As mentioned last week, I'm trying to use this blog more to talk about what's up with Krendel. Today's topic is brought to you by a Twitter discussion that meandered wonderfully all over the place and hit player species in the process. Where the G+ community may have already gotten some of this (sorry guys, I honestly can't recall if I shared it), today I'm going to delve into intelligent species in the Krendel fantasy setting, ending specifically with playable species.
Take a look at Earth. How many apex predators do you see? One: humans. Mosquitoes get an honorable mention. Other animals got pushed out due to numerous factors, not the least of which is our brain. Others existed that could have competed with us: Neanderthals and pygmies both have been killed or bred out.
As with most things Krendel, I have attempted to ground the setting in a measure of reality or at least logical thought (arguably all things, but I'm sure I did something stupid somewhere). Since its also good to give people a sense of familiarity, humans take center stage. If there are humans, are there other species? Yes. How did they come about? How do they stay around? Let's look at those and what they may have spawned.
Humans became the apex predators of the environments they could settle. What about those they don't? You could have highly evolved aquatic, underground, arctic, etc species. This is where some ideas come from. Members of a campaign I ran in undergrad may remember the Gretholm and Thereesh. Where they are decidedly regulated to supplemental material, they could very well exist. OK Thereesh exist and Gretholm get a casual unnamed reference in mythic history, but they are far enough removed from the focus of the setting that they should be supplemental.
One mythic history tells of a rent in the sky from which flowed demons of liquid flesh. Scholars think these are the Brellans, intelligent creatures that can shift shape and mass (think of it like an organic, fluid version of G1 Megatron or Soundwave). Dropping an alien species into the middle of a setting gives a reason for how something came to be, but not how it stays around. Some live on the outskirts of civilization, some hide within it, and some rule openly, warping the humans they command into other things. Conflict with the latter was inevitable and first came to a head in recent history, leaving one of the regions devastated.
Folks may remember that published Krendel has rules for splicing two species together and that I've said that this fantasy setting guided that development in part. The idea of spliced species was directly inspired by Eleriad's (one of the gods) creation of the beast men (again in mythic history). So these guys are totally a thing, crafted by one of the gods to claim humanity as its own.
Alright, so you have at least one created species now in competition with humanity. How do they survive that competition? That mainly depends on who survived where and in what state. The war of the gods, known as the Breaking, devastated most centers of civilzation. Those would rebuild as best they could, and beastmen, like the sheldren and temli would flee to the outskirts or remain in fallen lands. The conflict for which will be dominant is ongoing.
Another one introduced in production Krendel and inspired by the setting is the evolutionary mutation. In production Krendel its introduced as a means by which a fantasy setting could excuse multiple species with many of the classic fantasy species descended from "proto-sapiens". That same principle applies to fantasy Krendel, except that the progenitor race is humans. Four identified evolutionary offshoots are nirwyn, pauwyn, jenka, and groud.
How do they keep from killing each other? Jenka mostly live underground, not much competition there. Groud fit in well with the beast men, but are mostly isolated due to their temperament, being mostly something you don't want to see a loved one turn into. The other two? The [mostly] look human. This also sets up our three playable species: humans, nirwyn, and pauwen.
I'm not going to get into stats beyond traits. Traits, scale, speed, health, powers, and natural weapons are how species are mechanically differentiated (some readers may note that Strength is absent from that list; it no longer exists). The three playable species (and all the ones mentioned above) are the same scale and have no inherent powers. Those three also have the same speed, health, and natural weapons, which have been simplified simply as "basic weapon" and which everything has. That leaves traits and flavor text, but only traits for mechanics. We'll take a quick spin through each of them.
Humans (Driven, Mutable): Driven encourages humans to indulge their drives and mental disorders, encouraging them to act to their true nature over what society may expect. These humans, like human societies of every age, may be paragons of virtue or sinister villains, creating and wrecking their own civilizations. Mutable is a rework of the old Evolutionary Crossroads, the species is prone to mutation but also a little hardier. That they can easily fall prey to warping magics instills many with a fear of not only exploration but of those who come back changed.
Nirwyn (Indelible, Uncreative): Indelible (formerly Potent Physique) allows nirwyn to bounce back from injuries and illness with little difficulty. Uncreative (formerly Stunted Innovation) prevents them from coming up with new ideas easily. As nirwyn and humans are outwardly indistinguishable, none know that they exist as a separate species. As they breed with humans and humans continue to change, it is conceivable that a society will become mostly or entirely nirwyn and find itself regressing technologically. In the originally planned space setting they were specifically created as a grunt warrior stock of humans, but, here, they are much more surreptitious in origin.
Pauwen (Color Blind, Night Vision): These traits are pretty self explanatory. Night vision lets them see in the dark, but at the cost of being color blind. These traits mirror many animals, and, like those animals, it gives them eye shine. Of course, people fear that which is different, and they control or destroy that which they fear. How humans (and nirwyn) view pauwen is no different.
So there's the three playable species and a small host of other intelligent species in the world, knitted together in a way that is plausible (at least in my mind). Other species certainly exist. Monstrous ones are remarkably easy to explain with the setting: pools of magical energy can rapidly mutate humans and others, the dreamscape can give form to nightmares, and brellans and various sorcerers can create minions of their own.
Its fair to note that there's nothing stopping you from playing one of the other species. If you want to play a group of sheldren raiding Ravishan and retreating back to the Storm Wall, cool. Its not the perspective that the setting is written from, but its fully possible to work it due to the nature of the system. Its also possible for humans to party up with beastmen or others, but most people won't look fondly upon such characters.