Humans are among the oldest sentient species on Zothique, and have weathered a number of great cataclysms, natural and otherwise. Humanity has risen from stone-age savagery to attain lofty heights of sorcery and super-science—many times over. Presently, on the Last Continent, humanity has returned to a social and technological level roughly equal to the late Bronze Age—a dark age. Catastrophes and conflicts wrought by godlike aliens and their mortal lackeys have taken toll, and their kingdoms have collapsed or slid into decadence. No longer can empirical powers maintain the infrastructures of the last age. People in droves are deserting their crumbling cities to return to the relative stability of their rustic roots. This is not to say everyone has abandoned civilization, but there are more ruins these days and lands ruled by outlaws, warlords, and worse. Nations and kingdoms, with a few exceptions, seem to be a relic of the recent past. Borders mean little save that the people within them are closely related in culture and appearance.
The following racial entries are linked to their closest historical Parallel, a time-honored sword-and-sorcery tradition. Like Appearance, Religion and other traits, exceptions certainly exist (especially among PCs), and these analogs are merely meant to provide shorthand sketches of otherwise complicated and unique civilizations. Bonus Languages are in addition to Trade Common, which every PC possesses. Many NPCs do not understand Trade Common, only speak their local dialect, and even fewer possess the ability to read and write.
Off the east coast of ILCAR
is the tropical island paradise of AZJAM.
Deep within its jungles rise the moss-grown palisade forts of the
Azjamans, a proud matriarchal society ruled by the ebony sorcerer-queen
YASONWU. Peerless archers, mariners, and guerrilla
fighters; Azjamans raid surrounding lands for plunder and male slaves.
Ilcar, the mainland kingdom from where the Azjamans' ancestors escaped
patriarchal domination, frequently invades Azjam in retaliation. The
warrior women retain a burning hatred for their former masters and have
brutally rebuffed the larger kingdom for centuries.
Appearance: Female Azjamans are all tall and uniformly athletic, since infant girls with the slightest physical flaw are abandoned in the jungle. These sable-skinned she-warriors are not shy about using their charms to outwit male opponents.
Religion: In dread AYODELE, the fabled "Forbidden City of the Azjamans," witch-priestesses stain sacrificial altars to NUG and YEB, HISH-YIGGERA, ATLACH-NACHA, and UBZOTH with the blood of male infants.
Parallels: Amazons of classical myth; Dahomey Amazons.
Bonus Language: Ilcara
These northern tribesmen inhabit the frigid steppes, ash-covered
plateaus, and low volcanic mountains collectively referred to as the NORTHERN
WASTES. The ill-natured barbarians dwell in fortified
villages with wooden feast halls, and live by farming, hunting, trading
and raiding. They are a dour and clannish people, prone to violence and
easily slighted. In every generation, there are always some who leave
their ancestral lands to escape the ancient blood-feuds of their clans
and explore the torrid empires of the south.
Appearance: Dressed in buckskin, with fur cloaks and boots; the barbarians of the north own barrel chested, robust builds, wear long light-brown beards, have suntanned or sun-reddened skin, and squinting eyes of blue, green, or hazel. Women typically wear their deep brown- to blonde-colored hair in elaborate braids. Many tribes practice cranial binding.
Religion: The Charnog extensively revere KURROG, but RLIM SHAIKORTH, THAMOGORGOS, and MUONG UTAN enjoy widespread followings.
Parallels: Early Siberian, Yamnaya culture, the Andronovo and the viking Rus'.
Bonus Language: Charnog
For two thousand years the advanced Empire of CINCOR was
unchallenged on the continent of Zothique, taking tribute from coast to
coast—until a sorcerous plague forced a handful of survivors to seek
shelter in the MYKRASIAN
MOUNTAINS. Many centuries later, other nations regard
the resurgent Cincorians as a degenerate and evil people. This belief
springs from past prejudice, but is strengthened because the Cincorians
of today still prefer to dwell underground and worship many weird and
loathsome gods. Cincorians experiment with strange sciences and
sorceries and seem content to remain aloof from the rest of humanity.
Appearance: Gaunt of build and pale-skinned, with macrocephalic skulls, elongated fingers, and large, bulbous emerald- or violet-colored eyes. Some have long flowing hair or topknots, priests are often shaved bald. Profligate Cincorians cover themselves in tattoos and body jewelry and dress in gauzy robes. The more wholesome among them prefer simpler clothing or sturdy armor. They may wear distinctive tall caps often wound around with turbans while traveling through the lands of intolerant peoples.
Religion: The witch-cult of NHEBEQA is best-known and most widespread, which is fortunate because she is amongst the most benign deities worshiped throughout the Mykrasian holds. Other Cincorians revere a host of other abominations, such as TSATHOGGUA and UBZOTH, either whom they regard as deliverers from certain extinction.
Parallels: Mythic macrocepheli, moai, Theosophic antehumans, speculative "future-human" tropes, CAS's Hyperboreans.
Bonus Language: Cincorian
Also known as the "dwellers in the cities of stone" by
their tribal neighbors, the Duzamba of DOOZA
THOM have an old culture centered on their stone
towers, cliff-top cities, and bird-worship. The Duzamba are skilled
masons and engineers, capable of raising massive stone structures, as
well as dams and water conduits. Most of their cities are carved
directly into the cliffs with elaborate patterns graven upon the columns
and flying buttresses. In addition to their remarkable masonry skills,
the Duzamba are accomplished ivory carvers, goldsmiths, and copper
Appearance: The ebony Duzamba are tall, strong and proud, known for their discipline in formations with shield and spear. The men are usually shaven-headed, wearing cotton wraps around the hips, dyed a variety of colors, as well as animal skin skirts and more barbaric wear. Plumed headdresses, earrings, necklaces and bracelets complete the traditional attire. The women likewise go bald or wear mohawk haircuts; and elongate their necks by incrementally adding copper hoop collars as they mature.
Religion: The racial god of the Duzamba is GROTH-GOLKA, a reptilian bird propitiated with human sacrifice. His feather-cloaked priests know the secret spells to summon its avian servitors, the "fishers from outside." The Duzamba people's primary benefit from their ages-long association with the Lord of Talons is their renowned ability to tame and mount large birds and flying reptavians.
Parallels: The early Mandé, up to and including the Ghana Empire; RE Howard's Zembabweans.
Bonus Languages: Duzamban, Ilcara
A country of contrasts, the kingdom of ILCAR
is rich in gold, to the extent that even the king’s great herds
of cattle wear golden ornaments. There are many skilled artisans and
goldsmiths among the city-dwelling Ilcara. Beyond the reach of the
capital city of KATANGA,
however, the Ilcara of the untamed veldts and thorny scrub forests are
hunter-gatherers—clannish and warlike. They live in villages of white
clay, mud and grasses. Most are semi-nomadic, their lives revolve around
the game animals they hunt.
Appearance: Mahogany to light brown skin, with oft close-cropped curly black hair. The tribal Ilcara dress in simple loincloths, if anything. City-dwellers wear more elaborate clothing, such as brightly colored robes and cloaks, and even commoners are often adorned with golden jewelry. Body adornments and modifications such as lip and earlobe stretching vary from clan to clan.
Religion: The nobles and upper class worship "Nataka," the ivory woman; Nataka is the Ilcara name for ILILOT. Meanwhile, commoners revere various tribal gods. Some violent and remote tribes honor NWUNGA ZHANGO and his beast-god minions.
Parallels: Nubian/Kushite. The Kingdom of Aksum.
Bonus Languages: Ilcara, Duzamban
Dwellers of the scrubland, dunes, and desert-cities of
the west, the folk of ISTANAM
are a people known both for the sophistication of their culture and
their talent for intrigue. They migrated westward from the central
wastes when their original domain of OLD
ISTANAM was swallowed by the sand. An elite caste of
scale-mailed cataphracts forms the backbone of their armies, which
sometimes threatens YOROS
royal palaces are also places of a thousand intrigues, filled with
eunuchs and astrologer-priests of the court. Istanis are likewise
renowned as nomadic traders, master craftsmen, breeders of fine horses,
and cunning thieves. Burly, tulwar-bearing Istani mercenaries find
employment across the continent.
Appearance: Light brown skin, deep brown eyes, wearing loose pants, tunic, rope belt, and short vests. Male Istanis favor short, trimmed beards. Men of wealth and tradition prefer customary monochromatic robes and a keffiyeh headscarf. In moralist areas, women wear the chador, a full-body robe, complete with a hood and face-covering that may conceal even the wearer’s eyes.
Religion: The Istanis worship various grim gods, including LAAKASH, SEPPOPHIS, THASAIDON, and ALILA. YOT-AMIR is the high god of those who live and die in the desert, though he is feared more than adored. VERGAMA reigns supreme in the villages and towns of Istanam, though the cult of Laakash is gaining converts through lavish ceremonies and violent coercion. Istanis have a reputation for devotion to the point of fanaticism, whatever deity they worship.
Parallels: Levantian/Semitic. Canaan.
Bonus Language: Istani
The nomadic tribes of the windy northeastern steppes
and deserts are a mix of Rathi, Charnog, Ustaimi and others. Calling
themselves the Khojak, they are a free-willed, fierce and stubborn lot
who live by marauding and slaving. A constant menace to caravans and
travelers, they will unite in massive numbers every few generations
under a charismatic warlord. Khojak mega-hordes are notorious for razing
cities, torching fields, taking no prisoners, and leaving no survivors.
As one Khojak warlord once famously said, "we would rule clear pastures,
not subject peoples."
Appearance: The Khojaks are light- to tan-skinned, brown-eyed and long-haired; generally lithe of build although thickset individuals are prevalent. The riders wear red felt jackets or gambesons with fur or embroidered trim. Upon their heads, the men have long top-knots, wear tailed "Phrygian" caps or turbans and grow thick beards and mustaches worn in drooping styles. The women typically wear veils and trimmed robes, unless riding into battle with the men.
Religion: Chief among the gods of the Khojak is YOT-AMIR, the Ancient One, although his name is more often used in curses than in prayer. Still, the nomads fear the Lord of the Empty Wastes and make small offerings to avoid getting lost or suffering from hunger and thirst. Other tribes revere entities such as THAMOGORGOS, SEPPOPHIS, LAAKASH, and KURROG.
Parallels: Scythians, Sarmatians; the medieval Kazakhs.
Bonus Languages: Charnog, Ustaimi
The M'tosk are pygmies inhabiting the atolls of YUMATOT of
SEA. Depending on tribe, they live in jungle caves or
build huts in the canopy. They know the secrets of the rare lotus herbs
that grow only on their islands—a commodity that attracts
ill-intentioned visitors. Across their archipelago, customs vary, but
the M'tosk by and large are a reasonable if not gentle people. They are
clever hunters, trappers, and poison-crafters who eke out any and every
tactical advantage available from their terrain. They war against
mainlanders—whom rarely regard the pygmies as human—and also rival
tribes and other sentient jungle races, taking heads to decorate their
villages. Zyrane slavers seize the M'tosk in droves, and in this way
many have found their way to the mainland.
Appearance: Small of stature (the tallest are rarely over 4½ feet tall) with brown-black hair and ebon to chestnut-colored skin. Compared to mainland men, the M'tosk possess elongated feet and short legs. They go nude or drape themselves in loincloths and body jewelry of feather and bones, and arm themselves with hunting bows and blowpipes.
Religion: The M'tosk oft venerate GHATANOZOA, "the Leviathan". His heralds are the reptilian lloigor and monstrous invertebrates that inhabit the islands. For most tribes, this devotion is based on responsibility, not love. The pygmies believe that placating the entity will prevent him from living up to his mantle, "Destroyer of Worlds."
Parallels: Melanesian; Prehistoric Indonesia.
Bonus Language: M'tosk
The rugged hills and canyons of TINARATH
are home to the Rathi. Known for their leonine strength and
ferocity, the Rathi are barbarian tribesmen for whom war is a fact of
life. They live in small, isolated tribes that herd oxen, grow oats and
raid one another for livestock or wives. Few Rathi leave their
homelands, but those who venture into the sultry world of the south soon
learn that the other civilized races do not follow their codes of honor
Appearance: Rathi are tall and powerful, with peach to suntanned skin, dark hair and blue or gray eyes, oft dressed in buckskin and furs. In war, body-painted berserk warriors wade into battle bare-chested, wearing kilts of cave bear skin and helmets adorned with stag antlers.
Religion: Rathi respect strength and little else. Magic, they believe, corrupts the soul, and extracts a terrible price from those who practice it. They are particularly offended by necromancers. Their beliefs are best represented by their chief god, KURROG, though debased tribes may take THAMOGORGOS as a patron.
Parallels: Cimmeria (Crimea) and RE Howard's Cimmeria
Bonus Language: Charnog
Dangerous men and cunning women inhabit SOTAR
the Isle of the Sea Reavers. Once peopled exclusively by swart
refugees of the fallen Kingdom of CALYZ,
contemporary Sotarans hail from many nations. Their couplings over the
years have brought forth many who consider themselves natives of the
isle, particularly in the fortified pirate-city of LOITHÉ.
Appearance: The skin-tones of Sotarans range from the ruddy peach of the Charnog to the night-black of the Azjamans, with most falling midway. They dress in gaudy pantaloons and adorn themselves with gold rings, kerchiefs, loose blouses, and leather vests. In rough waters, oiled wool coats protect their bodies from the sea's chill and spray.
Religion: THASAIDON is chief amongst those with felonious ambitions greater than the common pirate or thug; or those within organized criminal organizations who would ascend the hierarchy. THAMOGORGOS rules the hearts of those reavers to whom rape and bloodshed are reward enough for the rigors of seafaring. The gods of sea and sky are more feared than worshiped in the lawless port of Loithé, but most crews offer sacrifices to them. YUCKLA, the God of Laughter and GEOL, the god of fate, are also patrons to many pirates and smuggling crews.
Parallels: Ancient Mediterranean Piracy; Golden age of Piracy
Bonus Languages: Charnog, Ustaimi
Also known as the "kingdom of tombs", TASUUN
is a land covered by desert and semi-desert savanna. It is
haunted by ancient sorceries and connections to the prior era's Second
Serpent Empire. Its small population is notably xenophobic and obsessed
with the subjects of death and immortality, building dark tombs for
their mysterious mummies. Tasuuni are people raised on ritual, and their
every gesture is made with sophisticated elegance—or exaggerated
Appearance: Tall and bronze skinned, shaved bald or straight dark hair cut to the shoulder, and gray eyes darkened with kohl. The nobles and priests wear golden pectorals, headdresses, and masks. Commoners dress in simple garments of white linen.
Religion: Tasuun is well known for its large pantheon of beast-headed gods, led by YULULUN, the Keeper of Tombs. The land is littered with giant statues and weathered sphinxes carved in their image. A powerful cult of NYARLATHOTEP is spreading from the capitol of MIRAAB, and has more than one king-priest amongst its unsavory converts. The disciples of the Crawling Chaos reject the old pharaonic traditions, and are responsible for looting the tombs of the ancient kings, desecrating the mummies within.
Parallels: The end of Pharaonic Egyptian.
Bonus Language: Tasuuni
From their hidden homeland upon the prehistoric PLATEAU of
TSANG, deep in the southern CLOUD
JUNGLES, the cannibalistic Tcho-tcho wage a war of
terror and sabotage upon anyone who ventures into their domain. Few dare
hazard the Cloud Jungles, for a Tcho-tcho hunting party on the warpath
is something best avoided. That said, not all Tcho-tcho are wild; some
tribes trade on occasion with the Tasuuni. It is rumored that the
deepest regions of their realm are almost civilized, with crumbling
monasteries ruled by powerful wizard-kings.
Appearance: Ochre- to mahogany-complexioned dwarfs, rarely over 5' tall with beady, green-tinted eyes. Naturally bald-headed, Tcho-tcho wear long wigs of braided yarn or human hair peeled from the skulls of their victims. Their habit of filing and blackening their teeth completes their preternatural, fearsome appearance. Tcho-tcho warriors have ropy muscles and move with pantherish grace. Hunters may be nude or clad in fur loincloths and human scalps. The women, especially shamans and tribal priestesses, adorn themselves with necklaces of bone and teeth. Jewelry, piercings, and war-paint vary from tribe to tribe.
Religion: Grotesque idols of demon-gods and grinning, inhuman skulls of unnatural proportions decorate the blood-stained altars of the Tcho-tcho. Most revere CHAUGNAR FAUGN as their creator and racial god, though customs vary from tribe-to-tribe. Some tribes instead place YOT-AMIR, ATLACH-NACHA, HISH-YIGGERA, NYARLATHOTEP, TSATHOGGUA, or UBZOTH at the top of the pantheon. Terrible serpents, giant bats and dinosaurs from the surrounding jungles also receive offerings as totems.
Parallels: Âu Việt tribes, Dong Son-period Vietnam; Pre-Columbian Central America.
Bonus Languages: Tcho-tcho, the secret tongue of the Great Old Ones
The tropical realm of ULLOTROI
is near-mythical; a land of bamboo forests, towering pagodas,
and serpentine statuary. Despite widespread devotion to the Virgin
Goddess OJHAL, the Ullotroi are an ancient race
who appreciate dancing, feasting and love-making; taking full advantage
of any day that the monsoons allow for leisure. They defend themselves
with ancient magics and a fanatical if untrained populace ever willing
to fight and die in battle. Merchants who brave the unknown can make a
fortune in Ullotroi when they return with caravans of silks, spices,
lotus flowers and painted ceramics.
Appearance: Slender and yellow-skinned, with folded, almond-shaped eyes and finely chiseled features. Men typically wear a decorated tarboosh or turban on their heads while women prefer elaborate headdresses of embroidered cloth and coins. Both men and women dress in embroidered silk if they can afford it although the commoners generally wear little more than a loincloth.
Religion: Ullotroi worship the goddess Ojhal whose priests and monks are expected to live virtuous, celibate lives. In the villages of the bamboo forests, HISH-YIGGERA's heretical sects hold sway, worshiping the Severed Goddess in overgrown temples.
Parallels: Indonesian; Khmer Cambodia (Angkor Wat); Burmese (as the Pyu city states) to the west and Indo-Micronesian on the east.
Bonus Language: Ullotroi
The eastern wastes once known as the Kingdom of CALYZ,
and the craggy coastal country of USTAIM,
are inhabited by a diverse, closely-related people known for their
fierce warriors, master craftsmen, skilled herbalists, and ranks of
ascetic priests. The Ustaimi live in walled city-states and build
onion-domed towers that soar to the sky. As a race, the Ustaimi are
considered fastidious and conservative by outsiders. They are likewise
fatalistic, guided by omens, prophecies, and horoscopes. From this
determinism, the Ustaimi spirit is strengthened against nearly any sort
of suffering. They can endure anguishes that would break a foreigner
Appearance: Of medium height, with ashen fair to golden skin and delicate features. The men oft wear waxen mustaches and keep their long black hair wrapped in turbans. Women wear colorful silken gowns and weave their hair into long braids, or let it flow freely. Soldiers wear medium armor decorated with silver and gold; the officers have their turbans set with feathers or gems to denote their station.
Religion: The Ustaimi extensively worship NAMAGURU. In the decadent city-state of ARAMOAM, GEOL is popular. Underground cults to NUG and YEB fester throughout the land, particularly amongst the degenerate lepers of ruined Calyz. There are several remote monasteries in the hills that worship CHAUGNAR FAUGN as a god of assassins.
Parallels: Iranian (Medes), Bactrian, and Punjabi (Harappan).
Bonus Language: Ustaimi
The sun-drenched Empire of XYLAC
consists of city-states ruled by petty kings or senates with
armies of bronze-armored pikemen. These are in turn governed by an
emperor. While rolling hills and forest-covered mountains dominate the
interior terrain, the coast has sandy coves nestled amid jagged cliffs.
Fleets of trireme galleys protect their trade cities along the coast.
Xylacs are known for their callousness and hauteur. They love
blood-sports and debaucheries. At the same time, they are a learned and
aesthetic people, their cities appointed with memorials, museums,
colleges, and vast libraries. The great city of UMMAOS
is renowned for the grand temple of ILILOT,
where the goddess is often resident.
Appearance: Bronze-skinned, thickset with gleaming white teeth and curly brown hair, and short of stature. The Xylacs typically dress in light-colored togas, style their coifs with garlands and laurels, and flaunt whatever jewelry they own. Soldiers don breastplates, great shields, and plumed helmets when going to war.
Religion: THASAIDON is the oft-unspoken master of Xylac, an apropos symbol of a culture living as their prideful, carnal natures dictate—with every man hoping to rise through a society ruled by ruthlessness and tradition. Ililot and VERGAMA have wide followings and there are temples to several gods throughout their cities. The coastal peoples often make small offerings to BASATAN before setting out on voyages of trade or war. Xylacs comprise the ghoulish populous of remote ZUL-BHA-SAIR, where the Charnel God MORDIGGIAN resides.
Parallels: Mycenaean Greece.
Bonus Language: Xylac
These rebellious and fractious highland folk inhabit
MOUNTAINS that jut up between ZYRA
USTAIM. They are born mountaineers who roam the
treacherous mountain passes and live and die by the prosperity of their
goat and sheep stocks. In desperate times, they can become wolfish
raiders who feud incessantly among themselves—though foreigners are
preferred as prey. Soldiers from Zyra are frequently deployed to the
highlands to punish the worst clans, but no one can negotiate the crags
like the Ymorthans. The southernmost tribes of lowland farmers have
accepted the overlordship of the Zyranes, at least in theory, but in the
breast of every Ymorthan beats the heart of a rebel.
Appearance: Men have bushy beards and hairy bodies, and wear floppy patterned turbans (called lungee), loose breeches and heavy cloaks. They arm themselves with scimitars and short bows. Women typically wear a dress that goes down to the ankles and a scarf to cover their hair. Women's attire has exquisite embroidery and tasseled trim. Most Ymorthans look older than they are, their olive to brown skin is dried and wrinkled by the sun and mountain winds.
Religion: There are few priests among the wild Ymorthans, but cults to certain gods crop up amongst them, with MUONG UTAN being the most widespread. Others include CHAUGNAR FAUGN, GROTH-GOLKA, KURROG, and THAMOGORGOS.
Parallels: Ancient Afghan. Ancient Sherpa.
Bonus Languages: Ymorthan, Ustaimi
Yorosians are a sub-race of the Zhelites, and
comprise the bulk of the population of the Empire of YOROS
They're regarded as savvy merchants, ruthless warriors, peerless sailors
and shipbuilders. Only the reavers of dread UCCASTROG
threaten Yorosian dominance of the high seas. The Yorosians are
the greatest traders of their time and owe their prosperity to maritime
commerce. They do business mainly with the Xylacs, trading wood, slaves,
glass, spices and dyes.
Appearance: Slightly smaller of stature than their interior-dwelling brethren, the Zhelites, Yorosian men and women are Semitic but often have some foreign blood, the result of ethnic intermingling. Such crossbreeding usually manifests as a pinched nose, blond hair, green eyes, swarthy skin, or some other rare feature.
Religion: Most Yorosians worship the gods ILILOT, THASAIDON, and VERGAMA. Those who spend much of their time at sea sacrifice to BASATAN. Many strange gods arrive at their ports and bazaars, ferried by foreign sailors, mercenaries and merchants. There is a monastery to OJHAL in the wastelands of IZDREL.
Bonus Language: Zhelite
The fertile plains and rocky deserts of ZHEL
are home to a several related peoples renowned for their skill
in irrigation, commerce, war, archery, and their religious devotion.
Roughly, they are split into two subcultures—indulgent urbanites in the
west and fierce nomads in the east. Zhelite nomads and barbarians can
also be found throughout the highlands sweeping up into the MYKRASIAN
MOUNTAINS. In the western city-states, Zhelites
specialize in trade and manufacturing, living off the unending camel
trains. These walled commonwealths surround a ziggurat that houses a
patron deity whose attendants rule the city. The city-states of Zhel are
ever at odds with each other, alternately allying with and sabotaging
their neighbors in search of monopolies. In the east, robed hordes of
nomadic Zhelites raid each other and their western cousins incessantly,
burning with a fierce hatred for their civilized kin. Zhelites of all
stripes are infamous for their brutality in warfare, casually
dispatching wounded enemies without a hint of mercy. Archers from Zhel
are highly regarded as marksmen and fletchers, and employed in mercenary
armies across Zothique.
Appearance: Broad-shouldered, olive-skinned, thick-bodied with aquiline noses and blue-black, curly hair. Zhelite men are especially proud of their beards, lathering them in scented oils and braiding them into coiled locks. The women are voluptuous and fair-skinned; prized as slaves in foreign seraglios. Wealthy urban Zhelites wear loose, floor-length robes with sleeves while the poor wear simple sashes or belted tunics are about knee-length. The raiders of the east wear bronze breastplates or scale mail over their abas, keffiyehs on their heads; with the colors of their garb varying by tribe.
Religion: Nowhere, except perhaps in TASUUN, are found as many gods as in the city-states of Zhel. Above the hundreds of shrines to lesser gods arise the awesome ziggurats of greater deities such as MERUKAAD and ILILOT. According to the Zhelites, these comprise a pantheon known as the NEUNNAKI. The neunnaki gods are said to have returned to Zhel to rebuild a great civilization lost and forgotten in a previous age.
Parallels: Ancient Mesopotamia. Civilized Akkadians and Sumerians of the cities and farmlands. Savage or nomadic Zhelites are akin to the Amorites of the desert and the Gutes of the foothills.
Bonus Languages: Zhelite
The fire-worshipers of ZYRA
are an offshoot of the Istani race. When OLD
ISTANAM was swallowed by the sands, the Istani migrated
to the western coast while the future Zyranes went eastward along the
southern foothills of the YMORTH
MOUNTAINS. At some point in their search for new lands
to settle, the Zyranes welcomed an influx of jinn into their society, and today nearly everyone
in Zyra lays claim to a jinn relative or ancestor. Where the Istani are
honorable and devout, the jinn-blooded Zyranes are corrupt and
self-indulgent. They have exploited the riches of their new kingdom
well, and have grown rich as sages, viziers, spice merchants,
metalsmiths, and slave-traders. Despite a reputation for decadence,
theirs is a rich and colorful civilization. It is wondrous for its
employment of small enchantments in everyday life. Having brought with
them a high level of culture from Old Istanam, the Zyranes are skilled
artisans whose city of QAYYOOM
is a center of learning as well as trade and craftmanship. The
eastern salt plains of Zyra are dotted by the towers of autonomous
wizards, and dominated by the fortress-city of SHA-KARAG,
the City of the SLAVE SULTANS. Sha-Karag is held by a
council of jinn slave lords who pay scant lip service to the emir of
Appearance: Male Zyranes are swarthy, usually bearded, wearing colorful robes, keffiyeh, and gold-hilted curved daggers. The raven-haired Zyrane women are famed for their sensual beauty; they often appear scantily clad, veiled, and adorned with glittering jewelry. Their jinn heritage manifests in a talent for sorcery. Some Zyranes exhibit small otherworldly characteristics such as casting shadows that move on their own, or eyes that glow with elemental light.
Religion: The Zyranes hold the elemental god LAAKASH above all others, though cults to NAMAGURU, SEPPOPHIS, and VERGAMA proliferate on the sly.
Parallels: Pre-Islamic Arabia (esp. ʿĀd, Midian, and Majan)
Bonus Language: Istani