Races of Ecadia
Romans are a relatively new human race to the planet, coming here only a little over a millenium ago. Most likely from the Ilya, a race of space-faring nomads, who had crash-landed on the planet. It is assumed they were forced to dig in and fortify themselves against an onslaught of elves, orcs, goblins, and other human aliens who had come here before, and that is why they never picked up their nomadic lifestyle again.
Their legends contain glimpses of what may have happened upon landing on Ecadia: A man named Aemelius Burr organized and lead these Ilya in combat against wave after wave of assailants. Another man named Jove, possibly an engineer or science officer, probably used his scientific knowledge to provide food, shelter, and clothing for the Ilya. A medical officer, possibly Jove's mother, healed the sick and wounded. Romani now worships Jove as a provider and King of Heaven, and the Holy Mother is a kind of saint of healing. And the Burr family rules corporeally to this day.
"Romanii" was the name of their ship. They travelled with the "Troya" at one point, but lost one another somehow.
They DO NOT like magic. It is, in fact, a cardinal sin. Some Jovian monks and nuns practise healing or holy magic, but it is strictly not referred to as "magic". They are called "miracles" and calling it anything else is blaspheme.
As far as we can tell, they have lost or hidden all knowledge of who they once were, and are convinced that not only were they born here, but they were chosen by God to be the rightful owners of this world.
The people of Perdwat are made up of several hundred different human or hybrid ethnic groups, some of whom have been here nearly as long as Mainland elves (about 40,000 years), and all of whom have come from off-world. 40,000 years ago, the area now known as Perdwat and Uksheemy were lush and thick with thaumic energy, making it an ideal place for habitation. But between mage wars, climate change, pollution and neglect, much of this area is now desert.
Perdwatans have as many religions, languages, tribes, and traditions today as they did thousands of years ago when the first humans began arriving. Some of these peoples are ignorant of their origins, some have vague memories of traveling the heavens or of "star people", and some are still waiting for their mothership to come and rescue them. As you can imagine, this has made for a wide and varied culture indeed.
Magic and Magi are common throughout the Perdwatan empire. This, combined with strategic naval ports, a rich fishing and whaling industry, and abundant precious minerals, have earned Perdwat the rank of "Enemy No. 1" in Romani's "People wot deserve a kickin'" book. Which includes literally everyone, including other Romans.
The people of Cohatlan all seem to be refugees from the same single planet somewhere in the Corsellian cluster. There aren't as many of them as there are Romans or Perdwatans, but they have been here longer than any of them. The have still kept records after all these millennia of their galactic origin, their culture, and their gods, even though their Devices stopped working long ago. Pushed into the jungles by orcs, satyrs, elves, and goblins, they discovered valuable minerals in the mountains that the native inhabitants couldn't get to. Hard-wood trees, insence, medicines, and dyes are also plentiful in this area, and they trade these valuable commodities with Romani, the Azhgah dwarf nation, and the Nagel and Weda quag-elf nations in exchange for iron, marble, and protein-rich foods, which this area lacks.
The Cohatlani people are dubious of outsiders, but can be very hospitable once you've earned their trust.
Uksheemy and Perdwat were once one nation, called Me'shal. An ancient war and a powerful geomancer separated the two nations. While Perdwat thrived, Uksheemy fell to petty bickering and poor leadership. The original Me'shalii have all but been bred out of existence, and what is left belongs to scattered groups.
The Kasi are a race of humans inhabiting the southern portion of Uksheemy (what Romani calls "The Lower Steppe"). They are small, lean, dark-skinned, and semi-nomadic. They follow herds of animals or the weather for the most part. Though they have camps where they spend seasons, they have no permanent settlements, and not very much in the way of agriculture. While their numbers are estimated to be somewhere in the thousands, they tend to form small 20-50 person groups. Each group has slight differences from the others, such as what their homes look like, how they dress, what they eat, slight variations in language etc, while still all keeping the same basic societal structure, even spread over very large areas.
No one knows where the Kasi are from, or how they got here. They have legends of being from somewhere else. Stories about star-people, dream-travel, gods and spirits, traveling great distances away from the "mother desert" (Kasi translates to "of the desert"). It seems they were taken away by someone or something and deposited here for whatever reason. wherever they are from, they are now a loosely-collected nation who have been living the same life-style for thousands of years.
Each Kasi group is headed by a mage, Aga-i'ten as they call him (roughly translated as shaman. Lit. "magic-user"). It is almost always a man.
Shaman use mostly elemental magic, with some nature magic and necromancy thrown in for good measure. They "have control over the six elements of earth, air, fire, water, life, and death." They are thought to be the intermediary between heaven and earth.
Sometimes a group will also have a Maga (roughly translated as wise or medicine woman). The magic the Maga practise is not considered by them to be true magic, and consists of healing, light fortune-telling, and low-level communication with the dead. Will sometimes be the sister or wife of Aga-i'ten.
Different groups meet once a year at gatherings called "Xi-ga" (KLEE-gah). There they share stories, news, food, clothing, tools, and marriageable children. They also used to meet with a centaur race called the Zev. The Zev are now almost extinct due to slaving from Romani.
About a century ago, Romani set up a number of prison colonies in northern Uksheemy (what they call "The Upper Steppe") and some of the surrounding islands. Ores and gemstones are mined there by prisoner-slaves. Occasionally, prisoners escape. Most of them don't make it, and succumb to the desert. Others eventually make it back home. While others still either start their own little micro-colonies, or join some raiding band.
The youngest "human" colony on Ecadia. Human is in quotations because there are a lot of non-human alien races also living here. These are less well known by Mainlanders because if you can't pass for an Ecadian, you're not allowed on the Mainland.
Pelleponese was once a colony belonging to the United Europian Bodies, sometimes just referred to as Europa (despite the fact that there are literally hundreds of Europas littered throughout the galaxy.) After a very unpopular war about fifty years ago, Pelleponese split from Europa to become the smallest independent nation in the the Federated Trading House.
Like all of the other human cultures on Ecadia, Pelleponesians are from outer space. Unlike the other humans, however, Pelleponese knows where they're from and still have trade and research agreements with their otherwordly parent cultures. They still use and continue to develop space travel technologies, as well as import goods and tech from other star systems.
Pelleponese was originally a research colony set up to study the unusually strong thaumic field surrounding the planet. The fact that there were also valuable luxury resources on the uninhabited subcontinent on the northern hemisphere was just a bonus.
Seeing Pelleponesians on Ecadia outside of Pelleponese is rare. Getting permission from the government to visit the Mainland is extremely difficult, and is usually reserved only for scientists who will be living among/can pass as natives. A small group of Pelleponesians fled to the Mainland during the war to escape the draft and have been living as Romans, Perdwatans, or Uksheemy colonials ever since with limited technology. The Pelleponesian government denies any knowledge that two wizards from Amphipolis have somehow forged clearance papers and are now wandering around the Mainland making a mess of things.
Pelleponesian humans are pretty varied as to height, weight, and skin color, and many of them are a mixture of different races from different worlds. But they differ from Ecadian humans in subtle ways, if you know what to look for. No matter the skin color, they tend to be taller, and have bigger eyes set shallower and further apart in their heads. Their bones and teeth tend to be stronger, as they haven't had to deal with generations of malnutrition and bad dental hygiene. Limbs and digits tend to be longer. They also tend to babble a lot more about things nobody understands.
Nildar (High Elf)
All elves come from Amoth originally. But long ago, several groups of elves broke off and sailed west, to the Mainland. Those that stayed call themselves Nildar (roughly, true elves). These are the high elves. They have a reputation for being snooty, arrogant, or sometimes just plain cruel.
While all elves have certain similarities both social and physical (such as long pointed ears, a lack of body hair, nocturnalism, possible immortality, and an ability to glow in the dark), High-elves can be distinguished in a number of ways. To wit, longer ears that stand more upright than that of their Mainland cousins', a more silvery sheen to their skin, and a greater level of bioluminescence.
Nildar are the most ethnically diverse of the elven races while at the same time having the purest elven blood and the most rigid social structure. Amoth was once a series of scattered warring states and smaller clans, until it was conquered by Kael Koori Gil-Shalhal, then a young prince of the Kanni clan. Each clan has distinct physical and social differences. Hair color and mode of dress demark clan, and oftentimes different clans have different behaviours towards social classes and outsiders.
Kanni are the ruling clan. They have golden hair and favour looser clothing in earthy colors worn in only two or three layers. They live in hilly, forested lands with small glades in a temperate climate, and enjoy sports and races as diversion.
They have one of the strictest social structure in Amoth thanks to The Emperor. But they have nothing on Lolan clan as far as rules and punishment are concerned.
Lolan province is located along the Black Dragon River, and includes the entirety of the sheer, towering walls of Black Dragon Gorge and what little jagged, deadly coastline south-western Amoth can claim. The people have a dark purplish or bluish hair, and wear tighter, thicker clothing in monochrome colors in as many layers as possible. It is very cold in the gorge and on top of it. For some reason, it has been the fashion for thousands of years for women to wear confining clothing that leaves no hint of a figure and limits movement. And they do not hold with diversion. Music, art, poetry, martial arts, and dance are all done with purpose, usually the purpose being self-discipline or tooting the many glories of Lolan clan.
They have by far the most extreme set of laws and structures in the Elvenlands, as well as one of the most deadly and efficient militaries. The best soldiers, commanders, and assassins come from Lolan, where order and law are enforced with an iron fist and without mercy or prejudice. Most infractions, even petty ones, are punishable by death or exile.
Most of the Emperor's favorite wives come from Lolan. The ruling family (Vanya) has been breeding daughters to be Imperial wives so that the gil-Shalhal family line will someday be drowned in Vanya blood. They are the most ambitious ruling family in Amoth, possibly the world.
Oromet province is located high in the Dragon's Teeth mountains where Black Dragon River has its headwaters. There is nothing but rock and snow and a kind of big, wooly yak which provides the Oromet with all of their food, medicine, and clothing. And maybe dragons. Dragons have not been seen on Ecadia in eons, but rumors of them awaking and laying waste once in a while are still going around. Though it might just be the Oromet.
The Oromet are the closest thing Amoth has to barbarians anymore. The emperor's laws have little hold so far south, and none but the Lolan are willing to enforce them. There have been skirmishes along the Oromet/Lolan border since time began.
Oromet are hardy, muscular people with thick white hair and are the only diurnal elves in existence. Their clothing is of wool and leather and is very, very thick, if not very fashionable. They have no room in their lives for gender roles, class structure beyond the ruling family, or Imperial law. Most of their diversion is done indoors in the form of games, music, and storytelling.
They are not friendly. Do not approach.
Oiolosse (OH-yo-LOHSH) province is located on the southeastern coast. There's not much of it left. The ruling family got too heavily involved in dark necromancy and cultism, and everyone was either killed, captured for experimentation, or fled. Lots of monsters, demons, and angry spirits there.
The Oiolosse are (were) fond of loose-fitting clothes that covered the whole body, including the head and face. This dress code was strictly enforced for a while until dealing with demons from the dungeon dimensions became top priority. Now the few Oiolosse that still exist dress in whatever style is common for where they live. They are recognised by their thin, milky hair that runs light blue or aqua at the tips. No one blames them for what their rulers have done, and most pity them, giving them room and employment generously whenever possible. They tend to be skittish and keep to themselves. Many of them enter into religious service.
Raijin are the horsemen. They are purported to be the first people to domesticate horses and shanni (a kind of elk with one horn). They use them for food, clothing, work, and sport. Raijin also boasts some of the most fertile land in Amoth, and grows most of the wheat, barley, tea, fruit, and vegetables in the country.
The Raijin are proud, tall people. They have bronze-colored hair, darker skin, and are the only elves to regularly wear trousers. Even women wear pants and learn to ride and shoot from horseback at a young age. They are, on the whole, not as strict as most of the other clans, but they are not fond of strangers all the same.
Kokiri are swamp-dwellers. Kokir lake and the surrounding marsh are rich in fish and wildlife. It's warmer further north, and rice grows well here. The Kokiri themselves very much represent the swamp they live in. They wear short pants or robes, dress in browns, greys, and greens, and have a greenish tint to their dark hair. They are secretive and untrusting, but are also known for their bravery, their quick wit, and their sharp tongues. Also a fierce devotion to their families.
Kokiri enjoy hunting, exploring, storytelling, music, and experimental cookery more than anything else.
Fenya are the most numerous and most happy-go-lucky of all the clans. Honey-colored hair and darker grey-brown skin give them an unusual look. Situated at the delta where Lolan and Kokir rivers empty into the Glass Sea and extending along the northern coast, Feyna boasts the most coastal land of any other province in Amoth. Their biggest city, Shonglu Harbor, is the only place in Amoth that accepts foreign ships, and all non-Amothians are confined to the city except under special permission from the Emperor or one of his top advisors. Because there is so much foreign traffic, ideas, fashions, and foods from all over the globe mix here. They like bright colors, light fabrics, and are not averse to showing a bit of skin (somewhat of a risque sentiment in Amoth.)
Feyna has the biggest fishing industry and the most shipyards in Amoth, and as such provides the Emperor with almost all of his navy. The Feyna make the ships, but the Lolan, Shuill, and Kanni captain them.
Because Shonglu Harbor brings in so much much money to the empire, Feyna clan is allowed a certain amount of leeway as far as obeying the laws and ordinances of Amoth is concerned. They are allowed a bit more freedom in exchange for fortune. As long as all of those freedoms stay within Feyna territory. Most of the work of the Guild of Assassins is in keeping down dissenters, defectors, and keeping those filthy foreign philosophies out of the rest of the Empire.
Shuill (shoy, with a trill at the end) clan are the philosophers, the poets, the scholars and keepers of higher learning. They are also home to some of the most beautiful monasteries and nunneries in the Empire. Unlike their Feyna neighbors, they are calm, stoic, and peaceful in demeanor. But that does not mean that they are pacifists. Some of the Emperor's top generals and admirals come from Shuill. As well as his new favorite wife (much to the chagrin of House Vanya).
Silvery hair and gentle features have given the Shuill the nickname "Vanura" (beautiful ones). Their clothing is elegant, in soft colors and delicate patterns. They are also very fond of hats.
Syndar (Wood Elf)
After immigrating to the Mainland from Amoth to escape the tyranny of The Emperor, the elves broke into four groups, all of whom developed very distinct characteristics and social structures. The Syndar (lit. "forest elf") took to worshipping nature gods and practising druidic magic. They began building homes in the trees of the thick, dark forests in what is now Romani's Franish Province to escape orcs, goblins, trolls, dire wolves and later, humans. The density of the forests in this area made connecting these homes into villages, and even large towns, in the canopies possible.
The Syndar mostly hunt and craft for a living, selling meat, furs, leather goods, medicines, and wood-crafts to humans, dwarfs, and halflings in exchange for vegetables, grains, and cloth. They also keep bees and tap trees for sap, making confectionaries and alcohol out of honey and syrup.
Like all elves everywhere, Wood-elves have many characteristics in common with their High-elf cousins. They are tall, lithe, are nocturnal, have no body hair, and give off a noticeable glow in the dark. But they also differ from High-elves in many ways, making them easy to tell apart, even for humans. Their ears are tilted further back, for one, but are still long and pointed. Their style of dress is marked by convenience rather than fashion. They prefer clothing that lets them move freely through the trees. Unlike High-elves, it is acceptable for men, and women, to cut their hair. It is also acceptable for women to train as archers, hunters, and artisans, but more physical, close-quarters combat is still reserved for men.
For diversion, Wood-elves enjoy music, dance, races, and other dexterity and agility-related sports. And unlike High-elves, all Mainland elves take a more moderate view of narcotics and alcohol. Whereas in Amoth all drugs and alcohol are prohibited, on the Mainland they take a more "everything-in-moderation" stance on things.
Ilanidar (Sea Elf)
Another group of Mainland elves are the Ilanidar, or Sea-elves (named for Ilani, a sea nymph and daughter of Gaer the sea god). Sea-elves are probably the most strikingly different as far as appearances are concerned. Possible interbreeding with merfolk have left the Ilanidar with gills as well as lungs, webbing between fingers and toes, wide splayed feet, and smaller, flatter ears. They also have a special transparent set of second eyelids that protect their eyes in the water. Their hair is courser and wavy, coming in bright greens, blues, and aquas as well as dark brown and black.
Socially, they resemble Feyna more than any other elf clan. Calm, largely peaceful, happy, and musical best describes their disposition. However, they should not be taken for pushovers. Their warriors are adept with spears and ranged weapons as are most elves, but have also tamed a number of swimming and flying creatures and have perfected water magic and naval combat. Only the Pelleponesians are more deadly on the seas than the Ilanidar. They have been an instrumental boost to Perdwat's navy and air cavalry, and are highly sought after as pirates and privateers by every nation.
Sea-elves don't wear much. A sarong or wrap will usually suffice, accented with palm fronds, leaves, flowers, and shelled or beaded jewelry. Sandals made from reeds are worn only when venturing into the mountains or paved cities of Perdwat or Amoth is necessary.
The Ilanidar are very fond of music. Like goblins, music is the core of their society. Their prayers and legends are all sung, and fondness is often expressed in a sing-song kind of way. They believe that the world was sung into existence by the star gods, through their pure love and harmony with one another. The whole reason they split off from Amoth in the first place was because they believed the Emperor would cause dissonance, which would spread to heaven, ultimately destroying the elven nation.
Unlike other elves, Sea-elves get along great with mortals. (In contrast, the Nildar can't even get along with one another, and absolutely despise mortals). They are not only friendly with humans, merfolk, and other elves, but have even been known to trade openly with goblins, orcs, and even reformed undead. However, they have a strict moral code and if you cheat or otherwise do wrong by them, it could take centuries to get back in their good graces. And you might not want to piss them off if you have any hopes of trade or travel by nautical means near the tropics.
Keldar (Cave Elf)
Not much is known about the cave elves. Almost as soon as they arrived on the Mainland they took to the caves for protection. Once there may have been an alliance with goblins or dwarfs, but that has long since ended. We think that there may have been more Keldar at one point, but now they are only found in one cave system in Romani's Murania province.
In the Chenka caves (Cavernae Lumina in Romae, Keldan caves in Keldarin) there is found a peculiar type of crystal, found only in this cave system. It resonates with thaumic energy at such high levels as to cause chills, headaches, and after prolonged exposure, hallucinations. The Keldar have come to worship these crystals as a god.
From what little information we have been able to gather from the few cave elves living outside Keldan, one representative, man or woman, will be chosen from birth by the crystal to be it's corporeal representative. Kind of like a high priest. This high priest or priestess will live in the Crystalline Chamber with the crystal in a constant state of meditation, only coming out of that meditation long enough to proclaim the word of Keldan, and to eat and drink when necessary. Other Keldar work to bring them food and to clean up after them. The crystal (aka, the god Keldan), speaks to the priest/priestess (also called the Keldan) and tells the other Keldar how they should live.
It is not uncommon for elves to be really intense about their religion. However, the Keldar have taken their religion to an extreme, officially being recognized as a cult. They are extremely insular, having cut off all contact with the outside world thousands of years ago. When approached on their farms and homesteads surrounding the caves, they tend to scurry away. From this point, any further encroachment is met with hostility and, eventually, violence. As such, the people of Murania; whether they be human, dwarf, halfling, orc, etc; leave them the hell alone.
On occasion, a cave elf will leave the commune to experience the outside world. Sometimes they stay and integrate into society, but most of the time they go back home. They are characterised by very pale, almost translucent skin, lank hair, red eyes, and a malnutritioned look. In Keldan they dress in rags. Outside Keldan, they dress and wear their hair in whatever way is most common for where they live. But even integrated into society, Keldar are still pretty skittish and prefer to keep to themselves for the most part.
Kodar (Swamp Elf)
Kodar, or swamp elves, live in the warm, humid swamps and marshes of Cohatlan. They share the area, apparently harmoniously, with Cohatlani humans, orcs, goblins, and naga. They build floating houses and villages out of reeds and dredged swamp mud on the open waters. Their floating islands even include growing land for corn, rice, chilies, beans, and tomatoes. They also fish and raise jungle chickens, iguanas, and giant hamsters for food and hides or feathers. Other foods, like bigger meats,wild potatoes, and medicinal herbs and flowers, are scavenged from the surrounding forests.
Like their Nildar cousins in Kokir Province, Kodar very much resemble the swamp they live in. They dress in simple clothes, are untrusting of outsiders, are loyal to their communities, and are remarkably resourceful and clever. Unlike most elves, for whom tattoos are reserved for slaves, criminals, adulterers, etc, Kodar tattoo themselves in a more goblin fashion. Tattoos demark name, family, clan, and social role. A married couple will tattoo themselves with a new pattern created by their two families, and children are tattooed not long after birth.
Like most of the people who live in the jungly low-land areas of Cohatlan, the Kodar are a bit skittish. And while for the most part these peoples can get along, there are occasional skirmishes over things like hunting/gathering grounds, water and mineral rights, and the age old "what so-and-so said about Our Sharon." But despite being skittish and untrusting, the Kodar have been known to help people in need, even people with whom they have had recent disagreements.
Kodar are smaller and stockier than most other breeds of elves, not much more than human sized. Other than that, they look like a heavily tattooed version Kokiri Nildar.
Halflings, as their name suggests, are a little more than half the size of an average human (approx. 3-4.5 ft). They are easily distinguished from dwarfs, even by the most narrow-minded of humans, by their inability to grow any significant facial hair. Besides the occasional mustache or sideburns, their faces remain bare, giving them a child-like appearance in some cases. Their large ears give them the keenest sense of hearing of any humanoid species on the planet. And their big, fur-covered feet allow them to move silently, even through dense forest. They also have an uncanny, and totally un-magical, ability to hide in plain sight. That makes sneaking up on one extremely difficult, while at the same time making them ideal sneakers themselves.
Like Humans, Halflings are extraterrestrial in origin. Unlike most humans (with the exception of Kasi), there is no evidence to suggest that they ever had space-flight technology. So wherever they're from, they were brought here by something else. Their legends tell of a battle with dragons, or possibly giants, resulting in an unstable portal opening up and them waking up somewhere else.
Despite the fact that their territories are all landlocked, halflings seem to be drawn toward the sea. Each of the three races can be found serving aboard Roman merchant and privateer ships, as well as on pirate vessels, and have adapted pretty well. Better than humans in many cases. We think this may have something to do with their origins. Perhaps on their home planet they were a sea-faring people. But their few surviving legends carry no proof of this.
Their origins, their culture, their language, even their real name is only remembered by a select few, as Romani has done a very thorough job of purging them of all they once were after occupying their lands. Only one of the three main sub-races of Halfling have retained any shred of memory of their original selves. That would be the Edeneans.
Edeneans (from the territory of Edena) are the smallest of the three sub-races, and have been the most resistant to change. Pale, pinkish skin prone to freckles and sunburn, dark or ginger curly hair, and blue, grey, green, or hazel eyes are common Edenean features. Besides Common (which they are required by Romani to speak), their primary language is Draegh (pronounced drehv), and has proven almost impossible to translate, even with a Pelleponesian Universal Translator spell, giving us a clue that their origin is probably not of this galaxy.
They alone have kept their old religion, although they have also adopted Jovianism superficially as a survival mechanism when Romani comes calling. They have a polytheistic religion. A few of the more important gods include Doni (the mother goddess), Lor (god of song and male beauty and virility), Gazi (goddess of the harvest, magic, and female virility), Zova (god of rain and storms), and Morrign (goddess of war, bravery, and bloodshed).
Witches are the keepers of the religion as well as the 'aulde kennin', or knowledge of the past. They know and teach the only surviving written alphabet of their native language, handle all of the magic, healing, midwifery, and preparing of the dead. Each town and village has at least one witch and one apprentice witch. And although each town also has a village head that reports to the Governor (a Roman), most village heads don't make any decision regarding the villagers without first consulting with the village witch. At least, not if they want to continue being the village head.
Both witches and village heads are not gender-specific. Whether man, woman, genderless, or gender-fluid, anyone can become a witch if they work for it. And being a witch is hard work. Unlike wizards and sorcerers, witches do not ask for payment. There is, however, an unwritten agreement that if you are helped by a witch, he/she/they will graciously accept any money, gently used clothing, food, and/or alcohol that you might have lying around. Also, shoveling the walk in the snow or digging a new privvy is always very appreciated by witches, and those who help others in need without asking anything in return are often met with greater luck in the coming year. However, anger a witch and you could find your family cursed for many generations to come.
The Tamlinese are the tallest and most numerous of the three Halfling sub-races. Tall (avg. 4-4.5 ft), with dark skin, hair, and eyes, slimmer figures, straighter hair, and less fur covering legs and feet, Tamlinese halflings look almost more like Brownies. Humans tend to find them more physically appealing than Edenean and Groran Halflings, which may be one of the reasons there are so many of them. Another reason is that they are more docile, react better to change, and have adapted to Jovianism and Roman life better than the other two. Though they have almost completely given up their own religion, they do practice Jovianism in their own almost polytheistic way, giving saints more power and praise than humans tend to, with a greater focus on The Holy Mother than on Jove Himself. Their priests have replaced witches as the 'miracle workers'. Even their 'native' tongue sounds similar to Romae, and is easily translatable. It is thought that they combined Draegh and Romae early on, slowly erasing more and more Draegh from their vocabulary until they had a form of pidgin Romae that got refined down into Tamlinese. For these reason, they have been favorites of the Roman patrician class and were given more rights and more freedom. That is, until Sancho Ortega came along.
'The Saint of Urtecca' (birth name unknown) was born into slavery a little less than two hundred years ago. He was able to work his way up to batman for a Roman officer, studying language, mathematics, tactics, strategy, and field medicine in his spare time on the sly (all while being illiterate, we might add, having a human slave companion who was once wealthy and well educated to teach him. It is not known why he wasn't also taught to read and write, but we suspect dyslexia). On the night before the troops were to be sent on a suicide mission into the Orc settlement Romani would later rename Urtecca, Ortega gathered together other slaves, sympathisers, and men who just didn't want to die and thought they'd have a better chance against their own officers who hadn't been feeding or paying them than against well-fed, well-trained, and thoroughly pissed off orcs who had little in the way of loot. They attacked and slaughtered the Roman encampment, armed themselves, and went on to the next poorly-defended Roman encampment, recruited more men and women, and did the same.
He did this, gradually building up a larger and larger army consisting of all races and genders, for the next forty years, all the while evading capture by the Roman Duke. He married a Tamlinese woman who had already outlived two husbands and added four more children to her existing eight. His army was finally defeated on the field outside the city of Corovum (Corroba in Tamlinese), and he was captured and executed by crucifixion six days later. After that the Tamlinese, and Halflings in general, were looked upon as a much bigger threat than they once were, and strict rules were set in place forbidding them from marrying, working, or changing homes without Roman consent, carrying weapons, or using iron, steel, copper, or bronze for tools, fearing another uprising in the future. They were also denied certain jobs, were no longer eligible for favors or for freedom beyond tenanting property, and were not allowed to serve in auxiliary military forces. They are no longer allowed to police themselves, and self-government is kept to a minimum. Needless to say, this has developed into a very unhealthy relationship between the Roman and Halfling peoples.
The Grorans are the hardiest of the three Halfling sub-races. The territory of Grora surrounds Monta Ferra, a lone, iron-rich mountain in the Southern province of Murania. The land there is cold, not terribly fertile, and is still inhabited by giants, dwarfs, trolls, orcs, and other hardy races. Timber, iron, tin, and silver drew Romans to this land, and with them, slaves to harvest these things. It is also a place to go when you don't want to be found. The government in the south is less strict, and many of the native peoples are left to govern themselves as long as they pay their tributes. Or they might choose to take up with one of the 'local governments', which is just a nice way of saying mobs. By far the biggest and most prosperous of these mobs is in Grora.
Northern Halflings are considered now to be mostly harmless by Romani (though try walking through the woods around Edena or the mountains and deserts around Tamlin looking vaguely Roman and you'll see just how 'mostly harmless' they are). So it may come as surprise to know that Groran Halflings are feared and respected (mostly feared) in Murania. Their network of affiliate gangs run as far north as Tamlin, and their influence of Roman officials runs right up to the Duke himself. Needless to say, Grorans are the cockiest and wealthiest of the Halfling races.
Grorans are only a bit smaller than Tamlinese, and built more like dwarfs than halflings, suggesting there has been a lot more intermarrying between races in the south than up north. Many of the men are even able to grow some facial hair. Pale, ruddy skin and fair hair are common Groran traits. They are also the only Halflings to wear shoes year round. Edeneans only wear boots during cold, wet weather, and Tamlin never gets cold or wet enough to warrant footwear. Even many city-dwelling halflings go without footwear unless absolutely necessary. Because of this the bottoms of Groran feet are not as thick and calloused as their northern brethren, and they do not move as silently. But to be fair, when you have the run of the province, and even the Duke's ear, you don't tend to worry about not being seen. You flaunt what you've got.
There are Taur myths scattered throughout the galaxy, suggesting that all Taurs (Centaurs, Minotaurs, Satyrs, and Ramtaurs) came from somewhere else. And indeed, there are many sentient chimeriads on other planets, some of whom are capable of interstellar flight, and some of whom are still in the bronze age. Until recently the ones on Ecadia were mostly nomadic, but have settled down as of late due to unrest in surrounding areas. More on this later.
Taurs are polytheistic chimeriads (beings that resemble a combination of two or more other creatures) living in the fertile plains area dubbed the Taur Plains. Some of their chief gods include Hira (the queen of Heaven and goddess of family,community, and diplomacy), Xixus (Hira's on-again-off-again spouse, unclear as to gender or roll in heaven, but is often invoked in frustration), Marnops (god of virility and war), Cassepe (goddess of wisdom, craft, and pregnant women), and Callindra (goddess of sex, desire, magic, and trickery)
Centaurs (Kentori in their native tongue) resemble a person's head and torso growing out of a horse where it's head would usually be. They can come in many different skin tones and fur colors, including a sub-race of centaurs who resemble zebras. These are the Zev, and they are very rare now due to slaving from Perdwat and Romani. They used to share the savannahs of southern Uksheemy with the Kasi. Now they are mostly found in Roman and Perdwatan cities, as well as scattered throughout the southeastern Centaur tribes.
Centaurs are often thought by humans to be the embodiment of two competing wills; that of wild savagery, and of civilised intelligence. Humans like to think this sounds pretty and poetic. Centaurs think humans are idiots. While centaurs are very intelligent, excelling as healers, magi, far-seers, teachers, and artists, they also have very short attention spans. They get bored easily and like to find ways of distracting themselves. This usually involves drinking, fighting, sexual activity, and raiding anyone who's pissed them off recently. This usually means Romani and Perdwat, though they have also had very bad relations with Minotaurs and Satyrs as of late.
Centaurs used to be nomadic, moving from place to place around the Taur Plains and areas now belonging to southern Perdwat and northern Romani. But when humans invaded from north and south, lifestyles of all the taurs changed. Centaurs, who put up the most fight, now mostly stay put. However, they do keep very few belongings and their homes can be quickly packed up and moved if needs be. Centaur territory is still hotly contested by Romani. Perdwat has a kind of uneasy peace treaty with the Centaurs now as they are the only buffer between them and the Roman army.
Centaurs are mostly vegetarian, only eating meat on special occasions when an animal will be sacrificed to their pantheon. The rest of the time, they eat grains, beans, squash, and other vegetables. Olives and grapes grow well on the Taur Plains, especially around the Scaman River. The west side of the river has a higher bank bordered by birch and oak trees, but the east side has a wide flood plain which the eastern tribes farm. Western tribes hunt, fish, and produce goods to sell or give in tribute to Romani. They are not allowed to have any other trading partners, even amongst themselves. It is hoped that this will make them more dependant upon Romani and less likely to revolt. So far, Centaur tribes are still too busy fighting each other, as well as other races of Taur, to unite against a common enemy. But things look to be changing in that area.
Minotaurs (Minotori in their native tongue) resemble anthropomorphic cows that walk upright. Like centaurs, they come in a variety of colors and patterns, with no one color or pattern being favored over any other in terms of beauty. But unlike Centaurs, the Minotaurs have fallen into complete servitude to the Roman crown. They have even abandoned their gods in favor of Jove (though they are much more keen on idols, icons, and female priests than in Romani).
Minotaurs are huge, standing up to 8' and weighing an average of 600-700 lbs, with women considerably smaller in most cases. They have thick hides, big sturdy bones, and a lot of muscle mass, making them a deadly addition to Romani's auxiliary military. A common battle tactic for minotaurs is the bull phalanx, a tightly-packed, heavily armored 15X15 square of shields and long spears. It is sometimes also referred to as the "slow-moving wall of death", mostly by their enemies.
Like most Taurs, women have a near-equal place in society as men. Either can be soldiers, hunters, magi, craftsmen, artists, musicians, or homemakers. Despite the weight difference between men and women, once the armor is on the weapons are in hand, most non-taurs can't tell the difference. It's only when the armor comes off that difference becomes apparent.
The first thing non-taurs notice about Minotaur women is their four breasts. The next is that their manes are longer and their horns smaller. Before the Romans came and purged them of most of their culture, Minotaurs were known as the only taurs to wear clothes. Women wore loose-fitting topless dresses of linen or cotton, while men wore wraps around their waists of the same material. Both sexes wore cosmetics and lots of jewelry. While the latter two accessories are still popular, they now dress in Roman fashion for the most part.