Sapient Species of the Material Realm
Background and Context
Context is crucial when one attempts to gain insight into the many sapient species that populate the Material Realm. For example, this guide will only discuss those species that inhabit the Zona Traversa.
What is the Zona Traversa?
Many thousands of centuries past, during an event some historians describe as the Sundering, approximately one half of the globe was rendered impossible to reach due to the presence of a harrowing expanse of deadly ocean known as the Doomdrifts. The Zona Traversa is the hemisphere of the world that is trapped within this global boundary.
Prior to the Sundering, which is believed to have occurred approximately 200,000 - 300,000 years ago, it is known that there were great landmasses teeming with all manner of life. Humankind originated there, and when the Sundering took place it severed the human colonies on the southern continent of Idrahaal from the rest of Humanity, isolating the Idrahli colonists from their distant homelands, forevermore.
Without the context of understanding the Zona Traversa, the Sundering that separated it from the Lost Lands on the other side of the Doomdrifts, and the isolation of humanity from its ancestral homeland, one might not comprehend the cultural and physiological influences these circumstances bear upon the human species.
Species, Races, and Ethnicities
Unlike our own world, wherein only one sapient species (Humanity) has risen to ultimate prominence as all others faced extinction, the Material Realm of Wyrmshadow is cohabited by several quite diverse sapient species.
Our own world tends to place a lot of emphasis on racial and ethnic divisions in the absence of any rival intelligent species. No longer do Neanderthal stride alongside humankind on our Earth, but if they did, the mere potential for one species to establish dominance and outlive the other would tend to minimize whatever racial and ethnic differences existed between different human subgroups.
Competition from without would lead to cooperation from within.
That is very much the situation in the Material Realm, and another factor that should be understood as we begin to study the different sapient species who live there. Far less emphasis is placed upon what sets different humans apart from one another, and far more is focused upon what sets humans apart from the other sapient species, such as the Aelves and the Aurek.
Click on a Species in the following list to learn more about them:
At a glance, humanity might not seem all that special when compared to some of the other sapient species of the Material Realm. They aren’t particularly long-lived, nor are they apt to excel in any particular aspect by which they can be measured and assessed. Humans are not inherently stronger, brighter, or more skillful than any other species, and when breeding between the species does occur, common human traits are almost exclusively recessive… the resulting offspring far more closely resembling the other parent’s species.
What sets humanity apart is their cultural and physiological flexibility and the relative ease with which they adapt to develop survival traits, enabling them to thrive and prosper in vastly diverse environments where some other species would struggle. An example of this can be demonstrated by examining the Muhari, an ethnicity that has adapted social and biological means to live in an otherwise unbearably arid climate, the desert dunes of Muhar.
Many non-human scholars find it rather miraculous that same species has also developed the ability to survive amply in the tremendous altitudes of Nohr, the treacherous jungles of Shidi Ma, the lifeless tundras of the Great Northern Wastelands, and elsewhere across the entirety of the Zona Traversa. By comparison, an aelf native to the temperate forests of Sud Ilras would likely struggle to tolerate an extended existence in Muhar, finding the experience so inhospitable as to negate the benefits of any attempt to adapt. Humans tend to make these adjustments quite quickly, within months or even short weeks. Within a generation or two, these regional adaptations are not only encouraged culturally but are passed on genetically.
Species: Humankind (aka Humanity, Mankind, Man).
Life and Longevity: Humans are a very visibly diverse species, with many of the more aesthetically obvious visual differences attributable to humanity’s preternatural ability to adapt to the restrictive nature of its environment. Height, skin tone, eye shape and coloration, even muscular and skeletal structures can vary depending upon the traits that developed as humanity began to branch out from the island continent of Idrahaal to inhabit vast and varied climates throughout the Material Realm.
Though there are a few obvious exceptions, especially when taking magical influences into account, the average human of the Material Realm is capable of living up to 100 years. Certain climates and socio-economic factors lead to a lower life expectancy in areas where the quality of life cannot be maintained without an excess of effort.
Nohrlanders: Those humans who make their home in the high altitudes and harsh mountain terrain of Nohr, the Nohrlanders, are similar to our own world’s northern European/Scandinavian natives. They tend to be a bit taller than some of the other ethnicities, more slimly built, with slightly pinkish skin complexions and piercing eyes that range from icy blues to silvery grays.
Muhari: Humans who dwell in the arid deserts of Muhar, the Muhari tend to resemble our world’s own northern African/Middle-Eastern regions. They have skin complexions ranging from medium tan to dark brown, have eyelids shaped in a way to spare them from the strain of relentless desert sunlight, and eye colors of a dazzling gem-like quality. It is not unusual for a Muhar native to have eyes the brilliant green of emeralds, violet of sapphires, or flame-orange of garnet.
Shidi: Inhabitants of the tropical jungles of Shidi Ma, the Shidi, have developed traits to allow them to thrive and prosper in a hot, humid, and all-too-often hostile natural environment. They tend to resemble our own world’s Southeast-Asian/Polynesian peoples.
Idrahli: The island continent from which humanity spread in the aftermath of the Sundering, nearly every modern human’s lineage can be traced to Idrahaal. However, it is increasingly rare to encounter a human who still bears the traits of Old Humanity (those who once lived beyond the Doomdrifts upon the Lost Lands). Idrahaal is much akin to our world’s Ancient Greece, and its people tended to have dark olive complexions and naturally curly black hair.
Boghmyrish: The humans who settled in Boghmyre are hearty folk who tend to value individual liberty above all. There is a tendency among the Boghmyrish to keep only a very selective circle of trust called their ‘found family.’ The region is inhospitable to sapient life, riddled with dangers both natural and arcane, resembling the wetlands of the American gulf coast. Boghmyrish folk are often dark skinned and most closely resemble our world’s Cuban, Haitian, and Caribbean islanders.
Seinish: Those who thrive in the Steppes of Seine, a region that blends elements of our Earth’s Mongolia, are invariably adept at living off of the land and maintaining a healthy respect for the wilderness. Commonly interbred with Neblin and Aurek, a consequence of close cultural ties with both species, Seinish humans often have striking features (bright purple eyes are common among neblin-blooded Seinish) or display unusual proportions (larger than normal hands and feet) compared to other human regional variants. In general, Seinish complexions can vary from dark brown to light tan, with a few examples of pink, blue, or sage-green skin tones.
Population and Influence: Over the past thousand years since the Fall of Na’Sanoi, humanity has enjoyed a tremendous period of growth both in sheer numbers and cultural prominence. Not since before the Sundering has humankind risen to such prominence.
Scholars within the Eminent Empire were tasked by the Three Kings of Viridia to initiate a census on the 1,000th Year of Eminence, about twenty-one years prior to the opening moments depicted in Stormsend – Saga of the Freewilds, Book One. They found that of the 44.6 million people within the empire, nearly 26 million were human. They also estimated at the time that the Eminent Empire comprised nearly half of the total human population of the world.
Just over a millennium ago, such numbers would be unheard of, and none of the world’s most prominent political leaders were human, at all.
With few exceptions, the rulership of the Eminent Empire has been almost entirely comprised of humans, which is further evidence that as we begin to explore the Realms of Wyrmshadow in the 1,021st Year of Eminence, relative to the great global declination distressing the rest of the world since the Fall of Na’Sanoi, the past thousand years have been a pinnacle of human importance upon the world’s stage.
This page is a Work in Progress.
There will be additional content added over the course of the next few months leading up to the September 30, 2022 release of BASTION - Saga of the Freewilds, Book Three.
Aelves were once the predominant sapient species of the Material Realms. Though written records have not survived to surpass the inscrutable veil of the aelves’ lost history, there is a consensus between the realm’s scholars that a vast and glorious unified aelfen empire once spanned the entirety of the Zona Traversa.
However, approximately 30,000 years ago, as aelfen culture reached its ultimate apex, an act of extreme hubris resulted in a cataclysmic event entirely of the aelves own making. Scholars refer to this incident and its aftermath as the Great Aelfen Schism.
Artistic depictions from the period that yet survive to be observed in any detail demonstrate how different the aelves once were compared to the state they now find themselves in. Their greatest rivals at the time, the highly advanced Na’Saea species native to the Paradise of Na’Sanoi, described the aelves of old as the most beautiful, graceful, and inspiring species in all the Realms.
They believed in their own inherent divinity, challenged the reign of the Divines, and sought to harness the forbidden powers of Creation in order to send armies into Arcadia and topple the Divines from the heavens. They began to explore an esoteric form of rune-based mathematics known as Runometry, the study of which was verboten due to the potentially catastrophic results should even the slightest mistake be made in the execution of its arcane equations.
In the resulting tumult, after their plan’s ultimate failure, the formerly unified aelves were torn apart from one another, a great wedge of shame and broken pride driven between the once preeminent sapient species of the Material Realm. Over the following thirty-thousand years, those divisions have served to diminish the influence of aelves on the world’s stage, and each of the resulting ethnicities have merely grown further and further apart as a result.
Aelves are this world's equivalent of the traditional fantasy race, elves.
Species: Aelfenkind (aka Aelves, the Aelfish).
Life and Longevity: Though it varies from one ethnicity to another, Aelves are among the longest-lived of all the world's sapient species. It is not unusual for an elder aelf to live well past their 1,000th birthday, but like all mortals, aelves do, eventually, perish.
Aelves mature at a rate very similar to Humans, experiencing puberty in their early teens and reaching physical adulthood within their first eighteen to twenty years of life. This has not always been the case, however, and there are some cultural aspects to aelfish society that are inextricably linked to their pre-schism physiological ancestry.
Unlike modern aelves, who eventually die of old age and reach maturity within decades of their births, ancient aelves spent nearly half a century in early adolescence, reached adulthood close to their 100th birthdays, and were (according to legend) immortal. Though none of these aspects of ancient aelves remain true of their divided descendants, some aelfen ethnicities apply social limitations upon younger aelfen generations, artificially extending their pre-adulthood status in an effort to retain their innocence. This is a holdover to the earliest post-schism generations, who believed that they should hold to the old ways in anticipation of reclaiming what was lost through their ancestor's foolhardy pursuit of Runometry..
Ilrasi: (Work in Progress)
Q’uae: (Work in Progress)
Ak’uadi: (Work in Progress)
Luminar: (Work in Progress)
Population and Influence: (Work in Progress)