Americana (DnD Campaign Setting)/Races
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|“||Do not judge the man based upon his face, or his skin, or his creed. To do so is folly, for little in the world is what it seems on first sight. Know this: it is not only to Man that the Eagle gave his gift of Free Will, but to all, and thus never assume that a man of terrible visage is of terrible mind. What he does with his mind is his choice, because of the Eagle's Gift.||”|
|—The prophet Hamilton, Declarations 2:4-6, the Presidential Bible|
Except where otherwise stated, all races use the basic templates as found in the SRD.
There are approximately eleven known "thinking races" in Americana, all of which can be referred to as people. While other creatures that can think and reason do exist, they rarely show enough societal cohesion to be considered organized races--thus, while anything that can hold a conversation with you can be afforded the respect you give your next-door neighbor, it might vary whether they count as a person depending on who you ask. This is a matter of much debate.
The eleven main races have been listed below; it is advised that Americana is a mysterious place, and anything could be hiding out in the unknown lands--or right under the noses of the ones that think they know everything.
|“||We burned the wagons on the first day. It was thought that all of them were dead. We left, then, heading for our stronghold in the foothills. On the third day we noticed the first goblin missing. There were two more gone by the time we camped for the night. This continued for four days until we saw him, hiding in the shadow of an outcropping, filthy, gaunt, bereft of his fine clothes, with a sword and a musket and a look of burning hatred in his eyes. We thought he would be an easy kill. I am the only one left. You may do what you want with me. Just don't give me to him.||”|
|—Pigsticker, goblin bandit leader, in his testimony to the Chicago Frontier Guard|
Humans are ambition personified. The most populous of the Americ races, they are by nature industrious, curious, and persistent to a fault. Their drive pushed the Great War to an end and most of the modern nations to begin, and since then technology and magic have returned, gaining sophistication and skill manyfold. Exactly what this means is an important topic among humans today--some believe that this reflects their inherent superiority, since clearly the other races wouldn’t have achieved these heights and accomplishments without their help and guidance. Others believe that this reflects a general combination of abilities and temperaments to achieve heights no one race could have alone. Whatever the truth may actually be, there is an unfortunate tendency among some humans to think of nation-state society as “their” society. Today they sit in a position ascendant over the other races, and that does not seem likely to change soon. On the whole, however, humans are fiercely proud of the accomplishments that have been made since the war’s end and are devoted to making life and living continue to improve, no matter what.
Not all humans are part of the Nations- many shun the city life, eking out harsh existences on their own in the backwoods beyond the national borders. Dozens of sub-cultures thrive out in the unclaimed lands; the marsh-dwelling "swampies" of the Chesapeake region, the farmers and ranchers of the Cumberlands, the strange and elusive Do'na of the North Pacific Mountains, and the tunnel-dwelling "Ozmen" of the Great Plain are just a few of the numerous settlements that can be found outside of "civilization". However, whether "civilized" or not, humans have a strong tendency to prefer working together in large community--it makes life easier, and whether a great city or a small village, where you can find one human you'll usually find another.
Humans are bipedal creatures around five and a half to six feet tall. They have little hair and smooth skin, which comes in a wide variety of colors (which the humans show little distinction between). They are possessed of greater stamina than any other race, making them capable of great feats of persistence, and when pressed into hardship astonish even dragons with their endurance and will to survive. They excel as explorers, leaders, and diplomats.
|“||The popular opinion in this City appears to be that the Native America are rude, brutal, uncouth, and savage. And I tell you that spending a mere two months with one of their tribes has proven these claims to be not only false, but so inaccurate as to be an insult of mortal magnitude.||”|
|—Colonel William Hickock, Chicago Armed Forces, in his report to his superiors after being released from captivity.|
Elves are the next-most populous race. In the wake of the Great War, they turned their focus to the land itself, opting to study and analyze the various forces of nature. It was as a result of this that the elves were the race to make the most use of magic, rediscovering many arcane arts as extrapolations of their examination of natural forces. They were the first to codify magic into a science, and have become very proud of their learned nature--perhaps a bit too proud. Today elves are devoted to the academic aspects of reality and society: capable of and preferring to take long views and big pictures, they tend to see everything as interconnected and the result of complex factors. They tend to be diametrically opposed to the goblins, who are cast as “uncouth”, viewing their vision of life as overly simplistic and disparaging their lack of respect for nature as ignorance. However, elves and goblins in cooperation have created some of the greatest advances of science and magic in combination, including the most astonishing invention of the modern age--the zeppelin.
However, not all the elves have so heartily embraced modernity. A large portion of the elven population split off from the bulk as the nation-states were being founded, preferring to live in close harmony to the land and do as little as possible to alter the natural order. While by no means luddites, the Native elves have been comfortable watching the world roll by beyond them--until the world started encroaching on their life. Many lands that were once Native have been claimed by the rapidly growing nation-states, and now the only place they remain predominant is the Great Plain. A significant population of Natives helped the colony of St. Paul gain its independence in the Twenty Years’ War, and were rewarded with joint authority over the new nation--an experiment in lifestyle and government that all other eyes are watching intently.
Elves average a slightly shorter height than humans, but are comparatively much swifter and quicker-witted. They have similar variety in skin colors, though they trend towards the darker ends of the spectrum whereas humans trend lighter. Those who are looking for it can note that elven ears are differently-shaped from humans' as well, but the most noticeable difference is in facial structure. They make exceptional scientists of all disciplines (though especially biology), philosophers, and magicians.
|“||Dwarves? [Censored] capital people and no mistake. Maybe not the nicest folk around- I mean, I doubt you high-society types will ever have one of 'em at one of your posh digs- but I'll be damned if they aren't the best machinists in this entire city, and you can tell the Council I said that. I'm not ashamed, 'cause it's the truth.||”|
|—Charles Lake, Detroit metalworker|
Dwarves suffered badly from the Great War--never fast to reproduce, their decimated populations left them in the humans' wake during the reconstruction days. Today dwarven society has been subsumed by human in most places, and some people might deny having ever met one living.
(ED NOTE: It is currently undecided as to whether to have dwarves in this setting or not--I haven't been satisfied with any ideas so far, but some of my cowriters disagree. When this gets resolved, hopefully soon, this section will be complete.)
|“||They came like a wave of sickly green, scrabbling down the cliff face with a speed surprising for ones of their size. Our bowmen opened fire, felling a great number in the first salvo, but the casualties did nothing to halt their advance. They seemed completely ignorant to their own losses- or perhaps simply uncaring.||”|
|—Excerpt from the account of the migration of the Dallas Separatists|
Orcs were the losers in the Great War--the vast shock troops of the Dragon Lords, armies that were more aimed than commanded. When peace broke, however, the orcs--leaderless and targetless--suddenly found themselves in control of their own destinies for the first time in their history. It proved to be hard to handle--the vast orcish armies exploded into infighting that lasted for years, before fragmenting and scattering to the winds. Likely the third most populous race after humans and elves, today orcs mostly exist in the backcountry, having been reduced to barbarism. The largest social unit is generally the village, with farm settlements or individual families being more common.
As they were made to be living weapons, Orcs are predisposed to sudden bursts of horrific violence. Even the most peaceful-looking orc tribe can (and often does) attack their neighbors to supplement their farming, to avenge slights both real and imagined, or seemingly just for fun. Orc society has been slowly absorbing the influences of the civilizations around them, and is starting to cohere back together, but the process is going to be long and, like most things orcs get involved in, bloody. Orcs are large compared to other races, standing half a head over humans and over twice as tall as most kobolds. They have skin which varies in color from deep green to pale grey, and feature a blockier skull and much pointier teeth. Some orcs bear tusks, which carry a wide variety of associations in orc society depending on where you are. Orcs are exceptional woodsmen, lawmen, and soldiers.
|“||I laughed when the goblin climbed the stairs to the stage, feet slapping the floor, what passed for her finest clothes unkempt, enormous tinted glasses over her eyes. Surely this was a joke, and she would be thrown out. Then she began setting up the machine, and explaining the mechanics of it, and the room stopped laughing. Slowly we began to tilt forward in our chairs, rapt by that gravelly voice explaining a solution of startling simplicity. There was no laughter when she finished--only applause.||”|
|—Keith Hammond, New Orlean inventor, describing the presentation of the reversible plow by Danah Oleavich.|
|“||If you're going to fight the hobbos/you should bring your very best/A man who takes them lightly/will be buried with the rest||”|
|—Dallas Army barracks song|
|“||Scouting a short ways over the hill, we spotted a camp of Potos, rallying for war. They know we are here, Washington damn them, and they know we will strike soon, but not from which direction. If the legendary city is this well guarded, then perhaps we should have left it to be lost.||”|
|—From the journal of Theodore Dubois, one of six men to survive the doomed Kinworth Expedition|
It doesn't matter how far from the Appalachian Coast you live; if you were a kid, and you misbehaved, your parents told you the lizards were going to get you.
Lizardfolk live in the vast swamplands of the east coast of Americana, in small, reclusive tribal communities. They maintained a clannish, patriarchal hunter-gatherer society, with larger tribes conducting occasional raids outside the swamps that terrified the communities around for decades. Eventually, the legendary frontiersman Stanislaus Quislane ingratiated himself into lizardfolk society, earning a great deal of interracial goodwill and negotiating an end to the raids before his death in 55 A.G.. Since then, the lizardfolk have been using Quislane’s Peace to observe the world outside in peace, gradually absorbing technology and new ideas. Though they regard the outside with a hefty degree of caution, many of them have become infatuated with the world beyond the swamps and have left their tribes to explore.
Lizardfolk are the largest of the organized races by stature, standing a head taller than any human on average and possessing considerable bulk. They can move at a great clip in spite of their size, especially in the water, and are unparallelled hunters, trackers, and scrub fighters. Eastern lizardfolk are generally have hide colors ranging from olive to black, with cream-colored stomachs, and feature a variety of mottled scale patterns. Their society consists of hundreds of small clans and villages, ruled patriarchally by chiefs who pass the title on to their sons. Anyone who can defeat the sitting chief through might or guile has the right to claim the title for himself (which was key to Quislane’s success). Smaller tribes are nomadic, hunting for food, while larger ones stay in one place and farm the marshes. Lizardfolk make exceptional hunters, scouts, and sailors.
A second variety has also appeared, the banded or western lizardfolk, though this is a very recent development. Apparently from further south in Mexico, the perpetual strife in those lands drove a number of lizardfolk tribes north into the Paso de Sur, where they encountered Americans for the first time--occasionally, by raiding trade caravans for food or water. Exactly where they fit into the great equation is still unclear, but physically there is marginal difference between them and the more common lizards. Banded lizardfolk are slightly smaller than their cousins, with rougher scales and a variety of adaptations to desert life. Their scales are universally shades of brown, banded with darker and lighter browns. It is said no two lizards share the same scale pattern.
(A note: eastern lizardfolk resemble American alligators in the skin texture, coloration, and shape of the head, and western resemble gila monsters.)
|“||A short distance out from the borders of Missouri, they begin to appear- pockmarks dotted across the land like needle-holes in a sheet of hide. While in the day they are eerily quiet, at night- it you look hard enough- you may catch the gleam of reptilian eyes poking out from the holes, eying everything that moves with the calculating stare of a lifelong risk-taker.||”|
|—Samuel Chase, trader|
Kobolds were once great. They were the first servants of the Dragon Lords--artisans and laborers compared to the fearsome berserkers of the orcs. They were granted almost astonishing autonomy, ruling over the fabled Carlsbad Caverns, a vast network of caves, crystalline forests, mushroom glades, underground seas, and luminescent caverns that stretches under Americana's Southwest. They revealed themselves after the Lords vanished, and were known as peaceful folk, experts in science and magic, who would trade with the surrounding Nations freely and provide refuge to the populace in times of war. But in 62 A.G., the Kobold kingdom of Kurt'y'yip'Yak was invaded by an army of mysterious, terrifying creatures referred to by the kobolds as geistessers--mind-eaters. These monstrosities attacked from the depths, killing nearly half of Kurt'y'yip'Yak's citizenry and driving the remainder of the clans out of Carlsbad.
Since then, kobolds have been the homeless drifters of Americ society, drifting from place to place with large populations living and working temporarily in the cities before moving on. Some have regressed to older societies, digging intricate dog-tunnels in the Plain and forming viciously xenophobic clannish societies known by Dallas as "Okies". Some have gravitated to the new nation of Yellowstone and the rule of the Copper Lord, serving a dragon once more. But for most kobolds, their home lies conquered, so they remain korir--the wanderers.
Kobolds are the smallest of any race, standing at about three feet on average. They distantly resemble dragons, sharing many lizardlike features and scaled skin. Once in a blue moon, one will grow wings, which is considered extremely good fortune. They are flexible and agile, capable of moving undetected, and are almost never found alone. Due to their history as the Lords' tools, they are exceptional miners, artisans, and craftsfolk.
Korir kobolds have lost some of their ability to see in the dark due to generations spent aboveground, but inversely are no longer as dazzled by bright light. Korirs gain low-light vision as opposed to darkvision. They also have a much wider range of skills due to their society’s drifting, and may replace Profession: Miner with any profession of their choice within reason (though they don’t have to). Some good options include Artisan, Jeweler, or Clockworker--kobolds generally favor fine-motor tasks that benefit from their legacy as tinkerers.
Warforged are something new. Created by the Detroit machine-wizards, these half-magical, half-mechanical creations were originally designed for heavy-duty and hazardous factory tasks. It was in the early days of the Twenty Years' War that House Chrysler came up with the notion to convert some of them to military purposes, to help Detroit combat its more populous neighbor in New York. They proved very effective, but with a side effect--the exposure to so much life and death triggered a change in the warforged, who became self-aware. Stranger still, every warforged made after this awakening was also self-aware from its first moment. Detroit was less than pleased when it discovered this, and was purportedly planning to destroy the lot, but then the Battle of the Oho Valley happened and the matter was taken out of their hands. New York opted to make giving the warforged their freedom a condition of the treaty. They opted by consensus to take the name “warforged” for themselves, as it had been war that had given them sentience.
Warforged stand on average the size of a very tall man, and are built with similar proportions. They are capable of extreme feats of strength as well as delicate manipulation with their three-fingered hands. Their skin and skeleton are metal and wood, but they do contain blood systems and muscles like most any living being (albeit sometimes made of leather or wood fiber). There are very few warforged at the moment--a few thousand in all--and while they do not have genders and cannot have children as other races do, the Detroi imparted the secrets of their construction to them as a parting gift. In general, their thinking is still fairly simple and direct (though they are by no means stupid, a common mistake); though they have emotions such as fear and joy they have some troubles showing them, and are as a rule very literal and logical in their behavior.
Moosemen are, to most people, only a legend. Few in most nations will ever see one, and the Seattlites likely know the most. They tower over humans, resembling moose stood upright on their hind legs, with the arms of a man. Though there is evidence that they have societal structures similar to the tribes of the elves, little has ever been seen of these. Moosemen only rarely make contact with Americans, coming down from the wild lands of Canadia in the north as winter deepens and vanishing back again in the spring. The contact they do have is often hostile--migrating hunter-gatherers in the dead of winter aren't usually up for negotiation. Moose is one of the few languages yet to remain mostly undeciphered by Americans, and unless a greater contact is made on more peaceful terms, it is likely to remain that way.
The Meheek deserve note. They are, near as can be told, humans. However, their skin colors have a much narrower range, and as a rule they are much shorter, about the height of dwarves. Some truly short members have been seen, displaying facial features unlike most any humans, but the Meheek do not treat these as separate from themselves. They are a single people occupying a vast, hot land to the south, Mexico, which is mostly remote from Americana due to the broad, baking deserts between. Those who have been south speak of lush coastlands, rocky mountains, and dense, alien jungles full of strange animals. The capital of Tenochtitlan sits high in the mountains, built to float on a great lake and large as any great American city. Ostensibly, Mexico is ruled whole by a great Emperor, who controls the population via the Priesthood, who are rumored to be part bird and enact human sacrifice to please their gods. However, the land is perpetually wracked with strife, sometimes being divided into as many provincial factions as there are American nations. Mexico is thus not often worth an overland trip to visit, though trade is busy at the port of Oaxaca on the eastern coast.
Dragons are revered, respected, and--for the bulk of Americana's thinking peoples--bitterly resented. It was revealed near the end of the Great War that the dragons, who had been thought to be merely powerful and intelligent beasts of war, had been orchestrating the conflict for untold lengths of time--to what end, no-one knew. The War looked about to be dividing into two sides, bringing even more and greater bloodshed. However, the various factions shocked the dragons by doing something they had not predicted--they got together, agreed there was no point to fighting further since none could remember what they had begun fighting over, and signed a peace treaty. The now-peaced armies turned on the Dragons and their underlings, and there was a short period of unspeakable violence before the Dragon Lords just disappeared, without warning. Their armed forces quickly fell to pieces, and having accomplished their aims of living unmolested, the seven generals disbanded the alliance and went their separate ways, founding the Seven Founding Nations.
Dragons were seen only very rarely after that until the Copper Lord, Izilithrax, appeared in the Pacific Mountains proclaiming to found his own nation. Since then, the great dragons have been spotted once more, flocking in ones and twos to Yellowstone--though in numbers paling those they were once seen in. Something has happened, and no-one knows what.
Dragons are great reptilian beasts, resembling giant lizards but for their wings and their ability to breathe magic. They possess vast intelligence and cunning, are enormously strong, and can move at astonishing speeds. However, while each is individually very powerful, the dragons are very few in number--they live for ages, but they grow slowly and breed rarely. As such, they tend to take the long view of any situation, and favor complex planning. Dragons come in a variety of colors, which indicate their inherent abilities and can be used as a general judge of temperaments.
The Dragon Lords themselves were thirteen powerful dragons who were involved in the Great Conspiracy. All thirteen vanished at the end of the War, but two have since reappeared. One, Champ, inhabits the lake surrounding Detroit and can be frequently seen in recent years swimming openly down the river past New York. At this point, the Yorki have learned not to interfere with him. The other, Izzy, has taken a much more proactive role in global affairs, leading the nation of Yellowstone and a slowly growing collection of dragons of all colors.