The Dragons of Istaria are an enigmatic, ancient race whose existence predates the earliest of written records. In fact, a good deal of what is known about early Istarian history comes directly from sources the Dragons have shared with the other Living Races.
Dragons have always held themselves outside the affairs of the other Living Races; only recently did both factions of Dragon society begin active cooperation with the "naka-duskael", or roughly translated as the "unscaled" in the Dragon tongue. Even amongst the Dragons, the necessity of survival will foster action outside the norm of their isolationism.
This is quite the far cry from a race that many scholars believe were revered as deities in the times before the Age of the Gods.
Dragons themselves are quite alien when compared to the other Living Races physically, contributing to the solitary nature of the race.
They are the largest of the races, with the eldest of the Dragons, the ancients, many times larger than the largest of the bipedal races.
Dragons, once they reach a certain age, achieve the gift of flight; their enormous wings provide balance and some control in the air, but their ability to fly seems to be based more on their harnessing of external, mystical energies.
Their skin is covered with thick scales, offering better protection than the majority of the armors the Living Races use.
Dragons also have the natural ability to expel energy at a target by using their breath; most Dragons show an affinity with fire as their breath weapon of choice, though fire is not exclusively the energy used. The older a Dragon is dictates the potency and the variety of energy they might breathe.
Dragons shun the use of conventional items and tools, relying more on their innate powers of magic to craft devices that suit their needs and to alter the environment around them. Dragons are also very possessive creatures; what a Dragon owns is of paramount importance to them.
Dragons keep hordes of gold, resources, and items in secret caches only known to them; Dragons seem to be able to feed (in the figurative sense) off of the size of their horde, giving them added power. Even with the distinct and unique nature of Dragon-kind in Istaria, there are certain realities of being that even the mighty Dragons cannot escape from. For hundreds of years, the Dragons have endured what outsiders call the Great Schism.
In what is known of current Dragon society (the Dragons are not fond of openly sharing the details of their personal business with the world at large), there are two major factions: the Lunus and the Helian. The Lunus view themselves as the paragon of civilization, and that the other races should serve either to edify Dragon civilization (from a comfortable distance away), or they should simply get the hell out of the way.
The Helian see themselves as the protectors of knowledge and the world at large; they feel the other races of Istaria could learn much from their example, and often inform them as much when they do decide to communicate. While other smaller factions have existed, these two represent the bulk of the mindset of their society.
While the differing philosophies of the factions at first never found themselves at odds, they began to clash when the maturing Living Races no longer feared and revered the Dragon-kind as they did in times past. The Lunus are typically the warriors of Dragon society; they felt that the other Living Races, especially the Humans, would eventually spell the downfall of the Dragons and wanted to take appropriate action to stop it.
The Helians are more of the scholars and mages of Dragon society; they countered the Lunus by saying that they should take the lead in Istarian society, re-earning the reverence the other Living Races once had for them. The differences compounded between the factions, and over time became twisted as the inherent, unflattering draconic characteristics of possessiveness and greed twisted each side's view to the point that they found themselves at odds.
Eventually, both factions became so disaffected with each other that unless immediate and drastic changes were made, the Dragons might turn on their own. The Helian acted first, choosing to relocate themselves away from their ancestral home so that they could pursue their agenda in peace.
The Lunus were not happy with their society being torn asunder, but they did not move to stop the Helian; cooler minds realized that a civil would certainly have spelled the doom that they had predicted would befall them all along. Though the Dragons now have turned their attention to the continuing threat of the Withered Aegis and their Undead Hordes, the memories of the Great Schism are still fresh in their minds as though it happened yesterday.
The Helian have an open dialogue (as open as dialogue with a Dragon can be) with the Humans, the Dwarves, and the free city of Tazoon. The Lunus have found it necessary on occasion to work with their neighbors in the mutual defense of their lands from the Undead Horde. The Lunus also share a dislike for the Humans with the Fiends, and their mutual dislike has fostered cooperation between them.
The Dragons remain two distinct cultures to this day, and even though the menace of the Undead Hordes might force them to work together from time to time, there is little chance that the Dragons will reunite under a single banner anytime soon. Dragons are blessed with an unbridled strength, making them fearsome Warriors. Dragons also strike a balance between power and focus, making them solid practitioners of the arts arcane
Dralk is the ancestral home of all the Dragons of Istaria. Dragon legends establish that it was Drulkar himself, the God of Fire and the "First Dragon", who shaped the first lair of the city. Much like the alien physiology and psychology of the Dragons, their home city is one that looks quite strange and somewhat foreboding to an outsider.
Dralk is a network of lairs and caverns betwixt numerous crystals, floating islands and perches. There are very few communal places in Dralk, but these are lavishly sculpted and detailed. Such places house the shared knowledge of the Dragons as well as many tablets of detailed magical knowledge. As magnificent and exotic as Dralk appears, one cannot also help but notice that the city feels somewhat isolated and deserted.
While the Dragons as a race adopt an isolationist attitude toward the other Living Races whenever possible, they cannot hide the fact that the city once was significantly more populated. For hundreds of years, the Dragons have been separated into two factions that are divided along ideological lines. The Dragons of Lunus, which by and large constitute the warriors of Dragon society, hold their dominance over Dralk. The Dragons of Helian have long ago relocated to their city of Chiconis, far to the southeast of Dralk.
The Helian faction of Dragons, having exiled themselves from their original home city during the height of the Great Schism, came to the Granitefall Mountains hundreds of years ago to set up their new home. Chiconis is that new home ("new" being a relative term to the Dragons) for the Dragons of Helian, located between the Dwarves and the Humans.
Many of the Helian Dragons are the scholars and mages of Dragon society, and the relative seclusion of Chiconis high in the Granitefall Mountains offers them the solitude and space they seek to pursue their own agendas. Travel to the city on foot is difficult at best, and though they are warmer to the other Living Races than their counterparts of the Lunus faction, the Dragons of Helian are very suspicious of uninvited visitors to their city.
Chiconis has many of the trappings of Dralk - numerous shaped spires and perches line the city, along with a labyrinth of passages that connect the various lairs to the outside world. The city, however, is noticeably smaller and considerably more plain in design than Dralk is. There is also the feeling of temporariness in the city, despite the fact that it is made of stone; one certainly gets the notion that the Helian do not intend to make this a permanent home.
If there is a Living Race that is more in tune with the powers of magic, then it is the mystical Dryads. Legend tells of the Dryad race springing from the pools of celestial essence that remained after the creation of the world. From such beginnings, the Dryads have always been close to the forces of magic and its ties to the land itself.
Dryad society focuses intently on their co-habitation with nature, as well as the furthering of nature over the advances of those forces in diametric opposition to it. The unintelligent adversary equates the Dryad’s attunement to nature as a sign of passivity and weakness; the wise foe does well not to make this mistake.
In fact, there is never a stauncher adversary one would have to contend against than a Dryad defending his or her homeland.
Naturally, the Dryads have always held strong and fast against the Withered Aegis and the subjugation of Istaria’s lands by the Undead Horde.
During the darkest days of the Lament, the Dryads stood alone in the defense of the land; two events played a significant role in the current start of the Dryad’s in Istaria’s world scene, and both of which may prove to be crucial in the Living Races’ renewed fight against the Withered Aegis.
The Withered Aegis’ choice to bypass the full subjugation of Dryad lands in favor of the more lucrative targets of western Aradoth saved the Dryads a fight to defend their home city of Palmyra. It would have been a fight, however, that the Dryads would have taken to with absolute fervor; the outcome of such a fight would nevertheless have been most decidedly in favor of the Aegis, should conventional wisdom be adhered to when comparing the two armies against one another.
The decision of the Withered Aegis to bypass the Dryads, however, was brought on by the Dryad’s own manipulations of the magic that defines the laws of reality upon the Prime. The Dryads, being the masters of magic, had found a way to supplant mirrored areas of other extra-planar realms on the Prime, and vice versa.
This allowed them to, in essence, remove their city of Palmyra and the vicinity from the Prime and replace it with a linked counterpart in another realm. Physically, the Dryads are perhaps the most unique looking of all the Living Races. They are on average the smallest of the Living Races; their diminutive, wiry frames are smaller than even those of the Dwarves and Gnomes.
Dryads sport a set of colorful wings on their backs, giving them the ability of flight. A Dryad’s skin tone is of natural hues, ranging from hues as fair as that of an Elven to hues as dark as the bark of an ancient oak. Dryads use their wings for a very limited form of flight more akin to hovering; it is said that a Dryad only touches the ground at two points in their lives - when they are first born and when they die.
The Dryad homeland is known as Palmyra and was located on the Eastern Continent beyond the Great Barrier. The Dryads speak of a city of great beauty, of soaring trees, and of peace and harmony. The arrival of the Withered Aegis shattered that peace and the city itself has been hidden beyond the reach of the enemy for well over a century.
The Dryad do not know if they will ever be able to reclaim their lands or return their city to the Prime, but they are content for now to help the Living Races fight the Withered Aegis and reclaim the lands to the west.
Dwarven legend places the creation of the race at the time of the Age of Gods, when Dwarves are said to have been created by Brobbet, the god of Honor and Justice, to serve as enforcers of justice upon the prime. In reality it is far more likely that Dwarves arrived on the Prime or attained a level of conscious thought at some period during the Age of the Dragon.
The first record of any contact with Dwarves is from the Annals of Nelthorr, an ancient document that chronicles a series of explorations from Dralk into the east. Though the exact date of the Annals are hard to place, many scholars believe that it dates from around 2000 to 2500 B.R.
It is in one of these journals that Nelthorr mentions contact with "naka of such small stature that I nearly overlooked their presence".
He goes on to describe how they fled before him, abandoning their work and dropping their tools behind as they ran. Nelthorr described how the naka appeared to have been carving stone and building some sort of structure.
Though the location is vague, it is likely that this may have been among the earliest structures in Aughundell and that these "naka" were in fact the earliest Dwarves in Istaria.
Dwarven society and culture is one of the richest in tradition and history. It is also one of the most closed societies amongst all the Living Races. Dwarven society is structured around the principles of justice and honor above all things... even at what some might consider the cost of being compassionate and forgiving.
The Dwarven clans, though often fractured and argumentative amongst their own political machinations, rally around a single credo they refer to as Brobbet’s Divine Mandate: "Without honor, there is no justice; without justice, there is no future." The Dwarves consider the other Living Races to not have the same desire to adhere to Brobbet’s Divine Mandate as they themselves continually strive for.
This makes relations with the other Living Races merely cordial, at best; of notable exception are the Gnomes, whom they consider to be kindred spirits who are merely errant and who have lost their way.Since the onset of the Lament (and ending only recently), Dwarven society had been cut off from the majority of the other Living Races. In fact, the Dwarves were one of the first of the Living Races to have been sundered... or so the assumption went.
No communication with the Dwarven state was ever successful, and their capital of Aughundell was eventually deep within the Withered Aegis’ sphere of influence. The truth of the matter is that the Dwarves had been under siege by the Withered Aegis to one degree or another for almost one-hundred years. Only with the defeat of the Withered Aegis at the Battle of Tazoon was the true fate of the Dwarves discovered; though the very walls of their capital had been breached, the Dwarves held out, barricaded within their tunnels, against the Undead Horde.
This is a fact they vehemently remind any and all.For all their small size, Dwarves are known for their superior strength and resilience. They gravitate markedly toward the roles of Chaos Warriors and Crossbowmen, though - confounding a false stereotype - there are several highly adept Dwarven mages in Istaria. Dwarven males are known to keep meticulously groomed beards throughout most of their lives.
A Dwarf’s station within his clan may be identified by beard length and grooming. A clean-shaven chin, while not unheard of, is generally a sign that a Dwarf is either changing his station within the clan, or perhaps trying to change his luck in life. They are a notably superstitious folk, adhering religiously to rituals believed to bring good fortune to themselves and their kin. It’s very hard for a Dwarf to admit there’s something he doesn’t know, or can’t do.
If there is a single city anywhere in Istaria designed to withstand every imaginable form of siege, invasion, or raid, it is the Dwarven mountain fortress of Aughundell. Nestled deep within the Northern Black Mountain Range, Aughundell is built directly into the foothills and slopes of Mt. Grenaden. The city's natural barriers as well as superbly-crafted Dwarven architecture have allowed the Dwarves to successfully defend their city against any foe.
The Iron Guard and the defenses of Aughundell have been tested by the Withered Aegis three times during The Lament. Each of the Sieges lasted for years while the Dwarves held firm behind their walls and within their mountain tunnels. Even though Aughundell was designed for defense and security, this does not mean that the city is devoid of grace and beauty.
Dwarven sculptors have perfected their working of the natural stone of Mt. Grenaden to an art form; using the mountain as a canvas, many of Aughundell’s statues and architecture comes directly from the stone of the mountain itself. Dwarven artistry and architecture is influences strongly by one’s clan affiliation, and Aughundell is a myriad of subtle variances in art and architecture. Metal and stone are the preferred paints that such artistry is made, though Dwarves by and large prefer simplicity and utility in their art.
The heart of Aughundell, however, is the closest thing a Dwarf will permit for the presence of fanciful and ostentatious architecture. It is here where the eldest of the Dwarves rule over their society, and much care and detail has gone into crafting the finest (and still practical) halls of leadership one would find anywhere in Istaria.
It is said that the ancient Elves of Istaria were a gentle and mystical race, one that was in tune with the forces of nature. While the Elves of today do exhibit significant mystical prowess, their race is far from what one might call gentle.
Given their wisdom and dignity, as well as their beauty, it often comes as a shock to outsiders to discover the nearly Spartan militarism of Elven society.
Order, structure and discipline, the Elves believe, are all that have made it possible for them to survive the onslaught of the Withered Aegis and the sundering of their great city of Feladan.
All Elves are required to enlist in the Elven Army and to serve within it for a minimum of ten years.
While Elven society is nowhere near as brutal and dominating as some other Istarian societies (past and present) might be, the Elves of Istaria know and value order, structure, and discipline.
Though Elves by and large are in favor of cooperation amongst the Living Races against the Withered Aegis, they very much try to maintain their own ways whenever possible.
Physically, Elves share the same build as Humans have, though on average they are slightly taller and lankier. Elves have an acute sense of hearing, and their ears are shaped to best channel sound; this gives them their trademark pointed ears. Their skin is fairer than that of their Human cousins, though not so dissimilar as to make them completely different.
Elves typically exhibit superior senses of balance and dexterity; many of Istaria’s famed rangers and spearmen have been Elves. Likewise, Elves are renowned for their superior ranged combat skills, especially archery. Elves tend to favor power over focus in the matters of the arcane, making them excellent Mages.
Little is known of the Elves a millennia or more ago. Any records they once kept of their own history were lost in the Fall of Feladan a century ago. The only remaining reference is a passage in the Dwarven Tome of Kaldon that describes a battle beneath the "great trees".
The Elves, it seems, would not tolerate the destruction of their forest, even for such altruistic purposes as the heating of Aughundell and the further expansion of the Dwarven mines. The rule of Kaldon places this contact with the Elves approximately one-thousand years B.R., but sadly little else is known.
Feladan was the capital of the Elves and their High Court before it was conquered by the Undead Horde many years ago. The city was located in the heart of the immense Feladan Forest. The fall of Feladan marked what many thought was the beginning of the end for the Living Races in their struggle against the Withered Aegis and their Undead Hordes.
The Elves have long been allies of the Humans, especially against the Undead. For the Elves, the city walls of Feladan was their last line of defense, and they gave the Horde a fight for every meter of land they conquered; more Elves died in the defense of the city than in any other battle of the Lament combined.
Humans gave what they could to the Elves in the way of material and troops, but no amount of effort the Humans and Elves could muster could turn the tide. In the end, the Undead Horde captured the city and drove the last of the Elves from their ancestral home to the walls of their city of refuge, Tazoon. For decades, Feladan was a twisted visage of its former glory; the verdant forest that used to surround the city a dark, dense overgrowth of nature gone horribly wrong.
In other places, a blasted wasteland resided where lush vegetation once was. The former beauty of the city, with the tree-lined homes and buildings of the Elves, was gone; a swirling blight maelstrom twisting the Elven architecture into a caricature of its former magnificence.
With the Living Races' victory over the Undead Hordes at the Battle of Tazoon, a renewed sense of urgency overcame the Elves and they began making plans to reclaim their homeland. After two failed attempts, and with the help of a resurgent number of Gifted, the Elves were finally able to drive the Undead Hordes from their home and cleanse the city and most of the Feladan Forest of the blight.
Today, Feladan stands again as one of the most beautiful cities in all of Istaria, green and verdant again.
The Fiends are an offshoot of the Human race, though they have long surrendered any claims of lineage or association with the Humans. Physically, they resemble stunningly beautiful Humans; their bluish tinted skin, their pronounced forehead horns, and their wiry, prehensile tails are the distinct racial traits that separate them from their Human ancestors. Their blued, icy skin is the product of generations spent living in the frozen wastes of the northern part of the world.
They are not bothered by the harsh climes, and thrive where others would find the cold unbearable.
All Fiends are creatures of physical beauty; none of them are anything less than striking in appearance, neither to themselves nor to their Human relatives.
This beauty, however, is merely a pleasing countenance to what history shows as a sinister nature... they say there is a reason they (and everyone else) call themselves the Fiends.
During the Age of the Sorcerer, Humans began their intensive study of arcane lore and its ties to the land itself.
The majority of the schools of magic that are practiced today were developed and refined during this era. Certain schools, especially those that dealt with mental domination and necromancy, were forbidden from use in Human society.
However, a cadre of Human sorcerers and necromancers who sought power through these forbidden schools of magic posed a threat to Human society at large, and they were summarily exiled from Human culture.
This exile was not a gentle one, and wars raged between the two sides, culminating in the exiled embracing a new deity, Niatha Moraven, the Goddess of Vengeance and Power. With the power of a deity behind them, the exiled were able to resettle in the frigid lands of northern Aradoth, far from Human society.
Niatha Moraven marked her new followers by making them strikingly beautiful, but in turn giving them bestial features like horns and tails.
To this day, the Fiends call Niatha Moraven the "Mother of the Fiends". Because the Fiends have sacrificed some of their physical gifts for mental ones, they excel in all fields of scholarly and arcane endeavor, particularly the areas of Sorcery, Conjuration and Spellcrafting as well as the study of the spirit, a holdover perhaps from the ancient study of necromancy.
The Fiends rule their icy realm from the towering city of Kirasanct, high in Aradoth’s northern mountains. Kirasanct is a young city, much like the race that inhabits it. The city is a testament to the Fiendish desires of seclusion from outsiders, while displaying their ostentatious sensibilities. Kirasanct is a walled fortress of metal and stone, with a massive central tower in the heart of the city.
Spindly frames circle the city wall, giving the city a fearsome silhouette at a distance. Kirasanct proper lies on a plateau in the center of a vast valley, allowing for a significant distance around toe city to be surveyed from the central tower and the high, arching walls of the city. It is clear that the purpose behind the city is to keep unwelcome visitors out, and considering the Fiends for who they are, that means just about all the other Living Races.
Even today, when cooperation amongst the Living Races is at a virtual pinnacle, Kirasanct remains an inhospitable place for those save the Fiends.It is said that the Fiends chose to found Kirasanct over a source of potent magical essence in the hopes that it would fuel their rituals and sorceries. With the onset of the Lament, such a decision to dwell close to potent and at times unstable essence proved to be especially fruitful when combating the Withered Aegis.
The Living Races needed a place to conduct important spell research that was easily defended against invasion. In a rare sign of cooperation, the Fiends agreed to house a majority of the spell research done in developing strategies to thwart the Aegis’ advance. With a significant supply of essence still, and with a cadre of skill magical practitioners, Kirasanct remains a center of spell research for the Living Races.
The Gnomes of Istaria perhaps best represent the future of where Istaria and the Living Races are headed. While they are not typically known as dedicated practitioners of the arcane, they are the race of beings that seem to be taking the forces of magic in new and previously unknown directions - the path of technology.
Gnomes are extremely adept at shaping and binding the forces of magic for the purpose of powering great and exotic machinery and devices. Gnomes also strive to bridge the gap that exists between the realms of magic and technology. A defining trait of Gnomish society is their overall dedication to the forces of industriousness and creation.
Many Gnomes fill many roles and functions within Istarian society, and perform well in many different areas of study and focus.
They strive to keep excellent relations with all other societies in Istaria; they are one of the strongest proponents of the new-found unity amongst the Living Races.
Gnomes also seem to have an innate desire to form organizations, councils, committees, and institutions. One of the more prominent institutions formed by Gnomes after the loss of their homeland was the New Rachival Research Institute.
This infamous organization has dedicated itself to the study of all things magical or unknown, from the nature of the elements, to the study of the Blight, the effects of the Ritual of Everlasting Life, and many other topics.
Though membership to the Institute is not limited solely to Gnomes, they do make up a majority of its constituents.
Physically, Gnomes are roughly as tall as Dwarves, though usually less broad across the shoulders. There is no denying, however, that they share many physical features with their Dwarven cousins.
Gnomes are not by nature burly, but their frames do support a wide range of physical characteristics, from brawny to portly. Their heads seem to be just slightly larger proportionally than the rest of their body is; this sometimes give Gnomes a comical look about them, often coupled with the general appearance of bewilderment and excitement that make up the typical Gnome countenance.
Both males and females have a wide variety of eye and hair colors, though most of their skin tone is of a light, fair hue.
While Gnomes are not as strong as most of the other Living Races, they make up for it in their solid dexterity and their gifted power and focus. Gnomes make excellent spell casters and scholarly tradespeople, and also make for fine Scouts. The history of the Gnomian people is one that is shrounded in mystery.
It is possible that they arrived or rose up with the Dwarves millennia ago or that the people mentioned by Nelthorr during his travels were not the Dwarves, but in fact the Gnomes.
But the fact remains that the history of the Gnomish people, much like the history of the Elves, is now lost or fragmented due to the sundering of their homeland. The Gnomes themselves do not speak of it, except to say that they will one day reclaim their homeland and their history will once again be known to all.
Nestled on a high steppe betwixt the Northern and Southern Granitefall Mountains, Rachival was the capital of the Gnomes before it was overrun by the Undead Horde many years ago. If rumor can be believed, the armies of the Withered Aegis were able to enter the city of Rachival nearly untouched. The Gnomes of New Rachival claim that they were betrayed, that the machines they had built to defend the city turned on them at the last moment, opening the gates and allowing the Undead Hordes to enter the city unscathed.
If the rumor can be believed, then this traitor may be the greatest single threat to the Living Races in Istaria. Only time will tell if he or she is brought to justice. After the fall of Rachival, the Undead Hordes crushed the last remnants of the Gnomish army as it attempted to flee south. Shortly thereafter, the Gnomish state dissolved and the remaining refugees of the Gnomes made a desperate run for the safety of Tazoon.
To this day, the Gnomes have not been able to reform their state; most of their ancestral lands, including Rachival, are still under the domination of the Undead Horde. With the victory of the Living Races at the Battle of Tazoon and the subsequent Peace Accords signed by all the Living Races, however, the Gnomes stand their best chance ever to reclaim their lands and fully reestablish their seat of power.
The Gnomes of Rachival led the way in the mechanical arts, and their utilitarian applications to the arts of magic, and their city represented such. Rachival today, however, is a place of death and decay set against what was the apex of the Istarian fusion of technology and magic. Many of their innovations stand idle in the heart of what some scholars believe is one of the largest blight maelstroms found anywhere in Aradoth.
Some speculate that the inventions of the Gnomes have been twisted into aberrations of what their intent used to be, courtesy of the effects of the Realm of Blight. Little is known about the current state of the city itself, though those brave enough to venture close to the city share tales of the skies surrounding the city being constantly dark and thick with maelstrom fog. Some reports even describe twisted and nefarious metal constructs patrolling the lands surrounding the city.
When Istara created her celestial anchor upon the Prime in the form of the world, she realized that she would need a hardy cadre of beings dedicated to her aim of creating an extension of the Realm of Dawn upon the Prime. She also realized that these beings would need to prosper under the most adverse conditions and climates without her direct intervention.
This is the legend of the creation of the Human race, and whatever arguments may be raised against it, it is widely accepted that the Humans were indeed one of the first races to enter Istaria.
Several other cultures choose to emphasize this point as little as possible.
Physically the weakest of the Istarian peoples (okay, Dryads aren’t exactly weightlifters), Humans have had to become by far the most adaptable.
No other race has (or needs to have) quite the Human incentive to master whatever skill or discipline becomes necessary - and then to work out another if that one should fail.
Born adventurers, shapeshifters in all but the body, outclassed and outgunned in so many ways, they can be killed, beaten, tricked, and even turned against each other - but they do keep coming...
They call themselves "the Children of Istara" - though not every other folk refer to them thus - and they are in many ways the most unknowable and unpredictable of the Living Races.
It was a single act of Human self-sacrifice that gave the peoples of today a fighting chance against the assaults of the Withered Aegis; it was also a single Human’s lust for power that brought the entire world to the brink of oblivion.
Outgoing, social and generally amicable as they are, in their time they have represented the extremes of Istarian civilization.
The Sslik will never trust them; the Elves and Half-Giants have well-known proverbs about Human unreliability. Their closest allies are the Gnomes, and after those the Dwarves. Fiends despise all Humans - or say they do - but some are strangely fascinated with them as well.
The Saris are a proud race, originating from feline stock. They have existed for several millennia on Lesser Aradoth, and for the last few centuries have shared the island with the oft-ostracized Sslik. They have cohabitated with the Sslik in relative peace, and the Saris have been one of the largest contributors of material and manpower to the Living Races during the Age of Lamentations.
This is not surprising, as the foundations of Saris thought and civilization stand in stark contrast to those of the Withered Aegis.
The Saris are an extremely spiritual race, and they view the tampering and exploitation of souls as a direct violation of their moral code.
The Saris have enjoyed the luxury of maintaining their way of life in relative safety from the Withered Aegis, being on the furthest reaches of the mainland.
Some races hit hardest by the Lament, especially the Elves, bear some animosity against the Saris because of this.
The Saris’ slight air of superiority about them certainly does not help matters in this regards, though their assistance against the Withered Aegis is never turned away when offered.
The Saris are of average height, with their bodies covered in a light fur.
The Saris’ fur comes in a wide array of colors and textures; family lines of the Saris are often determined by fur color and composition. The Saris are by far the most dexterous of all the Living Races, and they make for superb Scouts and Rangers. The Saris also are noted for being some of the foremost Monks in Istaria, blending the arts of unarmed combat with the tenets of spirituality.
The natural dexterity of the Saris make them skilled at trades relying on a fine, steady hand. Many Saris tradespeople are renown Tailors and Jewelers. These trades go well with the Saris' preferences for light clothing and armor, as well as their cat-like fascination with shiny gems and metals.
Kion, the home of the Saris of Istaria, is an open and sprawling collection of structures along the sandy northern shores of Lesser Aradoth. The Saris have adopted a distinct style of architecture, based on cultural events and history. Color and design serve as a significant indicator of function and purpose within Saris society, and their architecture reflects this. Kion has existed as the main outpost of the Saris for many years, and it has done so in relative tranquility.
There are no walls around the city itself, though the central structures of Kion are reinforced against raid and siege. The city has remained relatively unchanged over the years, though the recent re-opening of the teleport gates has brought an influx of other Living Races to Kion. A significant number of these visitors come seeking one of the few Monk trainers to be found in Istaria.
Kion also supports a brisk trade economy, being strategically located near several basic resource deposits. The cancerous touch of the Withered Aegis, however, has not spared even Kion in its relative safety; malign denizens still roam Lesser Aradoth near the city, and an unwary traveler might find themselves beset by adversity.
During the Age of the Gods, it was thought that the Gods themselves sought to create a perfect race to act as their seed upon the Prime. Such a genesis is thought to be the reason behind the existence of the Satyr, a mysterious race native to the lands of eastern Aradoth.
The Satyr date back to the Age of the Gods, as they are thought to have taken part in the struggles between the races during that time. Carved images of armor-clad goat men wielding spears and bows are present in what archaeological discoveries from this time have been uncovered.
The history of the Satyrs from the Age of the Dragon and on, however, diverges sharply in comparison to the other Living Races.
Their home lands in eastern Aradoth were far enough away from the rest of the Living Races that they were never under the influence of the powers that be at the time, and as a result the Satyr remained loyal to their chosen deity, Bachanatus.
In fact, legend tells of Bachanatus himself invoking powerful magic upon the world that caused the other races to forget about the existence of the Satyr.
While such an act is debatable, it does serve as a colloquial means of explaining the Satyr’s virtual non-involvement in the affairs of the other Living Races.
The nature of the Satyr is pleasure-oriented - whether it be the expansion of mental faculties through the pursuit of the arts, or by way of revelry and the like.
They were thought to be the greatest of artists and scholars during their association with the other Living Races; fitting then that they remained sworn to their chosen deity, the God of Artistry and Revelry. The Satyr of the past were a very self-centered race, though not a malicious one.
In what few records there are of Satyr involvement amongst the other races, never once did they take a position that could be deemed anything different than neutral.
The Satyr chose to keep to themselves, focusing on the propagation of their own set of values amongst their own kind. It is thought that perhaps the Satyr and the Elves once lived side-by-side in the ancient forests that covered much of the continent at one time.
Why the Elves left their lands in the east is not known, but the records of such an event may still remain in the libraries of lost Bachan.The Satyr have only recently re-emerged as part of the Living Races.
For many years the only contact was with those members of the race still under the domination of the Withered Aegis via mind control devices on four distant islands. The Gifted were able to destroy the artifacts of this mind control which freed many of the Satyr in Aradoth.
But many scholars still believe that the bulk of the Satyr population remains subjugated to the will of the Withered Aegis in the lands beyond the Great Barrier, in lost Bachan. If a way can be found to gain access to the Eastern Continent, it is thought, or rather hoped that some way can be found to break the terrible control the Withered Aegis has on the Satyr.
If this can be done, the Living Races would potentially have a tremendous ally against the Withered Aegis, and a foothold in the mysterious lands of eastern Aradoth.Physically, the Satyr have the rough shape of humans with the grace and countenance of the Elves.
The most distinguishing features of the Satyr, however, are their fur-covered legs, cloven feet, and their goat-like horns. Both the male and female Satyr share their resemblances to "goat-men" as they are sometimes called. The Satyr’s skin is smooth, yet thought to be much more resilient than appearances would have.
Much like the Fiends, the Satyr take great pride in their horns, though the horns of a Satyr very closely resemble those of a goat. It is believed that for the males, larger horns are a sign of more power and station within their society. For the female Satyr, horns are typically intricate in nature, relying on one’s station within Satyr society to afford fragile and elegant horns.
Satyr in general are more in tune with grace and poise than brute strength, and the same is said of their practice of magic.
The home of the Satyr is an elegant city along the shores of eastern Aradoth known as Bachan, in honor of their chosen deity. While Bachan has not been visited in many years by anyone from western Aradoth, history tells of a city where detail and elegance of architecture rule the day. The Satyr are thought to be excellent builders, as the elegance of their city was proof of such.
Detailed accounts of the Satyr’s magnificent use of wood for most of their structures is covered in texts dating back hundreds of years.
The structures of Bachan were said to be made of a wood that was specially treated with magic essence, giving the wood a resiliency like that of steel. The Satyr made expert use of other resources as well, dedicating their structures to their own pursuits. The city was thought to have multiple temples to Bachanatus as well as a large and ornate amphitheatre that dominated the center of the city.
No one in recent memory has any information on the condition of Bachan as a city, but it is believed that the city’s fate resembles that of Feladan and Rachival.
It is typical for the Withered Aegis to construct blight maelstroms in areas of significant importance, such as conquered cities. It can only be imagined what would be required to subjugate an entire race, such as the Satyr have. If there were visual, tangible evidence of such arcane domination, there is little doubt it would be present in this city.
Little is known of the origin of the Sslik race. Reports dating back over one thousand years exist that describe their nomadic wanderings across the continent of Aradoth. It was during this time, long before the construction of Sslanis, that the Sslik lived in loosely-coupled tribes, their history passed down by legends and word of mouth.
The native Sslik tongue was never truly developed into a written language, and not even understood by the other living races until shortly before the Age of the Warrior King. Because the Sslik had not accepted the benefits of civilization until some five-hundred years ago, there is much debate as to what Sslik legends are true and how they experienced the early years of existence.
However, throughout the Age of the Dragon there are many accounts of the Sslik from Human explorers coming into contact with these reptilian bipeds.
Although no recorded unprovoked attacks on other racial villages during their early nomadic age exist, several documents contain detailed reports from Human and Elven scouts entailing small skirmishes with groups of "dragon-men" when exploring new territory.
Due to the rising animosity between human and dragons, many Sslik tribes were attacked out of fear, the Sslik showing no restraint in defending themselves.
Eventually the Sslik began to migrate westward across human-occupied land, seeking a land that they could call their own. Eventually the crossed the Sable Straights to the island of Lesser Aradoth and there found the southern jungles.
The island was already populated by another race, the Saris, but they rarely ventured into the southern lands, preferring to remain in the north on their beaches and forests.
The Sslik simply moved in and for a time both races co-existed with little contact. Eventually, however, they began to interact, trading at first, and developing a basic understanding of one another. They would eventually use the knowledge gained from the Saris to construct a city of their own, the first large-scale permanent Sslik settlement, and one that they could truly call their home without fear of persecution.
In what may be a very interesting twist of fate, the Sslik have been spared most of the brunt of the assault by the Withered Aegis due to their location on Lesser Aradoth. The Sslik’s former persecutors, however, have endured many hardships during the Age of Lamentation on the main continent. The Sslik, while eager to help the Living Races during this time of need, make no secret that they have not forgotten the trials and tribulations they have gone through at the hands of others.
Time will only tell if the Sslik, now in a much stronger position than these other Living Races, seek a path of enlightenment as their Saris friends teach, or a path of vengeance as their persecutors of their past have.The Sslik are reptilian-stock beings that are genderless, as they reproduce in an asexual manner. Their behavior and manner of existence is somewhat alien when compares to the other Living Races, unfortunately contributing to the animosity the other races have for the Sslik.
While the Sslik clearly share some traits with the Dragons, they do not appear to be directly related to them. The Sslik are extremely strong and focused beings, and they prize their exceptional abilities as Warriors and also of Shamans, calling upon both to aid their people in times of need. The natural strength and focus of the Sslik lend well to certain trades in Istaria; the Sslik make excellent Alchemists, Enchanters and strangely enough, Masons.
The Sslik came to the jungle of Lesser Aradoth during the Age of the Warrior-King, fleeing from persecution in one form or another by most of the other Living Races; only the Saris and the Humans seem to have never been a direct contributor to the plight of the Sslik, and the Humans only because they remain ambivalent to the Sslik in general.
Once the Sslik settled in this region, they began the task of creating an outpost that they might be able to defend themselves against the hostile advances of the other races that they had come to expect. As a result, Sslanis stands out as an impressive fortress within the jungle. The walls and structures of Sslanis are reinforced with copious amounts of stone, highlighting the Sslik’s preference for stone over other resources.
With the neutral Humans as a buffer across the Sable Straits, and the idealistic Saris as a friendly neighbor, Sslanis never faced the sieges and attacks it was originally designed to withstand. The city was allowed to grow and prosper; today, it serves as a center of commerce and trade between the Saris, Humans, and the Sslik.
With the onset of the Lament, Sslanis also became one of the few cities untouched by the decay of the Withered Aegis. Sslanis hosts impressive training facilities as well as manufacturing devices. With the reactivation of many teleport gates following the Battle of Tazoon, Sslanis’s secluded location far from the front lines of battle has proven to be a superior locale for training, crafting, and trading.