Coldforged: People

Each Thursday this year, I focus on a different aspect of the world I’ve created and played D&D in for over 20 years, in the hopes of cementing enough in place to settle the world in my own mind. This week, I’m going to talk about the various people within the continent.

The Population

In many fantasy worlds there is a fairly popular trope, no doubt inspired by the writings of Tolkien, where each different humanoid has its own land that it lives in, and each different type of people exists almost specifically therein. Elves, Halflings, Humans, and Dwarves each live separately, yet still, coexist within the world.

This trope isn’t neccecarily harmful, but I don’t think it truly represents a fantasy world in a way that is remotely realistic. When I think of my world, I want most of my people to be intermingled, with demographic that can easily represent an adventuring party almost anywhere on the planet.

That does mean that characters in this world are less focused on what they are, than on where they come from and where they were raised. Kilbaran Elves, Tyndarian Dwarves, and Thraxian humans all exist, and it is not uncommon to spy beings of even more exotic origin. Today, I want to try and give a brief overview of these different peoples, and how they fit within the world, and a bit of their history and mannerisms.

The first set (Humans, Elves, Dwarves) are the most common of the people on Tysis. They form the bulk of the population of almost every Kingdom and even maintain sizable enclaves even in areas where they are not the main population. Seeing any of these is a common experience that elicits little wonder or fear.

The Second Set (Gnomes, Halfling, Half-orcs) are uncommon sights and minor populations within most areas. They are known quantities, however, and while they may spark a reaction in either the extremely young or the the extremely detached, they are generally unsurprising.

The third set (Dragonkin, Half Giants, God Touched and Mage Spawn) are all rare sights in outlying towns and manors, with most rural folk having only experienced their company a handful of times. They are often viewed with wariness or deference, and often have a mysterious aura around them while out in the country. In the Urban Centers and within specific enclaves in certain Kingdoms, however, they are rarely of note.

Humans

The history of humans on Tysis is as long and storied as the continent itself, with multiple civilizations rising and falling along the winding rivers and lush, if cold, valleys. Most recently, these kingdoms are Killbar and Tyndaria, both of which are continuing their legacy to this day. Killbar was a city conceived around the protection of a single holy site that blossomed over centuries into a Kingdom run by a Senate of Mages selected from its colleges. Tyndaria was settled by refugues who created the city of Tyrndall, evolving over time into a Kingdom, run by a monarch their High Council until a recent succession crisis and the subsequent poor leadership caused the Kingdom to collapse in on itself. Now, the human lands are sundered into dozens of small Kingdoms and city-states, many simply fending for themselves while others are ruled by nostalgic leaders who seek a return to the old ways.

Surprising no one, Humans are the stock standard being within the continent of Tysis. Their innovation, adaptability, and persistence have placed them at all corners of the continent, making them prevalent throughout Tyndaria and Killbar, with contingents among the Hrondring and Thraxians as well. They adapt to their environs quickly, becoming masters of their land and the resources upon it and being quick adopters and adapters, the start seeking to improve and iterate on all they do. There are some 30 different ethnic and cultural groups within the two human areas, and many have spread well beyond where their ancestors once called home, and their 25 different languages can be heard across the lands as well as the common tongue.

Humans are physically diverse, ranging in skin tone, hair, and eye color from extremely pale to extremely dark, while also spaning the range of both height and weight.

Elves

Elves have always lived on the edges of civilization, building a kingdom within the northern forests slowly while generally keeping to themselves. Some adventurous elven explorers and entrepreneurs did venture south looking for fame, wealth, or simply a change of pace. Some rare few even found the continuous bustling urban life in the human kingdoms a kind of comfort compared to the serene and docile Kingdom of Levisha. Through the centuries, the elves became a well known and respected presence throughout the continent. All of that shattered, howerver following back to back wars that dissolved the trust the elven leadership had in humans and lead to the issuance of the Grand Recall. The Kingdom of Levisha would close its borders to all, even elves. There would be no interaction with the outside world, and the elves have secluded themselves for two decades in their forest, with no inclination of rejoining the other Kingdoms.

Elves are the only people that are both common and rare. While they once were plentiful and joyous among the populations of Southern Tysis, those elves who now remain know that they and their kin have been forever banished from the forest of their ancestors, but made the difficult choice because they didn’t simply live in their communities, they had incorporated themselves so deeply there was no desire to leave.

Even outside the Forest of Levisha, the Elves are in touch with the fundamental workings of nature more than any of the other peoples on the continent and have an insight into the natural world that only comes with a timeless age and an immortal soul. They often help with tending the crops and animals, having a strong inclination for both agriculture and husbandry.

The Elves on Tysis are universally tall, with the shortest of them being just under 6′ and many reaching a hight well over 7′, and generally thin, though habits can change that. They have extended, pointed ears, and a natural hue to their bodies creating skin tones that hint green or blue up to nut brown and mahogany, with brilliant green, blue and purple eyes. Their hair, though, trends toward the warmer spectrum with reds, oranges, and yellows being common.

Dwarf

The Dwarves used to live in the Drimmak mountians on the eastern coast of the continent, with small fortresses in hiddenhills and lone mountains througout the rest of the land. They have always been explorers and delvers, seeking the next load of rich iron, gold, and silver. The dwarves centered their lives around the Drimmak, until the Frost and Stone giants were approached by Modru, and convinced to wage war on the Dwarves with the assistance of the White Drakes and both kins. The war was devestating to to dwarves, who were taken offguard by the sudden attack. Over the course of a number of years, the dwarves fought hard, but eventually were pushed out of their mountain holds, the best warriors of generations lying dead in their abandoned halls. Now, they have spread across the continent, though mostly concentraded in Adashir Cidatel within Tyrndall, planning the reconquest of their homes.

Dwarves seem to be the inverse of the elves, having recently been forced from their ancestral homeland Though they had significant presences across the continent, it has only grown in recent years as the refugees of the Drimmen War flee their homeland and settle with lost cousins, uncles, and friends. Dwarven ingenuity is renowned, and while the humans are busy iterating and adapting with careless disregard for the consequences, the dwarves are deliberately advancing their favored passions of smithing, stonecutting, and excavations. Many a mining expedition or building firm treasures its dwarven foremen and advisors. Dwarves are stern, but not an unloving, lot and though they may only grudgingly give respect, it is a treasured commodity once attained.

Dwarves are strong and stout people, no different from many other worlds, though they tend to bald younger than others and tend to wear beards that conceal many of their features. They have pale skin tones ranging from a grey tint through creamy white and light brown. Their eyes tend to be dark, and their brow and chin prominent. Their hair is generally all different shades of red, though in old age it tends to grey.

Gnomes

Gnomes are a curious lot, being prevalent in every society throughout the Continent, even Thrax while maintaining a bit of mystery about where they came from, or why they left. Gnomes are seen in many of their current residences as the good-natured neighbor, generally willing to give a hand. In Tyndaria, they are commonly employed to reach areas that larger folk have a tough time with, from small thieves to chimney sweeps to sewer cleaners, they do it all. In Killbar, their propensity for Conjuration and Illusion magic has given them more than a few prominent positions. Thraxian and Levishan gnomes use their connection to the natural world as scouts, guides and druids, and the Ghome Exiles from Drimmak are often deft and skilled artisans.

Gnomes maintain small clans and family trees in many of the cities and towns of the continent, contributing tho the good and well being of the society without much in the way of being noticed. Where Elves and Dwarves, though in different aspects, are parts of the natural world, tapping into forests and caves of the world, the Gnomes are much more in tune with the magical forces surrounding all things. They tend to favor magically inclined professions and are most happy satisfying their curiosity about how the world is put together through magical and intellectual experimentation. Sometimes, their passionate and inquisitive nature gets the best of them, and they travel down dark paths better left unexplored.

Gnomes are small and sturdy, but not stout as dwarves are, being both fairly thin and fairly small. They are born with fairly wild colored hair, with greens and blues being the most common, which fades almost universally to grey prior to adulthood. They are small, rarely reaching of three and a half feet, and light, barely breaking 40lbs.

Halfling

Once, the Halflings holed up in a small and defensible land beyond a thick and imposing forest known as The Brambles. Then, the Killbarans came, razed The Brambles to the ground, and conquered the area. Due to the delay in getting through the forest, many of them were able to escape via the sea, and fled to a lonely and distant shore, a town where a few halflings and other ne’er do wells had settled. Now, the pirate town of Brokensail hosts the largest concentration of halflings on the continent, and they must extract a great price from the rest of the countries commerce to satisfy their benefactor, the great dragon, Jet.

Halflings, much like dwarves, feel the recent loss of their homeland strongly, and the new generation of halflings, have grown up without knowing that it ever existed. These burgeoning adults have taken their feeling of loss and shame and put it to use. They tend, though not universally, to be rowdy, independent and fierce, willingly striding into danger and confronting the world, looking for meaning beyond what simply lies within their own town. Many have wrestled these feelings into illicit and dangerous trades, such as adventuring, banditry, and piracy, while their elders look on in both shock and shame as they turn upside down the acceptance gained by the halflings in the human and elven worlds.

Halflings vary in coloration as much as humans do, with a variety of skin, eye and hair color. They are, however, much smaller, reaching 4 feet on average, and a little over 60 lbs, though most of it is fairly solid. They do love a good feast, though. Their ears are slightly pointed, and their eyes, mostly blue and sometimes green, almost always gleam with intensity.

Thraxian (Half Orc)

For generations, the Thraxian tribes raided, pillaged and destroyed those beyond their forest borders. Each time, they created a new generation of half breeds that were shunned and looked down on. Over time, however, those half breeds came to outnumber, and then took over, the tribes of the mothers and fathers. To be Thraxian is now synonymous with the concept of half orc, such that half orc isn’t used now except as a derogatory by bigots. Its a confusing term, because Thraxian also refers to all people from Thrax while also being specific to the specific group of people.

Thraxians have staked a claim on the lands of Tysis as hard-working, strong and raucous individuals. What they put their minds to, they tend to pursue for an unreasonable length of time until it is achieved or it is deemed impossible. While many have become adapted to an urban lifestyle, many of them find it hard to connect to their roots in the hustle of the city, preferring outlying areas where they can retreat and listen to themselves and their ancestors. Thraxians, much like elves, are in touch with nature, though they seek to speak with the spirits of the land and their ancestors more than they wish to commune with nature itself.

Thraxians are tall, around the same size as an elf, but are substantially larger, with their natural muscle pushing the scales heavily in their favor. They have dark, mostly brown and sometimes greenish, skin, with brown or black hair and eyes.

Dragonkin (Dragonborn)

Dragonkin, or Half-Dragons as many call them, are likely the offshoot of some great dragons promiscuity thousands of years ago, though no one can report on when or where that promiscuity happened. No one still, can pinpoint where the first Half-Dragon was sighted, or how they arrived on the continent. Though their origins are mysterious, they have become a staple part of the population of the continent.

They are rare in cities across the region, and even rarer still in the rural areas, as they are simply few in number. Their relatively short lives and their fierce, cold intellect help them approach things from angles that others cannot fathom, producing solutions in unorthodox ways. Dragonkin live among almost all of the cultures, having made a name for themselves as both innately magical and innately strong. They hold an esteemed place in Killbar, often being groomed as soldiers in the military and the town guard.When they do settle down in a single place, they tend to gather into insular clans, unrelated by actual blood. Familial relations seem strange to Dragonkin, who raise their children in these clans without knowing who their biological mother and father are, with a growing kid bonding to one adult or another, who then takes on the responsibility of raising the child.

Dragonkin are respected and feared for their stature and countenance, though they all tend to be fairly reasonable in spite of their ferocious looks. It is hard to tell males from females, though a small ridge down the spine can give a clue, though its not a foregone conclusion. Almost all Dragonkin, no matter their ancestry, tend towards pale gray, black, and slate blue, though sometimes a tint of another color will shine through in the right light. Their eyes are generally yellow, green, or red.

Half Giants (Goliath)

Like Dragonkin and Gnomes, few know the origin of the Half-Giants. Few expect that they were really the natural union of a giant and a standardly sized humanoid, but the theories surrounding a shapeshifting cloud giant, or an enamored, polymorphed wizard abound. regardless of their actual nature, the stoic people have gained acceptance among the human lands as well as the Thraxians, who see them as the natural link between the humans and their hill giant allies. Though many half-giants seem to be slow, those who know them understand that they have learned to make careful and calculated decisions about what they do and how they do it, as they are the perfect scapegoat when things go wrong.

Half-Giants are a sight to behold, towering over many other beings on the continent, including the aforementioned Dragonkin. They are beefy, strong, and slow to anger. They are also, fairly sadly, a generally solitary lot, as half-giants rarely encounter many others of their kind over their lifetime, and finding one that they connect with is a wonderful, exciting occasion. Half-Giants have been known to insinuate themselves into dwarven Clans to help facilitate construction, Human armies as powerful soldiers, elven enclaves as manual labor, and all other groups where they can. They are pleasant to those they trust, and wary of all others, often after years of being blamed for any dangerous happening. Its the Giants fault is a common saying in the rural areas of the continent.

Half-Giants are towering masses of flesh and muscle, easily reaching 7 and a half feet tall and over 400 lbs of muscle and brawn. They have a fairly humanlike coloration of their skin, eyes, and hair, though as a whole they tend towards the pale end, some would call it grey, of the spectrum in skin and eyes, with black hair being the most common.

Godtouched (Genasi)

The First Godtouched originated, it is said, in the early part of the Godswar, after Takannas was said to have seen a particularly beautiful woman and taking a liking to her. She returned his affections, and the first generation of godtouched was born. To this day, each godtouched traces their lineage back to a singular, exceptional divine being. Though this is generally thought to be impossible bragging, there is little doubt that there is something special about these people who exude Fire, Air, Earth, and Stone from their very core. While it is not expressed in every generation, the blood does produce the rare child with divine gifts from time to time. These blessed children are the godtouched, or so it is believed.

There are as many attitudes among the God-Touched as there are gods and elements, and they are one of the least unified of the peoples of the world. They claim no relation to each other, only to a long and unbroken line of succession to a god, angel, or other divine creature. Many times, the godtouched will take on the combined aspects of their mortal and immortal parentages, combining the stoicism of stone with the natural elements of elves, or the passion of fire with the gnome innate curiosity.

There are as many attitudes among the God-Touched as there are gods and elements, and they are one of the least unified of the peoples of the world. They claim no relation to each other, only to a long and unbroken line of succession to a god, angel, or other divine creature. Many times, the godtouched will take on the combined aspects of their mortal and immortal parentages, combining the stoicism of stone with the natural elements of elves, or the passion of fire with the gnome innate curiosity.

Godtouched are generally of the same form and physicality of their mortal ancestry, with a touch of the elemental bleeding through. Sometimes the skin is rough as stone, or the eyes burn with intense fire, or their hair floats and waves about in the air. There is no uniformity of how the divine blood manifests in the godtouched.

Magespawn (Tiefling)

Years ago, there was a plague that struck the mageocracy of Killbar, before it fell, and it devoured the magical essence of many of the spellcasters in that country. Some of those afflicted by the plague survived, though they grew horns, wings, and blackened skin. These beings procreated and created the first generation of magespawn. The plague had many stages, and the symptoms varied from individual to individual, some being carriers and others manifesting the changes immediately. A magespawn is fairly distrusted in Killbar, though elsewhere they are simply regarded as a new and dangerous novelty. Many magespawn are inherently drawn to magic, which they seek either to explain their origins and to revel in its immense power.

Like the godtouched, each magespawn has little that connects them to any other, outside of the lineage of corrupted magic blood. They show little connection to each other, and often little connection to anyone. They are often loners and wanderers, never at home where they are as they are looked at askance wherever they land. As they are still new and extremely rare on the continent, many cities and towns will have only a few, and the outlands have likely to have not even heard of one, let alone seen them.

Each Magespawn displays the physical aspects of their mortal parents while expressing various horns, tails, skin tones and eyes as evidence of their corruption, which starts growing and expressing themselves around puberty. They could be elves with horns, gnomes or dwarves with tails, or a human with vestigial, wings. Their skin tends towards either cracked, pitch black or a pale and sickly white, with intense red or purple eyes. Their hair, what they have of it, is often a dark color, with deep purple, black and brown the most common.

Well, that is it for an extremely basic introduction to the people on the continent of Tysis. It’s a long-winded introduction, but its a lot of people! Next, week, its time to look at some Kingdoms!

Thanks for reading, and taking a look at the playable people in the Coldforged setting. Until next time!