Skaa were the peasant class of the Final Empire. According to Ministry doctrine, the skaa were the people who did not support the Lord Ruler in the days before the Ascension. So as a punishment, when the Lord Ruler took the power at the Well of Ascension, he altered the characteristics of the inhabitants of Scadrial, dividing them into two groups- the nobility and the skaa. However, due to a millennium of interbreeding, the differences are mostly erased or nonexistent.
Skaa were used as farmers (plantation skaa), miners, and factory workers. Most skaa were not paid, they were given goods or "food tokens" for the day's work. They were also used to drag canal boats aloong the canals, as all the water had drained away. A few talented craftsmen were allowed to set up shops and start a trade, but they were still underpaid and treated poorly. Most noblemen treated their skaa like slaves. If a plantation skaa were to stop to wipe his nose, he would recieve a beating. Took to long to deliver a cup of tea to your lord? If you were lucky, you only got a few slaps across the face. To the nobility, the skaa weren't even people to them. More like animals.
There were two sides to the skaa underground. The main portion consisted of thieving crews and beggars. The other was the skaa rebellion. These were the skaa that wanted to overthow the Lord Ruler and the Final Empire. They dreamed of a time when skaa and nobiity could live as equals. But for the most part, most skaa were too beaten down to be convinced that they could rise up against the Final Empire. So as a result, for about hundreds of years, the skaa rebellion didn't accomplish anything...until Kelsier came along, and turned that dream into reality.
The Balance Edit
Differences between the skaa and nobility, according to the nobility:
- Skaa are more fertile then nobility(have more children)
- Skaa are mentally slower than nobility
- Nobles are taller and stronger than skaa
- Skaa can only be an Allomancer if they had noble blood in their family
- Skaa are forbidden from practicing religion