Monday, July 31, 2006

Human Ethnicities


Unlike the other humanoid races, humans are not divided into easily identifiable subraces with distinct traits, though they do vary greatly in appearance and cultural heritage. Any distinctions among human ethnicities are inevitably muddled because centuries of settlement and conquest have ensured that no division is absolute. Nevertheless, seven major human ethnic groups are widely recognized: Calishites, Chondathans, Damarans, Illuskans, Mulan, Rashemis, and Tethyrians.

Calishite: These humans, descended from the slaves of Calimshan's ancient genie lords, form the primary racial stock of the Border Kingdoms, the Lake of Steam cities, the Nelanther Isles, and Calimshan. Shorter and slighter in build than most other humans, Calishites have dusky brown skin, hair, and eyes. They regard themselves as the rightful rulers of all lands south and west of the Sea of Fallen Stars, and they look upon northern cultures as short-lived barbarian kingdoms barely worthy of notice. Most Calishites seek nothing more than a lifestyle of comfort and the respect of their peers.

Chondathans: Descended from the natives of the Vilhon Reach, these hardy folk have spread to settle most of the western and central Inner Sea region and much of the Western Heartlands. Chondathans form the primary racial stock of Altumbel, Cormyr, the southern Dalelands, the Dragon Coast, the Great Dale, Hlondeth and both shores of the Vilhon Reach, the Pirate Isles of the Inner Sea, Sembia, and Sespech. They are slender, tawny-skinned folk with brown hair that ranges from almost blond to almost black. Most are tall and have green or brown eyes, but these traits are hardly universal. The Chondathan domination of central Faerûn came about largely by virtue of extensive trade and settlement rather than by force of arms. Many Chondathans are merchants of one sort or another, and they are not afraid to take risks, travel, or settle new lands.

Damarans: Proud and stubborn, these humans were born from some scattered remnants of Narfell's fall - primarily groups of Nars, Rashemis, and Sossrims who struggled to survive, while waves of Chondathan emigrants settled in the lands of the Easting Reach. These four populations gradually coalesced into a new ethnic group that now makes up the primary racial stock of Damara, Impiltur, Thesk, and the Vast. Damarans are of moderate height and build, with skin hues ranging from tawny to fair. Their hair is usually brown or black, and their eye color varies widely, though brown is most common. Damarans see the world in stark contrasts - unspeakable evil (often stemming from the hubris of long-fallen empires) opposed by indomitable and uncompromising good. Most Damarans are farmers; loggers, or miners in a harsh and unforgiving land.

Illuskans: The seagoing, warlike people of the Sword Coast North, the Trackless Sea, and the Dessarin river valley, Illuskans are tall, fair skinned folk with blue or steely gray eyes. Among the islands of the Trackless Sea and Icewind Dale, their hair color tends toward blond, red, or light brown. On the mainland south of the Spine of the World, however, raven-black hair is most common. Illuskans are proud, particularly of their ability to survive in the harsh environment of their northern homelands, and they regard most southerners as weak and decadent. Illuskans make their livings as farmers, fishers, miners, sailors, raiders, skalds, and runecasters.

Mulan: Members of this ethnic group have dominated the eastern shores of the
Sea of Fallen Stars since the fall of ancient Imaskar. At various times in their long history, they have made up at least the ruling elite of Ashanath, Chessenta, the Eastern Shaar, Murghôm, Rashemen, Semphar, Thay, Thesk, and the Wizards' Reach cities south of the Yuirwood. Mulan are generally tall, slim, and sallow-skinned, with eyes of hazel or brown. Their hair ranges from black to dark brown, but all nobles and many other Mulan routinely shave off all their hair. As a race, Mulans are arrogant, conservative, and convinced of their cultural superiority over the rest of Faerûn.

Rashemis: These humans are tough, sturdy, and well adapted to life in the harsh and dangerous northeastern reaches of Faerûn. They are descended from the nomadic tribes that won the Oregate Wars and built the empire of Raumathar. Not only do Rashemis dominate Rashemen and Thay, they also form significant minorities in Aglarond, the Endless Wastes, Thesk, and the Wizards' Reach region. Rashemis tend to be short, stout, and muscular, and they usually have dusky skin, dark eyes, and thick, black hair. They cherish their strong ties to their land, appreciating its beauty while respecting its harshness. They display little of the arrogance that marks other groups whose ancestors once ruled empires.

Tethyrians: The Tethyrian culture is a melting pot of Calishite, Chondathan, Illuskan, and Low Netherese elements. This unique background makes Tethyrians among the most tolerant, though fiercely independent, ethnic groups in Faerûn. They inhabit a vast territory stretching from Calimshan to Silverymoon, and from the Sea of Swords to the Sea of Fallen Stars. Tethyrians are of medium build and height, with dusky skin that grows fairer the farther north they dwell. Their hair and eye color varies widely, but brown hair and blue eyes are the most common. Tethyrians are proud of their diverse heritage and protective of their freedom, so they tend to distrust powerful kingdoms and empires.

Other Human Ethnicities: Other human groups in Faerûn include the Bedine nomads of Anauroch, the tall tribes of Chult, the Durpari of the Shining South, the Ffolk of the Moonshae Isles, the Gur nomads of the Western Heartlands, the Halruaans, the ancient Imaskari, the Lantanna people of the southern islands in the Sea of Swords, the Maztican peoples, the Nar descendants of ancient Narfell, the ancient Netherese peoples, the Raumvirans of the Lake of Mists region, the Shaaran nomads of Shaar, the Shou and other peoples of Kara Tur, the Sossrims of the far northeast, the lost Talfir of the Western Heartlands, the Tashalan people of the Tashtan Coast, the Tuigan nomads of the Endless Wastes, the Turami of Turmish, the Ulutiuns of the farthest northern reaches, the Vaasans of the Moonsea and Vaasa, and the native people of Zakhara.


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