Races of the Slaughtervale
The dragonborn are mostly found in the northern peaks of the Slaughtervale. Divided into four tribes—Keyma, Rhazo, Wyr, and Zekki—they wage near constant war with the dwarves of the northern peaks. The point of contention are the ruins of Jhordun. This site was ruled by the gold dragon Keyza, who was also a king of the dragonborn. Keyza had chased the dwarves from this site ages back, and without his backing, the dwarves became free to contend openly with the dragonborn for possession of Jhordun. With each day that passes the conflict grows in intensity.
The intensifying conflict has shaped dragonborn society into one where strength is valued over all else. The dwarves’ connection to the magic of the storm causes the arcane to be shunned in dragonborn society. Arcane power is identified with the enemy, the infidel. In dragonborn society the strong rule, the strong claim what they need. The weak are tolerated only to serve those better than themselves. Servitude is a currency in the dragonborn lands, a form of barter dictated by the war-scarred ethos that they maintain. If you need water and cannot take it, then you should perform some service for those who have it. Thus do the strong also become rich. While family and clan ties bind most dragonborn to their homelands, few seek to escape the cycle of servitude and war and seek their fortunes in the vale below.
As the Great Storm tore the slaughtervale away from the world it once belonged to, it took with it the drow’s connection to Lolth. The priestesses attempted to hide this fact from the rest of drow society, but the dark elves are so adept at feretting out weakness that it took but a short time to know that Lolth would not discipline or grant favor to any drow. The oppressed men of the drow led a fierce uprising against the matriarchy, and won the rulership of the drow lands. Once the Godless War took place, the new rulers looked to upwards. They built the city Izz’math in plain sight, and began to claim territory in the Dust. They have an uneasy alliance with the sojanni, and war freely with all others.
Much of the dwarves potent magical artifacts are lost to them. But many secrets remain revealed to them, and they search for more. The connection with their ancient technology and secrets hidden deep within Jhordun drives much of their conflict with the dragonborn of the northern peaks. While they seek a return to their ancestral home, dwarves lust more for knowledge and lost feats of engineering more than they do for a permanent home. This explains the fact that many dwarves can be found searching the ruins and wastes littering the Slaughtervale. These wandering dwarves often are searching for some lost artifact to give them the edge in their conflict with dragonborn tribes, but just as often are merely looking to satiate their own hunger for knowledge.
The dark cousins of the dwarves forsake technology long ago. The duergar of the hellrock clan have remained in the tunnels of the their city of Hellsholm for centuries, summoning devils and exploring the enigmas of their own existence. Vicious yet contemplative, the duergar weathered the Great Storm from the protective shelter of the Shadowvale. They rarely venture outside Hellsholm, but are known to send scouts and spies out into the world to learn more about the goings on in the rest of the vale and possibly, it is rumoured, looking for lands that can be conquered.
The Eladrin proclaim themselves as the Keepers of the Seal. They will under no circumstances speak of the Seal’s nature or origins. They also refuse to speak of the past, though the eldest of the Eladrin leaders were alive to witness in safety the Great Storm. Few of the common eladrin know what happened in those days. What they do know is that humans breed at a disgusting rate, and even when made aware, humans cannot commune truly with nature. Every action humans take seems destined to cause dischord and pain to the land on which they live. Humans cam unwelcomed and unheralded into their lands to seek shelter from the Storm, and now it seems that the Eladrin must live with these beings ever since the Treaty of Illvine, which grants the humans protections as long as they do not expand their boundaries further than a proscribed limit.
The Eladrin live with these humans, and they live with these secrets. They disperse agents throughout the Slaughtervale to to oversee both.
Elves remained in the Slaughtervale during the Great Storm. Many mistakenly believed that their concord with the natural world and unwillingness to dabble in the unartural or arcane would in itself shelter them from the Storm’s wrath. The elves were brought to near destruction.
What guides them now remains nature. Their faith in the natural order, and the rightful punishment of those who trespass against it, has only heightened since the years of the storms. Elves wander nomadically across all the environs of the Slaughtervale, each led by a Lord of the Wild (usually an expert ranger or a druid). Once a year all the tribes of elves converge for a Storm Moot, but otherwise each tribe pursues their own agenda, woshipping the harsh wilds and punishing those who commit atrocities against it.
Humans who were not destroyed by the Great Storm’s power but transformed by it into beings connected to the Elemental Chaos, the Genasi are hated and feared by many of the other races, who consider them tainted or corrupted by the storm.
Genasi have strong alliances with those arriving from the Elemental Chaos such as the sojanni of the Ash or the djinn of the Sky Realms. They have an unsteady alliance with Frost Giants of Icevane as well.
The Genasi are as diverse in motives as the humans they originally were, though they tend to be distant to others, as if constantly heeding a call from places unknown.
Gnomes live in the Feyvale, where they get along with both humans and the eladrin. Their amiable nature and ability to see many sides of a complex issue endears them to both groups but also tends to get them into trouble when their nuance is not appreciated.
Gnome villages are tucked in the invisible corners of fields where oversized mushrooms stretch for miles around. They rarely take visitors but instead prefer to visit others. Being invited to a gnome’s home is a once-in-a-lifetime occurence and a complement of the highest order.
The joke goes: “A goblin’s home is under a hobber’s boot” Goblins are scrappy survivors whose major settlements the hobbers viciously razed and plundered in the years after the Storm. No one understands the hobber’s enmity towards the goblins, but it is a real and almost tangible thing. Most goblins spend their whole lives searching for escape from their enslavement, and a lucky few find it. Rare are goblins found in large numbers. Goblins are loners by nature, but they all have a yearning for a place that could be called without fear their home. Their pragmatic and often blunt natures ensure that few get to know them, but those who do find goblins tenacious defenders and friends.
The third race that finds its home in the northern peaks, the goliath wage war with no one, content to live in relative peace amongst themeslves. They are fiercely competitive amongst each other, but out of all the races that inhabit the vale, come the closest to being happy. They travel the mountains in large clans, foraging for what they need aand braving the adversities of life with a joyous resolve.
Half Elves can be found anywhere either parent race can be found, but most half-elves see the need to wander and find their own way in the Slaughtervale. Some of the slaughtervale’s greatest explorers, sages, and villains have been half-elves. The diversity of motives makes this race hard to classify. A dwarven saying: “Expect the unknown when a half-elf shares your path.”
Similar to half-elvess, half-orcs are spread across the vale. Whereas half-elves have knack for exploration and the quest for knowledge, half-orcs often find use for their physical prowess. Half-orcs find less of a home amongst their parent races, so are often found in the wastes as mercenaries or leading bands of raiders and scavengers.
Bands of half-orcs are rare, but not unheard of. The Red Claws are a fighting band of note that works closely with the dragonborn of the Northern Peaks. Dragonborn find themselves impressed with the pairing of cunning and physical prowess that half-orcs tend to possess.
Never call hobgoblins hobgoblins. Hobbers, as they prefer to be called, want to no relation or ties to their goblins whatsoever. Hobbers enslave and torture goblins whenever they are given a chance. Some sages rumor that in the time before the Storm, goblins and hobbers held reversed roles, and the current fury of hobbers is a direct outcome of those times. In truth, no one knows.
Hobbers value two things above all else: hierarchy and wealth. A hobber knows exactly wher he ranks within his community at all times, and seeks wealth as a means to rise above his current station. The respect for hierarchy is the only thing that keeps the ambition of hobbers from tearing their societies apart from the inside out.
In the world, hobbers percieve the fastest way to wealth as prying it from the hands of others. Hobber society is militaristic by necessity then, and only the rapid changes of power that are commonplace in hobber society keeps them from being more successful in their conquests.
Humans are found everywhere in the vale and on every plane. Even after the tragedies of the Storm, they are the most numerous of the races. Major human settlements can be found in the Feyvale (Brigger’s Keep) in numerous settlements in the Sunken Colonies, and in the cold reaches of Icevane (Kalden).
The rumors of sages hold that humans and goblins may be directly at fault for the Great Storm.
Mostly found in the Murkdeep, orcs have undergone a radical shift in philosophy after the Storm. No longer under the brutal eye of Gruumsh, orcs have returned to reverence for the spirits and elements of the Slaughtervale. Orcs revel in contests of strength and communing with the natural world. In times past they were known to be raiders solely, but many respect their fierce wisdom and strength. Within divinely-fueled rivalries no longer influencing them Orcs and elves have trusting and open relationships, as they share many of the same views.
Not all orcs have returned to shamanic traditions, however. The orcs of the Thurak Clan have allied with Lord Radumanshal. They see the destruction of all before them as a way to open Gruumsh’s eye to them once more, and return to their forgotten home world.
The humans who fled to the Feywild had many external factors to contend with in their strange new home, but those who fled to the Shadowvale had a much greater enemy—themselves. The years spent in the shadowfell wore on the spirits of these humans, causing great depression and anxiety to almost overwhelm them. To counter this, they gave in to sadism, masochism and worse to raise their thirst for life. Centuries of this behavior has turned them into beings that no longer consider themselves human. Naming themselves the Shadar-kai, they have grown in number and power throughout the Shadowvale.
They harbor resentment for their human brethren who fleed to other places or were left behind. The Shadar-kai feel that they got the worst end of the deal, forced to undergo this painful transformation just to survive. Though they have taken no overt actions against humans, there is certainly little love lost.
Little is known of the tiefling. They were a race outlawed from regular society since long before the Storm. Sages speak of a group of men who turned away from both magic and science, seeking a faster route to power. They made pacts with devils, transforming them and imbuing their progeny with the infernal inheritance. Shunned from society at large, they lurked at the corners of the vale, plotting and scheming from cities and bases stationed in the underdark.
Little of their background is available to the current inhabitants of the vale, so tieflings are recieved in varying ways. Elves, Orcs, and humans naturally distrust them, while dragonborn, hobbers and genasi are more receptive to them.
The rarest race of them all, warforged are found on occassion at old sites, limp and lifeless, resembling suits of armor. Few have the skill to breathe life back into them, so they are often salvaged and dissassembled. Rarely, one is brought to life by accident or purposefully. “Activated” warforged are true treasures, as they hold in their frequently hazy memories, remembrances of the pre-Storm world.
Warforged found in the world are typically automatons slowly gaining sentience. They speak robotically and look to fulfill goals no longer applicable in these times.