Nights In Lankhmar
Species, Races, Peoples
Species, Races and Peoples
Starting with Peoples: We’d call these “races”, generally speaking. Asian, African, Hispanic, etc. There’s a mess of them and I’ll detail them eventually. Note that the only Race that doesn’t have a wide assortment of Peoples would be the Babavichs; they all tend to be gaunt and pallid.
Also note that the following terms and classifications are from a more-or-less human point-of-view. A troll, were it to give it any thought at all (an unlikely event), might take issue with being classified as “Scarred”.
There are four overall species on Nehwon: the Beastkin , the Eldfolk , the Newfolk and the Scarred. Generally speaking people of one species have a very difficult time producing offspring with people of another, but it does occassionally happen.
The first children of Vacha, the Beastkin are humanoids with strong animal characteristics. Once very populous, they’ve dwindled in number over the centuries as they often have short lifespans, low birth rates, and few friends amongst the other species. There’s a wide variety of Beastkin; the most common are the Ratkin (nasty, cruel and thankfully cowardly), the Wolfkin (clannish and usually savage), and the Swinekin (gregarious and the most cultured of the Beastkin overall). Many, many other types exist, but they are often few in number. Unlike the other species, Beastkin of a different race have a difficult time breeding within their species: a Swinekin/Catkin crossbreed, if such a being exists at all, would be quite unusual.
Ratkin — The only beings on Nehwon that are objectively, capital-E Evil are the demons, the malignant progeny of The Twins. In a contest for “Least Number of Redeeming Qualities”, however, Ratkin take the silver medal. Avaricious, bloodthirsty and craven, Ratkin infest places on the periphery of civilization, preying upon the weak and stealing whatever they can grab. Adults range in size from three to five feet tall and (surprise!) strongly resemble rats. They usually favor enclosed areas, such as caves or sewers; they dislike, although are unhindered by, open spaces and bright light. They can craft crude items but prefer to utilize whatever they manage to steal. Think “goblins” when thinking about Ratkin.
Wolfkin — Most of the other races think Wolfkin are cut from the same cloth as the Ratkin. The Babavich have a particular loathing of the race. In truth the Wolfkin are just territorial. Territorial to a brutal, violent, merciless degree, true, but they do not go out of their way to torment and abuse other races. Wolfkin tribes roam the wilds of Nehwon, settling into a hunting ground and taking prey — rarely, but sometimes, sentient — until the territory is exhausted, then the tribe moves along. Skirmishes between Wolfkin tribes are quite common. Wolfkin look like bipedal wolves, standing between five and seven feet tall. They rarely use armor, but will arm themselves with scavenged weaponry if going to war. (Weaponry is cowardly when just hunting, or when attacking other Wolfkin.) Think “orcs, but not as overtly evil” when thinking about Wolfkin.
Swinekin — Unlike the other two main Beastkin races, the Swinekin are accepted by the other races. In particular, the Tomte and the Swinekin get along extremely well, and they have an excellent trading partnership with the Babavich. They’re well-known for their gregariousness; while there are several Swinekin communities throughout Nehwon they frequently integrate with the other races, particularly the Newfolk.
Amongst the Newfolk the Swinekin have a reputation for being loveable oafs. Newfolk get disabused of this idea the first time they face a battalion of angry Swinekin. Swinekin are just more emotive than Newfolk (on average), demonstrating their joys and rages without reservation.
Resembling humanoid boars or humanoid pigs, Swinekin range from five to seven feet tall. Their skin and hair resemble their non-sentient counterparts, with blacks, whites and pinks predominant and spotted skins quite common. (And, like their non-sentient counterparts, they don’t have full heads of hair.)
Swinekin have settled into small communities in western Stonegarden and are quite numerous on Kova. The Swinekin have a strict caste system based primarily on size; the smaller the Swinekin the more important they are.
The Eldfolk were the second group of Vacha’s sentient creations. Unlike the earthy Beastkin, the Eldfolk seem ethereal. Indeed, they claim Losivya as their guardian and the Cloud Shores as their homeland. A millennium ago they are said to have left Nehwon for good, departing for the Cloud Shores, with only the Babavichs remaining behind. Two hundred and fifty years ago the other Eldfolk came back, found that the Newfolk had claimed their old domains, and thus started the Great War. (The Eldfolk call it The War of Reclamation.) Once they had (re)taken Cythera and the Shrouded Isles the Eldfolk sued for peace; perhaps they knew they were ultimately outmatched or perhaps they’d taken all the territory they desired. In either case, the Eldfolk and the Newfolk now live in mutual distrust but mostly without violence.
Vula — The most visible of the Eldfolk, and possibly the most numerous, the Vula have scattered settlements along the central coastal regions but claim Cythera as their homeland. While the Great War is long over the Vula still organize as a reserve army, with military ranks standing in for social classes.
Babavich — Pale and emaciated, the Babavich are a reclusive people that live — haunt, perhaps — the wilds that even Vula shun. Perhaps they were left behind when the Eldfolk left this world in the Mistmarch or perhaps they chose to remain. The Babavich claim it was a choice. In either case, the Babavich withdrew into the most inhospitable forests of Newhon and detached from the Beastkin and and Newfolk. The Babavich reside in treetop dwellings or yurt villages deep within the forests. Their villages are quite luxurious, however, as the Babavich have expert craftworkers and trade rare herbs and woods with the Swinekin. Despite their isolation the Babavich have lore and insights that surpass the most urbane human kenning. They claim the mighty sorcereress Baba Yaga as one of their kin.
The Babavich are matrilineal and egalitarian. Communities run as direct democracies with informal groups of elders making decisions when required. They value independence and stoicism. The Babavich weave their written language into their artwork. Even buildings and furniture are engraved with the whorling script of poems or histories. Babavich sorcerers tie themselves to their spells by tattooing key phrases and symbols upon themselves.
They average just shy of two meters in height (around 6-foot-3) and have skin ranging from cloud-white to beige. Their hair covers the full spectrum of human colors.
The Elders —
Tomte — What they’re not, despite rumors to the contrary: they’re not Eldfolk. They’re not troglodytes. They’re not humans. They’re not immortal. They don’t all have beards.
Physically they resemble smaller humans although their arms are quite long (their fingertips reach their knees) and their torsos are large and powerful. They usually stand between 1.2 to 1.4 meters tall. Otherwise their appearance and geographic spread varies as much as that of humans, although they do tend to gather in mountainous regions. They do have an inherent crafting aptitude.
Generally, Humans and Tomte share the same culture in a given geographic region, although there are occasional enclaves that are largely populated by Tomte that have a culture dubbed “Old Tomte.” The Old Tomte tend to be distrustful of non-Tomte races and live in high-altitude regions. They don’t live in caves but they do live near them, with seats of power, both political and spiritual, housed deep within. The Old Tomte believe that the gods reside deep within the earth, even Adapel and Losivya, and so speak prayers into “godwells” hidden within the deepest caverns. While most Tomte view Vacha as their patron, the Old Tomte revere Kaxus above all others.