These are the species that are not only intelligent, but are consciously and rationally thinking enough to create their own material and spiritual culture, as well as make a palpable impact on the environment they live in via their use of various tools and the systematic harnessing of natural resources. The sapient civilisations of Aporue can be divided in numerous ways, but the most popular classification is along the lines of “Humans” (as there is more than one human species) and “Beastpeople” (basically an umbrella term, as the different species of this category show great diversity and are distinct from each other in many ways).
For gameplay purposes, these species are the equivalent of “races” in other fantasy roleplays or RPGs. In our roleplay, we prefer to use the term “species”, as each sapient civilisation has its own inner racial divisions, to varying degrees. Using the term “race” interchangeably for both different concepts would be needlessly confusing, so we've opted for the more logical term “species” for overarching examples.
Occassionally referred to collectivelly as “humanfolk”. This planet is unique in that it currently houses two distinct, but very closely related species of humans (more closely related than Neanderthals and Cromagnons, if you want a real world comparison). There are also humans of mixed heritage, with parents from both of these subspecies. Though several other sapient species give humans a run for their money in terms of how widespread their geographic representation is, humans are still the most dominant intelligent species with a developed civilisation. The vast majority of current scientific and cultural advances had been devised by them.
Common name: Men, Manfolk
Singular names for the sexes: man / woman
Varieties or races: Various particular phenotypes.
For real world reference, these are ye olde standarde Homo sapiens sapiens humans just like us. Look and biologically function the same way as our species, in every respect. They come in more or less the same racial/phenotypical groups as humans in the real world.
PC availability: YES, playable species
NPCs of note: Most of the NPCs you meet in the city as well as elsewhere are Bigfolk humans.
Varieties or races: Primarily two main cultural subsets, many particular phenotypes.
The smallfolk are evolutionarily closely related to the bigfolk and can interbreed with them and vice versa (which is not that common, but happens from time to time), but they are obviously smaller in height and size. They are this world's equivalent of hobbits/halflings - but with a few interesting twists ! Like humans, they come in many cultural and several phenotypical variations, and are dispersed just as much throughout the entire world. But unlike humans, they are separated into two culturally and slightly anthropologically distinct groups (though their biology is the same) :
a.) Rarachs (Common Smallfolk)
Common name: Rarachs
Singular names for the sexes: Rarach (man / woman)
The primary representatives of smallfolk on the planet, predominant in both numbers and dispersion. They are a generally varied bunch, ranging from rural peasants, landowners and small aristocracy to the urban working class and petit bourgeoisie. In terms of personality, culture and interests, while they do have dissimilarities with the Bigfolk, they generally share the same virtues and vices. Popular stereotypes make them out to be rather jolly and cheerful even in the face of adversity, serving as something of a role model to the more glum-minded and cynical Bigfolk. As far as their relations with beastpeople are species are concerned, they get along best with the hedgefolk, stoatfolk and most martenfolk.
Real world frame of reference: Pronounced in English as “Rarakhs” (with the “kh” roughly like the “ch” in the Scottish word loch). If you want to get a rough idea about Rarach Smallfolk, picture them as a combination of the halflings and gnomes from Arcanum. In terms of etymological inspiration, rarach (or, more diminutively, rarášok) is an affectionate (though occassionally mocking) old-timey Slovak word for a dwarfish, impish figure - usually in the sense of a fairytale imp or goblin.
PC availability: YES, playable species
NPCs of note: Some of the earliest Rarach Smallfolk NPCs you'll have the chance to meet will be a certain Týko Pukve (male) and a certain Rekete Čúľko (male).
b.) Permons (Montane Smallfolk)
Common name: Permons
Singular names for the sexes: Permon (man / woman)
Lesser in numbers than the Rarachs, the Permons are still a common sight in numerous countries throughout Aporue. They are characterised by their affinity for uplands and mountainous regions, as well as their long-lived cultural focus on mining and metallurgy (and more lately, modern ironworks and steelworks industries). They are more inward-looking than the Rarachs and intermingle less with Bigfolk society, or other sapient societies for that matter. They are not really xenophobic though, and though they mostly keep to themselves, they get along well with more cosmopolitan cultures and communities. In addition to the other existing varieties of humans, Permons probably get along best with the hedgefolk and with the “stonie” variety of martenfolk.
Real world frame of reference: If you want to get a rough idea about Permon Smallfolk, picture them as a combination of the halflings and dwarves from Arcanum. In terms of etymological inspiration, permoník is a term for a popular miner dwarf archetype from central Europe's legends and fairytales. However, a permoník is traditionally less bearded and less burly in appearance than the typical Germanic/Niebelungian/Scandinavian/Tolkienian dwarf seen in most common modern day fantasy. Thus, the Permons of Aporue are actually rather hobbit-ish in terms of looks, in a way. Basically, badass miner hobbits. For the purposes of this RP's world, its equivalents of fairytale miner dwarves are deliberately a more “Slavic” interpretation, rather than the more familiar and well-trodden western/northern European version.
PC availability: YES, playable species
NPCs of note: Some of the earliest Permon Smallfolk NPCs you'll have the chance to meet will be a certain Loin Šeaieg (male) and a certain Varda Konolo (female, Bigfolk-Smallfolk heritage).
Common name: Midfolk
Singular names for the sexes: man / woman
Bigfolk and smallfolk individuals can easily interbreed with each other, producing fully healthy and fully fertile offspring (thanks to the genetic closeness of both subspecies of humans). As possible as it is, it is not that common an occurence. Furthermore, while most societies and cultures have no major problems accepting “hybrids” and “half-breeds”, there are some which harbour certain degrees of prejudice towards these individuals. Thus, many “hybrids” often resort to hiding their mixed ancestry or lying about it. Of course, this can cause an understandable degree of tension between them and society, as well as certain psychological problems, such as internalised categorism complexes. Thankfully, in recent centuries, societies have gradually grown more tolerant of Bigfolk/Smallfolk pairings/marriages and the children that result from them.
Non-human, but often humanoid sapient races. Also known occassionally as “beastfolk” (in reference to the terms for the two human species). Their appearance often reflects various species of smaller vertebrate and even invertebrate animals. While the Smallfolk usually escape racist notions of other humans and humans in general tend to get along well with each other, beastpeople often get the short end of the stick when it comes to social prejudices. Popular legends about the origins of beastpeoples don't help, as both Bigfolk and Smallfolk humans use them to argue the notion that beastfolk are just humans who were cursed into animalistic forms in ancient times, now long forgotten. On the somewhat opposite side of this opinions spectrum, there are romantically-inclined writers and thinkers who prefer to portray these species as noble savages, often arguing that they deserve extra praise for carrying on as thinking beings despite their possible curse. As of late, with the spread of the scientific method and the current scientific revolution, some naturalists have started gathering evidence and forging hypotheses in support of more mundane origins of the various beastpeoples. Whether their assumptions prove correct though, and help to undermine the old legends and superstitions, remains an open question for now. Passionate debates between supporters of the mythical/curse argument and the supporters of some sort of yet-unexplained antropomorphic evolution are already starting to rage…
Common name: Newtmen / Nixmen
Singular names for the sexes: newtman / newtwoman
These beings are amphibious humanoids with greenish skin, large eyes with dusky sclera and earthily-colourful pupils and many newt-like characteristics, including prominent swimming membranes on their feet and hands. Out of all the beastfolk species of Aporue, they are the closest to humans in terms of outward appearance. While sexual dimorphism in the species is just as distinct as in the case of humans, there are notable biological distinctions. For one, newtwomen completely lack any sort of mammaries, yet in terms of reproduction, they are effectively viviparous - though in an amphibian/reptilian, rather than mammalian way. The whole species is known in naturalist/anthropologist circles under the scientific name “enormoeyed newtman”, To the average human settlers, its members are simply dubbed with terms like “newtfolk”, “swampfolk”, “marshmen/marshwomen”, “nixies”, and more derisively, “piss-swimmers” or “toadtongues”. Members of the species have odd voices, somewhere half-way between raspy sighing and a somewhat singsong intonation. Newtmen inhabit marshy and swampy areas and though their material and spiritual culture is more primitive than that of any of the human species, they are in no way unintelligent or mentally inferior. Oddly enough, they practice well-developed (if primitive) fish and mollusc farming and often tame waterfowl (e.g. herons, cormorants, grebes and coots) as pets or hunting animals (to them, cormorants are like hunting hounds). Newtfolk often wear at least some basic clothing, but it is notably very simple, cheap and often slightly loose (though not baggy). They care very little for fancy, non-practical clothes, and you wouldn't catch most of them alive wearing such “unnecessarily excessive apparel”. Unfortunately, this has inadvertently fueled some human and beastpeople social prejudices towards the newtmen, usually having to do with the fact that they're “dressed like the most shoddily-clad commoner”, “dressed as a bunch of beggars and vagrants”, etc. In some human-dominated regions that they inhabit, the newtfolk are treated rather well. Elsewhere, very badly. In the case of the Melzan city state, their treatment by the (mostly human) locals is somewhere in the middle. While most local people are indifferent or begrudgingly tolerant of them, you occassionally see the local hate group yelling slurs in the vein of “piss-swimmers” at newtmen visiting the streets and public spaces of the city (usually to trade and buy supplies). A few years ago, newtmen protested in the streets of the city for the first time in its history. They were angered, because local sensationalist pulp fiction author Čelar Kapek wrote a dystopian novel in which the humanfolk were dominated by an evil, thinly-veiled analogue of the newtmen.
Stealth, combat and thieving talents: In the realms of professional thievery, newtfolk are famous not only for their swimming skills, but also for their immense (some would say slippery) acrobatic capabilities and their unique natural capabilities of blending in with underwater terrain, particularly if it contains foliage. The latter is enabled by a degree of mimicry abilities inherent in a newtman's or newtwoman's smooth, greenish and rather alien skin.
Real world frame of reference: One should think of newtmen as by-and-large similar to the nixies/watermen of central European legends and fairytales. In OTL folklore, nixies have generally less animalistic and more human-like characteristics, unlike their more eastern vodyanoy cousins. This of course, by extension, applies to this world's newtmen and newtwomen as well. Rather than humanoid newts, salamanders or frogs, newtmen are more like odd amphibian human(oid)s with a slight outer layer of vaguely newt-like features. If there is any particular fictional creature or character from OTL that largely matches the appearance of the newtfolk, it would be the character of Abe Sapien from the Hellboy comics and their adaptations. Basically, the newtfolk are an entire race of Abe Sapien-s…
PC availability: YES, playable species
NPCs of note: One of the earliest newtmen NPCs you'll have the chance to meet will be a certain Mloš Rutač (male).
Common name: Hedgehogmen
Singular names for the sexes: hedge(hog)man / hedge(hog)woman
Varieties or races: “Westies” and “Easties”
The hedgefolk are frequently referred to by the colloquialisms “hedgehogmen”, “hedgemen”, “hedgers” and “spikeys” (the latter term being more jocular, and occassionally derogatory). Dusky humanoid insectivores with a unique natural defence adaptation on their backs, the hedgehogmen are one of the most docile of mammalian beastfolk species. They are also one of the few of these sapient species to dabble in fully settled, plant-growing agriculture, in the vein of the two human species. This has earned them the reputation of peace-loving, “salt of the earth” farmers, tending to their fields and insect farms dilligently from dawn till dusk. However, hedgehogmen are certainly more layered and much less simplistic than that. Despite the aforementioned reputation, not all hedgehogmen are soft-spoken and cheery country bumpkins who “…tip their hats at every bypasser with a child-like smile…”, as some popular stories and sayings go. Hedgehogmen, especially those of more recent centuries, can just as well be cosmopolitan urbanites and succesful industralists or businessmen. It helps that they are an industrious and doggedly diligent species. Only few other beastfolk species come close to their levels of business savvy and entrepreneurial spirit. While the hedgefolk are the least conflict-prone with the other sapient species populating the known world, they aren't all saints. They too have their collection of criminals, conmen, murderers, swindlers and other less pleasant individuals. They can be bigots, some of the more prideful ones can even act like back-handed racists at times. Some, even those of the kind-hearted and amicable majority, can harbour their own little prejudices, especially in regards to what cultural and economic roles they play within the interactions between the various sapient species. Hedgehogmen have always been a defensive-minded folk - as would befit their natural adaptations of rolling up into impenetrable balls of keratinous back spikes. These notions have certainly had an effect on hedgehogfolk psychology and customs, and are the reason why they have never really created armies or large groups of combatants, and why the only wars of note they had thought in were defensive wars. The “defence first, offence second” approach has informed a deeply-rooted undercurrent of pro-pacifist thought running through the entirety of the species' culture and spirituality (though it has also inadvertently reinforced the “hedgehogmen are naive idealists” stereotypes held by others). In terms of relations with other species, hedgehogmen usually get along remarkably well with most of them. There is some friction between them and stoatmen, though. The species they're by far the chummiest with tend to be both branches of the smallfolk, though particularly the rarachs. In fact, relations between the two species are commonly so good, that it's not anything odd to see whole towns and villages consist of a tolerant intermingling of rarach-hedgefolk neighbourhoods, where rarach children and “hedgetots” play together and form many an endearing friendship. Some of the more minor stereotypes/anecdotes about hedgefolk include the mostly-Lengelian claim that they have an affinity for apples and pears, or the near-universally widespread claim that the species only has one sex. While the former myth probably comes from children's bedtime stories, the latter myth seems to be a reflection of the fact that sexual dimorphism between male and female hedgers isn't that particularly pronounced and that their society is one of the most egalitarian among all sapient species of the known world. As the cultures of several species tend to have very clearly delineated male and female responsibilities, duties and acceptable roles, the hedgefolk's tendency to treat males and females and their wishes with equal respect often draws confused looks or even outrage and ridicule from those that are not hedgefolk. The culinary tastes of hedgefolk might seem repulsive to many, as the meaty staples of their diet consist of domestically raised insects, annelids, molluscs and small amphibians of various kinds. As is usual for all sapient species of the known world, hedgehogmen come in several different subspecies or racial phenotypes, influenced by geography and (yet unknown) genetics: Typically, the hedgers of west Aporue (“Westies”) are of more pale or greyish colour tones, while the ones of east Aporue (“Easties”) tend to have more richly darker and duskier body colours.
Stealth, combat and thieving talents: Make no mistake: When a hedgehogfolk member is forced into a fight, to defend what he or she holds dear and worthy of protection, he or she won't waste a single moment to leap into action and give the attacker(s) what-for. However, the notion of abusing the upper hand and leading a cunning and crushing offensive against an enemy, no matter its size, is rather alien, if not outright vulgar to the spiky-backed folk. Furthermore, hedgehogmen usually dislike covert tactics such as diversions, spying, assasinations, sabotages and the like, as they believe they constitute a degree of treachery that is unwarranted and is beneath their ethical standards. Sadly, this can get exploited at times by some of the hedgefolk's enemies.
Real world frame of reference: Only bits and pieces. The racial division into “Westies” and “Easties” is a reference to the real world's distinct species of hedhehogs in Europe, but the connection is turned on its head, as East is West in Aporue, and vice versa (thus, the “Westies” actually have outward characteristics of Eastern Europe's hedgehogs, and the Easties have those of the Western European species). In addition, some of the hedgefolk-majority villages and towns are somewhat similar to OTL history's Jewish "shtetls", once common to Eastern Europe.
PC availability: YES, playable species
NPCs of note: One of the earliest hedgefolk NPCs you'll have the chance to meet will be a certain Kero Grütli (male).
Common name: Stoatmen
Singular names for the sexes: stoatman / stoatwoman
Often characterised as slim and brisk bundles of unstoppable energy, the stoatfolk (or “stoaties”, as they are colloquially called) are by far the most energetic of the various beastfolk species, particularly the mustelid-based ones. While they quite commonly live settled lives, many of them have a compulsion to move regularly from place to place, migrating in search of work and opportunities several times during their lives. Some of them take it even further, and live a semi-nomadic or completely nomadic existence, often jokingly (but aptly) described as “nimble furry tramps”. Many of these are (in)famous for their street-smarts. Unsurprisingly, this had led to a fair few stoatmen and stoatwomen living rather adventurous and roguish lives, to the point that stoatfolk are stereotypically considered to have the most mercenaries (brigands, privateers, bodyguards) and most professional thieves and smugglers out of any of the beastfolk species. The “canty stoatie, with a dirk hidden in his trouser leg, a picklock under his hat, and a toothy, deceptively honey-coated smile on his face” is a widespread and popular folk caricature. The more settled, “classy” and intellectually-minded stoatfolk naturally reject such imagery and such a reputation, but the sheer numbers of stoatfolk making a living in questionably legal activities doesn't exactly help… “Stoaties”, even the most serious ones, are often described as vivacious and bobbish, with a very lively way of moving, talking and smiling, as well as showcasing signs of impatience whenever they're forced to wait for a bit longer than usual or mind the way they behave in order to shake off suspicion. They can't really help it, as this is their natural behaviour, but humans in particular have grown to view most stoatfolk as “childish” or even borderline “hyperactive” (leading to further stereotypes and myths, such as the one about stoaties being avid substance abusers). Famously, the universally popular commedia dell’arte comic play Companions in the Trade features the stoatwoman character of Frizi, who serves as a foil to the rather dour and earnest martenman Navr and the punctuality-obsessed human businessman Arbogast. Countless adaptations of the play (including the latest, “comic opera” variation) have consistently portrayed Frizi as “a cute-eyed but mischievous presence, pixieshly swaying around even while standing in place, and making friendly, borderline flirty jabs (both literal and metaphorical) at the increasingly grouchy Navr”, thus further cementing the popular image of stoatfolk in the minds of many. Nowadays, most stoaties make a living as merchants, travelling salesmen, travelling craftsmen, hunters, hired workers and mercenaries, but also as musicians and other entertainers. Relatively little is known of their family lives, outside of the fact that they usually have extended families and that monogamy isn't particularly favoured by their species (stoatie babies from the same litter can have mixed parentry).
Stealth, combat and thieving talents: Stoatfolk are generally courageous (sometimes to a fault) and though they are slim and rather petite when compared with the other sapient species, they are always willing to put up a fight if driven into a corner. If you need agile, light-footed brawlers, or agile and hard-to-tire swordsmen and marksmen, you can always bet on stoaties to deliver. This, and their almost extreme capability to squeeze through most holes and spaces, makes them very good material for professional thieves. However, their natural tendency for jauntiness and impatience can make them an occassional liability, as some less self-aware stoaties can be prone to prematurely ruining intricantly planned heists or burglary infiltrations. As far as armour is concerned, most stoatfolk don't bother with it at all or prefer only very light types of armours. The idiom “a stoatie in plate” reflects this, being a folk synonym for “improbable”.
Real world frame of reference: Well, it's hard to say. The stoatmen by and large play a role that would be analogous to the one played by various cat humanoids in most existing fantasy works. Cunning, lively, skillful, nimble, etc. They are also, along with the hedgefolk, kind of the smallfolk/hobbit equivalent to the martenfolk's, otterfolk's and wolverfolk's more bigfolk/man-like disposition. While hedgefolk are the more settled, polite and calmer variation on this, the stoatfolk generally represent the more boisterous and happy-go-lucky side. However, the idea that stoatmen are also overly mouthy and shouty is an unjustified misconception (probably made up by humans and others), as stoatmen closely follow their animal counterparts by being relatively quiet most of the time. Culturally, stoatfolk carry something of a reputation not unlike certain traditionally roaming groups of people. Think Irish Travellers, some traditional Roma, etc. On the plus side, it's often seen with positive connotations, so it's not exactly some sort of damning reputation.
PC availability: YES, playable species
NPCs of note: One of the earliest stoatfolk NPCs you'll have the chance to meet will be a certain Rhíko Zarzara (female).
Common name: Martenmen
Singular names for the sexes: martenman / martenwoman
Varieties or races: “Piners”, “Stonies”, “Sablemen”
The larger and much burlier cousins of the stoatmen, the martenmen are some of the most varied, most settled and most widely distributed species of beastfolk in the surrounding world. Often colloquially referred to as “martenfolk” and “marts”, they come in three broadly distinct varieties/races (at least as far as the Aporeuan marts are considered). These are the “piners”, who dwell in forested areas and their vicinity (in both the mountains and some of the uplands and lowlands), the “stonies”, who are more generalist and are equally at home in wide open spaces in the lowlands and mountains, and finally, the “sablemen” of shiny dark fur, who prefer to live in the taiga and tundra in the cold northern reaches of the continent. In total, this gives the martenfolk quite a bit of range as a species and as a civilisation. Naturally, being so widespread and being so varied also comes with some drawbacks: The martenfolk lack some of the greater sense of unity that other, smaller beastfolk civilisations tend to have. Furthermore, the martenfolk can be described best as a species-wide example of “jack-of-all-trades, master of none”. Martenmen and martenwomen are very skilled and dexterous, but with the exception of their unparalleled climbing abilities, no members of the species can truly out-excel other species of beastpeople (be it newtmen, stoatmen, hedgehogmen, ottermen, wolverinemen, etc.). However, it is this same seeming mediocrity that allows the martenmen a more balanced and more comfortable, middle-of-the-road approach to things, unlike the more specialisation-prone attitudes, outlooks and choices of their cousins. (This invites some comparisons to humans of the bigfolk variety.) Along with the hedgefolk, the martenfolk are the most open of all beastpeoples to embracing the latest technological innovations. Due to their sheer variety, this is not and cannot be a universal constant among the martenfolk. Countryside martenfolk in general, and most members of the sablemen race, are known as more conservative when it comes to these matters. Nevertheless, swift-enough adoption and adaptation of new technologies is an element that is clearly present within martenfolk society. While newtfolk, stoatfolk and otterfolk are content with utilising and borrowing more advanced technologies and industrial era products for their own benefit, and wolverfolk and crustfolk are staunch traditionalists, martenfolk and hedgefolk are technological enthusiasts. The reasons range from mundane practicality or prestige among the beastpeoples, to a simple desire for a more comfortable life. As with the hedgehogmen, humans don't consider it particularly odd when both rural and urban martenfolk use steam engines, gaslamp lighting, new-fangled calcs, newspapers, hotplate cookers, electric ovens, steam locomotives, firearms, petrol or battery powered motor carriages, powered circular saws and mining drills, modern foundries and steel mills, steamboats, or even the occassional small airship or 'thopter. The northernly sablemen, are by far the most traditionally minded race of the martenfolk. Though they are not above buying, utilising and maintaining more mechanized technologies and vehicles when needed, their economic activities still concentrate on (marginal) agriculture, on herding, fur trading, domestic handicrafts, and even shipping and transport services in some cases. The piners and stonies are the two more technologically and industrially open-minded races of Aporue's martenmen. Though the two races are very similar and close to each other, there are certain phenotypical, historical, cultural and economic differences between the two. The piners have a generally darker complexion, their fur often having dark brown and yellow-ish tones. They are arguably the most common race/phenotype of the martenmen. Despite their colloquial name, they inhabit a wide range of forests, deciduous as well as coniferous, from the lowlands to some higher mountain ranges. Tree-mounted villages and small towns are part of traditional piner architecture. Piners generally tend to dabble in forestry, logging, hunting, developing herbal products and pharmaceuticals, though light industry - including sawmills, paper-mills, textile manufactories, canneries, etc. - and some amount of agriculture both play an important role as well. Piners living near riverine areas commonly work and trade closely with river otterfolk (mostly with fish and crustaceans, often intended for their processed meat products). As is often the case, stoatfolk often find plenty of well-paid work in the employ of the martenfolk, but particularly the piners. The piners share good relations with most species, though they might not understand the newtmen all that much. The stonies are, in contrast to the piners, a race of martenmen that is more specialised for a lifestyle in mountainous areas, including hardier, mountainous woodlands. In this respect, similarly to how hedgehogmen and piners coexist particularly well with rarachs down in the lowlands and uplands, the stonies of the highlands and mountains get along very well especially with the permons. The environments preferred by the stonies have had an effect on their phenotype just as much as on the other fellow races of the species: A typical stonie is shorter than a piner and sports a more lightly, palely brown coat, as well as white-coloured fur in place of the yellowish fur of the piners. Due to living in close proximity with the permons the most out of all other species, the stonies often share entire mining towns with them, creating interesting blended societies (much like the mixed communities of rarachs and hedgefolk). As one would expect, while the stonies often share interest in most of the same industries as the piners, they focus a lot more on mining, ore extraction, heavier industries, as well as on metallurgical and mining research.
Stealth, combat and thieving talents: The sablemen traditionally wear the least armour, even in warfare, and they use mostly traditional melee and ranged weapons, with a general focus on stealthiness and hit-and-run ranged skills. Piners have always tended to inclinate towards medium armour (and occassionally heavier armour) and a general focus on both melee and ranged skills. The traditional reputation of the stonies points to them wearing finely crafted heavier armour and focusing mostly on melee combat skills. Within a stealthy, professional thieving context, the martenfolk overall are a middle-of-the-road species, much like humans. Regardless of the traditional inclinations of the martenfolk's three races, each martenman or martenwoman generally offers a balanced skillset, in a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none” sort of way. Perhaps the only standout thieving-friendly ability unique to the martenfolk, are their swift climbing abilities.
PC availability: YES, playable species
NPCs of note: One of the earliest martenfolk NPCs you'll have the chance to meet will be a certain Ravan Hrimer (male).
Common name: Ottermen
Singular names for the sexes: otterman / otterwoman
Varieties or races: “River Otrins”, “Sea Otrins”
The most water-friendly mustelid beastfolk in Aporue, often colloquially dubbed “ottermen” or “otrins”. Otterfolk can be thought of at times as amphibious mammalians. Biologically and culturally, they tend to be generally divided into the rivers-and-lakes ottermen of the mainland (diet consisting mainly of fish, clams second) and the sea-and-coves ottermen of the coastal regions (diet consisting mainly of clams, fish second). The otrins have one of the more developed spiritual and material cultures of the mustelid beastfolk. They are often not that far behind human technology and culture in terms of overall development (especially various types of watercraft, the concept of seasteading and water-related technologies, etc.). Though one would expect that ottermen and newtmen could potentially be competitors to each other, such a situation is usually averted due to the slight difference in the preferred environments of the two species: The ottermen of the mainland very clearly prefer running rivers and lakes with clearer water, while the newtmen are easily content even with swampier and muckier bodies of water as their potential domiciles. Nevertheless, conflicts do arise from time to time, though they are rarely of an openly military nature. As endearing and charming as the otterfolk might seem at first glance, their history and even their present can hide a more darker side, not commonly brought up in front of others. Some otrins, especially the coastal/sea-dwelling groups, can be notorious for living double lives - one filled with honest and legal economic activity, and the other filled with sea piracy, smuggling and (in the past) even slavery and slave trade. Though pirate otrins still exist as a minority lifestyle in more lawless parts of Aporeu, and cause a lot of indignation and grief among the peoples of more civilised areas, they are less of a problem than they used to be. Otrin-conducted slavery was targeted particularly at members of the crabfolk and lobsterfolk, and has left an incredibly bitter legacy between the three species, to the point that ottermen-crustfolk relations are still completely icy to this very day, even at their best. For good and bad, no single species in the known world has as developed a fisherman and sailboat and sailship building tradition as the ottermen. While their vessels are commonly built from the same materials as ships of other species, humans included, their design tends to be rather unique and in some ways, even a bit alien. Even their largest ships are smaller in size than those of humans, and might seem slender and wispy, as if they were wooden sail-equipped wraiths skimming on the surfaces of rivers and seas… Catamaran-like or proa-like designs are common for otrin ships and boats. Most of the present day otterfolk earn a legal and honest living from fisheries, fish farms and clam farms, riverine and sea fishing, riverine and sea shipping of goods and cargo, work on passenger ship lines, and so on… Whether in mainland bodies of water or on the seas and oceans washing against Aporue, the otterfolk are some of the best swimmers in the known world, along with newtmen (who arguably specialise more in diving and holding their breaths). Most otterfolk get along well with humans (particularly Bigfolk), martenmen and hedgehogmen. The mainland otters can hold rivalries with the newtmen (though mostly of the friendly and respectful sort) and the otrin in general can be a bit reserved towards the stoatmen, who they often view as too roguish, childish and irresponsible for their own good. (This doesn't stop the otrin from hiring a lot of adventurous-minded stoatmen as mercenaries, bodyguards or deckhands.) The otterfolk still doesn't get along well with any members of the crustfolk and they are only begrudgingly willing to trade and provide sea services to the wolverfolk.
Stealth, combat and thieving talents: Otrin swimming capabilities make them ideal not only as sailors, but also experts at stealthy incursions via swimming. In fact, they are much better suited for such a role than humans and other mammalian beastfolk, making them an ideal choice for a swimming-focused thief character. Otterfolk generally wear either no armour or just light and medium armour at most.
Real world frame of reference: It's really hard to compare the ottermen to something other than just certain fishing/seafaring cultures in general, and to pirates/corsairs in the case of the more criminally-inclined otterfolk. If you want to apply a Tolkien-esque lens to them, think of the otrins as the (somewhat edgier) elves-equivalent of the mammalian beastpeoples (while the hedgefolk and stoatfolk represent hobbit equivalents and the martenfolk and wolverfolk represent humans and dwarves).
PC availability: YES, playable species
NPCs of note: One of the earliest otterfolk NPCs you'll have the chance to meet will be a certain Tanal Nelela (female).
Common name: Wolverinemen
Singular names for the sexes: wolverman / wolverwoman
Also referred to colloquially as the “gulomen” or “wolverinemen”. Known to be the most warrior-minded of the mustelid peoples, the wolverinemen can be very fierce in battle and can turn all rabid whenever you insult them or provoke them. While they have their own particular code of ethics, not always understandable to others, they are generally a honourable (if oft-foolhardy) bunch. Just like other human and beastfolk species, they inhabit several landmasses of the known world, but always stick to their cold, northern fringes. This to them is their ideal environment, their true paradise on earth. The material culture of the wolverinemen, while certainly still pre-industrial, is fairly advanced and well developed. Though they still use tools, weapons and even bits of armour that utilise stone, volcanic glass, bark, antlers and bones, the ones from Aporue have a long and distinguished history of metallurgy. Bronze tools and weapons have been abandoned several centuries ago, and most of the contemporary ones are made of iron and steel. But the wolverinemen are also proficient in goldsmithing and silversmithing, which has brought them much fame. Their simple jewellery, usually made from mundane or precious metals and adorned with more mundane gems (malakhite, garnet, volcanic glasses, etc.), is a well-respected and well-selling good that provides them with a fairly solid income. In addition to hunting, they also herd reindeer and elk, fish with harpoons and rods (sometimes utilising simple canoes and monoxyls) and trade with furs and bone or tooth trophies. Some tribes and polities of wolverinemen even establish their own fur farms and fish-raising ponds and dykes. Outside of flax growing and the occassional growing or trading of herbs and lichens as spices for their meaty diet, the wolverinemen don't really have a settled agriculture in the traditional sense. The wolverinemen of other landmasses tend to be different in customs and material culture and are often more prehistoric or archaic in this regard. Though wolverinemen trade with humans from near and far - especially via human channels like the nomads of northern Metsämaa - there has always been a degree of tension, friction and distrust between them and humans (particularly mining prospectors from abroad). Some other species of beastpeople don't have it easy either. It doesn't help that the wolverinemen consider most of their mustelid cousins to be “wimps and weaklings, pampered by the use of modern technology”. Many individual wolvermen use patronymic-style surnames, rather than true family or clan names, utilising “-narf” as a suffix for sons and “-núar” as a suffix for daughters. E.g. “Harvenarf = son of Harve”, “Harvenúar = daughter of Harve”.
Real world frame of reference: While it would be a bit of an oversimiplification, most of the wolverinemen of the Aporue continent could be described as somewhat similar to the Norsemen/Vikings of late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. However, they are distinctly land-bound and have little interest in maritime matters. Their overall culture also has many parallels to the real world's Paleoasiatic peoples and even Greenlandic Inuits. In political matters, some of the wolverinemen have a Scandinavian-style proto-nobility of sorts, while others use a more peasant-centered system of governance. This latter system is somewhat comparable to Iceland during the Icelandic Commonwealth era, with rather democratically-styled public council meetings and rich peasants and landowners in lieu of actual nobility. The nomadic human tribes of northern Metsämaa who the wolverinemen share some technology and customs with are comparable to real world Saamis, a.k.a. Lapplanders. The wolverinmen of the more distant landmasses are, expectedly, something of a northernly Native American analogue - in the mold of Inuits, Yupiks, Aleutians, Tlingits and Nootka.
PC availability: YES, playable species
NPCs of note: One of the earliest wolverfolk NPCs you'll have the chance to meet will be a certain Ruád Harvenarf (male).
Common names: Lobstermen and Crabmen
Singular names for the sexes: lobsterman / lobsterwoman, crabman / crabwoman
Varieties or races: They are actually two biologically distinct species.
Two different species, but with the same general basis and culture. Look like humanoid versions of their animal namesakes (though lobstermen use four legs for standing and walking, making them somewhat centaur-like in body shape). Some external nicknames they've gained include “Crustfolk”, “Crusties”, “Crays”, “Shellers”, etc. They live along certain seacoasts of various landmasses, including the coasts of Aporue. Lobstermen and crabmen usually utilise coastal caves as shelters and settlements, be they flooded or accessible on dry foot. Despite what many naysayers claim, their material and artistic culture is not all that primitive - they are capable of making simple tools from stone, bones, seaweed and driftwood, and their geometrically-themed cave paintings and rock carvings definitely betray a deeper and more spiritual form of creative sapience. Unlike other sapient spieces of the setting, their language is very alien in its articulation and structure (and also actually rather uncomplicated when compared with the languages of other species). Their livelihood is very sea-focused: They hardly ever venture beyond the beaches, cliffs and caves of the seacoasts to search for additional sources of nourishment. Fish, molluscs, smaller crustaceans, sea plants and even just plain old seabed detritus is all fair game for them. They are purely hunter-gatherers and do not have any sort of recognisable agriculture, not even domesticated sea creatures or aquaculture (fish-raising). However, several naturalists graced with the chance to study lobstermen or crabmen tribes have discovered that the two species tend to build simple stone water tanks, in which they temporarily store fresh catch, such as fish and tasty molluscs. As already mentioned, these peculiar beings have had a bit of a bad lot for a big chunk of their history. To other species, their language was alien and they were frequently dubbed as hideous and little more than smarter pests. In the past, they were often either hunted as animals (due to not being regarded as particularly sapient or due to being regarded as abominations) or captured and enslaved by other coastal and maritime cultures, particularly the sea branch of the ottermen species. The latter example has led to a lot of lingering tension between the two groups, with many ottermen and many lobstermen/crabmen sharing mutual prejudices and fears towards each other even to this day. In the olden days, many ottermen slavers and nobles regarded lobstermen and crabmen as little better than thinking livestock that constantly chirps and clicks a string of unintelligible gobbledygook. Chances are, when an otterman and a member of the crustacean beastpeoples meet nowadays, things are bound to get heated or ugly very quickly. The lobstermen and crabmen don't have overly cordial relations with humans either, given the humans' ingrained views of the two species as coast-dwelling humanoid game, or catch-stealing, coast-squatting monstrosities. Presently, though most places have banned the enslavement and hunting practices of the past, the lobstermen and crabmen are still not welcome with open arms by others, and thus tend to mostly keep to themselves. Some are more eager to do so than others - certain tribes are so infamously paranoid and distrustful of other sapient species, that they attack (and often even kill) their tresspassing members on sight.
Real world frame of reference: Granted, these two species are quite out-there and outwardly alien, but I think it's a fair comparison to call them a crustacean equivalent of Neanderthals. As noted above, their tech and culture is something of a sea-themed version of the real world human Paleolithic.
PC availability: NO, non-playable species
NPCs of note: Quite possibly none, as it's very hard to meet with them in a peaceful way.
Stuff that further adds to and elaborates the main, point-by-point overview of this setting's sapient inhabitants.
An overview of the species and their nicknames in table form:
|Main category||Formal name (“-folk” moniker)||Colloquial names||Terms for male/female||Slurs and derogative names|
|Humans (“Humanfolk”)||Bigfolk||Men, Manfolk||Man / Woman||Longshanks, Tallheads, Hoity-toities|
|Humans (“Humanfolk”)||(Common) Smallfolk||Rarachs||Man / Woman||Shorties, Imps, Gnomes|
|Humans (“Humanfolk”)||(Montane) Smallfolk||Permons||Man / Woman||Oremunchers, Lantern-luvvies, Dwarfs|
|Humans (“Humanfolk”)||Midfolk||Man-Rarachs, Man-Permons||Man / Woman||Hybrids, Half-breeds|
|“Sprite” Beastpeople||Newtfolk / Nixfolk||Newties, Nixies, Sprites|| Newtman / Newtwoman |
Nixman / Nixwoman
|“Furred” Beastpeople||Hedgefolk||Hedgers||Hedge(hog)man / Hedge(hog)woman||Spikeys, Pricklebacks, Hogs|
|“Furred” Beastpeople||Stoatfolk||Stoaties||Stoatman / Stoatwoman||Nosymuzzles, Naughtyfeet|
|“Furred” Beastpeople||(Forest) Martenfolk||Marts (Piners)||Martenman / Martenwoman||Barkscratchers, Jaundicechests|
|“Furred” Beastpeople||(Montane) Martenfolk||Marts (Stonies)||Martenman / Martenwoman||Whitestreaks, Stone-whites|
|“Furred” Beastpeople||(Tundra) Martenfolk||Marts (Sables)||Sableman / Sablewoman||Tarpelts, Snowpaws|
|“Furred” Beastpeople||Otterfolk||Otrins||Otterman / Otterwoman||Clamsmashers, Water-rats|
|“Furred” Beastpeople||Wolverfolk||Gulomen||Wolverman / Wolverwoman||Gulos, Rabids|
|“Crustfolk” Beastpeople||Lobsterfolk||Crays||Lobsterman / Lobsterwoman||Creeplegs, Pincerpests, Crusties|
|“Crustfolk” Beastpeople||Crabfolk||Shellers||Crabman / Crabwoman||Roundshells, Feelereyes, Nipperslayers|
A note about species sizes (especially with regards to height):
The height varieties among humans is what you'd expect from normal humans, typical fantasy hobbits and typical fantasy dwarves. Bigfolk and newtmen are the tallest of all the playable species (though individual lobstermen can occassionally be quite a bit taller than either of the two). The rest are less tall than the bigfolk and newtmen. The hedgefolk and stoatfolk are essentially the beastpeoples' loose equivalent of the smallfolk humans - the hedgehogmen being the more slow, calm and cautious example and the stoatmen the more jumpy, lively, jovial types. The martenfolk, wolverfolk and otterfolk are in the middle, essentially the beastpeoples' analogue of bigfolk humans. You could also say they fill in the typical “civilised man”/“barbarian”/“haughty elf” archetype niches, much like how the hedgers and stoaties are the “beastfolk hobbits”. Hedgefolk and stoatfolk are roughly of the same general height, similar to that of the smallfolk humans. The otterfolk are the tallest “furry” species on average, though even their tallest members are rarely as tall as a slightly-taller-than-average adult bigfolk human or adult newtman. The slimmer martenfolk and the more muscular wolverfolk are generally of a similar height, just like stoatfolk and hedgefolk individuals, or rarach and permon individuals. Both martenmen and gulomen are about as tall as a shorter-to-averagely-tall adult human or adult newtman.
(Last modified 2st October 2014 6:20 PM.)