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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.
- Embryli (Jungle / Yellow Elves): Human hating jungle Aldryami. They tend to be fairly yellow in tone and like to attack with poisoned weapons. Errinoru’s Embyli Empire was the most powerful Elven state since the Godtime. Angry Embyli Elves beat up Middle Sea Forces, then began driving into other lands and covering them with Elven Forest. He built a fleet of living wooden ships which gained him a foothold on Eastern Genertla and sacked many Middle Sea colonies; he even sailed down the Great Maelstrom into the Underworld, then returned, creating a new Star in the Heavens. But now he lost interest in war and power and retired to the Embyli star. Eventually a war with the Mostali destroyed his empire but many Embryli expect he will return and lead them to wipe out the filthy humans.
- Mreli (Deciduous / Brown Elves): The Mreli tend to be dark skinned and may well have actual bark for skin with just green hair. During the winter, they root themselves in the ground and sleep. During this time, the Vronkali protect them and the two races tend to live in close alliance. Mreli are peaceful and the friendliest elves to mankind.
- Vronkali (Coniferous / Green Elves): They are of a greenish tone and their hair is spikey by nature. They are moderately aggressive, though less than Embryli. They protect the Mreli during the winter and tend to favor isolationism.
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.
- Dryads: Trees who have achieved sentience. They can project their soul in the form of a beautiful human woman and are creatures of the Man Rune despite normally being a tree. (And creatures of the Plant Rune too.) Dryads cannot leave their forest without the help of magic. They can return to their tree with but a thought as their human form is merely a projection. Dryads and Satyrs mate to produce more of each.
- Pixies: They resemble winged Aldryami, though only about six inches high. They combine the Air, Plant, and Man runes and have magic related to all three which they used to harass and play tricks. They are basically well meaning and may well aid those in true danger from non-Aldryami threats. Pixies aid Aldryami but only obey Dryads.
- Runners: Sometimes called 'Shrub Aldryami'. They are the same size as pixies and run around in packs, hunting small game; unlike Aldryami, they are omnivores. They resemble the Aldryami despite this; they use simple hide armor and twig spears and javelins. Runners obey Satyrs and Dryads alike but will usually come to the aid of Aldryami. They are suspicious of humans but generally avoid them.
- Satyrs: Half-man and half-goat, they live with the Aldryami so people will stop mistaking them for Broo. As long as you assure them you don't think they're Broo, they will happily get you drunk and party with you; they have talents for music and making alcohol, which they brew in magically prepared ponds. Dryads and Satyrs mate to produce more of each. Satyrs are vegetarians and can eat any plant.
There are species which do not worship Aldrya or claim descent from her, yet resemble the Aldryami:
- Murthoi: Blue Elves dwell underwater and tend forests of Kelp. They vary greatly in size from very large to the size of a pixie. A few live in freshwater rivers and lakes.
- Olembi: The Fire Elves live in southern Pamaltela; it is said their homeland is a place where everything is on fire all the time. So are they but it doesn't consume them. No one from Genertla has reliably reported seeing one since the Fall of the God-Learners, but certain prophecies seem to indicate they will play a role in the Hero Wars.
- Slorifings (Goblins): Slorifings are connected to ferns and spore-bearing plants; they are most commonly found in Embryli lands and swamps; the Embyrli use them as cannon fodder in their wars. They are dimwitted and some breeds are poisonous. They have natural claws and sharp teeth but eat plants.
- Voralans: Fungus elves; they tend giant fungal forests underground, often in alliance with trolls.
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.
- Bugbears: A kind of hideous mix of bear, human, and insect, with insectile heads and furry bodies halfway between humans and bears; they can sustain bipedalism and are tool users. They become very angry if compared to Jackobears. Bugbears are often friendly to Trolls, sharing worship of Gorlikki and similar aesthetics. They do not fear sunlight, however, and sometimes bands hire on to watch over troll lands during the day, then sleep when the Trolls are active. It is often rumored that some Bugbears seek to be either more bear-like or more insectile.
- Centaurs: Half-man and half-horse, they are friendly to the Grazelanders, sometimes holding joint worship ceremonies. They helped bring about the rise of the Feathered Horse Queens among the Grazelanders, overthrowing their worship of Kargazant. They are wise and skilled at medicine; they also study both shamanism and sorcery. The most powerful known Centaur, Ironhoof, is the leader of Beast Valley. He is an Ascended Hero who they summon back when they need him. Centaurs are skilled archers.
- Kobolds: Dog-men who range in size from 1 to 3 feet tall depending on breed; they have dog heads and human bodies with dog-like fur. They have claws but they're not very impressive. They claim to be from another world in the sea of Chaos, where they were usurped by pygmy Dragonnewts; as a result, they hate the Dragonnewts and like to raid them. The fact that this amuses the Dragonnewts, who make a point of capturing them alive and returning them unharmed really, really makes them mad. Kobolds are sneaky and make good ambushers. They are vulnerable to flattery. A kobold who is raised from infancy by a member of another race will bond to him and tries to act as if he is one of whatever people raise him. Kobolds are carnivores but don't normally eat sentients. Except for Dragonnewts, who they consider a delicacy. Kobolds practice shamanism and insist is it *impossible* for them to become theists or sorcerors.
- Manticores: No one likes the vicious, sneaky Manticores. They have a human head and intellect, a lion's body and strength and a scorpion's poisonous tail and sneaky nature. At the battle of Tadafall, the forces of Chaos tried to destroy an allied force of humans, lions, and scorpions all fighting to protect Genert's Garden. The result was the fusion of the armies into one force which slew many Chaos monsters, then had to flee. Manticores are meat-eaters and will eat any kind of meat except their three origin species. Few trust them because they are very cunning. Manticores and Minotaurs do work together though; Minotaurs are the only thing a Manticore will let ride them. They rarely know any magic but a few become Shamans.
- Minotaurs: Despite a well earned reputation for savagery, they are actually vegetarians. They were the result of an unusual, rare quarrel between Storm Bull and his wife Eiritha. Each slept with a human to try to create an agent of revenge. To their surprise, the two agents fell in love and ran off together; this led Storm Bull and Eiritha to reconcile. They are often powerful in shamanic magic and use it to ensure plentiful plant growth so that they can get enough food to survive. Minotaurs are friendly to anyone pledged to Urox despite their usual temper and suspicion of humanity. Manticores and Minotaurs work together; Minotaurs are the only thing a Manticore will let ride them. Minotaurs favor axes and like to grow hedge mazes; their young hide in the center, more easily guarded. Being invited into their maze is a high act of trust and friendship.
- Solarians: They have nothing to do with the sun. Rather, they are the powerful shamanic children of Arachne Solaris, the Goddess of the Great Compromise and of Time. They are human to the waist and spider below that. They are omnivores and quite wise and use tools and armor for their human halves. They sometimes have visions of things to come; this is known to make them very hard to surprise. They tend to be advisors to the Centaur leaders of Beast Valley.
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.
- Crested Dragonewts: Impulsive and immature, Crested Dragonnewts easily get angry or happy or sad and are generally poor at controlling these emotions. They also tend to eat as soon as they get hungry, even if it's not wise and in general act like children with the body of an adult. They often have magical powers they use much more freely than other Dragonewts, who generally will chide them for using them. They are herbivores and act as scouts, skirmishers, and slingers for Dragonewt forces.
- Beaked Dragonewts: They have more protruding snouts but they are especially noted for being bigger, stronger, and more thickly scaled. They fight with a variety of weapons and use Draconic Magic to become better fighters, abandoning the fancy spellcasting of Crested Dragonnewts. They also are builders and they act carefully and thoughtfully with planning and foresight, unlike impulsive Crested Dragonnewts. They fight without passion but with reason and cunning. They are carnivores.
- Tailed Priests: Noteworthy for their long tails, they lead religious ceremonies, act as the lieutenant leaders of cities, and handle diplomacy with other races. They are friendly and love word games and riddle games and poetry and song. They talk as much as Crested Dragonnewts but are not so prone to narrate their very thoughts as Crested Dragonnewts. They are omnivores.
- Ruling Dragonewts: They grow great wings and lead the cities and castles of the Dragonewts. They seem to spend much of their time in meditation and study, leaving all but grand strategy to the Tailed Priests. They are the most likely form to be encountered Heroquesting on their own account. As time passes, they become harder and harder to understand as they speak increasingly in metaphor and strange wordplay.
- Inhuman King: There is only one such per major region of Glorantha; they are twice the size of a Ruling Dragonewt and they lead all the Dragonewts in their region. They can lay eggs like a dragon to make more Dragonewts if they see fit. They command vast magic but almost never use it. Sometimes they speak like a Ruling Dragonewt; at other times they may cut to the heart of the matter with extreme precision. If there is no Inhuman King in a region, there is a tendency for the Dragonnewts of the region to go increasingly feral, such as in the Trachodon Marsh.
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.
- Western Ducks: The Ducks of the West mainly live in the Duck March in the Kingdom of Seshnela; they have adopted the Malkioni church, wear the foppish clothing of the Seshnelans and ride giant frogs into battle, in the style of western knights. Some of them hold noble titles and others are peasants. They even follow the caste system though they're sloppier about it. They're also the absolutely most touchy ducks about any insults.
- Central Ducks: The Ducks of Dragon Pass are theists, following a mixture of their own gods and goddesses (like Grandmother Duck) and Orlanthi gods and goddesses (Humakt is especially popular in their ranks). They live in clans, though some build towns and follow elected chieftans. Unlike the Orlanthi, they rarely raid each other or have feuds as the war with the Undead consumes their aggressive instincts. They also tend to be too stingy to be good Orlanthi. They mostly live close to the Upland Marsh, whose undead they keep in check. They are friendly with the folk of Beast Valley but are too civilized to be counted among them.
- Lunar Ducks: Scattered among the Pelorians, especially found on the Oslira river, you find Ducks who live in families or extended families, work the river trade, and worship in the Lunar way. For reasons unknown to outsiders, they almost all seek Lunar initiation unless they are very cowardly by nature and even then their relatives usually bully them into it. They also seem better at surviving initiation than most people. Initiation gives them status and they *revel* in it.
- Eastern Ducks: They are mostly found in the eastern islands of Vithela. They are known as 'keets' and are bird-men rather than ducks specifically, though usually lumped in with them by outsiders. But some groups of both true ducks and keets dwell within the mainland eastern kingdoms too.
- Kralorelan Ducks: Growing rice and fishing, Kralorelan ducks are viewed by others as humans who had bad karma and were shoved down the chain of being as a punishment. Some ducks internalize this and try very hard to be good peasants. Rather more are fatalistic and view survival as the first priority. And some lash out, becoming notorious bandits or accumulating wealth and then using it to push the mandarins around. A dangerous game but satisfying if you can do it. Duck numbers have grown at unusual speed in Kralorela in the last century but no one knows why or maybe they're just not telling.
- Albatross Keet: Even the humblest Albatross has visions of the future. This seems to promote a general sense of depression and apathy among them. Many don't develop this ability but Albatross Seers are in high demand. They practice western style sorcery but do not have the caste system and worship their ancestor, Albatross (Air, Fate, Truth) himself.
- Auk Keet: Worshippers/children of Sunbill the Puffin (Fire, Spirit, Fertility), the Auk Keets have powerful bills and a strong lust for gold, which they believe is spiritually perfect. They are the most common form of keet. They dabble in shamanism, though they mainly worship their progenitor.
- Cormorant: Often rather barbaric, they are powerful divers and swimmers who hunt fish. They serve the High Crowned Pelican (Water, Mastery, Motion), along with the Pelican Keet and tend to be the warriors serving Pelican nobles. They are suspicious of outsiders. They are strongly theistic.
- Herons: Tall and regal, they are rather bigoted and think biology is destiny and that feather color indicates what you should do with your life; they have a caste system, though they are not Malkioni in religion. White herons lead the community, grey herons are businessmen and middle-level government, black herons are thieves, spies, and assassins and brown herons farm and do crafts. Blue-silver herons are explorers and form Hero Bands and red herons are priests of Prince Heron (Air, Stasis, Harmony).
- Pelicans: Huge beaked and portly of form, they are most comfortable in the water and have delusions of grandeur, fed by the Cormorants serving them. They tend to be merchants and would-be-nobles, and not much in the way of fighters. They are very gluttinous. They worship the High Crowned Pelican (Water, Mastery, Motion) and see themselves as the rightful leaders of all Keets, who rarely agree.
- Penguins: If the legends are true, the Penguins were created by Sunbill the Puffin to be his shock troops, with an emphasis on strength and power and no power of flight. Their response was to loot his treasury, seduce his concubines and rebuild his palace into a pirate ship which they sailed off to loot his siblings' realms. The Penguins are still pirates and barbarians and are shamanistic, since they regard the Keet gods as pathetic losers beneath their contempt. (None of them succeeded in stopping the Penguins looting their homes.) Penguins are thugs who only respect strength.
- Phoenic (Flamingo): The descendents of Grandfather Flamingo, they are incredibly vain about their long legs and beautiful pink plumage. They hold all other beings in contempt, seeing themselves as perfection incarnate. They worship Grandfather Flamingo (Air, Mastery, Magic) and practice sorcery, which they learn through the Magic rune. The only group they don't hold in contempt are the other branch of the Phoenics.
- Phoenic (Peacock): The Peacocks are even more vain than the Flamingos but less contemptous of others. They also worship Grandfather Flamingo. They are stronger wizards than the Flamingos and study sorcerous grimoires for their magic, giving them more magic than the Flamingos.
- Stork: Awkward but swift, the Stork Keets worship Prince Heron but are sworn to strict neutrality among the other breeds; they are messengers and no one in Keet lands will harm them. The Kralorelans consider them good luck and also employ them as messengers. They are theistic, but they worship Issaries, who taught them his secrets long ago. Kralorelan Storks often become mystics but usually don't get too far into it.
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.
- Cetoi: The offspring of Storm Gods and Naiads. They are friendly to mankind. They are mammalian. They live in shallow waters.
- Ludoch: One of the two greatest kindred of Merfolk. They are human in their upper body with the hindquarters of a porpoise. They are skilled communicators; their own language requires noises humans can't make but they can speak well and generally know the languages of humans near them or who pass through regularly. Ludochs form groups known as schools which are well organized and able to build underwater homes and generally function as civilized folk. They are friendly to humans, though if they become overpopulated, they tend to start raiding their neighbors... rather like humans. They have a great hatred of the Malasp. They normally are naked but wear quicksilver armor and weapons in war. They worship a mixture of storm gods and water gods. Priests can be noted by wearing ceremonial clothing; young, naive Ludoch sometimes mistake all humans for priests because they are not naked.
- Ouori: Flabby walrus merfolk; they are shy outside mating season but friendly once you earn their trust. They live very primitively, lying around in the sun, chasing down fish for food when hungry and fighting each other for mates during the mating season. Pretty much, though, they're simple folk with simple needs; they follow a shamanic tradition.
- Zabdamar: They are unusual; their women look like Ludoch, except their human halves are always incredibly beautiful. Despite many stories, they're only interested, though, in their menfolk, who resemble a walrus if you tried to make it much uglier and got rid of the tusks. As long as you don't seem out to seduce or eat them respectively, though, they're friendly to humans. They are most common off the shores of Kralorela and Fronela. In Fronela, they often aid victims of raids from Ygg's Islands.
- Piscoi: The offspring of Sea Gods and Naiads. They are hostile to mankind. They are fish-like. They live in deep waters.
- Gyndron: They have a scaly human body but with a long, finned tail. They are water-breathers and never go to the surface. They can't even stand fresh water. Few humans ever see them; their goddess Hanali (Water, Illusion, Motion) used her powers to defeat and plunder the Storm God who tried to assault her people. As a result, they don't trust or like surface dwellers but aren't actually as angry at them as many Piscoi.
- Malasp: They resemble scaly humans with fish-like bulging eyes. Malasps are one of the two great nations of merfolk. They are generally hostile to all surface-dwellers, violent predators who hate air breathers. Pointing out they can breathe air is a good way to die. They are organized into a powerful kingdom led by priests of the Water Gods. Each clan elects a chief and the chiefs elect a king who then rules until death. They came together to help destroy the Jrustelans, and now seem determined to finish off the big continents too. They are led by Terthinus, Voice of the Deep, a potent disciple of Katharus (Water, Mastery, War). They constantly clash with the Ludoch, who they see as soft and weak.
- Ysabbau: Scaly with long eel-like lower bodies and human-like but scaled upper bodies. They hate humans even more than the Malasp due to the mistreatment of their goddess Ysara (Water, Beast, Plant) by one of the Storm Gods during the Godswar. They use armies of aquatic creatures and plants to attack and destroy ships, from razor sharp kelp nets which tangle rudders to fast-growing barnacles and ship worms to giant ship-swallowing whales. Malasp will at least try to talk to you to lie and manipulate you, Ysabbau just kill humans on sight. And vice-versa.
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.
- Brass Mostali: They work with various kinds of alloys; they are metallurgists.
- Copper Mostali: They make containers, tools, utensils and weapons.
- Gold Mostali: Philosophers and thinkers who develop the beliefs of the community and preserve the ancient ways. They also are the teachers.
- Lead Mostali: Plumbers and glassblowers.
- Quicksilver Mostali: They are alchemists who create many kinds of potions, fluids, and substances. They also synthesize dwarven food, which is stored in tin containers.
- Rock Mostali: They work with stone, delving mines, creating buildings and sculptures and making cement to hold things together.
- Silver Mostali: They are sorcerors who specialize in working with energy: fire, lighting, heat, cold, etc.
- Tin Mostali: They use tamestone, a form of living rock, to create mineral creatures which serve the Mostali, like Jolanti and Nilmergs. They also have the traditional responsibility of making the cans Dwarven food is stored in.
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.
- Clay Mostali: Ordinary, flesh-resembling dwarves. They can do just about any job but require more training. But you can make them vastly more cheaply.
- Diamond Mostali: Those Dwarves who best embody their role become Diamond Dwarves, deferred to by others and possessing gemstone eyes. Diamond Dwarves command more sorcerous power than other Dwarves.
- Iron Mostali: Blacksmiths and warriors who defend the other kinds.
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:
- Dwarves would have to slaughter everyone else around them to get enough sentients to eat.
- 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.
- Individualism: They are obsessed with their life-plans and see personal improvement as crucial to fixing the world machine. Further, they believe that without a 'personality', no living thing is actually functional. Some individualists eventually develop true personalities but a lot have a single trait they cultivate and try to apply to everything whether it works or not. Individualists function outside a dwarf hold more easily than any other group as they are less dependent on supervision. Many also practice Openhandism.
- Octamony: They reject Diamond Dwarves as a perversion of dwarfkind and say only the ancient minerals should rule; they also reject the Nidian Decamony's authority. They may or may not combine this with other forms of heresy.
- Openhandism: They endorse the idea that Dwarves should trade ideas and goods with outsiders more freely, seeing all living things as part of the world machine and arguing that the Mostali are now too few to fix it all without help. Many practice Individualism.
- Orthodox Mostali: Many Dwarves follow the Orthodox Mostali philosophy, as embodied by the Nidian Decamony. Contact with other races is limited to the bare minimum needed to accomplish Dwarven goals and technology is strictly restricted. Each dwarf is created in the birthing vats for a specific purpose and must stick to it until they die, or until the ruling council decides to repurpose them. The community is ruled by a council of one dwarf from each of the ten materials; usually these are diamond dwarves.
- Vegetarians: Rejecting Dwarf Food, they grow plants on the surface and *eat them*. What kind of insane dwarf acts like an elf? This kind. Most are otherwise Orthodox Mostali.
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.
- UzUz? / Mistress Race Trolls: Few in number and half are actually male; they are the children of Kygor Litor and are now very few because they can no longer reproduce. Ezkankekko was one of them. So is Cragspider. They lead if they are even present when trolls gather. They are highly intelligent and magically powerful. They handle light very badly.
- Uzko / Dark Trolls: Standard seven foot tall muscular dark skinned trolls; they have human level capacities but somewhat greater strength and toughness. They can handle the sunlight but hate it. They are the 'normal' kind of troll now but slowly dwindling since half their births only produce Trollkin.
- Uzdo / Cave Trolls: Hugely strong, ten foot tall with claws and massive teeth, they are very stupid and basically have to be tightly monitored to keep them from causing trouble. Some now exist in feral packs and roam around causing trouble.
- Enlo / Trollkin: Four foot tall, hungry, not very bright but smarter than Cave Trolls. Some are cunning in a low way, others are just not too bright or too strong. Some are strong enough to be used to fight enemies in screaming hordes with spears. Others are just used as workers. A few are smart enough to do important craft work and may even eventually manage to earn 'full troll status' and no longer are slaves of the dark trolls.
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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