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PostSubject: Races of the Port   Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:50 am

The Dragonborn Magna Publica Machina, the Great Machine of State, was one of the two great powers of the World Before. Where the Tiefling Imperium Goetia had demons and devils to do their bidding, the Dragonborn had devices of cunning intricacy, wedded to magics of power and subtlety. It was the Dragonborn who made the automatons now called Warforged, although the secret of commanding their obedience has long since been lost.

At times, a Dragonborn will become lost within the Interior (and thus, within himself). Most such unfortunates are never seen again, but others somehow manage to find their true selves in the wastes, and to embrace that aspect of their Self. Such individuals are known as Dragons, and the emergence of one from the Outback is a cause for both celebration and terror. Few linger in the World for very long; most pass on across the Aster, to parts unknown.

Tieflings seem quite at home in the World After. They refer to it as the Show, and insist what they call ‘the final curtain’ is yet to come.

Halflings are humans who, as they hit the age of 10 or so, stop growing and start changing into something that is not quite human. As their ears develop points, they become quicker, stronger, and much, much luckier. Most end up on the streets, rejected by their own family; Halflings, as is well known, simply cannot be trusted. Of course, it’s no surprise that so many Halflings turn to thievery in order to survive, under the circumstances. Halflings are themselves infertile, but they know their own even before they change. It’s not uncommon for a Halfling to kidnap a child, and take him to grow up among his own kind. The common belief is that the Halflings are actually changing human children, using some twisted ritual, but this is nonsense. Mostly. This, of course, contributes even further to the reputation that Halflings have, and is one reason that they stay on the move as much as possible. Common wisdom has it that trimming a Halflings ears will make him human once more; this is not in fact the case, but that hasn’t kept it from happening with appalling regularity.

Gnomes wear peaked caps, deep red in color, dyed with the blood of their many victims. They kill easily and casually, moving unseen and slitting throats on behalf of their Eladrin masters. No one with any sense trifles with a gnome, lest he take offense and murder the perpetrator. And his family. And the dog (they like cats).

The Dwarves have a holy task; they are working to carve the chambers and caverns deep below the surface into an enormous musical instrument sounded by the underground movement of air, one that will – when it is completed – sound the Last Trump, finish the apocalypse, and allow the new world to be born. In the meantime, Orthodox Dwarves spend their entire lives underground, venturing to the surface only when it is absolutely necessary. And even then, they keep all exposed flesh covered; only when The Job is done will they be allowed to feel the touch of sunlight once more. A lot of dwarves reject this, not surprisingly. They leave their homes and family behind and venture to the surface to forge new lives for themselves. When they get older, many of them return to the caverns of their birth, take up their tools, and get to work once again. It just seems like the right thing to do.

Shadar-Kai are children conceived in the brothels on the Other Side; half alive, half dead, belonging neither to this world nor the next but passing more or less freely between the two. Many act as intermediaries between the living and the dead, passing on the wishes of those caught in the machinations of the Eternal Bureaucracy to their surviving relatives.

Orcs come from somewhere within the Aster; they will not discuss their origins. The ignorant talk of a place called the Monstrous Archipelago, but it’s just a rumor. Orcs arrive in the Port on ships of carved bone, silently disembark, and never look back as the ships sail back to wherever they came from. Orcs are highly in demand as bodyguards and soldiers; they will work for anyone willing to pay them, will do whatever they are to ordered to do without protest, and are utterly faithful to their current employer. What they do with the money they are paid is one of the many small mysteries of the Port. Those who chose to leave the ranks of their people have the memories of thier homeland literally carved from their brain.

Goblinoids – goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, and ogres, probably ettins as well – are folk who have been changed by the Aster; either by the sea itself, or by being caught in one of the storms that blows in off the sea. The waters mutate them into things of horrific appearance and bizarre shapes – no two look exactly alike. The people of the port call them Flotsam, or “The Changed” if they are being polite. They are a despised and generally exploited underclass, doing much of the dirty and dangerous labor for the Port. The Driftglass Society is making an attempt to organize them into a sort of political force, but have met with little luck thus far. Most of the Changed are altered in mind as well as in body.

Gnolls begin life as hyenas, living on the fringes of the Interior. After consuming a living human – and his soul – they rapidly grow and change, developing the ability speak, to walk upright, and to use weapons. This last, they do with particular eagerness. Packs often grow regularly, as gnolls take travelers captive and feed them, still alive, to the hyenas that travel with them.

The Kuo-Toa are somewhat resistant to the effects of the Aster; most of them work at the docks as stevedores, loading and unloading the ships that come to the port. They keep to themselves, and only a few designated representatives can speak or understand Common.

Doppelgangers, also called the All-Men, were normal humans changed by the power of the Interior. A doppelganger is literally ‘Everyman’ (or woman). Shifters are either human beings who have regressed to a more bestial state, or animals who have evolved into something that is arguably more advanced, again due to the influence of the Interior.
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