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Species

The Sentient Species Of Earth (“Sents”)

Usually your options are some stupid shit like “elf” and “dwarf”—you know the story.  My options are slightly different…

HOMINIDS

Once rare, increasingly common, everywhere.

  • Humans – the most basic species; no ability score modifications; average size; can be any class; can do anything they set their minds to, like elect a black president or go to the fucking moon!  Wooo us!  Humans comprise most all psions.
  • Unhumans – “orcs,” sort of.  So, at some point humans gen-engineered a species of four-armed, seven-foot-tall superhumans now called the “unhumans” (Tanaruk, in their own common dialect), and of course humans and unhumans have now been engaged in an epic, centuries-long fight for the main continent left on earth (called Pala).  Unhumans were losing badly for a while, but are now ascendant, having conquered most of the continent and reorganized it into a fairly humane soviet-esque Federation of Unhuman Kingdoms (FUK) led by a shadowy elected council of nine unhuman generals called the Heresiarchs.  Unhumans are super-strong and smart but live short, mutant lives due to their unstable genome.  Unhumans have very rudimentary psi powers.  +2 STR, -2 CHA.
  • Gmothi –hobbit/halfling-esque “original” survivor humans who dwell in the waste.  Pacific until provoked, anarchic, intelligent, tiny, and paranoid, the savage gmothi (pronounced “em MOE thee”) hate the unhumans and all psionicists with a passion.  They tend to hoarde ancient technology (called archaetech), including sweet ray guns.  Gmothi cannot used psi powers.  +2 DEX, -2 STR.
  • Greens – mutant photosynthetic part-fungal “elves” from the Chasm, the Australia-sized chasm in Pala created during the first Unhuman War, during which a chunk of earth was exploded out into a second, tiny moon (Tsune).  Greens don’t eat and can survive even in the fungal wastes, as long as they have a little water.  They don’t understand things like society, rules, history, and money.  They are childlike and, well, plantlike.  They, like humans, can be psions.  +2 DEX, +1 CHA, -2 CON, -1 INT.
  • Quan – gilled aquatic humans who sometimes create rebreathers and explore the land.  They once had an Atlantean super-civilization of plastic spiral cities under the waves, but they fucked that shit up and are now savage barbarians.  Quan, like unhumans, have limited psi powers.  +2 DEX, +1 CON, -1 STR, -1 INT, -1 CHA.

OCTOPODS

Octopus-persons.  Rare in every ocean; very rare on land.

  • Ammon – evil ultra-intelligent octopus-men who sometimes explore the land (for devious purposes?).  You can play an ammon, but you must wear a funny steampunk “land-diving” suit and think of the fact that you can change shape and color with your mind.  Totally sweet.  Solitary and short-lived beings, the ammon have engineered an “ultragene” stew that they may drink to re-grow their telomeres and live longer; traveling on land presents a serious risk to making/storing sufficient ultragene.  Ammon are not psionic (yet).  +3 DEX, +4 INT, -1 STR, -2 CON, -4 CHA.

SQUAMIDS

Lizard-persons.  Common, but only to the arctic rain forests; rare elsewhere.

  • Varanids – monitor-lizard men.  Varanids are very “human” in their social organization, but they dwell only in the northern swamps and have few technical advantages over human/unhumankind.  They have a lose treaty with the northern human federation.  Can be psions.  +1 DEX, +1 STR, -1 WIS, -1 CHA.
  • Scincids –Skink-men.  Short and practical, they have perfect aim.  The “gnomes”/”dwarves” of the world.  They are the least “civilized” (along with greens) of all the sentient peoples.  Limited psi.  +2 DEX, +1 CON, +1 WIS, -2 INT.

INSECTIDS

Common in the West, very rare elsewhere.

  • Mantids – the praying-mantis persons from the far West.  Essentially titanic mantises, somewhat “human” in thought and curiosity.  They have the most developed culture on the planet but are only now exploring Pala.  Can be psions.  +4 DEX, -1 CON, -2 WIS.
  • Formori – ant-persons from the dry south of the far West.  Robotic and servile to the Empire (their omni-hive), they are also incredibly strong and tough.  Theoretically, a rouge formori diplomat (or spy…?) could show up in Pala as a character.  Limited psi.  +3 STR, +1 CON, +2 WIS, -4 INT, -2 CHA.

ARTIFICIALLY SENTIENT BIONTS (ARTISENS)

Rare in the Five Mesas; very rare (almost unheard of) elsewhere.

  • Hannahs – clockwork female assassins with no history or morals.  They all eventually go crazy…  Limited psi.  +2 DEX, +2 INT, -1 STR, -1 WIS, -2 CHA.
  • Freemasks – post-future male servitors of an alien race, turned free, no history, strong morals.  Limited psi.  +2 CHA.
  • Horseheaded Men (Gytrash) – men with horse’s heads who live hundreds of years.  They were created artificially long ago by an unknown psi-emperor for an unknown purpose.  Limited psi.  +1 STR, +1 DEX, +1 CON, +1 WIS, -2 CHA.

SPECIES BY REGION

Pala

  • Humans (Carvolians, Dravanians, Gilspari, Vennari, Ripari, Rosvalois, Frundi [various barbarian tribes], Sasparadans, Faldani) – common
  • Unhumans (various Kingdoms) – common everywhere but the Sasparadan Empire, where they are very rare
  • Gmothi (Fjatali, Sasparadans, Asmaari, other) – common in Fjatali; uncommon elsewhere
  • Greens – rare
  • Varanids – rare outside of Arakha and Vennar
  • Scincids – rare in Vennar, which lies just beyond their island, Gemgarran; very rare beyond Vennar

Latura

  • Humans (Laturans, Cnids, Fiazzi, Nuri, cannibals) – common
  • Gmothi – uncommon
  • Hannahs – very rare
  • Freemasks – very rare
  • Horseheaded Men – very rare

Five Mesas

  • Humans – uncommon
  • Gmothi – uncommon
  • Hannahs – rare
  • Freemasks – rare
  • Horseheaded Men – rare

The West

  • Mantids (various Eggs) – common
  • Formori (all Empire; various species) – common
  • Gmothi – rare; uncommon in some Eggs that still allow gmothi slavery (for food)

Ocean

  • Quan – uncommon; very rare on land
  • Ammon – rare; very rare on land

PC/NPC SPECIES IN PALA

TYPICAL PC SPECIES IN ORDER

  • Humans
  • Unhumans
  • Gmothi

LESS COMMON PC SPECIES IN ORDER

  • Varanids
  • Scincids
  • Greens

RARE BUT POSSIBLE PC SPECIES, NO ORDER

  • Quan
  • Ammon
  • Mantids
  • Formori

VERY RARE/UNHEARD OF PC SPECIES

  • Artisens (all)

RELATIONS BETWEEN SENTIENT SPECIES

Mostly, earth is (as it is now) swayed more fiercely by wealth (versus poverty), majority (versus minority), state (versus nomad), and religion (versus Cathar) than by anything so “simple” as real, genetic heritage.  The following few generalizations are all subsumed, in most instances, by those of nation, etc.

Unhuman–human – After two continental wars, the FUK’s hegemony sits easily with no one.  The Sasparadan Empire refuses to ratify the treaty of Dravus, and rumors abound about a Third War (which, in reality, neither side wants nor could endure).

The fact is, most humans are bigoted towards unhumans but put up with them, and vice versa.  The other fact is, extremists do exist who want to start a Third War.  Hence the FUK’s increasingly centralized power…  Hence the Vennari and Faldani reliance on trade and diplomacy with all sides…  Hence the increasing desperation of the moderate potentates of Dravania and old Carvolia to settle their polite civil war before the Heresiarchs decide it is time to march north…

Day to day, however, most any unhuman character will tolerate any non-extremist human, and vice versa.  Life goes on.

Gmothi–non-gmothi – The gmothi simply do not understand the urge to build cities and fight wars.  They understand the need to defend, to satisfy curiosity, to tell stories.  But they will never “get” humans and unhumans, in a basic way.  (They “get” the unhumans less, after the Second War.)  Maybe, they think, they’ll get the greens—but I doubt it.  The greens are not familial and do not believe in a transcendent cycle, culture, or art (generally).

Unhuman–scincid – The scincids are even more reticent to hang around unhumans than the gmothi.  They talk to one another about the Second War as if it happened yesterday, not decades ago, and they much prefer humans and varanids to both the “evil” unhumans and the impossible to understand (irrational) greens and gmothi.  Strangely, scincids are highly fascinated by the quan and ammon and enjoy speaking to the latter, in particular, about mechanical wonders.

Green–human – The greens are the newest species in Pala and by far the most “human”—at first glance.  But it is becoming increasingly obvious that the greens are actually far from human.  They seem to act out of purely aesthetic motives and have a hard time adjusting to so-called society.

For their own part, the rif tend to see humans the way humans see, say, fomori:  Humans are always scheming toward something.  What is this future that they speak of?  Rif do not live life in a present that is divided from a future.  Their psychic extension into the natural world (even the so-called “wastes” of the fungal forests) scares humans, and they are scared, at the same time, of humans’ violent mastery of Pala.  Why master anything?  To the rif, the two members of the master–slave (and parent–child…) relationship have the same role:  Both are bound.

Thus the greens increasingly “turn to banditry” (in the eyes of humans); and the humans, mainly the Empire’s high psi command, turn toward the Chasm, to exploit the wonders there—and control the green, before a green genocide is called for by the Emperor…

Artisen–non-artisen – Artisens in Pala are lost and confused—but no more so than artisens anywhere.  In huge cities such as Caltaraan, Hyden, Caldena, and Saspara, artisens are glad to be among the crowd, and among powerful doctors and hell scientists who can help them if they break.  In the vast ex-coastal wilds, they are glad to be alone.  Thus Pala represents a new frontier for artisens of all kinds.  (The same could be said, I suppose, for insectids.)

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