The patu people came to Maroester, which they call Aotearoa, four thousand years ago in rafts made of hide. Their myths say they were driven from their ancestral lands by giants but nothing else is known. By the time of their arrival, the mysterious cyclopean civilization that had once ruled the island was gone, leaving only ruins, and the faerie races haunted the deep wilderness. The patu quickly befriended the gnomes and hill dwarves but remained skeptical of the other races and sometimes warred with goblins.
The patu lived in relative peace and harmony for thousands of years. Their civilization was stable but also stagnant with little technological advancement or cultural evolution. That all changed with the arrival of the Vastlund Empire. In the beginning, the humans enlisted the aid of the patu as guides. The patu were skeptical at first of the big people but they believed the Kind Mother had guided the humans to Aotearoa and to the patu. Always trusting the wisdom of the Kind Mother, the patu showed the humans compassion and rendered them aid. They even accepted the human term “halfling” graciously, not understanding the joke of it.
The pretense of Imperial fairness toward the patu ended with the official establishment of the Grand March of Maroester. Grand Margrave Angwin continually changed the terms of treaties and agreements between the patu and the Empire that had been forged in the years between discovery and colonisation. Seeing the powerful, warlike orcs in chains made most patu believe they had no choice but accept human rule and assimilation in Imperial society.
By the time the Empire suddenly withdrew from Maroester most patu lived in ghettos within human settlements, many of which had in fact started as patu towns and villages. Now as the Grand March collapses into war and chaos, some patu have begun to dream of reclaiming the island and their lost culture from humans. Many others consider themselves a part of Maroester civilization, though, and support one Margrave or another.
Naming Note: The halfling language is based on the real world Maori language. Use Maori for inspiration in names.