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Setting Project: The People of Ballad

Now that I have described humans on Ballad, I think I will tackle the other races. The people of Ballad are pretty diverse. The longer lived races tend to have a large on the 1000 kingdoms. Monarchs who rule for a thousand years with no succession wars just tend to be more of a stabilizing influence. 

That said, the shorter lived races tend to be more numerous and their societies tend to be more dynamic. When you don’t personally remember when the traditions and rules were made, it is sometimes easier to see why you should change them. 

Let’s dig in.

All races are magical

All the native races tend to be oriented between the elemental courts of the Genies and the more spiritual courts of the Fey.  There are a few races that occupy a middle ground between the two courts for various reasons. Note: If I were to consider publishing the setting I would need to limit the races available due to licensing reasons.  

As to the Fey and Genies themselves, they do rule directly in some places.  Dor Berata, the Glass Citadel is run by the Pasha of the Dijinn and it is a major trading port.  The Alabaster Halls of Gar Tindash are where the Queen of Ice holds court and many seek her favor. That said, the vast majority of kingdoms in the world are ruled by the mortal races.   

Fey oriented races. 

Elf & Half-Elf

Elves are the longest lived of any of these races and have the longest lasting kingdoms, and civilizations. They are strongly tied to the Fey and the legend has they were once fey but chose to be diminished to exist more in the world. 

Half-elves are very rare. The mistrust of humanity in general certainly contributes to that. Half-elves are rare enough that they generate more curiosity than distrust.

There are several kingdoms ruled by elves throughout the world. They tend to be very stable over the centuries. That stability tends to mean they become major centers of trade, scholarship and so on. The largest kingdom is Gar Parsis which stands at the edge of a vast forest.

The elves have a wide variety inside their own race. Most of the elven subraces are seen as descending from certain mercurial fey courts or archfey. None are seen as particularly evil or good. They just are, like most of the races of Ballad.

Gnome

Gnomes are descended from the Fey and often hid and kept to themselves using illusion and their size to stay unnoticed. The great war again the human god changed that. They decided to become more a part of the world to save it. Since then, they settled in more cities in towns throughout the world. 

Aasimar

The aasimar are not directly tied to celestial or a god in this world. They are beings of intense spiritual energy and are believed to have had a spirit fused to their soul at birth, or maybe later in life. They are one of the many mysteries of the world. 

The aasimar are certainly more tied to the spiritual and celestial which is why they are lumped in with the Fey tied races, but even the High Fey don’t truly know what causes them. It is known that aasimar always carry a strong connection to destiny.

Goblin, Hobgoblins & Bugbears

Goblinoids are connected to the Autumn Court.  A Goblin King does exist and he was a fairy lord who was cursed by the Prince of Crows, the Supreme trickster of the fey. The Goblin King is often plotting and many mortals will get wrapped up in those plots. The Goblin King’s defining trait is dissatisfaction. As much as he has, he always wants more. That is reflected in his children.

The Hobgoblins are often employed as honorable mercenaries by kingdoms around the world. They place great store by keeping their word and honor, though that doesn’t mean they are always good or kind.

Goblin markets are found around the world with some trading in truly wondrous and dark things. Goblins are largely integrated into most of the cities of the world, though their diminutive size ends up with them being underestimated and overlooked often.

Bugbears largely live in wild places. They are often unjustly looked down on by others, but they are skilled hunters and prefer the wild to cities. They travel in nomadic bands looking for better hunting. They respect the honorable and will be fiercely loyal to those who earn their trust. 

Firbolg

Firbolg are forest guardians and rarely leave those places. Even haughty archfey respect the firbolg for their role as forest protectors. Their settlements are not hewn from the forest the way a human village is. Instead, they shape the trees into homes around them.  

Kenku

Kenku were created to serve the Prince of Crows. When they turned away from their creator, they were cursed to never speak again, but his gifts allow them to communicate anyway.   

Many of the great leaders of the world use Kenku as messengers and couriers. It is considered a great crime to harm a Kenku carrying a message and people have been executed for daring to do so.

Genie oriented races

Dwarf

Dwarves are another of the extremely long-lived races on Ballad. This has put them on par with elves for their lasting influence on societies of Ballad. They are remarkably conservative and tradition bound. They are also seen as less mercurial than elves. 

There is a city the dwarves built into the side of a mountain called Gar Bren. It is has transformed the whole mountain inside and out. It is one of the most populous cities in the world with a very diverse collection of population. The city has a vast opening to the interior carved out to stand nearly a mile high and wider at its base with many levels of the city throughout. A river was diverted to flow through the mountain and the city is a major trading hub.

Dragonborn & Kobolds

Dragonborn and kobolds are obviously linked to dragons and are considered to have been created by primordial dragons as servants. The dragonborn several thousand years ago turned on their progenitors and fought them. This was during the rise of the yuan-ti and the other lizard peoples. The subsequent disaster diminished the number of dragons in the world but also shattered dragonborn society. Now they are a fierce warrior people who place much value in their ability to fight.  They exist in small permanent war camps across the world waiting for a war to fight. Their society is regimented and your military rank reflects on your status in dragonborn society.

The kobolds, on the other hand, remained loyal to their progenitors and have a fierce dislike for dragonborn. They suffered in the war between dragons and the dragonborn but their loyalty was noted by the great powers of the world. There are few courts in the world where kobolds are not welcomed as valuable members.

Orc & Half-Orc

Orcs and the half-orcs are actually both part of the same people. Half-orcs are not half human but a group of orcs taken in by a Dao lord to be made into better servants of his will. The Dao Lord, Dacian, was angling to be a master of all the Dao, but he met with a bad end when the half-orcs and orcs turned on him.  He was trapped in a gem by orc shamans. The half-orcs and orcs have since become pretty solidly integrated as a united people living in the northern reaches.

Orc kingdoms tend to be in the mountainous and cold regions of the world. One such kingdom is Knarheim which a major northern trading port. King Grad Spearhand is more famous for being a fine scholar these days than he was in his youth and the cold stone walls of his city host an annual festival in honor of Saint Balthazar.

Tiefling

Tiefling are more tied to Effreet on Ballad. Several Effreet settled in the world ages ago and began to lose some of their nature being separated from their elemental roots. They eventually had children and their descendants are Tieflings (Yes, this probably means I will write up a new subrace).

The largest collection of Tieflings in the world is in the very cosmopolitan city of Dor Berata, The Glass Citadel. Tieflings are considered a noble race in most places but they are often one of the first races suspected if a fire breaks out.

Genasi

Genasi are the mortal descendants of the Genies. A mortal set of parents would find their child, not like their parents. They were born with an elemental tie and became the genasi. No matter their prior descent, they are Genasi from birth.  Over the millennia, they have just become an accepted part of the world. In regions where the Genies hold sway, it is considered a blessing. 

The Moontide Fleet of merchant ships is run by a Genasi family. Their ships are their home and they are said to have sworn never accept any home onshore. This is not to say they can’t come ashore, but they always come back to their ships.

Goliath

Goliaths are technically a kind of giant on Ballad. They are the smallest giants and do not hold high standing in giant society as a result, but they are giants.  Giants have held great sway on the world at several points in history. Now they are few. The last remnants of their society was destroyed in the last great war. The remaining few still keep to their old traditions but few people will meet any that are not goliaths. 

Dor Gragen was a sacred city to the Giants and many goliaths will seek remnants to the sky city that fell during the great war. Goliaths are more comfortable in the cities of other races due to their being smaller than giants.

Arracrocra

Arracrocra were created by the Jinn as servants and messengers. They did not so much rebel as fall to the wayside as the Jinn’s mercurial nature stopped paying attention to them. Arracroca have since found their way into the rest of the world.

The Middle Races

Halfling

Halflings are a race of destiny. They stand in the middle of the two courts and are balanced between them. Halflings are actually the most numerous race in Ballad. They can be found in every settlement in the world and scattered in wild places. Their culture is whatever culture is dominant in the region they live in. Northern halflings are often fishermen and raiders, whereas ones living in old elven cities are as civilized and refined as any elf. Their only commonalities are their ubiquity and luck.

Lizardfolk & Yuanti Pureblood

Ten thousand years ago, long before the coming of humanity, there was an uprising among the lizard related races against the dragons who saw them as theirs. Once vast empires were brought to ruin. The lizardfolk were driven to the hidden places, the oceans and other places the surface races did not often go.

Since then a few have returned to known parts of Ballad. Though some of the older races may remember the old war, most great them as another race of Ballad with no knowledge of their past. Ten thousand years is a long time.

They do have isolated cities in the deep tunnels or in the deep ocean where old practices are still followed. Arcan secrets are said to exist in such places, but so are deep horrors.

Wrapping up

That’s all I have for the other mortal races in Ballad. I think I would have a place for most races you could name but some would be rarer than others.

My primary goal here was to show more about how the world is structured. Like I said above, if this was intended to be published I would need to narrow this a bit due to usage rights. Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings would be fine but I would need to do something different for Aasimar or Genasi for instance.

What do you think? Did I miss something important? What would you want to play?

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