The Elder Races


The Elder Races existed before humanity, even though the Man Rune is best embodied by humans and these races mix it with other runes. Few questions drive scholars, priests, and wizards to accuse each other of hideous crimes than fighting over this question. The tendency of humans to assume the other races were rough drafts for the making of mankind fits neither with the Man Rune's independent existence nor with the pride of the Elder Races.

What is clear is that each of the Elder races combines one of the other runes with the Man Rune in their nature. Like humans, they come in more than one flavor though it may be hard for humans to tell the difference.

Aldryami (Plant + Man Runes)

The True Aldryami are the children of Aldrya, Goddess of the Woods, who is also the mother of Dryads, Runners, and Pixies.

All true Aldryami are vegetarians and reproduce by odd combinations of sex and seed planting. They cannot normally cross-breed with humans but magic has sometimes been used to do so; the most famous 'half-elf' was Pavis, founder of the city of Pavis. Half-Elves are extremely rare because normally Aldryami and Humans have no desire for each other whatsoever. Despite being vegetarians, Elves never eat each other and asking if they do is a good way to die.

Aldryami are noted for having a kind of 'lifesense' which lets them feel the health and status of the forest which is their homeland. They also use it to communicate with each other. Those Aldryami who lack this sense are known as the 'rootless'. They can't really fit in; some become mercenaries or adventurers, others act as traders and representatives of the Elves to other races and some just kill themselves in despair.

The Aldryami are slowly dwindling as their forests shrink; many are fairly isolationist, trying to keep humans out of their remaining forests.

The White Elves of the frozen lands are now extinct or in hiding and there are rumored to be 'Moon Elves' on the Red Moon.

The Elves often live with Dryads, Pixies, Runners, and Satyrs. All but Satyrs are fellow children of Aldrya. The Satyr live in harmony with the woods and are thus acceptable to the Aldryami, who find them a source of good cheer.

There are species which do not worship Aldrya or claim descent from her, yet resemble the Aldryami:

Beastmen (Man + Beast Runes)

Beastmen are a wide range of species which are half-man and half-animal. The Dragonnewts, who are half-man, half-dragon, are treated separately. The Ducks, who rarely dwell with other Beastmen, though they are often allied, are also treated seperately.

Some of these species came from the Godtime before History; others are the result of mad wizards, mad mystics, mad priests, and mad shamans. The EWF recreated many legendary races for reasons now lost; the survivors are in Beast Valley in Sartar. Some are vegetarians; others are omnivores or carnivores. They mostly live primitive hunter-gatherer existences (Ducks and Dragonnewts are more civilized, part of why they are split off). And they usually don't like humans though they rarely try to conquer human lands.

Raiding, that's another question.

They are not Hsunchen but the two groups sometimes work together and are sometimes mistaken for each other.

Dragonewts (Man + Beast Runes)

The Dragonewts are scaly immortal humanoids. If slain, they are reborn after a while back in their home base. They hatch from eggs laid by Dragons; it's not known why Dragons sometimes lay a clutch of Dragonewts. They keep the shards of their egg hidden away because it will reassemble if they die and they will hatch from it again. Further, when reborn, they remember everything. They essentially do not fear death at all; indeed, sometimes Dragonewts just kill themselves and it can be hard to see why they did it. There are several stories where Dragonewts killed themselves, clearly trying to die before someone else finished a sentence. Sometimes Dragonewts track you down and kill you if you kill them. Sometimes they reward you. Sometimes they kill you but proclaim it is a reward. Indeed, sometimes Dragonewts will kill you as a reward even if you didn't kill them. Or just reward you for something that makes no sense.

Dragonewts are responding to mystical insights other creatures lack, which seems a large part of why it's hard to understand their actions. Further, it's known they believe deeply in karma and repaying debts. If a Dragonewt suddenly shows up, gives you a box of diamonds, then kills himself, he's probably repaying a debt to one of your past lives or one of your ancestors. Ditto if he kills you. Because *he* remembers it and *he* can tell the connection.

Dragonewts evolve through a series of stages; whenever they die, they may advance towards the next stage. Sometimes they regress or mutate in weird ways instead. It seems tied to karma.

Dragonnewts are fully civilized; they often go mostly naked but otherwise use tools, build cities, read books, and so on. They grow crops and raise dinosaurs for meat and as steeds and work animals.

Dragonnewts are the only creatures of the Man Rune who have no sex drive; only Dragonnewts who go mad have any interest in it and they lack any genitals to actually do it with even then. Dragons and Inhuman Kings just lay eggs when they feel like it. Dragonnewts hatch fully adult but with only rudimentary skills beyond the basics of movement, eating and the like.

Durulz / Ducks (Man + Beast Runes)

The Durulz, called by everyone else just 'Ducks', are bird-like humanoids; the only ones known outside the East are duck-men. More diverse kinds exist in the eastern lands and outside Genertla.

The legends of the Ducks assert they once lived in a magnificent sky kingdom known as Ganderland. They became friends of the Storm Tribe who also dwelled in the Middle Air. Unfortunately, when they refused to pay fealty to Yelm, he burned Ganderland to ashes and cast them down to the earth below. Later, when Orlanth slew him, they refused to save him from falling into Hell so he destroyed their wings. They have been exiles upon the Earth without a true homeland or many friends ever since.

Others claim they are just some magician's experiment with delusions of grandeur.

Heroquesting being what it is, people have found evidence of both theories.

The Ducks tend to be the scapegoats, wherever they go; the western ducks have probably come closest to escaping this but are still dependent on submission to humans to survive. This has bred a general toughness and an unwillingness to easily trust outsiders; if you do get through a duck's shell, they are faithful friends but it takes a lot to prove yourself to one.

Ducks have a reputation for greed and hoarding; it's unclear if this is true or they're just usually in desperate straits and do what they must to survive.

Merfolk (Water + Man Runes)

Merfolk are the various races of creatures who live underwater in Glorantha; they can come to the surface if need be but usually can't leave the water without magic due to lacking legs. Some are friendly to surface folk and some are rather hostile.

Mostali, aka 'Dwarves' (Mineral + Man Runes)

The Mostali are squat, sturdy humanoids; most of them are allegedly made of clay but look like flesh. Far less common are the metallic Mostali, who really are made of metal. They are obsessed with how everyone else has *wrecked the great cosmic plan of order* and now they have to fix it and you'd better help or get out of the way. Not that they all agree on what's wrong, how to fix it, or how much of their vast lore to share or hide from the other races. They get on poorly with the Aldryami because the world was so much better when it was easily predictable stone, minerals, and the like without all these organic things making a mess. Only the Mostali know how to work iron, except for those humans who have stolen their secrets. Dwarves have a reputation for greed which is usually not deserved and instead rooted in their tendency to be stubborn about prices (Dwarves set fixed prices in a world of haggling) and their access to precious metals through mining. It is rare that they try to take anything away from people they didn't make themselves. That being said, you could never call them generous, either, with a few exceptions.

The Eight Ancient Metals: These are the eight original kinds of Mostali. They are now very rare.

The Later Metals: They only came into existence when armies were needed; far easier to make than the others, they now are far more common. Diamond Dwarves are a special case.

Dwarves are not born but made; even though they come in male and female forms, they do not have sex but instead are periodically called to the breeding vats; they sleep and various substances are harvested from them periodically and added to the vats; this eventually results in the emergence of dwarves of the same kind from the vats, already adult in size and capacity, with the same skills as their parents but at a lesser level. Dwarves do not discuss this process if they can help it.

All dwarves have an official occupation and a hobby which uses related skills; they spend 8 hours a day working, two hours on skill training, three hours on eating, cleaning themselves and similar matters, and three hours a day on their hobby. A dwarf who carves out new rooms might do sculptures of birds as his hobby, for example. All dwarves have a life-plan which lays out the skills they will train and how they schedule their time; it undergoes yearly review by a committee to see if they met their goals or must be sanctioned. This includes always carrying a timesheet where they annotate what they have done or are about to do.

Dwarves use Sorcery; in fact, all Dwarves use at least a little. Dwarves do not revere Malkion or follow any of the Malkioni churches, but they are monotheists and their approach to magic is more like Wizardry than it is other means. Dwarves believe in Mostal, a being who created them and set the universe up as a grand machine. It was broken by the gods and spirits and renegade Essences and now they have to clean up the whole mess and fix the world. Unfortunately, Mostal is either dead or dysfunctional and Dwarves often don't agree on how to fix the world.

Dwarven sorcery is tech-like magic. Dwarves follow precise procedures to make magical equipment which they use to do incredible things. It's not impossible for them to use Malkioni style sorcery but Dwarven spells tend to be things like 'Redsmithing Procedure for Making a Lightning Rod', 'Brew Potion of Poison Gas', 'Perfect Forging of Breastplates', 'Operate Cannon', and the like. Dwarves train in Technical Manuals, which lay out procedures for these tasks; in game terms, these are Grimoires.

It is very common for Dwarves to have a few frivolous spells which would surprise most people. A dwarf who normally processes iron ore into slabs of iron for the forges might spend his free time making clockwork nightingales and have a few spells like 'Record Music on Gears' or 'Clockwork Powered Bird Simulacra'. This is because the Mostali have found that spending time on hobbies makes you more productive the rest of the time, yet being Mostali, you either do it right or you don't do it all.

Most Mostali would *never* teach spells to outsiders, even ones they were on good terms with. However, those who follow the Openhand Heresy will freely teach spells or possibly even allow study of Technical Manuals if they think it will advance their base of operations' goals. (It's practically the definition of the Openhand Heresy.)

Dwarf Food: Dwarves grow special fungus and slabs of meat and strange crystals and other things underground using special vats, then blend it all together into something which looks kind of like chocolate icing to humans. To Dwarves, it is super-tasty and nutritious. To others, it tastes like eating dirt but is very nutritious. One can of dwarf food (one pint) will fill you for one day. When still canned, it basically lasts until the end of time. Possibly beyond. Individualist dwarves mix in colors and flavors like cherry, lemon, and mint, but it still has that dirt taste under the flavoring to humans. Other dwarves reject this as frivolous.

Certain malicious people claim Dwarf Food is made from other sentients. There are essentially two flaws with this theory:

  1. Dwarves would have to slaughter everyone else around them to get enough sentients to eat.
  2. Any troll will tell you that dwarf food doesn't taste like humans at all.

Dwarves do not worship gods, not even their maker, Mostal. They would if he was functional but he is either dead or too broken down to communicate his will or grant magic. This is because he was in the Spike when it blew up. Rather, they follow philosophies; adherence to that philosophy's teachings guarantees them immortality.

Uz (Darkness + Man Runes)

Trolls rule the night and live underground when possible. At the very least, they dodge the sun, which they hate and which hates them in turn. Trolls can eat just about anything and are the most primal of sentients; they struggle to control their instincts and that's the smarter ones. The Trolls once lived underground in 'Wonderhome' where everything was edible, tasty, and constantly replenished itself. Then Yelm invaded, burned everything, and forced them out onto the surface. Fortunately, Yelm didn't recover from the injuries the Trolls inflicted on him and soon died. This left the surface nice and dark and the Trolls carved out a great empire and remember the Great Darkness mainly as 'the time we kicked everyone's ass and ate what we wanted'.

They took the lead in the fight on Chaos during the Great Darkness too for they hate it; Chaos wants to devour everyone and reduce them to an undifferentiated mass of ever changing chaos. Trolls EXIST and defy you to eat them. For the same reason, they reject Mysticism and the Lunar way and anything else that challenges individual freedom and identity. Or challenges their right to eat anything tasty they see.

Eventually, the sun rose again and nothing went right from that time on. They joined the First Unity Council to smash up Chaos and the Second because Pentans are very tasty. But when the council decided they needed MORE SUN GODS, they rebelled and were punished at the Battle of Night and Day when Kygor Litor was slain and all troll women cursed to give birth to only trollkin half the time. Two efforts to cure the curse only weakened it. Naxili Garang transformed it so that trollkin were always born in litters of eight to ten. Cragspider enabled Troll women to give birth to Uzdo, cave trolls, by using a rite.

Nevertheless, ever since, the trolls have been gradually going downhill, even though Arkat was their friend and ally and founded the Stygian empire with them. Most recently, the defeat and death of Ezkankekko was a huge setback to Troll power. The future seems grim for the trolls but they are determined to go down in a pile of corpses if they must go.

Trolls favor lead, the sacred metal of Darkness, since almost all troll gods have Darkness as a rune. They are strong enough to wear it and it aids their remarkable stealth. They also make bolgs, lead coins/sling bullets from it.

Trolls generally have no desire for the other races, but in the first age, they tried breeding with the other sentients in desperate attempts to find some way around the Trollkin curse. They discovered they can breed with anything else that shares the Man Rune but they generally don't like the results. The most common form of troll hybrid are the Atami, known as the Tusk Raiders.

Troll society is matriarchal to the degree that male trolls instinctively defer to women, though men can become priests of the male troll dieties (especially Zorak Zoran and Argan Argar). It is basically a pyramid of kinship groups whose leaders form a ruling council. Trolls can eat anything but prefer food and generally mix hunting with growing fungi underground. They often ally with Voralans (fungus elves), providing protection for a share of the crop. When led by mistress race trolls, they build underground cities and live in splendour. Dark trolls generally end up with cruder settlements.

Modern trolls tend to be somewhat isolationist but they hate solar worshipers and will collaborate with anyone who isn't Chaotic against them. The cult of Argan Argar maintains trade ties to non-trolls and certain societies do live in more harmony with them like the Torkani tribe of Sartar. Also, they often hire out trollkin as mercenaries.

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