Under Feet of Clay
Long ago, there were only the Primordials and the first generations of gods. According to some, a forgotten deity bent down over the mud and fashioned the first simple mortals as playthings. Others say we were children of Gaia made to mock the forms of the gods and prove their frailty. Ultimately, however, what matters is not where we came from, but who we are. – Closing lines of the Theogony.
Calopius is home to a variety of races with their own traditions and backgrounds. Regardless of your race, you will have to make a choice. Playing a Hero means you come from a lineage of heroes with storied accomplishments, while Antiheroes are those of untested bloodlines without the weight of myths on their shoulders. The following races are commonly available for play in this campaign:
Humans: Far and away the most common of the mortal races, humans make up nearly two thirds of the people dwelling in Calopius. Proud, dedicated, fierce, and skilled, the humans of this realm are adept in all manner of trades. Commonly seen as opportunistic, stubborn, or scheming, humans and their short life spans are the driving force for progress, change, and war in the region.
Dwarves: Skilled jewelers and mechanists, dwarves are famous for their role in business and trade among between metropolises. Best with stone and precious metals, dwarves favor mining and fine smith work to the more common duties employed by the blacksmith. Many families of dwarves have deep pockets and patience like the stone they cherish, meaning they will gladly invest in something that might not pay off for decades.
Elves: Beautiful and mournful by most reckonings, the elves of Calopius are quiet and religious. Eschewing material concerns and undertaking fasts regularly, they are slender people who prefer contemplation to conversation. With their longevity, many uneducated consider the elves immortal, a mistake perpetuated by their common role as caretakers of the dead.
Gnomes: Depending on who you ask, gnomes are either the brilliant inventors of the greatest advances in construction in centuries, or they are the misguided tinkerers who have made life more dangerous. Regardless, these colorful and cheerful folk gladly embrace city life. Whether in magic, machine, or martial training, gnomes are constantly experimenting and notoriously perfectionists.
Halflings: Plucky yet relaxed, the halflings of Calopius are generally happy to enjoy a life of quiet and dignified toil in the fields. With few heroes among them, the Halflings are quite content to bypass fame and instead work anonymously for the good of their families and farms. Despite this, many young Halflings hope to accomplish some minor deed of heroics in their lives, and take up adventuring for a few years before settling down. Surprisingly gifted swordsmen, the Halflings of Calopius are fierce in combat, even if they’d prefer to talk out their differences over a half-pint of wine.
Beyond these races, there are some less common races available for play, though their mere presence is often cause for suspicion within a city. Feel free to play such a race, but be aware that these choices have consequences!
Aasimar: While most heroes trace their lineage to a mortal who would become a god, a rare few prove that the Trisdekatheon have their own lineages as well. With radiant skin and an aura of majesty about them, Aasimar are respected and feared. Despite this prominence, Aasimar are rarely fully integrated into society, and are expected to serve as priests or oracles for their divine parents. For those who rebel against this, the life of a wandering adventurer is one of the few escapes available.
Changelings: Rarely, the strange nymphs and hags of the Dark Forest of Chaos seduce soldiers, traders, or explorers. The results of these unions are the Changelings, the all female race whose blood is a mingling of the monstrous and the mortal. Once the infant is born, the hag or nymph will use their connection to the father to deposit the child on their doorstep in the middle of the night. Rarely raised as equal children, most Changelings are sent to the temples of Parthaenae, where they become chaste oracles. Others, however, balk this and escape as children to wander the fields and meadows, until the song of the forest calls them to return to their mother.
Fetchlings: Though all mortals are born with one metaphorical foot in the grave, the Fetchlings have a more serious relationship with this saying. A line of Fetchlings is begun when a mortal woman braves the realms of the dead and conceives a child with a shade. Most trace their lineage back to Nethana, though a few other families have joined them. Reclusive and hesitant to show themselves in the light, Fetchlings wander in the dark and dingy halls beneath the earth. Skilled in disguise and stealth, they often play a role in espionage and subterfuge, but to many outsiders they are just a myth.
Goblins: Until recently, goblins were considered little more than runted monsters in service of dark and wicked powers. After the Cyclops-Slayers found within the ranks of a few goblin tribes those willing to learn the ways of civilization, a small but important group at the edges of the civilized world. Still spurned by most cities, these goblins who often pay homage to Haemon as an adopted fatherly hero strive to prove their worth to the larger world. With knowledge of the wild and a reckless curiosity, goblins disproportionately become adventurers in Calopius, seeing this as their way to prove heroism and possibly even become a god in their own right.
Half-Elves: Pairing between humans and elves is rare. Humans value a pure lineage, and elves often care little for people who rarely live more than eighty years. However, through unlikely romance or violence, there are half-elves born to Calopius. Unable to climb the ladder of social standing easily in human society and almost always cast off from the elves’ island home, Half-Elves turn to the sea. Gifted sailors, singers, and navigators, Half-Elves have reputations as philanderers and troublemakers. It is far more common for Half-Elves to be born of the union between two Half-Elves, or a Half-Elf and a human.
Half-Orcs: The orcs are a monstrous race said to be distilled from the blood of trolls. Stalking the Dark Forest of Chaos and sometimes selling clans as mercenary forces, orcs care only for blood and battle. In their wake, a rare few half-orcs are born fro violent beginnings and almost always cast out from their home as an ill omen. For many, this is the end, and the exposed infant never reaches adulthood. A few are found by merciful traders, nymphs or other local spirits, or might even be hidden by the mother who will raise her half-blooded child in secret. Growing quickly, most half-orcs know their only place in society can be battle, and so fight in coliseum shows to earn their wages and a living. Some might even earn fame and, rarely, respect.
Tieflings: The strange, horned people from the east, the Tieflings of Calopius are almost universally slaves. Originally taken as prisoners of war in border skirmishes or naval combats with the Barbarian Lands, populations of Tiefling slaves and laborers can be found in every city. Some are taught to read and manage the household, but most live their whole lives as little more than property to be exploited. Famous for their rage, many are sold to arena masters as spectacle shows. As such, Half-Orcs and Tieflings often forge close bonds in the arena.
Vishkanya: Humanity has a dark side, and it is rarely spoken of. Throughout history, humans have had an uneasy relationship with serpents. Depending on who tells the story, either some serpent worshiping humans committed vile acts in the forest and produced the first Vishkanyan children, or Gaia say humanity and crafted a monster to walk in their shadow. Either way, the Vishkanya is an uneasy legend among humans, who are always on the lookout for these disguised monsters. In reality, however, Vishkanya are often productive members of society, putting their adept fingers to use in weaving, or applying their knowledge of toxins and anatomy as physicians in the healing houses. Vishkanya hide their identity, because mere knowledge of their race would likely lead to exile, if not execution at the hands of an angry mob.
Not all races in Calopius are part of the civilized world… at least yet. Until recently, many considered the Goblins little more than half-feral beast-children with no hopes of gaining anything resembling language, culture, or moderation. However, some remain either untamable or hostile to Calopene civilization. These encountered, but unplayable, races will be detailed here.
Orcs: Savage, industrious, and brutal warrior tribes to the north have stormed from the forests to raid farms and test city walls as far back as memory reaches. With porcine tusks, sallow-green skin, and wild hair, these juggernauts of destruction organize, plan, and speak in ways foreign to nearly all Calopenes. Even their offspring, the Half-Orcs only rarely come to know anything of their ways. The few who have observed them and returned to tell the tale report a militant society of cannibalism, profane rituals, and constant bloodshed. Orcs are feared and reviled in equal measure by civilized Calopenes, and while goblins may offer surrender, the beastmen of the north would rather be killed than be shown mercy.