Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pellatarrum: Servitor and Half Races (an overview)

Again, these are just capsule reviews, More in-depth articles for each race will follow.

You already know what these are and how they act. Humans were created by the dwarves to act as ambassadors to the other races (especially elves), so they have a tendency to adapt, accept, and tolerate. However, push them too far, or get in the way of something they want, and you will see how much they are like their parent race.

Pellatarran humans live wherever they want, and while this adaptability is one of their greatest strengths, it also brings them into conflict with the more territorial races (elves, orcs, goblinoids). Sometimes this leads to greater understanding and open trade; sometimes it leads to outright war.

Humans are the only minor race which creates and lives inside cities. Although other races are welcome to live with them, humans are always the first to colonize and build.

Another ambassador race, the gnomes were created by elves to interface with dwarves and other races. This gives them a tendency towards the chaotic, though this manifests more as whimsy and not random violence. Usually. That said, when a gnome goes psychopathic, it's a terrible sight to behold.

Considering their origins, it's not surprising that humans and gnomes get along like siblings, or at least cousins: occasionally there is a squabble that results in mild violence but usually both races can live in harmony with each other. In some larger human cities, gnomes comprise half of the population, creating a race-based division of labor with the taller, stronger humans performing tasks which require height or muscle mass and the smaller, magically-inclined gnomes taking on duties which require scholarship or greater dexterity. Gnomes and humans are known to intermarry, but are infertile.

Gnomes are also known to cohabitate with halflings, although their similarity in size usually results in a more equal division of labor which most gnomes resent. However, if there is a practitioner of arcane magic within a halfling community, odds are excellent that it is a gnome.

Gnomes and halflings may interbreed, but their children are always the same race as their same-gender parent.

In contrast to dwarves, halflings are always cheerful even if they're not happy. In fact, many races find halflings so annoyingly perky that it sometimes results in fisticuffs. This suits the half-folk just fine, because they find as much pleasure in a good brawl as they do in eating, drinking, singing, and dancing.

Halfings come in two distinct varieties. Pastoral halflings live in lightly wooded areas of rolling hills, where they enjoy the simple bucolic pleasures of farming, fishing, and raising livestock. Nomadic halflings have an adventuresome spirit and frequently join the wind-caravans that circumnavigate the Dayspire. It is not uncommon for halflings to switch between these two cultures at different stages of their lives, and doing so is seen as a healthy and natural act.

At the risk of perpetuating broad racial sterotypes, halflings are a fusion of  Irish, Australian, and Gypsy cultures. Eat, drink, fight, love, explore, trade, have children, die brilliantly -- that's a halfling's dream.

Halflings are the only minor race that willingly associates with kobolds.

Kobolds are unusual in that even though they were emancipated along with the other minor races at the end of the Orc War, they chose to re-enslave themselves to the dragon race. Whether this was a conscious choice or the result of a deeply ingrained magical effect is unknown. Regardless of the reason, all kobolds are obsessed with dragons: serving them, finding them, or in rare cases, becoming them.

Those kobolds fortunate enough to have a dragon master live wherever that dragon lives, doing its bidding much as worker ants serve the queen. Those who do not are often fixated upon finding a dragon to serve. Sometimes this is as simple as investigating all rumors of nearby dragons in the hopes of joining its tribe; tracking down a recently wounded and dragon and helping it heal and rebuild its hoard, or finding a dragon egg to raise. In extreme cases, kobolds with magical ability have found a way to evolve dragon-like qualities.

Because of each dragon's particular obsessions, some especially intelligent kobolds have formed a complex network of trade and information sharing. Acting as middlemen for their tribe and the outside world, these kobolds record and keep track of the obsessions of other dragons with the specific goal of increasing their dragons' collection through trade or favor exchange. This makes them a rich source of information about locations and hoards of dragons across Pellatarrum, as well as excellent fences and fixers for esoteric or high-value items.

Many of these traders travel with halfling caravans as sages and mages, leading them to dragon strongholds and informing caravan masters of what each dragon craves and what he can offer in trade. Their real goal, however, is the collection of dragon-lore of all kinds.

Kobolds are known to kidnap sleeping infants and small children. This is because many dragons have dalliances with members of other races while polymorphed, and kobolds are able to sniff out these half-dragon crossbreeds. Sometimes these kidnapped children are brought back to their draconic parent, and sometimes they are carried off into the night, never to be seen again.

It is of interest that kobolds have never once kidnapped a halfling child.

Let us be frank here: more often than not, half-orcs are the product of rape. As such, they are rarely welcome in any community, and those that do manage a life there are often the targets of fear, derision, and prejudice. Regarded as barely a step above monsters in human villages, they are treated as weaklings within the orc tribe. It is no wonder, then, that many of them seek to make a name and a place for themselves through adventuring.

Only humans have successfully interbred with orcs (unless you count polymorphed dragons). Dwarven biology automatically aborts the fetus; elven mothers just produce more elves. Kobolds aren't even mammals, and curiously enough, not even the sages can think of an instance of a halfling mother and an orc father. Gnomes impregnated by orcs usually die around the middle of the second trimester unless abortificants are used.

A half-orc and a human produces a human with slight orcish features. A half-orc and an orc produce a slightly human-looking orc. Only when two half-orcs interbreed do they produce more half-orcs, although there are legends of half-orc parents bearing twins, with one child fully human and the other fully orc.

In contrast to half-orcs, half-elves are at least tolerated within their parents' societies. Their struggles are usually internal rather than societal: they outlive their human friends and family, yet will die well before their parents. As such, though they are members of two cultures, they often feel they do not fit in with either. 

They have an odd kinship with halflings, whose lifespans roughly match theirs, and whose relentlessly cheerful outlook on life helps to dispel the frequent moodiness a half-elf feels. In return, the half-elf acts as the "token tallfolk" and often serves as village protector and spokesperson.

Elves cannot interbreed with any race other than humans (except polymorphed dragons). A half-elf and a human produces a human with slight elven feature, while a half-elf and an elf produce a slightly human-looking elf.

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