As noted a couple weeks ago, for the Tower setting, I decided on three categories of humanoid species: mages, non-human species (NH), and descendant species (D). Currently, the non-human species cannot be found on Earth and the descendant species are hiding from humans and mages alike.
The world’s mages are basically humans who have the genetic ability to access and manipulate magical energy. They are, to the best of their knowledge, the only paranormal humanoid species still to be found on Earth. In fact, virtually all mages believe that non-humans are extinct or never existed in the first place.
The djinn are residents of the City of Brass, natives to that semi-plane attached to Earth. They have never been able to fully cross over to Earth, but can no longer do even that. Their appearances vary widely as they are capable of assuming the shape of any humanoid they choose, however natural or outlandish in appearance. They are known for their skill at deception and powers of glamour (illusion).
The dragons are currently extinct on Earth and have been gone for millennia. They were once massive semi-reptilian beings capable of awesome feats of strength and power. It is widely believed that they were either too bound to tradition to adapt to a changing world or were wiped out by the mages, depending on whom one asks.
The mountain dwelling dwarves were once known for their craftsmanship and negotiation skills, at least where money was involved. They were a stout, diminutive people capable of prodigious strength and skill. Most originated in the northern lands, but they could technically be found throughout the world. Like the other non-humans they disappeared approximately 8,000 BCE. What exactly happened in unclear because they were always a reclusive people.
Arrogant, even hubristic, the elves were barrow dwellers. Oddly, for their residences, they were also a very tall species. They were masters of misdirection and capable of making themselves vanish from sight. They were also known for their capricious nature and a racial superiority complex matched only by that of the dragons. After their emigration, most of the elves became lost in the imagined glories of their past, blind to the potential future of their people.
The fae are a confusing species. They seem at first a paradox, but many in fact be a collective catch-all for what are really a couple species. Most fae are capricious and flighty, always moving on to the next thing that catches their attention, never settling in one place. But others, nymph-type fae, are rooted to a given location for life. The mix of wanderlusting and sedentary fae causes many to believe there are at least three species under “fae”, not one.
Roughly 10 feet in height on average, giants come in three major type: ice, fire, and desert. The ice giants are generally caucasian to blue in appearance. Fire giants range from ruddy to obsidian black complexions. Desert giants were native to the Middle East and North Africa, with complexions to match. Other, minor, branches exist, because giants were spread out over the world. They are noted for their size, strength, and the glamour of the giant lords.
Modern merfolk are a feral, bestial people. They have lost all signs of civilization and communication, at least anything coherent to other humanoid species. They have become a tribal, school oriented, species known to hunt anyone who “invades” their territory in the demi-plane that was Atlantis. Most who know of the racial demi-planes avoid their territory, and have done so for the last couple millennia.
The vampires were an unnatural species, created by sorcerers (according to some sources). They hunted the night and fed off other humanoids for roughly five centuries from the first recorded vampire until their extinction. All the surviving records, fragmented though they are, indicate that vampires were universally reviled and were hunted to death by the mages, probably with the unofficial help of other species.
The werebeasts were a powerful people of human-hybrid-animal shifters. They could move fluidly between their three forms at will, with no forced changes or limits. Perhaps their greatest flaw was underestimating the reach, desire, and goals of the ancient mages. Their people were hunted by sorcerers for materials to make magical items, particularly shape-changing devices. “Harvesting” such materials usually resulted in the werebeast’s death.
Distant descendants of the dragons, dragonspawn are, like their ancestors, drawn to power and strength. They appear fully human, unless some rare recessive traits manifest. Like their ancestors, they possess great physical strength and some, albeit very limited, control over the elements. They also possess the draconic racial superiority complex. Many conceal themselves among humans as athletes, financiers, and organized criminals.
Many would call the faekin psychics or psionicists. Quite a few would also erroneously diagnose them with ADHD. In fact, they possess some vestige of their non-human ancestors’ powers and capriciousness. The former manifests as a single talent—clairvoyance, precognition, telekinetic ability, psychometry, emotion sensing, or the like. Many faekin are drawn to artistic pursuits or traveling performers, but others find their way into positions that maximize their talents.
The ghuls are an undead “perversion” of vampirism, a sort of watered down version. They are unliving and need to feed on blood. They can also be destroyed by the sun, unlike true vampires. While long-lived, ghuls are not immortal like their vampiric creators. Rather, their bodies eventually decay from the inside out, leaving a zombie-like husk after 150 years of ghul-dom with final destruction within another fifty years.
When werebeasts mate with humans, the result is often shifters. Like their non-human ancestors, they can change shape. However, they are limited to human and animal shapes only, with no hybrid. On the other hand, the beast side seems to have less influence on their behavior. Shifters spend their lives balancing the human and the beast, the “civilized” and the wild. Contrary to popular beliefs, silver does nothing to them and they are equally represented in urban and rural environments.
Over the last week or so, I’ve been considering the possibility of adding a collection of pre-cursor families for the natural, Earth races—dragons, dwarves, elves/fae, giants, mages, merfolk, and werebeasts. There would be no pre-cursors for the djinn (they’re not from Earth) or the vampires (they’re not a natural species).