Gyptians are divided in large families, and the heads of these families constitute the Gyptians' Council. John Faa is the king of the gyptians, and he is also one of the members of the Council. The other prominent member of the Council is Farder Coram. They are a small ethnic group and know each other by name. Still the number is sufficient to supply 170 men to travel to the North on dogsleds. Their culture is tightly knit though it is widespread. They shower special love on their children, particularly when they live separated from their mothers.
Unlike real-world Roma, gyptians are water-travellers. They mainly live aboard boats traversing the canals and rivers of England. They also have connections with salt-water sailors. The gyptians' primary source of income appears to be through trading goods as they travel. Lyra's description of them as coming and going with the spring and autumn fairs could be seen as making them additionally analogous to carnival folk, but this could also be coincidence. Furthering this gypsy stereotype, gyptians are said to pride themselves on their ability at card games.
Gyptians have a distinctive accent, and their vocabulary contains 'Fens-Dutch' words which appear to be generally unused by hegemonic society. They also have a distinctive physical appearance, which Lyra attempts to assume.
Gytpians sometimes gather as an almost entire culture, and this is called a byanroping, meaning a summons or muster of families. They gather in the fens of Norfolk to discuss and decide important matters.
Gyptians are an honourable people, and appear to owe debts to Lord Asriel for defeating a proposed Watercourse Bill in Parliament, amongst other things. When they are made aware of the excesses of the Church researchers at Bolvangar they do their best to stop them.
Despite their honourable nature, they are sometimes perceived negatively by hegemonic society. Although they trade fairly, they are described as partaking in "incessant smuggling and occasional feuds" in which they may kill other gyptians. Non-gyptian teenagers that Lyra talks to insinuate that gyptians steal horses, and are not worried by the disappearance of a gyptian child. At a party held by Mrs. Coulter, Lyra states that gyptians "take kids and sell 'em to Turks for slaves", although this is more likely to be an example of Lyra wildly inventing as she likes to do.
The gyptians believe themselves to be "hit worse off than most" by the spate of child abductions in Northern Lights, and this may be what prompts them as a collective culture to plan a rescue attempt. This could also be a result of gyptians having little other recourse in society, as they are described as having little standing in the law.
Some gyptians and half-gyptians, such as Bernie Johanses take up employment on land. It appears that this is a cultural minority though. Some hide their gyptian heritage while still reporting information back to the gyptian leaders.
Serafina Pekkala's witch clan shares a friendship with the gyptian people and assist them out of gratitude for Farder Coram once saving Serafina's life.