Tuesday, March 18, 2014

World Building in 30 Days - Races - Er, Subspecies

Biologically race is a bit of a misnomer in D&D. Technically the ability of certain races to intermingle makes them subspecies of the same genus species. However, from an anthropology standpoint race is an antiquated term when referring to physical characteristics and has mostly been discarded. Since, I am going to be talking about physical, linguistical, ethical, social, genetic and cultural divides today, I have no idea what to call this article.

The playable "races" in my world are selected from those mortal races descended from the Ancient Ones. That is to say the majority of intellectual bipedal creatures originated from a single race. They were modified by environment, experience, magic and in some cases choice during the first and second ages.

First Sundering

Ancient history is blurred and muddy. All that I am about to say has been forgotten by all but the Umbla, Gawds and Pey. The Ancient Ones split into five cultures: the Yae, Tae, Vai, Mae and Drae. This transformation made each subspecies distinct.

  • The Yae or northern tribe - hard, stubborn

The Yae developed thick skin. They had eyes like marbled rock with no whites. They developed dark vision and tough stomachs.

  • The Mae or western tribe - sea faring, flexible

The Mae developed skin that adapted to the sun and salt. They had eyes that dilated based on the light conditions. They adapted to their changing environment easily. They learned to build simple ships and search the coast for fish and food.

  • The Drae or eastern tribe - destructive, predatory

The Drae developed hard scales to protect them from the heat. Small noses and nictitating eyelids to limit the fumes and ash. They fed on what they could find - bugs, small lizards and even cannibalising in some cases.

  • The Fae/Vai those that stayed - balanced, magical

The Fae remained closest to how they were created until Tyr's death. The split of worlds affected them most. Some remained in Ea-reth, they could see into the other realms. Others were hurled in the Feywild. A small group found themselves in the Shadowfell. All were infused with Magic at Tyr's death.

  • The Tae the southern tribe - wild, free

The Tae grew feathers and learned to fly. They discovered Flora and Fauna and the northern edge of their lands. Some learned to hunt while others gathered. They made roosts in the pillared formations of Torroskar. Their mouths and feet developed to help them master their diets.

Second Sundering and Third Sundering

Of the Yae

The earliest memories of the Yae is of a not so civil war that divided Thak Tarkas between the haves and have nots. For seventy years bloody skirmishes were fought over the scant food and water found on the surface. In a final bloody battle the followers of Dwar drove the followers of Yant over the Wirdamik mountains and into Gehenna. Dwar's people won but at the great cost of half the population and all the Clan of Dwar. The plains of the Gnotarc flowed with blood and nothing has grown there ever after. Thato land is now a great mudflat.

The victors took the fallen clan's name as their own and became known as Dwarfs. They dug beneath the mountains in search of sustenance putting to use the skills Yero had taught them. Four clans remained Khazad, Khole, Gullaga, and Khemblin. Each clan built a stronghold for they knew Yant's tribe would return.

The Yant fled to Gehenna and rebuilt their strength. Envoys from Gerand found them and taught to them dark magics. The magics caused the Yant to grow in size and power, but it also increased the creatures' rage and hunger. Some grew two heads, others lost one eye and saw their own demise, still others' skin grew grey and their blood ran green. They became known as the Gehenna Yant, later shortened to Giant.

Of all the Yant only Kollath forbade the practice. He did not trust Gerand's words and after a sleep of a fortnight he had a vision from Queres. The vision showed a land with Twelve Peaks where food was plentiful and the people could rest. He obeyed this vision and took his people southwest across the Plains of Ash. Many of his people fell to the canabalistic Drae that hunted them. Kollath's people were starving, many had died of thirst, and more had been taken as food or slaves. Kollath faced a full out revolt, many turned back, others turned to the dark magic of Gerand to free loved ones. Only a quarter of those who set out remained loyal and survived. These few arrived in the Valley of the Twelve Peaks. They became known has half-giants to outsiders or Goliaths among themselves.

Those that were caught by the Drae and not eaten were enslaved far to the south. The harsh environment and the chaotic nature of Tal Aer changed them. They grew heads like herd animals; sheep, rams and bulls. It was a cruel twist of fate; having survived being eaten, they were marked as food for all time. In years to come they would escape slavery to the Isle of Taldras beneath the shadow of Mount Minos. Their they would call themselves the Minotaur or Tauros.

The would be rescuers never found those that were taken. They eventually succumbed to the power of Run Imar and grew hair and beards of fire. The rock eyes of these Yae become black as coal. They would rejoin their giant-kin and get their revenge but that tale comes later.

The Mae

The Mae crossed the Bremir and initially settled the area south of the Milpon Hills. The land was fertile and the sea plentiful. The population expanded quickly. The curiosity and sea skill of the Mae soon had colonized the Edras and the lands north of Sutaverkon Mountains. Three distinct tribes developed, Mar so nox, Mar so dox, and Mar so dagaz. Tribe of night, tribe of dusk and tribe of dawn are later translations. Dwelling among the Mar so dagaz was the smaller kin, known as Mao dagaz. The half-light or as they came to be known later the kennari or experts. These tribes are so remembered for many reasons.

The Nox brokered with the Tanni in southern Yathe. They learned much of magic and wisdom from them during the wee hours of night. The Edras where these men dwelt is Tropical and their skin grew dark as night.

The Dox stayed mostly in the semi-tropical realm south of Milpon. Their skin was lighter than the Nox. Their wisdom was derived from that of the Nox and the Twilight Fey, so they are called the Men of Dusk.

The Dagaz were from the far north in the cold lands. Their flesh was lightest and their wisdom learned from the dwarfs and discovered independently. Amongst them dwelt the stunted half-men called kennari. Part dwarf and part men, they commanded power over stone.

Gerand took notice of these tribes. He hated the Nox most of all and ever strove to corrupt them. From man he created the Were (dox turned Lycanthrope), the Nocht (Nox turned Vampires), and later tieflings. Those that were not corrupted set sail over the seas to Ovelesk. The Nox survivors called themselves Marsonites when they landed, but we call them men. The kennari settled in Kinderland calling themselves Kinder, but we call them halflings. The surviving Dagaz settled far in the north of Ovelesk in lands suited to their taste. They became the northern barbarian tribes.

(To Be Continued)


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