Saturday, September 10, 2016

"The Little Peoples": Dwarves, Gnomes, and Halflings

THE LITTLE PEOPLES OF SUBLANARYA

Sublanarya is not merely populated by elves, humans and their ilk; in fact, there are over a dozen sentient races that make home to the realm and today we're discussing the next three races that strongly characterize the north western region of Sublanara and they have one thing in common: they are all short.

Yes, really, that is the rather lazy bond these three races share or it would be if they didn't have something else in common: they are three races that have depended on and supported the elves and are all caught between the machinations of those two more dominant races. The relationship between humans, elves and the "little peoples" is actually quite fraught at times but ultimately they are passengers on the crazy ride of the Tytanyan Age and the stagecoach drivers are fighting.

Despite being pushed aside by the egos of human and elf empires, these races have each found their specific niche and will likely continue to play their part in the upcoming theater of economics, politics, war, religion, and magic.


DWARVES: ARE YOU THERE GOLD? IT'S ME, THORIN.

Oh, the dwarves. Is there a single race in fantasy fiction that is more prone to tragedy? I mean, obviously, besides humans and Atlanteans. But honestly, who builds a civilization beneath the depths of the sea and doesn't expect to attract a poetic fate? I wish I could say the dwarves were separate from this theme but, I must confess, the dwarves of Sublanaryan share the fate of most fantasy dwarves: they are an industrious and stubborn race surviving the downfall of their civilization.

Long ago, this diminutive race carved out their homes deep in the heart of the earth and in the safety of mountains. Families of dwarves form clans and clans form alliances and those alliances manage to build increasingly impressive complexes of mines, cities and other feats of engineering. Their craftsmanship is bar none some of the most impressive in the world and artifacts of dwarvekind are valued greatly by dwarf, elf and mankind. But acquiring great wealth attracts the envy of neighbors.

In the case of dwarves, they have always lived in constant contest with their particularly monstrous neighbors.

Giants, giantkin, beastmen and just generally all manner of critters that need hardy slaves, hardy meals or hardy hoards of dwarf gold have always preyed upon the dwarves. It is for this reason that they have developed as warriors, on top of being miners and engineers. Despite their size, dwarves are often tougher, stronger and fiercer than most. But that warrior spirit hasn't always been able to overcome their enemies.

In the course of history, the dwarves have built two cities of gold. The first was conquered by the Naryan giants and has been lost to time. The second was sacked by the demonic horde of beastmen and melted down for some dark purpose. After losing their homeland, twice, the dwarves were given the island to the north of Saesun. They called it "Rhyn-Durazar". But the greed of dwarves led them astray. Rather than remain neutral or back the elves, their longtime allies, the various dwarf clans offered services to the armies of man. The elves repaid this betrayal by allowing the chaotic dragons to chase the dwarves out of Rhyn-Durazar. Today, the land is called "Smolder" and the dwarves have no homeland.

In the Tytanyan Age, dwarves finds themselves without a homeland. Their heritage is being lost to time as clansmen separate and travel. Many dwarves are nomads, plying their wares and services throughout the land, others take up oar and sail on the rivers and seas, and others build family businesses within the empires of other races. Amongst human or elf cities, a dwarf blacksmith is an expected luxury service. Their skill is so legendary that even dwarves with no training in smithing can often find a temporary position as a smith on reputation alone.

Notably, there is a noteworthy population of dwarves in the Holy Imperium who follow The Nameless God. The life of a holy warrior is an attractive one to dwarves and it was the Imperium that saves dwarfkind from the beastmen invasion.

Today, dwarves are found in small pockets and bands throughout Sublanarya. Some hold onto the past, even to their own detriment, as if trying to hold onto sharp rocks. Others let go of the past, relieving themselves of the weight, and try to make a new future for their kind.

GNOMES: FEY & LOATHING IN THE EMPIRE

Resembling diminutive elves, saves their exaggerated features, strange eye and hair colors and a not-very-elflike propensity for facial hair, gnomes have left little in the way of a notable impact on the history of Sublanarya. Oddly enough, that's their nature.

Gnomes are a curious race with a knack for magic and invention. Their race, more than any other of Sublanarya, seems to have an unusual connection to the Twilight Realm (this world's equivalent plane to the Feywild) and see where this world and others interconnect and overlap each other. Perhaps this relationship with the alien magic of other planes, the inherent dangers of such interactions, and their own storied past of subjugation by other races, has led them to be a cautious race. From a young age, gnomes are taught to be careful when meddling in the affairs of others, to avoid becoming embroiled in conflict when necessary, and to not draw to much attention themselves.


This caution, unfortunately, flies in contrast to gnomish curiosity: that is to say, gnomes are driven by flights of fancy, passing interests, and impulsive behavior. Gnomes have to ask questions, they have to find answers, and they have to know. This is combined with their inherent sense of humor caused them to often play games with others, even putting themselves in danger to do so, and has made them impressive magicians, tinkerers, and explorers. While humans find gnomes to be a little off-putting and silly, elves enjoy their company.

After all, while high elves are often too caught up in their own importantness, gnomes never seem to lose track of the moment. Combined with their shared interest in magic and the fey, gnomes and elves are often shared company. In fact, most gnomes are loyal to the empire, even if they do not always agree on the methods employed. After all, gnomes have seen the dangers not only of this world with their own eyes but are acutely aware of external threats.The elves are their greatest allies against such danger. It is for this reason that many gnomes make their home within the empire and some even take up positions as knights and members of high academia. Others dislike the seriousness of the elves or are quite displeased with their seeming cruelty. This division between gnomekind would be more of an issue but gnomes have always been free to follow their own heart.

But how long can they remain spectators in the sport of making history?

HALFLINGS: THE IMPORTANCE OF EATING ONIONS

It is said there are no folks more earnest, honest, and charitable than the halflings. Those that say that have never met a halfling thief, but they do have a point: culturally, halflings are folk predisposed to living a simple life. They are found in the rich coastal and forest areas of western Thule, a temperate and wealthy region, where they made their villages and camps in the safety of often over-looked valleys and shores. Perhaps no race is more blameless in the cruelty of history than the halflings nor is no race been more victimized.

For centuries, halflings hid away from the "tall folk", enjoying a peaceful lifestyle built around farming and the hearth. Over time, legends were made up about "halfmen" and among these legends came the cruelest myth: halflings are magical folk and consuming their flash can grant wishes. Most commonly, halfling were hunted down by barbaric wildmen and their ears, fingers, toes, etc. sold off to human nobility to put in potions to extend their life, end illness or bring good fortune. This cruel practice led them to become even more isolated. Their friendlier neighbors often took great pains to hide their whereabouts and some halflings became nomads traveling far and wide to avoid being tied down to one place. This all changed when Queen Tytanya invaded the western coast of Thule and took over their traditional homeland,which they called Albyon. Queen Tytanya outlawed this cruel practice, making all halfling body parts contraband, and offering asylum to any halflings wishing to move to Saesun for a life free from the "barbarism of lesser humanity". And many halflings, gladly, welcomed their savior.

Today, many halflings continue their humble lifestyles in western Thule, halfling merchants and performers are a welcome sight to many cities and townships, and halflings have begun carving out niches for themselves in the elf empire. Due to their diminutive size and despite their courage, they are dissuaded from civil service in the military and instead encouraged to take part in the grand plans of the empire by serving in other ways: traditional halfling cooking is popular in the cities of Saesun, their acrobats, actors and bards are considered the best among the free races, and any wealthy elf worth their salt employs halflings in their homes.

It is their chummy attitude that many humans look down upon halflings, moreso than before, but the halflings couldn't care less. If it weren't for the elves, many would still live in fear of humans but now? Now, halflings have an opportunity to become part of a much bigger world beyond their front door.

I was a little apprehensive about writing this article but I think it came out alright. Are there any questions you guys have about these three races? Are you curious what race article I am gonna write next? Do you want to hear about something wild or something out of this world?

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