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"Representatives from every kingdom boarded the boat headed for the South Lands..."

Races of the World

 

Everyone comes from somewhere, where will your story begin?

Art by KT Chapman

Elves

The Elves, as the first people in the expansive history of Mundus, hold a distinct and revered position within the Empire of the Deathless Sun. Their physical features, characterized by short pointed ears, set them apart from other inhabitants of Mundus. This unique trait is not merely a cosmetic distinction; it signifies a deep connection to their ancestral roots. Elves are known for their passionate nature, forming tight-knit bonds with those they consider kin. This sentiment extends to their worship of ancestors, making them the custodians of ancient practices which bridge the gap between the living and the departed.

 

In their role as keepers of the peace, Elves have long employed a remarkable approach to diffuse tensions – they often make light of serious situations, even at the risk of their own well-being. This unique method reflects their commitment to harmony and tranquility. The elegance that permeates Elvish society is evident in various aspects of their lives, from the meticulous art of needlework learned by Elvish youth to their appreciation for the finer aspects of existence. With a history as the oldest and, at one point, the largest kingdom, the Elves developed diplomatic abilities and leadership skills essential for governing a diverse population.

 

Within Elvish society, the Emperor is venerated as a figure who attained enlightenment and subsequently became an ancestor. His spiritual presence, felt long after his mortal  existence, acts as a guiding force for the Elves. Some believe that as descendants rejoin the collective in death, they become one with the Emperor. Elves see themselves as the closest people to their ancestors, weaving ancient tales and early histories into intricate tapestries within individual households and throughout the empire.

 

While the Empire of the Deathless Sun's rise to dominance over the Eulian Crescent remains shrouded in mystery, the Elves' commitment to their ancient lineage and contact with their oldest ancestors sets them apart. This connection, coupled with the reverence for the first emperor, fosters a belief that Elves are more likely than other races to receive answers from their ancestors when seeking guidance through prayer. Despite this, outside their own culture, older Elves are often perceived as close-minded artifacts of a bygone era when they held control over the Eulian Crescent. However, the younger generation strives to mend relationships with other kingdoms, demonstrating a commitment to cultural evolution and cooperation beyond the borders of their ancient influence.

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Dwarves

The Dwarven people, hailing from the rugged slopes and deep mines of the Crimson Mountains, played a pivotal role in the foundation and development of the Iron Empire. Initially, the Dwarves were integral to the Empire of the Deathless Sun, providing essential resources like iron and coal. However, their innate traits of ingenuity, critical thinking, and independence of spirit led them to aspire for autonomy, leading to a significant turning point in Mundus's history.

 

In their early history, Dwarves toiled in the harsh conditions of the Crimson Mountains, extracting vital resources for the Empire of the Deathless Sun, providing them with iron, coal and steel. However, the Dwarves were blessed from the beginning with ingenuity and critical thinking. With a focus on innovation, Dwarves at their heart are a community striving for technological advancements for their home and abroad.

 

Their hardworking nature and resilience in the face of adversity laid the foundation for the Dwarven identity. It was amidst the dirt and darkness of the mines that they developed unique ways to distinguish themselves and their talents empowered them to seek independence from the oppressive EDS. This act was the first in Mundus’s history to mark the lessening of control the EDS had on the continent.  

 

Every Dwarf has a unique facial tattoo, a mark of their people that holds immense cultural significance and the receiving of the facial tattoo is a rite of passage for the Dwarves. Originally, Dwarves in the Crimson Mines marked their faces with symbols, allowing them to identify each other in the intricate labyrinth of mine shafts and later in the chaos of battle. These tattoos became a representation of a Dwarf's chosen trade, reflecting their specialization and skills. As the Iron Empire expanded and their knowledge deepened, the practice of face markings evolved. Instead of hand drawn daily symbols, they transitioned to permanent tattoos which held significant meaning with citizens placing these tattoos on their arms or shoulders as a homage to the Dwarven roots of the kingdom.

 

Today, the tattoos correspond to a Dwarf’s chosen trade. At the age of eighteen, Dwarves, regardless of their kingdom or affiliation, receive a facial tattoo which represents their connection to their mountainous ancestry. This tradition serves as a visible reminder of their heritage and the values passed down through generations. The facial tattoos, once a practical solution to identification, have evolved into a symbol of unity among Dwarves, regardless of their kingdom or current residence, and Ironfolk alike. In the Iron Empire, where various races coexist, these tattoos serve as a powerful visual representation of shared heritage and values. The diverse population of the Iron Empire proudly wears these symbols, fostering a sense of unity among its citizens.

 

In essence, the Dwarven influence on the Iron Empire is not only visible in its technological advancements but also in the shared commitment to hard work, innovation, and the acknowledgment of the rich tapestry of cultural heritage which contributes to the empire's strength and resilience. 

Taiakti

The Taiakti (tye·ahk·tee) were the first people to roam the Barren Lands, northernmost land of the continent, and are the second-oldest race in the world, with their people’s oral history dating back thousands of years. Taiakti are a humanoid race with animalistic features, and a nomadic people. They are of one kin divided into several Burrows. Kits (children) of the Taiakti people are not necessarily born with the same features as their parents. Each Tai is born with a purpose, and it is believed that the ancestors give them the tools they need to complete that purpose and fulfill their role in society. A Tai's purpose is determined by the animalistic features they are born with, though it could be tied into another purpose the ancestors have for them, which is shown through their natural skills. It is more common to see Tai of two varying animal features, or at most three.

 

The Taiakti had a unique  social structure prior to the establishment of their Kingdom.  Those that displayed four or more varying animal features, Kaimeras [kye·mear·ah], typically became leaders of their specific Burrow, while the lowest class was composed of Tai which  displayed only one trait, referred to as Safkans [sahf·kahns]. Both Kaimera and Safkan are very rare, and these governing structures based on the ancestral blessings of Tai individuals didn’t hold strong in an unforgiving land. Today, Taiakti of all kinds within Barren society are treated fairly and equally.

 

The Taiakti have a strong connection with their ancestors, and while many Burrow communities have minimal to no routine interaction due to the vast size of the Barren Lands, tales of the first Tai are consistent. According to their prehistoric lore, there was a time when humans walked the Barren North, stranded in this desolate land and pleading to the ancestors to save them from a harsh mercury storm. The ancestors heard their cries and bestowed their blessings. The stranded people were gifted traits necessary to survive the climates of the tundra. Some received large canine or feline ears, sensitive noses, and keen eyes for better tracking the limited wildlife across the snow desert. Others were blessed with wings of feathers or skin to reach tree canopies and catch birds which flew too close to hunting parties. Others still had thicker skin than that of a human. Every Tai is born with innate blessing from the ancestors, honed by the climate and perfected early in life.  

 

Taiakti believe that nature will provide for them, and so they find that using the natural land around them, without taking resources in excess, is a way to honor and give thanks to the natural world and the ancestors that provided it. They believe their ancestors are everywhere around them, in nature and the wilderness, guiding the lives of each creature, as calm guardians and escorts upon death. Taiakti believe that they do not own the land, they only live within it. They do not agree with killing if it can be avoided, as much like the wildlife found in nature, the Tai are of nature. Life is sacred and a gift from their ancestors. Upon success during hunting parties, a Tai will thank the animal for its life and what it will provide in death.

 

The offering system of the Barren Society originated from the Taiakti. The Offering is a type of barter system involving open exchange, with members of the community contributing wherever another is lacking, without the expectation of repayment. It takes everyone to survive in the Barren Lands, and the Taiakti learned that early in their peoples’ history. Without the offering system, the Barren Federation and its people would not be able to thrive.

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Fishers

The Ancestors of the Fisherfolk are believed by many to have watched over them long before they became what they are today. Centuries ago, according to Island Kingdoms’ legend, the Broken Peninsula was inhabited mostly by Elves and Humans. However, a ship laden with travelers bound for the recently-discovered islands of the peninsula sank. The survivors floating in the water pleaded to the ancestors to save them. As the shipwrecked survivors beseeched the benevolent spirits of their forebears for salvation, the ancestors responded in kind. The offering of miracles from a conduit of their ethereal power resonated deeply with the ancient ones, stirring them to bestow their blessings upon the desperate souls. In a testament to the enduring influence of the ancestors, the survivors underwent a transformation that transcended the bounds of biology, and were guided to a nearby island. These survivors called themselves the Fisherfolk, the first people of the Island Kingdoms.

 

Guided by this newfound connection, the Fisherfolk emerged from their ordeal not just as a people, but as stewards of the ancestral bond. In return for their survival, they bore the duty of honoring their lineage, ensuring that the ancestors’ influence continued to shape their lives. The sacred pact forged in the waters that fateful day became the cornerstone of Fisherfolk identity, a testament to their enduring bond with the ethereal realm of their ancestors.

 

The Fisherfolk, born from the crucible of the Boundless Ocean's embrace and the ancestors’ intervention, have adapted in remarkable ways to their oceanic lifestyle. These adaptations, a reflection of their harmonious relationship with the waters, are etched into their very beings. Finned ears and webbed hands, features both graceful and practical, are the mark of those who have seamlessly integrated with the rhythms of the ocean. Gills that allow them to breathe beneath the waves are a testament to the ancestral gift that forever binds them to the depths. 

 

The Fisherfolk's vibrant diversity extends beyond their abilities, encompassing their appearances as well. Fishers are a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns, each hue a reflection of their unique journey through the waters. The chromatic tapestry of their society tells stories of salt and freshwater, warmth and cold, life and adventure. Their varied appearances not only celebrate the richness of their experiences but also serve as a visual manifestation of their connection to the seas that have nurtured them.

 

In the heart of Fisherfolk culture lies an unspoken code, a philosophy woven into the fabric of their existence. Common sense and practicality reign supreme, echoing the lessons of survival etched into their history. Loose-fitting, sailor-inspired attire reflects both their affinity for the sea and their no-nonsense approach to life. Yet, amidst the pragmatism, an undercurrent of appreciation for beauty flows. The Fisherfolk, attuned to the splendor of their environment, hold a penchant for the aesthetically pleasing, recognizing that even in the depths of practicality, beauty has its place.

 

While self-reliance is a cardinal rule, the sanctity of the crew-captain bond remains an exception. A captain's mantle carries not only the responsibility of navigating the treacherous waves but also the sacred duty to watch over and support their crew. A failure to uphold this bond, a betrayal of trust on the tempest's waters, could spell mutiny or death - a reminder of the collective resilience forged in the crucible of survival.

Orcs

It is said that in the beginning there were Cormac and Ailish. Considered the first two elders, it was they who showed the Orcish people how to make life from hardship; to separate the usable from the unusable. Old stories tell that Cormac was the first to pull iron from Mundus and purify it with fire. So rich was the land in this material that Cormac made tools for all of his people and others in exchange for what they could provide in return. While there is no single physical description for Cormac, he is revered as the first metalworker, the first trader, and the one who carved a place for his people out of an unforgiving land.

 

Ailish was said to walk the land and name everything they saw. In many ways, she created the language of the Steppes, or at least the names of its features. It was she who first made medicine, and under her watchful eye, few ever saw an early death. It was said that to attack Ailish was to strike out against Mundus itself, for she knew the land, and it knew her. Many times did invaders attempt to capture or kill Ailish, and every time they failed, most never being heard from again. Like Cormac, no agreed upon physical description has ever emerged, but may Steppesfolk believe she still lives, wandering the Steppes and finding new ways to pull life from death.

 

Cormac’s discovery laid the foundation for Orcish society: every permanent settlement surrounds and supports a forge. Due to this, almost every city also contains or is a close distance to a metal mine. Iron is the most common, though lead, nickel, and even the odd cobalt deposit are sufficient to keep the economy of a town thriving. Forges are often the first structure built (even before beds) as the heat or a working forge can stave off the coldest of Steppeland nights.

 

It should be noted that the Steppesfolk are tough, but not cruel. It is common knowledge that any citizen who is incapable of working and shows no signs of recovery will largely be ignored. While many consider this practice vulgar to the point of being barbaric, there is a reason for this. Medicine is difficult to come by in the Steppes, and trading for it is so expensive that further prohibits proper, extended medical care. Even then, those that become incapable or infirm are such a drain on scarce resources that no self-respecting Steppeland would inflict such a perceived burden on their own people. Steppesfolk know and understand this aspect of their culture and have no qualms when their time has come.

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Humans

The Humans are unique in that they have no true racial origin story. Their legends speak of a time when human kingdoms stretched across Mundus, but constant wars and violence brought their race to the edge of extinction. The humans who remained moved to the western reaches, where they established trading city-states under the Empire of the Deathless Sun. 

 

Even then, a history of war and conflict plagued the humans, as they spent the better part of the first known century fighting one another over scraps of land. Humans were known to be creative, stubborn, and highly adaptable. However, they were also known for their contrary natures and for their seeming inability to get along with one another, even when the alternative was their extinction. Because their early history was violent, but their technology development was less swift than other nations, early human fighters were scrappy and adaptable. Above all else, they learned how to make the most out of their own bodies in combat. Because of this, they would later be known for having the toughest mercenaries in the Crescent. 

 

When the city-state wars broke out, the Humans risked fighting each other to the brink of extinction yet again. Ultimately, they decided that for their race to survive, they must stop warring with each other and learn how to get along. This philosophy formed the foundation of the Western Republic, and it is the reason Westerners are so well-known for diplomacy today. 

 

When the Dwarves rebelled in 470, the Humans once again turned to their origin story, singing songs of a time when humans were independent and dominated the Eulian Crescent. When the Great Rebellion came around, they set out to regain their ancestor’s independence. This time, however, they sought freedom not through violence, but through diplomatic strategy. When they succeeded, they left behind the turmoil and violence of their origin entirely. 

Goblins

Legends of the Heartlands tell that first, there was the sun. It gave rise to greenery: grasses, shrubs, trees. From the first trees, unfettered by the competition of other plants, they shaded the land and produced their first fruit. At this time, the first ancestors who dwelled in these rolling hills took the elements of the rich soil, the playful wind, and the fertile seed to form a people who were free-spirited and connected to the land. 

 

The first Goblins blinked at the sun and stared at the world around them, seeing everything as they were: green. This connection to Mundus never went away, and Goblins have always felt the call of nature; the whisper of the wild; and share a special connection to all things that grow and thrive in these free lands.

 

As the first people in the Heartlands, they are one of the more common folk here. Goblins have always been free-spirited people who value common sense and community accountability over laws and governments. It is difficult to order them around or make them afraid, as they are free and independent people. Just as the ancestors blessed Dwarves with ingenuity and Fishers with aquatic features, they blessed the Goblins with fertile lands, giving natures, and culinary talent. 

 

Unlike many other races, Goblins did not face much strife in their early days. Although their land was part of the EDS and the Iron Empire, the Goblins of the Heartlands kept themselves apart from the war and politics of the Eulian Crescent, and fostered their own cultures and communities among the lush rolling hills. 

 

Food has always been the greatest resource of the Heartlands. Blessed with abundance, early Goblins relied on foraging and cooking. They were often seen scouring the hills for berries and mushrooms in cheerful, talkative groups. Recipes written by these early Goblins have been passed down for centuries as treasured heirlooms.

 

Goblins have green skin and very long ears. They are typically curious, cheerful, and kind. They are drawn to soft, good earth, and find home in the lush lands of the Freelands. Cooking comes naturally to them, and they create intricate dishes and host the best potlucks. 

 

Goblins can be found across Eulia, where they mostly gravitate to the farms and cooking. Their true strength lies in their free spirits, however. Goblins are blunt, to the point, and less likely to get caught up in strong emotional distress. They bounce back from most anything, so if something does affect them deeply, it must be extremely serious.

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