The Marcas have small, hunched statures, brownish skin, and large eyes, that’s about all there is to note. Given their paranoid, fearful ways, and their tendency to observe others from distance, most quickly assume them to be primitive thieves. That at least is wrong.
Size: two or three feet at most, possibly even smaller. But a more developed belly and behind.
There was a time when the Marcas could have ruled the world. They certainly had the power, their magic and technology was unrivaled by anyone. Luckily (or sadly) for the barbarians around, the Marcas were a philosophical people, content with being dominant, far above leading useless wars, for the barbarians around had nothing interesting anyway. Eager after knowledge and good life, they could even prolong their expectancy for a few decades.
But no matter what their magic and technology would work, they could not seem to cheat Death, could they? They have tried.
If a whole advanced race concentrates on a single task, all of its great resources pooled together, there is little that cannot be done.
It is, it seems, impossible for an organic body to stay alive forever; eventually it will fall to the dangers of time, accidents if nothing else. The Marcas could avoid many of the risks, but not all. And so they have… changed.
The new Marcas:
Combining their vast knowledge of the natural and the supernatural, the Marcas have changed their bodies as well as their spirits. Gone are their tall, beautiful bodies, and much more than meets the eye.
Biologically, from mammals they have become egg-layers. This extreme change, along with numerous other changes in the internal organs, has crippled their magical abilities. But such a price, they reasoned, was little to pay for the great benefit of immortality. They would still keep their technological edge.
A Marcas is a living, breathing being. It needs to eat, to drink and sleep. During its life, he (or she… doesn’t make quite sense for hermaphrodites) can - and likely will - lay eggs. These eggs are actually dead, and can stay so for a long period for time. They lay them into safe places, to wait untill they are needed. They can still mate, but most choose not to. The reader shall be spared of this detail.
The Marcas do also die… and their spirits leave their dead bodies. But then, the biggest change of all becomes apparent: their spirit does not leave where the spirits of other ‘mortals’ do. It stays in this world, and finds the object that it is supernaturally linked to it: its own egg. This it inhabits, and awakens to life. Given enough food, another modification comes into play: they grow rapidly, in the matter of three months into a full-grown adult.
In this new body they grow, they can get old, and die again. And their spirit can travel to another egg… and another… and another…
Note: as a side effect of their many lives, they can will themselves to die, if the situation is desperate enough.
And then came History
All they had to do was to preserve even a small part of their technology, to stay fed and somewhat safe. With their immortality they would have gained all the things they dreamed of - like enough time to understand and learn all there is.
They have failed at this perilously easy task.
Immortality is a great boon. It needs so little to stay in comfort, and many have reveled in the new-found solitude. No need to depend on others, it is enough to pick the few friends for eternity, and discuss with them for at least a half of it.
However, their advanced technology depended deeply on the many occupations and skills of a large folk; the infinite interactions between many people have made it possible in the first place. How good is a wondrous machine, if there is no one to create a small replacement part, or to mine the ore for it? How to keep advanced agriculture running, without the myriad of tools and materials needed, which again in turn depend on other tools (and people)?
As could be expected, births of new children went dramatically down. There were few to learn, and few to teach. And as accidents happened - even the art to stay immortal has to be learned - some have died. Some have simply chosen to pass away, after the gift failed to deliver what it promised.
Worse things have happened - some have drifted into insanity, and became serial killers of unimaginable dimensions - they killed other Marcas over and over, until their last chance has been lost. Some tried to further change their physiology in private experiments, and mutated into horrible creatures. Most of these misfits are by now (permanently) dead.
And slowly, unavoidably, important pieces of knowledge have vanished, and their whole civilisation has been falling apart. And the Marcas, little trusting foreigners before, do not trust their own folk now, too.
The Marcas of Today
They are really immortal. However, in changing their bodies and spirits, and keeping a desperate hold on to their life, they have lost most of their former power and/or technology.
Now, they are living in the ruins of their civilization, keeping hold of the last functional bits, tending to their eggs and storing resources for the moment of need…
Ironically, they are now more vulnerable to the barbarians that live around, than they were before. As their society has collapsed, they have found themselves to be transformed into hunters and gatherers.
The barbarians around have legends of a great and powerful folk that lived in these parts, wanting to achieve immortality and dieing on it - because they destroyed themselves in the attempt, waged a suicidal war for the secret, or were cursed by the very gods for this blasphemy. To a degree, the legends are true.
Now, as nobody connects the midgets with former overlords of the area, they could get into contact with other races. Living with them may be actually safer than their own home.
And so they live for centuries and even millenia, ever afraid that they could die and their new young form will not find enough food… eventually starving, then switching to another body and possibly suffering the same fate.
They have what they wanted, what _anyone_ would want, badly enough to kill. It is a prize they cannot let go.
Personnally, they are fearful and paranoid, and distrust everything and anyone. By this time they already need contact with other races; what they cannot hunt or gather, must be traded.
With centuries of thinking, they have accumulated much wisdom. Of course, they do not know everything (besides, many of them are specialists in obscure and not anymore usable fields). Also, they go the HighLander route, and forget chunks of their past at a time, until they need to recall it. Thus they are not burdended by memories (and skills). Thanks to MoonHunter for this tip.
A Marcas will have detailed and precise knowledge of its enviroment, up to dozens of miles from his lair (there are always several lairs). Afraid of thieves, they do keep little property, for that could spell their doom. Sometimes they allow themselves to be hired as guides for their surroundings. Some could take adventurers on a trip through the ruins of their own civilisation, and share a few invented stories; taking care they do not find anything dangerous or functional.
And while we are at it:
Despite all the setbacks, there is something the Marcas have been successful at: they succeeded in keeping their immortality a secret, reasoning the barbarians would destroy them out of sheer envy (OK, it has to be admitted the primitives developed a little in the past few thousand years).
So far this hasn’t been noticed by other races. The Marcas are a bit loony, but get older and die as others… just the issue with birth is a bit unclear.
And anyway, they look all the same. While there is some variation between individuals, others have a great diffilcuty discerning them. Plus, very few live in the civilised lands.