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.

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