Through A Prism
List of PC Races
Dwarf (hill , mountain)
Elf (dark, high, wood)
Gnome (forest, rock)
Halfling (lightfoot, stout)
Settled Human (rustic, urban)
Tribal Human (Djura, Gerovik, Saxa)
Being a Brief Depiction of the Playable Races of Vesterfold
Since time immemorial, the elves of Northwall have been regarded as divine beings – if not as agents of the gods, then demigods in their own right. The high elves, most prominent in Vesterfold, were installed centuries ago by the dragons as their rightful representatives in Midgard. Daily life in the civilized places in Vesterfold is governed by their four great houses: Bellathirrin, Mialennodel, Sephelion, and Naiamne. The deep woods and a few other wild places throughout Northwall are claimed by the wood elves, who won them in a war of extermination against the orcs. The great tribe of Vesterfold – the Arrothla-nika – maintain their independence from the dragons, but pay respect to the rightful rule of their high elf brethren. Other independent elves include the Quonhaini – Vesterfold’s dark elves – who are treated with cautious respect and given a wide berth by non-elves as the object of fearful superstition. In neighboring Osterfold, the dark elves hold the highest position of prominence, but the Quonhaini are a dispossessed people, mostly keeping to their own in small steads. Even across all of these divisions, elves maintain a kind of unity and reject any infighting that would lead to violence.
The dwarves of Vesterfold are kept in great esteem, known for their sense of tradition and renowned for their craftsmanship and wealth. Life in dwarven holds is governed by a tribunal with a representative from each clan in residence; in practice, each hold produces and maintains its own unique form of caste system based on community needs. Most mountain dwarves live out their days underground without ever seeing the sun, but since the destruction of most of the svartbrautar (“paths in darkness,” a tunnel network that once connected all underground holds), they are seen on the surface in increasing numbers. It is the hill dwarves who are most commonly found participating in surface society, typically as merchants bearing goods produced by their own holds or those of their mountain kin.
Of the small folk in Vesterfold, gnomes occupy the most unique social position. Rock gnomes, few in number, have a scattered handful of independent communities, but are just as frequently found as scholars and advisors among elven nobility. Forest gnomes, meanwhile, are seldom seen outside of their cloistered sylvan homelands except for the occasional wanderer curious about the rest of the world. Among halflings, the lightfoot variety are found in their own neighborhoods of elven cities, while stouts keep small pastoral communities of their own.
Humans account for more than half of the total population of Northwall, but occupy the lowest rung on the social ladder in Vesterfold; the elven nobility considers them too short-lived and lacking in perspective to be trusted with titles or authority. Most settled humans live in vassalage (or, if less lucky, as thralls) under direct elven rule. Humans in rustic areas live either in small clusters of homesteads or larger communities centered around a hall; they grudgingly pay tribute to the elves when tax collectors come calling, but otherwise live independently. The lives of those dwelling in larger towns or cities vary considerably depending on the ruling elven house.
Some of Northwall’s humans refused to submit to elven rule. The great tribes of the continent dwell in dangerous, remote, and desolate places.
- The Djura, a predominantly plains-dwelling people, are the most prolific tribe in Vesterfold, and also the most fractious (a trait ascribed by many elves to the orcish blood that many tribal leaders share). The history of intermarriage of those two peoples gives the Djura a great many distinguishing features: Pallid and leathery skin, upturned noses, jutting foreheads, pointed ears, pronounced teeth, and coarse hair are common among all of their number (not merely the half-orcs). In addition, tribesmen adorn themselves with colorful tattoos symbolic of their victories. Clans can grow as large as a few hundred members, and frequently raid and feud with one another.
- The Gerovik are identified by their olive to brown skin tones, clean-shaven heads, and symmetrical black tattoos denoting lineage. They organize in clans of a few dozen in isolated refuges in the mountains and foothills and treat strangers with suspicion, though open hostility is rare. Occasional solitary envoys make their way to nearby communities to barter in times of need.
- The Saxa are a fiercely territorial tribe with no interest in neighborly relations with others. These dark-haired, pale and sallow-skinned people cultivate a fearsome reputation, ritually scarring and mutilating their bodies so that they bear little resemblance to other humans. Little is known about them, but they are the object of a great many fears and superstitions. Their small-but-ferocious clans are most common in Osterfold, but a few have laid claim to salt marshes and barrens in eastern Vesterfold, marking their boundaries with grisly displays as a warning to interlopers.
Half-elves, once born only of the rare union of human and elf, used to be abandoned at birth to die of exposure, but since the advent of the House of the Sun and Moon are now more often turned over to the monasteries to be raised in their orphanages. In the last few generations, this more humane practice has become the norm in communities that have a monastery within reasonable distance. While still uncommon, half-elves are an increasingly regular sight in human population centers, even forming families of their own.
Lastly, a few tribes of white dragonborn make their homes in Northwall, eking out a primitive existence under the capricious rule of the frost dragons of Osterfold. The Lirrodogath are numerous in Highridge on the border of Vesterfold, and are sometimes encountered there as hermits, traders, and explorers. Clans of up to thirty individuals are almost always nomads led by the single eldest sorcerer within their ranks, though the character and lifestyle of any given clan varies greatly.