It must first be noted that the first contact with Mara was by the Far Seas Trading Company. The Marans are untrusting of large entities and prefer to work by means of liaisons. Their concern is valid, as their second contact was by treasure-seekers.
The second item of note is that the Marans seem to be human. However, their life span is far longer than the average human, and their young grow at a much slower rate. Their recorded history alludes to an elven ancestor that came to live among them and shaped their culture greatly. It can be assumed, but never stated, that this visitor was quite amorous.
While not quite xenophobic, they are not far from it and talks with them need to be undergone carefully.
Three main houses comprise Maran society. They each have a specialty and a simmering feud with the other houses. They are Nurwin--- specializing in carpentry and agriculture, Augren --- specializing in jewelry and sagecraft, and Ventur--- tailoring. Ruling these is the Whistling Fist Clan martial art academy and historical depository.
While the trade organizations are more than happy to let the Marans export their goods rather than learn to make it in-house, the more secular powers concerned with physical prowess seek to learn the Whistling Fist style. The Marans are quite content to play each off the other and teach no one their secrets. For those concerned, their style is a mixture of monk-like pugilism and bardic abilities. Due to the limited elven heritage in their blood, they do not enjoy much in the way of a better snap or density to their musculature.
Marans are traditionalists, with elders as the most vocal and most benefited group. There are significant leanings that discourage creativity and wanderlust, as well as a desire to obscure their history to outsiders and their young. The concern of pirates is high given what history they are trying to conceal.
In their past, they sought higher understanding and knowledge. They encountered the Nizara, a race that is something like a Naga and a Centaur with a snake-like body and humanoid torso and head. These creatures are quite powerful both physically and magically. They live in a magically built lair that cannot be reached physically, and a portal must be utilized.
Far inland on the Maran island is a lake with a rock protruding from it. Swimming the depths are relatively safe, as there is only normal aquatic life living there. The sunken structure is quite large and seems to be carved of the stone rather than laid. It is in the depths of this that the Marans built their research catacomb and temple. Their initial contacts with the Nizara promised to lead to greater knowledge.
The Nizara never intended to give this, of course, and sought an anchor to Norrath. The Marans were betrayed. The Marans have only one hero besides their elven ancestor. I conjecture that it is he that sealed the Nizara, and probably he that sunk the temple to ensure the Nizara would not be released again.
To gain favor with the Marans, I recommend working with the Far Seas Trading Company. Most of their contacts begin with the younger Marans, who are thrilled to have something new come to their world. Even if this does not gain immediate access to the ranking elders, at the least elders die and kids grow to take their place.
Adjuct Equites Diplomat Folodu Amrunrosse