One of my favorite parts of creating the world of Kaeroth and writing about it has been the worldbuilding that I and a few friends have done. We wanted the setting of Kaeroth to be unique from other fantasy worlds, but to also fit in. Because the whole idea started with playing a few sessions of Dungeons and Dragons, that is the framework that we chose. However, readers that are familiar with DnD will note several key changes from that canon. Readers who know nothing of DnD will still, I think, appreciate knowing more about the races that populate my story. To that end, here is my guide to the races of Kaeroth:
Average lifespan: 150 years
Elves have run civilization practically since civilization began. They are generally intelligent, inventive beings and do not take well to being told what to do. Most Elves are well off, cultured, and know little of how other races live. They believe they are rulers by birthright. Elves in Kaeroth rarely stand taller than five feet and are typically slim in build. They possess a perceptible vitality that lasts well into their old age. Their emotions rarely influence their decision making, and they look down on the other races, most of whom value intuition above logic. There are three races of Elves in Kaeroth: High Elves, Sea Elves, and Dark Elves. The High Elves are cultured, urbane, and most often found in centers of imperial power. Sea elves are coastal folk, and form a large part of the officer core of the Imperial Navy. Dark Elves are the least common elves, and are abrupt, taciturn, and more concerned with doing than talking.
Members of other races typically view elves with respect, if not slight resentment. The fact that the elves have withstood two major wars and many more small rebellions serves to keep any grumbling to a minimum, however. Most prefer now to tolerate the elves and their lack of what many would call a sense of humor.
Average lifespan: 70
Humans, along with Dwarves fill the upper middle class in the Elvish empire. Humans are among the shortest lived of the free peoples, and are generally the most impulsive of the races in Kaeroth. Humans tend to take more risks: in their minds, it is best to live life to the fullest since their time is more limited than their peers.
Humans are usually seen as formidable, if only because they rarely speak without the intent to back up their words. Even a foolish human commands respect because if they say they will do something, there is a good chance they will do that thing on impulse alone, no matter how foolish. Gnomes find dealing with humans particularly irritating, since the impulsivity of humans tends to disrupt their well-laid plans.
Average lifespan: 120
Dwarves are almost universally skilled artisans, engineers, and craftspeople. They are clever with their hands and hearty in their relationships. A Dwarf’s word is his or her bond: honoring commitments to the letter is of paramount importance. Their naturally enhanced constitutions mean they can survive in climates few other races could manage. Their resistance to poison also means they are adventurous in the kitchen: some of the best chefs in Kaeroth are dwarves. Dwarves typically think that something worth doing is worth doing excessively. Not even humans can match them in their hedonism.
No other race is as universally liked as Dwarves. It is common knowledge that dwarves are good company, entertaining guests and steadfast friends. However there are those who believe that Dwarves lack the ability to see the “big picture” and are too caught up in their own exploits to see the ramifications of their actions.
Average lifespan: 100
Halflings often find themselves in work dictated by their stature: there are just some places only someone less than three feet tall can fit. As such they are often laborers and fill many shoes other races deem unpleasant. While they might find this a little insulting, they typically rather enjoy working with their hands, and bear their burdens with good cheer. Enough Halflings have reached positions of power in the empire that they do not feel prejudiced against.
Other races find halflings amusing, but struggle to bond with them in a meaningful way. Perhaps this is due to the small stature of Halflings, or perhaps it is because tasks that seem quite mundane to most bring delight to the little folk. One notable exception to this rule is Gnomes: there is great friendship between these two races.
Average lifespan: 200
In Kaeroth, the saying goes that “you want an Elf to run things, a dwarf to build things, but a gnome to design them.” Gnomes have an attention to detail that exceeds that of other races. This lends itself well to architectural and engineering work, but that is only part of the skillset of a gnome. Gnomes also make up a disproportional amount of philosophers and other academics in Kaeroth. All this fits perfectly with the traditional phrase: “a gnome’s best weapon is her mind.”
While there have been many famous gnomes over the centuries, most other races find it hard to take the average gnome seriously. Gnomes are often viewed as impractical, or lazy. This assessment is hardly just, but it is true that gnomes rarely have the physical capabilities to carry out their grandiose plans. Halflings are a notable exception to this rule, however, and commonly associate with gnomes.
Average lifespan: 80
The orcs of Kaeroth are not true orcs at all. They are at most half-orcs; after centuries of breeding together, they have become a race unto themselves. However, because the Elves committed genocide against the pureblood Orcs, most people now refer to the descendants of the original half-orcs as just Orcs. The legendary belligerence of their ancestors only occasionally evidences itself in modern Orcs, although their impressive physiques mean many pursue physical endeavors. Orcs are tall, broad, and covered in a dense coat of short, waterproof, green fur that looks like thick skin from a distance.
Orcs are considered second class citizens, yet they also enjoy the benefits of societal guilt. Because there are no pure orcs left, most people, (especially elves) feel it is their responsibility to ensure that the modern Orcs are able to live in comfort (although they would never want to be close friends). Orc soldiers are among the most celebrated in the Impirial army, rarely due to their actual prowess (which is considerable) but more due to the novelty of this minority making it into a position of honor in the first place
Average lifespan: 200
The dragonborn remain second class citizens, potentially due to their non-humanoid appearance. However, unlike the tieflings, dragonborn have found a niche in modern society. Their uncanny ability to navigate on the ocean means nearly every ship sailing between the mainland and the Golden Isles and beyond has a Dragonborn at the helm. They rarely become captains of their ships, but this concerns them little, as they are conscious of their invaluable skills. In fact, every ocean map is written the secret dragonborn tongue, specifically to ensure the longevity of their careers.
Most other races view dealing with dragonborn as a necessary evil. Their scaly skin, hissing voices, and intense eyes are intimidating to those faint of heart. However, dragonborn are known as procurers of items that are hard to come by, due to their association with shipping and map making.
Tieflings rarely fit neatly into the fabric that is life on Kaeroth. Victims of centuries of prejudice for their outlandish appearance, They were neither particularly tragic, like that Orcs, nor useful, like the Dragonborn. Rather, Tieflings are artisans, craftspeople, storytellers. It is little wonder that many of them join the gypsy bands that travel from town to town around the countryside. However, not even most tieflings favour the vagabond life; a vast majority make their homes in the small towns and farming communities of Kaeroth where their skills as potters, master weavers, goldsmiths, and the like are valued, though few would come out and say so.
While tieflings are rarely seen as contributing members of society, enough have become prominent artists that they are usually seen in a positive light. Most members of the elven elite class own works from tiefling masters, and nearly all dwarves collect trinkets from the lesser tiefling craftspeople.
Average Lifespan: Varied
Gypsy bands are comprised of the disenfranchised, the unwanted, and those children of Kaeroth affected with what could only be described as wanderlust. Loosely formed into bands for mutual profit and protection, the gypsies travel from town to town, putting on carnivals and selling knick-knacks. Gypsies are treated with a curious mixture of curiosity and revulsion. People are generally excited when gypsies roll into town, but as soon as theft is blamed on them, the vagabonds are driven out. After hundreds of years of such treatment gypsies have become increasingly violent when faced with what they feel are grossly unjust actions against them.
Gypsy bands are usually comprised of humans, tieflings, halflings, and gnomes. Dwarves are not uncommon, but less prevalent than others. Elves are rare, but even they are not unheard of. The only race never found in a gypsy band is Dragonborn.