Nights In Lankhmar
Species, Races, Peoples
Species, Races and Peoples
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 recognized Species of sentient creatures on Lankhmar (setting aside the occasional intelligent tree or kraken). Within each Species there are a handful of Races. Within a few Races (Vula, Tomte, Humans) there are a few Peoples: We’d call these “ethnicities”, generally speaking. Asian, African, Hispanic, etc. They’re described at the bottom of this page. There is a very pronounced overlap between a people and a culture. Most of the Peoples have a corresponding Culture. Some cultural aspects of the playable races are mentioned below; see the Cultures page for more detail.
Races that are not meant for player characters (although who knows, maybe you can convince me otherwise) are marked with a ‡.
While population distribution will vary from place to place, here’s the overall breakdown of the Nehwon races:
There are four overall species on Nehwon. In order of creation, we have: the Beastkin , the Eldfolk , the Newfolk and the Scarred . Species have a very difficult time producing offspring with members outside their own Species. As far as anyone knows the Beastkin and the Scarred cannot do it at all, while the Eldfolk and the Newfolk can cross-breed but it’s an extremely rare occurrence.
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.
Their natural lifespans are relatively short, with thirty-five years seeming to be the upper bound, but they have large litters and breed often. Fortunately, disease, combat and sheer stupidity means they rarely die a natural death.
‡ 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. Swinekin have settled into small communities in western Stonegarden and are quite numerous on Kova.
Resembling humanoid boars or humanoid pigs, Swinekin range from four 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 live about 70 years very similar to humans. When they give birth it’s usually to twins or triplets, but pregnancies are rare and last for about a year. It’s believed that the Swinekin population is slowly dwindling.
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. Fourteen hundred ago they left Nehwon, departing for the Cloud Shores, with only the Babavichs remaining behind. Their departure caused great magical storms to rip across the lands, killing many things living on Nehwon and perhaps creating The Scarred. Three hundred and fifty years ago the Eldfolk came back, found that the Newfolk had claimed their old domains, and therefore 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 military force, with ranks standing in for social classes. All Vula (at least the ones who are not outcast) recognize the authority of higher-ranking Vula. They attempted to enforce their rule over the Babavich as well, but the Babavich mostly ignored and avoided them and the Vula have largely given up any attempt at swaying their distant cousins.
Vula have sharp, angular features, vaguely reminiscent of birds. Their ears are pointed and their limbs are somewhat longer that a human’s proportionate to their torso. The three Vula peoples (see Peoples, below) are distinguished by their hair texture — a severe punishment for Vula transgressors, particularly those about to be banished, is the Forgetting; the head is coated in scalding wax, removing the hair and rendering the scalp barren, erasing the Vula’s identity.
Vula skin is usually pastel-colored: lavender, baby blue, mint, peach, lilac, and so forth. Their hair color tends to be darker and usually matches their skin — lavender skin, purple hair — or is “complementary” on a color wheel — mint skin, bright pink hair.
Vula tend to live twice as long as their human counterparts, with some individuals claiming to be 200 years old. Their birth rate is correspondingly lower, but their population is growing steadily.
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.
They average just shy of two meters in height (around 6-foot-3) and have skin ranging from cloud-white to buff. Their hair covers the full spectrum of human colors, but tend towards darker hues, from medium-brown to jet black. Their proportions are slightly elongated compared to a human.
They live to about 85 years old. Prior to the Great War the Babavich had few children, but since the Vula’s return they’ve had more children and their population is growing at a rate similar to humanity’s.
‡ The Elders — On the one hand, “The Elders” is a catch-all term for the various creatures that tagged along when the Vula returned from The Cloudshores, such as nokki, leshy, spriggans, vidine and the like. They are far less numerous than the Babavich and Vula; many are limited to specific geographical areas and some are unique. They do not have a consistent, specific culture, but most eschew towns and settlements for rudimentary dwellings in the wilds. Very, very few harbor any fealty to the Eldfolk overall, although most prefer to leave other Elders alone.
On the other hand, the enigmatic rulers of the Vula (and perhaps, in their minds, the Eldfolk overall) are known as “The Elders”. Ensconced in the Bastion Stathanika, they are never seen in public, and their true identities and nature are known only to a very select few.
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.
Tomte tend to live longer than humans, about 100 years. They stay pregnant longer, however, with a term lasting around 14 months, so their population growth is a bit slower than humans.
Humans — What to say? They’re human. Compared to the other races they have a fairly high birth rate and a somewhat shorter lifespan, usually around 70 years. They have various cultures. If you need to know what they look like take a bus sometime. You’ll probably see a good sampling of their variety.
The last created, and without a god’s hand to shape them, it’s said the Scarred arose from the wild, magical storms that tore across the skies immediately after the Eldfolk’s departure from Nehwon. Newfolk scholars state that the Scarred are transformed Vula; the Eldfolk claim they were once Newfolk too weak to resist the storms’ effects. Perhaps both theories are true.
‡ Trolls — Lean and apish with knobby, leprous skin, trolls are more beasts then members of a sentient race. They can speak in a rudimentary fashion, although that may be mere mimicry rather true language. Fully grown they range from nine to thirteen feet tall, although their height seems diminished as they lumber about on their knuckles. Fortunately this means trolls do not have daggers for talons (although their nails are sharp); unfortunately their broad jaws and sharp teeth more than compensate.
Trolls rarely live in groups of more than four. They are usually solitary or in pairs. Trolls like to hunt near wildlife watering holes, prompting stories of their residing under bridges.
‡ Ogres —
‡ Jaud —
Of the Races only the Vula, Tomte and Humans have “distinct” categories of Peoples, and the Tomte and Humans largely share the same categories. In addition the Newfolk Cultures tend to have a corresponding People; Civerny is both a culture and a people, for instance. The exception are the Old Tomte who have a distinct look and culture.
A person’s “People” may be a meaningless term, especially in a city like Lanhkmar; after a few generations an individual may be part Borian, part Okena, part Shafasi and have an Old Tomte great-great-grandmother somewhere in the family tree.
The Old Tomte People have skin tones ranging from warm beige to mocha and hair in all varieties of auburns, browns and blacks.