The Ancestries

HogfolkBeastfolk:  Former skinchangers, these species (including the hog-folk, the bat-folk, the spider-folk and the cattlekin) are no longer capable of shapeshifting due to the deaths of their patron spirits.  While many ex-skinchangers were reduced to little more than animals due to the trauma of their patrons’ deaths, these beastfolk were trapped in their hybrid humanoid forms and thus retained the intelligence, technologies and cultures they had before the loss.  However, they have difficulty changing with the times, and most have been driven to the wild fringes of the world.  Only the Xiroacen, the Szari and some of the southern spiders maintain holdings that still have regular dealings with humankind, and even then there is little love lost between them and their neighbors.

Elementals:  The six elements — air, fire, water, earth, metal and wood — were once controlled entirely by the Elemental Primordials, until conflicts among themselves and with the Shaper Gods caused the Primordials to withdraw from their people.  Left to find their own way, the elementals of Metal and Earth built complex societies underground, while those of Wood and Water cultivated their own forms of communal civilization; Air and Fire could not be civilized, and so contribute only to the occasional gestalt.  Currently the best known elemental society is the Muriae or Silver Folk of the Thundercloak Mountains.

goblinGoblins:  A rarely-seen and oft-misunderstood breed of subterranean mechanics and scientists, with an abiding hatred of magic.  Formerly a type of skinchanger, they descended underground to learn from the metal spirits and no longer shapeshift, though they are still connected to their spirit Kingara.  Some goblins live wild in areas near the surface — particularly in the Riftlands — and give a bad reputation to their city-dwelling kin.

Humans:  The dominant population in ‘civilized’ lands, humans tend to think of themselves as one people divided into many nations, but the truth is more complicated than that.  Most humans in the central areas follow a god or gods, while humans in the outlying areas often retain their animistic and shamanic practices.

ogreportraitsmallOgres:  Once the dominant species of the known world, the ogres have lived to see their power long broken, though the remnants of their civilizations still stand in the midst of human cities.  Most northern ogres have been driven into the tundra to live like nomads, though some have settled in human lands to serve as spiritists and mercenaries.  The southern ogres, fewer in number, live in the riverside villages they have occupied for millennia and fight off regular incursions of lizardfolk and raiders.  Like goblins, they once were skinchangers but no longer shapeshift, though they retain a connection to their spirit Oega.

arikwolfcomparisonvertSkinchangers:  The precursors to all mortal life, skinchangers are in decline because the intermix between different breeds of skinchanger produces ‘hybrid’ offspring — humans.  Bound to the spirits of their breeds, which guard them from sickness and harm but also inflict upon them any wounds borne by the spirit, they are obligatorily shamanic though a few have emerged into the human lands to follow kings or gods.  While there used to be many breeds, some were destroyed during the war with the wraiths — and some have forgotten their own sentience and become mere beasts.  Others, like the goblins and ogres, have simply chosen not to shift, and over time have lost the skill.  Most skinchangers can shift between their natural bipedal beast-form and a humanoid mimicry-form, while a few can also take on a more convincing animal shape.  Major breeds from around the world include the Wolf, the Tiger, the Crow, the Lizard and the Toad.

Wraiths:  Ethereal energy-based entities, the wraiths have fallen far from their realm of origin — a world of glass in a higher, lighter reality.  Their Descent to this world wrought destruction upon the native skinchangers and incited the conquering march of ogrekind, and though they were beaten in the ensuing war, they did not die, merely retreated.  Nearly immortal and adept in the arcane arts, they were the ones to teach magic to humankind, to incite the rebellion of the ‘hybrid’ human slaves against their ogre masters, and then to sow disdain of the ancestral spirits among their human students — weakening the spirits’ hold on the world.  Though many now seek harmony with the world, some still work to undermine the hold of spirits and gods.