Common Cynosure Races
Dragonborn – Previous to the Gods Fall War, the dragonborn were an elusive race rarely seen in mortal lands. They shared Parai Arex, the last refuge of dragonkind, with its creators, but whether they were servants or masters in their own right has never been clear. Dragonkind refused to concern itself with the war between light and dark, but this did not prevent Parai Arex’s corruption during the Gods Fall War.
Most of dragonkind abandoned the mortal world completely in the wake of the Gods Fall War, and the Cynosure wondered if the dragonborn had perished. Several centuries later, the dragonborn appeared in the Cynosure, streaming from the desolation of Parai Arex. They offered as little explanation as the dragons had when leaving, saying only when pressed that they had attempted to reconcile themselves to Parai Arex’s corruption and failed.
A significant number came to Khel Darahl first and elected to stay out of pity for the fallen dwarves. They had admired the race’s stolid and taciturn nature and hoped to help them face the coming centuries. Those dragonborn who valued strength in arms or strict militarism favored migration to Gauthe, while those who held honor and principle above all else journeyed to Wester. Reillanwurm proved an enigma to outsiders. Most dragonborn refused to set foot in its boundaries, but those who did quickly became the Grand Duke’s fanatically loyal elite soldiers. In other lands, the dragonborn offered their services as mercenaries and instructors.
In modern times, the dragonborn are well integrated into their adopted societies. None remain who lived in Parai Arex, but the dragonborn mythologize it as a lost haven full of wonders and glory unseen in today’s world. Not even the dragonborn can say exactly what happened to their homeland or the dragons who left the world, nor can they offer explanation for Grand Duke Terminax’s actions. They know only that to live in his duchy is to accept him as absolute liege. Elsewhere, they are free to live as they may.
Devas – Devas have appeared in greater numbers in the mortal world since the Covenant’s founding. They existed in small numbers previously, but angels rarely chose to take the flesh except in extreme circumstances. When the Antipodeans gave up their existence, they also erased all knowledge of their identities from the mortal world so that none could linger in their faiths.
Some of the Antipodeans’ most loyal servants were so closely linked to their god-lieges that parts of their identity were erased as well. Angels were affected radically, becoming the faceless entities known today. For some, this seemed a harsh punishment for an eternity of service, but the angels discovered that in taking the flesh, they could claim mortal identities. Many chose to incarnate as devas to escape the featureless aspect of the angels’ existence.
Other angels joined the mortal world for a different reason, however. The unchaining of the world from the Antipodean war was a great gift, and some angels wished to experience this gift alongside mortals. These chose to incarnate as devas with enthusiasm and hope.
Many of the new generation of devas incarnated in Gondolen, but a fair number chose the Cynosure as their new home instead. Genose, Wester, Jeroen, and Lilleroan have the largest deva populations in the Cynosure, but devas are found in every nation.
Dwarves – Modern dwarves have until recently been known as the Unseated. They suffered divine retribution during the Gods Fall War for the attempted genocide of the orcs, leaving their spirits broken and their nation, Khel Darahl, in shambles. No one thought much of the dwarves in modern times, watching passively as stronger, more ambitious nations carved out pieces of Khel Darahl for themselves as the Unseated stood idly by.
Change has come to the dwarves recently, however. Throughout the centuries, there always had been individuals who were shackled less tightly and dared to test their mettle in the world at large, forsaking their failed kin for a chance at a true dwarven life. Though they do not openly say so, the dwarves of Davianwurm subjugated by Duchess Cindrellai no longer consider themselves Unseated, and their spirit does seem restored under the duchess’s rule. The dwarves of Khel Behrin in Gauthe have publicly rejected the designation Unseated and the association with their kin in Khel Darahl with it. In Khel Darahl itself, the Unseated have split into two factions, the Enthroned and the Reforged, and they struggle for control of their nation’s destiny. Not all Unseated have cast aside their spiritual shackles yet, but their number dwindles as Darahlan society polarizes.
The Unseated were once very pale of skin, but centuries of living under the sun have turned their complexions ruddy. Their hair tends to darker shades of brown and red, and their eyes are lightly hued greens, golds, violets, and blues.
Elves and Eladrin – Both the elves and eladrin in the Cynosure descend from a branch of fey called the green folk, who share their origins with plants. These elves and eladrin consider themselves to be the same race, known as the sirrol. The sirrol specifically claim kinship with flowering plants that do not produce fruits or vegetables, and specific families are related to specific plants.
The eladrin, who only rarely leave the Feywild for mortal lands, see no distinction at all between the eladrin and elves; indeed, they consider even flowering plants to be a part of their race. Elves are those sirrol who have lived outside the Feywild for millennia, and they understand the mortal world’s need for classification. They wryly refer to themselves as sirrol and the eladrin as the sirrol eladrin when speaking with particularly dense mortals. In the depths of the Feywild dwell the truly immortal sirrol, the noble ghaele eladrin, though only a fraction of the ghaele eladrin are sirrol.
Until the destruction of the World Tree, the Feywild lay close to the Cynosure in Lilleroan. In the following centuries, it receded from the Cynosure, but with the invasion of the Spring Court, the Feywild has begun to encroach on the world again. However, the Feywild has grown chaotic and more dangerous than usual, and many of the known landmarks are lost in the depths of the plane. All attempts to contact the other Courts have failed.
The largest populations of sirrol live in Lilleroan, with notable concentrations also in Jeroen and Genose. The sirrol eladrin appear in much smaller numbers in these areas.
The sirrol have skin tones ranging from light tans to woody greens, and their hair colors match any leaf tone found in nature. Sirrol eladrins’ skin and hair sometimes change color with the seasons to reflect the particular flowering plant they share kinship with. This is rare in elves.
Gnomes – Once, gnomes were immortal, as were most of the fey races. According to the sirrol, many of the fey severed ties with their Courts to join mortals when humankind came into being. The gnomes agree that the sirrol, gnomes, and even goblinkind all became mortal as a result of a shared decision, but they say some conflict lost to history but predating humanity precipitated the decision. The newly mortal fey parted ways afterward, some leaving the Feywild entirely, others lingering.
For ages, gnomes haunted the edges of the Feywild, curious about the mortal world but too timid to enter it fully. They were enigmatic tricksters and ghosts lurking on the edges of civilization. When they finally emerged into the world, the gnomes lacked the sirrol’s ties to the Courts, but they retained much hidden knowledge that others lost.
The gnomes are now spread throughout the Cynosure, but they prefer to build their own hidden communities in the wilderness. The major exception is Genose, where the gnomes were excited by the concept of the Republic. Today, they are fierce protectors of liberty and hold many offices in the Genosan government. Gnomes are also prominent instructors in the Rosing Academy, thanks to their aptitude for arcane lore. Genosan gnomes are much more comfortable living in the open than their rural cousins in other countries.
Half-elves – The sirrol consider half-elves to be sufficiently weighted with mortality to no longer be members of their race. They have gifted them with the name sirrolketh. “Elf” is a word used only by mortals, so whether a half-elf refers to himself as half-elf or sirrolketh is largely a matter of upbringing or indicative of his chosen affiliation as an adult.
Half-elves are spread throughout the Cynosure, but their natural gifts have allowed them to rise to prominence particularly in Jeroen, Lilleroan, and the Calpurnian Isles.
Halflings – Halflings as a race do not have a single cultural identity. By their own vague accounting, whatever homeland or country they had was lost in an ancient cataclysm, most likely a previous war between the gods of light and dark. They have since made their homes among the other races, their bright and humorous personalities making them a welcome addition to most nations.
Halflings are particularly drawn to human culture, and it is believed that humans named them halflings as a way to relate them to their race. Halflings are responsible for nourishing the growth of many of the communities across the Cynosure, often serving as the farmers and craftsmen that form a town’s economic foundation. They are also the guardians of civilization, believing strongly in preserving other cultures in lieu of their own.
Halflings have light brown or gold-tinged skin with very light, often metallic colors of hair and eyes.
Humans – When asked about humans, the sirrol say there was a time when the mortal realm did not exist. The Feywild and its dark twin, the Shadowfell, were the world. Then humans came, in their ambition and hunger creating and expanding the mortal world. Dwarves scoff at this, saying that they, who are as old as the stones themselves while humans are only as old as sand, had never been a part of the Feywild and that the sirrol are all too apt to confuse history with allegory. The sirrol agree that truth is art. To both races, though, the humans are a newer addition to the world.
Humans tell their own tale. For ages, the mortal races reflected their creators, belonging either to light or dark. As the Antipodeans slowly realized that their very natures maintained their war, they explored several early solutions. One such solution was the creation of humankind. The gods of light called forth the first humans and gifted them with desire and ambition so that they might forever expand and change the world. Then they took a risk: the gods of light stole a sliver of darkness from their evil brethren and placed it in humankind, that their new children would have the potential for great good and great evil. In this way, they hoped their children would transcend the very nature of creation and create a solution where none existed. They also gave humans the ability to breed with most mortal races in order to spread their unique gifts further.
Humans did indeed rise to prominence everywhere they spread, reordering the world in the process, but in the end the gods found another solution: the founding of the Covenant. Humanity in the modern world controls a majority of the known world and leads most other races into the future. They feel a special affinity with the Covenant gods, believing that these gods are the endpoint of the process that began with humanity’s birth, and humanity has taken the lead in rebuilding the world as it exists following the founding of the Covenant.
Like the breadth of their influence, human appearance ranges across extremes of light and dark.
Orcs – According to orcish tradition, when the gods of darkness learned of humanity’s birth, they ordered their servants to capture some for sacrifice. Through the spilled blood and steaming entrails, the dark gods peered into the future and attempted to divine humanity’s fate. They saw that while some of humanity would succumb to dark temptations, the race would serve as a focal point for light. Their understanding of evil would indeed tip the balance in favor of light, and, far into a future clouded by uncertainty, they might change the nature of creation itself.
The gods of darkness resolved to bring forth a new race of their own in response: the orcs, gifted with insatiable bloodlust and jealousy. They were unwilling to risk corruption as the gods of light had, however. Instead of placing a sliver of light within the orcs, the dark gods gave them the void left behind by the light gods’ theft, ensuring that the newborn orcs would forever be fascinated by the light. They would seek those who served it, study them like fireflies in a jar, and finally destroy them when overwhelmed with envy and rage. For the orcs’ greatest desire would be the possibility of redemption, that barest sliver of light denied them, but they would never be able to have it. Their search for it, though, would bring them a greater understanding of the ways of light than any servants of darkness ever had.
The orcs surged forth, rapacious, insatiable, the new dark elite. They proved true to their birth, providing the counterpoint to humanity until the founding of the Covenant freed the orcs from their bondage. In the modern world, their dark nature persists, but no longer is redemption barred from them. In Gauthe, the re-established orcish homeland, the race has learned to live in harmony with races once belonging to the light, and instead of existing as a constant threat to the Cynosure, they have aligned their destiny with it. Other orcs have traveled abroad, often seeking to distance themselves from their evil history. Their reception outside of Gauthe remains uncertain, however.
Orcs are tall and solidly built, even the weakest muscular by other races’ standards. Their broad faces have a vaguely porcine look with skin tones ranging from black to gray, blue, green, and yellow and bristly hair in darker tones of the same. Their eyes glow like embers of red, orange, yellow, or green.
Half-orcs – Half-orcs have flourished in Gauthe, where orcs and humans have learned to live in harmony. Because their parent races were the chosen of light and dark, half-orcs see themselves as proof that the Antipodean war is truly ended, and many feel a personal responsibility to uphold the Covenant and free will.
This sometimes puts them at odds with Gauthe’s strict military leadership, where individual freedom is not valued as highly as one’s rank in society and obedience to the rule of law. Half-orcs were instrumental in founding the Malachite League to advocate the continued redemption of the dark races.
The largest population of half-orcs by far lives in Gauthe, but they have gradually dispersed beyond their motherland, often feeling the call of human ambition to make their mark in the world. Others were born abroad to orc wanderers and Gauthode ex-patriots. Unlike orcs, half-orcs are widely welcomed outside Gauthe, mainly because humans tend to favor them.
As befits their birth, half-orcs are dull hues of green, gray, yellow, blue, or brown shading into human skin tones. Their hair is typically dark, and their eyes glimmer like jewels.
Tieflings – Mortals and immortals have always had a fascination with each other, a fascination which has often led to offspring throughout history. Rarely had their offspring ever existed in great numbers until recent times, however. The influence of the Covenant Stone in Veristople weakened the barriers between the planes in that area, allowing outsiders to slip into the world. Most who dare to do so, even devils, are the servants of the Covenant gods, and some have opted to settle in the Covenant lands and take mortals as lovers, giving rise to true races. Humankind in particular welcomes these new races as the emergence of new life not created by the gods themselves, especially because so many of them are descendants of humans.
Tieflings in the Cynosure struggle with darker origins, however. They have been appearing in great numbers in Genose and the Calpurnian Isles in the recent centuries as a result of infernal cults, primarily the Marrowmodeons, operating in both nations. Some were invested with infernal blood as a reward for their loyalty, but others are the shameful outcasts of abused cultists or innocents. Their heritage is one of dark urges, hidden agendas, and manipulation. Some struggle to break free of their origins, while others are all too happy to find their place in the world serving infernal powers.
In Genose, tieflings often occupy positions of power, while Calpurnians make use of them and deflect the question of their origins, providing them with tacit protection. Tieflings in other nations are often refugees seeking their own fate.