Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Demihumans in Pangloss


Dwarves are an ancient race, perhaps the oldest civilization on Wyrld. The dwarves will proudly tell you that their ancestors carved the mountains and dug the oceans, that their runes created both language and magic, that they built the first cities and discovered the secrets of fire and metal. Anything another race has done, the dwarves did first and better. The dwarves have no creation myth; they have always been here. Or so the dwarves say.

The dwarves follow the Norse pantheon, because they are fucking metal. The Norse gods are all dwarves in Pangloss. Thor, Odin, Sif… all dwarves. Some gothi claim Loki was a gnome. Dwarvish religion is mostly composed of mystery cults, and organized temples are rare.

Dwarves of Fire (Hill Dwarves) are surface dwellers, forming pleasant villages and farmsteads in the northern hills, raising goats, sheep, and other hardy livestock. They tend to have ruddy, earthy complexions with brown and red hair. They are loud and boisterous, quick to extreme moods of joy, anger, and sadness.

Dwarves of Stone (Mountain Dwarves) live in subterranean vaults beneath ancient mountains. Their armies guard the surface world from the horrors of the Underdark. Dwarves of Stone are pale, and often have black or gray hair. They are a sober, somber, serious people, but have a proud bardic tradition. The 13-hour dirge of a master dwarven skald makes statues weep.

Goats and ravens are sacred to dwarves.

Female dwarves do not grow beards but cultivate elaborate braids in their thick hair.

The Trollhammaren are a special sect of dwarven warriors. Alchemical infusions and spiritual conditioning allow them to tap into an inner well of fury that they use to slay trolls, giants, and other ancient enemies of the dwarves. (Berserker Path Barbarians, usually with the Soldier background.)

Permanence is the largest dwarven settlement in Pangloss. It is a mighty stone city built over millennia, and under constant repair and improvement. Permanence has never fallen to any army. Permanence is currently ruled by Queen Hildebard Ironlocks.


The elves come from somewhere else, some mysterious alien world under the rule of the Psychedelic Overlords (the Tuatha.) In a time before time, the elvish race suffered a schism, which split the race into three factions. The Wood Elves came to the Earthrealm (Wyrld, the Prime Material Plane, etc.) and bound themselves to the natural world. The Shadow Elves (Drough) bound themselves to the Shadowfell. They have slowly invaded Pangloss for ages through the Underdark’s connections to the Shadowfell. The Wyrd Elves (High Elves) remained loyal to the Psychedelic Overlords and made their residence in the Feywild (or created the Feywild, or they were always in the Feywild--stories conflict).

Three thousand years ago, the Psychedelic Overlords invaded Pangloss, and the Wyrd Elves were their army. Using powerful magics, the elves enslaved hundreds of dragons and conquered the realm. The elvish empire ruled for over a millennia before mortal heroes (aided by Wood Elves) freed the elves’ dragon slaves and drove the Tuatha back to the Feywild.

After a dozen centuries, the elvish empire is nothing but a distant memory. Most Wyrd Elves, save the very oldest, consider Pangloss their native home.

Dragons still distrust elves.

There are three Elvish deities of note. Yggdrysl, The Tree the Whose Fruit is the Universe, is an unfathomable spirit of creation and cosmic wisdom. (Alignment: Neutral; Domains: Knowledge, Life, Nature; Symbol: Oak tree with roots as large as the crown). The Erlking, the red-toothed master of the hunt, is a powerful force of destruction and renewal (Alignment: Chaotic Neutral; Domains: Nature, Tempest, War; Symbol: Antlered helm). Atlach is the horrible spider god of corruption and deception revered by the Dark Elves (Alignment: CE; Domains: Death, Trickery; Symbol: Spider with 13 legs).

The floating island of Oneiroi is the last remnant of the old elvish empire. The crystal city of Dreamspire supposedly has many long-sealed portals to the Feywild.

The massive tree-city of Ul-Valan is the ancestral home of the Wood Elves. Legend says the city-tree is a cutting from Yggdrysl.

Bladesingers are a special fraternity of elvish Eldritch Knights that combine sword, sorcery, song, and dance into a mesmerizing and deadly art-form.


Long, long ago, halflings were a violent, warlike, cannibal race, worse than goblins. They devoured their dead, feasted on the blood and meat of their enemies, and shrieked dark homilies to unholy beast spirits. Then the Lawgiver came and brought peace and civilization to his people. The Sacred Books of the Lawgiver taught the halflings the joys of home and hearth and community.

Halflings build their homes in pleasant pastoral communities in river valleys and lightly wooded hollows. Many cities have prosperous halfling quarters where talented artisans make very good coin.

While their savage pre-history is long behind them, everyone has heard legends of twisted cannibal halfling families deep in the back woods and horrible barbarian head-hunters in the rocky deserts.

Most halflings worship The Lawgiver (Alignment: LG; Domains: Life, Nature; Symbol: Book and key). The Stranger is a shadowy, satanic deity that tempts wayward halflings down the path of selfishness and savagery (Alignment: CE; Domains: Trickery, War; Symbol: Dark eye).


There are two breeds of gnomes in Pangloss. While scholars and sages maintain that the two are subraces of the same species, Gray (Rock) and Green (Forest) Gnomes do not recognize each other as the same race. The two, as far as gnomes are concerned, are no more related than dwarves and elves.

According to legend, when the dwarves were digging down, they discovered the gnomes digging up.

Gray Gnomes are a people in exile. They were driven out of their subterranean ancestral homelands countless generations ago. They have since adapted to the life in the surface world, but each gnome carriers a secret longing in his heart for a home he’s never seen.

The god of the gnomes is dead and unknown, erased utterly from reality. According to legend, the gnome god was so powerful, that he threatened to wipe out evil from the world. The entirety of the Underdark--drow, illithid, kuo-toa, all the forces evil--joined together to destroy the gnome god. He was utterly erased from the memory of the world. No remnant of that god exists--no icon, no text, no whispered song. All that remains is the gnomes’ collective mourning for the god that was lost.

The gnomes take grim pride in knowing that it took the combined forces of the entire Underdark to defeat their god.

Gray Gnomes have the sardonic, mordant humor of a race of survivors.

Gray gnomes do recognize a kinship with the Svirfneblin

Gnomeria, the Alchemical City, is a small island nation in the Sea of Secrets. It is the center of gnomish culture and society in Pangloss. Since the Night of Fire and the rise of the Ashen Queen, Gnomeria is a land under siege. Many gnomes have emigrated south to Madyan.

Gray Gnomes have blackpowder weapons are are very good with them. Their manufacture is a closely guarded alchemical secret.

Since the destruction of their god, Gray Gnomes have cultivated a complex system of ancestor worship. By honoring the spirit and accomplishments of specific ancestors and heroes, the Gnomish Ancestor Cults allow a gnomish cleric of any alignment to choose any Domain.

Green Gnomes came from the Feywild alongside the High Elves when the Psychedelic Overlords invaded Pangloss. They functioned as a servitor race, under the thrall of their elvish masters.

The Green Gnomes eventually rebelled, and their inside knowledge of the elves and the Feywild proved invaluable to the native forces of Pangloss.

LIke elves, most living Green Gnomes consider Wyrld to be their home. Many Green Gnomes communities are built near Wood Elf settlements.

Most Green Gnome clerics worship the same deities as elves.

Half-Orcs (Orcbrood)

The Orcbrood are a created race, specially bred by Empress Salandra as shock troops and elite warriors. Using alien alchemy and strange vivmancy, Salandra combined human and orcish stock to create a race both strong and cunning. For generations, Orcbrood stormtroopers laid waste to Salandra’s enemies.

While originally crafted by magic, Orcbrood are a “real” species and breed true.

After the chaos that followed the Night of Fire and the rise of the Ashen queen 100 years ago, the Orcbrood rebelled in mass and fled north into Grendil.

The Orcbrood are a young race with an unclear past, trying to create their own society and culture with little foundation. Most clans and tribes have fallen into barbarism, reclaiming their orcish roots. Many have dominated weaker or less cunning humanoid species out in the wild lands.

Many tribes resemble cargo cults, incorporating miscellaneous aspects of the various cultures around them.

Orcbrood do not have their own gods (yet). Thantogrim, Gromm, Gruumsh, and Demogorgon are popular god adopted from other cultures.


Three-hundred years ago, the island city of Xöth was taken into the Abyss. The people of Xöth were enslaved by Balor Lord Bealzaphon and his demonic hordes. Over the generations, the energies of the outer planes warped and mutated the abducted humans, transforming them into tieflings.

Twenty years ago the tieflings, lead by Unbreaking Kasterloth, overthrew Bealzaphon and returned the entire island of Xöth to Pangloss. The tieflings have worked hard to reintegrate into Pangloss society.

The island of Xöth itself was warped by the Abyss. The alien island is like a little piece of the outer planes in Pangloss.

The line between demon lord and deity is very blurry. Unbreaking Kasterloth will not let his people be slaves again. Clerics and the worship of gods are forbidden on Xöth.

Tieflings range in color from dark purple to deep red, but gray and blue are not unknown.


In ages long past, dragons ruled the world as living gods. Powerful and arrogant, the dragons would not lower themselves to interact with the lesser races. Thus they created the dragonborn. Less than dragons, but more than (demi)humans, the dragonborn served and liaisons and administrators for the mighty dragon empires.

All empires crumble. No one knows why the dragon’s reign ended or why their race began to fade. The mighty cities of the dragonborn are now dust.

The dragonborn are a race in decline and have been for some time. Most dragonborn belong to atavistic barbarian clans in the cold and rocky north.

Most dragonborn are muddy-green to reddish-brown in color, but a few “pure” colored hatchlings are born every generation. Tradition says such a hatchling is either blessed or cursed, and only the gods know which.  

Other races have difficulty telling the difference between male and female Dragonborn. They have no secondary sex characteristics.

Only one dragonborn city of note remains, Drakeskeep in the frozen north. The city is ruled by representatives of the most powerful clans.

Dragonborn revere their mighty draconic ancestors. While some heretical sects revere one god over the other, most dragonborn clerics pray to both Bahamut and Tiamat together as progenitors of the dragon race and symbols of the dual nature of the universe. (Alignment: LN; Domains: Trickery, Life, War; Symbol: Bahamut and Tiamat’s heads spiraled together.)


  1. I can't even tell you how many times I've come back to read this over the past week. :)