2. The Races of Gushémal (2)
The elvenkin are all those people whose ancestry includes an elf – which in fact is very common among the humans of Gushémal. In most cases the elven blood came into the lineage a very long time ago, so long that no sign can be detected anymore, neither does the person have any of the advantages or disadvantages of being associated with elves.
Those that do bear signs of their ancestry – such as a blueish skin tone or pointed ears in most cases – are commonly called half-elves, no matter whether the elf involved was one of their parents or one of their grandparents, or maybe a bit more removed. Oftentimes there can be indicators after many generations, such as an unusual hair or eye color.
In some cases it happens that a half-elf inherits all the physical appearance of one of his or her parents, looking to the world like a full-blooded member of this race. This is quite rare – perhaps to the misfortune of the half-elves.
Elvenkin is generally despised by everyone, humans and elves the same. Their lives are miserable, fighting mistrust wherever they go. Their own family treats them as outcasts most of the time, except for those among them who themselves are of mixed blood. This is not so difficult to understand since most unions of humans and elves are not with mutual understanding – in fact, it is quite likely that an elf raped a human. After all, elves are mercenaries who fight the enemies of their employer, plunder and loot.
Then there is the basic hatred between the races, a thread that has wound itself unweakened through the millenia since the Elven Flood. Both races have found a certain compromise, a truce, that keeps them from openly declaring war on each other. But the crossbreeds are not part of this unwritten truce, and the thirst for vengeance lands squarely on their shoulders.
Humans consider them as crossbreeds that might look as if they have human blood – but their minds have to be fully elven, and therefore as completely evil as if there were no trace of human in them. Elvenkin are of a dirty descent, they sully the world by their very existence. It is better to ignore them, let them lead their filthy little lives apart from society. (As a result, elvenkin born to human mothers is often anonymously deposited at the front door of a temple.)
On the other hand, elves are quite a bit more cruel to the mixed-blood offspring. They call the elvenkin “bastards deserving of death” – and the consequence is that the child will be killed immediately after birth. In some cases both mother and child will be banned from the elven community, or the child is dropped off in some desolate place to fend for itself (which is akin to killing it right away).
In larger cities the situation changes a little as the races have to live together, and the level of tolerance is higher. Still, elvenkin are hardly found among the full-blooded members of their races, and they have to suffer the same kinds of prejudice as elves.
Racial Advantages or Disadvantages:
(NOTE: The GM should assign the character a limited set of advantages such as elvensight, though never to the same extent as a full-elf enjoys.)
Caidwarves are the most common kind of dwarves of Gushémal. At a height of ca. 4 feet, they are nearly as wide in their shoulders as well. Their hair is brown or black, which grays with age – a dwarf of more than 150 years should have properly white hair.
They live in subterranean mine or cave systems, in an almost religious union with the rock. (Since they have no gods and revere only their mythical ancestors, the dweorgh, the nature of stone and metal has become the basis of their spiritual lives.)
Before reaching adulthood at ninety years, a caidwarf spends most of his time in menial positions, serving her elders. They tend the subterranean farms, work in the shafts of the mine, but from the age of sixty onward, they begin to learn the use of weapons as well as some of the skills a fully adult dwarf should know. During this time, the young dwarves have to shave their beards off every day, which is considered a sign of humiliation.
On their ninetieth birthday they are permitted to grow a beard. They also receive a new title which indicates that they are now full members of the society: From this point onward, a dwarf may call himself “smith”, no matter whether he works as one or not. The majority of caidwarves have at least a passing knowledge of smithlore, and many choose to improve the smatterings they have learned before their ascension ceremony.
Before turning ninety caidwarves are rarely permitted to leave the mountain. But a smith cannot be ordered about as easily as a youngster; dwarves are a deeply individualistic society. They are now free to take a look at the surface world, see what it has to offer, and maybe get to know some other dwarves. Some choose to find a mate from another clan – and for that, they clearly have to travel on the surface.
As a result, almost every dwarf on the surface of Gushémal is a smith.
By their nature and the steady hard work has made dwarves considerably stronger than humans or elves – a strange thought, considering their compact size. It is said that dwarves are so close to rock that they are as strong as a mountain – not to mention just as tough.
Since the time before history began, it is thought, that trade between caidwarves and humans have flourished. Humans favor tools and weapons forged by the excellent dwarven smiths, and in return they can offer quite a few advantages of the surface world – without the dwarves having to leave their mountain.
The trade relationships with other species are not as far developed.
Racial Advantages and Disadvantages
There is no race on Gushémal that is so utterly despised as the alreus. Whereas elves are feared, alreus are considered a steady annoyance that should be gotten rid of as soon as possible.
Their physical appearance offers no clues as to why this should be so. Hardly ever does an alreu’s height exceed three feet. At first, they look a lot like thin, spindly human children. A second glance reveals that the face is adult, that the head is larger than a human’s child, and that the arms are a good deal longer and thinner.
Since they resemble humans so much, in a minute form, they are also called “manlings”.
What makes them so troublesome is their attitude and their society. Alreus do not know the meaning of ownership – which means that an alreu will just take what he needs. What he doesn’t need, he’ll give to someone else.
Some say they do not understand the meaning of money or trade, which isn’t entirely right. They do comprehend the ideas. What they don’t understand is why they should trouble themselves with these difficulties.
If an alreu is advised that another race does not like it when a stranger simply takes away things, there is a small chance that the alreu will shrug and stay away from those objects. It is a small chance only since alreus do not understand why this should be avoided. Their own language, after all, has no word for “theft”.
This problem is enhanced since alreus are of a very curious nature. Anything they have never seen before is of interest to them, and they want to investigate it right away – and possibly take it with them.
Now one might ask why alreus are not kicked out of any city they put their feet in. One answer is that they are rather fast and good at avoiding hands grasping for them. Another is their extraordinary skill at craftsmanship. With their fingers (and the exquisite tools each alreu carries) they can create true objets d’art, works of art that may be highly valued.
The problem here is that alreus have their own ideas of what they wish to create, and those ideas differ greatly from those of other races. Your average alreu will craft an object that is completely worthless to anyone else, but the alreu regards it as a beautiful creation.
With proper guidance, an alreu can be taught to accept the values of, say, humans, and then the creations could become priceless.
Thieves’ guilds also have discovered the value of alreus. Their skill is not limited to craftsmanship, but they also have a knack for opening locks. Thus, one has the perfect thief – one who is small, opens any door, and most intriguingly has the barest of interest in the loot.
Alreus are social creatures and value friendships highly. Once they consider someone a friend, that friendship will last to the death. They like to give away small things, a pendant, a figurine they have carved themselves, perhaps gemstones. (After all, jewelry is of no particular value to them, therefore a priceless gem would make a nice little present.)
Especially among each other friendships are quickly made and heartily celebrated. Two alreus who have never met each other before might instantaneously act as if they had been friends for years.
Racial Advantages and Disadvantages