BRCS:Chapter nine/Creatures/Historic origins
This article is a Birthright Campaign Setting (D&D 3.5/D20) pageThe BRCS Document is a comprehensive toolbox consisting of rules, races, classes, feats, skills, various systems, spells, magic items, and monsters compatible with the d20 System version of Dungeons & Dragons from Wizards of the Coast.
The creatures that can be encountered throughout Cerilia come from a diverse series of origins and include a fairly large group of creatures. The oldest creatures native to Cerilia are the dragons and giants, then the Elves – who held dominion over the continent long ago. Other native creatures include the dwarves, goblins and orogs. Later arrivals include gnolls, ogres, fomorians, trolls, and kobolds. Humans are relative newcomers to Cerilia, but this has not kept them from displacing most of Cerilia's ancient peoples and claiming the bulk of Cerilia as their own.
Dragons are legendary creatures in Cerilia. Fewer than two dozen have ever been known to exist in living memory, and only six are alive today. The dragons of Cerilia don't fall into the chromatic or metallic species of other game worlds; instead, each is a unique and highly intelligent creature. The dragons are neutral in Cerilia's wars, preferring to be left alone in their high retreats in the Drachenaurs. Legends tell of dragon lore and sorcery unknown to men, and the brave and the foolhardy who seek out a dragon's lair in search of knowledge or power rarely return.
- See Also: Cerilian dragons
The giants of Cerilia are elemental creatures, closely tied to the earth. They tend to be solitary, reclusive creatures who aren't terribly interested in human affairs. Stone, hill, forest, and mountain giants all fall into this category. They are unlikely to attack humans unless the humans are trespassing in their territory or building settlements where they shouldn't be. Unfortunately the ice giants of the distant north and the evil fhoimorien are much more dangerous, because they are fond of launching raids into the surrounding lands.
- See Also: Giant, ice
- See Also: Giant, forest
Goblins, gnolls, orgos, and other such creatures have lived in Cerilia for thousands of years.
The most dominant race of these is the goblins, who control vast stretches of land in Anuire, Rjurik, and Vosgaard. The goblin race consists of several species, including goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears. These species breed interchangeably and are considered to be members of the same race. They're well organized and cruel, and they conduct raids with terrifying regularity. Though they're cowardly when confronted individually, the goblins present a serious threat when they band together. They are fairly intelligent, and even maintain treaties unless it pleases them to violate the terms. They tend to emulate the cultures nearest them in a twisted interpretation, so Anuirean goblins are known to have some honor (or at least understand the concept of honor), while Vos goblins are far more savage than their kin.
Tribes or clans loosely organize goblins society. For example, the kingdom of Kal Kalathor consists of no less than 37 distinct tribes. Most goblinoid kings are weak figures, unable to control their contentious supporters, but from time to time a particularly powerful, intelligent, and dangerous individual can forge an army from his squabbling subjects. Their kingdoms are strong and stable enough to stand as nations, and some have simple laws, broadly defined borders, and courts. They engage in trade with the lands around them, hire themselves out as mercenaries, and occasionally strike deals with bordering lands. However, goblinoids are known to be short-tempered, avaricious, and violent so it is not a good idea to trust one too far.
Goblins aren't considered monsters or pests; they are an intelligent and savage people not to be taken lightly. Goblinoids live by herding livestock, mining, selling their services as mercenaries, and raiding. They are slave-holders, and the weak among them do most of the labor.
- See Also: Goblins
Wandering marauders and brigands, gnoll tribes have troubled the peoples of Cerilia since before the coming of humankind. Gnolls are nomads and plunderers, moving constantly and existing from day to day with little thought of what tomorrow holds. They generally travel in nomadic tribes of several hundred members, but a few regions exist that are claimed by stable populations of gnolls. Unlike goblins, lone gnolls present certain danger. They are fierce fighters who rarely listen to reason. While a goblin might be interested in trade, gnoll are not. This is reflective of their lifestyle, which is barely above the animal level. They can be sometimes be bribed with trinkets and food, but they won't stay bought for long. Gnolls are canny woodsmen and are often difficult to track or detect until they have struck. Although it's a rare event, even the Anuirean heartland can be harassed by gnollish marauders.
- See Also: Gnolls
The orogs are a dangerous and cunning race of warriors who live in caverns and fortresses beneath Cerilia's mountains. They consider all other races of Cerilia to be their enemies, but have a specific hatred of dwarves. Orogs are well-equipped, fierce fighters led by powerful shamans and spellcasters and could be a significant threat to humans save for the fact that they are almost helpless in sunlight.
There are always rumors that the Orogs under the mountains are mustering for war again, but since the dwarves fiercely guard most entrances to and from the mountain tunnels which lead to the warrens of the Orogs, the truth of such tales are difficult to verify. In recent years, rumors tell of orogs using subterranean passageways to mount raids into lands far from their strongholds beneath the mountains. Orog activity has increased drastically, imperiling several Brechtur trade routes and making the mountains unsafe for travel. Some people suspect that a new leader is coordinating orog armies throughout Cerilia – a frightening thought indeed.
- See Also: Orogs
Just as Aebrynis has its native peoples, so does the Shadow World. These creatures have inhabited Cerilia since before recorded history, yet they are not entirely native, as for long years, they led a dual life, existing principally in the Fairie World and only occasionally visiting Aebrynis. Fey creatures include such creatures as dryads, sirines, nymphs, pixies, treants, unicorns, and halflings.
The path between the Fairie world and the Aebrynis has never been easy, but some Fey creatures have always crossed the borders between the two worlds, just as some inhabitants of Aebrynis desire to spend time in the Shadow World. As the power of the Cold Rider grows, more Fey creatures are finding paths into Aebrynis and attempting to make new homes. It is rumored that the Halflings were one of the first Fey races to come en masse to Aebrynis and become permanent residents. If so, other fey newcomers may share their fate, for the halfling race is rumored to have lost most (if not all) of the fey magic it possessed before embracing life in the world of mortals.
- See Also: Fey
Horrors of the Shadow World
After the cataclysm of Deismaar the nature of the Fairie world began to change. Whether the death of the gods wounded the world or (as some believe) a portion of Azrai's essence has leached into the very fabric of the Faire World itself, the Faire world has largely changed into a cold, dark, and desolate place. The sun no longer rises in much of the land now known as the Shadow World, and the Fey creatures which once inhabited the areas coexistent with Cerilia have been largely displaced by the living dead. On occasion, particularly on a dark or stormy night or in the dead of winter, such horrors are able to leave the shadow world and seek out flesh to rend and warmth to crush. Many varieties of horror have been reported, ranging from the commonly occurring zombies, ghouls, and wights to thankfully rare shadows, wraiths, and specters.
Celestials, fiends, and other outsiders
The Shadow World is believed to lead to the realms of the Gods; not only the Gods which are known to the humans, but also to more ancient and primal powers, long forgotten by the current races of Cerilia. The beings which abide in these places can sometimes be contacted and bargained with for power or knowledge. These beings may be the servants of long forgotten gods or perhaps even gods themselves. Although undoubtedly powerful, dealing in the affairs of such beings and their masters is always dangerous; the wise leave such beings undisturbed.
Some creatures have come to Cerilia from other continents; most prominent are the humans, but other, stranger creatures, have also come over time. The present is no exception. The continents of Aduria and Djapar, and others, still farther away, hold many strange creatures indeed. These creatures sometimes find their ways to Cerilia's shores by chance; sometimes they are brought for a specific purpose. In either event, encountering such creatures is rare, but not unheard of.
The spawn of Azrai
The touch of Azrai's spite is felt strongly to this day. Since his rising in Aduria, his touch has brought corruption and power. Throughout his long history, Azrai turned many of his servants (and enemies) into monstrous horrors. The most powerful of these creatures are his ancient servants of old – unique, immensely powerful individuals. Thankfully, these creatures are incredibly rare; most are though long dead and buried.
Other races were seemly created to breed and die as his footsoldiers. The beastmen of Aduria are commonly believed to have been created by Azrai's touch. Many believe that the curse of lycanthropy is also one of Azrai's legacies to mankind; a dark gift intended to strengthen the ranks of his followers.
Even after his fall, Azrai's corrupting touch birthed new horrors throughout Cerilia. Countless scions have arisen to claim power across Cerilia. Among the most fearsome of the scions are the awnsheghlien – scions tainted by Azrai’s bloodline and cursed to transform into warped but powerful monsters. Awnsheghlien are unique monsters, as each scion is shaped by their own personalities, passions, and desires into a form that best suits their darkest nature.
The awnsheghlien (aun-SHAY-lin) are the monstrous inheritors of evil bloodlines, just as the player characters and most of their neighbors are heroic scions of good bloodlines. Some of the existing awnsheghlien were physically present at the battle of Mount Deismaar more than 1,500 years ago. These are epic foes worthy of the most powerful player characters. Others came into their power much later and are suitable foes for scions of any level. Like other blooded beings, they can gain strength by controlling domains and through bloodtheft. They are, therefore, among the most dangerous of antagonists, for they are continually feeding off hapless scions and foolish kings.
Most awnsheghlien were once human, but some awnsheghlien were once normal beasts that somehow gained the taint of Azrai's blood. To some degree, the power seems to create an outward shape or form that matches the awnshegh's blighted spirit. The Gorgon, once a renowned warrior with a heart of stone, has a body that is a nearly perfect weapon and a hide which has become as hard as his heart. This dark power is as much a curse as it is a reward; many awnsheghlien are tortured creatures, mourning their lost humanity and despising themselves as much as they do others.
An awnshegh doesn't always conform to the standard version of the monster. The Gorgon isn't the bull-like creature described in the MONSTER MANUAL; he is a stone-skinned humanoid with horns, hooves, and giant-like strength. Since he was once a great human warrior, he's skilled in the use of most weapons and specialized in his favorites. To some degree, the physical transformations of the awnsheghlien are enhancements of their blood abilities. The manifestations of divine heritage are different for monsters than they are for heroes, though an awnshegh might possess blood abilities commonly associated with heroic lines.
Some of the awnsheghlien were monsters that served in Azrai's armies. The Kraken, the Manticore, and the Chimaera fall into this category. In the years since, they have become even more monstrous. Other awnshegh, such as the Hydra and the Minotaur, came into their dark power through misfortune or accident. Sometimes, new awnsheghlien are created when bloodlines tainted by Azrai's derivation happen to breed true. The Boar of Thuringode is one of these monstrosities.
Many of the awnsheghlien have spawned lesser creatures in their image – some are their children, bred with beast or man; others that are twisted mockeries shaped by the forces of magic or the power of their blood. The Hydra, for example, has spawned multitudes of multi-headed creatures, while the Manticore allows its smaller children to run rampant through the Land of Darkness. Those who would fight the awnsheghlien should be aware that killing a manticore is a trivial task compared to facing the Manticore.