Humans, The Common Men

“Humans are the most populous of the races in the Mortal Realms. We are different from the other races, collectively not quite having quite the focus of any of the races but somehow managing, as individuals, to be as good or better at anything that any other race does. Nor are we defined by some “essential nature” in the same way that the Fae or the Goblinkin are – or perhaps our essential nature is that we are a race of defined by our variety and by the organizations and institutions that are the focus for our passion and loyalty in the face of a hostile world.”

– Alexian, Sage and Historian.

 

Humans, the Common Men, are the most populous race of the Mortal Realms – easily comprising 80% of the intelligent life present. They are adaptable enough to have even expanded into the Underdark and the Shadowlands in limited amounts, even though those realms are dominated by other races. Considered one of the “Younger Races” (if not the youngest race), humanity can thank their sheer adaptability , as well as a general resilience, to their success. They have no unified culture, no unified language, and no unified religion. Capable of amazing heights of both magic and technology, humans have a truly unique ability to take the best of other races and capitalize on it. As a race, humans are likely to ally with each other, ignoring differences in alignment or religion, in the face of threats from other races. Similarly, while human biology seems to allow an amazing amount of racial miscegenation, the primary human prejudice is not over skin color or ethnicity, but over breeding and relationships outside of the human race – with very few exceptions. Half-elves are accepted with a minimum of distrust for the most part and Sh’dai are looked at askance but the other half-breeds (the Khazan, Half-Ogres, and Half-Trolls) are almost universally reviled. Other half-breeds are either not seen as half-breeds at all (the High Men and the Ithian Purebloods) or not really recognized as human at all (the Beastmen and the Old Race). Despite this bigotry, half-bloods can still find a place within human society – though usually in its lowest echelons.

Statistic Bonuses: None

Languages: Local Human Language

Appearance: Humans, the Common Men, are all Medium in Size and their Speed is 30. They stand 4’8″ tall (+2d10″), and weigh 110 lbs (x2d4). In the Heartlands and in other cosmopolitan settings Common Men are often a mixture of bloodlines, most commonly having a mixture of Avalonian, Kistathian, and Thulian body types and complexions. Of special note is that red hair is quite uncommon and treated as a sign of sorcery or psychic powers, and is not found in individuals without the Talent, though it may be latent or not yet manifest.

  • Acadia/Acadians – Medium skin tone from white to brown, that rarely burns and tans deeply. Straight black hair is the most common, with dark brown and amber eyes . Facial hair is sparse and body hair is moderate. The nose is usually long and narrow. Acadians maintain average to above average height, with a wide range of body types and sizes.
  • Atlan/Atlanteans – Light, pale skin that rarely seems to burn or suntan. Most commonly blond hair in various shades with blue, green, grey, and amber eyes. Facial and body hair is moderate. The nose is often prominent. Atlanteans tend to be among the tallest of humans, with lean and muscular bodies.
  • Avalon/Avalonians – Olive skin of a moderate complexion that rarely burns and often tans. Hair in browns and blacks are most common, with facial and body hair both heavy. Eyes are most regularly blue, brown, or hazels. Avalonians are generally average in both height and weight.
  • Ith/Ithians – Deeply pigmented skin that ranges from dark brown to black that never burns and tans easily. Kinky black hair is most common. Facial and body hair are both moderate and eyes are commonly dark brown. Noses tend to be broad and flat, Ithians have quite a range in size, from the shortest to the tallest of humans, with similar wide ranges in builds.
  • Khem/Kistathian – Dark brown skin that rarely burns and tans very easily. Curly hair in browns and blacks are most common with brown eyes . Facial hair is heavy, body hair is moderate to sparse. Kistathians are average-to-below average in height and generally slender in build.
  • Khitain/Khitainese – Creamy white, fair complexion that sometimes burns but tans uniformly into an almost bronze shade. Straight black hair, with dark brown eyes. Facial hair is moderate, body hair is sparse. Their noses tend to be small and flat, and their eyes have a pronounced epicanthal fold. Khitainese are shorter and generally slender in build.
  • Thule/Thulians – White, fair complexion that tans minimally and burns easily. Blond hair is most common, with blue, green, or hazel eyes. Facial and body hair is heavy. Thulians tend to tall, big-boned and broad of build to the point of being barrel-chested or stout.

It is also possible for humans, especially within a family line, to display traits that reveal a non-human forebear. Slightly pointed ears of an elf, elongated canines of goblin, or any number of even more subtle features that will barely register in the viewer but which can provide clues for the discerning or knowledgeable observer.

Common Dress: The greatest strength of Humanity is that of variety. Unlike the non-human cultures with their relatively monolithic cultures, the Common Men have multiple cultures within each continental group with often dissimilar dress. Within that, dress can and will vary according to class and profession as well. That all said, due to weather and other commonalities some broad statements can generally be made regarding dress and clothing of each continent – with the same caveat that “mixing pots” like the Heartlands and other cosmopolitan areas can be quite the mix of customs.

  • Acadia/Acadians – The Acadian natives tend to towards loincloths or breeches and shirts for men and skirts and tunics for women, all made of soft leathers. Soft boots are common, while jewelry is usually necklaces and bracelets. Body piercing and modification (including tattoos) is also common. Armor is uncommon, Light generally being the heaviest found, and common weapons are Spears, Axes, and Bows.
  • Atlan/Atlanteans – A shattered land with a scatter people, layered robes with high soft boots or sandals are traditional. Jewelry is commonly rings, bracelets, necklaces, and diadems, but body piercing and other modifications are quite uncommon. Armor tends to Heavy and common weapons are Swords, Spears, Polearms, and Bows.
  • Avalon/Avalonians – Men tend to wear pants and shirts in Avalon, while women tend to wear blouses and skirts. Shoes or low boots are common, and jewelry is most commonly rings, bracelets and necklaces. Body jewelry is not uncommon though other body modification is less so. Armor ranges from Light to Heavy based on class and profession, the Heavier the better as far as most warriors are concerned. Common weapons are Swords, Axes, Spears, Bows, and Crossbows. Hill Folk maintain their own traditional culture, men wear shirts and kilts, women wear dresses – both with soft boots. Jewelry is armlets and torcs, with Light and Medium armor preferred. Common weapons are Swords, Axes, Spears, and Bows.
  • Ith/Ithians – Due to the generally oppressive heat and humidity, clothing in Ith is minimal. Both men and women mainly wear loincloths or short wraps with bare feet, and jewelry is commonly used to indicate status along with tattoos. Armlets, bracelets, necklaces and pectorals are all common, along with body piercing and various forms of body modification. Armor is invariably Light, and the common weapons are Spears, Axes, and Javelins.
  • Khem/Kistathian – Hot and dry, the predominate clothing in Khem is robes and sandals for both men and women, with head scarves equally as common for both genders as well. Jewelry is common, necklaces and bracelets being most common, in combination with body piercings of various sorts. Armor tends to be Light (with some Medium), with Scimitars, Lances, Spears, Bows, and Crossbows being the most common weapons.
  • Khitain/Khitainese – Distant Khitain favors a wide range of clothing. Robes and wraps are common for both genders, though men also wear pants and tunics, commonly with slippers or boots. Veils and hats are common for both genders. Jewelry is common among women, with rings, necklaces, and bracelets preferred. Body piercing and body modification (including tattoos) are practiced in varying degrees. Armor tends towards Light and Medium, with Polearms, Spears, Lances, Swords, Bows, and Crossbows all being common weapons.
  • Thule/Thulians – Due to the general cold, clothing in Thule tends towards heavy furs and leathers, with pants, tunics, and high boots being common for men, with dresses and high boots common for men. Men and women wear bracers, necklaces, and armlets as jewelry. Armor ranges from Light to Heavy, with Chainmail being prized. Swords, Axes, Spears, and Bows are all common weapons.

Lifespan: Common Men are young adults at age 15, considered mature adults at around age 25, and can live up to 120 years of age. They generally begin play at 13 + 2d4 years of age.

Common Culture: Across so wide a set of geographical space it is ridiculous to talk about common culture among the Common Men. But in truth, the Common Men do have some things that cleave true across nationalities and continents. Humanity is loyal to ideals not merely people, they build institutions that last across generations (religions, nations, organizations), and they are similarly able to work together, across alignments, in the service and defense of those institutions against threats.

  • Acadia/Acadians – A tribal society that is nonetheless organized into muti-tribal nation states, Acadian culture is a relatively egalitarian though matrilineal. Extended family is important and plays a large role in child-rearing, and many aspects of culture are segregated by gender.
  • Atlan/Atlanteans – Classic Atlantean culture is highly stratified, with strictly delineated roles for men and women. Spirituality and mysticism play an important part of life, and both men and women play very important, but very different, roles in society.
  • Avalon/Avalonians – Avalon is often considered a continent of immigrants, a rich melting pot of different cultures which have formed their own unique mix over the centuries. The native Avalonian Hill Folk have a deeply spiritual, clan-based society organized into many kingdoms, usually with some over-arching High King. It is a distinctly matrifocal culture, with a strongly patriarchal ethic.
  • Ith/Ithians – Organized along tribal lines and living primarily in small villages (with several notable exceptions) under the rule of the Ithian Empire. Culture is matrifocal and matrilineal, though tribal leadership is patriarchal. All of which are dominated by the Ithian Serpant Folk as a tyrannical ruling class.
  • Khem/Kistathian – Comprised of a number of kingdoms with established aristocratic families, Kistathian culture is relatively patriarchal (though matrilineal). Urban dwellers are organized by household while rural dwellers and nomads maintain close-knit tribal ties.
  • Khitain/Khitainese – Dominated by a series of dynastic empires, this highly stratified culture is extremely focused on the family and alternates between patriarchal and matriarchal depending upon who sits on the Imperial throne. Throughout all of the changes a large civil service bureaucracy maintains the status quo.
  • Thule/Thulians – A remarkably egalitarian society, men and women share power in many, relatively democratic ways. Society is made up of innumerable noble households that rule over small settlements, themselves part of larger kingdoms.

Backgrounds: As the most populous and widespread race, any Background is appropriate for the Common Men.

Naming Conventions: As can be imagined, names different from culture to culture. Some generalities can be observed and certain patterns are generally followed.

  • Acadia/Acadians – Individuals have given names generally based on natural or supernatural phenomena observed at the time of their birth. Names are also quite fluid, being changed based on important life events. Surnames are rarely used, and when they are it is a patronymic. Tribal and national membership is important but not considered part of an individuals name, per se. Names are inspired by First Nation and Mesoamerican Source Material.
  • Atlan/Atlanteans – Individuals traditionally only have a given name, though for official records a patronymic may be added, as well as a organizational or locational identifier. Names are inspired by Roman and Greek source material.
  • Avalon/Avalonians – Individuals tend to only have a given name, with either a patronymic or a cognomen to differentiate them. Surnames are generally only used by nobles or gentry. Depending upon the culture, names are inspired by English, French, Italian, and Spanish source material. Hill Folk derive their names from Celtic source material, use a given name, a patronymic, and their clan name (which serves as a surname).
  • Ith/Ithians – Individuals tend to simply have a given name, of which them may accumulate several over their lifespan (some of which may be cognomen). Tribal membership is also important, and village of residence also plays an important part of identification. Names are inspired by Central and Western African source material.
  • Khem/Kistathian – Names are generally long and complicated. A personal name, a church name (‘Abh/’Amah-), a cognomen/descriptor (nickname), a patronymic (or series in some cases) (ibn/bin –), and in the most important families a surname. Names are inspired by Arabic, Persian, or other Middle Eastern source material.
  • Khitain/Khitainese – Names are generally quite simple, with Surname given first, then the individuals Given Name – either of which can by followed by a cognomen or a profession. Names are inspired by Chinese, Japanese, and Korean material.
  • Thule/Thulians – Given names, then a patronymic, with a cognomen following based on either a profession or a nickname. Surnames are generally only used by those with a respected family lineage (most commonly nobles or aristocrats). Names are inspired by Scandinavian, Germanic, or Russian source material.

There are two additional identifiers in names used primarily in Avalonian and Kistathian names, primarily as additional religious identifiers. In the Church of the Lords of Light, ‘Sanc’ (abbr. Sc.) indicates a surname associated with one of the Elect. In the Old Faith, the signifier “hyr Anciens’ marks the individual as one “of Ancient Blood” or alternately as “of the Ancients” and as having a notable and distinguished bloodline.

Common Alignments: The Common Men exhibit the full range of morals and ethics, no alignment is more or less common than any other.

Common Religions: Unlike the various non-human races, the Common Men are responsible for a wide range of religious institutions. For those of lawful and good alignment the Church of Lords of Light is common, while for those of a more neutral and rural bent the Old Faith is equally as common. But beyond those common religions there are a variety of Mystery Cults as well – the Mysteries of the Moons, the Perihelion, and the worship of Lady Night are all popular across the land. For truly evil folk, the Horned Society is probably the most attractive, with the Cult of the Dragon and the Cult of Shator often being the refuge of the insane.

Common Classes: Preferred — Cleric, Fighter, Rogue; Common — Barbarian, Druid, Ranger; Uncommon — Bard, Warlock, Wizard; Rare — Monk, Paladin; Very Rare — Sorcerer

Common Professions: Given their nature, no profession can be said to be more or less common save as is found within the regular demographic distribution.

Racial Traits

Accomplished: For one of the Common Men to begin a life of adventuring, they are already more accomplished than their peers in fundamental ways. They are allowed to choose one Feat at first level.

Knack: The Common Men all seem to have a knack for something, as a result they gain one additional skill of their choice.

Special Vulnerabilities: None

Psionics: None

Death: Upon death, Common Men travel either to the Realms of the Dead or into the service of their deity if they are holy enough. There are no restrictions on Raising or Resurrection. If Reincarnated they invariably come back as Common Men, though some come back as Half-Elves, Sh’dai, or even High Men if they have had sufficient contact with the right Realms.

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Categories: Campaign Development, Game Design, House Rules | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Humans, The Common Men

  1. Wow, just wow. So, how much of this fine material is given to the Players and how much do you use to flesh out the world? Do you let the Players pick out which subset of Common Men their characters descend or do you tell the Players who wish to play humans, “This is the stock you all come from?” Cool post.

    • LOL! Yes?

      My campaign has remained in the Heartlands for years, a particularly cosmopolitan area situated in Avalon. I’ve had characters who are Atlantean, Avalonian Hill Folk, Kistathian, Thulian, and the what I like to call the “Heartland mutt” which is an admixture of Avalonian Hill Folk and Atlantean, and a good dash of Kistathian and Thulian mixed in.

      All of those are pretty easy to explain in the campaign area. So would Ithian and Acadian – Khitainese would be the hard one to explain. But there have been NPC’s of all of those ethnicities present at one time or another. Ultimately, I want my players to have a fun time building their story, so they pick – I just provide input as to what “fits” better or worse and then let them make their own choice.

      This is the first time I think I have this all in one place, using 5e as an excuse. Mostly my players have gotten bits and pieces of it as it seemed to be needed or relevant. Unless it’s the secrets of the particular campaign I tend to be pretty free with the details of the world history and “backstory” – some players know more because they’ve played longer or are more interested, other know less because they haven’t or aren’t.

      LOL! There are also a couple of other small ethnicities of Common Men out there, Tinkerfolk (essentially Travellers) and Traderfolk (which one of my players invented because she wanted something new and different to play). In truth, they really deserve a page of their own – they are a distinct culture of their own.

      Thanks for the kind words,

      D.

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