2. The Races of Gushémal (1)
In this section, we introduce the major races of our fantasy world. Please take note that we have not included all the important races that have already appeared in the stories or the background information. As you can read on our website (where you can also learn more details, check out http://www.gushemal.com/world.htm), there are several subcategories of elves, for instance, but for now we have only included a single group in this book.
The reason is simple: As we are still in the process of creating the system, we have focused on the most numerous groups, to get a proper feel – and to learn how we’ll later on differentiate the other subcategories, as well as the races that have not yet been incorporated at all.
Well, alright, there’s also another reason: A few of those subcategories will probably stay closed for player characters for a while, simply because there are stories inherent in their races which we have yet to tell (and we don’t want to ruin them…), or because their powers are of a nature that would make a good session very difficult. The amhran acharadh (or songdwarves), for instance, are a very mysterious species that seems to tap into a special and very potent pool of magic. In some ways they seem very close to gods, at least a few of them – and it wouldn’t do to have a god play a regular role in a campaign…
The humans of Gushémal are, simply said, the same as the people you meet today. There are no notable differences. They also are, more or less, the average version of the races of Gushémal, and therefore bear neither advantages or disadvantages.
Humans are the dominant species of Gushémal. After their ancestors broke the dictatorial rule of elves some three millenia ago, they took over the top of the power chain in the world. Most of the realms of the world are governed and inhabited by humans. Other races are not necessarily rare, but they hardly ever are involved with any high-level politics.
Of course, the inhabitants of most of the realms differ, have their own idiosyncrasies, and so on. More specific information is provided in other locations, such as the section Nations and Places on our website at http://www.gushemal.com.
Racial Advantages or
2.2.1. Stratiotoi (Mercenary Elves)
The stratiotoi are the largest and most important group of elves. In their tongue, the name means roughly “soldier”. Commonly, though they are simply described as mercenary elves – though rarely while one of them is present.
Elves are easy to recognize; their blue skin alone jumps out of any crowd. Add to that cyan-colored hair, purple eyes, prominent cheekbones and pointy ears, and you can guess how much they stand apart from humans.
Elves tend to be smaller than humans, but their better agility more than makes up for this deficit. In fact, one has to see them in action to understand just how lethal fighters the elves are.
Males and females clearly are different, but when it comes to fighting, both take the same part of the share (although their styles differ.)
Today there are practically no elven realms anywhere on Gushémal. Three thousand years ago, after the Elven Flood, their kind ruled the world, with a heavy dictatorial hand. Their rule eventually was broken by a human insurrection – and the elves were scattered across the land, with no hope of ever recovering their supremacy.
In the aftermath of the insurrection, the elves were forced to change their lifestyles, and so the stratiotoi came into being. Roughly organized into clans (whose head calls himself the “lord”), they survive by offering their fighting prowess to human employers. Their services are much in demand, even though few humans trust the elves.
The latter is no surprise for the elves believe themselves to be vastly superior to all the other races. After all, they were “created first by the gods”, as they are convinced. So, for one thing, they treat all unelven persons as inferior minions. At best they will show respect to their current employer – but even he has to wonder whether it is true respect or just a sham to maintain the elf’s position.
Aside from their arrogance there is also the knowledge that elves tend towards violence. Elven cruelty is well-known everywhere – and the bad reputation is well deserved, in fact. There probably are numerous elves who do not enjoy torture as much as their brethren. At least that appears reasonable, yet they seem very difficult to find.
Racial Advantages and Disadvantages