The Known Races
There are a number of different sentient species that roam the planet. The term 'race' usually applies to a separate species or sub-species rather than colour of skin. That is, while a Gaijin are considered a different race (though technically Homo Sapiens), an Elf would consider someone from the Heldanic Confederation to be of the same race as someone from the Byzant Empire in spite of the differences in skin tones between the two Humans or the fact that the Heldan's colouration nearly matches that of the Elf. Besides, most Humans all look alike anyway. Half-breeds, while possible between several different races, are quite rare due to genetic differences as well as cultural biases. Nationality is a more noteworthy means of division: a Heldanic Human and Bizzannite Human are very different in culture, language, lifestyle, and outlook, and yet the Heldanic Human shares these commonalities with her Troll and Dwarf neighbours.
The known sentient species of Midian include the hard-working Dwarves, the mysterious Elves, the warrior race of the Gaijin, the dark-dwelling Ghouls, the vile Hobgoblin, the conquering Humans, the reptilian race of Killian, the bizarre MetaHumans, and the fel Trolls. Some of these will be detailed in this treatise.
"You gonna come down here and say that again, asshole?"
Kings without kingdoms; homes deep under the land—but no homeland; this is the lot in life of the Dwarves. There is no Dwarven homeland—no country ruled or peopled by mostly Dwarves. They are generally found among the Human lands of Midian. A mountain kingdom is the greatest Dwarven community size. The largest collections of these are in the northern mountains of the Kingdom of Formour, and amongst the Heldanic Freeholds. Mountain kingdoms are created when a mine or stronghold grows sufficiently in size. As a rule, when a mine has played out—or a stronghold can maintain its own army, then a king is chosen and the community declares its independence. Occasionally there is strife between the fledgling kingdom and the originating one, but the transition is bloodless more often than not. Relations between old and new are often kept cordial through treaties, oaths of support, and diplomatic marriages. Dwarves practice a peculiar form of representative monarchy: when a new kingdom wishes its independence, a king is elected from amongst its populace. Any adult dwarf who wishes to make the new kingdom his or her home can vote for any other. Clan & family leaders often cast a collective vote for those under them. This means that the head of a large or powerful family can vote him or herself onto the throne, or can help insure that someone else will gain the crown in exchange for being granted a noble title of their own. The elections are by secret ballot (inscribed onto a chit), but many Dwarves loudly proclaim their vote—particularly when a clan leader casts the vote for everyone (the chit will say, for example, "Clan Thordred casts its 47 votes for Durnan Halbstein"). Any given person needs a 2/3rd majority vote to become king. Since the elections are only held on the 1st of Gulik, if no one has a majority of votes, independence must wait for another year. This also allows the originating kingdom a chance to send a representative to convince the populace to remain under its present king rather than seek independence—although this is done usually only when there is a strategic position or valuable ore that the old kingdom doesn't want to give up. In spite of the completely democratic process of choosing a king upon gaining independence, the newly elected royalty remains in charge of his or her kingdom until death, passing the title down to the next generation. The new king also grants noble titles as rewards or to gain support of influential people (such titles are also hereditary). A note on language: the term 'king' applies regardless of gender; the term is derived from the Dwarven word for kingdom rather than the other way around. A woman in charge may or may not refer to herself as 'queen' when conversing with other species. A male Dwarf may (all too often) be a misogynist, but never within earshot of a Dwarven woman.
Dwarves can live for 250 to 400 years. Their development roughly parallels Human growth, although maximum size is achieved earlier (they are short remember) and the onset of puberty begins a few years later than in Humans. The age of majority—which allows for voting privileges, land ownership, etc. is 30 years old, even though the Dwarf has been physically mature for nearly a decade. ("Have another beer, pup, it'll put hair on your chin.") Dwarves are densely built. They may weigh between 150 and 250 pounds—little of this is fat—although they only stand between 3 ½ and 5 feet tall. The average height and weight is 4 ½ feet tall and 220 pounds. Dwarven colouration tends toward earth tones. Their skin, hair, and eyes, are often varying shades of brown and grey.
Underground living has adapted the Dwarves to where their eyes see further into the infrared spectrum than most other species. They can see in the dark—although reading or other fine detail is impossible without light. This is not developed enough to be true thermal vision, but does allow them to see in the dark. Even in pitch-black conditions, a Dwarf can see out approximately 30 feet. Their runic language was designed to be able to see carvings in stone with their infravision (but ink on parchment still requires a suitable light source). Dwarven infravision is detailed enough to navigate obstacles or to recognize a face in the dark. Another adaptation to underground life is an almost instinctive direction sense. They are a very visually oriented people, and this helps them to navigate through their tunnels. A Dwarf rarely gets lost in a maze (or cave, or large office building).
Male Dwarves greatly prize their beards, often taking many hours to style, braid, shape, or trim them (but leaving them long and full-looking). Their beards are kept clean and are well tended to. Braiding styles can identify someone in being a member of a certain clan, military unit, or organization. Individualism runs rampant in beard styles as well. Female Dwarves take just as much pride in their hair, with the same braiding styles and attention applying. Female Dwarves do not have beards—similarly Dwarven men experience the same hair-loss that Human men suffer from. ("Try this magic ointment to control Dwarf-pattern baldness.")
Dwarven physiology is very similar to Humans; they may be related species. Dwarven loremasters theorize that Humans may be a mutant offshoot line adapted for plains living, which would explain their greater size & speed but reduced resilience, longevity, & intellect. It is interesting to note, however, that only one out of every three births is female. This may indicate that the two species are quite different after all.
A tough, hardy breed; Dwarven stamina is matched only by Dwarven pride. [Dwarven toughness grants 20% damage resistance against smashing attacks. Dwarves also gain the following saving throw bonuses: +3 to saves against crushing blows, +2 vs. petrification, +1 vs. fire and cold.]
The loremasters of the Dwarven kingdoms keep careful records of history and genealogy. The oldest kingdoms have histories that date back to approximately the time that Humans arrived in Midian (although this occurred over a millennium ago, the event is still strong within the memories of many Elves). Dwarven legends date back even farther, but aren't as well documented and cannot necessarily be considered factual. The fact that many legends contradict one another doesn't help matters any. For example, one myth says that the Dwarves were created to be a servitor race by the Old Ones, but slew their master and thus gained their freedom; another states that the origins of the species lie out among the stars. Dwarves love to hear a well-told tale, but don't place a lot of faith in undocumented stories—Dwarven children are well schooled in history, but only in accepted facts.
The problems associated with underground living—specifically light, air, & food—have caused some Dwarven kingdoms to make good use of the Humans' technomancy. While not being a people well versed in magic, they have embraced this particular discipline fully. At least one kingdom uses cables made of glass to transmit light from the molten core throughout the mountain. Another uses the smoke from their forges to turn shafts connected to fans that keep air circulated. Dwarves love to tinker & have crafted many functional, as well as beautiful, technomantic items.
To think of all Dwarves as exclusively tunnel-dwelling troglodytes is a mistake many who have not visited their cities make. All of the stone that is mined-out has to go somewhere, & the Dwarves make good use of it with walls, bridges, aqueducts, parapet, ramparts, towers, & other aboveground fortifications.
The berserker tradition started amongst the Dwarves; and has since spread to some Heldans. Nearly every Dwarven military has at least one berserker unit. The berserker tradition has a long history, & is highly ritualised in order to keep them from the mental imbalance suffered by the Heldan berserkers. Their rituals include war paint & drumming to achieve the proper state of mind. The Heldans usually just get drunk. [When creating a Dwarven character, you have the option of choosing the background Berserker.]
Average ability scores: Appearance—10, Personality—8, Grace—10, Knowledge—10, Wits—10, Willpower—12, Agility—11, Stamina—14, Strength—12, Awareness—10, Speed—7, Common Sense—12.
Dwarven Toughness: 20% damage resistance against smashing attacks; +3 to saves against crushing blows, +2 vs. petrification, +1 vs. fire and cold; dense body structure
Infrared Vision: can see in the dark
Direction Sense: free retest against getting lost; this is a form of pattern recognition—does not apply to long overland trips or to nautical navigation
Dwarves are tough, and too proud (and stubborn) to die easily: 1D8 maximum hit point capacity to start.
Additional Backgrounds May select Berserker if desired 40% chance of being Bilingual (add Dwarven as a second native language)
"Sweet travels and light laughter to you, my friends."
Elves are an immortal fey race with magic pulsing through their veins. They age at one-third the rate of humans until the age of majority (60 years old—equivalent apparent age in Humans: 20) at which time the aging process ceases for all eternity. Their wounds heal without scarring, however they do not regrow lost limbs or organs. Elves take a very long time to come to decisions—often centuries—they truly have forever. Their longevity and strong sense of self also aids them in resisting being dominated by others [+3 to saves against mental control]. This also makes necromancy difficult to perform on elves. Their spirits seem to depart without trace.
Physically, elves are slightly taller and noticeably thinner of frame than humans. Their skin is pale and blemish-free. They have very little body hair. Their eyes are large and gem-like, bright, lighter colours: violet, green, blue, or yellow. Hair is straight and thin, and usually blond or black—but some have red, pink, light blue, or dark green hair. Hair is most often worn long, either free or in braids or a ponytail. Elven ears have high points, and are their most distinctive feature to differentiate them from humans when seen at a distance. Their bone-structure is frail looking, and their hands and feet have 4 digits each.
Their immortality is countered by a low birth rate. An Elven community that does not see a birth for 5 to 10 years or more is not uncommon. Their slow development may play a major role in this—Elven gestation is 27 months long (2 years, 3 months). When an Elf is born, the whole village celebrates; and when an Elf is killed, the whole nation mourns. A single Elf being slain may drive the entire kingdom to war. This sense of community is reflected in the Elven economy. As long as an Elf makes a contribution to the community, he or she is provided for—even contributing smiles and laughter count in their socialistic society. Rarely does an authority need to step in to ensure, for example, that more people should be growing food rather than telling stories all day. When you have to deal with your neighbours for all eternity, you learn to pitch-in without much argument. Also, elves do not have the same attachment to personal belongings that humans do. Barring misfortune, an Elf will live to see even the best-constructed artefacts eventually fall away to dust.
Elven government is performed locally by a democracy of village or neighbourhood meetings with all adult members of the community having an equal share. National government is an assemblage of the Princesses and Princes of the realm—they decide such things as: military manoeuvres, closing the borders, or relations with other nations. The Princesses and Princes meet every 8 years and may meet more often if anyone can convince a quorum to convene. The family units of Elven life are the great houses. The princes & princesses are the heads of the houses. Each great house may maintain its own military and can conduct affairs much in the manner of a government. For example, it is House Deodan that actually formed the non-aggression naval pact with the Kingdom of Formour after the nation decided to allow external commerce. Not realizing that they were dealing with only one house rather than the entire country, the Formourian navy doesn't attack any Elven ship within its patrolled territories.
Elves do not differentiate between the sexes. Both males and females may be found performing any role, whether on the battlefront or raising children.
Average ability scores: Appearance—17, Personality—7, Grace—14, Knowledge—12, Wits—11, Willpower—9, Agility—14, Stamina—9, Strength—10, Awareness—14, Speed—18, Common Sense—9.
Fey: immortal; Fae Blood background; Gleam & Way with Animals traits; +3 vs. mental control; 50% magical resistance against necromancy
Vitality: +3 vs. disease, +3 vs. fire & cold, and +2 vs. poisons & chemicals; no scarring;
Elves may ignore (or re-roll) any backgrounds involving non-Elven ancestry. All Elves instinctively possess the Balancing skill equal to their character level. Elves also have 1D4 maximum hit point capacity to start.
Elven longevity gives them time to learn additional skills. Elves do not devote themselves entirely to one task for long, however (one might even call them flighty), so Elves tend to dabble in multiple areas of expertise and are often multi-classed. Select two different categories on the following table, and choose three skills from each. For example, you might pick Musical and Wild as the categories, then choose the skills dancing, poetry, and epics under Musical, then hiding, hunting, and sneaking under Wild. Each of these bonus skills starts at level III for proficiencies, or journeyman level for apprentice skills:
|Ambidexterity||Craft Instrument||Charm||Animal Training||Calligraphy||Aura Perception|
|Blade Etiquette||Dancing||Cooking||Herbalism||Drawing||Detect Gates|
|Boyer/Fletcher||Play (type of) Instrument||Detect Lies||Hunting||Silversmith||Lunaruen|
|Ranged: longbow||Songs||Speak Language||Tracking||Weaving||Distinguished Expertise|
|Shoot from the Hip||Vocal Impressions||Storytelling||Zoology||Woodworking||Runes|
"You are scared because I'm bigger than you are? That is as silly as my being afraid of the edge of your sword. You should be terrified because my 'edge' comes from within—I am just far better than you."
The warrior race of Gaijin stands approximately 8 feet tall and about 300+ pounds of muscle. They have bright red skin, blond hair (usually worn long or in a pony-tail), and piercing blue or green eyes. Most Gaijin have additional calcium deposits on the skull (particularly near the temples to protect that weak spot), on the back of the hand at the base of each finger (except the thumb) along the knuckles [+2 to punching damage], and along the spine—in several cases this causes a small ridge along the back. These additional bone growths can be quite obvious, or very subtle—even undetectable. They vary in their cosmetic appearance, some Gaijin look quite like large Humans. Despite these physiological differences, Gaijin are Homo sapiens.
Gaijin live in the northern Heldanic Confederation and on islands in the Killian Empire ('Gaijin' is a Killian word meaning 'barbarian outsider'). Gaijin are very individualistic and have little sense of culture or racial unity. Thus they work very well in small groups, but don't organize into a definite army or country. Gaijin prize personal strength and consider intelligence and skill to be another form of strength.
Their origins remain a mystery—it predates their own careful genealogies. The rumours abound: Troll-blooded humans, mutants, creations of a mad god, a form of MetaHuman, or magical creations (they have no special affinity, weakness, or resistance to magic, however).
Gaijin have a number of augmentations for combat. They are stronger, faster, smarter, and tougher than their Human ancestors. Sensory weaknesses (such as nearsightedness) are almost unheard of and they can see in half the light that a Human needs. They also heal at twice the rate of most other races. All are naturally ambidextrous.
They do not have the same strong sense of society or belonging that their Human ancestors have. They do not have their own culture or nation, and must borrow the cultural identities of those around them. They do not have their own histories, or even their own language. This lack of culture is one of the reasons behind them being a very passionate people, feeling and expressing emotions very strongly. A Gaijin's rage is a terrible thing to behold—many are berserkers.
Average ability scores: Appearance—8, Personality—7, Grace—10, Knowledge—13, Wits—12, Willpower—12, Agility—14, Stamina—15, Strength—16, Awareness—11, Speed—16, Common Sense—8.
Tough: +2 to all saving throws; base Armour Class of 9; Tough x2 trait; reinforced bone structure
Born Warrior: double healing; ambidexterity; +2 punch damage; Violent & Warlike as Humans
Lack of Cultural Identity: native language must be Anglan or Killian; cut starting funds in half; can start with neither Aristocracy nor Nobility backgrounds
Gaijin are hard to put down and start with 1D12 maximum hit point capacity and +1 maximum life point capacity due to lust for life and killing rage.
Additional Backgrounds May select Berserker if desired 40% chance of being Bilingual (both Anglan and Killian count as native languages, otherwise pick one)
"Sod off, freak-boy."
Humans are the most numerous sentient species, having many kingdoms that are predominantly their own. Humans breed relatively quickly, have fair life spans, and work well in groups. They are a technically-oriented species, having members that have mastered many different fields—Humans invented technomancy. Humans tend to hunt in packs of various sizes, types, & orientations: families, companies, & kingdoms being only a few. They are curious & like exploring new realms, both geographically & intellectually. They are also a vicious, warlike species & are talented in taking over new land as well as picking up new ways to hurt others. Humans seem to enjoy watching others suffer—even members of their own species (especially those).
Being a versatile race in both talent and genetics, Humans come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, & colourations. Trolls are perhaps the only species that has a wider variety. They range in size from less than 3 feet tall to nearly 9 feet tall—although these extremes are quite rare. Human weight could be less than 50 pounds to well over 1000 pounds on the upper end. Hair, skin, & eye pigmentation have just as large a range equally as great. Humans have also spawned different sub-species such as the hulking Gaijin & the strange MetaHuman.
Humans are a somewhat psychically aware species. Many individuals have occasional prophetic dreams, hunches, or flashes of insight. A few of them are full-fledged psychics. Humans can buy psychic skills at character generation without a teacher as instinctive abilities. Their dedication to a single task, and often—stubborn determination, help Humans rise to great levels.
Humans are also very fond of 'stuff'. They are notoriously greedy packrats. While many species jealously guard their belongings, Humans are the only ones who devote rooms—or even entire structures—to the storage of treasured goods. Elves may store food reserves communally, & Dwarves may have their treasure-troves, but neither matches the dedication Humans have with gathering & possessing simply for the enjoyment of doing so.
Theirs is the also-ran species, falling into second or third place in many things. Humans are good with tools, but Dwarves are more talented. Elves live longer & are better at magic. Trolls are more genetically versatile. Hobgoblins breed faster. Goblins are more resilient. However, being less specialized allows Humans to do many things well. The aggressiveness, adaptability, predatory nature, and willingness to alter their environs, make Humans the dominant species of Midian.
Note: Human Cultivars—the sub-species of Changing Folk, Gaijin, and MetaHuman—have their own character creation sections, and do not use the same guidelines as regular baseline Humans unless otherwise noted.
Average ability scores are 10 for each attribute.
Technically & Socially Oriented: +1 technical skill & +1 social skill
Violent & Warlike: learns martial skills at +20% chance to learn
Innately Psychic: Player characters may choose one of the following foci:
- Self-focus: 1D6 to spread amongst attributes or 1D8 to spread amongst Saving Throw bonuses
- Skill focus: 1D4 levels of proficiencies or upgrade 1 apprentice skill to journeyman
- Sensitive: pick 1 psionic trait
- Power reserve: +1 Willpower and +2 maximum hit point capacity, or the trait I.P.B.S. x 2
Humans are reasonably tough & lucky: 1D6 maximum Hit Point capacity and +1 to all Saving Throws.
Additional Backgrounds/Nationality (optional; roll once on this chart—1D100; player may choose country of origin, default is Fomourian)
|65—80||Special: roll on the Special sub-chart below|
|81—00||Roll twice on this sub-chart|
|57—70||MetaHuman Ancestor: choose 1 trait from the MetaHuman list, or select one odd feature|
|85—00||Roll twice on this sub-chart|
"Of course you must realize that I am now obligated to smash your head in and grind your bones into meal."
One of the most genetically diverse species, Trolls vary wildly in size, appearance, and abilities. A few standard variants are repeated amongst them. They typically have brown, hairy skin and black hair, although the sub-type may vary this standard somewhat. Some of them do not seem to get along with anyone that they do not or cannot dominate. They are often found among physically weaker creatures or in small groups of Trolls of the same social backgrounds. Despite their animosity & asocial tendencies, Trolls pick up the language, habits, & accoutrements of those around them very quickly, particularly Rock Trolls. Trolls do not have a strong cultural identity of their own. Nor do they assimilate themselves into another's culture easily. Instead, they borrow from others. There are Trolls who are quite sophisticated and may even out-do the Humans that they are ripping off. There are few things creepier than encountering a Troll mage that sneers at you for your lack of fashion sense.
Trolls have wide, powerful builds. Their foreheads slope and their eyes are sunken and dark. Troll mouths are almost muzzle-like and toothy. Their ears ride high on their head and may be small & animal-like or large & round. Trolls have proportionally shorter legs than Humans. One of their most distinguishing features is a bovine or leonine tail, usually black. However, not all Trolls have tails. Over a third of all Trolls have some form of horn [player's choice]. This can be anything from a bony plate on their heads, to a large, swept back, and spiralling set. Large thorn-like horns may even appear on other parts of their bodies, such as the shoulders or shins. Horns, if present, are typically paired, but uneven sets, single horns from the center of the head or only to one side, or a crown of horns are possible. [Horns can cause 1D4+Strength bonus damage in close combat, but can make wearing any form of headgear problematic. Likewise for the rhino-like horns that some Trolls bear on their shoulders or other body parts.] Troll life expectancy ranges dramatically: from 40 to 400 years. [4D10 x 10 years, players should not generally know their character's life expectancy unless dying.]
There are no Troll kingdoms as they are a naturally transient people. This helps explain their tendency to borrow cultural habits of other species since Trolls don't spend much time in one area. They often live in caves for a few weeks before moving on, and keep all of their belongings in a large sack thrown over their shoulder. Trolls travel light, but their bags collect many varieties of items over the years. Troll bags may contain: a tooth lost in a fight (or a baby tooth), a precious gem wrestled from a tough adversary, or a fragment of bone left from a particularly good meal.
Average ability scores: Will vary greatly based on genetic variance. For quick statistics use: Appearance—9, Personality—7, Grace—8, Knowledge—8, Wits—10, Willpower—10, Agility—10, Stamina—13, Strength—15, Awareness—13, Speed—8, Common Sense—10.
First, roll percentile dice once on the first chart below for size, or choose a size. Then roll 1D4 to determine the number of additional Troll traits. From One—Many guideline still applies here. Roll the resulting number of times on the second chart for special features and abilities.
I. Size (Roll 1D100 or choose one)
|01—16||2—3 feet tall & 100—230 pounds:||+2 Knowledge, +1 Agility, +1 Willpower, -3 Speed|
|17—68||7—9 feet tall & 300—850 pounds:||no modifiers|
|69—00||9—13 feet tall & 950—1500 pounds:||+4 Strength, +2 Stamina, -3 Willpower, -3 Common Sense|
II. Features & Abilities: (Roll four times—1D100)
|01—04||Big, fuzzy hair: red, yellow, green, orange, pink, or blue (choose or roll 1D6)|
|05—06||No tail, or optionally an additional tail|
|07—10||Big nose: long & hooked, bulbous & warty, thin & pointy, or dog's muzzle (choose or roll 1D4); +2 to awareness|
|11—16||Somewhat Human-looking: +2 Appearance & counts as either Human or Troll on the Comparative Appearance chart (whichever is beneficial at the time)|
|17—20||Odd skin colour: mottled green, stone-grey, corpse white, or obsidian shiny-black (choose or roll 1D4)|
|21—34||Thermal vision: 40 ft|
|35—40||Sun-sensitive eyes: poor day vision (approximately half the distance of a Human), but can see in the dark three times as far|
|41—42||Sun sensitive skin: save vs. petrification/paralysis (both bonuses stack) at an 8 or be frozen—stone-like—possibly until dusk. Roll once after each hour or each exposure. If the roll fails, you may retest once every ten minutes. Darkness automatically cancels the effect. These are the fiercest Trolls, gaining two points in every attribute.|
|43—50||Fangs & large mouth: 1D6 + Strength damage; -2 to-hit unless grappling|
|51—65||Claws: 1D4 + Strength damage|
|66—70||Hind claws: 1D4 + Strength; raking type|
|71—78||Stone-hard skin: +2 Armour Class, +3 Damage Reduction|
|79—89||Regrowth: can regenerate limbs & organs in about 2—4 weeks|
|90—98||Regeneration: heals 1 Hit Point or Life Point per minute & doesn't suffer from additional damage from blood loss due to wounds; cannot regrow limbs without the Regrowth ability (which reduces the time to 2—4 days)|
|99—00||Distribute 7 attribute points any way that you choose|
Many of these features can be selected more than once (e.g. double regeneration speed, triple tails, claws do 2D4 + Strength damage). Any of these random features can optionally be traded out for the 'No Tail' option.
In addition Trolls are assumed to have the background Unsanitary, and the traits Distinctive (Appearance), and Heightened Smell (Awareness). You may also select three from the following list of traits: Bad-tasting, Booming Voice (Personality), Distinctive (Appearance), Fierce (Appearance), Grounded, Healthy (Stamina), Heightened Hearing (Awareness), Heightened Smell (Awareness), Heightened Taste (Awareness), Natural Warrior, Remorseless, Stupidly Brave, or Tough.
Trolls are notorious for their unsanitary habits and their ability (and willingness) to eat nearly anything. The only taboo food is Troll-meat. The Trolls' digestive systems give them +2 Saving Throw bonus against poisons, and an additional +2 against ingested toxins.
Trolls are hard to kill. They have 2D8 maximum hit point capacity to start.
Although other species cannot easily tell the types of Trolls apart, other than by location, Trolls consider the different backgrounds to be very different and the differences quite important distinctions.
Additional Backgrounds: (Optional; roll 1D100 or players may choose sub-type)
|81—00||Mixed blood, roll twice|