ecause of the nature of the chaotic changes the astral plane caused to Pal Tahrenor, the variety of races on the planet has become extremely diverse. Mythological creatures have become a reality for the people, and the people themselves have been changed either through magic or cross-breeding.
No tally currently exists that encompasses all of the creatures on Pal Tahrenor, and new ones have a habit of appearing or becoming extinct for a variety of reasons. There are, however, a few major races that control large expanses of lands that they rule over with their own empires, laws and customs. Some information is provided here regarding those races.
Humans are the tough survivors of the Changers' War. Although they may initially appear to be a rather plain race in a world of other diverse and sentient beings, the humans represent the first race. Humans are surprisingly adaptive to circumstances and when united in a cause can overcome obstacles like no other. During the Changers' War, it was the humans who played the key role in shaping Pal Tahrenor with the massive destruction and return of the barrier between the astral and material planes. Humans still remain in control of the larger empires.
Being so adaptable, humans are able to acquire a wide variety of skills including magic, and although many humans are still born with no magical abilities at all, those who excel at the magical arts are indeed formidable mages. Many humans posses the blood of other races, such as elves, dwarves or even trolls and orcs (how such a child is created is not a story for children) and this tends to enhance further their abilities and diversity.
Unfortunately the advent of magic has stunted knowledge in the sciences for humans. They find it difficult to reconcile the strict laws of science with the seemingly arbitrary nature of the astral plane, and those humans who actually do posses detailed knowledge of the hard sciences are often seen as useless extremists with impractical views.
The natural lifespan of a human is the same as on our world. 70 to 90 years, depending on the individual.
Next to the humans in numbers and political power are the elves. Although nobody can know for sure how elves, or any of the other races, were created during the Changers' War, it is commonly believed that elves are a sort of perversion of the human race. In fact, it is implicitly stated in the Tomes of the First Settlers - the spiritual and legal doctrine of Marn - that elves are a twisted form of humans.
Elves are naturally quite gifted in the magical arts and can "feel" a connection to various magical and natural forces. It is more common for an elf to be able to visit the astral plane while dreaming, and elves are in general more artistically talented and intelligent than humans, although this comes with inherent faults such as arrogance, emotional instability, and tendency for over-analysis.
The elves tend to be taller, quicker, and more dexterous than humans, however they suffer from a certain kind of inflexibility. Where humans come in all shapes and sizes, elves have a more homogenized phenotype which can limit their potential as a race.
Elves can live much longer than humans - up to three centuries - although in practice it is difficult to dodge death when the reaper comes knocking and most don't make it past 150. This holds especially true in the region of Thar Shaddin, where life is harsh and survival is more difficult than in the elven homeland of Darleone Island.
Werewolves & Shifters
Werewolves and other forms of shape-shifting animals are moderately common in certain places of Pal Tahrenor with population levels proportional to those of their animal counterparts. The majority of these creatures were created during the first few years of the Changers' War when things were most chaotic and magic mixed randomly with Earthly things.
Infused with human thoughts and characteristics, these shifters (with the exception of the oddball loners) congregated into groups, formed societies which operated secretly among humans and openly as global powers. The formidable strength and ferocity of the carnivorous creatures such as the werewolf, coupled with their ability to live off the land and kinship with magic made them a force to be reckoned with.
The shifters were not alone in possessing great power, however. They lacked the ability to tap into more vulgar and destructive forms of magic necessary to wage war, and as the Changers' War climaxed the shifters were slaughtered like cattle. Of the many breeds, werewolves were best able to defend themselves and following the war are the most common on Pal Tahrenor. Many others have gone extinct entirely.
Shapeshifters vary as much as all species on earth in terms of their particular traits. Some spread through normal procreation, others through an infectious bite, and still others through purely magical means. The one thing they all share is the ability to shift between a human and animal form, and all the psychological phenomena that arise from this dual (triple, if one counts magic as a third dimension) nature.
The common werewolf can take the form of an ordinary wolf which is identifiable only by its heightened intellect, to a normal human who likewise can be identified by his perhaps crass or wild nature. The werewolf can additionally mix these two forms and create things in between; growing only a wolf's claws and fangs for example. Most are known to have a common half-and-half form comprised of the most useful traits for combat. In such a combat form they may be significantly stronger and faster than humans, with heightened senses and feral instincts.
Most shifters can heal wounds rapidly by manipulating their ability to shapeshift. Weapons made of silver burn these creatures and cause wounds they are unable to heal through supernatural means. The reason for this vulnerability is unknown.
The natural lifespan of a shifter depends on its species, but is generally about 2 centuries.
Pages on Shifters
The following are examples of specific species of shifters and do not comprise all known species.
Introduced a century earlier than Elves, Dwarves are short, stocky people who almost always sport a long beard. Dwarves are naturally poor at magic, which may be due to their early introduction onto Pal Tahrenor. Some theorists believe that all the humanoid races introduced magically were created from humans (perhaps as magical experiments) and by this logic the dwarves are poor at magic because of imperfections in their design. Imperfections which elves don't have.
The dwarven dislike of magic stems from both social and psychological roots. Dwarven culture is generally apprehensive toward the bending of reality and it is associated with cowardice, while the dwarven mind prefers concrete, solid, tangible, logical reality. Dwarves are, however, renowned for creating powerful magical weapons and armor, although they ascribe these powers to the blessing of their gods and not to magic per-se.
Dwarves, like elves, have a natural lifespan of around 3 centuries.
Gnomes are essentially dwarves with a knack for mechanics. There are a few dozen gnomes living in Marn and they all make a living by producing, and then fixing, contraptions of all kinds throughout the city. Gnomish mechanics provide the northern half of the city with electricity, and the whole city with running water. The industrial district (most of which has been abandoned) consists of entire buildings retrofitted with strange gears, clockworks, steam-pipes etc. built by gnomes. Their inventions use a form of magic to operate in ways that only other gnomes can understand. A human taking apart a gnomish invention will inevitably break the device beyond repair, and will never figure out how exactly the thing worked to begin with. This is a problem because gnomish inventions nearly always have a quirk or two about them, and tend to break down, explode, or go haywire eventually.
Gnomes are nearly the same size as dwarves, but usually a few inches smaller at an average height of 3.5 feet. They also drink less, have less facial hair, and better manners than dwarves.
Similar to dwarves and elves, gnomes have a natural lifespan of up to 3 centuries.
Trolls are extremely rare in Thar Shaddin, although they have been known to be kept as bodyguards or labourers. Very adaptable, trolls can be found everywhere from frigid to rain-forest to urban environments. In areas where they are more common, trolls may form roaming gangs or small communities, but otherwise they are solitary creatures.
Trolls are easily the toughest humanoid creatures alive on Pal Tahrenor. They are huge, averaging about 8 to 10 feet tall, and are usually bulked up with fat and muscles. They aren't particularly attractive by human standards, with large noses, blunt or rounded features, and their skin colour varies with the climate and food sources they have. Killing a troll with anything but fire is nearly impossible, since they can regenerate limbs or even the entire body in a few hours. The only two sure-fire ways to ensure a troll is dead are to pulverize its brain (which is difficult enough given that they have a thick skull) or to set it on fire.
Much to the dismay of other humanoid races, trolls procreate in the usual way, and are capable of mating with nearly all other races, producing some interesting results as offspring.
Unfortunately, trolls aren't particularly intelligent. Math involving numbers greater than 5, for example, is beyond them. Likewise trolls are incapable of learning magic.
The natural lifespan of trolls in unknown. It is possible they can never die of old age.
The fae are some of the most magical beings on Pal Tahrenor, which means they're not very popular in Thar Shaddin where magic is strictly controlled. Not much is known about them by most humans, especially in this isolated place where so few are present. The ambient magics coming from the cemetery in Shim also frighten them off. They don't know why, but something about the place repels them.
Fae magical abilities vary greatly, but most can change size from between a foot tall and human size and can seduce, entice, confuse, or otherwise interfere with the mental state of less magical creatures - particularly humans.
Their personalities also vary, but they have earned a reputation for being untrustworthy, mischievous, and clever. Evil or mean spirited fae definitely exist, as do those who cause harm entirely by mistake while just trying to have fun.
Cross breeding with the fae is possible by all races that can breed with humans and possibly others through the use of magic.
The natural lifespan of the fae is unknown.
Currently Vampires are off limits to new members.
Vampires are extremely rare, and are only listed here because they seem to be a favorite among players and because they often do play key political roles in human societies.
First and foremost, vampires are magical creatures. They posses the memories of their once living selves, but have been cursed with eternal death. The life of a vampire is long, depressing, and eventually very, very boring. Years of solitude and having to hide from the sun has driven many of them insane or toward suicide. Those who do survive find their own ways of coping with their miserable existence, often fighting for power over human empires. As a result, the few vampires who live a long time tend to hold a lot of power in the form of human retainers. They can be territorial in the extreme and respond to competition ruthlessly, especially with each other.
Vampires cannot die of old age, and they are stronger, faster and regenerate wounds faster than nearly all the other races. They posses a wide range of unique powers and are in touch with the astral plane because of their magical nature. Fighting a vampire on his own terms is sure to be fatal BUT they have numerous glaring weaknesses.
They cannot function properly during the day when they feel tired and driven to find a dark hole in which to hide. Sunlight burns them alive, as everyone knows, as does fire and a wide variety of magical (or holy) items. A vampire cannot regenerate wounds caused by any of these things except over a period of many nights. A wooden stake through the heart (it only has to touch the heart) will paralyze (but not kill) a vampire until it's removed. Many other myths about vampires like aversion garlic and running water don't actually do anything, but that doesn't stop people from trying.
Other Races and Making your own Race
Many more races beyond the eight listed above can be found throughout Pal Tahrenor. We are open and accepting of other fantasy and mythical creatures as races, as long as a few simple rules are followed.
Firstly, your new race must be a new race. Dark-skinned elves, light-skinned elves, nature-loving elves, are all elves. Do not make a new race when your character falls into a larger race. Each race has various cultural differences in them and there is nothing wrong with a character who might have different beliefs than what is considered the norm.
Secondly, your race should be of your own creation if not one of mythical/religious origin. Please do not steal an original race from a copyrighted source and pass it off as your own.
Finally, your race and your creature must fit into our setting and be a well balanced character. We will not accept anything that is so insanely powerful that it is near impossible to stop, nor will we accept anything that doesn't fit with our setting and history. We accommodate new ideas, but we don't alter entire continents for just one person.
Other notes, please don't make a race just so that you could be the very last one. It's a lot of work to make a unique race and as much fun as it is to be the only one of your kind, it's more fun if others can adopt your race and play with it too. On the other side of the spectrum, please don't make your own race so numerous that they take over vast amounts of landmasses, at least not without consulting a member of staff first.