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.
Humans are the most prolific of the Americ races, making up the majority population of the Nation-States and a portion of the populace that dwells beyond the national borders. Though often stubborn and arrogant, humans are tenacious and hardy, capable of enduring great hardships and trials to gain what they want. In general, humans consider themselves the ruling race of Americana, and to a degree this is correct- through science, magic, and sheer force of numbers the Human Race has shoved back the frontier and brought Nature to heel, enabling a golden age of prosperity for their kind and those they protect.
But not all humans are part of the Human 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".
|“||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|
Section Under Reconstruction
|“||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.|
No matter whose history you consult, they all say the same thing: the Elves were there first.
In an out-of-character sense, the Elves are Americana's equivalent of the American Indians. They were the first sentient race on the continent, and exactly how they got there is still unclear. By and large elves (inana in their own tongue) have shunned the Nation-State concept altogether, preferring to oppose the spread of humanity by will and at times by force.
So far this hasn't been exactly successful. As a result of their hostility towards humanity elves- and Natives in general as a connection- have become sort of persona non grata in most Nation-States, and have either been forced out of those territories into the unclaimed wildernesses or put under extremely heavy scrutiny by the governments.
Which is not to say all elves are hated by humans or that all elves hate humans. Minnesota in particular has a very close and elaborate relationship with its Native inhabitants (for more on that see the Minnesota entry), as a result of the events of the nation's founding. Indianapolis has long been in a similar situation, as well as the smaller Nation-State of Yellowstone, and the government of Atlanta has long held a loose alliance with the Wih'kill elves against the Disnee Tribe.
But these examples are few. Elves are extremely long-lived people, and though they are peaceful in nature they can hold a grudge like you wouldn't believe. Hence the constant danger of traveling across the Great Plain, lest one run into a roving elvish war band, thirsting for blood in repayment of their lost land.
Despite their current conflicts with the Nations of Man, elves are by and large quite civilized people. Stories of scalp-taking and cannibalism are almost universally false, brought into being by rumormongering traders and con artists offering protection for merchants. Elves are a dignified and highly intelligent race, with a deep connection to the natural world and belief and government systems that stretch back since before history was begun. They are also, as mentioned, a people that does not forget, though forgiveness is not unheard of.
Note: Though common legend states that Elves are immortal, this is merely rumor. Granted, elves have a lifespan far greater than that of any other race in Americana, but they are not entirely endless as some would have you believe.
Though the relationship between the elves and the younger races has never been what one might call "peaceful," there are the occasional exceptions. Perhaps a human captive falls in love with a beautiful elven noble, or maybe a small group of settlers live in longstanding harmony with their Fey neighbors. Less peaceful circumstances are also possible, though much more rare; elves are notoriously difficult to capture and equally unwilling to take captives themselves. Whatever the specific cause, half-elves are an established fixture in Americana, if not a common one.
Although half elves' origins may differ, one fact is indisputable: half-elves are loners. Seeing how they lack the boons that mark the elder race, the elven tribes reject them; what good is an elf who can't hear, see, shoot, or stab? If a half-elf does find refuge amongst the elves, she is tolerated with a distinct disdain.
Likewise, though human settlements may occasionally choose not to slay half-elves on sight, they rarely accept them into society; in the few cases where a half-elf finds a niche in human lands, she is treated with suspicion and hostility by humans who bear grievances against the wild race.
As such, half-elves must choose to either resign themselves to a life of loneliness or spend a lifetime searching for a place that they belong. Indeed, rumors abound of villages occupied solely by half-elves, but there is almost certainly no truth in them; the mixed race is so uncommon and decentralized that any attempt to start their own civilization is doomed to failure.
|“||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|
There are many reasons to cross the Pacific Mountains, not the least of them being the vast gold mines of California. And there are also many reasons not to cross, such as hazardous terrain, unpredictable and dangerous weather, or the rather hostile nature of most of the locals, particularly the orcs. Though the Do'na get more attention due to their rather more... fantastic habits, the orcs are the greatest danger to any crossing the mountains. Though hardly the most intelligent of races, they are stubborn, aggressive, and surprisingly well-organized. And there are a lot of them.
The orcs owe their existence to the ten Dragon Lords, who have been sheltering and organizing them since time immemorial--some theories suggest the Dragon Lords created them, but there is little evidence to this and the Lords certainly aren't telling. The Lords used them as shock infantry in the Great War, when their games of thrones required them to directly intervene on the battlefield--waves of warriors, who were more aimed than commanded, and who could take alarming losses without notice or care.
But then, the War ended--something that, for all their farsight and planning, the Dragon Lords did not expect. They retreated into the deep and distant places of the world, leaving the majority of their armies behind, leaderless and listless. Without the cunning Lords to lead them, the disorganized orcs were quickly routed by the suddenly-united human armies, and retreated into the Pacific Mountains. They would not make a major showing again until 42 A.G., when a large warband attacked the Dallas Separatists as they made their way towards the Salt Lake.
Since then, the orcs have been the largest thorn in the side of the Americ West--though still hardly a united people, they have enough coordination to be a massive danger to traffic crossing the Pacific Mountains. Attacks have lessened since El Paso and Las Vegas carved a bloody swathe through the South Pacifics in 80 A.G., to facilitate the Marconi Wire going through, but they have never been completely stopped.
Though hardly the smartest of the Americ races, the orcs are decidedly not the brainless savages most would make them out to be. They are quite cunning, using their harsh home terrain as an advantage, as well as their usual superiority in numbers. They are tough, brutal, and extremely strong, and will honor the rules and traditions of war only as long as it is convenient to them.
Orcs in general loathe bright sunlight, and as such the ones in the Pacifics live primarily in a vast network of tunnels and caves dug into the mountains. They are quite comfortable in most any environment, however, and rumors have been surfacing of small orc settlements popping up in the forests and swamps of the Southeast (though their reliability has yet to be determined).
|“||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 are a frightening and powerful race of Natives exclusive almost entirely to the swamps and marshes of the East Coast. Stories circulated for ages of the dreaded lizard-men that stole out of the night to rob cradles and kill livestock, but it wasn't until 27 A.G. that a human exploration party made first contact with a band of lizardfolk, on the northernmost fringe of the Potoma Marsh. As could be expected, the encounter was violent, and though in the end the humans succeeded at driving the war band back into the swamp the casualties they took in doing so were tremendous.
It took a legend to quell the attacks- specifically, the legendary explorer, Stanislaus Quislane. By then at the peak of his career, the much-celebrated frontiersman spent ten years in the Potoma, first in finding the lizardfolk, then in gaining their trust. He vanished in the seventh year of his work and was assumed dead, only to reappear in the swamps south of Atlanta three full years later.
Quislane's work is still the major source of information we have about the lizardfolk, as none since have been accepted into their ranks as he was. Their numbers are massive, but thinly spread. Rather than having a single central government, the lizardfolk are split up into hundreds of tribes ranging in size from ten members to five hundred (for the three largest), spread out across the marshes from the Potoma's northern edge to the southernmost tip of the Floridan Peninsula to the south.
Quislane continued his work with the lizardfolk until his death in 55 A.G., and during that time negotiated Quislane's Peace- a general agreement with 583 of the known lizardfolk tribes, in that they would cease forever all attacks on human settlements. Over 50 years later, only 9 tribes have broken the vow. But not all the tribes took the vow, either, and thus while the menace of reptilian raiders has been enormously reduced, it is not completely gone.
Lizardfolk tribes are patriarchal in nature, with the eldest son of the leader inheriting the throne. If any member of a tribe can defeat the current chief through might or guile, they become the new chief (Quislane did this exact thing to the leader of the Poto Tribe towards the start of his work in the marshes, which- combined with his later efforts- was why he was so readily accepted). The largest tribes tend to keep stationary camps, farming the marshes rather than following game as most of the tribes do. Lizardfolk societies are decidedly male-focused; females are as a rule much weaker and smaller physically than the males and as such do not usually carry positions of high import in these strongest-rules societies.
Though they may not be the brightest candles in the church, lizardfolk are quite formidable opponents. They are larger on average than any human and are yet much more nimble and agile, and despite their generally primitive society they have shown a knack for the arts of surprise and stealth, executing cunning and elaborate ambushes to ensnare or encircle their foes.
While it is not common to see lizardfolk in the cities, it is also not unheard of. Following the end of the Twenty Years War a number of the younger folk have made the decision to leave the marshes of home and see what Quislane's world looks like. In addition, there are rumors in the West and North of lizardfolk unlike those of the swamps, living in conditions impossible for East Coast lizards to stomach. But so far, these reports are unsubstantiated, and should be taken with a grain of salt.
|“||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. Like the orcs, they owe their early existence to the Dragon Lords, having long served them to mine minerals and excavate strongholds (whether or not the Dragon Lords outright created them is unclear, but there is definitely a touch of something dragonish in their blood). But unlike the orcs, they organized early--by the end of the Great War, the kobolds had been essentially self-supporting and independent for nearly a decade.
In the past, they ruled 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 were 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. Now, they are little more than desperate scavengers, outcasts from their homeland forced to wander the roads and trackways, drifting from place to place in search of the next meal. In 62 A.G., the Kobold kingdom of Kurt'y'yip'Yak was invaded by an army of mysterious, terrifying creatures known as Illithids. These monstrosities attacked from Below, killing nearly half of Kurt'y'yip'Yak's citizenry. They also took thousands of Kobold prisoners back with them when the tides of abberant invaders eventually receded back into their caverns. Shortly thereafter, a veritable army of Dwarven and Human prospectors seeking to control the unbelievable mineral wealth of the Caverns came, and, taking advantage of the chaos following the Illithid invasion, also invaded. Between the two forces, the kobolds were driven out of the Caverns in a matter of months. Those that remained were enslaved--or worse.
Kobold lore says that nearly 300 clans made it out of the Caverns. These clans vary--some are far-flung, scattered during the exodus and now spread across Americana; some are tightly-knit, families bound by their common code of survival that travel, scavenge, eat, and sleep together. The code guides much of the surviving Kobolds. It dictates that a Kobold protect and provide for their clan above all, and their people after that--outsiders are not to be trusted, no matter how good they may be to the Kobolds at the time. The clans also communicate to each other using heiroglyphs known as "Kobold signs." Kobold signs tell Kobolds of places that are unsafe to stay in, places that are friendly, places to get food, and so on. The clans are governed by the eldest Kobolds in the clan. These Elders don't have complete authority over their clan, but the entire clan respects their age and wisdom. The Elders decide where a clan goes, whether or not they should stay, and if
Some Kobold clans settle in some of the major Nation-States (such as El Paso, Detroit, and Seattle), forming enclaves of homeless beggars and scavengers. Because these Kobolds tend to hear most of the gossip in the city, and sift through its refuse constantly, the Kobolds are often used as sources of information or materials, provided the seeker can barter for these services appropriately. The urban Kobold clans usually come into conflict, one way or another, with the local beggars' guild, or the like.
And then there's the matter of the Okies. Okies--the term is a bastardization of the Akrota term for "red scaly people"--are what happen when a few dozen clans get angry, and decide to make new lives for themselves. One day a few years ago, these clans got together, just past the Missouri border. None know what happened during the meeting itself (save for a determination to create a new Kobold homeland), but a few days later the clans came screaming out of the Great Plain, laying waste to every settlement they found, Native or otherwise. They dug new warrens beneath the Plain, and, fearing Missourian reprisal for their actions, became cautious and isolationist in the extreme. Anyone coming too close to the warrens is dealt with--harshly. Any settlers trying to create a homestead on Okie land are raided incessantly and eventually driven off. The warrens themselves are mazes of winding tunnels, traps, and dead ends navigable only by another Okie.
Kobold adventurers are commonplace. The wandering lifestyle is hardly a satisfying one, and tales of Kurt'y'yip'Yak's glory make many young Kobolds want to seek their own fortunes. Nothing really stops them from leaving their clan to go adventuring, but all Kobold adventurers are expected to return one day, with tales, knowledge, and treasure.