This is a list of the various intelligent species that figures in the Locastus, City of Mirrors, setting.
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CodexThe Broan By: Ouroboros ( Lifeforms ) Intelligent Species - Swamp
The Broan, an enigmatic, amphibious species of unknown origin, that lives in the salt-water marshes to the east of Locastus.
A Broan stands, on average, 5-6 feet tall and is roughly humanoid, incorporating piscine, amphibious and reptilian traits. The torso is stocky and compact, and ends in a long, sinuous eel´s tail.
Its long, sinewy limbs possess one additional joint when compared to most other humaniods, and the overlong arms end in large, webbed, 9-fingered hands tipped with sharp claws, which twitch rhythmically at all times. The movements of these hands are extraordinary quick, allowing the Broan to catch fish or pluck an arrow out of the air without problems.
Broan skin is grayish-green, glistening with slime, and is deeply ridged and furled, like the surface of a brain. Its head is a low, neck less dome, rising from hulking shoulders, and is dominated by large, bulging eyes, white as a poached egg, in which 5-8 pupils move about independently. The Broan possesses no nose or mouth, but, in its place, has a disturbingly vagina-like vertical slit that open and closes as the creature breathe.
Broan, true amphibians in that they can extract oxygen equally well from water and air, can also regulate their metabolism, for shorter periods of time, to operate anaerobically. They are, however, dependent on salt-water to keep their sensitive skin from drying out and to wash away waste products that are extruded through the skin. This makes them more comfortable in a salt-water marsh environment than on true dry land, and they are, naturally, extremely strong swimmers.
They are also predators, built for a diet of protein-rich fish, seafood and amphibians, that they catch with their own hands. Their quick hands and their venomous claws enable them to pluck tiny, lightning-fast minnows from the water without problem.
Broan can talk, using a sibilant, stereophonic voice that sounds like a susurrus. They seem to have a good grasp of most human tongues, as well as some of the non-human ones. Very few has been granted a personal session with a Broan, as they keep most of their negotiations through the channels of their hired traders and intermediaries.
Broan reproduce infrequently and slowly, but their numbers seem to be more or less stable, since Broans rarely die, other from accident or disease.
While human scientists know very little about the Broan, they seem to be loners. A settlement of Broan is not a community, but more like a gathering of hermits. They are, however, very intelligent and keep high aesthetic standards. They are just not very sociable, not even with their own kind.
Decision-making among the Broan communities consist of long, elaborate conversations in order to achieve a consensus, rather than a democratic process. Their individuality forbids them from accepting a majority vote over their own will. This trait makes them slow at taking decisions as a group, and can lead to split when a consensus cannot be reached.
Broans seem happy to keep to their own, peaceful way of life, but is not afraid to use violence if it is deemed necessary. During the civic uprising at the time of the Great Fire of the Maul, in 179, the leader of the xenophobic insurgents, Asmorin Morr, ordered the Banks enclave (see below) destroyed, and sent a boat full of his Constables there to put the Broan to the sword. The boat could not even reach the shores of the island before it was swarmed by armed Broan rising up from the waters, and sunk, every crewman slaughtered.
They are also extremely suspicious against other species and have a hard time understanding the actions and thoughts of, for example, humans. Even so, in Locastus, The smaller, newest Broan enclave has initiated trade and exchange of technologies with the rest of the city. Although this was probably done out of necessity to ensure their survival after the larger enclave exiled them, the Bank enclave seems to appreciate their human customers, although they prefer to work through intermediaries.
Broan, not fully comfortable with using mundane technology, excel at bioengineering and genetic manipulation. They can, through subtle tweaking, breed living organisms to provide them with warmth, food and shelter. Their houses, their light-sources and their vehicles are all, in one way or another, living, breathing organisms.
In Locastus, there exist two Broan enclaves, one in the Greydog Marshes east of Locastus proper, and one, this one much smaller, on the swampy island of Bank, in the harbor basin, not far from the Maul. They seem well adapted to a swamp-dwelling lifestyle, but seem to prefer somewhat higher temperatures than Locastus can offer.
The first contact between Locastrians and the Broan came in 151, when a strange, semi-organic submarine surfaced in the Locastrian harbor. A Locastrian diplomat were sent aboard and, although very little is known about what he was told, the Broan was granted Locastrian citizenship. Over the next months, several more of these strange vessels would appear, and the Broan population grew to the approximate size it is today.
Although very little is known about the origins of the Broan, it is widely thought that they were fugitives from something that threatened their unknown homeland. The place they came from must be very far away, however, since not even the most daring explorers of Locastus have found so much as a trace of Broan anywhere else across the seas.
The first Broan enclave in Locastus was established just east of the city, in the swampy, forested Greydog marsh. The first semi-submerged, igloo-like Broan dwelling only took a few weeks to appear, having grown from seeds taken on the submarine.
In 164, 13 years after the Broan first came to Locastus, a second wave of Broan refugees arrived. These newcomers, more talkative and open-minded than the others, were also incorporated with the Greydog enclave. Their radically different attitude, however, quickly made them unpopular with the older inhabitants, and, in 166, they were thrown out of the enclave. The exiles, not ready to leave Locastus, settled on the uninhabited Banks Island in the Locastrian harbor basin, not very far from the Maul, and still live there to this day.
The Broan are adepts in the art of tweaking living organisms into tools and vehicles, using various compounds that they themselves produce inside their hideously complex bodies. Using raw material, such as fish, frogs or shrimp, they can combine, manipulate and enlarge traits until the animal can be utilized for the purpose intended by its creator. Some of these products they sell to the rest of Locastus, some they keep to themselves. Examples of this technology include:
Glow-orbs: A floating, helium-filled sphere, approximatively the size of a human head, which is anchored to the ground by a tough, fibrous umbilical. During the dark hours, the gas-filled orb begins to glow with a warm, yellow light. This light-source, the product of a fusion between glow worm and a native plant, can be found all over Locastus, except in the gardens of the rich, where its considered vulgar.
Self-propelling boats: A canoe-like vessel, seemingly made from scaled reptilian skin, and with rows of flippers running down its length, to propel it along.
Octopus masks: A tentacled, sack-like being, which, when placed over the face, will wrap those arms around the wearers head to secure itself in place, and will then provide the wearer with air, even if under water. There are also octopus masks that can filter out poisonous gasses, or biological agents.
Flesh-eater: A weapon, never sold to non-Broans, that resembles a large, two-handed sword made from bone. Its edges are studded with hundreds of razor-sharp shark teeth which can be made to move in a manner not unlike a chainsaw, inflicting massive injuries to anyone hit with the weapon. The weapon-organism then feeds on the blood and gobbets of flesh it has ripped from its victim.
Mine plant: When the seeds of these plant-like organisms are scattered, they will quickly form a large, underground sac filled with a highly energetic explosive compound. Above ground, when the explosive below is finished, a single stalk will sprout. If that stalk is touched, the explosive will detonate, in the manner of a land mine.
Razor ivy: Another invention adapted to the modern battlefield, to aid in trench warfare. The seeds are scattered over the disputed terrain, and will, when they grow, form a tangled, incredibly resilient carpet filled with millions of long, wickedly curved and sharp thorns, capable of rending human flesh, or entangling equipment.
Of the two Broan settlements, the Greydog enclave is the most secretive. It keeps to itself, and interacts very little with other species, and seems to harbor a deep hatred towards the Banks enclave.
The Banks Island enclave, however, with its proximity to the rest of Locastus (and especially the Maul) seems to delight in trading with humans and other species. The Banks Island Broans has developed a massive network of human traders, intermediaries and negotiators who handle their trading in the city.
They will trade indiscriminately, with anyone who has the cash and raw materials they desire, and they have been known to supply the crime lords of the Maul with new, powerful drugs and gadgets. One rumor that circulates is that the Broan supplied information to Mowar Dusk that enabled him to establish his hive of ochre bees, his source of Red Honey.
Over the years, there have, for unknown reasons, been a number of clashes between the two Broan enclaves. No one knows the origins of this enmity, but the enclaves regularly raid one another, seed poisonous fungal spores over each others territory, or send unmanned vehicles full of explosives on each other.
This is, along with the T´cha (which I´ll be adding later), one of the more bizarre species of my Locastus setting. A lot of this comes from my own background as a molecular biologist, where you study mutations, genetic engineering and so on. I´ve always wanted to incorporate that in some way in a fantasy setting, and the Broan is my vehicle to do so. Hope you´ll enjoy it!
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The Human Races of Locastus By: Ouroboros ( Lifeforms ) Intelligent Species - Any
These are the various races of humans in Locastus, City of Mirrors.
Locastus is a diverse city - not only have five or six different types of non-human intelligent species made the city their home, but is it also a melting pot for various tribes and races within the human species.
They are drawn here for a multitude of reasons. Some come here from the surrounding rural areas, following the dream of making it in the big city, others drawn by the lures of drugs, criminality and other manifestations of the pulsing of the city´s rotten heart.
Locastus is a port city, and see many traders from exotic places across the Iron Sea and beyond, such as the Emissaries of the Sea Traders and the noble-born, haughty merchants from faraway Katur, the Empire of the Iron Dragon, bringing with them exotic spices, silks and luxuries.
From the unknown reaches of the east, from beyond the Throne of Heaven range, come the caravans of the Autumn Kingdom, secretive traders from a place no-one has ever visited, bearing goods like ivory, jade, sweet-smelling sandalwood and exotic metals.
Locastus maintain two overseas colonies, one no more than a trading post on the northern coast of the continent of Aquur, the other a sizable, ever contested piece of land close to the infamous Fire Hills on the Nascogiban sub-continent. The natives of these territories - the fierce Aquurian tribesmen and the spirit-talking highlander clans of the Fire Hills - are now quite common in the streets of Locastus, having established their own districts and strongholds in the city.
On the vast moors north of Locastus, the young of the wild Grassdancer tribes, olive-skinned, totem-bedecked herders of the bison-like Reaghs, abandon the old ways and come looking for a better life in the city.
Beyond the moors, the hill tribes of the Thunderhead massif lose their young in much the same way, their lifeblood siphoned off by the new railway that funnels it away to the vampiric city in the south.
Far North of Locastus, nestled between the Thunderhead massif and the glacier-crowned Iron Chain mountains beyond, lies the enigmatic "Northern Hegemon", whose visits in Locastus (while not unheard of) are rare and far between. Even so, there is a tiny population of these raven-haired, tight-lipped folk in Locastus, although not many would recognize them as such.
But these are all newcomers. The founders of Locastus were the Acitans, the sailors that landed upon these shores over 250 years ago, led by Admiral Marcus Dohl and guided by the visions and dreams of the Bloated Moon. Soon after, they were joined by several bands of natives from the West - the Earthroot tribes - and a band of bedraggled refugees from the North that called themselves "the Old Blood".
So to begin our examination of the humans in Locastus, we have to begin at the dawn of Locastus itself, the time of the Arrival…
The Acitans are the founders and original citizens of Locastus. They arrived on these, then uninhabited shores, more than 250 years ago after a nine-year rootless life of sailing the seas, exiles from the mythical land of Acitae, from which their name is derived.
No-one knows the reason for their exile, or even the location of their supposed homeland, since Admiral Marcus Dohl, soon after disembarking on this coast, burned all his log books and instructed the people under his command to never speak of it again, or to teach their children about their ancestal home.
The Acitans are generally tall and lean, with almost universal flax-blonde hair, iron-grey eyes, angular features and long, slender hands and feet. Those of the Dohl bloodline commonly exhibit his large, hooked nose, a dominant and celebrated trait in Locastus.
They have a metabolism, honed and selected for during their long sea voyages, that gives them a spare, athletic build, devoid of extra fat but also negating greater muscle bulk.
Intelligence (of the coldly calculating and logical vareity), boldness, resolve, willpower and honor are all highly cherished traits in Acitan culture. They respect and celebrate individuals who commit themselves to duty with singlemindedness and assertiveness, who show "stiff upper lip" in the face of difficulty, and who are willing to put honour and integrity before their own well-being. Very little sympathy is spared cowards, slackers, cripples, criminals or those simply judged "stupid", "unfit" or "weak".
Aestethics are as spare and simplistic as their mindset, architecture tends towards the brutally, massively impressive and artwork is usually stark and realistic, but idealistically celebratory of nihilistic ideals, something painfully obvious in the many cast-iron statues that litter the city.
Acitans, of which there are more than 100000 in Locastus, form the elité clique which holds administrative and political power. The aristocratic families of Locastus are all able to trace their origins back to either Dohl himself, one of his officers, or another of the Seven Captains.
The dominating mindset among the Acitans is elitistic, haughty and, as often as not, downright racistic towards other human (and non-human) races. This unfortunate flaw in an otherwise intelligent race is the root for much of the strife and civil unrest that is now occurring in Locastus. The noble families keep a close watch on each other´s lineages, and try to prevent interbreeding with other races from "watering down" the Acitan bloodlines - a type of informal, peer-reviewed racial hygiene, a paradoxical measure considering the fact that Admiral Marcus Dohl himself had a non-Acitan wife.
A splinter group within the Acitans are the "Maalhelmers", people who have adopted the more liberal, anarchic mindset of their founder, the Magus Remus Maal. Within the ranks of the Maalhelmers can be found some of the best magicians, alchemists, artisans and engineers, all vocations that go hand in hand with a creative, rebellious mindset, just like Maal himself.
Political struggle within the Acitan corps usually stems from the animosity between Maalhelmers and their more traditional cousins, who look upon them with disgust and fear, although even they must appreciate their worth. Without the Maalhelmers and their creative drive, Locastus wouldn´t be the industrial metropolis it is.
The Earthroot Tribes
The Earthroot tribes joined the Acitans soon after the founding of Locastus, forging an alliance with the newcomers for mutual support and cooperation. These folk were the original inhabitants of the Stub Hills, to the West, but were driven from their homeland by famine and the terrible Knife Plague that swept over this part of the world in the early years after the Arrival.
The Earthroot tribes are short, stocky and heavy-boned folk, with brown hair and amber eyes. The men have a predisposition for early hairloss, which leaves some three-fourths of them bald before the age of 30, while the women usually keep their long, coarse manes in neat braids.
Their skin has a greyish tint, and their features are slightly squashed, with a flattened nose, pronounced mandible and strangely low-set ears.
The people of the Earthroot are, thanks to their compact build and fortified bone structure, very strong and durable, and their upper torso bulge with well-developed chest, shoulder and back muscles, although they have a tendency to put on fat in their old age. Their thick, leathery skin protect them well against the elements and injury - a useful trait for a people with their origins among the sharp, rending rocks and glacial winds of the Stub Hills.
Earthroot people customarily dresses in drab, utilitarian leathers and wools, dyed to earth colours. They seldom go armed, but if they do, they prefer wide-bladed, business-like daggers and shortswords, unadorned but of excellent quality. Their jewellry is usually comprised of polished stones and exquisitely wrought iron rings, bracelets and pendants.
The Earthroot people have a sharp, inquisitive intellect, and a talent for craftmanship, particularly in earth-aspected raw materials. Their glass-blowers produce window-panes, goblets and optic lenses of a quality and durability unmatched anywhere, and their potters produce ceramics as tough and durable as metal.
The greatest talent of the Earthroot tribes, however, lies in the art of foundy and metalwork, where they are able to refine ore to unsurpassed purity, or produce high-strength, lightweight alloys by mixing different ores. They also seem to have an intuitive knowledge of the tensile strengths of various materials which, coupled with an instinct for mechanics, makes them very good engineers.
If the political leadership of the Acitans is the brain of Locastus´s success, then the dogged resolve, industriousness and inventing power of the Earthroot tribes is surely its beating heart.
The Old Blood of the Empire
The first Old Blood refugees came to Locastus late in the first century after its founding, fleeing the pogroms of the Northern Hegemon. They had lived in Locastus for the better part of a century when a botched rebellion, triggered by racist insurgents within the upper strata of the Acitan government, almost completely wiped them out in a terrible event that has gone down in history as the Great Fire of the Maul. Nowadays, very few true Old Blood people remain, but they have left their imprint in that a great many Locastrians have a drop or two of Old Blood in their veins.
The Old Blood is the last remnant of an ancient civilization, an empire of titanic proportions that once, a thousand years ago or more, ruled most of the known world, and they are the last repository of its history and secrets, handed down through the generations.
The Old Blood is synonymous with inherent magic, a living, ancient force coursing through their veins and built into the marrow of their bones. The Warlocks and Witches of the Old Blood were creatures of terrible, intimidating power - and not always good, but rather above such pitiful human concerns.
The Old Blood people, or those with a lot of Old Blood in them, are usually short and slender, with straight, sandy-blonde hair, mahogany eyes and a golden-tanned complexion. They usually have perfect white teeth, and they smile often. The women, in particular, are of uncommon beauty, and possesses an otherworldly allure.
They are famous for their love of music, and are adept players at the zither, harp and flute. They dress in colourful, loose-fitting clothes, flowing shirts for the men and frilly, low-necked dresses for the women.
The Old Blood have always had a close relationship with the Earthroot tribes, and the last few survivors now reside with them. There is also a large number of Old Blood/Earthroot half-bloods around, an unusual but not unattractive mix, the flighty essence of the Old Blood stabilized by the earth-aspected influence of the Earthroot.
Despite that their time in Locastus has almost come to an end, they have had a great cultural impact on the city, and the manner of their near-extinction is a point of cultural shame for the Acitans, a fact that, not surprisingly, makes them even less kindly disposed towards the last of the Old Blood.
The Sea Traders
The Sea Traders are a seafaring people that spends most of their time on their great, ten-masted ships going from place to place across the seas to trade. They first came into contact with Locastus some 150 years ago, and have, since then, visited regularly to offer their exotic wares - ivory, silks, spices and weird lifestock - at the Great Market, near the Inner Docks. In Locastus, they buy large quantities of high-quality fire arms, precious metals (especially Entropium), wine, gems and alchemical potions for trade elsewhere.
Although rare, there is the occasional Trader that decides to jump ship, either to settle in Locastus permanently, or to await another Trader ship, perhaps sampling some of what city life has to offer in the meantime. As a result, there is a significant number of Trader half-bloods in Locastus.
The Traders are a very tall (averaging 6’5"), black-skinned race with odd, honey-coloured eyes and extensive gold piercings to the nose, ears and eyebrows. Facial scarrification is also common, denoting rank and life passages. Both sexes usually keep their hair cropped short and dress, when on dry land, in long, flowing robes of exotic materials, as well as an abundance of jewellry. The men are as vain as the women, and there appear to be great equality between the sexes, as evident by the fact that many Trader ship Captains are women. Almost all Traders carry curved, ceremonial scmitars with the pommel inset with a single great fire opal, moon stone or some other semi-precious stone.
The Traders have always had a a surprisingly good relationship with the otherwise xenophobic Acitans, perhaps helped along by their similar maritime backgrounds but more likely because of the value of cargo the Traders bring to Locastus.
The Katurians are natives of the Empire of the Iron Dragon, a near-mythical land far to the south, on the shores of the Emerald Sea. The children of the Iron Dragon are a proud, fierce race, warlike, ruthless, yet just by their own standards.
Recent Katurian expansions and the establishment of colonies on several continents has set diplomatic relations with Locastus, the only other great power in this corner of the world, on edge and, to make matters worse, several clashes have recently occurred on the disputed Nascogiban sub-continent. It is not impossible that war is brewing, a war that Locastus, despite its military might, is not certain to win.
In Locastus, the Katurians inhabit a large, walled compound, ostensibly an embassy, but with the look of a military barracks. The current Katurian Ambassador in Locastus is Akhet Zah, second prince of the Empire, a dangerous, intelligent and ambitious man.
Katurians are generally tall, dusky-skinned and with black hair. The men generally sport elaborately oiled and ringleted moustasches and beards. Their features are usually clean and angular, with a slim, equinine nose. Nobles wear their hair long, in a tightly wound, oiled braid, while the common soldiers shave their head hair short.
The women are seldom seen, dressed in loose-fitting robes and veils. They are kept back from the eyes of the public, but seem to be able to exert their own influence on events nevertheless.
The Katurian are a race of warriors, and they dress the part, in elaborately worked scale mail, each scale individually etched with an intricate pattern. They also favour open, flowing surcoats, knee-length, blue-steel chain coats and knee-high boots. The universal headgear is the peaked, turban-wrapped helmet with a long lobster-tail neck-guard and chain mail face veil. Rank is denoted by a precious stone set into the front of the helmet.
Weaponry is generally of good quality - fine, blue-steel flintlock muskets with stocks inlaid with intarsia and the barrels elaborately etched. As a side-arm most carry a large, hand-and-a-half tulwar, as well as fine flintlock pistols. The Katurians are a horse-culture, and many carry the recurved, bone-and-enamelled-wood shortbow, suitable for firing from horseback.
The upcoming crisis between Locastus and the Katurian Empire may or may not escalate into full-blown war, but if it does, Locastus will definitely have its hands full.
The People of the Autumn Kingdom
The enigmatic nation to the East has evaded Locastrian eyes for the better part of a century. The passes in the Eastern mountain range called the "Throne of Heaven" are all heavily guarded, keeping a tight regulation on who enters and leaves the Autumn Kingdom.
Judging from the few tales pried from the silent caravan traders, it is a vast, open land, studded with great cities, and ruled over by a mysterious God-Emperor. It also appears to be a culture in decline, slowly suffocating on its own apathy and decadence, which is why it is not uncommon for caravan guards, animal handlers and, sometimes, captains, to decide to try for a new life in the vibrant, younger city of Locastus.
The people from the Autumn Kingdom are usually short and of medium build. Their skin has an unusual golden tint, their hair is blue-black and their dark, exotic eyes are deeply slanted. Their own tongue is a musical, lilting language without glottal stops, but they are extremely adept at picking up new languages.
The traders dress in silks, furs and other exotic materials, often bedecked with thick gold chains and precious stones. Glyph-painted headbands are common, as are fur hats and hoods. The guards wear articulated, strangely crustacean-like black-enamelled armour with insect-like helmets, and are armed with exotic weapons such as long flute-swords, long-handled battle-scythes, jointed spears and complex, repeating crossbows.
Lately, the traders have brought word of rebellion growing in the east, an event that, if it takes place, will probably send thousands upon thousands of refugees to Locastus. If the Autumn Kingdom falls, there is no knowing what will replace it, since no one in Locastus has a clue as to what lies beyond.
The Fire Hill Clans
The first Locastrian colony was established in 183 on the south-western coast of the Nascogiban sub-continent, across the Iron Sea from Locastus. The Locastrian-controlled territory is situated directly below the barrow-cluttered, cave-riddled volcanic Fire Hill highlands, and it didnt take long before the first clashes occurred between the invaders and the ferocious inhabitants of these hills.
The highlander clans have, with great success, used their spirit-arts in defense of their holy ground, allowing the harsh, unforgiving spirits of their ancestors to possess their flesh and turning them into superhuman, bloodthirsty killing machines. The ensuing battles have, on more than one occasion, left the Locastrian occupation forces with their collective noses bloodied.
A spirit-possessed warrior will enter a berserker rage which allows him (or her; the Fire Hill women are as ferocious as the men) to take massive, crippling injuries without falling. While their numbers are low, the Fire Hill clans are formidable opponents, and does not shrink back from attacking vastly superior forces, something the Locastrians have experienced time and time again.
The Fire Hill natives are among the largest of the known human races, standing on average 6 feet tall, and usually heavily muscled. They have dark-blonde or copper-red hair and their eyes are blue or green. The men all have heavy, dense facial hair, which is usually worn in braids, a point of pride with clan warriors, while women favour long, free-flowing manes. Woad tattoos are common with both sexes, as are bone ornaments, scalps, teeth and other trophies.
Weaponry is generally heavy, unsophisticated and of mediocre quality. Double-axes, morningstars and clubs are common, as are large, wooden round-shields, painted in garish colours. Heavy armor is rare, most make do with studded leather cuirasses or mail-shirts, as well as conical helmets.
The Fire Hill natives that live in Locastus itself usually come from the defeated clans that has been under Locastrian rule for a long time, and, hence, are more integrated into Locastrian society. The Locastrian districts with the highest density of Fire Hill inhabitants are the Witherdowns and Luc Barrow, although many work as sailors aboard Locastrian trader ships as well.
Recently, rumor has reached Locastus that the exiled General Brennan, commander of the legendary Maul Rats and charged with the seemingly impossible task of managing the unruly colony, has achieved a armistice with the savage natives and is, possibly, making plans to use the clans to bolster his forces in preparation for a strike on Locastus itself. According to intelligence, the harbour of Ribcage, the principal town of the colony, is now filled with great longships of native design, probably intended as troop transports when the time comes.
With the Katurian situation rapidly degrading, the Locastrian government has begun to panic at the prospect of one of its foremost military commanders going independent on them. The impending Katurian naval blockade would isolate Locastus from its Nascogiban colony and leave Brennan free and untouchable to prepare his army. Sending Brennan away in shame might not have been such a wonderful idea, after all…
The Aquurian Desert Nomads
The second and latest Locastrian colony is little more than a trading station on the coast of the Southern continent of Aquur, a landmass mostly covered in inhospitable desert and shrubby veldt, but nontheless inhabited, although sparsely.
The nomads of this harsh environment has taken surprisingly well to the newcomers on their coast, and have begun intensive trade with the Locastrians. The nomads bring exotic wares, such as metals, venomous creatures and resins, out of the deepest reaches of the high desert to trade for high-grade weapons, tools, alchemies, wine, beer and household gear with the Locastrian merchants.
For some, especially the younger ones, the temptation of faraway Locastus proves irresistible, and they join ship´s crews to work their way across the oceans to the fabled city in the North. Nowadays, Locastus has a sizeable Aquurian population, who has choosen a stretch of land, a former military exercise ground along the western banks of the river Urok for their own. Here, they pitch their traditional tents, to create a small, pennon-bedecked, cloth-and-leather city in the city that is called "Tent Town" by locals.
The harsh life in the desert has created a hardy, toughened people. The Aquurian Nomads, who migrate from oasis to oasis on the backs of their behemoth Caravan Beetles, are a lean and sinewy folk, their skin leathery and bronzed by the unforgiving winds and sun. They have dark eyes, fixed in a permanent squint, and blue-black, curly hair. They also have a long, sinewy neck which combines with a large adam´s apple to lend them a vulture-like demeanor.
In their natural habitat, they wear long, flowing robes, deep hoods, protective goggles and face-masks to protect them from the blasting sand-storms, but they are quick to adapt to local fashions, as is evident in Locastus.
The Grassdancers are the native people of the moors North of Locastus, where they follow the migrations of the once vast herds of the great curly-horned, shaggy-furred bison-like creature known as Reagh.
This pastoral lifestyle has been greatly disrupted by the new Thunderhead Railway Line, which freights ore and coal across the moors and plains from the mines in the Thunderheads to Locastus, and the herds of Reagh has been severely decimated by overhunting. At an ever increasing rate, the young of the Grassdancer people leave their tribes behind, to follow the railroad south and seek a new life in Locastus.
The Grassdancers are a olive-skinned, lithe people. Their hair and eyes are dark, and they ritually knot fetishes and totem figures into their wild manes. They are extraordinary nimble, a trait that allows them to sprint across the backs of a stampeding herd of Reagh, and also possesses great endurance.
They speak an alien, guttural language that is full of glottal stops and clicking sounds, and dress in soft, buckskin pants and fur vests.
A oddity with the Grassdancers is that they are all severaly allergic to metal, and will develop rashes and excemas if in prolonged contact with that material. Hence, all their utensils, tools and weapons are made from bone, stone or wood.
Their weaponry range from bone and flint daggers, to bone-tipped spears, wooden clubs and flint axes. Warriors sometimes carry the shell of a great land tortoise as a shield, and apply a special mixture of resins, sawdust and mud to their skins before battle, a second skin which gives them a certain amount of protection, equivalent to that of leather armour.
In Locastus, the Grassdancers fare poorly. Those that end up in the industrial district of Witherdowns quickly grow sick and die, due to metal poisoning. Moreover, few of the skills they possess are worth anything in the big city, but that doesnt stop the influx from the grasslands.
The mysterious nation beyond the Thunderhead massif that calls itself the "Northern Hegemon" is the traditional, long-time enemy of Locastus. Over the years, several wars have been fought over the handful of passes that allows access from that inhospitable land to the moors and grasslands south of the Thunderheads, wars where the human forces of Locastus found itself opposing armies of the demons, obscenities, abominations and unnatural creatures that serve the rulers of this land.
The few spies and emissaries that have returned, tells of a dark, rugged land, covered in primeval forest interspersed with eskers, moirain ridges, boulder-fields and kettle lakes.
The Hegemon is ruled by a council of women that call themselves the "Rift Hags", and they impose their murderous dominance on the people through bloody rituals, acts of cannibalism, obscene hexes and mind-numbing terror. A Northerner knows that he or she might, at any time, be whisked away and consumed by the dark forces that serve these women, and they live their lives in unimaginable fear.
The few people from the North that has made their way into Locastus rarely advertise their origins; they are usually freed prisoners of war or even traitors to their own lands, deserters that have sold informations about their country in exchange for protection and a chance at a new life.
The Northeners are as unlovely as their country of origin - generally tall, but lean in an emaciated way, and their complexion is pale, pasty and unhealthy, with disfiguring excemas, moles and sores being common.
Their features are narrow, with a lantern jaw and close-set dark eyes - eyes that lack depth, like those of a shark. Their nose is usually long, and their mouth thin and inexpressive. It is said that Northerners never smile, and that might well be the truth.
Their native tongue is a harsh, grating language, filled with ejective consonants and nasalization.
The Northerners are a surly, glowering lot, who keep mostly to themselves and seldom looks anyone straight in the eyes. A careful observer will soon notice a degree of paranoia in their behaviour and, beneath the surface, a barely disguised, generalized fear. Those fresh out of the North are, almost to a man, analfabetic and cowed, which makes them appear stupid, which they in fact are not.
Hegemon people usually dress in furs, rough, dark cloth and heavy boots, and they favour heavy crossbows or bows in combat. Most carry no other meleé weapons than the occasional broad-bladed, hooked gutting-knife or, at most, a boar-spear.
Phew! This monster of a post is meant to serve as a reference chart for the rest of the Locastus posts. It is something I felt I needed out of the way before I continue in earnest. It´s long, and long-winded in places, but I really felt it was time to get all that clutter out of my head and down on paper. Perhaps now I wil be able to move on a bit…
If you want to use any of these folks in YOUR campaign, feel free to scavenge, rip it apart and pick out what you like. There´s some original ideas in here, but I don´t expect anyone to use all of it (I probably won´t). Have fun with it! My humble hopes are that something in here will prove of worth for your campaign.
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The Molochii By: Ouroboros ( Lifeforms ) Intelligent Species - Mountains
The giants of the Thunderheads
The Molochii (singularis: Moloch) is a fully sentient, humanoid race found in the foothills of the Thunderhead Range, several hundred miles north of Locastus.
They closely resemble humans in general appearance, but stand on average 7’6" (225cm) tall, and with a body mass that makes them seem squat, despite their great height. Their skeletal structure is sturdier, and their bone density greater than an average human´s, in order to carry their vast weight; an adult male Moloch averages 495 pounds (225kg), with the females some 10% lighter. Other than the weight and corresponding bulk, the sexes differ little.
A Moloch of either sex has a visage that can easily be taken as bestial by human standards; their brow is massive, overhanging deeply set, yellow eyes, their nose is broad and flat, and their cheekbones prominent. The jaw is typically squarish and heavy, with a protruding lower mandible bone twice the thickness of a human´s.
The skin tone is usually dark bronze, and gleams with the pungent, natural oils the Molochii extrude. These oils give the Moloch a strong, musky odor, not unlike that of a tiger, overpowering but not entirely unpleasant.
The head hair is black and coarse, not unlike horse hair, and usually worn in a long, swept-back mane, matted together in thick dreadlocks or braids, and decorated with a multitude of fetishes, leather straps, beads and colored strips of cloth interwoven with the hair.
Facial hair is only seen in males, and only extends to long, matted muttonchops or sideburns. Molochii never grows moustasches or chin beard. Body hair is also rife, especially in males, where the head hair continues along the back of the neck and onto the shoulders. The slightly pointed ears, too, are tipped with a fine tuft of hair.
The Molochii upper body is well developed, with excessively broad, sloping shoulders, long, apish arms and broad back. The Trapezius, Latissimus and Deltoid muscles are prominent and oversized, as are the muscles of the forearms. The hands and feet are large, with thick, splayed digits, and the legs comparatively short and stocky. Scarification is common, usually to the face and hands, to signify rites of passage and individual achievements.
The Molochii has a remarkably fast rate of healing, good oxygenation properties and excellent resistance to cold. They can, however, have a problem withstanding a warmer environment, as they are built to withstand the harsh storms on the sides of the Thunderhead Range.
Molochii of both sexes usually dress in soft buckskin pants, moccasins and vests or jackets made from the fur of bears, bison or wolves. Most wear an intricately decorated medicine bag around the neck for protection against the fierce spirits of the mountains. The shamans often wear a headdress made from the skull of a cave bear, painted with mystic symbols.
Warriors and hunters regularly wear trophies sewn on their vests or their belts, and fight honor duels with great bone clubs. Women sometimes sew the fossils of small sea creatures, common in these remote regions, to their vests, or stick colorful feathers in their hair
The traditional weaponry of the Molochii includes flint-tipped spear, a 6-foot longbow and a club made from a cave bear femur. Nowadays, with the trade with human settlements becoming more and more common, many Molochii carry steel knives and axes, as well as steel-tipped arrows.
While on an intellectual basis, Molochii are comparable to humans, they seem to lack the integral human drive for development. New ideas and inventions take a long time to take root within Molochii society, and the old ways are hard to change.
Usually, Molochii also have a slight impulse-control problem, which makes them bad planners and strategists. They seem suited to live in the moment, and quickly become stressed if faced with too many impressions at once.
All in all, these characteristics makes the Molochii seem childish and barbaric in the eyes of the average, civilized human, although this is not the whole story. The Molochii are deeply spiritual and honorable, strictly adherent to their traditional code of conduct and with an integral sense for justice. They will react strongly against anyone being unfairly treated, and outright aggressive when confronted with the oppression or exploitation so abundant in civilized society.
The traditional lands of the Molochii are located high up in the foothills of the Greater Thunderhead Range, where the pine-forested hills meet the icy rock of the mountains proper. The area is inhospitable, riddled with crevasses and chasms, and rife with dangerous wildlife, such as the great cave bears and the mountain lions. The area just below the tree-line is rich in caves, in which the Molochii makes their homes.
Recently, their habitat has been invaded by human prospectors, drawn there after the discovery of rich veins of ore near the frontier town of Broken Tooth, situated further down the mountain. This encroachment has resulted in a shrinking of the Molochii´s hunting grounds, and, though they do profit from trading furs and wood with the settlers, it has resulted in a profound change in their lifestyle.
The Molochii has been inhabitants of the rocky, pine-covered Thunderhead foothills since before recorded history. Living in extended families of up to 50 individuals, they have a primitive, yet surprisingly profound culture, shaped and molded by their harsh habitat. Culturally, the Molochii currently stands at a hunter/gatherer-agriculture milestone, beginning to culture wild grasses and tubers, but still sending out hunting expeditions for long treks to bring back game. They traditionally make their weapons out of flint or obsidian, although iron has become a more and more common feature since the arrival of human settlers.
Their preferred form of dwelling is one of the many caves that riddle the Thunderheads, although each family group has, within its territory, several caves to between which they migrate depending on season. Each group is led by a Spirit-Talker, or shaman, usually an elder with some degree of Talent.
The family groups are arranged into septs, which denote the traditional lands in which each sept hunts and lives. There are three major septs in the Thunderheads, namely: The Fire and Salt Sept; the Stone and Ice Sept and the Bones and Ashes Sept. The septs differ slightly in cultural variables, such as religion, art and philosophy, but not as much as human nations. The septs are ruled by a circle of senior shamans, the strongest of Talent.
Now, with the influx of human settlements in the traditional territories of the Molochii, their society is slowly starting to change. Many young Molochii, having tasted civilization in the mining camps and frontier towns, leave their clans to go to the great city in the south, working as bouncers, laborers or bodyguards. While still considered a novelty in Locastus, it is estimated that some 8000 Molochii now resides outside their traditional lands, as well as substantial numbers of Molochii half-bloods. The clans, on the other hand, are slowly dying, their new blood drained away by the vampiric city, and their land slowly taken over by humans.
The Molochii are accomplished carvers of soapstone, bone and wood. They make small, intricate totems and fetishes from these materials, surprisingly small considering the size of their hands. Cave paintings play a major role in Molochii life, both as an offering to their (surprisingly gentle and undemanding) pantheon. Transplanted Molochii, for example those in Locastus, still draw intricate paintings in the walls of their dwellings. One can be certain that one is entering a Molochii neighborhood if the walls, exterior and interior, are covered in primitive, monochrome artwork.
The Molochii have no written language, so their cave paintings also serve as a repository for their history, a support for their strong oral tradition, passed down via their Spirit-Talkers.
The Molochii´s faith is an animalistic, mystical tradition. They worship the spirits of the hunt, of the rock and of the weather. Their pantheon is gigantic and chaotic, but, surprisingly, not very demanding. The spirits of the mountains have been known to help the Molochii even without coercion, and willingly enter their weapons, investing them with arcane power.
Molochii in Locastus
Since the Thunderhead Mining Company opened the train line between Locastus and the mining town of Broken Tooth, there has been an influx of hill tribes and Molochii to the city. While universally poor and gullible, the immigrant Molochii has fared better than their human counterparts. It´s never a problem for a Molochii to get a job as a bouncer, bodyguard or strong-arm in a city like Locastus.
There´s also a certain clandestine demand for Molochii in the brothels that cater to the tastes of the decadent women of the aristocracy, who has become extremely interested in some of the hidden..err…traits of Molochii men. Many, however, has fallen to the lures of the Red Honey or other narcoticums, or to the temptations of the criminal underworld.
These guys are inspired by the Thelomen Toblakai from Steven Erikson´s books, Terry Pratchett´s Detritus the Troll, as well as a bunch of things from the real world (as I´m sure everyone has already noticed). I created them for use as a playable race, but they might be a bit too powerful for that, depending on the campaign. Use them as you will; I mainly use them as comic relief, having them break fragile human-sized things and barging off into situations their simple, straightforward minds cannot comprehend.
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The T´Cha By: Ouroboros ( Lifeforms ) Intelligent Species - Underground
The smoke-breathing gnomes of the Thunderheads
T´Cha is a gnome-like race native to the smoke-filled caverns and lava-conduits beneath the volcanic peaks of the Thunderhead massif. Standing no taller than 4 feet at the most, and with a basically humanoid - although apish - body-type, at first glance, they appear distantly related to other humanoid races. A closer inspection, however, reveals them to be one of the most alien races of the vast, motley menagerie of Locastus.
The T´Cha are evolved to withstand temperatures vastly exceeding those tolerable for humans, and, in addition, needs a (to humans) highly toxic sulphur/methane-saturated atmosphere to survive.
When confronted with a T´Cha, one of the first features one would notice is the face, dominated by a single, fist-sized eye, opalescent, lidless and nestled within intricate folds of nictitating membranes. The head is cone-shaped, sitting directly onto powerful shoulders without any neck. There is no nose, ears or lower mandible bone - just a circular, sphincter-like mouth, lined with concentric rings of arrowhead-like teeth, seemingly made from crystal.
The skin is granite-grey, pebbled and elephantine, hanging in leathery folds all over the body, and covered in an intricate web of wrinkles, especially around the joints and where the head joins the torso. Sparse, steel-wool like hair sprout from the head and forearms, like bristles. The arms are long and apish, while the legs are short and bandy. The hands are comparatively large, and bear three, flattened, stubby digits and an opposable thumb, while the legs end abruptly, in a stump-like, calloused pad reminiscent of an elephant´s leg.
There is no external genitalia and, insofar as can be determined beneath that leathery skin, an odd absence of traditional muscular and skeletal structure.
T´Cha never wear conventional clothes, instead adorning themselves with multiple straps, harnesses, belts and bandoliers, tied in intricate skeins around every part of their body, with many hooks, rings and holsters holding an impressive array of intricate, weird-looking tools and mechanisms.
If forced to venture outside their smoke-filled warrens, they wear thickly insulated, alchemically heated suits and baroque glass-and metal breathing masks, supplying them with the thick, scalding smoke they breathe. Without these measures, human-tolerable temperatures and atmosphere would kill them within minutes.
The T´Cha are well suited for existence in the extremely inhospitable conditions in the volcanic caverns, where temperatures commonly soar to 200C and the air is laden with sulphurous compounds, carbon monoxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
Oddly enough, T´Cha are also chemoautotroph, and as such able to sustain themselves solely on non-biologically-derived nutrients. They seem perfectly happy to subside on a diet of coal, ash and mineral salts.
Their weird metabolism is also able to incorporate many of the unpleasant chemicals in their preferred atmosphere, although a high oxygen content seem detrimental. Moreover, their processing of these human-toxic chemicals gives as its end product inoffensive compounds, such as carbon dioxide, water and hydrogen.
From T´Cha corpses dissected by scientists, it appears that they have no real internal organs; their bodies just a rubbery, spongy, tar-soaked mass held together by inch-thick skin, where circulation seems to function mainly through osmosis. If their rhino-like skin is cut, they bleed an oozing, black, tar-like fluid, as well as wisps of heavy, turgid smoke. Any wound, even is a limb is severed, is usually closed within minutes.
T´Cha are able to regenerate a lost limb in a few weeks´ time, and are incredibly resistant to heat, acid and radioactivity, although they quickly perish if cooled below 155 degrees C, which is their approximate core temperature. They are able to handle white-hot metal with their bare hands, and can, albeit for short periods of time, swim a magma-river.
T´Cha are also facultative hermaphrodites, able to conceive alone or by mating with another. Their clutches of slate-grey, spherical eggs are incubated in glowing slag-piles for several weeks before hatching.
T´Cha are intelligent, but possesses an intellect so different from other races that meaningful communication is problematic. They seem to have an instinctual understanding of mechanisms and thermodynamics- especially high-temperature exothermic reactions - but also seem unable to decipher the behavioral cues of other races.
Even the alchemists of Alembic Row, who have had more interaction with T`Cha than any other group in Locastus, admit that making their T`Cha workers understand instructions is more a matter of luck and persistence than any real insight into T´Cha psychology. They seem to be born with a complete set of genetically encoded skills and have a very limited capacity for ad hoc modification of their behavior or to internalize any other information.
The T´Cha are also consummate tool-makers and build intricate, albeit mysterious, mechanisms. It is speculated that these complex clockwork contraptions and exquisitely fashioned gadgets are the T´Cha equivalent of art, and a way of exhibiting their skills, much like a medal or a guild badge would be worn by a human.
Despite their asexual manner of reproduction, T´Cha are extremely social creatures, preferring to move about in groups of 5-8 individuals and constantly communicate in their own, alien language, consisting of metallic chirps, clicks and hoots. Their human name is derived from how their language sounds to human ears.
The T´Cha were originally found beneath the great peak called "The Duchess", a gigantic dormant volcano in the Thunderhead Massif. This area, rich in minerals and unusual elements, is dominated by a large meteor crater, gouged deep into the base of the cone-shaped mountain, in which many rare ores are exposed to the open air.
Deep beneath the peak, where some residual volcanic activity is still present, is a vast labyrinthine warren of old lava-arteries, intestinal passageways, caverns and smoke-vents, all filled with scalding, caustic smoke, where the original T´Cha hive used to live.
Unfortunately for the T´Cha, the rich mineral deposits in the area drew the prospectors of the Locastrian mining companies to this spot, sinking deep sampling shafts in the basaltic bedrock and doing blasting tests on the exposed veins. In the year 161, one of the powerful, steam-driven mining excavators breached the warrens of the T´Cha, and vented the toxic fumes within.
That day, the vast majority of the T´Cha hive died, exposed to the toxic air and frigid temperatures above ground. Some were able to withdraw deeper into the ground, sealing the passageways after them, forever disappearing beyond the reach of mining drills or explosives. However, a prospecting Locastrian scientist, an alchemist hired by the mining company, saved a clutch of T´Cha eggs from a hatching chamber and managed to transport them intact back to Locastus in the only fashion suitable to withstand hatching temperature - the furnace of a steam-locomotive´s engine.
The alchemist, after allowing the eggs to hatch within one of the ever-burning quicklime kilns of the Alembic Row alchemical processing plant, recognized within the young T´Cha a great asset, a way of improving high-temperature alchemy.
Soon, the various kilns, distillation towers and reaction furnaces of Alembic Row had been reconfigured to allow T´Cha to monitor the processes therein on a hands-on basis, stirring the crucibles and raking out the white-hot slag with their bare hands. Moreover, the bizarre biochemistry of the T´Cha acts as a living exhaust catalyst, removing many of the unhealthy byproducts of the alchemical processes, consuming sulphur, methane, carbon monoxide and toxic slag and leaving only water, nitrogen and carbon dioxide to be released into the air.
The T´Cha hive of Alembic Row now numbers around 250 individuals, possibly the last ones of their kind left in the world, and allows the plant to produce quicklime, ammonia, bitumen and carbide - all necessary components of Locastrian daily life - of unsurpassed quality.
Scientific investigation (including dissection of live and dead specimens) suggests that the T´Cha are not native to this world. One hypothesis that has been put forward suggests that the meteorite that struck the Thunderheads tens of thousands of years ago may have contained T´Cha eggs, hatched in the near-thermonuclear environment left by the impact, and establishing the original hive.
Another, less credible, theory states that the T´Cha are a constructed species, created by some higher intelligence for use in adverse environments. While unsubstantiated, it would certainly explain their uncanny affinity for exothermic alchemy.
Gnomes are boring. I needed something that resembled a gnome, but alien enough to be a credible non-human race. And so the Oompa-Loompians from hell were born…
These guys have been with me for ten years or so, ever since I was in school being stretched on the rack of thermodynamics, entropy, Gibb´s free energy and partial gas pressures.
I believe you could use these guys in a sci-fi setting as well, especially if you like the star trek idea of all-humanoid aliens… Otherwise, rip it to bits and use what you like!
Hope you´ll enjoy it! /David
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