Monday, December 31, 2007

Godtouched Races: Phoenixes

Phoenixes are among the most intelligent and wise of all the godtouched races, second only to unicorns. They were created by Vau, the god of the sun, to be his holy warriors and messengers. Despite their intelligence and wisdom (or perhaps because of it) they live as animals, creating no culture of their own and being one with the natural world.

Giant birds shaped as herons with rainbow-colored plumage, they are effectively immortal with only 144 individual phoenixes living on the planet of Aarn. There are three types of phoenixes, with 48 of each. They are grouped by the type of elemancy they can perform - fire elemancy, light elemancy, and electricity elemancy. Those with a fire element are more red in their multi-colored plumage, with long yellow crest-feathers coming from off their eyes. Phoenixes with light-elemancy are more golden colored, with a single red crest coming off of the back of their head. Those with electricity elemancy are darker, with colors more in the purple and blue ranges, and have three white crests, one coming off the the center of their head and one coming off the top of each eyebrow. Electricity phoenixes seem to have the least standing, and light phoenixes the most.

Despite their immortality, phoenixes can be defeated in combat and "killed" - when this happens, their bodies self-immolate in their governing element and become a pile of ashes. Any detached body parts, including molted feathers, will also burst into flame, light, or electricity and reduce themselves to ash, regardless of how far away the body parts are at the the time of "death." Many phoenixes give their few friends feathers, so that those friends can keep track of the phoenixes' health.

The key to their immortality is that every 1000 years, the wind, guided by Vau, carries the ashes to the tallest peak in Yessha, near the center of the Aarnian supercontinent. Any surviving Phoenixes will make this trek themselves, dropping all of their business and ignoring everything, even friends they have made. At the last sunset of the old millennium, all the surviving phoenixes self-immolate in a giant conflagration of fire, light and electricity at the peak of the mountain. At the next sunrise, there will be another conflagration - and born from the ashes will be 144 new, baby phoenixes. It takes 50 years for them to mature fully, but when they do they regain their memories of their past lives, retaining their wisdom and knowledge from the very birth of their race. Until then, they behave as birds, acting as animals with above-average intelligence.

Phoenixes themselves have amazing vocalization skills, and can mimic the sounds of other animals and godtouched, similar to a parrot. Baby phoneixes are known to develop small vocabularies of words, and are sometimes even able to communicate effectively with other godtouched, though they rarely have a sense of self-identity. A mature phoenix can speak and learn any language, and can even communicate in the native tongue of the valdrex.

Occasionally, magical curses or resurrection spells can pull an individual phoenix temporarily out of their thousand-year cycle of death and rebirth. A ressurrection spell cast on a phoenix's ashes before they are carried away by the wind has a small chance of causing the phoenix to be reborn fully mature, and a larger chance of causing the ashes to burst into flame and produce a new, baby phoenix.

A full grown phoenix is usually 50 feet long, with a wingspan of 75 feet. They are quite light for their size and usually weigh between 300 and 400 pounds. They are slightly larger than Rocs, and are occasionally mistaken for these giant animal birds. Rocs however are shaped as eagles, and phoenixes are again shaped as herons, so it is easy to explain the biological differences to someone, even if they have never seen either bird before.

Phoenixes have no known sexuality, though magical experimentation has suggested they are biologically female. Despite this, when speaking with a godtouched they enjoy using the voice of whichever sex is more powerful in that godtouched's culture, be it male or female.

Godtouched Races: Merfolk

If naga are the exclusively terrestrial counterpart to the amphibious medusae, the merfolk are the exclusively aquatic counterpart. Their cities are spread far and wide in the Aarnian seas, but their largest population settlement is in the Great Barrier Sea, a nearly impassible sea between western Zenninfal and the peninsula of Jerohm on Yessha.

Merfolk are a race of creatures who closely resemble humans from the torso up, with gray skin, longer pointed ears, and rows of gills running down their backs. At the top of their head, hidden by hair, they have a third nostril that acts as a blow hole. From the waist down, they have a body the shape of fish, with a fin parallel to their shoulders, like a dolphin. Merfolk are typically 5-6 feet long from head to tail, and typically weigh between 120 and 200 pounds. They have lifespans slightly longer than humans; the average age of death is 90, and merfolk have been known to live to 140 comfortably.

Merfolk are mammalian and require air to breathe, but with the gills on their back complimenting their respiration they have an extraordinary lung capacity and can spend days without surfacing, though their ocean-floor cities have carefully designed air pockets, replenished by biological technology.

All of them have access to psionic elemancy, despite their spiritual element type, and they use these psionic abilities exclusively for their language. This psionic language is verbal however, and while they can project their language into the minds of other godtouched, said godtouched need to learn the language to understand it. Blessedly, many merfolk have additional psionic elemancy skills that allow them to easily learn and understand the spoken languages of other creatures.

Males tend to have very long, white beards and hair that tangles up around their faces. When swimming, the hair helps channel the water around them into a sleek shape. Females have no beards, but their hair flows down over their back gills protecting them and acting as a filter for the water. They reproduce as fish, spawning in the water - however, the female will retrieve many of the fertilized eggs and then incubate them in her body. Her womb is actually somewhat hostile to life, ensuring that only the strongest merfolk survive to be born. It is not uncommon for all the eggs in a pregnancy to die due to these conditions, but spawning is frequent.

As an interesting side-note, magical experimentation has suggested that the females are in fact genetically male, and produce the sperm and not the eggs, even though they appear female, have female characteristics and give birth to the young. This would of course mean that the males are genetically female and produce the eggs.

Merfolk society is arguably the most successful on the planet. They are the only godtouched race to have a genuine industrial revolution, and they have access to technology that those on the surface could only dream of. Their mastery over civic planning, artificial life forms, weapons, genetic engineering and using these talents to improve their standard of living is second only to the demons in the astral plane. Their technology is organic-based however, and is not immediately recognizable as technology. Surface dwellers will often mistake the tools and weapons of the merfolk to be a kind of biomancy, but it is in fact not magical at all. For instance, merfolks have laser weapons that look like organs that strap around their wrists, and the flagship in their navy, the Leviathan, is thought by surface dwellers to be an actual, natural born sea creature.

Effects generated by merfolk weapons, while similar to magic, are not susceptible to magic resistance and are quite deadly, so a violent encounter with them is very dangerous and almost requires magical shielding.

Culturally, merfolk put an emphasis on strength, not just physical, but emotional and rational as well. The strong rule, and a ruler ceases to be strong when their policies do not benefit the merfolk race. This dogma has been drummed into them for millennia by Occus, their progenitor god, and he still takes quite an active role in their society. He helps ensure that their many ocean cities run smoothly, and he is responsible for the merfolk's current isolationism. In centuries past, merfolk were known for committing bloodthirsty genocide on all the other aquatic godtouched races. The only survivors were the medusae and aquatic dragons, who were not directly targeted by the merfolk armies. Despite having the power to rival humans, and perhaps claim the land of Aarn, the merfolk and Occus in particular view it as too costly a battle, and consider the current holdings of the merfolk to be adequate. Merfolk do not tolerate intruders into their oceans or their society and often act with deadly force, though adolescent merfolk often visit the shores of Aarn to satisfy their curiosity about humans.

There are many different subraces of merfolk, but I will not go into detail here, because even for a complete game rulebook such knowledge would be far too esoteric to be useful. Some traits that exist however in merfolk subraces are green or blue skin instead of gray, longer, pointed ears, finned ears like a fish, webbed hands, long flowing fins growing from their hips or back, and one merfolk subrace even has twin antennae on their forehead that glow, like an angler fish.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Godtouched Races: Medusae

Singular medusa, plural medusae, the first race ever created by a god, and the first to ever use magic. The affect that medusae have had on the history of Aarn is undeniable. Their recent history is tragic however - with the death of Gretash, their progenitor god, they lost their focus and their vast civilization. They regressed to an almost tribal state, and their numbers have dwindled ever since. The last medusae known to be alive inhabit a chain of islands south of Rensvan, and are reclusive and hostile to all visitors, even of their own race.

Medusae are quite visually striking. It is impossible to mistake one for any other godtouched creature, or any other animal. Their anatomy is noteworthy - they have the ability to grow and re-absorb certain body parts, depending on what is needed at the time. While they have a humanoid form, and some consider them to be the very first creature to ever walk on two legs like a man, they can enter a half-cocoon for a period of two weeks. Upon emerging, their legs have been transformed into a snake's tail, and they resemble a naga or a merfolk. They also have the ability to grow huge wings with golden scales out of their back, and an individual medusa can shift between humanoid, nagaoid, or a combination of wings and either form.

Their skin is a sickly green, scaled and covered in warts and barnacles. Medusae are amphibious, and spend a good deal of time in the waters. They usually swim in their nagaoid form, using their tail to swim. Their faces also resemble those of a naga, but instead of hair, long prehensile and meaty tendrils grow from their heads. These tendrils can appear to be snakes from a distance, but legends of these tendrils actually having their own mouths and poisonous bites are not to be believed.

The medusa itself however does have a poisonous bite. This is a quite deadly poison, and is more of an acid than a venom. Upon contact with flesh or blood, it begins to calcify and harden the area around it. Within hours, an entire limb can become calcified, cutting off blood flow. Death from heart attacks due to blood clotting comes quickly for those affected, and immediate amputation of the affected area is the only known nonmagical treatment.

Of course, the medusa's most legendary power is its ability to turn those who meet its gaze into stone. A rare case of a natural magical godtouched ability that is not elemancy, this power is poorly understood by magical researchers. It appears to be a divine magic ability, but attempts to reproduce the spell have met with failure. It is thought that there is an essential part of the medusae's anatomy required for the spell to work. With the medusae's impending extinction and the lack of willing test subjects, it seems this will forever remain a magical mystery.

Medusae are hermaphroditic, and have breasts with which they feed their young. Unlike naga, they do not give live birth, and instead lay eggs. Despite their male reproductive tract, medusae self-identify as female, and hate male godtouched in particular. A medusae can fertilize itself, but usually chooses not to unless under dire stress. It considers the act of self-fertilization obscene.

Due to their current situation, medusae are typically solitary in this day and age. Those spied on with magic appear to have gone insane due to loneliness and are extremely hostile to any godtouched creature, even members of their own race. The only exception to this is when they mate, which is often violent despite mutual impregnation. They treat mating almost as a kind of contract, and there must be some sort of chemical signal they give off that allows them to calm themselves enough to allow copulation.

The eccentricities of individual medusae are hard to keep track of, but in general it can be assumed that eccentricities there will be. They still retain a shadow of their former intelligence and will sometimes set up sacrificial shrines to Gretash, or even build great libraries with nothing but "books" that are blank stone slabs. For generations upon generations, their solitude and loneliness has prevented mother from truly educating daughter. While young are cared for for some years, long enough for newborns to learn language and vague concepts of civilization in any event, daughters are quickly seen as competition once they approach adulthood and driven from their home. It is thought the trauma of this event leads to much of their insanity.

In theory, a medusa hatching could be raised by caring parents and be brought into some semblance of sanity and civilization. There have been attempts to do this by many people, such as adventurers, mad biomancers, caring members of the church, or those who wish to raise their own loyal army. These attempts invariably fail however, because medusae hatchings are dependent on their mothers' milk for survival, and no other nutrition has ever been found to be satisfactory. In theory, an incapacitated mother could generate and provide milk for a young one, but her influence over the child's thinking would be difficult to control, making the entire experiment suspect. This is pure theory however, because very few medusae will ever allow themselves to be captured, let alone allow their eggs to be stolen while they are still alive.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Why are there so many dragons and ardlins!?

I'm sure this is something many of you have asked, reading through my ultra-ultra long dragons and ardlin posts. However, there is a canonical reason for why there are so many varieties, outside of the usual "there need to be lots of different themed dragon-type creatures because D&D did it."

When a god creates a godtouched race, they don't simply design a single individual, clone them, and then let the resulting creatures run amuck. The god usually gives evolution a kick in the pants and increases the possibility of his or her race surviving by creating many different varieties at once, and seeing which is the most successful. The different varieties can of course interbreed, which might allow for a hybrid to eventually become the big daddy.

Because dragons are so difficult to kill, and so successful on their own, all different varieties have survived to the present day, though some dragons are more rare than others. Because ardlins are so new, there hasn't been enough time for inefficient or unlucky varieties to die off or crossbreed.

Some races, like naga and humans, have re-diversified due to spreading out over a wide area and having little to no interbreeding. In fact, legends of elves and dwarves come from varieties of humans that have long since bred into the rest of the population or gone extinct. Others, like ghrok and medusae, have no sub-races because they are on the verge of extinction.

And finally, some races, such as orchaein, are so new conceptually (I only created the plant-people a few months ago) that I've yet to really think about any possible sub-races, though there may be some I will add later.

Godtouched Races: Dragons

Individually, a dragon is by far the most powerful of the godtouched races. Put an example of every godtouched race into a room and tell them to fight to the death and the dragon will invariably be the one left standing, picking its teeth with a valdrex's severed claw.

The dragon's weaknesses are largely its sloth, its ego and its complacency. Dragons typically do not socialize well, even with other dragons, and have never truly organized, not even during the godtouched war. Sehkteth, their matriarchal god, designed the dragons to be dreadnoughts. With a fleet of these nigh-invulnerable flying engines of death, she thought she would be unstoppable - and she largely was. However, it was the more organized valdrex that eventually "won" the war.

Dragons vary in shape, size, and power. Dragons hatch from eggs about the size of a beachball, and start growing the day they're born. The smallest dragons are the size of a person, with the largest with wingspans almost half a mile across. Most require a very large amount of food, and so their territories are vast and dragons contact one another seldomly. There are 14 different varieties of dragons, and all dragons can successfully mate with one another, though they usually choose to mate only with dragons of their same type. A cross-bred dragon will be usually be the type of the mother, which insults the ego of the father to no small degree.

Unlike dragons in many other settings, Aarnian dragons cannot naturally shape-shift. However, as dragons age they become more powerful, and more egotistical. Ancient dragons begin to actually worship themselves as gods, and quickly develop divine powers due to this. The ability to transmute oneself into other forms is a common divine spell, and so many dragons do learn it and do interact with other godtouched in limited ways using a disguised form. This is usually to procure more treasure for themselves, or to toy with the other godtouched races and assert their superiority.

Due to their power and solidarity, dragons have never created their own civilization, though they love to wrap themselves in the trappings of it. In this way they could be considered societal parasites - collecting the comforts of civilization and hoarding them away, but never contributing or sharing their own intellectual achievements. Some dragons are naively assured of their own creativity however, and will sometimes subject visitors to it. Dragon poetry, for instance, is so notoriously bad it has been said to literally make the listeners' ears bleed. And of course, insulting a dragon's poetry is instantly fatal.

The fourteen different dragons correspond to the fourteen different elemancy elements, and each one is an accomplished elemancer of their chosen type. Unlike other elemancers, dragons have access to every ability their element is capable of, and this is one of the sources of their great power. Dragons do not in fact have "breath weapons" - any dragon breathing fire, lightning, cold, or other effects are actually using their elemancy in a way they deem suitably dramatic. Dragons will typically toy with those they fight, seeking to gain as much pleasure from the encounter as possible. Dragons are especially thrilled at opponents who actually give them a challenge - though dragons forced to fight at their full potential and intelligence will almost always win such an encounter. Dragons can usually only be felled when they are ambushed, outsmarted or careless.

The fourteen different types of dragons are as follows.

Air Dragons - Also known as mist dragons, air dragons live in the clouds in the sky, using their elemantic powers to make the clouds solid. Unlike other dragons, they do not collect treasure, mostly due to the fact that any that they would hoard would fall through their cloud of residence whenever they leave - their elemantic powers ceasing to function on the cloud. They have a more benevolent attitude towards those in their territory than most other dragons, and will often bring rain clouds to parched fields to help farmers. This is mostly because in the absence of other treasure, a mist dragon will literally consider those in its territory its property, and wishes its property to prosper.

Mist dragons are long and serpentine, with no visible wings. Their rear legs and front claws are quite short and can barely reach the ground when they (rarely) set foot on it. Their heads have an Asian dragon appearance, with very large, luscious lips, a huge misty, flowing beard, long catfish-like whiskers, and iridescent rows of scales and horns covering their brow. They are typically colored sky blue, with a white, cloudy colored underbelly.

Earth: Ornery and wingless as well, earth dragons are notoriously antisocial. They live deep in the earth in caves, and largely spend most of their time sleeping. They usually do not fly, though have been known to levitate themselves on top of huge spires of stone. When collecting treasure for their horde, earth dragons will often simply cause an earthquake and swallow the valuables into the ground, where they're then brought to their cave. They hunt for food in this way as well.

Earth dragons are squat and fat, and look more like toads than dragons. Their heads are almost as large as their bodies and their front claws and rear legs are hidden by rolls and rolls of fat that are as hard as stone. Their heads are covered in horns that resemble stalactites and other rocky formations, spread out in a haphazard manner, and their long tails are often curled around their bodies. Any earth dragon forced to move will deeply resent it and cause untold death and destruction to those responsible.

Water Dragons: One of the few aquatic godtouched races not brought to extinction by merfolk, water dragons resemble mist dragons in appearance, with a very long serpentine body and no wings. Their legs and claws are longer, and they have no beards. They are largely shades of deep blue and purple, but long green fins run from the tip of their tail to the back of their crown. Their toes on all four feet are webbed. Not much is known of the aquatic dragon or its mannerisms, due to the fact that it rarely if ever leaves the seas.

Metal Dragons: Exceedingly fast and dangerous, metal dragons are the fourth most powerful dragon type, and easily the largest. They live in caves like earth dragons, but unlike earth dragons they have a flair for the dramatic, and use their elemantic powers to reshape the interior of their caves to be very ornate and decorated. They have very little interest in hording gold or metal valuables, able to create these at will. Instead, the metal dragon finds gems deeply precious, and will sometimes embed them in its metallic skin as decoration or jewelry.

Metal dragons are long and sleek, and have the traditional European bipedal dragon form. Their rear legs are meant for walking and are large and powerful, with their front legs more meant for grasping, and are thin with long dexterous claws. Their wings sprout from their back behind their shoulders, effectively giving them six limbs. The wings themselves are exceptionally long, and metal dragons in flight often look like a soaring silver boomerang when viewed from the distance. Their tail is long and whip like. The horns on their head blend seamlessly into their skin, and they have no visible scales.

Life: Life dragons typically live in forests, and weave huge impassible thickets as their dens out of the very trees. They are protective of their forests and the life within, but are just as quick to take life as protect it, and often hunt for food in their forests. They see every second of their time as important, and are quite impatient with the concerns of other godtouched creatures.

Their scales are wood colored, with their underbelly a greenish tint. Their physical form is similar to that of the metal dragon, except their body is more bulky and muscular and wings much smaller. Their horns and claws are a deep forest green, and their faces often look like old, gnarled trees covered in thorns. The membranes of their wings are a very bright green, or in the autumn, deep shades of yellow, red and orange.

Death: Death dragons are a rarity these days, because they do not mate, and their numbers have been dwindling slowly, despite their own deathless state. They are the third most powerful dragon type, and they typically live in deserts, swamps, and other wastelands. They are extremely cruel and malicious, yet fond of peace and quiet. They do not need to eat at all, and for most intents and purposes, they might be considered undead, though Nektos has no dominion over them and purification spells have no effect on them. They will go out of their way to maintain the quiet of their lairs, killing all within their territory, usually in the most creative and intimidating ways possible. Just because they're dead, doesn't mean they dislike entertainment.

Death dragons have the body proportions of a bat, but with much longer legs and longer wings compared to their body size. Their tail is also uncharacteristically long for a bat, though not as long as the tails of other dragons. Death dragons have an extremely horrifying face - their head has horns and bony coverings that make it resemble a skull. The rest of their body is pitch black, though the ones that live in deserts are often bleached by the sun and weathered by the sand to be more of a beige color.

Kanna: One of the two most powerful kinds of dragons, kanna dragons are as bizarre as they are powerful. Kanna is an element that can reproduce the powers of all the other physical elements, and kanna dragons themselves are complete masters of the physical form of all they see. This mastery is more of a mechanical one than a magical one - changing a human into a rabbit, for instance, is extremely difficult to do while keeping the human alive. Changing the shape of things for a kanna dragon is more akin to playing with clay than changing something A into something B.

Kanna dragons are quadrupeds with long snakelike bodies, and their heads are also serpentine, and they rarely if ever have horns. Their legs resemble those of a dog or wolf, and they hold their head up high and proudly. Multiple long tendrils extend from their lips, and flow around them in the wind. Their tails are short and thin compared to their body, and the tails typically point straight up. They have no wings, though can levitate and fly easily using their powers.

Light: Light dragons are brilliant to behold, and the rarest of all the dragon types. Their scales are white and they glow brightly, though one that has been killed loses its glow, and its scales appear as perfect mirrors. Their body has the proportions of a ferret, with a very long torso, long thin tail, stubby but powerful and flexible legs, and a long neck. Their arms are the arms of a bat, though extremely long, with edges that expand out. The membranes of their wing-arms only extend slightly down their torso, and get much wider as the wings extend out.

Very little is known about light dragons. Some are said to live in the sun, though this is a scientific impossibility. Others conjecture that a light dragon transforms itself into pure light, and rockets around the planet too fast to be seen, though if they indeed did this it would mean they could fly over the veiled hemisphere of Aarn, which should be impossible. What is most likely, and which actually carries some evidence, is that light dragons make themselves invisible and live on the tallest peaks of the tallest mountains, watching over the planet with a playful curiosity.

Dark: Dark dragons live in the deepest caves and the deepest waters of aarn. Amphibious but primarily aquatic, dark dragons are extremely ugly and have the body proportions of an axolotl, including the whisker-like gills. They grow to be quiet large and are usually covered in warts, barnacles, and other unsightly features. Their head resembles that of a moray eel, and they are vicious and mean creatures. Only slightly more is known about dark dragons than water dragons, and this is only because they also live in deep caves on Aarn, and for some godforsaken reason adventurers tend to go down into these caves to find out what's down there.

Fire: Fire dragons live in volcanically active areas, and often share their territory with salamanders. Some will even use salamanders as their slaves, sending the salamanders on raids for treasures and tribute. Fire dragons appreciate metal treasures more than any other, and keep them in molten pools in their lair. Very, very few creatures have the heat resistance necessary to actually delve into the lair of a fire dragon, so they are rarely encountered. Their personalities are mostly a mystery, but one thing is known; when a group of salamanders is working together, one can be sure they are under the control of a fire dragon.

Fire dragons have the body proportions of an iguana or monitor lizard, with a huge tangle of aerodynamically-shaped horns streaming off their head. They have long thin wings sprouting from behind their shoulders that fold flat against their body. When a fire dragon rises from its volcano lair and flies through the air, its wings actually burst aflame, and are quite intimidating.

Cold: Known usually as frost dragons, they live in the coldest regions of Aarn, and like the water dragons and dark dragons, are semi-aquatic. Their bodies have the proportions of a cat, with a long lizard tail. Their necks are very long compared to their body, and the base of their neck to the base of their skull is usually the same length from the base of their neck to the base of their tail. Their heads are adorned with few horns compared to other dragons, and are streamlined for swimming through the water. Their snouts have axe-like beaks that they use to break through the ice of their homes. For treasure, they value things not normally found in the frozen norths and souths of their homes, and will often preserve treasures such as palm trees in solid blocks of pure transparent ice. They are colored pure white from head to toe, and their simple sleek form is often lost easily in the blinding white snow.

Electricity: Known as spark dragons, they are strictly nomadic and have no home nor horde of treasure. They are the second smallest of the dragons, and are actually somewhat social to an extent. They ignore all other creatures and compete amongst themselves over who is the fastest, and who can find the next thunderstorm before all the others. There are several groups of them, and they usually start traveling to the next thunderstorm so quickly that they are hard to catch and confront. During the spring and winter months, depending on the hemisphere, they can often be found skirting the Jhettan storms, and play chicken with one another to see who can get closest. This game is usually fatal for a handful of dragons. The dead are usually declared the winners and the others all depart, agreeing never to mention their deaths again.

Spark dragons are colored in grays, blues, and bright flashy yellows. Their body proportions are similar to those of an otter, and full grown adults rarely exceed twenty feet in length from head to tail. Their heads have definite beaks on the ends of their snouts, and they have two antellope horns on their head, which often have an arc of electricity sparking between them.

Sound: The most enigmatic and bizarre of the dragons, sound dragons have never been known to communicate with another creature, godtouched or otherwise. They live deep inside caves and often use their powers to confuse those who delve them. They create walls of sound, ghost noises and generate illusory sounds of possible companions or other lost adventurers. They seem to delight in driving other creatures mad and getting them lost in caves.

Their bodies are pale, ghostly and appear anemic. Their skin is rubbery and has no visible scales or horns. They have very short front legs, and large and powerful rear legs. They can normally be seen hovering almost vertical between two stubby wings, without flapping them, and their eyes are small black dots on their otherwise featureless, mouthless round head. They are the smallest of the dragons and full grown adults are rarely larger than a human - this is so they can maneuver through the small twisty passages of the deep caves they call their home. Their body is rubber and stretchy, and can extend like taffy to allow them to squeeze through even the smallest cracks. Some wonder if they even have bones.

Manna: The other of the two most powerful dragons, manna dragons, also known as mind dragons, astral dragons, or even dream dragons, rival fey in power. They can live in any area, and their numbers are mercifully small. Like fey, they are mischievous, and often project their thoughts into the minds of other godtouched they find interesting. They also enjoy projecting themselves into the astral sea and exploring the dreams of other mortals. They are not as physically powerful as the other dragons, and actually have below average strength compared to other dragons. Instead, it is the power of their mind and their elemancy that makes attacking them so foolish.

Mind dragons have steel blue scales with a purple underbelly. Their body proportions are similar to a metal or a life dragon, with the classic bipedal European dragon form, as well as the six-limbed wing configuration. Their heads taper to very long and narrow beak-like snouts, and their horns, their most distinguishing feature, curl around themselves and over the back of their head resembling the two lobes of a creature's brain.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Intermission: The basics of Elemancy

I've mentioned it several times so far without explaining it, and I appreciate your patience whenever I've mentioned elemancy in the past. However, while dragons are next on the list of "godtouched races to detail" there are 14 subraces of dragons, with each subrace corresponding to an element of elemancy.

Because of that, I figured that it would be best for me to explain just what elemancy is, so it would be easier for you to understand dragons when I present them in the next post.

Elemancy is the magic of living things - while divine magic is granted through the power of dreams and prayer, elemancy is a natural magic that certain godtouched can do without much effort. It was created by Kennerin, and is available to all godtouched races in various capacities. It cannot be learned, and a character must be born with the potential to be an elemancer in order to become one later in life. Also, those who have the potential to be elemancers almost always realize this potential, with their magic surfacing almost as a reflexive action as they mature.

All godtouched races have individuals who can use elemancy, with the rates of manifestation differing from race to race. Elemancy in races such as ardlins and ghrok manifests in about 1 out of every 100 individuals, while it manifests in humans and harpies in 1 out of every 20. Elemancy manifests in every individual in some races, like dragons and spirit animals. Other races, like phoenixes and salamanders, have elemancy manifest in every individual, but the element types that do manifest are limited. (You will never find a salamander who is a cryomancer, for instance.)

There are fourteen elements in elemancy, each element represented by one of Kennerin's fourteen faces. Seven of these elements are considered physical, and seven of them are considered energy. The seven physical elements are air, earth, water, metal, life, death, and kanna. The seven energy elements are light, dark, heat, cold, electricity, sound, and manna.

Manna and kanna are the magical elements that represent the potential of magic itself, one for physical magic and one for energy magic. Manna is the magic of the astral sea, and is more ephemeral, spiritual and psychic. Kanna is the magic of the material realm, and those attuned to it are masters of time and space.

When someone has the potential to be an elemancer, the method by which the element manifests is just as important as the element itself. Not all elemancers of the same element are considered equal, and there are many different effects that elemancers as a whole can do. Each individual elemancer will only ever have access to a handful of these effects. Which specific effects an elemancer can develop and which they can't are chosen at character creation. As a general rule however, the more effects an elemancer has access to, the weaker that character is physically. (This is more of a fluke of how character creation behaves than a hard and fast rule.)

Methods of manifestation include effects that cause raw damage, such as energy attacks or telekinesis, transmutational effects which can warp or shape either physical objects or energy constructs, more powerful transmutational effects which can literally change the elemancer into a raw elemental construct of their type, and slightly different transmutational effects that can change the physical properties of an element - such as changing metal into another kind of metal, or creating poisons or acids in a water tendril.

Even more effects that are possible are teleportation effects, psychic effects that give the elemancer special knowledge or control over others, effects that can increase the speed or strength of the elemancer, effects that allow the element to be channeled into a weapon or melee attack, shield effects, or even effects that allow the elemancer to heal themselves and others. A full listing of elemantic effects will come in a later post, but hopefully this is enough to give you an idea of what elemancers in general are capable of.

Which effects an elemancer can have access to is slightly limited by their element, but most effects can be learned by most elemental types, and how that effect manifests depends on the element of the elemancer.

Elemancers are usually named after their element, and while I have had much difficulty coming up with a coherent naming scheme, one will most likely be provided in the future. As a general rule however, elemancers are usually named after their element and not their abilities. The exception to this is when the elemancer's element is "colorless" - manna and kanna, in which case the elemancer is named after their primary ability. For instance, a fire elemancer might be called an infernomancer, while a kanna elemancer who specializes in telekinesis might be called a gravimancer.

Elemancy can also be combined with wizardry. Wizards who have an elemantic potential in the elements of life, death, manna and kanna can become special elemancers that can create and control pets by using material components and specialized wizard spells. They have different names than their other elemantic brothers and sisters - for instance, a life elemancer will most likely be called an ecomancer and behave as a druid, while a life elemancer who has studied wizardry and keeps pets will be called a biomancer and behave as a mad scientist who creates monsters.

As a side note, the most prominent thing preventing me from coming up with a coherent naming scheme is the lack of greek and latin synonyms for death that do not sound incredibly silly when combined with "mancy" - until I can come up with two different words for necromancers, any naming schemes I have will remain up in the air.

The powers of an elemancer are not limited in the traditional way. Instead of having "spells per day" or power points that are exhausted with casting, an elemancer can create and maintain a small bolt of lightning as easily as he can walk, and maintain that bolt as long as he wants. There are still some limits however - an elemancer can only channel so much power at once, and attempting to maintain too many effects at once can cause the elemancer to tire. Elemancers can also "sprint" with their powers using an ability called overchanneling. An elemancer who overchannels gets a brief burst of extra power they can use for a limited time, but once that burst fades, the amount of power they have access to is drastically reduced from normal, and takes time to recover.

Compared to wizards and divine spellcasters, elemancers can cause much less damage in a single burst. However, they can continue to use magic limitlessly, and can deal much more damage over a longer period of time. Also, elemancers must continuously maintain their buffs and their protection effects (which have no duration otherwise) and this will further reduce the amount of offensive power they have. An elemancer who wishes to go all out and deal as much damage as possible will have to "lower his shields" so to speak, and only provide fuel for the attack.

In the future there will be specific posts about the types of elemancers that exist and their roles in society. In the meantime, I hope this has been enough information for you to become familiar with this magical ability and help you understand whenever I mention it casually.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Godtouched Races: Spirit Animals

More a phenomenon than a unified race, spirit animals were created by Vizdane, the little-known god of curiosity. Instead of creating a single godtouched race, Vizdane created the spirit animals as many different species around every corner of Aarn. Specifically, a spirit animal is any "awakened" animal who has the intelligence of a human and the ability to use elemancy. Vizdane created the spirit animals because he wished for independent agents who blended in seamlessly with nature, and could report back to him on how this new world was progressing. It was a great deal of work, granting his power independently to creatures from the lowliest of dragonflies to the largest of whales, but he eventually created a viable breeding pair for virtually every animal species still alive.

Spirit animals themselves had difficulty understanding their patron god. He did instill in them an innate curiosity like his own, but they had difficulty with the fact that curiosity was his only aspect, with nothing deeper. He had no plans, no agendas. He just simply wanted to know, like a voyeur or peeping tom. Eventually, communities of spirit animals began to abandon him one by one and instead worship the One Mother, whose close tie with nature they empathized with far more than the simple curiosity of their progenitor god. They decided to collectively become guardians of nature and help protect the non-sentient animals with which they share their individual forms.

Culturally, spirit animals feel a kinship with all natural creatures and share with them an empathy that allows them to understand the feelings, wants and desires of animals and godtouched alike. Spirit animals can use this empathy to communicate with one another, even across species boundaries, but spirit animals hold no special kinship with one another any farther beyond the kinship they feel with normal animals. They can also communicate with mundane animals using this empathy, the simple drives and consciousnesses of most animals being easily understood in emotional terms. With godtouched, spirit animals can often understand spoken language. They cannot speak it however, being completely anatomically animal. Due to their inability to be understood by most godtouched races, spirit animals tend to be reclusive and hostile towards other godtouched.

Spirit animals have several traits that allow them to more easily propagate themselves and maintain their numbers. For one, spirit animals tend to have a lifespan that reaches into the thousands of years. Two, they can breed with mundane animals of their species type, and the resulting offspring will be spirit animals themselves. Three, spirit animals tend to keep their own numbers low. They breed only minimally, feeling that if their presence in an area grows too large, they would become hunted actively by other godtouched races due to their elemantic powers. This would put their non-magical animal kin at risk, and so they take great pains to remain beneath the radar of people. Four, having been created shortly after Nektos destroyed the afterlife system with his undead curse, spirit animals were given an ability to bypass the afterlife altogether. When they die, they automatically become anima, a type of undead spirit that is limited to stay within 200 feet of the site of their death, but can permanently possess a creature who falls asleep within their very small territory. They can possess any animal and continue their life as a spirit animal, as if they had never died, although they need time for their elemantic powers to grow inside of their new body, and they prefer possessing an animal of their original species. Five, spirit animals who remain anima for a century or more can break free of the site of their death, and become almost as powerful as fey, able to use their magic as effectively as when they were alive. Unbound anima can even recreate a semi-corporeal body for themselves, and "live" a normal life. Most "enchanted" forests in aarn are protected by spirit animals who have progressed this far in anima development, and nature spirits such as kitsune, tanuki, and totem spirits are examples of this rare type of anima.

Spirit animals who have died and become anima can also possess godtouched in the same way they can possess animals, though doing so carries with it a horrible price. That spirit animal permanently loses their empathic abilities and can no longer communicate with animals or other spirit animals. They also lose the ability to ever become an unbound anima if they are killed, and are forever trapped near the site of their most recent death - unless some unwitting creature manages to fall asleep within their sphere of influence. Paradoxically, most godtouched creatures do not recognize the difference between spirit animals who possess other godtouched and spirit animals who become unbound anima. A self-absorbed fox spirit possessing a human is considered a "kitsune" just as much as the legitimate unbound anima protecting the local forest. As a result, those who possess other godtouched are permanently forsaken from any spirit animal community that might exist nearby, due to the bad name they give to spirit animals everywhere.

The souls of godtouched possessed by a spirit animal are immediately sent to the afterlife, as if they had died, and can only be returned with a resurrection spell cast on their corpse. Of course, first the corpse has to be actually created - by killing the spirit animal who has taken that person's body.

Most spirit animals are solitary and choose their mates from local mundane wildlife of their own species. Seldomly, a few will congregate in larger numbers, mating with one another, leading locals to believe the woods are haunted due to the variety of "perfectly normal" animals who all have magical powers. Few spirit animals, like ants, share a group communal soul over an entire community, and thus the superorganism acts as a single spirit animal and a single consciousness despite being made up of hundreds or thousands of individuals. These spirit animals are notoriously and understandably difficult to kill.

There are far more spirit animals in Aarn than any other godtouched is willing to admit. There are occasional spirit animal examples of goblins, giants, and other tribal animals, which can be extremely jarring for the adventurer who stumbles upon a wise and powerful spellcasting goblin. In fact, there are a great many spirit animals who have adopted a civilized life, letting their elemantic powers atrophy and instead learning wizardry and creating an artificial simulacrum human that they control psychically. The third most powerful wizard in the world is in fact a spirit animal who has gone this route. The vast majority of people he deals with thinks he is a powerful human wizard, when in fact, he is the cute little pink rabbit "familiar" who always rides on the wizard's shoulder.

As a clarification, actual familiars are not spirit animals, and are in actuality imprints of the spellcaster's soul put on to a mundane animal pet. As with all things however there are exceptions, and occasionally a spellcaster will form a bond with a genuine spirit animal, who will then pretend to be a familiar. This is extremely rare, however.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Godtouched Races: Dreamlings

The world of Aarn has myths just like any other, and the dreamlings are the source of many of those myths. They seemed to vanish from the face of the planet far before human beings ever came onto the scene, and yet the stories and legends about them still persist. Creatures of lies and deception, some scholars even consider that dreamlings may have been fey that have since chosen a new form, and are not even godtouched creatures at all.

A great deal of the conflicting information that exists about dreamlings may stem directly from the fact that their patron goddess is Seikin herself, the hermaphroditic goddess of lies, deception and creativity. Due to this, all truths known about dreamlings are to be taken with a grain of salt, and all lies considered plausible.

Shape-shifters by nature, the knowledge of the true form of dreamlings is one that has been lost to history. However, in the event that one might actually find a dreamling in their true form, one would find a humanoid with night-black skin covered in silky smooth, velvet-like fur. Their faces would have no noses and their mouths would be particularly large. Their eyes would be oval and yellow, and quite large for their heads. Their eyelids would be sideways, with long, rainbow-colored eyelashes that trail off from the sides of their eyes, curling up and around like a handlebar mustache, or the trim of a masquerade mask. Their hair would be pink and often arranged in ornate tufts that look more like building molding than natural hair. They would also have tufts of rainbow fur growing from their ankles and their wrists, with small tails. They would have no discernible sex, being decidedly androgynous, and would be about the same height and weight as the average human.

Outside of legend, dreamlings almost never use their true form and instead adopt an appearance that allows them to blend in seamlessly with the dominant culture in the place they live. They are completely asexual creatures and cannot reproduce; though they are masters of manipulation and can indeed appear to have a sex drive, usually in an attempt to manipulate other creatures. Because it is completely implausible that all the dreamlings alive today were alive during the War of the Gods, it must be the case that Seikin still takes an active role in preserving her godtouched race, spontaneously generating new individuals when old ones die.

If dreamlings have a maximum lifespan, it is not known, and any average lifespan is immeasurable. This is especially compounded by the fact that all dreamlings are granted the gift of divine spellcasting by Seikin, similar to how all spirit animals have access to elemancy. The lifespans of divine spellcasters are artificially inflated by definition as the primal healing energies of the astral plane course through them on a near-constant basis.

If dreamlings do still exist, it is not known how many, or how few there might be. They act as Seikin's personal agents, and she insures through her own power as a goddess that their presence remains masked from spells that might divine such knowledge, so it is likely any knowledge about them will remain mythical.

Godtouched Races: Ghrok

The ghrok are a moderately antisocial race of godtouched who live in the area between Igakari and what was once the Jerol Empire - a valley otherwise known as the Eastern Border. They are arguably the reason the area has remained lawless and free from the control of any human kingdoms. While the ghrok tolerate the presence of human settlements and fiefdoms in the area, they do not tolerate human military buildup and will drop the hammer on any settlement that tries. Their treatment of humans is largely one of self-defense; they correctly believe that if a human kingdom were to take root in the Eastern Border, they would lose the free roaming lifestyle they depend on for survival. Though not in recent history, ghroks have been driven to extinction in other areas of Zenninfal. As a result, they have shaky alliances with human bandits that largely rule the Eastern Border, and ghrok raids of human towns are commonplace, though not supported by the larger ghrok community.

Ghroks have two postures - one stooped on all fours like a primate, in which case they are usually 5 feet tall, or an intimidating posture where they rear up on their hind legs, in which case they are easily six and a half feet. They can comfortably walk in either posture, though they use their stooped posture for running. Their rear legs are short and digitigrade, and resemble the legs of a kangaroo with the exception of their feet, which have three independent splayed hooves shaped like a paw. Their arms are very thick and long, and covered in coarse, matted hair. Their fists are large and they have meaty callouses on their knuckles for galloping at high speeds on all fours. Ghroks are conspicuously tail-less.

Ghroks' bodies and limb proportions resemble those of wereboars, with a razorback tuft of hair running down their spine. They can even be mistaken for wereboars at a distance; however, their faces are decidedly equestrian. The heads of ghrok have the muzzles and jawlines of horses, but without the horse's lips. Their frontal faces are dominated by huge curving teeth that extend beyond their cheeks that they use to root for mushrooms and strip bark off trees. They have a long prehensile tongue that they use to hold their weapons while charging. Their diet is strictly vegetarian and they will only eat meat in desperate circumstances.

A mature adult ghrok usually weighs 400 to 500 pounds, with most of their weight being in their upper shoulders, head and arms. They are top-heavy, but use that to their advantage while running. Some ghrok will even curl into balls while running down the sides of the valleys they inhabit, turning themselves into bowling balls with thick tough skin, sinewy muscle and extremely resilient bone. They have been known to flatten trees, fences and even houses with this method of attack.

Ghroks typically live until 40, and individuals in their 70s have been reported. They travel in great tribes and are highly social. Due to the anatomy of their mouths, the noises they can make are limited, guttural and inarticulate. Their name actually comes from the bark-like sound they make. The ghrok language is actually one of hand signs and body gestures, and can easily be learned by a human who takes the time to study them. The ghrok consider a human's "accent" to be odd due to the different sizes of their arms and legs, but can understand them plainly. Humans who do learn the ghrok language have found them to be an articulate and spiritual people who consider the land and the beasts in it sacred. This is not surprising considering the ghrok are the godtouched race created by Tancoda, the Igakari god of the herds and plains.

Ghroks mate for life and are marsupial. The females have a pouch on their lower stomachs that covers their teats, and in the spring, two to three joeys are born that make a crawl to their mother's pouch. Usually at least one dies, sometimes without the mother even noticing that the tiny red creature has lost grip of her hair. Once in the pouch, the infant ghrok develops, nourished by the mother's milk. The pups will continue to spend time in their mother's pouch over the autumn and winter, though by then they have been weaned and are fed a diet of mushrooms and soft pine needles. By the next spring, the pups become too big for the pouch and are forced to vacate. This is usually just in time for the next generation of joeys to begin their climb to the pouch.

Being herbivores, ghrok have no steady supply of animal skins with which to make any leather clothing, though they will often trade with humans to make it for them. There is a high demand for leather clothing in ghrok tribes due to its durability. They also believe that wearing the skins of the animals of the Eastern Border brings them strength, but have a superstition that they will be weakened by wearing the skin of an animal killed expressly to create leather. Ghrok often refuse to wear the skin of an animal that has not been consumed for food or used in some other way. They often ask their medicine men and women to cast divine spells to insure that the animal whose skin they are wearing was not killed only for its skin and then left to rot. Ghrok who cannot find leather will often weave clothing out of grasses and leaves, similar to the centaurs of the Eastern islands.

Some of the more violent ghrok tribes have a particularly ghastly practice however. They have learned to tan leather themselves, and instead of using herd animals as its source, they create clothing out of the skins of the humans they kill in raids. Their rationalization for this is that the humans could and do fight back, often very effectively, and won't be dishonored by this practice. As a sign of sincere respect, they often use the rest of the body - bones for weapons, tools, silverware and bowls, the fats and oils for lamps and soaps, and the meat and muscles are jerked and then used as barter between the ghrok and tribes of plains and bush ardlins, who are none too fond of humans.

Understandably, due to this behavior of a minority of ghrok, and also due to their very militant attitude towards consolidation of human military power, ghroks are reviled across Zenninfal and normally considered little more than magic-using, literally hideous brutes who would be better off exterminated.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Godtouched Races: Centaurs

Centaurs are monstrous creatures with the body of a horse, the back of an ankylosaurus, and the upper body of an ogre sprouting from where the horse's head and neck would be. Various tribes of centaurs live in the Eastern Islands, and they do not wander very far from their homes, not being creatures built for the sea or any kind of ship work.

Seven feet tall at the forehead and with shoulders four feet broad, centaurs have a very imposing presence. They usually weigh anywhere between 1500 and 2500 pounds, depending on how well-built their muscles are. Their facial features are almost indistinguishable from an ogre's, with huge tusks, a massive nose the size of a human's fist, small beady eyes and huge locks of hair coming out from behind slightly pointed, wind-facing ears. Unlike ogres, they have many horns growing out of their forehead, and more tusk-like horns growing from behind their jaw in front of their ears.

On their backs, centaurs have huge rows of thorny, bony plates that run from the base of their neck down to the base of their horse's tail. The largest of these horns are at the base of their shoulders, which point up in various ways behind their head, almost as if their head were sprouting from some horrible creature's maw.

Their hands are large, even in comparison to their own proportions, and each fist is the size of their head. Their muscles are similarly over sized, and even the horse section of their body is rippling with muscles to the point that it may seem grotesque. Despite being forced to use over-sized weapons, Centaurs are very fierce hunters that combine the best points of calvary and foot soldiers, and are typically used as mercenaries on the islands they inhabit that also have sizable human kingdoms.

Centaurs typically live 80 years, and while it's feasible that they could live longer, their nomadic and harsh lifestyle normally kills off any elderly members of their race that can no longer keep up with the rest of the herd, which can often number in the hundreds. Their culture and way of life is very pragmatic when it comes to the facts of life and death; those who become too frail to care for themselves normally welcome being abandoned, and see accepting help as a shameful act. This fatalistic attitude has led many tribes of centaurs to extinction in fighting an overwhelming foe. It has also saved many others from extinction, driving off invaders who don't feel their own losses worth the gains of the centaurs' land.

Female centaurs are generally indistinguishable from the males due to their overabundance of muscles. They do not typically develop breasts, and instead develop teats buried in muscle and fat between their legs that their foals can easily reach and drink from. Young Centaurs are typically born 3 feet tall and can walk and run within minutes. They are usually fragile and frail, but centaur milk is extremely high in calories, and these young foals quickly bulk up and develop their muscles. By the age of 5, young centaurs look like miniature body builders, and by the age of 14 they are considered fully mature adults.

Centaurs typically wear clothing that consists of grass woven into skirts and they're fond of designs that allow trailing edges to spiral in the wind behind them as they run. They are also known to fashion armor out of bamboo that is more ceremonial than functional. Due to their nomadic nature they rarely find time to weaponsmith, and so normally fashion weapons out of wood and stone, or pay humans for metal weapons scaled to the centaurs' hands. They are particularly fond of pole axes, lances and spears that they can take full advantage of in combat with a 30 mile per hour charge. Centaurs are meat-eaters, and often hunt the larger beasts on their island, though they are careful not to over-hunt and keep watch over smaller, more vulnerable herds of prey animals.

People who live on the same island as centaurs normally are very intimidated by them, but consider them stupid savages. Centaurs may not be educated in a way that humans consider appropriate, but they do know the ways of the wild and could easily teach a human a thing or two about self-reliance and survival on one's own.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Playable Races

While there are at last count 20+ godtouched races, there are only a handful that players in the system will be able to create characters with.

Humans, anthromorphs, ardlins, harpies, naga, orchaein and satyrs are the normal playable races. Theromorphs, while discussed in the anthromorph entry, are not going to be normally playable.

However, there are races that can be played with special permission granted by the game master, due to special weaknesses or strengths, or even simple eccentricities in their design that might allow them to easily disrupt or degrade a fun and engaging playing environment.

These special races fall into two different categories, limited and restricted. Limited godtouched races are not particularly unbalanced at first blush, though their abilities are still worth a second look for the game master of anyone wishing to play them. On the other hand, races in the restricted category not only have special abilities and odd traits, but due to the political situation in the world of Aarn, they would also have a great deal of difficulty undertaking any kind of normal social interaction, even with the aid of allies. While I know many people like playing the reformed monstrous pariah, or even simply an evil monster that massacres all, that's not something I plan on making easy to do.

The limited races are as follows; Centaurs, ghrok, dreamlings, spirit animals, theromorphs and (while not technically a godtouched race per se) the half-human, half-vampire dunpeals.

Centaurs are limited because of their quadruped status. Their movement speed and carrying capacity would be double other creatures with the same strength score. If that weren't enough, they have greater strength than other creatures. Despite a reduced agility and greatly reduced charm, those shortcomings are not quite enough to balance their strengths.

Ghrok are limited not because of any special powers they have, but because they cannot actually speak any vocal languages. This can be an interesting handicap for the experienced role player, but I don't particularly think it's good to have a mute race as a player character default.

Dreamlings are limited not only because of their shape-changing abilities and natural access to divine magic for free, but they also are supposed to be extinct. There are bound to be a handful of individuals still hanging around, but the GM and player would need to very carefully work out the character's history, and ensure the character would act appropriately and not reveal their true nature.

Spirit animals, while originally a default player race, has been moved to the limited category due to three reasons. Like ghrok, they cannot speak normal vocal languages. They also have the very special ability to, upon death, bypass the afterlife system entirely and immediately become a type of undead called "anima" that can possess and permanently steal the bodies of others. Finally, they also gain free access to elemancy, making them an extremely unbalanced race, though interesting to play.

Theromorphs are limited due to their animal personalities, antisocial behavior and the fact that while similar to anthromorphs, most people can tell the difference between the two, and theromorphs are hated due to the disease they spread.

The final limited character type is less a race and more a template - the dunpeal, the child of a vampire woman and a living godtouched male, can be applied to characters with special GM permission due to various vampiric powers they inherit.

Races that are restricted are salamanders, medusae, merfolk, valdrex, and vampires, which are a template applied to other godtouched races, like the dunpeal, but with more abilities, and also more restrictions on social interaction and of course, their allergy to sunlight. It is highly recommended that a player is never allowed to play a restricted race, though they make for excellent NPCs.

I will admit that while at first blush it seems like there aren't any particularly good role playing options for those who like undead, there is an entire branch of elemancy devoted to the magical element of death - those who use this elemancy turn into near-undead themselves, which increases the variety of undead characters allowed.

Races that cannot be used for a player character under any circumstance are dragons, phoenixes, sphinxes, and unicorns. I suppose if you really, really want you can develop your own houserules to allow players to play these races, but I still find it drasticly inappropriate, personally.

There are many other creatures on Aarn, such as goblins, giants, lizardmen and others, that are technically animals. They cannot cast magic and are only marginally intelligent, which greatly limits the options available to someone who wishes to play one, despite their tribal and social nature, and ability to learn pigin languages for communicating with players.

However, there are anthromorphic versions of every animal in the setting. For instance, an anthro giant is called a half-giant, and appears human for the most part despite its larger size and lack of actual giant heritage. An anthro goblin is called a hobgoblin, and an anthro lizardman is practically indistinguishable from an anthro lizard, though probably appears more human than an anthro lizard does.

I apologize that I've limited many fantasy tropes in such a way, and practically removed any culture such hobgoblins and half-giants may have as a race. I feel, though, that it adds a special flavor to my setting, having these traditional creatures be represented as anthropomorphic "animals".

Many other fantasy tropes, such as dryads or the halfling-like grassrunner, have instead been included as a type of fey. Of course, due to their godlike nature, it is completely inappropriate for a player to ever play a fey. I do not discourage these kinds of games, but do feel that if you want to go down that route, you may as well simply use my setting in a free-form way and abandon all the rules and dice entirely.

Godtouched Races: Satyrs

Saytrs are peaceful folk of the woods and fields, created by Fenille, the often-overlooked goddess of peace and harmony. They live all over the continent of Zenninfal, although their numbers are in their highest concentrations on the Moorish isles, the western province of Shanbar in the Cerenbaun kingdom, and the northern fields and prairies south of Habruk.

Satyrs are diminutive and rarely reach heights taller than 4 feet, and normally weigh between 70 and 90 pounds. Their upper bodies are very human, and with the exception of goat ears and a lion's nose, their features resemble those of young children. Their lower bodies are animal-like, with coarse brown fur growing below their stomach down to their feet. There is a degree of sexual dimorphism - the legs of females are much more digitigrade than the legs of males, which are semi-plantigrade. The knees of males are about halfway down the leg, with shins that go directly down to their ankle which rests just above a large hoof. In females, the knee is slightly higher, the shins are nearly horizontal leading back to an ankle suspended in air, with the final segment of the leg being an extension of their foot, which ends in a dainty hoof.

Males have horn stubs growing out of their forehead right beneath their hairline, and females have long bushy whiskers growing from behind their jaw, in front of their ears. Both sexes of Satyrs have a a small goat tail that's normally hidden under their clothing.

Satyrs are naturally charming, if not lazy individuals. They are hard workers on their farms and while shepherding their flocks, but they greatly prefer the "Easy Life" and strive to help achieve that goal in everything they do. Satyrs are in fact credited with inventing both the waterwheel and the windmill, creating them to make milling their grain easier.

Satyrs are long-lived creatures, although their youth is short. Those that live long enough begin to show serious signs of age at around 50, but those that reach that age can usually expect to live another hundred years. Due to a high early mortality rate however, the average age of death for a satyr is 80, but satyrs as old as 180 have been reported. Elderly satyrs normally help guide the politics of the community, sharing their wisdom with the younger generation. Many elderly take up communal tasks such as shoe making and knitting once their bodies become too frail for field work.

Satyrs normally breed twice a year, and develop large families because twins are common. While they have an aptitude for magic, the use of it is actually quite rare. Most satyrs do not like combat of any kind, and their only line of defense against marauders, monsters, and greedy godtouched is to simply retreat into their homes and hide. Their aptitude for breeding is arguably the only thing that has kept their populations stable. Satyr youths who develop destructive types of elemancy are actually considered pariahs in their community, though satyrs who develop protective elemancy are quickly turned into local folk heroes.

While not directly affiliated with human kingdoms, most of the lands that satyrs live on are considered the property of local humans, if not private individuals then the kingdoms themselves. Satyrs are considered citizens of the country they live in and are expected to pay taxes. There is a tension between satyrs and humans due to this, especially because human knights and law enforcement officers generally think twice about aiding or protecting a satyr village due to racial prejudices. Satyrs have never really felt like they own the land they live on, and so far no humans have threatened to evict them or take their fields. They resent not being protected as well as human towns, especially considering they pay taxes all the same, but for the most part they don't see creating a conflict over this as being worth the trouble.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Intermission and a Map!

While drawing all these nifty safe-for-work pictures of my races is fun, it's also time-consuming. It's slowing down my progress in updating old information, and that's something I can't afford at the moment, so no new artwork for now, sorry.

You can still view old artwork that's slightly less safe for work at my photobucket account. I've drawn all the major races except for ghrok and humans there, in the form of tasteful nudes.

In the meantime however, I thought I should include a map of the inhabitable hemisphere of Aarn, to allow those of you following along to keep track of what is where. I hope it will be helpful!
The white rounded outline actually represents the ring of storms cutting off the habitable side of the planet from the rest. Due to the type of map projection I used (a simple rectangular projection, for you map-heads out there) the rounded square you see is in fact how it would look on a map.

Cerenbaun and Igakari, the two most important kingdoms in the setting are on Zenninfal, and they've been colored in with a slightly lighter green. The rensvaja kingdoms I've yet to develop are similarly colored lighter in the south of Rensvan.

The gray islands are ones that I have not yet developed detailed information for, so there is quite a lot of room for expansion. But that is something that will have to wait for another time!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Godtouched Races: Orchaein

The orchaein (singular, orchaeya) are a race of plant-people who primarily live in the forests of southern and eastern Zenninfal. They normally keep to themselves, though their creator-god Raphalla being worshiped by humans lately has given them some prestige. They share their habitat with the satyrs, though satyrs typically live farther north and west.

Orchaein have seafoam green skin, with a large paler patch of skin on their stomachs that leads up the center of their torso and neck, and then covers their entire head. Their eyebrows are fren-like and very long, twisting up over their heads like antennae. They resemble moths in this respect. Their hair is typically a shade of forest green and their irises red. Their ears are large and long, and resemble curling veined leaves.

Leading down along the back of their necks are large tightly overlapping leaves the same color as their hair, that spread out and hang over their shoulders. Under these leaves on their shoulders are glands that produce a paralytic spore. The leaves can lift up and expel the spores in an orange cloud into the air. An orchaeya can either do this in self-defense, or to stun prey while they're hunting.

Orchaein are usually the same size and shape as human beings, with their average height being 5'8". They are slightly less dense however, and do not gain weight from overeating, so they are decidedly lighter, usually only weighing 90 to 140 pounds.

Being plant-based, the orchaein do not need to eat as often as humans, though they still need high-energy fats and proteins. Their food requirements are half that of humans, and their water requirements are double. Orchaein also need at least 2 hours of exposure to direct sunlight or 4 hours of exposure to indirect sunlight a day, or they begin to get tired and sluggish. This can be mitigated for lengthy periods underground by increasing their food intake to human levels, but they still require double the water, and this is a stopgap measure that only works for a week before even the increased food intake isn't enough to sustain them. The light from fire or from heated metal filaments cannot substitute for sunlight, though magically generated light can.

Orchaeya are actually somewhat resistant to fire, due to the high moisture content of their skin. However, they receive extra damage from cold-based attacks due to the freezing and expansion of that same moisture. They are also susceptible to poisons that normally have to be ingested, if those poisons get on their skin.

Orchaein find saltwater more toxic than humans do, due to how permeable their skin is. Being immersed in saltwater without any protective oils or salves will begin to poison an orchaeya. Through osmosis, the salt in the ocean will actually strip them of their natural fluids, dehydrating them and upsetting the chemical balance of their cells. More than a few hours in salt water will risk killing an orchaeya. Swallowing salt water is not as serious, and while dangerous, is only as dangerous to an orchaeya as it is to a human.

Orchaein live longer than humans, with the average age of death being 120. Orchaein as old as 170 have been reported.

Being plant-based, it's only natural that their reproductive cycle is a little strange. [This Paragraph Redacted after the author was suitably bitchslapped into understanding the concept of 'too much information'.]

Over the summer, sprouts form into above-ground pods that resemble green eggplants. These pods are cared for diligently by the entire community, and near the end of autumn, the pods spring open and out stumble fully-formed toddlers. Orchaeya females then nurse their young like mammals. Because genetic parentage is nearly impossible to determine, the entire community cares for every individual as if they were a giant extended family. This leads to an outlook on life that is very rosy, caring, and full of love. In short, the best way to describe an orchaein settlement is "a free-love hippie-socialist commune."

Their societies are usually in groupings of 100 scattered across the forests. Buildings are normally made out of wood, leaves and thatch, though mud brick buildings aren't uncommon in areas where it's not too moist. Traffic between orchaein towns is high, partially in order to maintain genetic diversity. Teenaged orchaein usually develop wanderlust, and leave their towns to either see the world, or find a new group to be accepted into.

While orchaein are normally nudists in their own communities, they wear clothes during the winter to protect themselves from the cold, and also wear them while traveling in the company of humans or other godtouched creatures who find nudity indecent. They must also wear clothes in very arid areas, or they risk drying out faster than they can replenish their fluids.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Naga in Picture!

Not much to say for this picture! Here are two naga, a male and a female.

I suppose I should have mentioned it in the post earlier today, but naga give birth to live young, and they breastfeed their infants, hence the female naga's armor in order to keep her safe for work.

Edit: Also, the average age of death for a naga is 90, and they have been known to live to 120 without magical aid. I should really make a form I can fill out for all the races so I don't forget these pertinent details!

Godtouched Races: Naga

The naga are a race of noble and martial forest dwellers. Created by Retla, the sister of Gretash who created the first godtouched race of the medusae, naga are similar to their southern cousins. They are snake-based, with their lower body the tail of a snake, and their upper body a reptilian humanoid. In this way, they're similar to the medusae's aquatic form.

Unlike the medusae, they have actual mammalian hair growing out of their heads instead of snake-like tendrils. They also share none of the medusae's metamorphic qualities; they can neither grow legs nor wings.

The faces of naga are gaunt and thin with sunken cheeks and chiseled features. They have a very prominent brow-ridge that blends into their nose and resembles a crown. Their ears are long and thin, a flap of cartilage supported by an actual bone.

Their bodies are scaly from head to toe, with some of their softer mucles being aligned in rows giving them extra strength. They are surprisingly fast on land despite their lack of legs, though they still aren't as agile as humans. Because their humanoid features seem cut off at the knees, naga are usually four or five feet tall, but their bodies are actually more bulky than humans due to their tail, so they weigh more. A healthy naga will weigh from 200 to 300 pounds.

Eight thousand years ago, when mankind was first created and struggling for survival, the naga chose to aid the humans and protect them from other creatures that would wish them harm. Like many godtouched, the naga no longer had a god actively watching over them, so Jennin, the creator of mankind, adopted them and put them into a position of religious power in human society.

The naga would act as divine protectors and warrior-monks, emissaries between Jennin and his human creations. For a thousand years the naga protected the temples and religious sites of human beings. However, when the original human civilization precipitated the magical cataclysm that created the Eastern Islands, the surviving humans forgot the nagas' place in society. Many naga have ill-feelings towards humans for their abandonment, but they still maintain and care for the ancient temples that dot the landscape. Naga have a very fierce psychological drive to protect, and when humans no longer sought after nor allowed their protection, most naga reverted to simply protecting the temples and the forests that grew up around them.

Naga society may appear primitive at a glance, but they actually have quite a robust intellectual community. Naga are fond of philosophy and wisdom, and often use divine spells and rituals in order to learn more about their world. They also use divine magic for tanning leather and shaping metal, choosing methods of survival that carry the smallest possible ecological footprint.

There are three major populations of naga in the world, with the largest being an entire kingdom in the south of Rensvan. The others live in a more scattered, less organized state, relying more on a tribal social structure. These populations differ by skin color, and could be considered their own sub-races.

The naga in the south of Rensvan are colorful, with their more common skin tone being chalk white with green, blue, yellow, and lavender scales. Their hair usually matches the color of their scales, though some individuals have red hair.

The naga who live west of the Yesshan desert in the jungles of Jerohm have darker colors, with matching skin and scale colors of dark purple, black, and a dark blueish gray. Their hair is always black.

The naga who live in the southeast of Zenninfal, north of the Yesshan desert have skin colors of various shades of greens and browns, in order to blend into their surroundings. Their hair is usually brown, black, or dark green.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Harpy in picture!

I've drawn a cute little harpy, for your viewing pleasure. Please don't mind the tattered top; I had to keep the picture safe for work, as per the blogspot terms of service.
It's been suggested to me that I add some downy plumage to her chest, in the cleavage area, and the idea seems to have some legs. I think I will adopt that design change, but the current image and current physical description will stand as they are in the blog. When I start building the wiki and draw any more pictures of harpies, the change will be reflected then.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Godtouched Races: Harpies

Arguably the most primal and bestial of all the godtouched races, the wild harpy is a very dangerous foe. When the harpies were abandoned by their patron goddess at the end of the War of the Gods, they regressed to a barely tribal state and lost the finer arts of casting magic. The only magic that wild harpies can cast is elemancy, and even then, only about one in every 20 adult individuals can use it.

Harpies themselves range from 6 to 7 feet tall. They have very long legs and long arms, and a smaller torso and head whose proportions are more suited to a woman of 5 or 5'6" feet. Generations of breeding almost exclusively with humans have given their faces a decidedly human look, with the exception of slightly longer and sharper canine teeth. Their thighs are shorter than a human's, their shins longer, and their feet the feet of a bird, which gives them a digitigrade stance. Theirs arms are quite muscular, and their hands long, slim and dextrous. Harpies have a long and muscular sixth finger which grows directly out of their wrist. Their flight feathers are anchored to this finger, so it is quite thick and strong.

When it comes to feathers, a harpy's hair is actually a large grouping of plumage, and under the microscope one could see their tree-like structure. They have a set of seven feathers growing out of each human-like ear; three long feathers growing back and up, three shorter pointing back and down, and a seventh downy feather that points straight down.

Their arms and torso are mostly naked, save for the foldable flight feathers that grow out of the backs of their arms. They have a grouping of small scale-shaped feathers growing out of each hip and covering their upper thighs. They have softer downy feathers growing in a V-shape in their pelvic region, which runs between their legs and joins with their long tailfeathers, that are anchored at the bottom of the spine. Their lower shins are covered in downy feathers, making a smooth transition between skin, feather, and the scales of their feet. Harpy feathers are usually brown or gray.

Harpies have an average lifespan of 70 years, and harpies as old as 90 have been reported. Interestingly, their alluring and attractive appearance (at least in their face and upper body) does not deteriorate as they age, though their feathers begin to turn white, and their strength decreases as their body starts to shut down.

Wild harpies speak their own language, a cacophony of laughs, bird calls, screeches and warbles. It is difficult for other godtouched to understand this language, let alone speak it. Those who have spells that help break down language barriers, however, can sometimes communicate with and even barter with wild harpies. They are quite distractible and are very fond of shiny objects.

Fortunately, wild harpies can only be found in one place; the Arbol mountain ranges in the north of Zenninfal. These mountain ranges are similar to the alps or western rockies. The smaller mountains are quite wooded and wet, though the taller ones tend to be treeless, windy and bone dry. The harpies who live in these mountains are social creatures and often nest in great numbers, with a matriarch leader who is usually an elemancer.

Wild harpies hunt in groups of three, with one of them always being an adolescent being taught to hunt. There are two things they hunt for; food, and godtouched males. Harpies are exclusively female, and can only reproduce by mating with another godtouched. Sometimes, their unfortunate male victim winds up being both the father of the next generation -and- dinner. In recent times, humans have been a particular favorite pray. Through some coincidence, the mating of a harpy and a human has a very high chance of pregnancy.

Harpies carry for two months, then lay an egg which is closely guarded and cared for by the harpies too old to hunt successfully. If a harpy egg is "rescued" from their kin and raised to adulthood, the offspring has the potential to be just as civilized and skilled in the art of magic as her foster parents. Due to their kin's bestial nature however, harpies are not recognized as citizens in most Zenninfal kingdoms, especially Cerenbaun. Though slavery is illegal, people can still buy and sell harpy slaves. Live eggs are naturally worth quite a lot of money. Charity organizations and churches will often pay the highest for the eggs, seeking to save the future harpy women from sex slavery, or worse.

Civilized harpies have been known to travel as far away from Zenninfal as possible, in order to escape the horrible reputation of their feral kin. They have been spied as far south as the rensvaja kingdoms, and as far east as the easternmost Eastern Islands. Most harpies have difficulty adjusting in new lands, and often resort to piracy, thieving, and prostitution. This does not help their reputation in the lands far from Zenninfal, and wanderlust-afflicted harpies seeking a fresh start are often in for a rude awakening. Despite this, many are happy to just be considered an equal godtouched under the law, even with the unsavory stereotypes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Ardlins In Picture!

Today I decided to draw all twelve ardlin subraces!

They're presented in the order I listed them yesterday, but for your conveniance, here is the layout.

Top Row: Swamp Ardlin, City Ardlin, Mountain Ardlin, Forest Ardlin, Plains Ardlin

Middle Row: Cave Ardlin, Snow Ardlin, River Ardlin, Sea Ardlin

Bottom Row: Sand Ardlin, Bush Ardlin, Tree Ardlin

I wonder if I've made them too cute? ... Naaaaah!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Godtouched Races: Ardlins

Having only existed on the planet for 4 generations, the ardlin race has yet to truly establish a niche for itself in the environmental or cultural frameworks of Aarn. Their goddess, Leeshia, was trying to choose an animal species to elevate to godtouched status, and was having a great deal of trouble deciding whether to use goblins or lizardmen. Eventually she decided to combine both, and introduce features of a velociraptor in order to even out the transition. Dinosaurs are quite rare north of the equator, but pockets of them still exist in the jungles and bushland of Rensvan.

Due to the fact that ardlin population centers were established separately and have yet to truly commingle or interbreed, there are very many different ardlin subraces with quite a large amount of variation between them. Similarities between them are as follows; the typical ardlin is between 3'7" and 4'5" in height, and weighs between 50 and 70 pounds. Ardlins have quite light frames and hollow bones, so they don't have much strength. However, what they lack in strength they more than make up for in finesse - the typical ardlin hand seems custom-built to be able to work around and in complex machinery, though their youth as a race prevents them from having any notable inventions to their name. Like all godtouched they are just as intelligent as humans so such an invention or breakthrough is only a matter of time.

Further, most ardlins have a retractile claw on their foot, and faces that seem more dinosaur than goblin or lizard. Like goblins, most of them have large and ornate spiny fins growing out of their heads, though unlike goblins the fins of ardlins appear in multiple rows leading down the back of the neck as well as along the sides of the face. Their legs are semi-plantigrade, with humanlike knees, but feet that walk on tip-toe and are supported by their large retractile claw. They also have a very short, stubby tail that often pokes over the backs of their clothing.

Culturally, ardlins seem to have difficulty adapting to the Aarnian civilizations largely dominated by man. Due to their newness and alien appearance, they are forced to live in population centers that already culturally and racially diverse, limiting the amount they can integrate with society as a whole. Ardlin tribes in nature tend to be nomadic, not being able to settle down in one place largely due to the fact that many godtouched races seek their extinction. Very few godtouched races wish to see the rapid ascent of man be repeated with the ardlin race.

Ardlins seem to have a maximum lifespan of 50 or 60 years, with the average age of death being around 40. They lay clutches of eggs, and unlike other lizard-like godtouched races such as medusae and salamanders, they are not mammals and the females do not develop breasts.

The individual ardlin subraces have not yet developed names for themselves, the lack of contact between tribes preventing any need for tribal names from arising. For the purposes of organization, the subraces of ardlins will be named after their habitat.


Swamp Ardlins: The swamp ardlins that live in the Moorish Isles north of Zenninfal have slick skin with very small scales. Their toes are webbed, though their fingers are not. Out of all the ardlin subraces, they have the most fins growing out of their head, with 9 rows of fins, each row having 5 to 6 spines. The males cut the membranes of these fins as a right of passage, tying the split skin around their spines and wearing them like dreadlocks.

City Ardlins: The most common ardlin species to be seen adventuring, these ardlins have recntly integrated themselves into the more culturally diverse cities of the Province of Querris in the Cerenbaun kingdom. They have rough and bumpy scales on their skin, and eyes slightly larger than other ardlin types. Their scales range from brown to grayish blue. They have only three rows of fins, one behind each ear, and one going down the middle of their head.

Forest Ardlins: The ardlins that live in the forests of Zenninfal are vibrantly colored due to the fact that they have nearly microscopic feathers growing out of their skin. The colors of the feathers range throughout the entire spectrum, though the colors themselves clump closely to greens and blues. Like city ardlins, they only have three rows of fins.

Mountain Ardlins: Often confused with infant wild harpies at a distance, the ardlins that live in the mountains to the north of Zenninfal are practically covered with feathers. They have long feathers coming out of their stumpy tail, their calves, and their arms. These feathers are functional and allow them to safely catch their fall from a bad tumble from the rocks, or even glide in a limited capacity. Instead of fins, they have long feathers growing from behind their ears, and a central feather crest. Their feathers tend to be brown with white and black stripes.

Plains Ardlins: The second most common ardlin type is the plains ardlin, which lives in the valleys and grasslands of the Eastern Border. They are known for hunting game and using spears, hiding underneath the grass. They can be quite aggressive in protecting themselves from outside threats. They have five rows of fins, with three rows on their head and neck, and one row behind each ear. Interestingly, they have tufts of feathers growing from their ankles, wrists, shoulders, hips, and a single tuft in the center of their chest.


Cave Ardlins: Living below the surface, far from the bitter colds of the Habruk continent, the cave ardlins have the largest eyes of all other subtypes, and skin that has slightly chameleon-like abilities. Their skin can shift to any color of rock, or even become a jet black that seems to absorb all light. Vibrant colors seem beyond their capability. Cave ardlins have no fins on their head, though they have two rows of skin-flaps that are accordion-folded, running down the back of their neck from behind their eyes.

Snow Ardlins: Covered in fluffy, pure white downy feathers, snow ardlins are perhaps the most bizarre looking ardlin subrace. They have two rows of fins which act almost as a reverse retractile hood - feathers grow from the fins and they can use the fins to hide their faces from the bitter cold winds of their home. Bemused travelers who watch them bound through the snow have described them as appearing like living balls of cotton.

River Ardlins: River ardlins live in the easternmost areas of Habruk, which have a milder climate than the more western mountains. They have quite yellow skin to blend in with the native vegitation, and only have a single row of fins on the back of their necks, which they use like a rudder. This row of fins continues down their spine down to their tail. They also have one spine hanging from under each ear, though these two spines have no fin membrane connecting them to anything, so they hang loose. Their snout is longer than other ardlin species, allowing them to more easily swim through the rivers and capture fish. River ardlins are fond of wearing long flowing robes on land, and have been largely adopted by local human monks and ascetics who think the river ardlins are holy beasts. The river ardlins accept this role happily and take on an ascetic air themselves.

Sea Ardlins: Living in and around the Eastern Islands and the shores of Igakari, these migratory ardlins have slick scales colored shades of blue, green and yellow. Sea ardlins have fish-like fins growing from behind their ears, a long tadpole-like tail, and a single horn growing backwards out of their head, similar to a duck-billed dinosaur. They have no retractile claw on their toes, which are long and webbed. Unlike other ardlins, who are omnivores, sea ardlins are exclusively plant-eaters. There are rumors that another breed of sea ardlin was seen in and around the Great Barrier Sea to the south of Zenninfal, but if true, they have likely already been driven extinct by the merfolk who live there.


Sand Ardlins: Covered in pure white scales, sand ardlins reflect the heat of the desert and can live there quiet comfortably, even with minimal amounts of water. Normally they appear as if they have no fins at all, but their fins are in fact retractile. Running down their spine is a set of two fins. They have two more hidden rows of fins, one row running down each arm. Their fins can open, doubling the sand ardlin's surface area. They use these fins to warm themselves in the morning desert sun. One other distinguishing feature of the sand ardlin is their giant feet. Their toes are long and splayed, allowing the ardlins to walk on the desert sands without sinking and without getting burned.

Bush Ardlins: Hailing from the less environmentally hostile areas of Yessha, bush ardlins are similar to the plains ardlins that live farther north. Their feather tufts are longer and more pronounced, and usually shades of white. Their scales are shades of black and brown, and are large and bumpy. They have only two small rows of fins, one row behind each ear, with no central crest. They have prominent brow-ridges over their eyes, however. They also have a long fatty waddle hanging from beneath their jaw that helps store food in their lean environment.

Tree Ardlins: Living in the jungles on the peninsula of Jerohm, south of the Great Barrier Sea, the tree ardlins are being protected by local wildlife and humans by naga, in the same way the naga protected humans all those thousands of years ago. Tree ardlins are smaller and more compact than other ardlins, being able to climb trees and leap from leaf to frond. Physically, they have a white ring-tuft of downy feathers growing around their neck, with stripes of iridescent blue feathers similar to their forest ardlin cousins growing in V-shaped patterns across their scales. They have five rows of fins, two rows behind each ear, and one row growing down their spine.


Between the valdrex in the north, the isolated rensvaja humans in the south, and the impenetrable jungles, mountains, swamps and brushlands in the center of the continent, there have been no confirmed sightings of any ardlin tribes in the whole of rensvan. Considering how hostile the jungles are, any tribes that might have existed are likely dead, or so good at hiding they will remain undiscovered.