The Nekron are one of the most disturbing humanoid races. In height, weight, and build, they are somewhere between Human and Elf (classic fantasy Elf). There fingers are long and delicate. Their ears are small and somewhat pointed. This is not what makes them disturbing. It is their other features.
Their skin is ashen white and nearly translucent. One can almost see their organs and bones beneath. In a bright light you can. Their eyes have no iris or pupil. They are a solid milky white. They can see in near total darkness (and see heat). While their skin is smooth, it is very dry.
Their faces would be quite comely, if they had noses. It is if their noses are partially cut off, or like a corpse who’s nose retracts as it desiccates. There is a slight ridge and two slits there. Some of the females have very, very petite noses, but that is a rare trait.
They have slightly elongated canines as well.
Their hair ranges from white to black, with various shades of steel grey in between.
Their bodies are cool to the touch. While not room temperature, they are many degrees below Human and Elven norms.
Their voices have an odd vibrato. It could be musical, in a way. But it is off. Like they should not be using their voices.
In terms of society…
They live underground or in windowless buildings. They are not fond of the sun. Prolonged exposure to the sun and the heat of the day is tiring at best, painful at worst. They will often cover their eyes with gauze when travelling outside during the day.
Their society is rigid and orderly. Their system of laws is legendary. It is complex and inflexible, but it covers every possible situation.
There word is more than their bond, it is their life. However, they will only stick to the letter of their word, not the intent.
They are people based on law and letters, not feelings and morals. They do not have friends, they have people they transact personal elements with. You don’t do things for your friends. You do things for people who will do things for you (or have done them in the past).
The Nekron came from somewhere else and are not sure how they got to this cursedly bright and warm place. The world above is like a hell to them.
Additional Ideas (17)
Even the Duerga, the paramount of law and order, have feelings. Pride: in their craft and 'offspring'. Honour. Fear of silence. Determination to make the world a better place (not necessarily better for ALL, but still)
What drives the Necron?
Wish to survive?
Perverse delight in defiance of the world that was forced upon them?
The drive to be better than all others?
The voice may have sounded a little different in the cradle of their race, the air compostion being different.
This could lead to some things, like a special Necron solarium that has light 'just like real'. I guess their music will either not have vocals, but be extremely precise intrumental art, or they might have special chambers with different (toxic to others?) air where they can sing.
You know, you could fill them with nostalgia and a sense of superiority, with disdain and disgust of all that is this world - they might even yearn to shed their bodies to return home.
Still, they should have SOME reason to interact with others as to be playable.
What might that be?
So far, I like it- no constant slaughter or chaotic intrigue. They sound like a bizarre, disturbing, somewhat sad race.
I am also reminded (by the physical description) of Lily Lazer from HIM. He would be the very picture of a Nekron, to my mind, if his nose was just a bit more skull-like.
What do the Nekron worship, if anything at all?
Do they work magic? Do they keep slaves or whatnot?
Perhaps the main drive of their existence as a culture is to find the way home. All of their necromantic strength is bent on getting away from the Overland.
Enlightened Self Interest is what drives them. In short, these are people who need strong leaders or lacking that strong laws/ codes to follow. I see a web of legalism to hold their society together. If they want anything more than the basics, they need to work and work hard within the rules to get what they want. If you sit back and don't try to get around the rules, you will probably get squat. So everyone is working an angle, edging to get those things they want.
Are they greedy? Not really. Their culture is one that restricts and prevents people from getting things. You have to work hard underneith these rules to get anything beyond the bare basics. Thus they are all trained from an early age to work on it.
A society based on a serious codes of law is a good thing. A society where basic goods are distributed fairly is a great thing. It is only when these societies develop and develop that the weight of the laws begins to hold the people down that there is problems. Since this society is an old one, the burden of laws is probably pretty heavy.
Resources being a touch scarce, and with no law against it, they may eat the dead. It might even be seen as a touching gesture to feed your family one last time.
And since they are immortal or long lived, they have a long time to remember things. They remember the hungry times (lets face it undground dwellers are short of food, water, and space most of the time). They remember the person who stopped them from getting what they wanted (grudges). You can see where this is going.
Voice and Music
As for music... they may have singing. It just would sound awful to us. Imagine an Wagner-esk Opera with choppy vocals and most of the musical instruments being metal percussion and wind. The mind will just go ... "huh".
As for the sunlight issues. images of underground metropolises of Gothic-gargoyle-covered buildings, made from basalt, with diffuse purple halflight. It makes the cities errie. I like that. Perhaps they swish two chemical together in balls to make these purple glows.
aside: Perhaps they have domesticated gargoyles or are allied with their gargoyle race?
I would think the Nekron work magic. There are probably serious rules about its use to. They have a strong magical tradition, in a supporting role for their society (just like the Elves). They might do necromancy and other morally offensive magics because they are not illegal to them. (Maybe a minor Undead economy?). Perhaps they have towers that absorb magic, so their mages may use it more efficiently. Those towers might disrupt the Elven (and common) magic above ground. Hence part of the hatred people might have against Nekron.
They might have slaves. Why idle a resource in jail, when they can work off their violation of the rules. Minor infractions will have fines. Major infractions will have indentured servitude. True Crimes will have a death penalty. Yah, walk on the grass here...
Nekron worship... hmmmm. A heavenly buracracy. Thousands of Gods that have to be worshiped just so. Even their afterlife would be a tangled web of laws and punishments.
(You know, these people might have such a bad rap topside because the people who are escaping this oppressive society go beserk in the effective freedom of topside).
I think eating the dead would be more a matter of pragmaticism that could take on a religious nature, an interesting twist on the feast of the dead.
What do they eat? Farming and aquaculture are rather out of the question lacking in the sort of light required to grow plants, and with no plant life
Cop out: It's a fantasy world.
More creative: Create a non-photosynthetic ecology. Earth has sulpher-binding bacteria near super-heated deep ocean vents that form the basis of an ecology of sheet algaes, giant tube worms, crustaceans and fish - no light, except for some bioluminescence. Do the same thing underground.
Start with slime growing on hot underground pools, organisms (fungi) that bind the slime, critters that eat the organisms, things that grow "leaves" to capture air-born nutrients on larger surface areas, animals that feed on the leaves, predators that feed on the leaf-eaters, bioluminescence to cast a nice eerie glow over it all. The further from the source of nutrients, the rarer and more "desert-like" the flora and more ambulatory the fauna. Add flood-cycles and modest eruptions to create a local "weather system" that could even be cyclic (think 'Old Faithful', but on a longer cycle).
Large, very weird and outrageously smelly (to terrestial noses) "farms" could develop along with "irrigation" and so on as Nekron agriculture takes hold. The Nekron toss their waste back into the hot pools as fertilizer. They can also have a pharmacology ('Rust wort cures burns'), breed for increased yields, and have herds of leaf-eaters to provide meat, bone, hide, milk/cheese or whatever. And lap-squoggles with glossy tongues and distinguished pedigrees.
Or something like that.
Then, if you look into how chlorophyll works, you see it is a chelate, a molecule with a central copper atom (correct me if I am wrong) that gets 'excited' when hit by sunlight, e.g. energy and passes the energy on to create ATP, the life's universal energy currency ... you just have to have a different molecule that reacts to a different kind of energy. Heat. Motion. Magic. Thoughts (think hard, son! these crops have to be ready 'till next week!). Whatever.
Perhaps they take a yeast and make a tofu like suppliment out of it. It could make their food truly odd tasting to the lightsiders (while they are the darksiders).
This whole Lightsider/ Darksider thing could be mistranslated by many peoples, thus adding to the "oh, they are Evil" opinion.
Back to Agriculture
They may have nocturnal farming on the surface. Or foraging/ gathering parties at the very least.
These ecological issues are the same ones I have with Dwarves. If they lived in clan/ extended family sized unit, they could more redily support themselves in a region of mountain. City sized production takes special processes or a leap of faith.
I keep feeling their society is very Cold War Russian. Lines. Scarcity. The same morbid views of the world.
Being Darksiders, they will have interactions with Dwarves and other subterranean races. They might not be cordial, as they are all competing for the same scarce resources.
Many things have been implied that sort of "fills in the blanks" for these people. Our scary looking, underground dwelling, Stalin styled Socialists, with a legal system from Hell, who horde magic from above ground to be used underground, seem to fill in all the nitche need for Drow.
Elves hate them because of the magic/ energy absorbing towers.
They are incomprehensible to most people and do what most seem as "Evil". They are not Evil but perhaps evil by the measures of the surface folks. They have their own way of looking at the world.
They are night people because of the lack of daylight (Question, why aren't dwarves nocturnal then?)
What do the other subterranean people think of them? How do they interact with those people, especially since they will be in conflict over resources?
What else should we touch upon?
Being an elder race, the nekron have rather advanced, but not exaggeratedly advanced technology compared to the other races. Living in a subterranean enviroment, surviving in a thermal driven biosphere, they have easy access to both large amounts of natural heat and raw materials.
The Nekron, with their access to thermal vents and magma veins are easily able to reduce ore to liquid metal. It is a small step to introduce bellows to blow oxygen through a crucible, replicating the bessemer process, or the blast furnace. Nekron steel is likely to be one of the best grades of steel available. If the dwarves knew, they would be sick with envy. With this abundance of steel, Nekron warriors are always clad in full metal armor, often llamelor, or scale armors, and some articulated plate armors. Given the high grade of the metal used, these armors are likely much lighter than surface comparable, and also likely to be stronger, and more resistant to corrosion.
Weapons are also heavy with metal. Picks might be the predominant weapon as they have mining connotations, but given the elder status of the race, all weapon types could reasonably be encountered. They would likely use bone, or shell from vent worms and such for the hafts and handles of weapons, but it would make pole arms, and regular bows very rare as such large pieces would be either very rare, or prohibitively expensive. Enter the Arbalest, or steel crossbow. The weapon is 99% metal, and packs a heavy punch, able to defeat armors at short range with ease.
Combat is going to dominated by individuals of exceptional skill at arms. The Nekron would not field large armies as subterranean enviroments offer insufficient room to maneuver, and too many places for bottlenecks and other impediments. In small unit actions, they wuold be nigh unstoppable. Downside, they have poor morale, and there is little fervor in battle. The Nekron are more interested in holding what they have rather than expanding their domains.
Their religious system is the worship of the Universal Order. Their religious view reflects their political and social organization: law, order, and bureaucracy. Each diety (and there are two thousand known ones) is in charge of one small segment of reality, like a bureaucrat in charge of a department. Each one has appropriate spirit minions doing minor function. Each diety is responsible to his superior.
It should be noted that most other race's deities are included in the Universal Order. They are normally in small sub departments for a specific race or a specific race doing a certain function. Part of their superiority complex is that these silly other peoples are worshiping these minor functionaries AS IF they were really in charge.
Prayers and interaction with the appropriate diety follows the pattern of introduction to diety, asking for petition, performing the required task to achieve the results desired. In short, much the same way one deals with their complex bureaucracy.
The moral system of the Universal order have the following high points
*) Structure, Order
*)Completion of duty/ responsibilities. If people don't do this, the whole system falls apart. Those who are weak and can't must be removed, lest everyone fall.
*)Living up to the letter of your responsibilities (as no one can judge the intent of others without crawling into their head).
Let us remember that these people live in a Stalinistic socialist society. There are scarce resources. What resources there are, are distributed from a central source and by the rule of law.
(of course, we all know that the real world requires people to angle and finesse to get what they want in such a system. Thus these people are always working within the rules to get what the need/ want).
How does this reflect in their use of magic?
In their underground lairs they create towers of magic. It is actually a form of technology, a manna transducers. These "manna transducers" draw in and absorb magical energies. These energies are stored in capacitors for future use for the good of the Necron.
From an outside observer, unaware of the tower's functions, Necron territories would feel totally devoid of magic. Normal spell casters, using internal or cosmic power sources would be either cut off or restricted in their ability to cast spells in these areas. In fact, these towers should be pulling magical energies away from the surface, weakening their magical fields. This could be part of the mutual hatred between the Elves and the Necron. Elves believe that their power should be free and flow naturally, while Necros suck everything in and control it for everyone's good.
Magic users of the Necron will then use "channels" or rods that pull energy from the Manna Transducers to empower their spells. Thus there are no "excellent" necron magic users but no weak ones either.
They might have magical items empowered by small manna capacitors. Heck they might have huge items that are empowered by them. So they will have a magical society in what seems to be a non magical zone.
I like the translucent skin thing and would use it more. My take is the same as the albino creatures that live completely in the dark, there is no need for durable skin for protection from the sun so they don't have it. Perhaps that being in the sun can actually injure their insides. Their skin burns within minutes being exposed to the sun and if they stay too long in direct sunlight then their innards start getting the effects. Any type of covering will fix this though. I see them dressing like people in the middle east when coming above ground. Full draping clothes and wrapped head to cover everything.
Being entirely underground I also seem them perhaps being slouched. Honestly, I pictured a translucent gollum but larger. Scurrying more then anything. Even their gothic purpley cities would probably still conform to the caves natural creations. In that case their buildings would not all be on a single level either, wherever a natural opening or opportunity exists to create a dwelling then that is where it is made. So buildings would be at numerous different levels and at all types of angles depending on the cave. I just don't see everything on a single plane, it should be multileveled and ordered in an organic way, not a methodically.
Continuing on this train of thought then the creatures would be a more scurring race that an upward standing one. They would be constantly crawling and climbing up walls or improvised staircases to get to whichever oddly built building or dwelling. Their law and ordered lifestyle strike a complete oppositve with the way their cities are developed.
The setup of the cities might have a great seperation as well (following my above logic of course) and different cave systems might house different 'castes' or 'guilds' or 'families' or whatever. Their structure might predestine a birth to fill a certain need. Not necessarily on who their mother or father is but on what openings are predicted when the birthed comes to age. So they expect a slot to open in the harvesters, so the next birth is marked as a harvester.
With a structure and limited availability of food it may be that at a certain age when a drow becomes innefficient they are ritually killed. Not an evil thing, an expected thing. The elderly don't want to depend on anybody and to feed a unproductive member of society is against the laws so they turn their body over to the 'whatever.' They kill themselves or are sacrificed, fed to the mold to create food for a decade or just dissappear into a river or something.
Starting to ramble now. Not sure how far offbase I went but maybe I struck an idea nerve.
Also the contrast between the beauty and their death like features makes them appealing.
Aside: I actually see these people as crashlanders... outsiders. They live under either an old red sun or in the cold sunless void of space on ships. They lived in an open place without bright sunlight. Thus they are tall and graceful surface dwellers. So unless you have a place internally shrouded in darkness, they become subterranian.
The setup of the cities might have a great seperation as well (following my above logic of course) and different cave systems might house different 'castes' or 'guilds' or 'families' or whatever. Their structure might predestine a birth to fill a certain need.
Since these "nice" people have a socialistic system, along the stalinistic model, there is probably a whole battery of tests you take to determine your place in society. That plus required quotas (we plan on going to war in the next few years, so increase the number of soldiers) determines their jobs.
In a structure and limited availability of food it may be that at a certain age when a drow becomes innefficient they are ritually killed. Not an evil thing, an expected thing. The elderly don't want to depend on anybody and to feed a unproductive member of society is against the laws so they turn their body over to the 'whatever.'
I had not thought about the culling of the stupid young, but that make sense. I did think of making criminals slaves for their the durration of their service, and maybe killing the worst of them for food. I did see these people sacrificing themselves for their family... "Eat up Toshi, so you can be big and strong like Uncle Kobi was in his youth."
They could take it a step farther. Magic could empower a native sun, bathing everything in a deep purple light, growing plants that are purple and yellow rather than green (agriculture plants native to their home "far away".
With dwarves, it is mostly implied, that they lived once above, but moved down, or at least go regularly above ground and in daylight.
The Nekron are clearly outsiders, coming from a very different place, and this world in daylight is close to intolerable. Still, there may be some adaptations over time, at least in those few, that regularly dare to go outside.
Not only Dwarf'n'Dumplings and Goblin Gulash, but more so. Think down the 'goblin soap' line of thought.
So, while filters clean the air of pollutants, those very pollutants can be put to work elsewhere. Are they biolgical? Fertilizer. Are they toxic? Weapons, or (al)chemical processing...
Likewise, faeces will be used to provide soil, old blades reforged, paper recycled.
Given their need to keep the subterranean ecosystem in balance, they will know the nature intimately, even more than surface elves...
"But those candle sticks have been in my family for two generations"
"I am sorry citizen, but we need the silver for both coinage and for the new manna condensor. You can apply for recompensation in the department of impounded recycling with form 35b/2. Then take the form to the department's requisition for endorsement. Then you know what to do, go to central disbersement, goto your ward's office......"
One magical/ technological item I have had for Elves and Dwarves are Glow Balls. Elven GlowBalls or Elven Lights are small baseball sized orbs (9 in/ 23cms in circumference). Using a static enchantment, the enhance a stone ball to glow like a firefly, with white/ green light. DeepLights of the Dwarves are larger (11 in/30 cms in circumference). These are chemical lights mixing sulfer and some mushroom based microbes, if kept warm, will continue to give off an amber glow. Necroballs are hybrids between DeepLights and ElvenLights. They are chemicals enhanced by small spells. They give off a deep purple light. The closer they are to a tower (manna transducer, the brighter they glow). They will glow for a while if kept warm away from a tower, but they will eventually extinguish.
Humans just use candles or wasteful wood fires of course.