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Races of Rhiada

Dweir (Dwarves)

The dweir of Rhiada are an ancient race with a strong connection to the cthonic forces. They claim to be the fistborn race of Rhiada, created by the hand of the Great Maker at the dawn of time. According to their own legends, there were seven original citadels founded by the seven ancestors. Each of these ancestors was a semi-divine being who created his own servants. In turn, each of these ancestors married one of their servants and produced the original ruling families of their citadels. Of the ancient citadels, four are in Dheona or the Sea of Edymion region.

Dweirish culture emphasizes engineering and the crafts. Being a zured (maker) is the most prestigious occupation in dweirish society, followed by merchants and warriors. Dweirish mages are called belzired (artificers) and are considered to be part of the zured class. Due to the prestige of these classes in dweirish culture, the dweir have long been the most advanced artificers, craftsmen and engineers in Rhiada. Generally speaking, they have a slightly higher level of technology than other races.

In the period leading up to the cataclysm, the dweirish citadels brought giant mercenaries within their walls to help fight against the labyrinth creatures. During the Dark Years, the giants slowly gained control over the citadels. When the labyrinth was finally defeated and civilization began to return to Rhiada, the four local citadels (Preddan, Andur, Deladdun and Kurdan) were fimly under control of the giants. The dweir took centuries to overthrow their oppressors and regain control of their cities.

Dweir are humanoid, but have a powerful and stocky build. They stand between 1.4 and 1.6 meters tall and weigh 70 to 100 kg. They mature at the same rate as humans, but can live up to 200 years. Dweir are considered youths until they reach the age of 50, despite the fact that they are physically adults at 20. Dweir begin to show signs of old age at 100 and the oldest dweir appear ancient, although they lose little of their physical strength. In fact, some dweir seem to become slower and more robust as they age.

Legend says that dweir turn to stone when they die, but this is true only of halgodanbelzired (master earth mages). Traditional dweirish magic focuses on artifice, earth mastery and fire mastery. They combine the talents of magic and superior craftsmanship to construct some of the most powerful and enduring magic items in Rhiada.

Citadel Andur, located on the western slopes of the Somber Mountains, fell under the control of the bestial Gerun Giants, a clan of man-eating brutes with animalistic features. They used brute force and cruelty to dominate the Andurren. Because of their relatively low-level of intelligence, the Andurren resistance was able to organize quite effectively and to coordinate with the Athamel of Sylaria who also took many of them in and offered them sanctuary. With the aid of their Athamel allies, the Andurren were able to drive out the Gerun with relative swiftness come the defeat of the Labyrinth. Andur and Sylaria were always close. With the rise of the Livonian empire, Andur became first a client state of the Republic and then an autonomous province.

As the Livonian Empire expanded, Andurren spread with it. For many folks who live far from the other citadels, the Andurren are the face of the dweir. Each legion had its own cadre of Andurren engineers to build and fire siege equipment, to sap walls and to build defenses.

Andurren culture is heavily mercantile, and shows both Sylarian and Livonian influence. Even in their religion, they mix veneration of the Lords of Light and the Omphalos with worship of the Great Maker.

In Elocia, Andurren are the second most common type of dweir. In Tyrathis, they’re the most common.

Citadel Deladdun, located in Delaeth Highlands on the southern shores of the Sea of Endymion, had fallen under the rule of the Obsidian Giants, a relatively civilized and militaristic clan with an affinity for fire magic. Although the Obsidian King ruled as a tyrant, his dweirish subjects were given the same rights as the giants who lived under his mailed fist. Because dweir were able to rise to positions of power under the Obsidian Kings, the resistance was slower to take root and failed to achieve universal approval of the Deladdunnen. An order of draconid warriors (the Order of the Platinum Heart) from Issaria provided support to the resistance. With the passage of long years and the spilling of much blood, the resistance successfully won the day.

Issarian religion and culture has had considerable influence on the Deladdunnen. They include the worship of the Celestial Dragon in their faith, considering him to be a draconic form of the Great Maker. The Obsidian giants had never suppressed the Deladdunnen arcane orders, so their belziredder retained more of their ancient arts than any of the other citadels in the wake of the cataclysm. For this reason, the Deladdunnen artificers are more advanced than those of the other citadels.

Among the many items made solely by the Deladdunnen are firearms, clockwork weapons and automata, bombards, bombs and the Ironfolk. Clockwork weapons used mechanical energy to fire automated ballista. Automata perfom many of the repetitive tasks in their factories. But their greatest achievement may be the Ironfolk, a race of artificial people, cleverly constructed from crystal, bronze, leather and iron. The dweir made them in imitation of the Soulbond Servitors created by the Scathovar Hegemony, but they far surpassed their rivals by creating a new race so cleverly wrought that they are capable of independent thought and action.

The Ironfolk are quite a connundrum in Deladdunnen society. The Church of the Maker teaches that souls are created by the Great Maker himself. The nature of the Ironfolk is hotly debated by theologians and philosophers. Majority opinion is that the Ironfolk are complex artifacts that resemble living creatures but have no souls. If this is true, then they are property, tools instead of people. Some maintain that they are soulless beings, abominations in the sight of the Maker and should all be destroyed. Others claim that they are creations so pleasing to the Maker that he has seen fit to breath souls into them with his bellows of life, in the same way that he does to dweir and other creatures. If majority opinion were ever to shift to one of the other viewpoints, it would rock the foundations of Deladdunnen culture.

Deladdun has always remained allied with the draconids of Issaria. They also maintain friendly relations with the Medani hillfolk. With the rise of Xandia, the trade cities of Eluquome were closed to even their Deladdunnen trade partners. Once they were close allies of Lugash, but its conquest by the Urhag ended that relationship.

They had always had strained relations with the Urhag of the hills, a situation that became worse when Xandia united them under her banner. Even with their aid, the Witch Queen was unable to conquer Delaeth Vale and Deladdun remained a thorn in her side throughout her reign. She conquered the eastern end of the vale and used her craftsmen to carve her own scowling face into the cliff of Mount Hulber. To this day, her face can be seen from the eastern walls of the citadel, depressing propery values in what was once a nice neighborhood.

Citadel Kurdan, located in the Vale of Kurdan, in the Cordanian mountains that separate the Sea of Endymion from the Aikonian Peninsula, fell under the control of the Trigonnen Giants, a race of three headed, six armed giants known for their skill with weapons. They ruled Kurdan as a warrior aristocracy and treated the Kurdannen as serfs. According to the written histories, the Kurdannen resistance was run by the priests of the Maker who toiled tirelessly behind the scenes to drive the Trigonnen out of Kurdan. Because they overthrew their oppressors without outside intervention, the Kurdannen consider their culture to be the purest example of uncontaminated dweirish culture in Rhiada.

Kurdan was a powerful kingdom that controlled the rich mines of Kurdan and the overland trade between Endymion and Aikona. A few centuries ago, Labyrinth creatures invaded the lower mines and drove the dweir out of their own citadel. The fall of Kurdan is told in the epic poem of the same name. The fall is blamed on the failure of the Kurdannen to adhere strictly to the principles of the faith. Over time, the entire Vale of Kurdan was overshadowed by aberrant energies emanating from the Labyrinth node in the mines.

The Kurdannen have fled and live as refugees in Kastria (to the south) and Morava (to the north). Many live in human communities, but the Duchy of Gunderkol in Morava is ruled by a Kurdannen Duke. The refugees are clannish, supporting one another and trying to maintain their distinctive dweirness despite living as a minority among other races. They’re known for their piety and industry. Many of them spend many hours planning for a restoration of Kurdan that will likely never to come to pass.

In Elocia, the crafts of metallurgy, stoneworking and engineering are dominated by the Kurdannen. All dweirish craftsmen in the region must belong to one the Kurdannen Guilds (whichever citadel they come from), which are as much religious brotherhoods as professional organizations. The guilds fall under the authority of the Guild Regulatory Agency, which is answerable to the Church of the Maker. While other dweirish nations have similar organizations, none of them are as strict or tightly regulated as the Kurdannen guilds.

Citadel Preddan, located in the Niemocrands, was under the mastery of the Gray Giants, a clan of engineers and artificers almost on par with the dweir themselves. They used a combination of physical force and magic to brutally enslave the Preddannen. When the Scathovar hegemony arose in the Sea of Endymion, scatha agents made contact with the Preddanen resistance. Although the scatha were mainly interested in the Omphalos, they were willing to help the resistance in exchange for the information they wanted. The Scathovar Hegemony aided the Preddannen underground to retake their citadel and to oust the Gray Giants. They became clients of the Hegemony and their culture was heavily influenced by the Scatha. This would prove to be their undoing when the Rhiannel returned to Rhiada. After destroying the Scathovar Hegemony, the Rhiannel also destroyed Citadel Preddan and tried to exterminate the Preddannen. A few of them escaped into the Umbra, where they rule Shadow Karthis to this day. More of them took refuge with the the Therans of Penthelea. The Preddannen dweir who remain have adopted many elements of Theran culture.

After the fall of Citadel Preddan and the end of the Rhiannel war, some of the Preddannen founded Debarska, a beautiful city that bridges the Great Rift between the Grand Plateau and the Eastern Plateau. For milennia, Debarska was the center of dweirish civilization in the Niemocrands and was widely considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The Debarska dweir thought they had escaped the bad luck that had hounded them in Preddan, but a century ago they were proven wrong when umbral spiders swarmed out of the Great Rift and drove them out of their home. To this day, Debarska is haunted by umbral spiders and umbral ogres.

The refugees from Debarska have settled mostly in Karthis. A few thousand of them, however, established a new fortified town at the narrow end of the Great Rift. It’s called Little Debarska. Although much smaller and less impressive than its predecessor, Little Debarska is now the only accessible bridge across the rift.

Ilfaren (Elves)

The ilfaren came to Rhiada thousands of years ago, before the cataclysm. According to their own legends they came across the astral sea, fleeing the destruction of their doomed world. Three great city-ships brought them to Rhiada and settled across the world. Rhianthe settled on an island in the western ocean (now called Rhiannath). Ulanthe settled in the far west on the western continent and Luenthe settled on the southern continent. During the milennium after their arrival, the ilfaren spread across the world. The Minuarian civilization on the continent of Dheona was heavily influenced by the ilfarens. As the cataclysm approached and labyrinth creatures began appearing in large numbers, the ilfaren were the first to suspect what was happening, for the same thing had destroyed their own world. Since the technology for building the interdimensional city-ships had been lost over time and the ilfaren population of Rhiada had grown too large to fit into the three ships that had brought them, the ilfaren were unable to flee.

The city of Ulanthe had been damaged on its way through the void to Rhiada. It’s citizens had been forced to flee in escape boats before the city exploded. The Ulanthinel themselves had been forced to establish new communities on the western continent with no ability to escape. The Luenthinel of the southern continent held a lottery and the winners fled in their city-ship. Those who were left behind had to find their own means of survival. The Quoluriel of the far south are their descendants. The leaders of Rhianthe chose a different tact. They dismantled the dimensional engines that had powered their city through the void and converted them into dimensional shunts that several smaller cities to withdraw into pocket dimensions. Those who sought refuge in these hidden cities withdrew from the world, appearing only for a brief time at infrequent intervals in order to test the world and to see if it was safe to return.

The descendants of those who took refuge in the Rhiannel cities survived the cataclysm and the dark ages unscathed. Among these cities are Eluquome, Quastinor, Vandua and Lioma. The inhabitants of these city-states consider themselves the true inheritors of the ilfaren culture. They call themselves the Rhiannel (Rhiansa Ilfaren). They live in ancient cities replete with magical devices that ease their lives. Most do not welcome outsiders.

Those ilfaren in Dheona who chose not to go into exile during the cataclysm remained behind in the woodlands of Rhiada. They joined with the other races in the struggle against the labyrinth. Their culture changed considerably during this time and during the later resistance against the Scathovar, becoming more attuned to the natural world around them and changing the focus of their magic from the arcane flow to primal spirit energy and service to the omphalos. Today they call themselves the Athamel, a name drawn from the ilfaren words an (return) and thama (root).

The ilfaren have a strong resemblance to humans, but are typically more slender with less body hair and lobeless ears that taper to a point. The Athamel have some human ancestry in addition to their ilfaren heritage. They stand as tall as humans, but weigh less due to their slight build. They enjoy longer lives than humans, with many living up to four centuries. They reach physical maturity at the age of 20, only a few years later than humans, and do not begin to show signs of old age until the middle of their fourth century.

The Rhiannel do not have human ancestry and consider themselves untainted by the blood of lesser species. They have the original ilfaren phenotype. Few of them stand shorter than 6′ 6″ and taller specimens have been known to reach more than 8′ in height. Due to their lithe and wiry build, even the tallest Rhiannel seldom weigh more than 250 lbs. Because they lack human blood, their features seem more alien than the Athamel. Their features are more delicate; their eyes are larger, with a more pronounced slant; and their ears are longer, with a more pronounced point. They live up to eight centuries, maturing at about 25 years and not showing signs of old age until the middle of their eighth century.

During the time of separation, the Ilfaren language diverged into the modern forms known today. In Dheona, the Athamel language is the common ilfaren tongue since it is widespread across the continent. The Rhiannel languages (Rhiannel, Vanuel, Eluquomiel and Quastinel) are close enough to one another to be considered dialects, but different enough that even native speakers have difficulty understanding one another. All ilfaren languages, however, are written in the ancient ilfaren script. Athamel is spelled phonetically, but all of the other ilfaren languages use archaic spelling rules that make them seem the same language in written form.

Kith (Halflings)

Kith bear a strong resemblance to humans, but are much smaller. They claim to be the first race of Rhiada, the children of the Whistler (a trickster figure in Kith folklore) who gifted them with wits, agility, a talent for music and a strong wanderlust. They live in family groups that are organized into clans and tribes. There are two types of kith tribes: the water tribes and the land tribes. The water tribes use river boats to travel the larger rivers of Rhiada or even shallow bottom coastal vessels to travel from river to river. The land tribes use ponies to travel across the face of Rhiada. Unlike other peoples of Rhiada, they’ve never had a nation or an empire of their own, preferring to keep on the move and to make their way through trickery and stealth.

Among the kith, wits and trickery are valued more highly than strength. They also value slings and bows over swords, preferring to fight from a distance. The errant rogue is a cultural hero. This may be one reason that many folks believe the kith to be a race of sneaks, thieves and conmen. It is true that they view bigo folk as rubes to be fleeced whenever possible. Usually this takes the form of fierce haggling. The kith don’t view it as unethical to steal things from people who haven’t the wits to protect their possessions. However, they generally respect the property of other kith and friends of the kith.

The kith speak their own language (Kethlen), but most also speak the local language. Religiously they’re extremely eclectic, borrowing from whatever faiths surround them. They have a reverence for the spirits of the natural world and for the moon goddess Selene, whom they call Mother Niera. But their most important religious figure is known simply as The Whistler, a trickster figure who travels with different companions on his many adventures. Stories tell of him tricking various gods, giants, dragons, demons and other powerful beings. He is a patron of thieves, travelers, merchants, conmen, magicians, musicians and scoundrels.

Each major river has its own tribe of kith. For example, in Elocia there are the Inarion River tribe and the Hylas River tribe. In Acheron there is the Acheron River tribe and in Tyrathis there is the Essen River tribe. The Endymion Coastal tribe connects the various tribes around the Sea of Endymion. The largest number of kith are the Halueth River tribes who live in the Salt Fens of the Halueth River, traveling from the Sea of Endymion in the south to the Bay of Cimber in the north.

In some of the larger cities, there are groups of sedentary kith who act as middlemen between their nomadic kin and the locals. In Elocia, they are also called the Rivertown Kith. They control a quasi-legal market where you can buy just about anything. Like most kith, they appear to be open and friendly, but are actually quite clannish and secretive around outsiders.

Kith stand 1 to 1.4 meters tall and weigh 20 to 40 kg. They can have a skin tone that ranges from tan to cholate brown. Eyes are typically dark gray with hints of blue, gold or silver.

Scatha (Metamorphs)

The scatha are a race of metamorphs who came to Rhiada from the Labyrinth on its last visitation. Very little of their culture remains in more than fragmentary form, but it seems that milennia ago their own world was devoured by the Labyrinth. They managed to survive within its depths for centuries or milennia, pillaging new worlds as the Labyrinth seized them. According to ilfaren legends, the scatha were agents of the Labyrinth when it devoured their homeworld. According to what histories survive from the time, the scatha poured forth from the Labyrinth upon its arrival. At some point (the histories are very sparse from this time period), the Scatha began to help the races of Rhiada to fight the incursion. They were instrumental in closing many of the Labyrinth nodes.

After the Dark Ages, they built an empire called the Scathovar Hegemony. As metamorphs, they were able to pass unseen among their many athamel, dweir and human subjects. The Hegamony was centered on the Scathovar city of Ixuva on the eastern shores of the Sea of Endymion. (The city was destroyed by a meteor fall and the site is now known as Starfall Crater). The Hegemony stretched around the Sea of Endymion and as far east as Quarish on the Sea of Grass. They ruled with a heavy hand, using their superior magical technology, the arts mindbending and fleshcrafting, and their ability to change shape and blend into the populace. They used their arts to create many servitor races, the most widespread of whom are the sergalla and the urhag.

Upon their return, the Rhiannel fought a war of extermination against the Scathovar Hegemony and succeeded in utterly destroying all of their cities. The scatha people were nearly exterminated.

Today the scatha live in the shadows of other races, especially humans, blending into the population. Having lost their culture, the scatha partake of local human culture. Most scatha prefer not to be known as a metamorphs, but some like to flaunt their true nature. In Elocia, there are about a thousand open scatha living in the city. They even have their own ethnarch.

All scatha have the ability to change shape, but their talent can vary. Some are masters, able to assume any living form with but a moment’s thought. Others can shift only with great difficulty, requiring several minutes and a lot of energy. Most are somewhere in between these extremes of ability, able to change without much difficulty but limited to humanoid forms.

In their true forms, scatha are roughly the same size as humans with mottled blue-gray skin and eyes with enormous black and silver irises that leave little room for whites. They have enormous control over their bodies, seldom getting sick and shrugging off most poisons. Their bodily control allows them to extend their lives, and many scatha live to a very old age. Scatha are bisexual, able to both impregnate and to become pregnant. Despite their alien physiology, scatha are able to reproduce with any other race. They can impregnate any female, implanting an offspring who is genetically identical to themself. When acting as a female, a skilled fleshcrafter can take genetic material inside themself and alter it so that it is compatible with them so that they can produce offspring who are genetically different, but still fully Scatha.

Many scatha have learned to control their bodies so as to give themselves night vision, better hearing or better sense of smell. Some can partially change so as to grow claws or horns. The attributes of the scatha vary so much from individual to individual that they impossible to quantify.

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