Before the lands were colonised by the Modern Races, other intelligent being called them home. One of these races was the Alun - a people much like and much unlike mankind.
The typical Alun averages 5’ in height and 170 lbs in weight, though differences in diet can cause significant variations. Some skeletons recovered from especially ornate gravesites exceeded 6’ in height and an estimated 260lbs in weight. Their skin is covered in fine hair similar to that of humans and the skin-tone tends to match that of humans living at the same latitude.
The bone structure of the face is heavier and more prominate then humans. Noses are pronounced and the lips are thin to the point of being non-existance. The Alun have teeth quite different then humans, with a greater proportion of teeth dedicated as molars.
Physically, the Alun are stronger and more robust then humans. Intellectually, they are on par with humanity with the exception that skills such as reading, realistic artwork (painting, sculpture)and complex language are more difficult for them. They have intense focus on single tasks and find multi-tasking difficult. The Alun are also extremely empathetic and have a level of supernatural awareness far higher then man.
In the World of Neyathis (still very much under development) where this race is initially envisioned, Humanity and most ‘traditional’ fantasy races are relatively recent colonizers and did not evolve on this world. In a more earth-like worlds without mystical creation, the Alun and the others related to them could easily be offshoots of human ancestors.
The Asrok are decended from an isolated population of Alun and are currently the only known such race. Sadly, even this people is rare and in what appears to be their final decline.
The Alun are organized into extended family groups or clans, with shamans, if any, serving as the chief authorities. In absence of shamans, the eldest Alun hold power. Informal associations between clans existed, but no larger forms of government have been developed.
Alun are hunter gatherers with considerable success in both roles. Virtually any local edible vegatation will have been carefully studied by the Alun, and attention paid to its optimal use. Similary, strategies will be developed to exploit any fauna suitable for being eaten. This knowlege is priceless to the Alun and they are unlikely to share it with outsiders unless they are very heavily compensated.
They do not practice any form of intentional agriculture, but in some cases accidental farming (due to spilled seed, etc) occurs. Similarly, animal husbandry is not formally practiced, though food is regularly used as bait to draw prey close to settlements for hunting.
As hunter-gatherers, the Alun have little time to spend on activies which do not center on basic survival. As a result, they have tended to work various simple ‘games’ into many of their tasks. A lot of these are complicated word-games which are a type of improvised poetry.
Apart from their game-poems, the Alun produced little art. Most of what they produced was primarily functional, and any ornamentation was low-effort in nature.
They have difficulty with symbolism and their artwork tended towards abstract designs and patterns with no underlying meaning apart from asthetics.
Music has not been developed by the Alun to any great degree with the exception of their special ‘Stone Flutes’detailed futher on. Given the sophistication of these stone artifacts, it is puzzling to the sages as to why no small-scale implementation (ie. wooden flutes) has every been found.
Through careful and expensive magical research, it has been determined that to the Alun, music was sacred to the element of Air and so is not used outside of rituals to that element. They find the causal use of music by other races blasphous and a sign of inferiority.
Unlike other primative peoples, there has never been found an Alun artifact which depicts a living creature.
The Alun were beginning to experiment with copper and bronze, but the rarity of those metals in the Alun homelands served to limit their development. They were highly advanced in stone carving and masonry, using magic to compensate for their lack of metal tools. Flint artifacts created by this people exceed the quality of similar objects created by man.
The Alun wear clothing created generally from hides or other ready-made materials. They did not have skill in weaving beyond the creation of baskets and similar items.
The Alun do practice architechure of sorts - unlike many hunter-gather races and societies they do produce permenant stone homes where no suitable caves exist. These are considered communal properties and are reused over the generations as different groups of Alun travel in and out of the region. The other form of architechure is the creation of the Stone Flutes. In all cases, where the Alun put their hand to stonework, the quality is excellent in the extreme.
Possessing similar vocal structures to humanity, the Alun had a rich and complete spoken language. It is somewhat deficient with words describing abstract concepts apart from emotions. It bears no relationship or commonality with any spoken human tongue. The Alun had no form of written communication - all of their knowlage is passed on verbally. Alun names are generally random in nature - they select names based on unique sounds and will not reuse a name they have already heard.
The Alun originally had a rich pantheon of deities covering virtually every aspect of their lives. In addition to the many deities they had a complex assortment of spirits. It was these spirits that the Alun shamans would deal primarily with while paying homage to the greater deities.
Very few Alun undertakings were started without consulting with the shaman. Permission to hunt, gather food, or even to work stone or wood was necessary, usually involving some minor symbolic sacrifice.
As their population dwindled and the pantheon expended it’s power trying to protect it’s people, the number of deities and spirits waned.
The Alun have a strong tie to elemental forces - each individual Alun chooses an Element at adulthood (which is marked by a special ritual). This tie is used during the many rituals which occur daily, and determine how the Alun will be prepared on death (See Burial Customs for details).
This does not provide signficant power to the alun, it plays much the same role as the Zodiac with humans.
The main employer’s of magic within the Alun are the shamans, followed by the toolwrights. Without exceptions, the shamans have selected Spirit as their element.
Ethos & Beliefs
The primary motivation of most of the Alun centers on survival of themselves and their immediate family. They hold their gods in great esteem, but generally only call upon them for major undertakings or needs. The Alun are also animists with belief in spirits inherent in all things natural, especially the elements.
The Alun are semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers - they never developed agriculture but do occasionally keep livestock.
They are not gender-biased and apart from child-bearing virtually all tasks are distributed evenly.
The Alun practice different burial rites depending upon the selected Element of the individual in question. Those that pass prior to selection are treated as for Spirit.
In all cases, the burial is preceeded by a fairly long and detailed ritual, but the actual act of disposal is quick, and may appear to other races as rather crude. Earth aligned are buried, Fire are burned, Water are thrown into a fast-moving river downstream from any Alun settlements, and air are left for the scavangers at the highest point withing the Alun territory. Spirit alined are also burnt, but the ashes are disposed of by scattering some to the wind, some committed to the earth and some scattered into a body of water.
When the Elements first comingled with the influence of Spirit, the world sprung into being in all its various and wonderful forms. Gone was the sterile purity of the five elements and in their place was the myriad products of their combinations.
Into this new world, nodes of Spirit,accompanied by the other elements, coalaced into lifeforms, and some of the stronger nodes formed into the race now known as the Alun.
Some of the strongest nodes formed into similar forms, but of much greater power and these became the Gods of the Alun.
From their creation until the last few millenia of their existance their history as a people was quiet and unremarkable, though the lives of individual Alun were always hard and dangerous. Some of the clans of Alun became isolated and developed along different directions then the Alun (See the Asrok for one such decendant race).
It was in their last few millenia that the Alun came under severe attack, both by supernatural threats which sought to destroy them, and by the encrouchment of Mankind and the other ‘Modern’ races. Though they fought against, and at great cost triumphed against the former threat, they did nothing but withdraw from the latter, being pushed further and further into marginal and outright hostile lands.
Even withdrawing from contact with Man, human disease, slavery and simple barbarism served to bring about their final disappearance. It has been said that when there remained but a handful of the Alun, their gods took them with them as they departed this world.
Throughout their territories, there exists the possibility that the occasional Alun pocket could still remain - Lost World style. Similarly, Alun could also be found in various magic prisons, or even as undead in amazingly old gravesites (note, only those improperly buried, or are of Earth would have corporeal forms).
It is possible that there are still Alun alive - they could have descended into the caverns beneath the earth to avoid Humankind, or their deities literally brought them to a better place - either extra-planar, or simply unknown portion of the world.
The Alun as a Player Character
Any Alun PC is going to have an unusual background and will have some difficulty integrating with humans. They may possess the racial antipathy towards humans, or even greater levels of hatred.
Apart from being stronger then humans, the Alun possesses elemental affinity allowing elemental magic to be easier to acquire. They also have peerless knowlege of the uses of flora and fauna of the world, the product of countless eons of study and refinement. Altough weak in technology, mankind has not come close to understanding the natural world as the Alun do.
Characters deriving their power from deities (ie. clerics, etc) will not be able to obtain the same level of power as the more populous races unless they have some special relationship with their deity allowing them a significant portion of their strength. (The Alun gods are so weakened that many human priests are stronger!)
Plot Ideas & Campaign Use
Additional Ideas (1)
One of the few remaining artifacts of the Alun people of note are the amazing Stone Flutes. These massive stone pillars (generally 6' in diameter and up to 30' tall) pierced with carefully carved holes. Running down the center of the stone (only visible from above the stone), is a long resonating chamber.
When wind blows across the top of the stone the right way, a low tone is created (similar to blowing across a bottle, but much lower in octave). Covering the various holes on the stone will cause slight variations in the tone - if enough are covered then the changes become perceptible enough to produce simple music. It would, however, require a large number of people, carefully coordinated, to 'play' this massive instrument.
Those samples which survive of these artifacts radiate a small degree of magic, though wether this is from their creation, or represent some means of improving their ability remains to be seen. What is known is that no attempt to replicate these structures has succeeded in producing the same quantity and quality of sound.
It is thought that these played an important part in the magical rituals performed by the Alun.