Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Character Crunch: Tirikujin, the Bright Elves

And just like that, after something of a hiatus, I want to make my racial options from my setting open to you guys! Rather than hitting up all the classics, we're skipping to the latest addition to the roster, let's talk about tirikujin or, more palatabley, "bright elves".

Bright Elves (Tirikujin)

Thousands of years ago, during the waning of the Titanic Age, the moon goddess Tsukihime left the mortal world behind to broker a peace between the warring factions of the moon. But she did not leave the world without leaving an impact. Her many children, fathered by a human noble, Prince Mikado, conquered, united and created a new empire around Kaguya mountains. Their descendants became known as the tirikujin or "bright elves" as the common folk call them.

Bright elves resemble their elven counterparts with their fair features, pointed ears, long lived lives, living for three centuries, and even share a similar language, though the tirikugo dialect has distinctively Kaguyan flavor but many believe the likenesses are superficial. They lack any known fey ancestry, as opposed to the elves, instead inheriting their longevity and supernatural qualities from the Lunari or "moon people". Whether or not the Lunari are a long-lost fey people or even an elf tribe is also of debate, so, at the very least, the bright elves are not lacking in the mysterious nature of the fey folk.

Culturally, they are distinct and have set the standards for cultures around Kaguya: bright elves, with the inherited gifts of Tsuki-hime, from their beauty-- with extremely fair features and hair and eyes in a variety of bright colors from silvery white to pale blues to mint greens to vibrant reds and so on-- to their natural affinity for magic, believed they are uniquely blessed. Descended from a goddess and a prince who would become the first emperor of Kaguya, they are a proud race, earning them a reputation of arrogant self-importance from their enemies, and further the ire of their rivals due to their believe that they are duty-bound to rule and maintain order in the land of Mugen. They are a honor-bound culture and bright elves are taught a strict adherence to laws, traditions and duty from birth. There are three types of elves in tirikujin society:

Every bright elf is born with tattoo like markings on their body, some less or more than others, but all tirikujin have the "mark of the moon" on their brow. This moon-mark is passed from parents to child and is a symbol of their role in society. It separates tirikujin into three classes.

Jade elves, the noble class, are born with a full circle, representing the moon, on their brow. Males have a single circle and females have two circles. The "jade" of their name refers to their special status: they are born to the aristocratic families and inherit titles, lands, and duties that are tied to these families. Either being directly related to the imperial family or serving them, jade elves are the major land owners and feudal lords ("daimyo") of Kaguya. They are oligarchs who hold economic, political and even military power over their provinces.

From birth jade elves are educated to administrate their holdings, serve in the court of the emperor if called to do-so, and to manage contracts and alliances the samurai warrior clans that are bound their families. With immense wealth, education and more diplomatic interest than their "lessers", jade elves are also educated in history and the fine arts. The closest thing to hard work that a jade elf of good standing experiences is through the careful study and practice of magic: most jade elf families practice some forms of magic and talented magicians from these families often are called to serve in the court of the emperor of themselves as advisors and tutors. A powerful jade elf mage may also sell their talents to the highest military builder.

Ultimately, jade elves rule Kaguya with a divine manifest but, due to separating themselves from the masses, often lose sight of the bigger picture.]

Steel elves, the warrior class, are born with a half-circle, representing the half-moon on their brow. Females usually have a marking cut horizontally and males have a marking cut vertically. The "steel" of their name refers to their rights-- in most provinces, only steel elves are allowed to carry bladed weapons. Steel elves often own small holdings of land within the provinces of their daimyo lord and serve under the jade class as both a police force locally & military asset abroad.

As a police and administrative force, their primary goals are to collect taxes from the rice class, uphold traditions by serving as paragons of cultural value, deal with minor disputes among farmers, labrorers and merchants, enforce the imperial and provincial law within their borders and to hunt down threats from bandits to monsters. While many carry out their duties in an official and respectable manner, by right, many administer justice as judge, jury and executioner.

After their public duty, comes the military duty of the steel elves: while jade elves are educated in subjects diplomacy and economics, steel elves are taught the way of the blade or "bushido". This is an unwritten code of the warrior that advocates for loyalty, courage, determination, compassion and honor above all else. A true samurai trains his body and mind in the ways of war, focusing on the swordsmanship, archery and horse-riding, while also instilling discipline through meditation, poetry, flower arrangement and other hobbies meant to instill inner-peace. These skills come in handy during times of war.

Civil war is common between the feudal lords, who constantly jockey about for control of profitable regions, respond to personal insults to honor with oaths of war, and seek better standing within the empire. As such, samurai are expected to be ready for war at a moment's notice as a single feudal lord's dispute with another can result in a bloody feud between dozens of provinces. Often, these petty wars are often politically motivated and, ultimately, most wars are resolved from intervention by the emperor. After all, the emperor is considered a divine power and, even against their own families and lords, samurai are honor bound to protect the emperor. Several attempted coup de tats by powerful feudal lords and upstart shogun (samurai lords) have been foiled by an alliance of samurai who put the empire above their own differences.

While jade elves are the ultimate rulers of Kaguya, the steel elves are the ones responsible for maintaining order and protect the realm from threats inside and out.

Rice elves, are the lowest and numerous caste of tirikujin society, consisting of commoners from the poorest farm laborer to the wealthiest merchant in Kaguya. While in Kaguya, steel elves and jade elves are held in higher regard than any human, and in fact hold many more rights such as to own land, rice elves hold no more special privileges or rights than their human neighbors.

Rice elves are born with crescent moon symbols on their brows: females usually have a moon facing horizontally and males have a moon facing vertically. From birth, they are vassals or subjects of daimyo lord or servants of a samurai family. Traditionally, they have no family names, instead introducing themselves as "servant of [insert daimyo, samurai or important family". The lowliest rice elves are sharecroppers, from which they earn their name, but also take on other unseemly and common jobs. They are the laborers, craftsman and merchants of Kaguyan society and do so with a steady good humor and pride. Their low quality of life has made them especially hardy after their ancestors toiled in the toxic volcanic mines of the empire. And yet, today, some achieve important status or wealth, but ultimately are at the whims of their samurai and daimyo betters. A steel elf can cut down a rice elf in the streets for any offense and a rice elf that insults the dignity of a jade elf will quickly find themselves in irons.

The cheapness of rice elf life means they also have a knack for criminality, such as lowly organized crime-work for the yakuza, but especially for work as assassins, specifically as ninja. The existence of ninja lies somewhere between confirmed fact and myth, and the ninja clans prefer it that way, since being unseen, unheard and unknown by all but potential clients is preferable. Specialized rice elf families jealously guard the secrets of the ninja, from the location of their strongholds to secret techniques, but it is well known that if you have the coin and make your request known, ninja will come to visit you. They specialize in reconnaissance, theft and, of course, assassination.

In the end, the tirikujin are a class society in which a person is born with special rights and privileges but that doesn't mean there is no mobility up or down. Criminal or unseemly behavior is punished from above, families losing their titles and land through dishonorable acts, and having to work to maintain their place. Furthermore, individuals can increase their family standing through impressing superiors and marrying up. A rice elf who marries a steel elf, after earning the right to do so through noble and impressive feats, will have steel elf children and their descendants will be steel elves, and a steel elf and jade elf have jade elf children. Only through years of breeding lower will a family lose their birthright. When a child with less than the moon-mark of their forefathers is born, it is said to be an ill omen of tidings come.

Ability Score Increase.  Your Dexterity score increases by 2.
Age. Although tirikujin reach physical maturity at about the same age as humans, the understanding of adulthood is related to familial duty. A bright elf typically takes on adult responsibilities and titles in their family when they reach 50 and 150 years of age, based on the needs of the family, and can live to be 300 years old.
Alignment. Tirikujin value personal and family honor above all else and therefore tend to focus on following societal expectation such as: upholding their clan's standing and improving their personal reputation of courage and discipline. Bright elves tend to be lawful, since they value tradition, and/or tend towards neutrality since they seek a balance between their own ambitions and their rivals.
Size. Tirikujin range from under 5 to over 6 feet tall and have slender builds. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your walking speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision. Home to the tall pines of Kaguya under the night sky, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Kaguya's Eyes You have proficiency in the perception skill.
Moon Blessing. You have advantage on saving throws against spells and other magic effects.
Languages. You can speak, read and write Tirikugo, Elven, Kaguyan and Common. Tirikugo is a distinct dialect of Elven in which the syllables collide rapidly like wind against the upper branches of a sea of trees in an exacting way that might seem harsh in business. Despite the speed and monotone associated with Tirukugo, the language has a certain frankness that lends itself to poetry and Tirikujin folk and theater songs are popular cultural exports.
Subrace. Every bright elf is born with distinct facial markings of various colors that are passed down from parent to child that separate the race into three castes: one full moon in the center of the forehead for males and two for females in the noble or "jade" class, consisting of the imperial family and the aristocratic families, a half moon oriented vertically for males and horizontally for females of the warrior or "steel" class, consisting of the warlord factions, and a crescent moon oriented vertically for males and horizontally for males of the commoner or "rice" class, consisting of peasants, laborers and merchants. Each caste has some unique traits.

Bright Elf of Jade
Ability Score Increase.  Your Intelligence or Charisma score increases by 2.
Educated. You gain proficiency with two of the following skills of your choice: Arcana, History, Nature, Religion, Persuasion or Performance.
Extra Language.You can speak, read, and write one extra language of your choice.

Bright Elf of Steel
Ability Score Increase.  Your Strength scores increases by 1.
Like the Wind. You add your proficiency bonus to your initiative. Your base movement speed increases to 35 feet.
Disciplined. You gain proficiency with the athletics skill.
Martial Training. You gain proficiency in two martial weapons of your choice and light armor.

Bright Elf of Rice
Ability Score Increase.  Your Constitution scores increases by 1.
Unseen, Unheard. Your base movement speed increases to 35 feet. You also gain proficiency with the stealth skill.
Persistent Fortitude: You have advantage on saving throws against poison, and you have resistance against poison damage. You also gain proficiency with the survival skill.
Like their elf counterparts, bright-elves can breed with humans and produce viable offspring:

 Half Bright-Elf
Ability Score Increase.  Your Charisma score increases by 2, and two other Ability scores of your choice increase by 1.
Age. Half-brights mature at the same rate as their human parent, but age more graciously and often live much longer.
Alignment. While half-brights often feel the need to prove themselves to one or both of their parental races, often making them seek to become the ideal version of the lawful and traditional nature of their tirikujin heritage or follow in the footsteps of their human parentage, many half-brights reject the expectations of society. Their charming but sincere nature, while sometimes call "childish" by tirikujin or "extreme" by humans, often pushed them toward chaotic alignments just as easily as lawful. Regardless of their ideals, half-brights are not known for subtlety.
Size. Half-brights share the fair features of their tirikujin heritage and range from under 5 to over 6 feet tall. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your walking speed is 30 feet
Darkvision. Half-brights inherit the intense eyes of their tirikujin ancestors. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Moon Blessing. You have advantage on saving throws against spells and other magic effects.
Skill Versatility.  You gain proficiency in two skills of your choice.
Languages. You can speak, read and write Tirikugo, Elven, Kaguyan and Common.
Thanks for reading. Please give some input on balancing and suggestions for flavor.

No comments:

Post a Comment