Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Giantings and Gnomes, Gnolls and Goblins, Gotha and Guidhel

Giantings are the rarest of the demi-human types. They are native to the Twilight Peaks, the Erdna Kizef Tors, and the lesser mountain ranges of Alspadia. Known as Kulchaks (plural, singular Kulchak) in their own tongue, giantings have tan or brown skin, brown or amber eyes, and straight light brown, brown, or black hair. They are very hirsute, with both males and females approaching the description of “furry.” Females do not usually have beards, though such is not unheard of. Other than their size and hair, large jaws and pronounced brow ridge, giantings look very human. Giantings stand 8’ tall on average and weigh 450 pounds. They can live to be 300 years of age.

Giantings loathe being compared to ogres; the two are completely different species, regardless of their similarity in size. Giantings live a rustic, pacifistic life in the forested hills and mountains of the West, and prefer natural surroundings to urban settings. They live in small homesteads, tend to wild gardens, and hunt and gather rather than farm or labor. They rarely use metal items, other than those for which they have traded, as they do not work metals. Giantings generally do not use magic, nor do they revere gods, but many possess psychic powers to a lesser or greater extent; those with greater powers gravitate to leadership of the community. They have no natural enemies, though due to proximity to the Land of Nhorr, they make special exceptions to their usual peaceful ways for orcs.

Kulchaks were sometimes captured for menageries or as slave labor in the days of the Elysian Empire and the subsequent Itlanian Empire, so small settlements of Kulchaks can be found throughout the continent. These are often isolated and hidden using the powers of their psychic leaders. Some of these settlements are made up entirely of crossbreeds.

Giantings are capable of interbreeding with humans, elves, and orcs, the result being a taller, stronger, often psychic and always more hirsute member of that race. Sadly, one in eight gianting crossbreeds are sterile mules, and there is a similar chance of the half-breed and any descendents developing dangerous, homicidal insanity.

Gnomes are native to the Hills of Hugelin in the Middle Lands, east of Mhoriedh and north of Aurlandia. Known as Hugelôr (plural, singular Hugelo) in their own tongue, gnomes have light gray skin, blue, gray, green, or hazel eyes, and curly or wavy sandy blond, brown, or black hair. Males usually wear short beards; some females are capable of growing beards, or at least extensive sideburns. Their ears are elven, though rather than standing tall and firm they flop and droop a bit, and they have large, bulbous noses. Gnomes stand 3’6” on average and weigh 80 pounds. Gnomes can live to be more than 600 years old. Gnomes are not only an independent, stable race; they also result from the cross between a dwarf and an elf. Most gnomes welcome these cousins with open arms.

Hugelôr live in rugged forested hills, preferring to make their homes in natural caverns worked minimally to provide needed luxury and utility without destroying natural beauty. Their largest settlement is no bigger than a human town, and most are mere hamlets. They tend to small gardens and trade their gems, jewelry, and worked wood and metal items for needed grains and other foods. Gnomes prefer to use illusion magic, the better to shield their communities from the depredations of men and humanoids alike.

Hugelôr settlements are rare, save in Hugelheim, their native homeland. Elsewhere they live in the cities and towns of the big folk, safely behind stout walls. The exception to this is the Thornshire, where they can be found in numbers among their halfling cousins, scattered in hamlets and homesteads. Gnomes of Hugelheim are often merchants, traders, and moneychangers throughout the Middle Lands. They work well with other races, and do not have the greedy reputation of the dwarves, nor the lackadaisical reputation of the elves. They are known as fair traders, even if they drive a hard bargain.

Gnomes can interbreed with humans, dwarves, elves, and halflings. The cross between a dwarf and gnome or an elf and gnome is always a gnome; the cross between a gnome and a human or halfling results in a halfling of the Hairfoot variety. Humanoid crossings are dealt with under humanoids.

Gnolls are a race native to the Yasdunn Jungles, the Eoshan Plains, and the Thunder Plains of the South. Known as Hyahahra (plural and singular) in their own tongue, gnolls have dark greenish to yellow skin, the color of gangrenous flesh, covered in thick fur. Fur color ranges from brownish-red to tan-yellow, with white, brown, and tan mixed in throughout. Most packs and tribes are also marked by a mix of stripes (northern tribes) and spots (southern tribes) though due to interbreeding only the most isolated packs possess a single, recognizable pattern of stripes or spots, and those of the Yasdunn are thoroughly mixed.

Hyahahra otherwise resemble man-shaped hyenas with malformed forepaws possessed of a semi-opposable thumb. Gnoll heads greatly favor the form of their hyena cousins, with large sagittal crests (often accentuated with a Mohawk-trimmed hairstyle), long tooth-filled snouts, and heavy jaw structure. They possess the great crushing jaws of their hyena cousins. Eyes are round, black, and glisten; at night they glow red when they reflect torch or moonlight. Ears are large and often quite long and pointed. Gnolls are tall at 7’ feet and usually slim weighing only 240 pounds, though their light frame possesses a surprisingly mighty strength. Gnolls can live to be about 90 years of age.

Hyahahra originated in the South in the early days of Men. Manday legend holds that gnolls are descended from the spawn of evil witches and hyenas, and as that association continues to this day there is little reason to disbelieve the old tales. They remain primarily a race of the south, though large numbers settled in Kryx and have there found employ in the legions of the God-Emperor, and some bands still remain in the North, descended from slaves brought thence during the Elysian and Itlanian Empires.

Gnolls are the most primitive of the sentient races. They possess no true culture, merely instinct and enough cunning to adapt and adopt the cultural implements and trappings of other humanoid cultures. They possess no physical culture of their own; that is, they do not manufacture any form of cultural instrument, implement, or tool. They are even incapable of the manufacture of simple stone tools; they are cunning enough to adapt the use of tools, especially weapons, but do not have the cultural capability to make or even repair such items. They are scavengers thus, not only of food, but also of tools.

Gnolls, being descended in part from humans, can crossbreed back with humans, as well as goblin-men, half-elves, half-ogres, and half-orcs. The result is invariably a gnole, and is superior of intellect and far more mannish in form than the gnoll type. Gnoles, like other half-breed races, breed true. Though typically smaller and weaker than gnolls, due to their greater intelligence these gnoles usually end up ruling gnoll bands, while the larger southern tribes led by clans of gnoles tend to be quite successful and powerful in their region. Gnolls cannot crossbreed with other races, including the goblinoid races.

Goblins are a goblinoid race native to the mountains and hills of the Middle Lands, the Morghluidh Mountains being their greatest conquest. Known as Gashûn (plural, singular Gashah) in their own tongue, goblins have mottled brown, tan, and gray skin. Eyes are pink to red. Hair is dull black and straight, and in some places as thick as fur; goblins are quite hirsute, moreso than dwarves but not nearly as furry as bugbears. Features are man-like, though with a small cranium for their size, a large pronounced jaw, thick brow ridges, and deep-set eyes. Ears are largish, with most goblins readily described as “jug-eared,” and no few are flop-eared. The mouth is wide, protuberant, and filled with sharp teeth. The nose is squashed and flat. Goblins stand 4’ tall and weigh 100 pounds. Goblins can live to 60 years of age.

Gashûn are descended from wild hobgoblins, degenerated remnants of the original goblinoid race bred in the vats of the dark lord Moerdreth long ages ago. Rather than slaying those creations he felt too weak to serve, he simply released them to the wild, unleashing them without thought against the elves and dwarves of the day. Much to their later despair, the elves and dwarves did not hunt the pitiful creatures down, and in the ages since the goblins have grown to become a dangerous pest.

Though they are not completely savage as are the bugbears, neither are they as advanced in society and technology as the hobgoblins. They rarely build their own lairs, preferring to take over ruins of other races, or living in natural caves. They are very fond of taking dwarven mines and enslaving captured dwarves, and are thus the most hated of the goblinoids by that race.

Goblins can crossbreed with all other races save the giantings, gnolls, or ogres. The spawn of a goblin and a human, orc, elf, or bugbear is a hobgoblin; the spawn of a goblin and a dwarf, gnome, halfling, or hobgoblin is a goblin.

The human Gotha people have pale pink to ruddy skin tones; they tend to freckle rather than tan. Eye color is green, blue, indigo, or violet. Hair color ranges from tawny brown and sandy blonde to gold and platinum white and is straight to curly. The Gotha peoples of the Thundigoth Isles are very hirsute. Height is medium to tall, with a medium to muscular build. Skeletal structure is heavy, with pronounced brow ridges, cheeks, and jutting jaw, though not remotely as severe as that among the goblinoids.

The tribes of Thundigoth, the smallholders and townsmen of the Storm Coast, and various noble houses of the Middle Lands and Bagaudia remain true to the classic type. The Thundigoth tribes are renowned for their craggy features, each clan and tribe often typifying a specific form (jutting chin, large nose, beetle brow, etc). Commoners of the Middle Lands are heavily mixed with the old Guidhel/Elysian base, moreso among the Élyséenais of the hills of the Septarchy and less so among the Gottish on the plains of Gyrax. Many upper-class families of the Olden Empire, Itlania, and Alspadia are marked by the pale skin, light hair, and blue or violet eyes of the old Gotha reavers, who first served and then assimilated or were assimilated into the local noble houses.

The Gotha peoples of the Storm Coast are preyed upon by the slavers of the Olden Empire and the Eoshan city-states, and thus Gotha slaves and their descendents can be found quite far from their kindred tribes.

The human Guidhel people have brown skin, favoring the lighter tones ranging from a light pale khaki or bronze to darker chestnut and sienna. Eye color is usually green, hazel, or amber, with gold being rare and of note. Hair is dark brown, ranging near umber and taupe, and usually curly or wavy. Height and build fall within the full range of the human norms.

The Guidhel once ranged from the Storm Coast west to Twilight Mountains, and from the isles of the Serene Sea and the River of Stars in the south to the Utter Aeries in the north. Since those days nearer the dawn of men, the Elysians invaded from the south, the Gotha from the east, the Mhordlakhy from the west, and various tribes and bands of Kartaghans, Deshreti, and even Manday have made their way north.

As such there remain no truly pure groups of Guidhel, though the Witch-Folk of Mhoriedh are perhaps the purest, they or the savage tribes of the Northern Wilds. Even with the many migrations and long centuries of assimilation, the Guidhel type still predominates among the common folk of Aurlandia, Gyrax, and to a lesser extent Gregorius and the Septarchy.

The Guidhel form is common too in Alspadia, especially among the common folk, while a strange if pleasing admixture of Mhordlakhy, Guidhel, and Gotha is found in Bagaudia. There, the wormy pale skin of the Mhordlakhy is tempered by the bronze of the Guidhel and the ruddy pink of the Gotha into a shimmering snow white, with the raven black hair of the Mhordlakhy or the platinum blonde of the Gotha and the amber eyes of the Guidhel. It is no great wonder that the slave-takers of Itlania and Alspadia range across the Mountains of Blood to steal Bagaudian maidens.

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