Nibenay is named after its sorcerer-king, an enigmatic sovereign who never appears before his people. Instead, the city is administrated by his templar-wives. Nibenay is a large and sophisticated city steeped in ancient traditions. Every household, whether noble or common, is aware of its place in society, and all freemen take a great deal of pride in their heritage. Knowledge of tradition and obedience to the proper authorities are the highest virtues. Nibenay’s economy is heavily dependent on the hardwood of the agafari trees of the Crescent Forest, which are sacred to the warrior culture of Gulg, leading to frequent clashes between the armies of the two city-states.
The core of Nibenese society is its unique family structure. When a couple marries and forms a household, one of them becomes the head of the household, with the ability to take additional spouses and complete legal authority over all of his or her spouses and children. Thus, polyandry and polygyny are both common, but never within the same household. In theory, there is no limit to the number of spouses in one household, but in practice it rarely exceeds four or five, with the notable exception of the sorcerer-king himself and his dozens of templar-wives.
Children are considered part of their parents' household until marriage, at which point they either form a new household or join an existing one. Estates are hereditary, and a family's heir inherits all of a household's property and responsibilities. Heirs are not necessarily the oldest child; the head of household must choose an heir from among his or her offspring. This leads to a certain amount of King Lear-style scheming within wealthier families. Estates are almost never divided among multiple children.
Divorce is permitted at the head of the household's discretion, but it is a major scandal that will follow everyone involved to the grave, and quite possibly provoke a blood feud. Infidelity, while extremely rude, is certainly not sufficient grounds for divorce.
Bisexuality is tolerated but never spoken of in polite company, except between subordinate spouses in the same household, in which case it's looked upon as heartwarming. The culture refuses to acknowledge the existence of homosexuality because it doesn't fit with their narrative of the family.
The Nibenese revere the spirits of their ancestors. Every house has a shrine containing the bones of previous heads of household, and sometimes other favored ancestors as well.
Their creation myth states that the world began when Nibenay, the First Ancestor, found Athas floating in the infinite void of the Gray. The world was barren when he arrived, and so Nibenay used his magic to create all life: first the plants, then the animals, and finally the elves and the giants. Nibenay was pleased with his creations, but as the only human on Athas, he still felt lonely. He took three pieces of his own soul and fashioned them into the First Wives, who became his templar-wives. All of humanity is descended from this First Family.
Nibenay was generous and taught his people the ways of magic. However, some of his most gifted descendants were twisted by envy, and perverted his teachings to achieve immortality, which by rights should belong only to the First Ancestor. These mages became the other sorcerer-kings, and they still conspire to usurp Nibenay's place. Rumor has it that Lalali-Pai is one of the three First Wives, but the official story does not confirm or deny this.