Wednesday, September 21, 2016

PEOPLE FIRST: The Beastmen Vs. The Beastfolk Pt. 2


Beastfolk are not beastmen.

In a land where horrible and monstrous beastmen terrorize the countryside, peoples with animal features are feared by the common folk. This means that even if they have good intentions, a person with animal like features is unlikely to be trusted or welcome company. Especially in the Free Kingdoms of Thule, where anything exotic is distrusted, unusual people are hunted down or run out of town. That being said, there are such people in Sublanarya that are no more inclined towards evil than humans or elves. Among the ignorant, they are "monsters" and among worldly peoples, they are called the "beastfolk".

Beastfolk come in many shapes and sizes, have a wide variety of cultures, and can be found in territories just beyond civilization (and others right under civilization's feet) all around Sublanarya and beyond. They may share animal instincts, but there are as unalike to each other as humans are to elves and dwarves are to elves, meaning that they have just as many reasons to get-along, or not, as anyone else. And then, on the issue of being unwelcome in many places throughout the realm, beastfolk mostly keep to their varied home environments with a few exceptions. Those that travel into lands dominated by human and elf alike, usually do so profit or for more noble causes.

Perhaps the greatest irony in the way that humanoids treat beastfolk is that, if they chose to work alongside them, they could fight the beastmen together. The beastfolk have just as much cause, if not more, to eliminate the threat of the beastmen. Beastmen are a corruption of nature and many beastfolk cultures revolve around natural order. And the beastmen are an insult to all beastfolk: whenever an innocent beastfolk is caught and punished by human hands, it is beastmen who are to blame for this discrimination. Lastly, just as humans, beastmen encroach upon the territories where beastfolk live and threaten their lives. The great irony is that while beastfolk are often erroneously lumped together with beastmen, they are often the ones keeping the beastmen threat from spreading into human lands. They are allies to the good peoples of this world, whether the good peoples realize it or not.

The beastfolk want the same things as any peoples; they want their homes to be safer and more prosperous for themselves, their loved ones and their children. Family is important and at the core of all beastfolk cultures. This comes from their tribal nature that is further nurtured by their reclusive lives. Most beastfolk tribes are far from humanity and, those that live aside them, are separated by choice or by threat of force. This means that most beastfolk seek friendship within their own tribes and through neighboring tribes. It is important to remember the strength and importance of beastfolk bonds as they inform everything they do. The catfolk warrior who rips the throat from a red mantis does so to protect her children. The dhole sailor traveling across the world owes a life debt to his captain. The blind ratfolk who steals bread from a cart has a sick father to feed. The grippli druid goes to the big city to convince the lord mayor to stop using the river that goes to her swamp.

The difference between beastmen and beastfolk is simple: beastmen are inhuman beasts. Beastfolk are people first and beasts second.

Let's take a look at each common variety of beastfolk in Sublanarya.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

MONSTROUS: The Beastmen Vs. The Beastfolk Part I


In Sublanarya, there are no orcs or goblins. At least, they aren't called that.

This was a decision I made to create a more unique feeling to the setting in a subtle way. This meant I needed to replace them with an equivalent horde-like threat. After all, people need a reason to be weary of going off the beaten path. So I turned to creating a monstrous breed that was a worthy threat and could fit into all manner of niches. Really it was a matter of adapting the roles of various classic monsters from ogres to lizardfolk. The most common humanoid threat to the every day folk are the "beastmen".

It all began in the east, in a region called the Hold. This region had long been home to a mix of feudal colonies, trade towns and many nomadic tribes. It is a cold, wild and desolate landscape that is considered the edge of civilization by most. It is a place for dark magic, for giants and for strange beasts. It was during the Age of Restoration, following the defeat of the giants, that the Hold's people came under the sway of demonic influence. Mass sacrifices in mass abattoirs, dark temples that cast shadow across the land, and a new threat. From these dark halls, came the monstrous horde, and it swept across the northern continent. The Hamuts and the Zafarians managed to stave off the horde but the other free peoples were overwhelmed. It would not be until the arrival of the Holy Imperium's Diamond Fleet that the beastmen's resolve was shattered and their numbers scattered. They are still a threat and many rangers spend their lives training against it.

There are several common varieties found throughout Sublanarya. Many are directly or indirectly based on classic monsters while some are blatantly classic monsters. They often ally with other bestial races like lizardfolk and kuo-toa since their share the same gods. Particularly dangerous and related are the lycanthropes and other shapeshifters.

The common varieties are less intelligent and less dangerous, but still pose a threat to the average citizen, especially as they gather in numbers. The elite beastmen are usually more organized and dangerous. They usually have larger goals and interests than just gathering food and entertaining themselves. They all worship demons, they all eat manflesh and they all seek to destroy the peace & happiness of the civilized races. They are a challenge to civilization and a corruption of nature.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Meteorite People: Bjergfolk and Hulderfolk


Today, I'd like to start by getting a little personal and apologize for using the amazing artwork of eoghankerrigan to depict the first player character race I ever made for Dungeons & Dragons. It is the closest thing I have found to what I am going for with the Hulderfolk but doesn't quite match all the details. Still, this art is close and gets the feel/spirit that I've always imagined.

I created the idea for the Hulderfolk very quickly after playing Advanced Dungeons for the first time about 7 years ago. My first character was a dwarven cleric. I was so immediately smitten with Dungeons & Dragons that I went home and created my first fantasy world, The Wold, that was a combination of my various fantasy influences. One idea I included was a race of Half-Trolls. But we are not talking about the swamp dwelling regenerating stinky monsters that terrorize all low level PCs. We're talking about something more like:

I like the design of such a race and the ideas around them. In my head, such trolls are a large and mountain-dwelling race of warriors, pranksters and druids.  I combined this vision from the trolls of Discword, Ludo from Labyrinth, and various other media into my vision of what I wanted trolls to be like in that setting. Due to their size, I found it hard to conceive of them as PCs but, like half-orcs, I could see their hybrids being playable. I A few years after The Wold, I worked on a setting called Norse mythology setting Migard, and it is there where these ideas really came together into something...interesting.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

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


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.