Humans

Phys rep requirements: None (war paint is very uncommon)
Role in the Empire: Menial labourers, farmers and traders.
Maximum age: 100
Adult age: 18
How common they are: Very

History in the Eternal Empire:

The Humans very much had their place in the Empire; they were the servants, the farmers, the menials. They provided for the Elves and were given peace and order in return. Fear of the Elven archmages kept anyone from speaking out; not even kinship to the elves would keep you safe, as was demonstrated when those elves who dissented from the Empire’s wishes were kicked out. Therefore, the Humans kept their heads down and pretended to be loyal, peaceful and well-trained; after all, who wants to be kicked out of the comfort of the Empire to live among the green-skins and have to fight for the meagre border territories?

After the Fall:

The High Elves disappeared and none know why; stories tell that shadows were burned on to the walls and bodies littered the streets…but not a single Elf lay fallen amongst them. The humans that survived were free of their masters. Unlike the Fae, they were more than capable of taking care of themselves and because many of them were farmers, they had enough food for themselves, with plenty left over to trade with the other species. Relations with the other species weren’t very peaceful for the first while; the Orcs and Goblins in particular rushed in to seize territory and to make good on the opportunity presented to them to escape their lives living on the borders on scraps. The Wood Elves and the Dwarves kept to themselves and the Fae were never a threat.

The Humans were defensive of what lands they were suddenly in control of after the Fall; they built walls and put roving militia and mercenary groups together to repel any green-skin invaders. In every town and village, humans rose to power; they might hold their position for a while, depending how cunning, manipulative, wise or respected they were, but they always fell with either a knife in their back or an army at their door. However, there usually was another human waiting in the shadows behind them, ready to step into the dead man’s shoes. The best known of these was Carolyn Gerald, a former sergeant of the town guard, who rounded up a large army through threats and intimidation before proclaiming herself Empress. She demanded fealty from all the former subjects of the Empire and many did flock to her bull-symbol banner, based on the ruins of the capital. She and her grand army marched against a Dwarven mining hold, which refused to submit. The Dwarves collapsed the entrance of the mine on the grand army’s heads and thus ended the last unified force in what was once the Eternal Empire. This event lead to some animosity between Humans and Dwarves, but eventually the Dwarves’ need for grain and food and the Humans’ desire for shiny weapons and armour overcame this hostility and allowed trade links between the two species to become re-established some years later.

Psychology & outlook:

Humans are noted for their adaptability, the way they use abstract reasoning to solve problems, how they fit themselves into society and carve themselves niches and positions of power. Some of them are corrupt or selfish; others are genuinely concerned for the welfare of others and speak out on behalf of those weaker than themselves. They are good at learning and spreading information throughout their society; they are curious about their environment, they want to understand and influence the world around them. They work in groups, though back-stabbing is always a risk with this, unlike Goblin group-work, where they actually look out for each other; Humans are naturally contentious, making it difficult to get them to unite under a single banner. Through trading networks and from the numbers of them who travel to see family, news and ideas spread like wildfire amongst them. They have complex social structures, with extended families and kinship being regarded as important; with this comes rivalry between groups over limited resources or influence and occasionally this leads to violence. The Family is one such group; they are mercenaries who take young children with potential and train them in a wide range of skills.

Humans are a fairly superstitious lot, with a culture that includes many stories, myths, legends and religions; they like to have some sort of symbolism included in the way they dress, either with a symbol of the god or goddess that their specific group prays to, a badge of their hometown or some nod to the group they are currently affiliated with as part of their clothing and jewellery. They mourn any who fall in battle, or who die from illness or old age, though the particular ceremony followed is dictated by whichever god or goddess the person believed in; ceremonies vary between wearing black for three days to celebrating the person’s life with a wake. Many also follow strict moral codes, which they follow with self-righteous conviction.

It is traditional that the men do the jobs that require more strength, while the women look after the smaller livestock, sew, trade and mind the children. However, after the Fall, these traditions have started to break down as some women insisted on learning to defend themselves and their families, or had to take over the whole farm after their male relatives died. Social norms for clothing are now based around their profession or trade; i.e. practical, hard-wearing clothes and armour for fighters and robes for those who live within town walls or who are traders, clerics or entertainers. Being traders and leaders, marriages are often arranged for advantage in society or for acquisition of wealth, though some do marry for love.

Humans build extensively, fortifying their existing towns and villages and setting up new ones; being the adaptable creatures they are, they have made nature work for them, creating systems to irrigate fields and provide water to towns. Most towns have their own charter since the Fall, where the inhabitants met and drew up a list of rules, rights and duties of the citizens living there, as well as what punishments should be meted out to those who are caught breaking the laws; visitors who show up to a town and who are not known or spoken for by any of the citizens tend to be treated with suspicion. The poorer parts of larger towns are crowded and dirty, with buildings crammed together and overhanging the streets and whole families packed inside each room. Those who are wealthier enjoy substantial houses to themselves, with large spacious rooms. Any visiting Dwarves are usually polite enough not to comment on Humans’ stonemasonry skills, unless they are completely drunk or the work is exceptionally shoddy; the wealthiest of Humans sometimes manage to persuade dwarves to build their defences for them, which the Dwarves are generally happy to do, as then they get paid with food, they won’t have to ignore bad workmanship when they come to visit and they will know the fortifications’ defences inside out. Crime is often a problem in the towns, with orphans and rogues roaming the streets looking for good marks. Those who are caught are generally flung into dungeons for arbitrary amounts of time, though some warlords cut off hands or execute criminals, depending on their nature and their mood. Some criminals are actually punished as listed in the town charter.

Humans are now starting to develop their own courts and are making an effort to use formal court manners; the Fae sometimes to try hide their smirks but usually fail in this endeavour, though they would never be so uncouth as to outright snigger at the antics of these suddenly-civilised Humans. More Humans are learning to write, so literacy is very common these days, whereas in the Empire, only traders would have bothered to learn to read, write and do basic maths. Again the Fae look at the Humans’ chicken-scratch scribbling, nod and smile and then offer to act as scribes; they often offer the Human in question a choice of which of their beautiful handwriting styles they would prefer to be used. Humans tend to prefer heavier weapons like two-handed swords, dual wielding swords or polearms in order to show off, but rogues and peaceful traders tend to use short swords or knives that can be hidden. They also like to show off by hosting magnificent feasts, which attract other Humans and particularly Fae like flies, though most Humans make do with whatever is locally available and within their budget, with farmers living on a plain but plentiful fare. Many Humans who have risen to power like to patron Fae to entertain their courts and to add some class to the proceedings, though they also encourage Human bards to tell stories, sing and play music. Some of the Human bards resent the Fae, who often weave their magic and innate grace into their performances.

Stereotypes (and what isn’t):

“The Orcs believe that our mightiest warrior has less spirit than their smallest runt, as we pretended to be servile in order to stay in the Empire. Frankly, they can yell that up at me, sitting here in my big, well-defended castle with my acres of estates and farmlands, all they want.”

One particular stereotype that the other species believe of the Humans can be summed up by the Dwarven proverb – if you sell an axe to a Human, the first thing he’ll do is fell another Human with it. This, unfortunately, is true in quite a few cases, though not all. However, in order to get ahead in life, sometimes sacrifices have to be made. These sacrifices can include spilling the blood of your relatives/peers or can involve the paying of good coin so that assassins do your dirty work for you, whichever you prefer.

Attitude to other species:

Wood Elves

“Now that we’re finally free of the Elves, it’s hard to trust these ones and I don’t see why we should. Maybe we should treat them as they once treated us and see how they like it. When I was young, my mother used to scare me with tales of Elven archmages coming to get me if I was bold…”

Fae

“They’re interesting and tell pretty stories. Some of them are a bit shifty, but for the most part they’re ok. It’s good to be allowed to hear their tales now that the Elves aren’t hogging them anymore. They’re a bit useless though, some of them can’t look after themselves at all. There’s some people with money who are getting them to stay as live-in bards to declaim their master’s victories in battle and they seem grateful for the food and shelter they get from it.”

Orcs

“They’re ferocious fighters and they like their independence, which is fine so long as they stay away from us. They often don’t though, as they’re eager to claim more territory in better lands away from the hellholes they were banished to by the Elves. They’re raiders and we’ve had to fight them off our lands often enough. Some of our grandfathers used to fight their raiding parties back in the days of the Empire; according to the stories passed down from those days and from those who’ve fought them more recently, they’re tough alright.”

Goblins

“Sneaky thieving little sods; don’t trust them as far as you can throw them. They’re spies and thieves, trying to pretend to be traders. When I was young, if my mother wasn’t scaring me with stories of the Elven archmages, she was telling me that the Goblin King or his minions would be coming to snatch me from my bed during the night, on account of them being afraid of the light and having some predilection for eating only human teeth. It’s why I still keeps a nightlight on and why I keep the windows barred tight shut even on the most humid nights. – Oh, predilection means having a preference for; my mum used to love showing off with using big words when she was shaking the wooden spoon at me and telling me off.”

Dwarves

“We give them food and grain, they give us master crafted weapons and armour. What’s not to love about them? Well, there’s the fact they collapsed a mine on a Human army a good few years back. We could hold that against them. But to be honest, why fight them and take their armouries by force when we can just give them some grain and get them to custom-made weapons and tailor-made armour for us?”