Although something of a minority in population, the dwarven nature is well known among all races. Uniformly a short and stocky lot, dwarves possess heights of endurance often unattainable by other races. Physically, dwarves stand between 52 and 58 inches in height and are nearly as thick across the shoulders as they are tall. Speculations on the past aside, all Zalanthan dwarves are completely hairless, with slightly pointed ears and great masses of muscle. Mentally, dwarves are similar, with a degree of powerful single-mindedness that other races often find intolerable.
As compared to humans, dwarves are stronger and possess more endurance. However, because of their thick-bodied frame, they are on the average less agile; and, because of the incredible singleness of purpose in the dwarven mind, they are usually somewhat less wise. Some composition of their bodies and minds tends to make dwarves highly resistant to magick of all kinds, and their high endurance usually renders them virtually (or literally) immune to poisons.
Roleplaying: Dwarves, whose origins are unknown, typically attempt to find one single goal to which they can adhere and they will never abandon that goal for as long as they live (or until it is completed, when a dwarf feels the need to set himself or herself to a new, more difficult task than the last). Fear is generally not a lever one can employ with dwarves, for they will not be shaken from their purpose, whatever it might be at the time, even if it means their death.
Elves are the second most populous race on the face of Zalanthas. Some evidence suggests that this was not always the case, but elves have been very numerous for as far back as anyone can remember. There are fundamentally two types of elf: City elf and Desert elf. The two originate from the same lines, but have diverged in significant ways over time.
All elves stand between around 75 and 96 inches in height and tend to have slim, light frames. Elvish features tend to have less variation than do human features, but a large range does indeed exist: skin color usually falls in the dark, dusky browns to pale cream-colors; hair is typically darker but shares a similar range of hues. Eye color among elves, however, is a matter of extraordinary variability. Elven ears are always pointed, and the shape of the eyes is always that of an almond.Elves are very long-limbed runners by nature, and are capable of a prolonged run across any type of terrain for extended periods of time. As compared to humans, elves have a higher agility (on average), and a somewhat higher wisdom. Due to their light build, though, they are generally less strong and sturdy than humans.
Roleplaying: Elves highly distrust anyone who is not part of their immediate family, or of their tribe, who has not been tested severely to earn their trust. Elves will go to great lengths to contrive and execute these tests, even to the point of putting their own lives at risk. All elves have a cultural bent toward both wandering and thievery. Among elves, theft is not a crime, per se, but more of a test of courage. Due to their nature as runners, all elves find riding mounts to be a shameful act (though they can usually forgive the use of mounts by other races).
Gith are a race of hunched-over humanoids which are apparently descended from elves. Any such evolutionary branching assuredly occurred sometime in the very distant past, for there are few similarities between them save their long-limbed frame and great height. Gith skin is yellow to dark brown, rough and perhaps a little scaly as though some reptilian anscestry may exist. Average height is approximately eighty-four inches, with weight similar to that of elves. Eye colour is typically black, or possibly dark brown.
As compared to humans, gith rate much as elves do in strength and endurance, though gith are somewhat more agile and sturdy than their distant elvish brethren.
Roleplaying: Gith society is highly tribal, much like nomadic elves. However, gith tribal culture is extremely ritualistic and sometimes cruel. Symbolism, tradition, and attention to correct processes marks gith society apart from others (with the possible exception of mantis culture, from whom the gith may have learned). Tests of merit by combat are common among gith, but other measures such as ritual performance are also frequently used to settle disputes. For example, as there is no gain from fighting an obviously weaker tribesman, the stronger gith may just as easily demand a contest of storytelling or a fire-ritual judged by peers.
Born of mixed elvish and human parentage, half-elves share many of the traits of both races. Tall, between 70 and 82 inches in height, and possessed of deeply etched features, half-elves resemble their elven parents. On the other hand, half-elves are bulkier and somewhat more durable than elves, and so resemble their human parents. Regardless of these attributes, however, half-elves can virtually always pass for either humans or elves, and share the skin tones and hair-and-eye colours of both parents.
A half-elf is an even mixture of elvish and human abilities: they are stronger than elves but less so than humans; possess more endurance than elves (except for the elvish ability to run), but less than humans; inherit elvish wisdom and agility, but not to the extent which elves have these things. Half-elves do not gain the elven ability to run over long distances.
Roleplaying: Accepted by neither humans nor elves, half-elves tend to be extremely self-reliant, and they pride themselves on this trait. Half-elves try to do everything for themselves, such as hunting for their own meals and camping well apart from others they are with. Despite this, half-elves typically try to gain acceptance by elves or humans and will go out of their way toward that end.
Created by some magick far in the past, half-giants are a special crossbreed of humans and the giants which inhabit the islands in the Sea of Eternal Dust. Half-giants appears much like a human, but with highly exaggerated features, and with skin tones which sometimes go into the reds. Half-giants stand between 120 and 150 inches tall.
From their giant kin, half-giants have inherited incredible size and strength, and their endurance is matched only by muls and sturdy dwarves. However, possibly due to the magick which birthed half-giants, they are infamously stupid and have very low wisdoms. In addition, because of their great size, half-giants are typically slow to move and have low agilities. Half-giants, because of their great size, cannot usually wear clothing or armor designed for smaller demihumans.
Roleplaying: Half-giants have no culture to speak of. Possessed of astounding degrees of curiosity and kindness (usually), half-giants very willingly adopt the customs of those nearby, and especially the customs of friends. This trait can be either a benefit or a serious detriment to those friends (or neighbors), depending on the circumstances. Half- giants are able to switch their loyalties very quickly, and some races (such as elves) find this to be intolerable.
Halflings appear to other races as children with very wise faces. Standing between 36 and 44 inches in height, halflings are indeed the smallest of the humanoids. Skin and eye colour among halflings tends to vary between a pale cream and a muddy brown, although other colour- ations are not uncommon: pale blue, greenish, or coppery skin can all be found. Halflings are virtually hairless except for the typical unruly mane of hair which tops their heads.
Halflings are often far more agile than other races (assuredly moreso than humans and dwarves), and their peculiar culture renders them somewhat more wise as well. Due to their diminutive size, their strength is much lower than human norms, and their endurance is somewhat lacking as well. After existing for centuries alongside poisonous forest creatures, halflings have developed an extremely high resistance to poison. In addition, possibly due to the nature of halfling culture, they are highly resistant to magick. The halfling diet consists primarily of fresh kills from the hunt (halflings regard all animal species as potential food stock, including the other intelligent races but excluding other halflings), but they are well able to subsist on food which humans, elves, and dwarves find palatable as well.
Roleplaying: Halfling culture is extremely different than the societies of elves, dwarves, and men. Among the attributes stressed in halfling society are tolerance, learning, and a oneness with nature. Aggressiveness, a desire to steal, or a will to decieve would be foreign qualities to a typical halfling. While seemingly an eminently desirable race to befriend, there are several aspects of halfling life which set them forever apart from other races. Foremost, halflings are extremely carnivorous and will readily consume nearly any freshly killed creature--a practice which tends to turn the stomach of others. Also, by the standards of other races, halflings are a backward and savage people (not to mention dangerous). Finally, halflings do not learn the languages of other races very well, as the concepts contained within the tongues of others are foreign to the halfling.
Humans are, by a small margin, the most predominant race on Zalanthas. Most humans stand between 68 and 78 inches in height and vary tremendously in skin and eye colour (hair colour tends to range between light blond to black, but peculiar variations on even this feature are entirely possible). Eons of life on Zalanthas has warped the human appearance enough so that physical anomalies are somewhat commonplace: webbed fingers or toes, hairlessness, pointed ears, long or short limbs, or skin tones in the faint blues or greys are all possible mutations upon the human form.
Humans are considered the norm against which other races are, fairly or unfairly, judged. Quite likely this is a result of the human origins of both Muk Utep and Highlord Tektolnes, but it is distinctly possible that either all other races are descended from human stock or that at one time humans comprised a vast majority of the population of Zalanthas. Whatever the reasons, human strength, endurance, agility, and wisdom are all unmodified and have the greatest range of benefit or detriment of any race.
Roleplaying: Human character is as broad as human ability. Virtually any sort of disposition can be found amongst humans, and humans are allowed the greatest latitude in inventing their personalities. For all intents and purposes, a human is able to become whatever he or she wishes to become, without restriction.
Mantises are hulking insectoids who generally stand about 85 inches in height at the shoulder (they are nearly 48 inches longer than they are tall). They are six-limbed exoskeletal creatures, covered by a hard, sandy yellow-to-ruddy brown carapace. Their heads are wedgelike, with two black compound eyes on either side and a laterally-working jaw at the front. Two antennae grow from between their eyes, and serve as aids to movement when in darkness.
Because of their insectine nature, mantises have extraordinary agility, but their minds are not overly acute and so are less wise than humans. Typically, a mantis is somewhat stronger than an average human. Due to both their agility and their keen senses, mantises are difficult to surprise and almost impossible to hit with missile weapons. Mantises are strictly carnivorous and can only eat freshly killed meat. They have no need to sleep (and could not do so even if they wished). Because of their alien body shapes, mantises cannot wear most clothing fashioned by demihumans, and never wear armor.
Roleplaying: Mantises are utterly foreign in manner and thinking to all other intelligent races. The single thought which dominates the mind of a mantis is the hunt for food. Active around the clock, mantises travel with their packs (or clutches) endlessly, searching for prey, killing, and eating. The pack-mentality is so strong within mantises that they will immediately assist whomever they are with when danger strikes, no matter what sort of relationship is between them. Mantises regard most other races as lazy (because of their sleeping habits), and also as food if easier prey is nowhere to be found--mantises are rumoured to have a taste for elves. A mantis will eat another mantis without hesitation (he will not kill another mantis, but will eat the body of a slain comrade).
** Note: Mantises are what can be termed "ecologically aware" and will always neglect to hunt an area past the point of recouperation.
Mantis MPEG (1Mb) by Paul Seidman
Muls are sterile crossbreeds of dwarves and men, bred almost solely by Templar slavers and Nobles for combat in the Arenas of Allanak and Tuluk. It is quite likely that muls did not exist prior to the Empire of Man, when the earliest known experimentation of this nature was recorded (and the depictions of muls are unmistakable, which collaborates the supposition that dwarves were used as slaves by the Empire).
Physically, muls bear most of the bulk of their dwarven parent, being extremely strong and rugged. Most of the height and cunning of their human ancestry is preserved as well--from a purely Scientific point of view, a much better product than half-giants. Mulish ears are always pointed, and muls never grow hair. Skin tones are widely varied, from light tan to copper to greys and even blues to dark browns. Usually, a mul's eyes are slanted. Muls are slightly shorter than humans.
Roleplaying: Being sterile, and thus outside of the typical chain of reproduction, muls often suffer from a sense of meaninglessness. This is compounded when they learn (often too young) that they were born as a tool or bargaining chip. This tends to make many muls into angry people, full of distrust and hate. However, muls that are able to escape the bonds of both their owners and their depression will almost always make the best of warriors. Many slave tribes and small armies are headed by mulish captains, as their fighting prowess and unusual ability to empathize render them superior leaders.
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