CHALDEAPEDIA

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RACES

Chaldea features races from classic fantasy mythology: humans, elves, orcs, goblins, and dragons, and those yet undiscovered.

Races of Chaldea

In terms of intelligent life on Chaldea, the bulk of the population is either human or “humanoid”. Humanoids are mostly orcs and goblins, but also includes minotaurs; reptilian humanoids, like kobolds and lizardmen; goblins, including hobgoblins and bugbears; and gnolls and dogmen.

Elves and dwarves are a small, but highly influential population due to their long lives. There are also enough giants to call them out, including an entire kingdom of them. In terms of head count, the number of dragons, and their kin, is practically a rounding error compared to humans, but due to their immense power it would be inappropriate not to call them out as well.

Humans                  75.1%

Humanoids            18.8%

Elves                           3.8%

Dwarves                    0.8%

Giants                         0.8%

Dragons                     0.1%

Other                           0.8%

The “Other” category includes aquatic entities, such as tritons and mermaids; constructs, such as golums or homunculi; demons and devils (not native, typically the unfortunate result of some mishap), elementals, Greco sylvans, such as centaurs, satyrs, and unicorns; faeries, such as pixies, sprites, and brownies; gnomes; elves and their kin, such as nymphs, dryads, and nixies; spirits, giants, including ettins, ogres, oni, and the various types of trolls; guardians, such as gargoyles, lammasu, and naga; intelligent steeds, such as Tavjan lions and pegasi; intelligent undead, such as vampires and liches; shapechanges, such as lycanthropes and dopplegangers; and servitors, such as the dreaded Drasildar; and other intelligent but difficult to categorize “monsters”, like a yeti, lamia, or medusa.


Dragons

Dragons are a diverse group of creatures, serpentine and reptilian in nature, but they are actually not reptiles at all. In fact, dragons have very little in common with their unrelated lesser cousins beyond their visual similarities. Dragons are generally described as large lizards with legs, scales, and wings.

Chaldea is the birthplace of dragonkind—their legendary origins are now lost in murky antiquity, tens of thousands of years in the past. They have always been an extremely varied group of creatures. According to studies, over 300 different dragon species have been identified in fossil records. Dragons come in many shapes and sizes; some species are quadrupeds while others can easily fluctuate to walk on four or two legs. Almost all have flight capability, utilizing bat-like wings; that said, not all are flight worthy and keep certain dragons grounded. While their characteristics span an exotic array of body types, including crown modifications like horns and crests, the one commonality all dragonkind share is their enormity. “Huge” does a disservice to their awe-inspiring immensity. No fairy tale plaything, dragons are uniformly immense, towering between 20- and 30-feet at the shoulder, with wingspans surpassing hundreds of feet in some species. Legends and folklore tell tales of Ichobods, a species of iridium dragons of the Asianic, that approach the size of small mountains.

Dragons are often inaccurately described in folklore as animals or monsters, but these majestic creatures are not aberrant things spawned from over-active imaginations; instead, they are a race of sentient beings—self-aware, with acute intelligence, desire, will, ethics, personality, insight, humor, ambition, philosophy, and creativity. What set dragons apart from other sentient races of Chaldea is their antisocial contrarian behavior, fueled by a narcissistic primordial ego. Dragon philosophy on life is one of “dragon first” and everything else insignificant.

Fossils show that dragons once inhabited every continent of Chaldea and achieved planar distribution before gods took notice of Chaldea’s singular Great Sea.

ORIVORE

Dragon dietary requirements are unique in the realm of living creatures. They eat neither flesh nor plant life but are instead orivores—in other words, they are sustained by devouring minerals. Dragons vomit their stomach contents onto solid minerals, and the digestive juices, colloquially described as “fire,” melt the minerals into a molten metal. Once those minerals are in a liquid state, dragons drink the concoction.

Consuming minerals is what allows dragons to grow to such immense size and what makes their hides and scales “hard as stone,” an accurate and aptly phrased description. Dragon scales are as hard as the minerals they consume. An example of this metabolic process is the dragon Surienel, a species of diamond dragon, the scales of which are comprised of pure diamond crystal.

If not for their unique nutriment requirements, dragonkind might possibly be Chaldea’s apex predator, an unstoppable hypercarnivore capable of consuming all living things. Thankfully for the animal kingdom—and sentient races as well—this is not the case. Dragons are prone to leave be those who let them be. This luxury however, is not extended to the dwarves. History has shown that dragons and dwarves have the same unquenchable appetite for minerals, which has resulted in a bitter rivalry that cannot be bridged.

THE CLAW HAMMER WAR

In the 10th century before Kordaava, the conflict known as the “Claw Hammer” was the first worldwide war between dragonkind and dwarves. A twenty-year bloody racial struggle between dragons (“claw”) and the dwarves (“hammer”) was ignited by greed and hunger for vital rare resources. The struggle divided dragons and dwarves on a primal level. The racial trait of dwarves is greed—it drove the dwarves to accumulate wealth, and the dragons’ desire to feed led them to eat that dwarven-accumulated wealth. Dragons quickly came to realize that it was easier to crack open the egg of wealth inside various dwarven bastions than to forage for raw ore on their own.

ENTHUSIASM FOR THE ESOTERIC

Dragons are widely considered lazy, solitary creatures, seldom gathering in great numbers and avoiding humanoid civilization on the whole. This behavior has driven many to speculate that dragons are reclusive and anti-social, preferring to snooze away the centuries. While it’s true dragons do appreciate solitude, it’s not instinctual behavior they follow but rather the pursuit of other interests that keep them out of the public eye. What concerns dragons is not what concerns mortals.

Dragon

“While you concern yourself with the whims of mortals,

I concern myself with Chaldea’s Grande Sonnerie.”

 —Lalfroth

 

 

Their keen minds are singularly driven to master esoteric philosophies: pursuing secrets and knowledge about alternate realities, other planes of existence, and the grander mysteries of the universe. Dragons can spend eons contemplating the head of a needle and how many gold coins might be stacked there.

DREAMS AND SLUMBER

The racial trait of dragons is slumber. Dragons require significantly more sleep than other sentient races—by a large margin. Juvenile dragons require no more sleep than an average human, but as dragons age, their need for sleep increases, requiring two and sometimes three times as many hours of sleep for every hour of wakefulness, and physical exertion increases this need even further.

However, dragons can use pure force of will to “power through” fatigue, allowing the dragon to catch up on sleep requirements later. The older the dragon, the longer the calendar period can extend for this. Elder Dragons (the progenitor of the species) can push off sleep for many decades, rolling up sleep into so-called periods of hyperactivity.

Dragons are active, mystical dreamers. The nature of a dragon’s dreams varies from dragon to dragon; their proficiency at making practical use of these dreams varies as well. Dragons can enter a “light slumber,” which is less effective at rejuvenation than full rest, but it allows them to visit other entities in their dreams. Dragons are reluctant to do this, however, for the experience is very intimate. As solitary creatures, dragons are conservative when it comes to this form of communication, which requires the lowering of their emotional shields and themselves oneself up to full mental reading.

After mating, dragons fall into the deepest sleep of all. If the dragons are romantically inclined, they will curl up together and might drift into a deep sleep, interweaving their dreams together in fantasies only these wyrms can comprehend.

CELEBRITIES

Dragons as a rule beg for solitude and peace and rarely, if ever, seek attention unless absolutely provoked. Woe to the person who provokes a dragon. But occasionally a dragon’s vast ego overpowers its common sense, and the dragon comes out of seclusion into prominence. We have to look no further than Saratof, where Lalfroth the grand vizier of the empire has a seat on the Council of Consuls. He is a solemn black wyrm routinely spotted flying over the capital, moving from his private domed citadel to the Imperial Senate.

Dragon2Several dragons rule kingdoms in Chaldea, most notably Theocred, the dragon overlord of Port Facility, and Sureniel, who rules the orc nation of Niesse.


Dwarves

Dwarves are, on average, a bit shorter than humans—standing between 4’ and 5’ tall—but are also broader in the shoulders and strong for their size. They are known for their skills in battle, mining, architecture, banking, minting, crafting, distilling, and subterranean lore, and are acknowledged as unsurpassed artisans of stone, minerals, and gemstones.

Dwarves are slow to develop friendships, but they are steadfastly loyal to those who manage to become close to them. They tend to be gruff and distant, but once they start drinking, they can be quite amiable. They sing deep, haunting songs, usually without musical accompaniment, sometimes doing so in mines to the beat of hammers and chisels. Dwarves abhor slavery; during wartime, they will either kill their prisoners or release them once hostilities have ceased.

Dwarves hate dragons the most and orcs almost as much. They tolerate humans, and they are envious of elves. They tend to like halflings.

The "common tongue" of Chaldea is Dwarven in both oral and written form. Dwarves take great pride in this, but they also hate it when humans inevitably miss the nuances of the language.

Dwarven Infertility

Dwarves are mammals with male and female counterparts. They mate, have babies, and nurture their young much as humans do, although they give birth less often and multiple births are extremely rare.

Since Emperor Kordaava was coronated, however, no dwarven children have been born. Many dwarves believe Set has cursed their race, and this has led to much controversy among their kind.

Clans and Crofts

Dwarves are somewhat rare in Chaldea. One could easily walk through any major city and not see one. They represent less than one percent of Chaldea’s total population, and they tend to keep to themselves. Dwarves are very clan-oriented, and each clan lives in a croft. While the term originally referred to a small farm, today dwarven crofts can be vast fortified communities rivaling the size and industry of a modest-sized human town. Many of these crofts are "the tip of the iceberg," protecting large underground security vaults and/or mining operations.

Only dwarves live in a dwarven croft, although one might find other races visiting, if they are friends, business associates, or employees. Dwarven clans are a complex social network of duty and oath. Oaths and duty weave a tight net that holds a clan together through thick and thin. This emphasis on clan duty and oaths developed over the millennia as a way for dwarves to combat the vices that tend to plague their nature: greed, alcoholism, and even violence. Each year, every dwarf is expected to return to their clan croft for Clan Week, a week of family reunions, weddings, celebrations, games, feasting, and ultimately, the public renewal of their clan oaths.

From time to time, however, individual dwarves find themselves at odds with their clans. Usually this is because they have broken an oath to the clan and succumbed to excess drinking, abusive behavior, or greed. In the worst of these cases, dwarves will be cast out of their clan. These outcast dwarves not only must leave their clan, but no one in this clan or any other clan will henceforth have anything to do with them; they are not just exiled from their family but from all dwarven society. Outcasts usually embrace all that is the worst dwarves have to offer and become outlaws or mercenaries, living in the slums and on the fringes of human society.

Dwarven Homeland

Many of the dwarves who survived the Claw Hammer War did so by digging deeper into the earth. They dug so deep, in fact, that they discovered a new subterranean world, the world they originally came from. Most survivors of the war moved here.

During the millennia since the Claw Hammer War, a group of dwarves will from time to time gather together to take the long and perilous journey to this place. These sojourns are grand affairs called rootings. The dwarves who leave never return, presumably because they have reached some sort of dwarven paradise.

Human and elven scholars debate whether the Dwarven Homeland truly exists. Do the dwarves who go on rootings truly find paradise, or do they search forever until they die of exhaustion or worse?

Dwarven Wealth, Banking, and Minting

For a thousand years, dwarves have been leaving the surface world of Chaldea to seek the Dwarven Homeland. And for a thousand years, the dwarves who leave the surface leave their lands and wealth to the dwarves who remain.

The dwarven clans that remain in Chaldea are fantastically wealthy. They possess vast land holdings far in excess of the land they use. Because of their long lives, they can take a slow and long-term view that gives them great advantages in real estate management. They love to build great palaces and monuments for human aristocracy and rent these buildings to humans at very reasonable rates. The accumulation of these high-end rental properties over several centuries, combined with the inheritances left them by those who have gone rooting, has served to concentrate much wealth in the hands of this race.

Further, dwarven tendencies toward greed have led dwarves into careers of banking, minting, and moneylending. The dwarves manage the Central Banking system of the Empire, and two of the most prominent dwarves of Chaldea are Consuls of the Senate. Garl Goldwise Steadfast is the Imperial Consul of the Central Bank, responsible for all banking operations in the Empire, while Grantal Geldzahn, Imperial Consul of the Treasury, tracks monetary flow and account balances of the various offices of the government.

The Dwarven Age

At one time, the dwarves were the only intelligent race in Chaldea. This time is called the Dwarven Age; it lasted from an estimated 6,000 years ago until roughly 1,000 years ago, when the dwarves were nearly destroyed by the dragons in the Claw Hammer War.

Today’s dwarves are famed for their love of mining and subterranean life. But it wasn’t always this way. The oldest dwarven settlements are almost entirely surface dwellings with evidence of goat herding, gardening, and hunting. The oldest evidence of dwarven mining dates back to 3,480 years before Kordaava in the ruins of Hardst, near present-day Gloggu, where dwarves mined tin for use in alloying with copper to smelt bronze. The discovery of metal smelting ignited a hidden passion amongst dwarves, for there are at least a dozen dwarven mining sites that date back to this millennium and over a hundred dating to the millennium after, two of which are still operational.

By the time of the Claw Hammer War, dwarves lived something of a hybrid existence—part surface dwellers, part subterranean. And their cities, towns, and mining settlements were ubiquitous across the continents of Tamica and Niessia. The fact that dwarven settlements pre-dating the Claw Hammer War have never been discovered outside this land mass is testament to one thing about dwarves that has never changed: they don’t like sailing in boats, probably because they lack the buoyancy of humans and tend to sink like rocks.

The Claw Hammer War was nearly genocidal for dwarves. The dragons and their mercenary armies of orcs and humans nearly destroyed all the dwarves of Chaldea, driving their numbers to perhaps one percent of what they once were.

The Great Diaspora

Once the Claw Hammer War was over, the dragons and humans settled the surface of Chaldea, and the orcs settled the subterranean lands of Chaldea. The few surviving dwarves holed up in dwarven crofts and mines here and there, scattered all across Chaldea. Because of the recent hostilities, dwarves were subjugated by the humans and orcs, who vastly outnumbered them.

Because of this great diaspora, there is no "dwarven kingdom" in Chaldea. The lands of Chaldea are spotted with surface holdings of various clans, but each of these is inside some human kingdom. The closest thing to a dwarven kingdom is Stollhofen, where exists the largest population of dwarves in one place. Yet they are still a minority and their lands are rented from the humans who govern them.

Before the Dwarves

There is some scattered evidence of intelligent life in Chaldea that predates dwarves. There are caves in the great gorges of Ardaya that might have been homes to humans as far back as 10,000 years ago. In the Mountains of Chaos is evidence that Taxian mind-raiders came through the Veil during the Dwarven Age. And the Kaldi, a minority ethnic group of nomads in Himyar, claim to have been transported here on a divine desert wind thousands of years before the dwarves.

But if any of these theories and stories is true, none of these alternate civilizations left anything of substance behind. Clearly, the dwarves were the first civilization of Chaldea to create a lasting, undisputed footprint, and they were certainly the first race to fundamentally affect the culture of Chaldea today.

***

Dwarven culture, especially Dwarven greed, are heavily inspired by Luke Crane’s interpretation of dwarves in his roleplaying game Burning Wheel. Dwarves are heavily inspired also by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and E. Gary Gygax.


Etharch Elves

Humans sometimes refer to the Etharch as “grey elves,” but this terminology is an immediate clue that the human has only a scant understanding of elven culture.
The Etharch are the nobility and warriors of elven kind. Where wilder elves tend to live as natives of the forest, Etharch enjoy the comfort of citadels. And where high elves are generally reclusive and prefer solitude, Etharch create communities. They are shipwrights, swordsmen, administrators, and riders and breeders of horses. They bear the responsibility of governance. In short, they are the elven kind most like humans.
Etharch elves view humans, dwarves, orcs, high elves, and dragons similarly to how a wilder elves do, yet they view wilder elves as the free spirits of elven kind. “I wish I could live such a carefree life, but someone must bear the burden of looking after our people” and “We serve to protect the lifestyles of our wilder elf brothers and sisters” are common refrains among Etharch elves.
In time, all elves struggle with grief. Watching endless tragedies unfold eventually takes a toll on even a seemingly ageless life. Grief manifests in many ways, including sadness, bitterness, isolation, silence, or anger. In general, elves ameliorate their grief through the singing of sad laments, often in groups, or processions both elaborate and simple.

***

For more information about the elves of Chaldea, we highly recommend the roleplaying game Burning Wheel, which we used as our primary source of inspiration for elves.


High Elves

The rarest of elves, high elves embody the grace and beauty of all fey. One will not find a community of high elves; they are solitary creatures. On rare occasions they will mate in order to raise a child, but once the child is grown, the mother and father will once again go their separate ways.
High elves share the wilder elves’ love of forests and animals but have dedicated themselves to loftier discoveries: magic and cosmology. They do not have the edge and natural distrust of others as wilder elves do, for high elves lead privileged—perhaps even sheltered—lives. And their magical, centered nature tends to calm and disarm others, bringing out the higher nature of all beings. High elves have a charming and well-groomed beauty, and most will be received in a court of humans, dwarves, or orcs without suspicion. Dragons see through this, however, and will treat a high elf however they please.
High elves value humans for their industriousness and spirit and are far more tolerant of human foibles than are wilder elves. Their philosophy is simple: “We must carefully guide humans; their lives are too short to know themselves.” “Humans bring us amusement.” As for dwarves, high elves value them for their mastery as artificers and respect their age-old defiance of extinction. (“We must be patient with dwarves, for they have lost much.” “One should listen to dwarven council—there is wisdom in their simplicity.” “Dwarven greed is as deep as the earth.”) High elves understand the hatred and brutal life of orcs. They disagree, of course, but recognize it as pure. Still, high elves will not waste much time on them. (“Seeds planted in orc hearts will bear no fruit.” “We disgust them. Their hatred for us surpasses their hatred for all others, even though they know us not, and we have not the heart to hate them in return.”) And finally, high elves have a weakness for dragons, as dragons are the only race that matches high elves in magical nature and aptitude. As such, they view dragons with a mix of awe and fear. An elder dragon causes a high elf to look deep inside and ask questions best left unanswered. (“We must study the universe and stay ahead of the dragons, or they will become the masters of Chaldea.” “We are grateful to Mirithian for turning the tide in the Great War, but we must never turn our back on him.”)
In time, all elves struggle with grief. Watching endless tragedies unfold eventually takes a toll on even a seemingly ageless life. Grief manifests in many ways, including sadness, bitterness, isolation, silence, or anger. In general, elves ameliorate their grief through the singing of sad laments, often in groups, or processions both elaborate and simple.

***

For more information about the elves of Chaldea, we highly recommend the roleplaying game Burning Wheel, which we used as our primary source of inspiration for elves.


Humans

Humans are the dominant lifeform of Chaldea, representing roughly 75 percent of the population.

Humans are not native to Chaldea. They were brought to Chaldea by the dragons during the Claw Hammer War roughly one millennia before Kordaava. These humans came from other worlds as mercenaries to fight the dragons’ enemies, the dwarves. They arrived on Tannaluvian ships from various other worlds in the Pearl Universe.

Once the war was over, the dragons refused to pay the Tannaluvians the money needed to send the armies home, so the humans settled in Chaldea. Over time, various human groups found other groups from the same world and congregated with one other to form kingdoms modeled after their ancestral worlds. They brought with them their gods, their customs, their architecture, their fashion, and their culture.

A defining trait of humans that separates them from all other races is faith and their worship of primal deities.

The Ancestral Worlds and Deities of Humans

The people of Ardaya, Himyar, and the Nabatean Trade Cities come from Nabatea, the home world of the Qurayshite deities. The Akkadians come from Akkadia, the home world of the Anum deities. The people of Te Shemau come from Ma’at, the home world of the Pharaoh deities. The people of Somacia come from Hatti, the home world of the Hatti deities. The people of Hakhamanesh come from Pars, the home world of the Avestan deities. The people of Kinahhu came from the Erythraean Sea, the home world of the Ugaritic gods.

The people of Perrin, Aimilleuse, Frankia, Hesse, Munchkein, Stollhofen, and Dorsang come from Mag Mel, the home world of the Celtic deities. The people of Vlachia come from Dacia, but if they brought a religion with them, it has not survived. The people (both humans and giants) of Tavja, Jotunholm, and Griotunagardar come from the Nine Worlds, the home of the Norse deities. The people of Roosh and Kazaktow come from the Sleeping Land, where they worshiped the Slavic gods.

The people of Latium and Sabinium come from Albalonga, a world that had previously adopted the worship of the Olympian deities. The people of Mycanea and Aegae come from Olympus, the home world of the Olympian deities. The people of Andalus come from Tartessos, but if they brought a religion with them, it has not survived.

The Dark Times

Once the dragons lost interest in warring against the dwarves, it didn’t take long for the humans and orcs to begin warring against each other. Within a hundred years or so, human intelligence and the ability to cooperate won out over hatred and savagery. Orcs withdrew to the more mountains regions and the underground realms vacated by the dwarves when they dug even deeper. And humans became the dominant culture across the surface of Chaldea.

Because they essentially migrated from other worlds, humans of Chaldea did not have to evolve from cave people. When the dragons brought humans to Chaldea, those humans brought with them the technologies, sciences, and social outlooks roughly equivalent to Earth’s humans of the Bronze Age. From the get-go, they were masters of agriculture, stone masonry, calendars, reading and writing (only for the scholarly, of course), paper, pottery, rope, simple ships of oar and sail, knowledge of how to domesticate horses, and basic weapons like swords, spears, and bows. Metalsmithing at the time was limited to copper, tin, and zinc, which were used to create bronze and brass alloys.

So, with the dragons and dwarves gone and the orcs and kobolds marginalized, humans very rapidly settled the known world and began doing what you’d expect humans to do—eating, fucking, building things, killing each other, and then singing about it all.

This continued for some thousand years and is the subject of much scholarly work. This millennium is known as the Dark Times because of the endless cycle of warfare and brutality.

Language

The common tongue of most humans is Kordavan—that’s what it’s called, at least. Yet it’s the same as dwarven. Many cultures have retained the languages of their home worlds, and as one travels to remote villages and wildlands, chances are that humans one encounters will prefer their old tongues and might not even know how to speak Kordavan.

*** 

Almost every kingdom of Chaldea is inspired by some real-world time and place. Yes, we could have made up our own ethnicities, but we love history, and the real world is so full of fascinating cultures, that we figured, why reinvent the human?

The idea of faith as something uniquely human is taken from the Burning Wheel roleplaying game by Luke Crane.

There are various Asian-inspired cultures of Chaldea on the continent of Asianic. We expect to map Asianic and develop these cultures at a later date.


Marn Elves

Marners™ are a group of indigenous peoples from the jungle Kingdom of Marn, in northern Somarria.

The overarching term "Marner" is a collective designation for any individual originating from the jungle region of Marn, that share common lifestyle traits connected to the enigmatic kingdom. Traditionally, Marner collectively means elf, but in truth, Marn is home to many races and sub-species. Tribes of orcs range into Marn and are as much Marn as the elves. All races of Marn share some degree of cultural and linguistic heritage, “We are Marn”.

marner1The races of Marn are extremely hostile, inwardly and outwardly. They are described as “being in a constant state of agitation”. So extreme is their animosity, many believe them to be utterly insane. To see a Marner is to invite hostility. While the races of Marn have a supernatural affinity for one another, what they call the “oneness” (see Marn Connection), the various elven tribes of Marn do not even get along with one another for very long and any treaties that are made only last for the need served and even then are often violated or ignored.

The Elves of Marn do not consider themselves a part of the greater elven community though those outside of Marn often refer to this as folly, clear arrogance and perhaps a result of their secluded and violent natures. It is this claim and the nature that spawns it that often has outsiders doubting the very sanity of the Elves of Marn.

Marn elves view all races outside of Marn as being “outsiders,” as they literally are those that live outside of Marn and couldn’t possibly begin to understand what it means to live within the arms of Marn. They do occasionally barter and trade with outsiders but it is rare and shaky occurrence that often ends negatively.

THE MARN CONNECTION

Marn elves are distinctive and easily identifiable by their colorful and aberrant tattoos and grafts, hairstyles and proclivity for exotic body modification.

Grafts and tattoos are beautiful and exotic works of art, but are more than personal artistic expression. Grafts and tattoos produce powerful intoxicants that provide the host with paranormal benefits.

Marn elves have mastered the art of grinding down the various components of their jungle and incorporating them into elaborate tattoos. Likewise, wood carvers have mastered the ability to transplant living bark onto a living host, where the bark assimilates and augments the host with magical enhancements. The more of these grafts and tattoos an elf has, the higher rank they tend to be within their particular tribe and the more influence Marn has on their mind and soul. Once an elf starts down the path using these enhancements, forever are they captured, the more they need, the more they take, need, take...this increasing power cycle can and does cause instability in those with the highest level of addiction.

These “body enchantments”, (as those in the graver communities refer to them), run the gamut from minor things such as requiring less food and water, to life altering expansion of the mind, clairvoyance, extension of life, increased endurance, reflexes and fleet of foot, alleviating the need for sleep, and even increasing sexual magnetism. There appears to be no limit to what a marner can achieve, if one wishes to forfeit physical normality.

Colloquially the empire over, “marner” designation is a pejorative for individuals addicted to Marn substances. The extent of Marn influence on the body and mind is scarcely understood and greatly feared. And as such, Marn grafts and tattoos are strictly outlawed and are controlled substances in most kingdoms.

marner2marner3marner4

A random sampling of Marn elves with Marn grafts and tattoos


Wilder Elves

Humans sometimes refer to wilder elves as “wood elves,” but this terminology is an immediate clue that the human has only a scant understanding of elven culture.
Wilder elves are excellent archers and foresters. Nearly every forest of note has a major elven colony tending its needs in order to protect its health, which includes all plant life and animal life. While this does not exclude humans from hunting or logging, they must do so in a sustainable way or risk conflict with the wilder elves. Some humans choose that conflict, yet orcs pose the bigger problem for the elves. Woodland monsters are tolerated as long as they fit into the natural order of things, but if they become too big a nuisance—as the orcs do—the elves have to deal with them as well. Ultimately, the wilder elves take these challenges seriously and have chosen a difficult path in the world.

Wilder elves understand that the best of humans have a strong heart and can be loyal companions, but these are the exception not the rule. The wilder elves keep certain considerations of humans in mind: “Their eyes are closed to the beauty that surrounds them.” “Allow your trust in a human to grow slowly, no faster than the growth of a tree.” “Few humans respect the natural order of things.” By comparison, elves seem to know more about dwarves than dwarves know of elves. Elves recognize dwarves as kindred spirits, that their love of stone and minerals is also a love of nature, but the elves believe this affection is driven more by greed and self-imposed ostracism than respect for natural forces. (“They were fine stewards of this land when it was theirs—back then, our presence was not required as it is today.”) “Never come between a dwarf and his greed.” “Yes, I respect dwarves—this doesn’t mean I’ll eat with them.”) When it comes to other elves, wilder elves see Etharch elves as the administrators and nobility of their kind. (“They tend to all the boring stuff we don’t want to be bothered with.”) Of their high elven cousins, wilder elves almost never show signs of envy. (“The high elves were first born and are therefore first among all races.” “We tend to the health of the world so they can tend to the health of the universe.”) But relations between wilder elves and orcs are very stressful as orcs have no love of nature and, indeed, relish in its destruction. (“Humans can sometimes be reasoned, with, but orcs are bent on destroying everything they touch.” “Not in my forest!”) And finally, wilder elves’ relations with dragons are rare. From time to time, a dragon will take to the forest for the woods’ seclusion and protection, and in these cases, elves will simply keep their distance. (“That’s one neck of the woods we don’t have to defend.”)
In time, all elves struggle with grief. Watching endless tragedies unfold eventually takes a toll on even a seemingly ageless life. Grief manifests in many ways, including sadness, bitterness, isolation, silence, or anger. In general, elves ameliorate their grief through the singing of sad laments, often in groups, or processions both elaborate and simple.

***

For more information about the elves of Chaldea, we highly recommend the roleplaying game Burning Wheel, which we used as our primary source of inspiration for elves.

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