The Eyes of Ornam
Races of Ornam
Aasimars are humans with a significant amount of celestial or other good outsider blood in their ancestry. Aasimars are not always good, but it is a natural tendency for them, and they gravitate to good faiths or organizations associated with celestials. Aasimar heritage can hide for generations, only to appear suddenly in the child of two apparently human parents. Most societies interpret aasimar births as good omens. Aasimars look mostly human except for some minor physical trait that reveals their unusual heritage. Typical aasimar features are hair that shines like metal, unusual eye or skin color, or even glowing golden halos.
Changelings are the offspring of hags and their lovers taken through magic magic or madness. Dropped of on doorsteps of prospective foster parents, changelings are raised by strangers. Typically tall, slender, dark haired, and attractive, changelings otherwise resemble their father’s race. They are always female, and their mismatched colored eyes and abnormally pale skin hint at their true heritage. At puberty, changelings receive “the call”, a hypnotic spiritual voice that beckons them to travel and discover their true origins. Changelings who ignore this call choose their own destiny; those who heed it discover their “mother” and may come into great power by transforming into hags themselves.
Cursed from birth, dhampirs result from the rare and unnatural union of vampires and humans. Although not driven to consume blood for survival as their undead progenitors are, dhampirs nonetheless know a lifelong desire for blood that nothing else can truly sate. Those who survive their early years face a life of fear and mistrust, their unnatural beauty and incredible reflexes marking them as scions of the night just as surely as their sensitivity to light. Although polluted by undeath, dhampirs do grow old and die, aging at a rate similar to elves.
Although related to the elves, the drow are a vile and evil cousin at best. Sometimes called dark elves, these cunning creatures prowl the caves and tunnels of the world below, ruling vast subterranean cities through fear and might. Worshiping demons and enslaving most races they encounter, the drow are among the underworld’s most feared and hated denizens. Drow are shorter and a bit more slender than their surface-dwelling kin, but they are otherwise physically similar. Drow have dark skin, ranging from black to a hazy purple hue. Most drow have white or silver hair and white or red eyes, but other colors are not unheard of.
Cousins to dwarves, duergar are foul-tempered creatures that loathe intruders to their underground realms—but not nearly as much as they do their kinfolk closer to the surface. Duergar dwell in communities deep underground, and appear as darker, more twisted versions of their kinder kin. Their skin is a dull gray, as though rubbed with dust or ash, but this is a natural coloration that better allows them to blend with their underground surroundings. They are a race of slavers, but while non-dwarven prisoners are usually put to backbreaking work, dwarven prisoners are generally slain on the spot.
Dwarves are a stoic but stern race, ensconced in cities carved from the hearts of mountains and fiercely determined to repel the depredations of savage races like orcs and goblins. More than any other race, the dwarves have acquired a reputation as dour and humorless craftsmen of the earth. It could be said that dwarven history shapes the dark disposition of many dwarves, for they reside in high mountains and dangerous realms below the earth, constantly at war with giants, goblins, and other such horrors.
The long-lived elves are children of the natural world, similar in many superficial ways to fey creatures, yet different as well. Elves value their privacy and traditions, and while they are often slow to make friends, at both the personal and national levels, once an outsider is accepted as a comrade, such alliances can last for generations. Elves have a curious attachment to their surroundings, perhaps as a result of their incredibly long lifespans or some deeper, more mystical reason. Elves who dwell in a region for long find themselves physically adapting to match their surroundings, most noticeably taking on coloration reflecting the local environment. Those elves that spend their lives among the short-lived races, on the other hand, often develop a skewed perception of mortality and become morose, the result of watching wave after wave of companions age and die before their eyes.
Gillmen are the remnants of a race of surface-dwelling humanoids whose homeland was drowned in a great cataclysm at the hands of the aboleth. The aboleths rescued a few survivors, warping them into an amphibious race to serve as emissaries to the surface world. Modern gillmen remain reclusive and suspicious, scarred by both the loss of their ancient heritage and the sure knowledge that aboleths do nothing without expecting to profit from it. Physically gillmen have expressive brows, pale skin, dark hair, and bright purple eyes. Three slim gills mark each side of their necks, near the shoulder, but they otherwise close enough in appearance to humans that they can pass as such (for a time) without fear of detection.
Gnomes trace their lineage back to the mysterious realm of the fey, a place where colors are brighter, the wildlands wilder, and emotions more primal. Unknown forces drove the ancient gnomes from that realm long ago, forcing them to seek refuge in this world; despite this, the gnomes have never completely abandoned their fey roots or adapted to mortal culture. As a result, gnomes are widely regarded by the other races as alien and strange.
Goblins prefer to dwell in caves, amid large and dense thickets of thistles and brambles, or in structures built and then abandoned by others. Very few goblins have the drive to build structures of their own. Coastlines are favored, as goblins are quite fond of sifting through junk and flotsam in an unending quest to find treasures among the refuse of more civilized races. Goblin hatred runs deep, and few things inspire their wrath more than gnomes (who have long fought against goblins), horses (who frighten goblins tremendously), and regular dogs (whom goblins regard as pale imitations of goblin dogs).
Half-elves are the idealized orphans of society, at once both charismatic and passionate, but never quite at home anywhere. Many half-elves throw themselves into social careers quite readily, yet often have a hard time sticking to a single path. Others seek fulfillment in spiritual pursuits or in honing inborn magical talents, while still others give up and resign themselves to lives of isolation in the wild or of misanthropy, living day to day at the expense of others. Half-elves vary in appearance as much as their human and elven parents do, encompassing every imaginable hue of hair, eye, and skin, yet also possessing an effortless and graceful allure. Half-elves’ unique talents also vary a great deal depending on their upbringing, the nature of their bloodlines, the strength of their psyches, and their relationship to their dual nature. Some half-elves have different racial traits than normal for their kind.
Half-orcs often exist at the social margins. Bestial in appearance and traditionally feared by those non-orcs they encounter, half-orcs tend to be tenacious and driven to prove themselves. Some hope to show that they are different from their brutish orc kin, struggling to find the better angels of their nature, while others embrace their monstrous heritage to become terrifying exemplars of ferocity in combat. One way or another, almost all half-orcs crave respect—whether it’s given freely or must be taken by force. Derided as mongrels by humans and weaklings by orcs, half-orcs have bitterness beaten into them from birth, as well as the burning will to endure and overcome. With their physical size and strength, half-orcs represent raw and primal power, yet whether that power gets used for good or evil depends entirely on the individual.
Often overlooked due to their diminutive size, halflings have an amazing ability to seamlessly insert themselves into the grand narrative of the world around them. Quick, deft, and strong-willed, they blend into the societies of other races and quickly make themselves indispensable. Though sometimes stereotyped as sneaks and thieves by other races—and with plenty of examples to back up the allegations—halflings as a rule are neither. Rather, most halflings are adaptable and easy-going, and though their curiosity sometimes gets them into trouble, most gnomes meet adversity with a tenacity and courage that belies their small stature. Halflings rarely live in segregated communities, but their cultural kinship with other halflings (and to a lesser extent with gnomes) is an unspoken connection between those who know what it is to be so small and ignored in a world full of bigger creatures.
Hobgoblins are militaristic and fecund, a combination that makes them quite dangerous in some regions. They breed quickly, replacing fallen members with new soldiers and keeping up their numbers despite the fortunes of war. They generally need little reason to declare war, but more often than not that reason is to capture new slaves—life as a slave in a hobgoblin lair is brutal and short, and new slaves are always needed to replace those who fall or are eaten. Of all the goblinoid races, the hobgoblin is by far the most civilized. They see the larger and more solitary bugbears as tools to be hired and used where appropriate, usually for specific missions involving assassination and stealth, and look upon their smaller goblin kin with a mix of shame and frustration. Hobgoblins admire goblin tenacity, yet their miniscule kindred’s unpredictable nature and fondness for fire make them unwelcome additions to hobgoblin tribes or settlements. Nonetheless, most hobgoblin tribes include a small group of goblins, typically squatting in the most undesirable corners of the settlement.
Humans possess an adaptability and expansionist verve, driven by endless fonts of ambition and imagination. Such traits have allowed them to spread across the face of the world, acclimating to an endless variety of lands and conquering each new frontier. While often perceived as aggressive and destructive by farther-sighted races, most humans seek merely to use what time they’re given to live their lives to the fullest. Able negotiators and adaptors, even those peoples who fall beneath humanity’s endless march are often assimilated, becoming new resources fueling the race’s endless cultural adventurism. Humans demonstrate immense diversity in their physical appearance, with skin ranging from dusky hues to milky pallor, and hair running the gamut from flaxen to ebon. Where they might be found also varies widely, settlers and ambitious human explorers finding their ways into the hearts of the most barren deserts, to the frigid coasts of icy seas, even into the sweltering depths of the earth, all seemingly united in an impossible, endless quest to chart what lies over the next horizon. Human diversity extends to every field of study as well, as their curiosity leads them to unlimited opportunities, endlessly striving for mastery.
Ifrits are humans whose ancestry includes beings of elemental fire, such as efreet. Ifrits have pointed ears, red or mottled horns on the brow, and hair that flickers and waves as if it were aflame. All ifrits are at some level pyromaniacs. Adoring fire in all its forms, they tend to be passionate and quick to action, with a predilection for striking first in any conflict—a trait which keeps them alive but doesn’t make them a lot of friends. Ifrits generally seek out the company of either less-powerful minions who can be browbeaten into following orders, or calm, cool individuals who can balance the ifrits out.
Kobolds are creatures of the dark, found most commonly in enormous underground warrens or the dark corners of the forest where the sun is unable to reach. Due to their physical similarities, kobolds loudly proclaim themselves the scions of dragonkind, destined to rule the earth beneath the wings of their great god-cousins, but most dragons have little use for the obnoxious pests. While they may speak loudly of divine right and manifest destiny, kobolds are keenly aware of their own weakness. Cowards and schemers, they never fight fair if they can help it, instead setting up ambushes and double-crosses, holing up in their warrens behind countless crude but ingenious traps, or rolling over the enemy in vast, yipping hordes.
The nagaji are a race of ophidian humanoids with scaled skin that mimics the appearance of true nagas. Like serpents, they have forked rongues and lidless eyes, giving them an unblinking gaze that most other races find unnerving. Their physical forms are otherwise humanlike, raising wary speculation about their origins. It is widely believed that true nagas created them as a servitor race, through crossbreeding, magic, or both, and indeed nagaju revere nagas as living gods. Nagaji often inspire awe and fear among other humanoids, as much for their mysterious ancestry as for their talent for both swords and sorcery.
Along with their brute strength and comparatively low intellect, the primary difference between orcs and the civilized humanoids is their attitude. As a culture, orcs are violent and aggressive, with the strongest ruling the rest through fear and brutality. They take what they want by force, and think nothing of slaughtering or enslaving entire villages when they can get away with it. They have little time for niceties or details, and their camps and villages tend to be filthy, ramshackle affairs filled with drunken brawls, pit fights, and other sadistic entertainment. Lacking the patience for farming and only able to shepherd the most robust and self-sufficient animals, orcs almost always find it easier to take what someone else has built than to create things themselves. They are arrogant and quick to anger when challenged, but only worry about honor so far as it directly benefits them to do so. An adult male orc is roughly 6 feet tall and 210 pounds. Orcs and humans interbreed frequently, though this is almost always the result of raids and slave-taking rather than consensual unions. Many orc tribes purposefully breed for half-orcs and raise them as their own, as the smarter progeny make excellent strategists and leaders for their tribes.
Oreads are humans whose ancestry includes the touch of an elemental being of earth somewhere along its line, often that of a shaitan genie. Oreads are strong and solidly built, and prefer wearing earth tones that match the coloration of their flesh and hair—shades of gray, brown, black, or white. In rare cases, oreads’ stone-like traits are so strong as to leave no question as to their nature, with growths like rocky outcroppings protruding from their skin or hair like crystalline spikes. Oreads tend to be stoic and contemplative, slow to anger but terrible when roused. Outside of combat, they tend to be quiet, dependable, and protective of their friends.
Sulis (or suli-jann) are minor offshoots of the jann that live among humans. They are tall and look like ordinary men and women but for their abnormal beauty and the occasional flash of elemental light in their eyes. Though physically superior to and more attractive than normal humans, some suli-jann remain unaware of their genie heritage until later in life, when contact with a full-blooded genie draws forth a portion of their elemental power. Sulis age at the same rate as humans and are physically identical to humans in terms of height and weight. During their youth, sulis tend to be slightly smaller than their fully human peers, but grow quickly to their full adult height upon reaching their teenage years. Sulis are impulsive and passionate by nature, and even those sulis who know nothing of their genie blood possess a measure of personal pride.
Sylphs are humans whose family trees include elemental beings of air, such as djinn. They tend to be pale and thin to the point of appearing delicate, though their skinny bodies are more resilient than they look. While many can pass unnoticed through crowds of humans, sylphs display their heritage in subtle ways, and those who study them carefully sometimes notice that breezes seem to follow a sylph wherever she goes, even inside rooms with no windows. When consumed by fits of anger or passion, these tendencies become more apparent, as winds surround the sylph and tousle her hair or knock small items from shelves. Many sylphs have complex markings on their pale flesh that resemble tiny swirling designs like blue and gray tattoos, and the most exotic of their kind have hair that twists and coils almost as if it were made of living mist.
Tieflings are humans with demonic, devilish, or other evil outsider blood in their ancestry. Often persecuted for their strange appearance and unnatural mannerisms, most tieflings disguise their nature or are forced to live on the fringes or underbelly of civilized society. Though they are not born evil, it is an easy path for them to find, especially as most suffer at the hands of “normal” folks while growing up. Tieflings look mostly human except for some physical traits that reveal their strange heritage.
Undines are humans whose ancestry includes elemental beings of water, such as marids. This connection with the Plane of Water is most noticeably manifested in their coloration, which tends to mimic that of lakes or oceans—all undines have limpid, blue eyes, and their skin and hair can range from pale blue-white to the
deep blue or green of the sea.