Atlas Rules Resources Adventures Stories FAQ Search Links
Races for an Alphatian campaignby Ripvanwormer
All good suggestions, but are there any that seem to lend themselves as "large minority" populations amongst the human and elf-dominated Alphatian populace? Essentially, as stand-ins for the roles that dwarves/gnomes/halflings play in more "standard" fantasy campaigns? Races that would be "must includes" if you were writing a campaign book for Alphatia, for instance.
Genasi seem to be one of the best options for such; shifters are another really good one (given the Alphatian history vis a vis lycanthropy). Changelings might work, but I think they'd be a better fit in Sind as a "major minor" race.
Maybe tieflings and aasimar, given Alphatia's other-planar origins? (Actually, tieflings might be very good fits in Glantri among the Flaems, come to think of it.)
The best way to do this, I think, is to give each race a specific place in the history and geography of Alphatia. How and where did they come into being, and what places do they predominantly live in today? For example, if you have a campaign set in Karameikos you know that local elves are mostly Callarii or Vyalia, local dwarves are mostly from the Stronghollow clan in Highforge, and local halflings mostly trace their descent from the Five Shires. You can play characters of any of these races from elsewhere, of course, but knowing where most of their kin dwell helps fit them into the setting.
Considering how much vaster the Alphatian Empire is than the Gazetteer nations, I'm not sure it makes sense to have a single set of races common throughout the Empire. Rather, I'd give each nation (or at least region) its own distinct racial mix.
Illumians: Tarmuid (no one knows the name he was born with) was said to have been an Alphatian pureblood born among the noble houses of Sundsvall some centuries ago, though he abandoned his home and came to study in a monastery among the mystics of Edairo. He had been known as a brilliant magical theorist in Alphatia, but it was on the Isle of Dawn that he discovered or invented the illumian language and with it the Ritual of Words Made Flesh, which transformed him into a new kind of entity, the first illumian. With the Ritual, Tarmuid created others of his kind, settling with them for a time in Aasla. When he feared his ritual could be abused by other wizards, particularly those of Blackheart and Limn, he broke the Ritual into fragments and gave a piece to each of the founding illumian cabals, bidding them disperse to different regions of the Empire to continue their researches separately. Illumian cabals are now found in many Alphatian nations, though their native Alphatian elitism combined with the even more elitist viewpoint of their new species means that as yet few deign venture beyond the empire into "barbarian" lands. Many illumians believe that with his dying breath, Tarmuid discovered the secret of Immortality; a handful of other illumians since then have made the same claim, including Aulasha the Librarian and Glautru the Seer (who had once been a cleric of Ssu-Ma), and Soorinek the Doubter and Wathaku the Silent, who seem to be allied with the Sphere of Entropy. Illumian cabals are known to exist in Alchemos, Featherfall, Skyreach, Starpoint, Aasla, Sundsvall, Trikelios, Ekto, and Edairo, and may exist in secret elsewhere. Because of their inherent magical abilities derived from their power sigils, all illumians are treated as aristocracy in Alphatia, even if they are not spellcasters. Partly because of this, illumians are viewed with jealousy by many other Alphatians, even other aristocrats, who wish to make the illumian secrets their own. Nearly everyone would love to recreate Tarmuid's Ritual of Words Made Flesh.
Spellscales: The most ancient legends claim the ancestors of the Alphatian purebloods learned the secrets of magic from dragons, even interbreeding with them before the dragons turned against them after their first wars of conquest. Ever since then, the strange, rainbow-hued spellscales have popped up among magically adept pureblood families. Still, they were almost unthinkably rare until a few hundred years ago, when every child of the wizard Mylertendal was born a spellscale for reasons unknown. Her descendants make up a noticeable subpopulation in Aasla to this day, and branches of the family have also moved to Rainbow Park. In both locations, their presence has attracted sizable numbers of others of their rare kind.
Aasimars: During Old Alphatia's period of planar expansion, the commonblood house of Valherion made some sort of pact with a great golden archon who granted their mutual descendants some of his own celestial power in exchange for committing themselves to fighting for truth and justice for all time. They allied themselves with the Followers of Air in the Alphatian civil war, and some of them made the journey to Mystara after the destruction of their homeworld. Because their golden skin made them unacceptable to the racist Emperor Kerothar I, they went with Aasla to her colony of common Alphatians. In the millennia since, Valherion aasimars have entirely left that city, finding it a poor fit. As they are more likely to be fighters, clerics, and paladins than wizards, they are relatively common in Draco and consider that city their home. They often travel to places of chaos to confront and destroy darkness and evil.
Genasi: Air genasi are common sights in both Skyreach and Featherfall, though Skyreach genasi are not of the same bloodline as Featherfall genasi. The former have pale blue skin and white hair that seems to blow about in an invisible breeze, while the latter have nearly white skin and seldom grow any hair at all, though mysterious blue patterns form on their skin from birth, and their pupil-less eyes are the same blue as the clear sky. Skyreach genasi trace their ancestry back to a djinni princess who had consorted with the legendary Ar, while Featherfall genasi seem to be more recent immigrants to Mystara from the Elemental Plane of Air.