Humanoids of the Ancient Lands

In the Ancient Lands, there are five main humanoid races that make up most of civilization in the setting, as well as five minor ones who live at the periphery in much smaller populations. This number doesn’t seem very low, but when you start counting monster races like orcs and goblins, a great number of settings have several dozens of intelligent humanoid peoples, with some even well exceeding 50. And once you also include other intelligent and mostly people-like looking spirits, demons, and undead, the numbers are getting much higher than even that very quickly. So with the Ancient Lands setting, I decided to really keep the numbers as low as I can get them while still including all the archetypes I like. Which actually wasn’t as difficult as I expected, since a lot of classic fantasy creatures are just very slightly different variations of the same idea. Merging trolls, ogres, and hill giants back togther takes no effort at all, and the result of fusing dwarves, halflings, gnomes, goblins, and faeries into a single creature actually got me a very interesting and fresh result.

Main Humanoid Races

Lizardmen: The Lizardmen are the dominant race of the Southern Jungles and Islands, with smaller isolated groups being found on islands and in marshes as far north as the Burning Mountains. They are on average a head taller than humans or elves and often weight twice as much, but some populations are of much more slender build. While not particularly fast or agile on land, they are very good swimers and divers and most often make their homes directly at the water. As the other races are concerned, lizardmen show few emotions or individual personalty and seem generally somewhat dull, but in reality they are not any less intelligent. The cultures of the lizardmen are among the oldest in the Ancient Land, with many of their realms predating even the earliest elven kingdoms. However, the people of most major cities consider the lizardmen to be stuck in the past and having reached the limit of their abilities. While many of the outlying tribes do indeed have no writing or barely any metal, the major cities hidden deeper in the jungles are just as advanced as any elven kingdoms.

Elves: The elves of the Ancient Lands are similiar in height to humans but tend towards more slender stature, with slightly pointed ears and large eyes. They can live well over 300 years, but a great number of them only reaches half that age due to disease, accident, or war. Elves have been living in the massive forests of the north for a very long time, but their oldest major settlements go back only 2,000 years. Most of their large cities in existance today are just over 400 years old, quite young compared to the ancient centers of lizardmen civilization. The elves of the North are often called wood elves, while a smaller group that lives in the Southern Jungles with the lizardmen is known as dark elves. Wood elves have brown skin and dark brown to black hair, while dark elf skin is ash gray and their hair ranges in shades from light gray to white and pale blond. Light hair colors in wood elves and humans almost almost indicate some dark elven ancestry. Elves are more closely related to humans than to any other humanoid people of the Ancient Lands and children of mixed heiritage are not unusual.

Humans: Until just a few centuries ago, humans were very rare in the Ancient Lands. Only two small isolated populations exist in the Far North and the Southern Islands, and they are so different in appearance that for a long time few people were aware that they were of the same race. Humans became one of the major humanoid people in the Ancient Land when elves started to trade with the lands far to the west and hired local human mercenaries to guard their caravans from hostile elven clans on the way back home to the coast. Eventually this practice led to a mass migration of human clans from the west, which are collectively known as the Vandren. A second, much smaller group of the same human people had migrated north a few centuries earlier and settled down in the Witchfens for unknown reasons. Only in recent years, with some Vandren traveling north along the coast from their new home in the Grasslands, have members of these two groups encountered each other again, and they generally don’t consider each other kin.

Kaas: The kaas are a race of tall and powerfully humanoids from the North which in many stories have been described as humanoid bears, wolves, or lions, but their resemblance to either of those animals is not particularly close. Their bodies are covered in light brown fur and they have thick dark manes, as well as somewhat snout-like faces with short fangs. Contrary to legend they have no claws, but they do possess a pair of horns similar to those of mountain goats. Kaas have very strong arms and legs, which makes them excelent climbers and the can make jumps a lot farther than one would expect of people of their size and weight. The kaas live far inland and have no ports apart from a few fishing villages on the arctic sea, which has them left relatively isolated from the other people of the Ancient Land, who rely primarily on ships for trade and travel.

Skeyn: Skeyn are only very distantly related to elves, but share far more similarities with thm than with any other humanoid people. Skeyn are short in stature and only reach up to chest height compared to elves and humans, but seem to have much larger ears and very large black eyes. The skin of skeyn is almost leathery and colored in shades of greenish brown, which makes them clearly stand apart from human and elven children at close distances even without looking at their faces. Like elves, skeyn can live for three centuries and are surprisingly tough and resilient. Not only are they dealing comparatively well with disease and poison, they also possess remarkable endurance that often surpasses that of other races. Skeyn are much fewer in number than either elves or lizardmen and mostly found in the lands between the Barrier Hills and the Burning Mountains and the surrounding areas. With the exception of some individual traders and adventurers, there are no skeyn south of the Grasslands. Skeyn have mastered mining, architecture, and metalworking to a degree well beyond that of other cultures, which gives them a very important role in the trade networks of the Ancient Lands.

Other Humanoid Races

Giants: Unlike trolls, giants are much more human in general appearance, but also considerably taller, sometimes even reaching twice the height of a human man. There are two main groups of giants who have quite distinct appearances. The taller mountain giants are very similar to humans but heavily muscled to support their incedible weight. They also have rather lightly colored skin and hair, with men having thick beards as well. Mountain giants also are the only other race that skeyn that forges steel in large quantities and high quality. Hill giants stand more than a head shorter than mountain giants and to most people appear unnaturally thin and lanky. Both their skin and hair is the color of sand or clay and their big eyes sometimes make them look like oversized skeyn with tiny ears. Despite their apparently thin stature, they are still incredibly strong and able to wrestle with trolls. Compared to the mountain giants, hill giant culture seems considerably more simple and primitive.

Harpies: Harpies are a race of humanoids with wings instead for arms and talons on their feet. When standing upright, they usually reach only to the shoulder of most humans and their heads, backs, and legs are covered in brown and orange feathers instead of hair. Female harpies are more numerous than male ones, and the males tend to stay close to the villages, so that most harpies encountered by other people are female hunters. Harpies have three finger-like claws on the joints of their wings which allow them to grasp objects and use simple tools. However their limited ability for precise manipulation has kept their technology mostly to sharp rocks, bone, and leather, even though they are quite intelligent. Harpies are relatively rare, but can be found anywhere south of the Burning Mountains.

Rakurai: The rakurai are an ancient race of aquatic people from the sea. They have the most resamblance to large fish but also possess pairs of arms and short legs, which allow them to make tools and weapons and to walk on land. Usually they only reach up to the shoulder of a human man, but old chiefs and kings often grow to twice that height for unknown reasons. While rakurai can breath air, their bodies quickly dry out outside of the water and they rarely stay on land for more than a hour at most. Though they are native to the deeps of the sea, rakurai often build temporary camps in coastal shallows and even travel up large rivers for considerable distance. Communication with them is usually very difficult as only very few of them seem to know any languages spoken on the surface and using gestures rarely leads to any results.

Treefolk: The treefolk are a race of small humanoids who stand only a little taller than skeyn but are of a much lighter build. Their heads have some resamblance to dogs, though less kind people have also called them rats. The main homelands of the treefolk are in the Southern Jungles, but smaller groups also live on the edges of the grasslands and remote parts of the Elven Heartlands. Most treefolk clans have no metal and they have no written language, and they never build any stone cities, which puts them beneath the notice of the great kingdoms of the Ancient Lands. However, individuals who have lived among the other races have been perfectly capable of learning these arts and adopting other skills of the civilized people, and they are numerous enough to be counted among the major races, though clearly the lowest one in the hierarchy.

Trolls: Trolls are very large and extremely powerfully build humanoids, almost as wide as they are tall. They have flat faces with big jaws, but small eyes, noses, and ears, which gives them a certain animal-like appearance. The culture of trolls is rather primitive and they lack both metal and writing and possess very little magic. While most people see them as quite dull, they are far from mindless beasts and capable of both setting and evading traps and ambushes. Trolls are not exactly evil or particularly hostile, but most people still keep their distance from them, as they can be difficult to predict and quick to attack.

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