplomatic fiction.
Tobans live two kinds of lives. The majority are nomadic herdsmen, leading their horses and cattle across the great plains and living in felt yurts. Custom has appointed each Toban clan a certain range for their grazing, but the sanctity of these ranges depends much on the clan’s strength. Cattle and horse theft is a common occupation of young Toban warriors, the better to show their courage and guile.
A smaller number dwell in gigantic lamaseries, vast structures built out of native stone and timbers carried up from the land of the Thousand Gods. These shrines are dedicated to the ancestors of the Tobans and a dizzying array of guardian demons and tutelary deities. Elaborate rites are conducted to protect the Toban lands from the Thousand Gods to the southeast and strengthen them against the magical perils that boil up from those trackless jungles.
The lamaseries are as much market towns as holy places, however, and most of the stationary industry and craftwork of the plains takes place behind their cyclopean walls. Many of the lamas and nuns there are more artisans than clergy, and many can do no more than repeat a few simple prayers they’ve learned by rote. Still, they are greatly honored by their nomadic kin, and the more exalted members of a lamasery can expect princely hospitality from any clan’s khan.
The lamaseries have less affectionate relationships with each other. Old theological disputes, arguments over the apportionment of traditional tribute from the clans, and outright warfare between rival lamaseries has left most of them on tense terms. Some have even been destroyed, either by the forces of a rival lamasery or by some magical disaster brought on by reckless sorcery or an enemy’s curse. Tobans fear to venture to such places, but outsiders are more interested in plundering what remains.
Presently, the greatest lamasery of the plains is that of Palkya, where the crimson-robed monks of the Santuk sect serve the Palkya Lama and the ten thousand divine ancestors honored within its walls. The Palkya Lama is a mighty sorcerer, but he is not a good man, and even his monks fear him more than they love him. Some whisper that he would prefer the Tobans to be ruled by a holy man than by the Ka- Khan, and few doubt which holy man he has in mind.
The Toban nomads dress as befit those born to the saddle, with both men and women favoring sturdy leather trousers and light shirts. Monks and nuns wear robes, usually dyed in the characteristic colors or patterns of their lamaseries. Every nomad is expected to know the use of a bow, both men and women, and no nomad ever mounts their horse without a bow and quiver close to hand.