Pirates of The Jewel Archipelago
Imperials- humans, elves, half-elves, half-orcs, halflings
Humans of the Middle Kingdoms tend to be fair of skin and hair, and mainly live in cities. The upper classes have a love of epic poetry and abide by the code of chivalry. Humans from the border principalities vary greatly, from the steely eyed barbarians of the north to the dark skinned desert dwellers of the south. Across the Dragonspine Mountains, lies the eastern kingdoms, where the customs are strange to the majority of those on the continent. The eastern kingdom, or Khitai, is the only province in the empire that is not home to native elves or half elves.
The high elves of the Aurturi empire have lived in the world for millennia before the human tribes first appeared. They adopted the savage humans and taught them about civilization and magic. They coexist with the people of the empire, serving in government roles for centuries. they are tall and pale, with white-blonde hair and nearly pastel eyes. Those few with deviating coloration often try to hide it with dyes or magic, as it is a sign of shared heritage with wood elves.
Half-elves are proof of the great cooperation between the races. All of the imperial bloodline to date has been half elven. They vary as greatly as humans and are found in every imperial province save Khitai. They tend towards paleness, even when their parents are darker skinned, a sign of their elven ancestry.
Half-orcs are barely tolerated in the empire, and only because of their impressive martial talents. Few work their way up the ranks, and none have reached any position of real leadership. Imperial half-orcs tend to try very hard to adopt the style and mannerisms of the cultured imperial upper classes, but often end up looking like mocking caricatures.
Halflings are a common sight in imperial lands. They have coexisted with humans for centuries, in fact, as far as anyone can remember they’ve always been there. Halfling society integrates itself into human society, often overlooked, seemingly subservient. The halflings like it this way. By avoiding notice they manage to be one of the least marginalized or discriminated against groups on the continent. Halflings look and dress like the humans of their province.
The Unseelie Court
The Wood Elves, and their half-elf kin, lived in Tol Lorien until a the rule of Bryndis when the empire burned them out. They are more savage than high elves, more primal and as beautiful and as randomly cruel as nature itself. In the empire they are viewed as dangerous savages at best and pests to be exterminated at worst. In the Crextec peninsula, they have reinhabited the ruins of the lizardfolk civilization that once thrived there, and seem content to just be left alone, though raids against imperial forts and border villages are beginning to increase in frequency.
The Dvergar Holds
The Dwarves have retreated into their holds along the Dragonspine Mountains but they have not been idle. They carve away into the mountains, expanding the holds and stockpiling their resources. None can hold a grudge as well as a dwarf. They are not without opposition, however, as many ancient and evil things dwell within the earth. Outside, dwarves are rare. Those not accepted back into the holds are often exiles, by choice or because of some terrible crime. They are still prized for their exquisite craftsmanship, but their hearts are no longer in their work as they long for home.
The Thanes of the Frozen Reaches
The once-great Orcish nations were reduced to disparate tribes of none-the-less fierce warriors. They plagued the empire for centuries, raiding and occasionally occupying towns to expand “Orc Country;” the foothills and steppeland to the north of the empire. Rather suddenly, they were driven north by the Imperial Legions under the warlike Barand. They quickly developed a warrior society, based around powerful tribal chieftains. Recently, as the sea trade in the south expands, longships with dragon head prows have been seen, filled to the brim with Orcish raiders.
Gnomes are an oddity to the empire. They have no real society, and are so prone to travel that they are frustratingly difficult to catalog or control. For the most part, the empire gives them free reign. They also enjoy good relations with the Unseelie, who are close to the fey as the gnomes are, and they know many secrets, including how to visit the dwarves, who welcome them as a respite from the repetition of isolation.
Predating even the elves, the lizardfolk of the Crextec empire are a dying species. They have degenerated from their once mighty empire and are now little more than savages who just want to be left alone in their swamps. The Grippli, small anthropomorphic frogs, were originally a servitor race to the lizardfolk empires. Now they are as degenerated as their former masters. They live in half-submerged swamp villages, and subsist mostly on fishing and foraging. There are a few villages near the imperial border that have risen above their fellows by cooperation with imperial citizens. These grippli have proved quite adept at alchemy, and wizardry, indicating that the race may have served as advisors for the ancient lizardmen as well as slaves.
From Khitai, the land of wonders, come a host of new races. In Khitai they live alongside humans, sharing the same responsibilities. In the Middle Kingdoms they are less well-regarded, but on the seas and in the pirate towns they are generally accepted.
The Tengu are a young race of avian humanoids, reminiscent of ravens. They are mistrusted as sneaks and charlatans, with good reason. Despite this, they are a fiercely proud race. They are tolerated within the empire, but they are not citizens.
Catfolk are mischievous and clever, prone to whims and not widely known for inteligence. Their similarity to house-cats kept as pets in the empire makes some uncomfortable.