Here there be monsters ...
The following are some of the creatures known to exist on Sarradar.
The Wild Hunt
Legend has it that when the world was first created, there were those amongst the gods that loved the natural beauty of what they had created so much that they imbued some of their power into forms of the earth and gave them sentience that they might be as companions to the gods. The most beautiful of these creations were the nymphs that arose from the woodland glades, the tranquil pools and the stark rock formations of the world. What is known is that there are many different subspecies of nymph, from those that can be found in and around forests, to those that frolic along the coasts, and even some that are said to traverse the icy wastes of the polar continents. Despite their varying habitat, nymphs are characterized by their strong links to the state of those environments in which they dwell, and are commonly considered guardians of places of natural power.
Dryads are a subspecies of nymph commonly found in moderately to densely wooded areas across a range of different climates. They can seem fickle to those that encounter them, sometimes merely curious and content to observe those that wander through their territories, and other times terrifyingly aggressive, pouncing upon unwary interlopers and injuring or killing them before disappearing back into the undergrowth. They are similar in height to humans, and can change their appearance from that of a lithe human or wildling to one with almost wooden skin, leafy hair and vicious claws. Most Dryads are believed to be female, with male Dryads an uncommon sight, and usually only found amongst a group of females.
The mystical Pixie is a woodland sub-species of nymph of fair appearance and capricious demeanour. Often encountered along the banks of streams and ponds, Pixies delight in the attention of other creatures, particular humans. At times frustratingly mercurial in their topics of attention, one who comes across them is sure however to have an interesting time. They dislike being outnumbered by others though, and if this becomes the case will disappear with little hesitation. It is for this reason that those wishing to meet a Pixie often do so by themselves, or in small groups. Their appearance is similar to other nymphs, with the main characterizing feature being patterns on their skin running from behind their ears to their ankles. Contrary to some accounts, pixies do not possess wings.
Terrifying to most humans, the Arachne species are reputed by legend to have been a sub-species of nymph that became cursed by the gods for unsavoury practices during the War in Heaven. Since that time they have inhabited old growth forests, swamps and ruins, and feeding on humans and creatures that enter these places, thereby giving credible rise to their reputation as monsters. Their involvement with the other bestial races seems to be a grudging relationship, done out of necessity against common foes than any mutual love of one another. Contrary to popular belief, not all Arachne are female, and outside of the lairs and their immediate surrounds it is often the lesser males that are encountered by adventurers.
A nymph that has grown old often becomes a Hag, which despite the connotations of the name does not necessarily denote it as an ugly creature. Far from it in fact, for some Hags possess a beauty akin to those found in some of Sarradar’s wildest places. The defining features of a Hag over lesser nymphs are that they possess a level of magical aptitude akin to most expert mages and a will to use their wisdom and powers to further the cause of the Wild Hunt. Many Hags can be found acting as commanders or advisors for the greater Lords and Ladies of the Hunts, just as often as they can be found by themselves alone in the wilderness.
Goliaths are a humanoid species considered one of the bestial races, and variations dwell in all land-based climates. They are commonly found in small groups of up to a dozen or so or as lone individuals. Larger groups are rare and only brought together through the involvement of a Briar Witch or a Satyr, often dispersing into smaller groups once the purpose for which they have been brought together is concluded. They are often quick-to-anger and violent, turning on any who get in their way or have something that they want. Goliaths are typically a foot taller than most humans, with green-grey skin that is often tattooed or painted with circular designs of spiritual significance to them.
Records of werewolves stretch back through the ages to the very start of human civilisation. They are skilled predators that stalk through the wilderness and through the more warren-like parts of the cities, hunting humans and animals alike. Werewolves are said to be created when a wolf spirit possesses the body of someone killed by a werewolf or on occasion a regular wolf, reanimating them to life, but now with the mind of the wolf. A key ability of the werewolf is to transform in shape from that of a wolf, to that of a man, and sometimes something in between. The Wild Hunt use werewolves as their shock troops, leading the charge into battle and breaking up the opponent’s forces while the others hit at the weak points.
Ranging in size from those smaller than a housecast to ones as large as a draft horse, the drake species can be found across all continents and throughout a range of habitats. They vary widely in intelligence, attitude towards humans and personality in general with a tendency towards that of a large cat. Although they can occasionally be found in some towns and cities perched atop the roofs or fighting for food scraps in back alleys with dogs, drakes are most commonly encountered in the wilderness in small groups. Travellers should be careful with even playful seeming drakes, for they can quite quickly turn from curious to dangerous, tearing into their victims for no reason other than a dislike for their presence.
The large and brutish troll may be fearsome to behold, but is surprisingly easy to avoid, as long as it isn’t hungry. Shying away for the most part from open settlements, trolls can mostly be found in well-developed forests where there is plenty of space amongst the trees and there is abundant game to hunt. They are a cunning species that are naturally skilled at hunting and trapping, and are known to stalk choke-points in the wilderness where game naturally passes through, giving rise to the tradition of trolls guarding bridges and passes. When present in the forces of the Wild Hunt, Trolls typically take on the largest foes they face, in human armies usually this means the mounted knights. A single blow from a troll is usually enough to send a knight crashing down from his horse, and knights who expect to face trolls would be wise to adapt their tactics accordingly.
During the time of Paradise before the War in Heaven, the Satyrs are said to have already dwelt on the surface of Sarradar, with many serving the gods in their divine palaces as guardians and soldiers. During the war they fought for their masters and many died. Their savagery was said to have been legendary, none could match their brute power. When the war was over and the gods retreated to their celestial domains, they left the Satyrs to themselves amidst the ruins of Paradise. The Satyrs are said to have disappeared into the deepest forests, becoming reclusive from the world, their places were left alone and avoided for the fear of violence. When the other mortal races arose, the Satyrs only came out only when provoked, there were feared but for the few humans that earned their respect, they became close friends, but their numbers dwindled, and in time they all but disappeared from the world. Those that remain are amongst the lords and ladies of the Wild Hunt, or else remain hidden from mortal eyes.
Myths abound regarding the great dragons of Sarradar and their interactions with other races. During the War in Heaven it is said that dragons fought on both sides of the conflict, but that they were doing so for reasons of their own rather than just those of the gods. In more recent history Dragons have been terrors that preyed upon towns and villages, enigmatic guardians haunting ancient ruins, and wise loremasters residing in isolated locales. They capture the imagination of bards and common-folk alike, but their true nature is as inscrutable as the winds. Woe be it one who encounters a Dragon in hostile circumstances, for if their claws and teeth are not enough to pose a threat, the magic that most seem to wield is enough to reduce entire regiments of troops to ruin.
Savages (Wild Men)
Since the gods first gave life to humankind and placed them on Sarradar to dwell, there have been those that have shunned the towns and cities of the civilised peoples and instead chosen to live in primitive surrounds in opposition to their kin. Unlike the Dra’zhar, who despite the slurs and common misconceptions are actually a highly civilised people with an albeit nomadic existence, the Savages as they are called have little to unify them beyond their tribal clusters. Through necessity more than desire, Savages are commonly brought into the ranks of the Wild Hunt, where they are given some degree of protection and left with some independence in exchange for their assistance if the war horn is sounded. Savages appear as rough garbed humans, though can commonly be mistaken for some of the more human-looking bestials.
Rahain The enigmatic Rahain are a humanoid race that in the distant past once controlled much of Lorandar and southern Aluvinor. They quickly rose in power in the time after the War in Heaven, building cities and edifices across these lands and the great continent of Aunwe. Their power in all but Aunwe has diminished markedly since then though, first as the Ancients ascended in power and drove them from much of Lorandar and Aunwe, and then as the humans filled the space after the Ancients were defeated. The Rahain now focus instead on protecting their remaining areas and their vast holdings on Aunwe, and look instead to the Empyrean and other exotic locales to extend their influence. Rahain appear much akin to humans, though with slightly pointed ears and a demeanour that suggests they understand a lot more about what the world is really like than you do.
Vermis are some of the most commonly encountered demons, presenting themselves similarly to mortal humanoids, though with markings and affectations that stand them apart from those they resemble. Vermis, like most demons, can be found in a wide variety of locales, although it is rare to find them outside of settlements without some form of more powerful demon leading them. While individual Vermis do have differences of appearance and mannerisms between themselves, they are by and large quite similar to each other, a result it is said of the processes by which a demon is created.
The imposing Myrmidons are most often found leading groups of Vermis, acting as bodyguards for Dahaka or Ifrit, or forming elite units in larger battles. They are fearsome to fight in combat, and can carve through dozens of mortal soldiers before falling themselves. Though like all demons it is only a matter of time before they reform, Myrmidons seem to take particular pride in fighting fiercely but not recklessly, often appearing to make bets with other Myrmidons as to how many foes they can take down without falling themselves. Their appearance is much like a Vermis with increased arcane markings and often a hefty amount of armour and heraldry of their Prince.
Of all the demons, it is the Malefactors that are most likely to be encountered by themselves by a hapless mortal. The Malefactors act as the scouts, spies and specialists of the Legion or the unaligned Princes, and possess a range of talents that make them in many ways more terrifying than their brethren. It is believed that Malefactors are demons forged from the souls of madmen and psychopaths, for it is their kind that seem to delight in the pursuit of intrigue and torture, the signing away of souls and the the corruption of virtuous hearts. Despite their varied roles, Malefactors seem to display an increased level of scarification beyond what is normal for demons, and will often have an eclectic and somewhat odd style of dress.
Also referred to as succubi when referring to female seeming variants of this demon, the incubi are a particular form of malefactor that seems to focus on the seduction of men and women for various purposes. Said to possess the power to disguise themselves in the form of ordinary mortals, an incubus will bed a mortal after a successful seduction and in doing so take part of the victims soul that they can then use to grow a new demon. This demon child is then often offloaded back to the hapless mortal, as an incubus has little interest in dealing with a screaming infant. Unfortunately for them, these ‘changeling’ children as they are called are often put to death, as once they are fully grown they are prone to manifesting the fel powers of the aether in service to the Legion.
Though the ranks of the Ebon Legion and other aethereal forces are complemented by a wide variety and number of constructs, the Eidolon is a type of arcane construct of particular potency and usefulness that its kind have even been created or otherwise acquired by mortal mages as well. Their form can vary considerably, but an Eidolon is typically distinguished by arcane sigils across its head, torso and limbs that are manifestations of the spell-forged animus that empowers them. Typically imposing even when merely standing still, the true power of an Eidolon manifests itself in the spells they wield with expert ease, and if those fail, their innate strength can crush a man’s windpipe with little effort, even through plate armour.
Most of the lesser demonic ‘nobility’ consist of the cunning Ifrit, demons of significant age and influence that cloak themselves in fine gowns or ornate armour and wield fearsome weapons and spells of dark power. Thankfully they are rarely encountered except by those who are important or foolish enough to warrant their attention, for those that do come face-to-face with them rarely come out better off. Whether they are completely mad or saner than most mortals, they possess an air of dignity and power that stands them above their forces and can easily be picked out as a result.
Malkur While many demons ascending to the noble ranks of their kind become Ifrit in their pursuit of arcane power, those that choose instead to hone their aethereal forms and become demi-gods of combat and physical prowess become what are known as Malkur. These members of the demonic nobility often surround themselves with elite warbands of Myrmidons and rarely settle down in one place for long. When the Ebon Legion marches in strength against a target, the Malkur act as the Warmasters and the leaders of the vanguards.
Rare amongst the demonic nobility, the Dahaka is a demon of immense power that has ascended to a point where it wields such power to be next to unstoppable against anything short of the intervention of celestial archangels or perhaps even the gods themselves. They are both grand and terrible in their appearance, standing heads taller than most mortals, ensconced in arcane armour of fiery obsidian and swathed in cloaks of oblivion itself. A Dahaka will rarely appear or speak to a mortal, and few who do enter their presence live to tell of it. Rarer still are those who have entered into combat with one of these terrible beings and emerged victorious. Their accounts are the stuff of legend, told in taverns and to small children alike, like Rodigan the Mighty or Caedra Weirbranch of the Seven Holds.
Though some prefer to use the term ‘zombie’ for the more mindless of the simple undead, the term Ghoul is what correctly defines those creatures that have been reanimated but not yet empowered by the necromantic energies that sustain them. Despite commonly held beliefs, graveyards are typically not a favoured haunt for ghouls, and you are far more likely to find one of these creatures swimming in an offal pit than you are to stumble across one lurking between the gravestones. They are motivated fundamentally by a hunger for flesh, the fresher the better, and other long-dead corpses hold little appeal to them. Ghouls appear as one would typically expect, like a walking corpse, replete with the pallor of the dead and any injuries sustained while living.
There are those amongst the undead, known commonly as Shrikes, for whom the living world is not so easy to distance themselves from. Having quickened upon the taste of human blood, they dwell near places of human congregation on whom they draw sustenance, feeding enough not to slip into lethargy or frenzy and not too much that they attract the attention of hunters. A mortal wishing to avoid such creatures should be wary of being led into an alley or backroom by an enticing figure, but given humanity’s continued predilection for doing just that, Shrikes can expect easy feeding for quite some time to come. Their appearance is much like the living, and they rarely seem to bear the marks of death, except for a slight pallor and a flush of rouge around the eyes and lips.
Having attuned to the necromantic energies that empower them, a ghoul may grow in power to become what is known in the Old Tongue as a Draugr. These grim, gaunt creatures often arise from those who were champions or powerful arcanists in life. They frequently can be found leading smaller bands of ghouls, though even by themselves can be tough opponents to defeat. Stoic and motivated, Draugr will fulfil orders they are given to the utmost of their abilities, or pursue a self-set goal for far longer than any mortal would consider reasonable. Their skin is typically marked by the pallor of death tinged with veins of frozen blood that they no longer use. While they definitely possess the ability to change their garb, as has been witnessed of those that served in the forces of the greater undead of the Pale Host, few Draugr care enough about their appearance to do so, or perhaps retain some sentimentality over what they died or were buried in.
By embracing the power inherent in the blood of living creatures and using it to sustain their unlives, some that rise again as undead are reborn as Vampires. The first of their kind are said to have been created during the War in Heaven by the Gods of the Dark, scattering after the end of the war to the hidden places of the world where they dwelt until the civilisations of the mortal races rose and drew them out. Vampires are well-known for feeding on mortals, and as such are found either dwelling hidden and amongst the urban populations or maintaining their own ‘herds’ of mortals on which to feed in secure compounds in isolated parts of the wilderness. Vampires are also known for their supernatural strength and ability to manipulate their surroundings to suit their purposes through strange forms of magic.
Through self-transfiguration by esoteric means, an undead of already substantial power can ascend even further to become an all but immortal Liche. These fel creatures are often what become of sorcerers and knights that quest for immortality through the conquest of death, and though they succeed in a sense, the path to this point requires that sacrifices be made. Liches are known for the hunger that they possess for the souls of the living, which they steal and consume to sustain their unearthly lives. Whilst powerful as a result, Liches ensure that they are well protected against the quests of righteous templars and angry mobs, and surround themselves with all manner of dangerous minions within some previously abandoned castle or dungeon.
Less clearly distinct than their fallen counterparts the demons, the term celestial encompasses the entire host that remain pledged to the various Gods of the Light, Chiera first and foremost amongst them. A typical celestial when manifesting in the presence of a mortal will often at first seem much like just another human, and only through it revealing its presence or by careful deduction can its true nature be discerned. Powerful in many ways, celestials are capable both of great feats of combat and of the arcane, and rarely can be bested by mortal contenders. It is thankful then that celestials are on the side of the Light.
Pitiful creatures that come out only at night or during the twilight hours, Grendel are believed to be a species descended from humans who fled into the Labyrinth when the Ancients overtook the First Cities. Their appearance in lands other than Aluvinor has given credence to the belief that the Labyrinth stretches much farther under the world than most are willing to believe. Grendel lack an organised society, gathering instead in small tribes, but do possess a rudimentary language that some claim to retain elements of ancient Aluvian. Omnivorous by necessity, the Grendel subsist primarily on fungi and small creatures that they can catch, or on larger creatures that fall victim to sinkholes and other hazards near to the underground environment. When particularly hungry, Grendel are well known to try and take livestock or vulnerable people from isolated farms, but will rarely have the courage to stand against any form of organised resistance.
More commonly known as the “badger-folk”, the Melegens are a bestial species that have been recorded throughout history as far back as the First Cities. Seen as friendly and generous, the people of the First Cities and the Free Tribes both interacted with these creatures. Though records indicate the Melegens may have possessed significant settlements in the distant past, many scholars believe this to be little more than fanciful storytelling, for as of yet no confirmed ruins of any such places have been found. The Melegen that are encountered by the present day are often only found in the company of Wild Hunt warbands where they act as healers or quartermasters, or in small trade caravans that roam the fringes of civilised regions.
Mountainfolk are an ancient race that legends say fought in the War in Heaven alongside the Gods of the Light. Standing almost a head taller than most humans, the Mountainfolk are remarkably dexterous and possess little fear whether kilometres underground or climbing the highest peaks. The society of the Mountainfolk is a carefully managed one, where resources are used as much as possible with as little waste as possible, with many of their towns and cities self-sufficient. Countless wars and conflict with other species, especially the Ancients, has led to the Mountainfolk society becoming one largely isolated from the parts of the world frequented by the other civilised species, allowed in large part due to the aforementioned self-sufficiency. Despite a common belief perpetuated amongst the uneducated, the Mountainfolk people are not rare, but due to their appearance being close to that of large humans, are often mistaken as such when they do visit a human settlement.
It is believed in many ways that the humanoid race of the Sithain are related to the Rahain of the Southern Continents, and were one of each to stand side by side the resemblance would be clear. Why the two are yet distinct is a matter perhaps for the history books, but what is clearly apparent is the differing nature of their societies. While the Rahain dwell on isolated continents or in the depths of old forests, the Sithain possess a grand and powerful society that fears little the threat of human imperial ambition. On the northern continent of Sar-karadas and in numerous other colonial realms the Sithain maintain vibrant populations, strong armies and navies, and trade networks with surrounding regions. It is likely for this reason that the Northern Kingdoms of the humans have never grown as great as the Five Realms, for the Sithain are clearly aware of the losses of their southern Rahain counterparts, and will not idly suffer the same fate.
Legends differ as to the means by which the race of Tuskjaws was brought into the world. Some say it was by the hands of the Gods of the Dark, others by a powerful and quite mad sorcerer, and some who contend that they have always been as much a part of the world as most other species. Resembling a human in stature, but with a darkened skin and naturally greater muscle mass, the Tuskjaws are most commonly found in tribes joined with the Wild Hunt, although some larger clans are said to exist on the continent of Caratas. The feature that lends them their common name are the elongated canines they possess that they use to viciously latch on to any food or enemy that they attack. Although attacks by Tuskjaws are not uncommon in the wilder parts of Manara or Dhoravin Ghur, civilised regions are rarely troubled by the creatures, and the only time an inhabitant of such a place is likely to see one is when a travelling circus comes to town.