Tales of Avalos
The most diverse, prominent, and populous race in Avalos, humanity has spread far and wide, controlling large swaths of Aridun, Persevii, the Früs and possibly even land beyond the Expanse. Humans vary wildly in culture, values and religions. The true strength of humanity comes from their ability to adapt, grow, learn and develop technologies, strategies and magickal arts on an intragenerational scale. Their adaptability is matched only by their indomitable will towards their goals, which unfortunately can lead to conflict with other races and each other. Humans seem to form a middle-ground, physiologically, between stocky dwarves and gnomes and and lean elves. On average, humans stand around 5’9" and weigh around 150lbs.
One the most unique traits of humanity is their ability to sire children with other humanoid races. This has led to the creation of entire subraces of half-breeds. No other race has the ability to create half-breeds, as far as records indicate. This reproductive ability, coupled with humans’ higher rates of fecundity, as led to their numerical domination of Avalos.
It is not known where humans originated from. While many theories have been examined, none can explain the diversity so easily seen among humanity.
“What a strange kind the humans are. Act like they live forever, yet only last a century. Capable of great creation, yet also great destruction. Loving, yet hateful. Reasonable, yet confused. Wise, yet ignorant. A true creature of duality.” – Yv, the 5th Log of the Seen World
Elves are an ancient race who once dominated the world in times gone by. They were the first race to rise to power after the fall of the Ancients. Their reign ended when the nascent tribes of humanity established their Dawn Empire of Aridun over their crushed city-states. Svelte and agile, elves are known as remarkable archers and more even remarkable skill with magick. All elves can live for centuries, while more ancient lineages have been known to live for millennia. While to the untrained eye, the sub-races of elves seem to be the same, there are actually many differences, both physiologically and culturally, with ancient alliances and grudges.
The term “city elf” does not refer to a specific sub-species of elf as some common folk may believe, but rather refers to those elves who have integrated, to greater or lesser degrees of success, into nations or city-states where they are not the majority. Typically, these city elves are found in human and dwarven nations and vary in how easily or to what extent they are seen as equals within their host cultures.
The Wanderer Elves, the Ryndow
Direct descendants of the elite of the Echor elven kingdoms, the Ryndow once ruled over humanoid races, before the rise of the humans of the Dawn Empire. With their ancient empires scattered and destroyed by the steady march of time and the rise of other races the Ryndow were pushed out of their former lands. Many adopted a nomadic lifestyle, constantly traveling along the roads of the continents in massive caravans of wagons. Entire generations are born, live and die without ever calling a land home, save but the road. This has led to a steady change of cultural personality, from the aloof and isolationist stereotypes that so dominate the other races’ impressions of elves to a more carefree, freedom-loving, if “free spirited” way of life. This carefree nature, especially about laws and customs of a land a caravan may be sojourning in can lead to conflict and resentment by others. Each caravan has its own code of ethics and law, but all stress freedom over all. While a mostly insular culture, it has been noted that other freedom-loving races, namely the Halflings and various subspecies of Animalfolk, have also called the Caravans home.
Physiologically, Ryndow are considered the “baseline” of elven races by others. They range around 5’7" in height and around 120lbs in weight, with skin tones ranging from fair to a dark tan.
“The road is our canvas. We are the paint.” – Garion Glenemere, Chief of the Naraleth Caravan
The Grey Elves, The Ylnow
Dour, arrogant and highly utilitarian, Grey Elves claim direct lineage of the Echor Kingdoms, and many act as if these kingdoms still stand. Many Grey Elves shy away from other races, consigning themselves to small, mountainous nations, such as Ipes and Koton of Aridun, studying arcane knowledge. A highly individualistic people, each Grey Elf will try to seek total success in life, through knowledge in the magickal and contemporary arts, less be consigned to a life of failure and shame, which usually ends with an honor-killing. This causes them to be highly competitive, shrewd and incredibly exacting. The only thing that prevents their race from tearing itself apart is a collective desire to out-compete “lesser” elven races, to prove that they are the true claimants to the ways of old.
The Grey Elves base their systems of government on a technocratic system; the most qualified in a field are selected to lead. While the system is sound in theory, this can cause massive infighting and political subterfuge among rivals. Like their namesake, Grey Elves are grey in skin tone, with some shade of dark, ashen hair. Grey Elves are slightly more svelt and lean than their Wanderer counterparts.
“One must always strive for victory in all things. That is what defines the order of life itself. Strive for victory in life, or strive for a swift death.” – Rindlon Vetviin, On the Nature of Conflict, 2nd Edition
The Sand Elves, The Dunvi
Hailing from the desert of Persevii known as the Great Banded Sea, Dunvi are a pastoral people, who have long herded their flocks of desert beasts. During the reign of the Kingdoms, they were seen as the shamanistic caste, sought for divine knowledge and magickal prescience. After the rise of the Dawn Empire and mankind, many Dunvi consigned themselves to their ancestral lands, seeking lives away from the march of time, while the remainder integrated themselves in the various city-states of the Farisid Sultanates. But for those living among the desert crags and endless dunes, life is much like it has been for thousands of years. The Dunvi are divided among tribes, each with its own shaman-chief and elders. Since the Sand Elves are pastoral, much honor is seen in animal husbandry, and the healing magicks needed to keep these livestock alive in the harsh desert.
“Take this gold as a token of our thanks for your participation.” “Interesting, but you can’t feed the yaks with it, so I’ve no need of it, unfortunately.” – Response of a Dunvi Herdsman to a Scholarium reimbursement for study
The Fallen Elves, the Drow
Fallen Elves, known by most as Drow, are the only sub-race of elves that live in the Primordial Underground, the vast underground cave system far below the surface of Avalos. During the reign of the first Echor Kingdoms, many elves worshiped a variety of deities besides the primary Echor pantheon. One such deity was known as Araushnee, the elven goddess of destiny. Her followers subjugated and enslaved “lesser” races, using them for sacrifice and to enhance their own magickal abilities to influence their destinies and gain favor with their goddess. These elves routinely abused and slaughtered those lesser races they dominated over. Ancient accounts posit the theory that they preferred human slaves overall, due to their high reproduction rate, allowing for a higher rate of sacrifice. This bloodlust would lead to their undoing, as those slaves revolted, overthrowing these Fallen Elves and eventually established the Dawn Empire, which swiftly ended the reign of Elves on Avalos. The survivors of the destruction were supposedly cursed by Echios-Elow, the primary deity of the elves, to have “:skin of obsidian” and pale hair, and bestowed an aversion to sunlight. The accursed retreated the vast underground, not to be heard for centuries. Their goddess was transformed into Lolth, the Queen of Spiders.
The Drow of the modern age still hold these millennia-old grudges, and as such, have a hatred of all other races. Dangerous, paranoid, and militaristic, Drow could be a true threat to the world, if not for their constant infighting, civil wars and sadistic self-destructive cultural attitude.
Drow are slightly taller than their aboveground kin, standing around 5’7". Drow society is highly matriarchal, with females ruling and males subjugated as second-class citizens. While all Dark Elf skin tones are dark in tone, they can run the gambit from the stereotyped purple obsidian, to dark grey, to an ash brown.
“To Dominate is Divine” – Llolthian Axiom, Book of Llolth
“For the hundredth time, you idiotic human, I don’t know anything about this ‘Drizzt’. Now get out of my face.” – Laelia Baen’rret, Drow Mercenary
The Wood Elves, the Sylow
Nature is considered sacred in most elven cultures and societies, but one subrace has devoted their existence to its caretaking. The Wood Elves, or Sylow, call the deep forests of Aridun and Persevii home. Wood Elves live in great Archtrees, towering trees that bulge and hollow out in the middle, allowing for the creation of makeshift homes. Sylow culture is based on a gerontocracy, a system where the eldest lead. Elders dictate nearly every aspect of Wood Elf life, from laws to future professions, to even the names of newborns. Unlike other elves, Wood Elves reject arcane magick, as they see it as a perversion of true, natural magick of the Wildstream. This has lead almost all Sylow to be proficient in duidic and sorcerous magicks. The Sylow also believe in the “celebration of life”, festivals held to celebrate the birth of children, the changing of seasons and the addition of new Elders. To the untrained outsider’s eye, these celebrations may come off as hedonistic, which may be why the stereotypes of Wood Elves being “revelers” and “tree huggers” stands.
This intrinsic connection the Sylow have with nature can manifest itself physically. The older an Elder is, the more symbiotic their connection is to natural magick. Eventually, in an event called “Endosymbiosis”, the Elder physically merges themselves within an Archtree, essentially becoming the tree itself.
“All life is a gift from the gods. Why then should mortals be presumptuous as to take this gift from the nature that surrounds us?” – Andranna Thronos, 2,000 year-old Elder of the Gwaron Tribe
The Wild Elves, the Hul-Ilen
Wild Elves are supposedly an enigmatic subrace of elves that, unlike other elven races, were never a part of the Echor Kingdoms of old, choosing instead to live isolated, deep in the Southwestern reaches of Aridun. Wild Elves have lived as hunter-gather tribes, hidden from the world since time immemorial. A people even more mysterious than the shamanistic Dunvi, the only true way we know of them is through hushed word of mouth and the few encounters fellow elves have had with them.
“Perhaps the Hul-Ilen hide from the world, not out of fear of what is, but out of shame of what it has become.” – Scholar Faraday, Wild Elves – A People Separate
Dwarves, or Dwan in the ancient Dwarven tongue, are a humanoid race, native to Aridun and the Southern Früs. Stocky and strong, Dwarves have always been known as capable warriors and even more capable craftsmen. Dwarven culture is built upon thousands of clans; lineages that date back since the founding of Dwarven society and loyalty to the clan is favored above all. To go against the clan is akin to denouncing one’s religion. To be called “clanless” is a deep insult. Another one of the most prevalent aspects among Dwarven culture is the growth of beards, which can signify a variety of statuses, from class, to political positions to even clan affiliation. Some females have even been known to grow beards. The Dwarves are a hardy, steadfast and skillful folk whose martial prowess and craftsmanship have placed them among the most powerful and technologically advanced races in the world.
Physiologically, the average Dwarf stands around 4’6”, and weighs around 160lbs. Dwarves have natural low-light vision, which is necessary in the dark tunnels of a Dwarven mine-city. Dwarves can live up 300 years old, but average around 150.
“Be Strong and Unbending.” – Ancient Dwarven Adage
Hill Dwarves are a Dwarven subrace native to the southern and western mountain ranges of Aridun. Shorter than the average Dwarf, Hill Dwarves stand around 4’4” and generally have a slightly darker complexion. While still adhering to the rigid clan system, Hill Dwarves are more lenient on and marriage between higher and lower clans and living among non-Dwarves. Hill Dwarves are the most likely to include non-Dwarves in their cultures, as opposed to the rather insular Dwarf sub-races. This more easy-going stance on the rigid Dwarven life has earned them a reputation as “too jovial” and “lazy” among their kinsmen. Their more liberal values also allow for many Hill Dwarves to pursue professions as travelers, merchants and mercenaries. Hill Dwarves are known to wear colorful outfits, with gingham cloth wrapped around their waists and shoulders known as “kilts”.
“As long as there’s gold flowin’, I’ll be your sword and yer shield, laddie!” – Raddaek Steelbrow, Dwarven Warrior
Shield Dwarves are a dwarven subrace that inhabit the vast Northern mountain ranges of the Früs and the western mountains of Aridun and rule the nations of Kirkheim, Stennum and Duran. Shield Dwarves have a much more insular and isolationist culture than their Hill counterparts, and as such, rarely come into contact with other races beyond trade. Shield Dwarf society is incredibly self-contained; mountain cities have most, if not all, aspects of daily life solely kept within. It’s entirely possible that the average Shield Dwarf may never come into contact with other races in their lifetimes. Shield Dwarves stress clan loyalties and honor far more than any other dwarven subrace. Minor infractions can lead to outright imprisonment or exile. These infractions are relatively common, as most Shield Dwarves encountered outside of mountain-cities are usually exiles or those who rebelled against their system.
Shield Dwarves are slightly shorter than Hill Dwarves, and usually have fairer skin, likely due to lack of sun exposure.
“A true Dwarf cares not for petty notions of ‘comfort’ or ‘aesthetics’. A room is to store your tools, a hammer is to temper steel. Everything should be as it only needs to be.” – Tekon Coalsword, Shield Dwarf miner
Far below the surface of Avalos, the Deep Dwarves call the labyrinthian caverns of the Pluridium home. Pale and red-haired in appearance, the Deep Dwarves spend their lives mining the earth for precious gems or other raw ore to sell to the Dwarven races above. The Pluridium lies above the Primordial Underground, but the denizens from below often clash with the Deep Dwarves. This has led to a creation of a defensive, militant culture and collectivist mindset. Deep Dwarves are very untrustworthy of most other races, including Dwarven outsiders. It is rare for anyone to visit a Deep Dwarf Mine-City, but legends tell of their wondrous magickal weapons and armor and their armies of autonomous golem constructs.
“The Deep Dwarves are the last friendly race that resides below, and even then they might kill you.” – Johann Thern, Human explorer
Gnomes are a humanoid race, native to the eastern hills of Aridun. Gnomes are similar in size and build to Dwarves, but stand slightly shorter at around 3’6" and are slightly thinner.
What sets Gnomes apart from most other races is their savant-like affinity with metalwork and craftsmanship. Gnome societies have always been known for their crafts, be it mechanical, arcane or alchemically based. It is through these inventions and their popularity among other races that has allowed Gnomes to so greatly impact the world.
In general, most Gnomes encountered on the road are easygoing and highly curious, with great respect for levity and mirth. Strangely, however, The Gnomes of Aridun, specifically of the former Gnome-dominated nation of Attica and the kingdom of Rheorkin, adhere to a strict caste system which permeates into all aspects of Gnomish culture. At the top rests inventors, alchemists and mages, followed by clerics, merchants, warriors, farmers and finally socially exiled “casteless”. It is considered unlawful should one of a lower caste attempt to interact unprompted with a higher caste. This severe social stratification seems a bit jarring to outsiders, but it has been practiced since time immemorial.
Gnomes can be found all over the known world, especially in more hilly areas. Gnomes can live around 2 centuries, sometimes longer with magickal assistance.
“Hmm, this pinch of sulfur could make this oil more resistant to heat….or it could simply just explode. Let’s try it out!” – Wattmork Spindleblade, Artificier
A race of short stature and peaceful livelihoods, Halflings are the smallest of the common races, but still impact the world in ways as large as any other people.
Physiologically, Halflings stand around 3’, with proportionally larger feet and hands and usually a more bulbous head. This smaller size makes them ideal for fitting or sneaking into tiny spaces. This may explain a prevailing stereotype that Halflings make good thieves or assassins. Halfling skin color can vary from a pale white to a sandy brown, with a variety of hair colors in between. Halflings usually live for a century or two.
Halflings are a jovial, if uneventful people. Most Halflings’ lives are spent in quite seclusion in their small towns and cities, never venturing beyond their lands. However, some wanderlust-filled Halflings can be found around the world as wandering minstrels, bards, or other adventurer archetypes. Most Halflings call the pastoral fields of the Attica or the vast grasslands of Lacia home, yet can also be found in more rural areas of human nations as merchants or craftsmen.
“What about second-breakfast?” – Anonymous
Orcs, also known as the Darak, in Orcish, are a widespread, humanoid race known for their martial prowess and rather bloodthirsty cultural tendencies. These tendencies almost always leads to some sort of conflict, be tribal skirmishes or, in rare cases, large-scale warfare between tribes under powerful Orc Warchiefs. Orcs and their tribes mainly call the vast plains of Yhangiz-Ot and the swamplands of Mogao home, though Orcs are highly sought for their martial prowess and can be found as sellswords, smiths or even military advisors.
Most Orcs are monotheistic, believing in the deity Gruumsh, who teaches that honorable bloodletting are paths to the divine. While others may regard Orcs as inscrutable savages, there actually exists a great degree of order and social hierarchy in their tribal systems. Orcs emphasize honor in battle among all, so those who have proven their fighting prowess live at the higher echelons of the tribe. Orc culture is highly patriarchal, so females are almost always consigned to roles as gatherers or healers.
Orc stand at an imposing 6’-6’5" and can weigh upwards of 300lbs. Most Orcs have some shade of green skin, black-colored hair and some form of under-bite tusks. Orcs reach adulthood rather quickly at around 15 and reproduce at nearly comparable rates as humans, which would lead to overpopulation issues, if not for constant warfare. Should an Orc survive long enough, they would expect to live for around 40 years.
“We are the true caretakers of the plains; we cleanse it with blood and in turn it cleanses our souls.” – Thrak M’rith, Orcish poet – On the Nature of the Plains, Stanza 39
Half-Breeds are the children of some sort of pairing between a human and another humanoid race. Humans, for an unexplained reason, seem to be the only common, non-magickal species that can produce offspring with other races. So far, there has never been a recorded case of other racial combinations. A hybrid of both races, the child born usually takes some traits and abilities from each race.
Half-Breeds are fairly common, with half-elves and half-dwarves being the most seen combinations. This has led to a bit of a stereotype that humans are naturally promiscuous, and, in more racially homogeneous cultures, that half-breeds are tainted or abhorrent.
While half-breeds are united by the heritage of a human parent, they can differ as greatly as any other member of their other parent’s lineage. With no real cohesive culture, half-breeds tend end up as travelers, merchants or adventurers.
“Well, m’father was a human, me mum’ was a half-Dwarf. Wait, maybe not half-Dwarf, ‘er father was a half-Dwarf. That makes ’er a quater-Dwarf, methinks. But ’er father’s mother was a half-Dwarf and his father was a half-elf. Wait…” – Plen Marlo, “half-breed” farmer of Moorland, discussing his lineage
One of the more visually striking group of peoples, Animalfolk is a collective term used to describe anthropomorphic creatures that are morphologically similar to various common beasts seen around the world. There is still much debate among Scholars as to whether or not Animalfolk can be called a singular race, due to so much morphological diversity.
Animalfolk can be encountered in less populated regions of the world, but many call the Southwestern nations of Quimsa Inti, Zocotl and the Ettradines, home. Their habitats mainly depends on what kind of “breed” they are; Lizard-folk are far more likely to be found in dry, hotter regions than, say, a Tabaxi.
Much like humans, Animalfolk vary greatly in creeds, religions, cultural mindsets and values. Regardless, Animalfolk do exhibit a certain degree of unified respect for nature, likely due to their kinship with lowlier beasts. Therefore, Animalfolk place high emphasis on druidic and wild magicks.
“Bet you wish you could play two lutes at once, furheads!” – Sig Viljafriji, mothfolk bard of the Früslands, taunting competing musicians during the winter Lyng festival
Avalos is a world filled with mysteries, with stories yet unwritten, with legends yet uncovered. it seems very likely that there are other, less heard of races that call far-off lands home. Perhaps, dear reader, you may encounter these peoples, and, whether it be a friendly or hostile encounter, record that knowledge for the Scholarium.
“Wait, that’s not its face? What have I been talking to, then? ….Oh. Oh dear.” – Anonymous Adventurer