Overview and Explanation
The races of Kuramen originally began as one race, created accidentally when the Calamity struck and split Kuramen asunder. N0one of the divine races knew from whence they had come; the Lost Gods often found them fascinating and interesting to walk among, the Abominations saw them as another infestation to be blotted out that the Hollow might gain ascendance, and the Dragons found their innately chaotic ways confounding and troublesome in their Great Game.
Kuramen, being a world of strong magical energy - even if the mortal races tend to fear trying to tap the power - is prone to encouraging accelerated evolution and outright transformation, and so it is that the First Race took little time in becoming a multitude of races, many of which flourished and then perished in the Mythic Age. Of those, the races which survived into the Mortal Age are known as the Progenitor Races, with their various descendants going by various titles according to the whim of the various scholars; the New Races, the Children, the Fallen, and many more titles have been used. Suffice that evolution is a well-accepted thing in Kuramen, as it has been seen to happen, sometimes in living memory.
The Progentior Races
Humans - The people of the plains, the coasts, and the wetlands; humans are an abundant species, well-suited to a life of wide spaces and verdant lands as well as the more marginal life of the wetlands. Curious, prone to impulsive behavior, and highly social, the humans of Kuramen like to see themselves as the bastion of civilization, building towns and cities wherever the land will support their way of life. Their belief is aided to a degree by the way that the elven settlements tend to blend in with the natural world, while dwarven settlements are tucked away beneath the mountains, and the lizardfolk who compete with them for the wetlands tend to live in burrows rather than ‘proper’ buildings. The races descended from humanity are chiefly the spiritual Orcs and the feral Halflings.
Elves - The race which dwells in woodlands of all types, from the thinly forested regions on the mountain slopes to the thick tropical jungles; with long limbs, keen senses, and a great deal of natural speed and agility, the elves of Kuramen are well-suited to their homes. Despite their long lives, those of elven blood tend to be short on patience and driven by a need to act, as they can feel the turning of the seasons more acutely than other races. In forests which are old enough, elven settlements are literally built into the trees themselves, seamlessly merging dwelling and living plant; the younger woods generally have the local elves building both in the branches and in the ground below the roots, avoiding visual disturbance as much as possible. Elven settlements tend to have their various buildings linked by tunnels beneath the earth. The races descended from the elves are the Aver, who dwell wherever they can find or build a perch, and the gracefully social Faer, known to mingle with whatever races are open to their presence.
Dwarves - Dwellers beneath the rocky places of the world, the dwarves are a stolid, cautious people whose proximity and affinity with the slow-changing stone has given them both a long lifespan and a preference for doing things the sensible way. Strong proponents of the older schools of thaumatechnology, much of the stable and reliable thaumatech of the world comes from the well-known and thoroughly-tested works of the dwarven race. They are a pale people, with milky skins and pale eyes that require little radiance to see by, enough so that they tend to wear protective lenses when either out on the surface or working with things that have a bright light to them. The races descended from the dwarves include the Stonekin, who take their forefather’s affinity with the rock to an extreme; the Goblins, quick and impulsive where dwarves are slow and careful; and the Drath, who have rejected the depths beneath the stone for the open expanses above.
Lizardfolk - Preferring to call themselves the Serin, the lizardfolk of Kuramen are a near-amphibious race, dwelling along and beneath the waters of the lakes, rivers, and wetlands of the world. As their native environment is not conducive to crafts involving fire or long-term stability of things which can rot, most of the other races tend to dismiss them as primitives; this is far from true, however, as the wily Serin build settlements that can fill vast areas in the damp soil beneath their habitat, tunnels reinforced by living roots and sturdy lengths of stone. As a race, they take to sailing and other aquatic trades with an ease witnessed in no others, and many of the ships which ply the world’s waves are crewed almost entirely by the Serin and their descendant races. Their descendants include the entirely aquatic Elen, who have traded their lungs for gills and their legs for a powerful tail, and the fierce desert-dwelling Monan, who came from a tribe stranded by a climate shift.
Gnomes - Alas, of the known progenitor races, only the gnomes have not survived to the present day. A strange folk obsessed with the ways of magic, they sought to find a way to harness it such that they would no longer need to fear the power of spellcraft. While two gnomish offshoots broke off before this tragic course, their chief descendants are the Whisps, thaumavoric creatures whose state is as much pitied as it is feared. Their other offspring are the mischevous Braun, who dwell amid woodlands and scrublands, and the amphibious kobolds, who vie with the lizardfolk along the waterways of the world.
The New Races
Orcs - Descended from nomadic human tribes, the bulky frames, dense muscles, and flattened features of the Orcish people often give the impression of dumb, hulking brutes; while this is far from the truth, the image is one the Orcs are willing to cultivate for the sake of having the other races underestimate them. In truth, the orcs are as intelligent as any other race, merely possessed of a strong spiritual aptitude. Of all the races, the Orcs have the largest pantheon of Mortal Gods, and rarely does a fortnight pass without at least one religious holiday. Due in large part for this innate aptitude for spiritual matter, the orcs are also the only Mortal race to have discovered Far Kuramen; while members of the race who can find the way between worlds are fairly rare, they happen often enough that each roving tribe generally has a ‘world-walker’ shaman, capable of bridging the gap for the tribe, which in turn lets them bring all manner of unusual trinkets to trade with the more settled races.
Halflings - descended from the debauched remnants of the first human empire, halflings are short of statue and jovial in appearance, but feral in spirit. With the intellect and wit of their larger human and orcish cousins and the feral cunning of the wild animals, the wandering tribes of halflings tend to prey on anyone and anything foolish enough to let them get close. This feral nature makes them excellent beastmasters, able to tame wild animals that the other races would never dare to approach, but also makes them untrustworthy companions who may well turn on their fellow travelers if the situation even suggests it as a possibility.
Aver - Diminutive offspring of the elven race, the Aver appear to have more in common with lizards and birds at a first glance. Scarcely three feet in height, their bodies coated in beautiful rainbow-toned scales and a pair of colorful wings emerging from their lower back, the Aver are experts of the air, swooping and soaring with the birds and winged serpents of the world, loathe to touch the ground. Occasionally in conflict with the elves for living space, the Aver dwell amid treetops and other high places, where they can feel the flow of the winds; Aver dwellings are generally built to funnel the prevailing winds as much as possible; each such structure is often home to an entire flock of the winged people.
Faer - Taking the elegant beauty of the forest-dwelling elves to an extreme, the graceful Faer seem to be painted dolls of porcelain when at rest, with gleaming pale skin and delicate features. Of all the races, none are more sociable than the Faer, who are gifted with a faint empathic aura that brings others to see them in a favorable light. Diplomats and traders by nature, these delicate elf-kin almost never gather in large groups, instead spreading out in small family groups amid the other races and nations. Indeed, most nations and merchant houses have a contingent of Faer dwelling among them, employed as diplomats and deal-makers, as none want to be on the losing end of the Faers’ aura.
Stonekin - Taking the stolid, patient, nature of the dwarves and their affinity for things of earth and stone to an extreme, the Stonekin are to the living rock what Whisps are to the furious energy of raw magic, bordering on becoming elemental in nature yet constrained by their mortal nature. Having become lithovores, subsisting on a diet of raw minerals, they slowly tunnel through the depths of Kuramen, their humanoid shapes growing stony ridges and plates across their bodies as they age, until the elders seem to be little more than animate piles of rock.
Goblins - Trading the longetivity and patience of the stolid dwarves for impulsive curiosity and frenetic energy, the Goblin race are creatures of action, their dark skins ranging the entire range of the spectrum’s darker shades and hues. Impulsive, obsessive, and curious to the point of suicide, they are the pioneers of ‘new’ thaumatechnology, and even those races which have taken it up themselves tend to keep some goblin engineers on hand, simply because their smaller size lets them work in locations where the larger breeds can’t fit.
Drath - Descendants of the dwarves who rejected the darkness of the world’s depths, the Drath dwell amid the high places of the world, their sturdy frames hiding the incredible agility with which they traverse the rocky slopes of the mountain peaks. Patient and calm, willing to wait and endure the passing of seasons if need be, they are nevertheless as strange to their forefathers as the goblins, their personalities shaped by the open skies and clean winds of the world. Herdsmen and hunters, those Drath who descend to the lowlands are often sought as scouts, huntsmen, and guards.
Elen - Eel-like as they swarm in the world’s waters, the Elen take pride in their mastery of the aquatic world, tending fish and other seafood as the surface races tend their herds of cattle and sheep. Able to dive deeper than any land-dwellers, they are natural traders, offering the sea’s bounty in exchange for those things they cannot craft themselves - implements of fire-forged metal being among their chief desires. Some also serve as scouts and aids for sailing vessels, small tribes that ensure that even if a ship is becalmed it does not founder.
Monan - Having long-ago shed the amphibious adaptations of their ancestors, the Monan are a fierce people, their scaled hides shining with the desert’s hues. Few caravans will try to cross the Scarlet Sands or the Shattered Wastes without a Monan scout to help them find the oases and shelters, which shift with each season’s sandstorms. Others live as hunters and raiders, or as traders offering the rare treasures of the sands for the delights which cannot be had amid the dunes.
Whisps - The most pathetic of the gnome-descended races, Whisps are thaumavores, reliant on the flow of magic for their very survival. While the young maintain some sense of rationality, their hunger grows as they age, until an ‘old’ Whisp - a scant few decades in age - is a nearly-feral creature, preying madly on anything that might nourish it. They are largely seen as pests and troublemakers, as a Whisp which overfeeds may well explode in a magical backlash.
Braun - Among those who refused to take part in the gnomish effort to transcend the problems of magic were the ancestors of the Braun; retreating to the forests and hills while their brethren began to walk the road to becoming the Whisps, the Braun are creatures of the wilderness in ways that even the Elves cannot rival; as much plant as animal, they have become innate wardens of the wilderness, able to communicate with plantlife as easily as other living creatures, and those few who go to the civilized lands often find employment with those who need groundskeepers or herblists.
Kobolds - Amphibious creatures with hides graced by rudimentary scales, the Kobolds are those who descended from the gnomes who entirely turned their back upon magic, instead focusing on the mundane arts. Kobold society is intricate, and flooded with artistic talent; their arms and armor are works of art, and the goods they bring to trade with other races often fetch twice the price of common goods of the same type by their beauty alone.