BEASTFOLK: PEOPLE FIRST
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.