Icewalkers are an itinerant ethnic group who wander The Nunyan Wastes and harvest Happy Place mushrooms for the various conglomerates. Traditionally comprised only of halflings, they add dwarves, elves, human beings, and kíndalla to their number during Interregnums.
Linguistic and genetic evidence suggest the Icewalkers originated near the border between Munchkinland and Gillikin Country on the Ozite subcontinent. It is believed they splintered off from their original ethnic groups following the restoration of reality at the end of the First Age.
Icewalkers are seen by many as the “perfect” blend of Gillikin and Munchkin ideals. Icewalkers love commerce and trade (just like the Gillikins), and they have a fierce loyalty to others of their kind (similar to the Munchkin devotion to Oz). And given that the halflings began as seafaring wayfinders on Earth’s Pacific Ocean (before the first Calamity brought the species to Eden), they are seen by many as the most “pure” or “traditional” halflings in existence today.
Shared customary codes and values
Icewalkers are devoted to the observable world, to the physical and the tangible. They are, with rare exception, atheists.
The culture is centered on the notion of life’s impermanence. Icewalkers believe that any denial of this fact will lead to suffering. Therefore, they shun possessions beyond the necessities required to survive; they eschew monogamy for a life of polyamorous debauchery; and they acquire wealth only to allow for the indulgence of every hedonistic pleasure they desire.
The life of the Icewalker is a life of experiences and not things.
Common Dress code
Life in the cold Nunyan Wastes necessitates warm clothing, and many layers of it. But within the warmth of the deep caves the Icewalkers prefer for shelter, clothing is seen as entirely optional—and even, by some hardliners, as a violation of cultural ideals.
Birth & Baptismal Rites
Since the raising of children is viewed as the responsibility of the entire community, an “introduction ceremony” is seen as de rigueur following each and every birth. During this rite, a fire is lit on the outskirts of the nearest town—an invitation to any and all Icewalkers to join a circle around the flames. The newborn is then passed from the arms of one adult to the next, first clockwise from the mother and then—before the child can be passed back to the mother—turning counter-clockwise. After every adult in the circle (save the person to the mother’s right, which is traditionally the father) has had a chance to hold the child twice, the baby is returned to the mother. The idea, of course, is to remind the mother of the impermanence of life and the importance of being able to give up attachments (even the most precious ones).
Coming of Age Rites
At the age of 18, most Icewalkers participate in a version of The First Touch—a ritual for the discarding of virginity that Icewalkers adopted after many pleasant and peaceful encounters with The Faith of the First Mother. The Icewalker version of the ceremony is not limited to female individuals, however. Every Icewalker, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, is invited to participate.
Asexual Icewalkers, though shunned by some traditionalists, are offered the opportunity to affirm their status publicly—so as to avoid awkward encounters with folks seeking potential partners—but are not required to do so.
Funerary and Memorial customs
The body, once devoid of life, is seen as nothing more than a temptation toward attachment. Permanent grave markers are seen as inappropriate for the same reason. Thus, Icewalkers dispose of their dead exclusively via cremation.
Funeral pyres are seen as a celebratory affair, however. The gift of a body to fuel the evening fire is seen as a final act of kindness on behalf of the deceased.
The greatest taboo in Icewalker society is the accumulation of unnecessary “stuff.” Icewalkers believe you should never own more than you can carry on your back. Asking a fellow Icewalker to carry something on your behalf, or asking a sedentary person to hold onto something for you until you come round their way again—that is unacceptable behavior in Icewalker society. To do so repeatedly has even been grounds for explusion from the group.
Three genders are recognized universally throughout the culture—male, female, and nonbinary—while many modern Icewalkers respect and even encourage even greater diversity.
Respect for every person in the community is the ideal, with deep love for as many as possible being seen as an important secondary goal.
Monogamous relationships are derided as unrealistic and good for nothing but developing unhealthy attachments.
The rearing of children is seen as a community affair. Life in the Wastes is dangerous, after all, and a child might lose their birth parents at any moment.
Similarly, the care for and assistance of the elderly and the differently abled is seen as communal responsibility. Icewalkers believe that any who choose to follow their path should be afforded the opportunity, so long as they provide value to the society.