First: An' the gobble-uns 'll git you ef’n you don’t Watch Out!
Previous: Gobble-uns: The problem of James Whitcomb Riley
Now, I use the words "our" and "we" and "us" in my account -- however, the Gobble-uns are my adopted people. So what am I? Am I Gobble-un or human? Am I male or female? Fat or skinny? Short or tall? Brown or pale?
I am all of those things. As I said, a slight majority of Gobble-uns can shapeshift, and I am gifted with this ability as well. However, the Gobble-uns, being shapeshifters, are very keen on one's internal identity, and see me not as a full-fledged gobble-un, but an orphan from the road. An honorary Gobble-un. I bother them with my refusal to sharply define my internal identity, which leads them to see me as more human than Gobble-un, but I grew up around them, so I feel a lot like a Gobble-un. I don't know.
Gobble-un society has various ethnic boundaries. There's the immigrants, in their enclaves -- the Hidebehinds, Sidehill Dodgers, Thunderbirds, Kokopeliti -- who are generally tolerated, although when a crime is comitted those communities usually receive the blame first. (Certain police forces make use of this phenomenon to lead the actual culprit into a false sense of security.) Then, somewhat above them, there's the Gobble-uns who can't shapeshift. Being usually tougher than the shapeshifters, they wind up with a lot of the grunt work, although there are at least five noble lineages of non-shapshifters. Then there are the shapeshifters, who have not forgot the days when it was easy for them to get away with petty crimes -- the police forces are a lot more organized now, but the shapshifters still have the outlaw ethos running through them.
Shapeshifters and non-shapeshifters occupy about the same level of social status, which is to say, far below the nobles, but instead of being united, they exist in mutual animosity. Said animosity is relieved by frequent cames of Hip Ball, which resembles the ball-game played by the Mayans; the major difference is that the losing team has to pay for the post-game feast instead of being sacrificed. (They used to do sacrifices, but stopped because the teams were taking cheating to extremes in order to avoid losing their heads.)
Nobles are the ones who get all the glory. This is mostly in terms of literary efforts; they tend to get lots of works attributed to them that were made by other people. Sometimes this is to gain favor in their courts; other times it's simply because that's how gobble-un authorship works. The nobles produce a majority of the finer literary works, having more free time to do so.
Then there are the monarchs, who rule mostly at the grace of the nobles, although every once in a while a despot come along and starts chopping off heads. Queen Kxniz is DEFINITELY NOT ONE OF THESE PEOPLE, NOPE NOPE NOPE.
Among Gobble-uns, nobles and monarchs are usually the only ones alowed to interact with the world of humans. They see it as a challenge and a privilege; the more cynical members of Gobble-un societyfigure that the nobility is more expendable anyway, so why not.
As for political boundaries, there are the rivers. Gobble-uns generally refuse to cross major rivers, not even daring to tunnel uner them. So the borders of their kingdoms are based on these major river systems. Areas such as the Rio Grande, the Mississippi, and the Columbia River serve as important boundaries between political and cultural regions; the Gobble-uns you meet on one side of a big river are quite different from those you meet on the other side.
Next: The Gobble-un kingdoms themselves.