The Sentient Species
Three species were brought from beyond the veil to worship the gods in the mortal realm. Kulittan, Goddess of Arts, Poetry, and Music, brought forth the elves from beyond the veil so that they might worship her and delight her with their artistic revelry. Kaleda, God of Mountains and Stone, brought forth the dwarves from beyond the veil so they might worship him and delight in the treasures under the earth. Hedonus, God of Lust, Greed, and Indulgence, brought forth the humans from beyond the veil so they might please him with sins of flesh and conquest.
As three species were brought forth from beyond the veil, three others were created to dwell within the mortal realm. Tirath, God of Honor, Courage, and Bravery, created the mighty ferals to be stewards of the land and protectors of nature. Aretamas, Goddess of Animals, Hunting, and the Circle of Life, created the kucheri to live among the animals and serve as the bridge between the sentient species and the natural world. Finally, Enshari, Goddess of Darkness and Trickery, created the peri to be the scourge of the others and to conquer the mortal realm.
Three species were created to serve the gods personally. The gods of creation created the Celestials, angelic beings of love and light. The gods of destruction created the Infernals, demonic beings of hatred and rage. Gaila, High Goddess of Balance, Justice, Karma, and Neutrality, created the Guardians to protect the mortal world from the incessant wars of the other two factions.
One species sprang forth from all the others, doomed to walk the world forever and bear witness to the suffering of all.
The humans of Erdael are identical to the humans of Earth, and appear in all the same sizes, skin tones, genders, hair and eye colorations, and other physical and mental characteristics that we do.
Humans live in all inhabited regions of the world, and can be found in nearly all cultures.
Dwarves are a short, stocky species that inhabit deep underground caverns in remote mountains. They are excellent craftsmen, specializing in metalworking and stonemasonry. Dwarven arms and armor are highly regarded as superior to anything made by any of the other races, and it is said that any stone fortress built by Dwarven engineers will never fall.
The typical Dwarf is between three and four feet tall, and nearly as wide. They are solid walls of muscle. They are extremely strong and hardy, and make excellent warriors. Their practical nature also makes them shrewd businessmen and formidable negotiators. Dwarves are very fond of their beards and consider them to be badges of honor.
The elves are free spirited folk whose main wish is to be left alone. However, they are fierce protectors of the land, and this often brings them into conflict with the other races.
Typically, elves are just over five feet tall and very thin. Many other races, and especially humans, find elves to be beautiful and elegant. Their complexions share the same range as humans, although usually their skin is somewhat darker because of the constant exposure to the sun.
The ferals are a species of noble warriors that roam the frozen northern wilderness with the barbarians and peri. Standing over seven feet tall, ferals resemble nothing so much as a large bear standing upright. However, they have a pair of horns that curl behind their ears much like those of a ram, two large tusks protruding from their lower jaw, and oversized fangs that drip with poison. Each arm possesses a retractable set of two-foot long “battle claws” that are razor-sharp. Feral warriors often carve intricate designs into their claws, and coat them with various poisons, and feral mages often inscribe magical runes into their battle claws.
Although naturally peaceful and quiet, ferals become ferocious warriors when cornered or threatened. Feral society is governed by a code of honor similar to that of the peri, but whereas the peri twist their code into evil, ferals honor their code with goodness, fairness, and equality for all.
The text of the code is short and simple, which leaves it open to much interpretation. Although the code is primarily intended for combat, ferals use it in every aspect of their lives. Different ferals approach the code from different perspectives, and every feral finds meaning within the code for themselves. In its entirety, the code reads:
Never break an oath.
If you must fight, then fight to win. If you must flee, then flee to live.
If you must die, then die with dignity.
Kill only when necessary.
The quickest kill is the best kill. Do not cause, nor tolerate, suffering.
Do not engage inferior opponents.
Although only 8 lines long, the code has been the source for volumes upon volumes of philosophical, legal, and entertainment material produced by the ferals.
Ferals are often captured by peri and forced into slavery. Once enslaved, they are often forced to work in hard labor camps or used as champions in the gladiatorial arena. Barbarians hunt ferals sometimes for their fur, tusks, and claws. For these reasons, most ferals try to avoid contact with other cultures, although sometimes a small hunting party may raid the neighboring villages.
The kucheri are shapeshifters that live deep in the forests of Ashyr and the Nahuatl Jungle. In their humanoid form, kucheri are indistinguishable from normal humans, although they may have unusual hair and eye coloring. In their animal form, they are similar to typical animals, but they are typically larger, stronger, and faster than normal animals.
Kucheri can change between their humanoid form and their animal forms at will, with the transformation itself lasting only a few seconds. They can transform into any natural animal, with sizes ranging from as small as a mouse to as large as a bear. In their animal forms, they retain their humanoid thoughts, emotions, and senses which might be augumented by their animal form. Any equipment they are wearing or carrying is left behind when they transform. For this reason, most kucheri own very few material possessions.
The peri are the twisted, evil cousins of the elves. They live in the far north, and terrorize the barbarian tribes and feral clans that live there.
Peri society is governed by a strict code of honor known as Shan, or “The Law”, in the language of men. Shan reflects the cruel nature of the peri, with harsh punishments for transgressors. In Shan, every possible action is either Ki-Shan (allowed) or Haat (forbidden). The major tenets of Shan are outlined in two volumes: Illum Shan (The Book of Honor) and Illum Haat (The Book of Poison). These two books are regarded as holy texts as much as law books, and every peri grows up learning and memorizing these volumes.
Physically, peri are very similar to elves, although their features tend to be paler and they are slightly stronger. Because their society revolves around subterfuge, deceit, and trickery, most peri tend to gravitate to the arts of thievery. Even their warriors and mages are more likely to act and react to situations as thieves first, and other professions second.
Celestials are powerful angelic beings in service to the gods of creation. They act as messengers and guides to the mortals, but their primary function is to seek out and destroy the demonic beings known as Infernals. During the Age of Sorcery, they used their powers openly, albeit rarely. In the later ages, they became more secretive and fought their battles in the darkness and shadows, away from the prying eyes of mankind.
Celestials harness the power of Elemental Light to create weapons and armor for themselves, and to cast spells which heal mortals and harm demonic creatures. They can fly, turn invisible at will, and appear to be a normal mortal of any species or gender. They are immune to normal weapons, but they are vulnerable to weapons and spells of Elemental Darkness.
Guardians are the powerful protectors of the mortal realm, defending it against the wars fought between the Celestials and Infernals. They are large and very powerful dragons, although they can take the shape of any mortal species when they desire.
Guardians are immune to Elemental Light and Elemental Darkness, and they use Elemental Shadow to create weapons and armor and to cast spells.
The Infernals are powerful demonic beings in service to the gods of Destruction. Their primary purpose is to cause death and destruction in the mortal world, and to sow seeds of chaos, fear, and confusion among the mortals. During the Age of Sorcery, they roamed the mortal world freely, but in later ages they stayed hidden in the darkness and shadows.
Infernals can appear to be human, although they frequently look diseased or insane when they are in their human disguise. In their natural form, they appear as humanoid figures with bat-like wings and horns. They use the power of Elemental Darkness to cast spells of harm and to create weapons and armor, and they are especially vulnerable to weapons and spells of Elemental Light.
Revenants aren’t a true species unto themselves, but rather a cruel mockery of life itself. When a mortal dies with significant unresolved business, they rise from the grave to finish it. This can take any amount of time necessary, but it usually concludes after a year and a day. During this time, the revenant is driven to finish his business, and has difficulty completing any task not directly related to it.
Revenants are resistant to all forms of damage, and they have no need to sleep, eat, or drink. They usually appear as they did in life, although some suffer the effects of decay and rot before they awaken. This is rare, however, since the curse of the unfinished business usually manifests shortly after death.