Folk of the Flanaess
Six major races of humanity share the vast Flanaess with numerous nonhumans. Unmixed human races exist in several enclaves, but for the most part the Suel, Flan, Oeridians, and Baklunish have mixed to form a variety of blended types.
Race is given little importance by intelligent folk, particularly in the central lands, though some royal courts promote particular racial types. Each race appears to have developed ages ago in isolation from all others, with its own pantheon of deities, language, and culture. In practical matters of exploration, trade, adventure, and war, color and race have little meaning.
The elves (olve in Flan) are slight of stature (averaging 5 feet) and fair of complexion. Hair and eye coloration vary by kindred. High elves are usually darkhaired and green-eyed. The noble gray elves have either silvery hair and amber eyes, or pale golden hair and violet eyes (the second type commonly called faerie or fey elves). The hair color of wood elves ranges from yellow to coppery red, and eye color is a shade of hazel or green. Wild elves are the smallest of the elven folk, but otherwise resemble the wood elves. Finally, the valley elves appear to be taller versions (of nearly human height) of the gray elves.
Elves were present in the lands east of the Crystalmist Mountains for uncounted centuries prior to the rise of the first human kingdoms there. Slowly driven from open country to more secluded and better defended strongholds by the growing strength of both human and nonhuman folk, elves still held a number of forest and upland realms at the time of the Twin Cataclysms. The invading humans, orcs, and others pressed them further, until some prominent elven realms made military and political alliances with dwarves, gnomes, and halflings, and even with certain major human tribes (usually Oeridian). Today, elves are dominant in Celene, Sunndi, Highfolk, the Vesve Forest, and the Lendore Isles.
Elves are concerned with life itself and spend long periods contemplating natural beauty. Long-lived and curious, they enjoy exploration and remember much. Their frolics are usually joyous events, though some gatherings have a melancholy tone. The fine arts are much appreciated. Elves measure kinship in terms of broad, ethnic divisions, though family bloodlines, particularly among the nobles, often cross these ethnic boundaries. Valley elves are unique in that they have no social relationship with other elves in the Flanaess, being hated by them for unknown reasons.
Elves normally attire themselves in pale forest hues, though they favor more intense colors in urban settings. Generally, males wear a blouse-like shirt over close-fitting hose and soft boots or shoes, while females favor a frock with sash, or a blouse with an ankle-length skirt. Hunting garments are typically in neutral colors like shades of brown, tailored for silent and easy movement. Gray elves wear complex gowns and flowing robes of pure white, sun yellow, and silver and gold set off by polished leather of contrasting colors, accented by jewels. Wild elves usually wear kilts, boots, and rough shirts. All elves favor cloaks, especially when traveling, typically gray or gray-green.
Elves are fascinated by all types of magic, especially illusions and charms. They also produce superior and elegant magic garments, weapons, and armor.
Half-elves are the offspring of humans and elves. They are highly versatile but not always welcome in elven or human society. They are disproportionately represented among adventurers as a result.
The dwarves, called the dwur by the Flan, have two main subdivisions. The more common hill dwarves have complexions of deep tan to light brown, with hair of brown, black or gray. Eyes are of any color save blue. They are solidly built, though seldom exceed 4 feet in height. Mountain dwarves are somewhat taller, with lighter coloration. All dwarves are bearded.
The dwarves do not speak of their origins to outsiders, so little of their ancient history is known. However, it is understood that they once had great underground halls in the northern Crystalmists that were destroyed by the Invoked Devastation. Their last High King perished in the aftermath, and the clans have ever since been sundered. Led by lords and princes of differing noble houses, the dwarf clans allied with elves and gnomes during the Suel and Oeridian migrations, and even joined humans of reliable disposition to defend their territories. In the present day, dwarves are found in rugged mountains and hills, particularly in the Lortmils, Glorioles, Crystalmists, Iron Hills, Principality of Ulek, and Ratik.
The dwur are perceived as materialistic, hard working, and humorless. They tend to be dour and taciturn, keeping themselves separate from other folk, but they are also strong and brave. In wartime they are united and willing to see victory at any cost, but prone to avenge old slights and reject mercy. They jealously defend the honor of their clans and families, and greatly revere their ancestors, building elaborate monuments to them. Yet, their chief love is precious metal, particularly gold, which they work with great mastery. Some dwarves suffer from an affliction called gold-fever, when their desire for the substance becomes so overwhelming that it consumes their souls. The tradition of dwarven honor demands that leaders dispense treasure to their loyal followers, and the inability to do this is a sure sign of gold-fever. Dwarves also place great value on their long beards, often braiding them and twining them with jewels and gold wire. It is a terrible dishonor to be shorn.
The traditional garb of dwarves is woolen trousers and a belted linen tunic, with a hooded cloak or cape worn over all. Their boots are of heavy leather, with or without buckles. Colors are a mixture of earth tones and loud, check-patterned hues. They also favor leather accoutrements, fitted with as many jewels and precious metals as they can hold. Females and males usually dress identically, except on certain ceremonial occasions when females wear a tabardlike overgarment, while males don their best embroidered work aprons.
Dwarven elders hold the secrets of their race’s magic, best exemplified by their magnificent armor, weapons and tools. They also oversee the construction of monuments and tombs, many of which have magical traps and curses of great cunning
Gnomes (noniz in Flan) are solidly built and muscular despite their height. (Most gnomes stand just over 3 feet tall.) Two major groups of them exist: rock gnomes (the most commonly seen) and deep gnomes (who live far underground). Rock gnomes are brownskinned and blue-eyed, and almost all adults have light hair with a tendency toward male baldness. Males are most often bearded, though not so much as their dwarven cousins. Their facial features are a bit exaggerated compared to human norms, with prominent noses and eyebrows and leathery skin. Deep gnomes are hairless and wiry in physique, with gray or gray-brown skin.
Rock gnomes of the Flanaess have their origins as trappers and herders in the remote wooded highlands of the north. Their southward expansion began only a few centuries before the Invoked Devastation, bringing them into lands populated by other races. Their lairds and chieftains recognized the authority of elven or dwarven sovereigns, but discouraged any mingling of peoples until the Suel and Oeridian migrations encouraged cooperation between races. Most gnomes inhabit great burrow communities in the Lortmils and Kron Hills, and east in the Flinty Hills.
The history of the deep gnomes is unknown to others, as they are so isolated and little seen. Their homeland is said to be a vast kingdom within a miles-deep cavern, where they are ruled by a wise and brooding monarch.
Gnomes are possessed of sly humor and earthy wisdom. Measuring the practical value of things as seen by the gnomes against the pretensions of other cultures, their wit is often revealed in inventive and embarrassing ways. Their creativity is not limited to practical jokes. They are fine craftsmen who appreciate precious stones and make beautiful jewelry, along with woodwork, stonework, and leatherwork of excellent quality; they invent and experiment often. Seldom avaricious, gnomes take equal pleasure in music and story, food and drink, nature and handmade things. Most gnomes are not prone to cruelty, though their lively jokes may sometimes make things appear otherwise.
Rock gnomes in the Flanaess tend to dress in dark colors, favoring earth tones but enjoying stripes and brightly dyed hats, belts, and boots. Males usually wear high-collared shirts or blouses with trousers and boots, and a double-breasted coat worn over all. Females wear high-necked blouses with aprons or ruffled skirts, often with a matching jacket. Their hunting garments are colored with mottled greens and browns intermixed. Deep gnomes are almost never seen unarmored, but are known to wear simple, dark tunics and aprons in their dwellings.
Famed primarily for their use of illusions, some gnome magicians are also master toymakers and artificers. Others are superb weavers, dyers, or tailors, who can create clothing that will improve the appearance of the wearer or even alter it completely.
Halflings, called hobniz by the Flan, have three distinct types. The primary group is the lightfoot, the typical halfling found in the Flanaess. Lightfoots average just over 3 feet tall and are ruddy faced, with hair and eyes in various shades of brown. The next most common sort are the stouts, somewhat shorter than lightfoots and having broad features and coarse hair. Last are the tallfellows, who are taller, slimmer, and have fairer complexions than lightfoots. Most halflings have wavy or curly hair. Some, particularly stouts, also grow hair on their cheeks.
Halflings originally occupied small settlements in the river valleys of the west-central Flanaess. They spread slowly into other territories, so that by the time of the Suel and Oeridian migrations, few were north of the Gamboge Forest or east of the Harp River. They are common in much of the Sheldomar Valley, interacting freely with humans, dwarves, elves and gnomes. Historically, they prefer to dwell in stable nations ruled by stronger folk. Today, halflings are found in much of the Flanaess, but they still favor the central and western regions from the Urnst states to the three Uleks.
Halflings are clever and capable, whether they are hard-working farmers or tricky rogues. Most halflings are curious and daring, getting themselves into trouble as often as they get themselves out of it. They have great appetites for food, drink, and collecting things. They love fun, get along well with almost anyone who will at least tolerate them, and enjoy travel and opportunities for excitement.
Halflings prefer to wear knee-britches and tunics or shirts, often with vests. Males wear coats and high collared shirts on formal occasions, while females dress in a bodice-covered shift and long skirts. Shirts and britches are often striped in alternating bright and dark colors. They dress themselves in gnome style when hunting or at war, wearing clothing of mottled greens and browns. The best-known halfling magic is culinary. Many halfling foods are made to retain their freshness for lengthy periods, and they use herbs with healing and other medicinal properties. However, most halfling spells are defensive and protective in nature.
Gnolls, which the Flan call kell, are big, nocturnal, hyena-headed scavengers who band together very loosely. Their packs are riddled with infighting and treachery. Filthy and vile, gnolls are also strong and roam widely through every clime, threatening outlying areas. They take slaves but always look for more, as gnolls tend to eat them. Some of their largest and most feared warbands include the Scarsavage, Gashclaw, Lowgorge, Foulpelt, Retchtongue, and Battlehowl. Many gnolls dwell in the Pomarj and in Bone March.
Hobgoblins, also called hoch jebline (“high goblins”), are larger and more disciplined than orcs. Their tribes always fight to determine dominance, but once this order has been established the tribes frequently work together. Some of the most successful tribes are the Rippers, the Leg Breakers, the Skull Smashers, the Flesh Renders, the Marrow Suckers, the Flayers, and the Slow Killers. A great many hobgoblins live in the western part of the Empire of Iuz, and some in Bone March.
Evil orcs, or euroz, are all too common across the Flanaess. Undisciplined, bestial, and savage, orcs have severe tribal rivalries and do not cooperate unless controlled by a very strong leader. Major tribes include the Vile Rune, the Bloody Head, the Death Moon, the Broken Bone, the Evil Eye, the Leprous Hand, the Rotting Eye, and the Dripping Blade. Orcs are frequently encountered as mercenaries in the Empire of Iuz, Pomarj, Bone March, and across North Kingdom. Orc-ogre crossbreeds are particularly dangerous and are known in several areas.
Half-orcs (the children of orcs and humans) are usually born under unhappy circumstances in border areas between orc and human cultures. Dark of mood and nature, many half-orcs achieve renown despite their rejection by their parents’ folk and many others. In this regard, they are similar to the much rarer half-ogres.
Goblins, or jebli, are insidious nighttime raiders averaging 4 feet in height. More powerful creatures usually dominate them, though all goblins swear fealty to the name of the local goblin king. The names of their best-known tribes include Night Terror, Death Feast, Black Agony, Poison Wound, Bitter Ruin, and Dire Oath. Goblins are scattered across the Flanaess in hundreds of places.
The kobolds, also named celbit, are small, vicious, reptilian scavengers, picked on by every larger race. Their most numerous tribes include the Torturers, the Impalers, the Gougers, the Cripplers, and the Mutilators. Like goblins, they are found in many places.
Certain huge, wicked races gather only in loose bands that are highly unstable, though often large in size. Members of these races are strong and fierce, and some prefer to ally with or dominate other wicked folk rather than associate with their own savage kindred.
The most vicious of these beings are the trolls, called trulent. Trolls are without fear and often band together with the eiger, as ogres are known; trolls can also be found as guardians in gnoll dens. Stupid, huge, murderous ogres readily join orcs or gnolls to raid and plunder. Buchveer, the hairy goblinoid bugbears, assume mastery of smaller goblin communities whenever it suits them.
Beyond these groups are centaurs, sprites, giants, dragons, lizardfolk, bullywugs, and uncounted other nonhumans on the fringes of civilization. Most do humanity no good, though some ignore the civilized world in the main and a few, such as centaurs, are sometimes allies.