The following is a gamer’s introduction to the fantasy races available for play in a World of Aetaltis campaign. We'll share detailed information about the races and their cultures, as well as Fifth Edition game rules, in future posts.
The Enari & the Alliance
The playable races of Aetaltis are divided into two groups. The enari (drothmal, dwarves, elves, fairies, halflings, sprites, and scythaa) are the original inhabitants of Aetaltis. The alliance races (humans, cheebats, newardin, and orogs) are a group that found itself trapped on Aetaltis when the world gates that brought them there were destroyed 300 years ago.
Strangers from another world, the atlans were trapped on Aetaltis when the arcane gates to their homeland were destroyed in a mystic cataclysm. More than 300 years later, their descendants have made Aetaltis their home. They fight alongside the native Aetaltans, defending their adopted home against forces of Darkness.
Marc says: All the human races present on our own world are found among the humans of the alliance. They are every bit as diverse as the humans of Earth.
Stowaways among the atlan and newardin colonists, cheebats are clever negotiators, devious planners, and cunning adversaries. They are small, slight, and not particularly strong, but they are tenacious to a fault when it comes to anything with the potential for profit. Although they are vicious when bargaining, cheebats have likable personalities and make friends wherever they go.
Marc says: Have you ever wanted to play a goblin character? If so, you’re going to like the Cheebat!
The drothmals are a powerful race of barbarian humanoids that live and die by the sword. Their features are faintly catlike, and they are a bit taller than humans. They maintain a strict warrior’s code and revel in hardship, seeing the trials they face as the blessings of Droth, the god of trial. They will face any enemy, no matter what the odds, and will fight to the death for their companions.
Marc says: If you like charging straight into combat and then wading through your enemies swinging a huge axe or sword like a deadly reaper, then the drothmal might be a good choice for you. They’re more civilized than orogs, but they still have that wild edge.
The dwarf ’s stern exterior masks a heart that burns as hot as a blacksmith’s forge. A history of hardship and betrayal has made them tough, wary, and practical, but when their passions are aroused, dwarves act on pure emotion. Driven from their underground homes when the gods used the caverns to imprison the forces of Darkness, the dwarves were hardened by the experience, and have become self-reliant and resilient. Dwarves are steadfast warriors and dependable companions.
Marc says: It’s everything you love about classic fantasy RPG dwarves with a rich backstory that makes them exceptionally fun to roleplay.
Helgen ponders the best way to kill goblins. (Art by Mitchell Malloy)
Mystical and mysterious, the elves are the eldest of the fey races. They ruled Aetaltis during the Age of Magic, and are the most talented spellcasters in the land. Breathtakingly beautiful, but equally unapproachable, they remain a distant but palpable presence in the region.
Marc says: Aetaltan elves resemble the standard fantasy RPG elf, but along with fairies and sprites, they are all members of a single race known as the fey. The fey have a seemingly infinite variety of physical appearances. Elves are just one of the more common forms of fey body type.
Standing less than two feet tall and possessing delicate, insectlike wings, fairies are a strange and wondrous. They are clever, quick, and far more resilient than their small size suggests. While many fairies study the magical arts, their small size, speed, and mobility make them some of the finest scouts and messengers in all of Aetaltis.
Marc says: The natural magical abilities of the fairy make them a great deal of fun to play, but beware; they’re every bit as fragile as they look! Plus, you’ll find that finding fairysized equipment can be a real challenge.
Good food and good company mean more to a halfling than all the riches in the world. They value the simple things in life and dislike change. Every so often, however, a halfling is born with a little of the “old blood” in them and gets the urge to go adventuring.
Marc says: The halfling homeland on the Amethyst Sea basin is called Gelendor. Gelendor managed to avoid much of the hardship and destruction wrought by Endroren’s hordes during the Age of Darkness. The halflings say a Great Dragon protected their homeland during that grim time, although what bargain they struck for that protection remains a mystery.
The enigmatic intellectuals known as the newardin operated the arcane gates that brought the Atlan Alliance to Aetaltis. They value reason and knowledge above all other things, and dislike anything that invokes chaos. The newardin have never accepted Aetaltis as their home, and this underlying discomfort shapes their behavior and personalities.
Marc says: These tall, grey-skinned beings with their large dark eyes stand out from the rest of the races of Aetaltis. In both appearance and culture, they seem cut from a very different cloth than the other races of the world. Wisik, a newardin wizard, is featured prominently on the covers of both the World of Aetaltis and Heroes of Thornwall books.
Orogs were brought to Aetaltis by the Atlan Alliance to serve as the fist of the Alliance military machine. These large creatures are strong enough to go head to head with a troll, and tough enough to withstand all but the most devastating injuries. They are hideous and dull-witted, but their physical strength and endurance more than make up for these limitations.
Marc says: Most of the orogs brought to Aetaltis succumbed to Endroren’s influence shortly after they arrived. These fallen orogs, known as ogres, are nearly indistinguishable from orogs. This means that orog characters have a hard road ahead of them, especially in civilized lands.
Quick and cunning, the reptilian race known as the scythaa hail from a once-lush land reduced to a barren desert during the war with the Dark Lord, Endroren. Most scythaa live as nomads today, scraping a meager existence from the unforgiving desert.
Marc says: Scythaa are incredible jumpers. In addition, they have a fully prehesile tail. With practice, they can even use their tail to wield an additional weapon.
Sprites are as wild as the wind and twice as changeable. The size of an elven child, their emotions run close to the surface, and they are driven by their passions. They have an arcane bond with wild creatures, and are adept at handling animals of all kinds.
Marc says: Sprites have a unique magical ability that is uncommon in other forms of fey: natural invisibility. A sprite can turn invisible at will, but only if they hold their breath and concentrate!
Other Fantasy RPG Races
Aetaltis is home to many other races, including minotaurs, centaurs, dryads, and merfolk. The races described above are the most common, but the story of Aetaltis’ history allows any Fifth Edition compatible race to fit into an Aetaltis campaign.
Marc says: One of our goals when we designed Aetaltis was to give gamemasters reasons to say “yes” to the cool ideas the players (and the GM) come up with. Throughout the book you’ll find hooks that let you bring in your favorite fantasy RPG elements while staying true to the setting.
The Endrori & the Fallen
The endrori and the fallen are not designed as playable races. They are the dark forms of the good races of the world. The endrori are a group of vile creatures created by the fallen god, Endroren. They are warped, evil versions of the enari and include goblins, orcs, trolls, and similar monsters. The fallen are what a character (PC or NPC) becomes if their soul is fully corrupted by Endroren’s power. Each race takes on a different form when they fall, whether it’s an orog’s transformation into an ogre or a fairy turning into a vile bloodborn.
Marc says: Although both the endrori and fallen are beyond redemption, they are still sentient and (in most cases) intelligent. Cautious characters may be able to make deals with these dark monsters—at least for a time.