Races of Nova Esperia
Making up the bulk of the population of Nova Esperia, humans have been on the continent for several thousand years, barely two generations of the Elder Races. In typical human fashion, they have divided the continent into several Empires, and hundreds of smaller territories and city-states each one with it’s own traditions, customs and prejudices. The largest territories are listed below.
The Elves had suffered greatly over the past several hundred years, narrowly avoiding genocide at the hands of The Summer Court Their ancestral home of Qe Banssa has nearly been lost to them, with only small pockets of safe ground for them to travel. Last Hope the aptly named final Elven holding in the great woods of Qe Banssa is beset on all sides by their enemies, both Fey and within, as the Elves are in a constant fight for their own sanity at the hands of the Fey madness. Many Elves have fled Qe Banssa journeying into the larger world, hoping to find new forests to call their own. They have found moderate success in the deeper woodlands of The Shield, and even in Thesh, but often, they find themselves coming to odds with the Human territories. Many other Elves have taken off on a quest to discover the source of the Fey madness, but thus far, none have discovered anything to help their long suffering brethren.
The Half-Elves are rare, but slowing becoming more common as the Elves fled the Fey Madness and were forced into closer proximity to the human realms. Most unions are unhappy ones, borne of violence on the part of the humans, or desperation on the part of the Elves. Half-Elves are seldom welcome in Elven lands, not because of their human blood, but rather because the mad Fey seem to have a perverse fascination with the half-blooded. They’re a prize in the summer court as playthings that last longer than humans, but are far less resilient than full blooded elves. That being said, many Half-Elves have developed a unique talent for hunting Fey, as well passing through The King’s Road, using their natural guile to travel unmolested. Such Half-Elves walk a dangerous line, but perhaps a necessary one if Qe Banssa is to survive.
The Dwarven nation of Fenrir is in the far north, an ocean away from Nova Esperia and its problems. Many Dwarves, after the fall of Caspian left Nova Esperia seeking a homeland of their own. Dwarven miners dug deep into the rock and began to build some of the grandest cities ever conceived by mortals. Very few outsiders have ever seen Fenrir, but those that have can speak only of it’s beauty and ingenuity. The Dwarves that remain build a grand network of keeps and fortresses in what is now known as the Shield, most hidden deep underground. Two keeps are widely known, Karak Kazad, a massive trade city and one of the primary entrances to the Pass of Eagles, and the Capital Karak Dun. High King Hrothgar now rules Karak Dun, with over Ten Thousand Clan Dwarves continuing to build, mine and expand. It was here, in Karak Dun, under the watchful eye of Hrothgar, that the Shield Charter was signed. In addition to the Clan Dwarves, there are many Kurgan, or exiled. Most serious crimes in Fenrir and Karak Dun are punishable by exile. A Dwarf is branded Kurgan, typically on his face or forehead, and is thrown out of the Holds, never to return. There are rare occasions when such a decision can be reversed. In addition, any Dwarf born out of Clan territories are considered Kurgan. These are perhaps the saddest members of Dwarf society, unable to ever see the lands of their ancestors due to the crimes of their family. Some Kurgan have banded together on the surface, creating their own small mountain villages and keeps, though nothing close to matching the grand Clan equivalents. Often Kurgan end up in the human villages or settlements of the Shield living simple existences as blacksmiths or stone masons. It’s not surprising that many Kurgan become adventurers.
The Halfling people, like all the Fey races, suffered greatly when the Madness swept through the great forest of Qe Banssa. However, unlike many of their Fey brethren, the Halflings had little trouble adapting to human ways after leaving the Fey wilds behind. The Halfling people proved themselves more than capable farmers, and brokered solid alliances with the Humans, providing their services in return for new territory to call home. In modern times, Halflings are a common sight in villages around the Shield, Thesh and even within the Imperium. The Elves occasionally view the Halflings with distaste, believing them to have turned their backs on Qe Banssa. In addition to this animosity, the Halflings must treat carefully in the less civilized realms of Esperia. Halflings are prized captures for slavers, who enjoy their strong work-ethic, while dominating them due to their diminutive size. Perhaps more dangerous, the Mad-Fey would like nothing more than to bring the Halfling folk back into the forest, and will jump at any opportunity to ensnare the small-folk to certain doom.
The Gnomes, the last of the Fey races, also was nearly wiped from the earth when The Court of Summer went mad. The Gnomes fled the forest, but rather than take up with the human lands, or attempt to recapture their homes, the Gnomes took to the rivers. The Gnomes had always been shrewd businessmen and quickly adapted their love of trade to the human lands, they were able to build a fortune in a few short decades. Gnomish riverboats carrying trade far and wide throughout the Shield and beyond and has allowed the Gnomes to forge a new homeland: Gnomon Tor. Built on an open lake that feeds into several of arteries of rivers throughout the Shield, the Gnomes ship goods all over the continent, even as far as the Imperium and Thesh. However, unlike the Halflings, who are largely accepted throughout Nova Esperia, the Gnomes are commonly looked upon with suspicion. Perhaps it’s their love of profit or their sometimes shady dealings, but for whatever the reason, most Humans think the Gnomes are trying to swindle them out of their hard-earned money. The true purpose of Gnomon Tor is perhaps only known to the Gnomes themselves, a secret they’ve kept for over a hundred years.
Half-Orcs (Duat Ka, or Highborn)
In reality, the name Half-Orc is a derogatory term for the Highborn, or the Duat Ka in their own tongue. Most people would avoid calling the Ka such unless they wanted to get in a fight. The Highborn are very similar to Orcs, with skin tones ranging from black to vibrant green. They are a tribal people, and warriors at heart, but lack the blind savagery of their low-born cousins. Their ways are strange and mysterious to most outsiders, as many would-be diplomats from other ‘more civilized’ nations have learned the hard way. Strength is important to the Ka, as is bringing honor to their tribe. Often, when a Highborn reaches maturity, he is sent away from the tribe to fend for himself for a period of time. This act is called the Sojourn, and it can last anywhere from a few months, to many years. The Sojourn is designed to force a Ka to fend for himself, but also to truly understand the value of his tribe. Currently, the Highborn are in a desperate situation, with their native lands being encroached upon by the Demon city of Malak Kaan to the east. The Highborn have fought bravely over the past decade, but their numbers are far too few, and the Ka forbids them from asking for other nation’s aid. In the end, the Ka may perish by their own pride.
In the far east, past the plains of Gehenna and the boiling ridge of the Hellspine mountains is the Demon city of Malak Kaan. No mortal has ever traveled to its bloody gates, nor seen the spires that echo day and night with the cries of the tormented. For a thousand years, the city was a horrible rumor, a ghost story to warn children to be good, or for the Ka to stay close to the mountains. That was until recently. First came the Lowborn orc, savagely beating their way westward. But these raids had a panicked nature about them. The orcs weren’t invading, they were running from something. They smashed into the Duat Ka ancestral lands and began to pillage their way to the foothills of the Shield. Around the same time, a small group of no more than a thousand Tieflings entered Mehket begging for asylum. Throughout Thesh, more Tieflings arrived, in small traveling bands, little horned children in their arms. They spoke of a city far to the east, a city once thought a myth. Why the Tieflings fled is unknown to all but the very few, their journey south a mystery. They most likely would’ve been turned away or slain outright if not for the Thesheans fascination with a very unique arcane power, a power stolen from the Demons themselves. In return for sharing this potent pact magic with the south, the Tieflings were granted asylum, though often are still considered untrustworthy. In the Shield and farther north, the Infernal blood of the Tiefling usually leads to imprisonment and even execution. The Tiefling people know something terrible has awoken in Malak Kaan…