Sorry about missing last week, insanity abounded and I wasn’t at my computer more than an hour from Friday to Sunday. I did get a kickstart on something though.
If I have consistent followers, they may remember my DnD 5e world of Arista that I posted about a few times over the last month or two. Links to those pages follow:
I bring them up, because I’ve been talking to the group that spawned that campaign world in the hopes of starting back up. We can’t continue where we left off, with a goblin army ravaging the lands, because we’re missing players and it’s been over a year and every has lost the threads. Can’t ignore it though, and one of my players is insisting on playing a new race, that I had thought up a place for, but who was far removed from the current lands and structures. Since he wanted to see a write-up for them, and it was some lore I’d been putting off, I started writing while at school on Monday. The race was the Goliaths, who I had already decided were desert nomads instead of mountain dweller (because I have so many races in the mountains already) but they sparked more ideas and races that I’d been neglecting.
I can’t say any of this is final, in fact I’m planning on posting all of this to ENworld to see if I can scrounge up some feedback, but it is what I’m working on and I’d like to think it is interesting.
After many centuries of peace, the Second Goblin war occurred. Assassinating the Witch-King Thaddeus Cromwell and burning their way through Grimsdell Wood, the goblin army sacked the city of Gále and ravaged the countryside of Toril. Miraculously, the wood regrew behind the marching army and the human forces led by the young Witch-King Evalynn Cromwell counter attacked swiftly. They decimated and scattered the goblin forces single-handedly and under the rule of Evalynn, not only did the great city of Gále arise more resplendent than before, but humanity proved itself the equal to its more historically militant neighbors.
During this time the elves changed the world as well. The Southern reaches of the Feylands had long lain abandoned, as the elves no longer had the force of arms to hold such large swaths of land. Emerging from these forests came a new people, tall, thin, and with snake-like features these Yuan-Ti spoke of a great body of water, an ocean, which had allowed their ships to bypass the Three-King Mountains to establish a colony to the south.
Their empire existed near the Goblin Lands, and after much negotiation the elves and the Yuan-Ti established a trade route. The route goes from the Aorth Desert where the Goliath nomads roam, through the Yuan-Ti empire and over the ocean to the Feylands where it travels through a small section of the forests under the watchful eyes of the Wood Elves. This route has been called “The Snake Way” and allows travelers of all the races to travel between the two major areas of the world, for a price of course.
The Yuan-Ti will not be a playable race, but I do have a full write-up of them, since they are very different from the traditional version presented in the Monster Manual which are pure evil and wouldn’t work in this context. The Goliaths of the Desert and the Genasi of the City of Dòle will be playable though. First up, the Goliath.
The Goliaths of the Aorth Desert are a tough and hardy nomadic people. The Goliaths “Herds” move through their desert homeland with ease, traveling swiftly under the desert sun with no regard to it’s fierce heat. Herds are small, close-knit communities of around 50 to 100 individuals, generally made up of two to five different extended families.
One quick design note, I could not place Goliaths in the mountains as they are traditionally in DnD. I already had orcs, dwarves, giants and giant-kin roaming the mountains, adding Goliaths as well felt like pushing it too far. Instead I placed them in a Desert, away from the other races, and also changed their cold climate ability to a desert climate ability, while keeping all the other stats.
Goliaths have a complicated relationship with possessions. Certain things such as food, water, or pack animals are property for the entire herd and are shared without question. Prized weapons or jewelry are precious to the individual who owns them, but can easily have ten or more owners in a ten-day. This stems from the Goliath’s fierce and joyful competitiveness and penchant for gambling. It is not uncommon for a wrestling match or race to have a quarter of the herd gambling weapons, jewels, or anything else on the outcome. This rarely leads to trouble unless the contest is between two separate herds, as a single herd will always provide for its members. Also, most Goliaths are self-aware enough not to gamble away their last meal or only weapon in the harsh desert climates for no reason. Though possession is so fluid , theft and hoarding are very serious offenses, generally punishable by death. Theft shows either an unwillingness to compete or a disregard for the victor’s right to their prize and hoarding shows a willingness to sacrifice the entire herd for your own safety.
Due to their need to travel relatively light (Goliaths are much stronger than most other races due to their large size and dense build) Goliaths put great prominence on oral histories, songs, and poetry as opposed to a written record. Along with ancient legends Goliaths often recount great deeds or the locations of important geologic features. Goliath lore speaks of the Mother of Sands, who arose and created the harsh land they live in. The stories differ as to why, some claim it a test of the people, others that she hoped to destroy all life. Whatever the true origin of the tale, she represents the fierce strength and cruelty of the desert, and is respected and honored. Her opposite is the Mother of Waters and her many daughters, who created and maintain the life giving oases. Each oasis is said to be the home of one of the daughters, and is named accordingly. The only male figure in Goliath myths is The Sun-Father, whose harsh gaze watches over the herd as it travels and protects them from the monstrous beasts which prowl the lands.
Goliaths really do not have any rituals of adulthood as the other races do, once a child is strong enough to run with the herd, they do, once a child is confident enough to compete, they do, once a child is prepared to fight, they do. One ritual of great importance does occur three days after the birth of a child. The child is given over to the spirit-speaker, who then tattoos them with elaborate patterns and symbols meant to represent their fate as determined by the spirits. These tattoos are sacred, and a Goliath never allows themselves to be tattooed or marked again. The worst thing that could happen to a Goliath is a scar that damages the tattoos, breaking the line of fate that guides them through life and death.
Goliath herds cross paths upon occasion, though most do not have a set range of paths, instead relying upon the spirit-speaker to choose a path based upon the clouds, winds and sun. Generally such meetings are a time for telling and competition, though it is not unheard of for bitter rivalries or insults to lead to physical confrontation. Most disputes are settled by clan elders, who hear all sides and decide on either punishment or competition to settle the dispute. Once every three years as many herds as possible gather at the Oasis Teirnei, the largest oasis in the desert. The Great Conclave is a time of remembrance, sport, trade and also the time when all the clan elders gather to discuss the future of their people and settle disputes that could not be handled by a single tribe.
And here there be snake-people.
The Yuan-Ti legends speak of a World Serpent, who twined throughout the planes. Then a cataclysm struck and the Serpent was sundered into many parts. The four greatest parts are Dendar, She who Devours Dreams, Apep, He who Devours Lands, Wadjeet, She who Devours Sickness, and The First Mother, She who Devours Herself. The Mother gave birth to three daughters, who in turn begetted the Lamias. Dendar settled in the Outer Planes, slipping in and out of reality to eat of the world and grow in strength, but Apep and Wadjeet needed more. They settled in the Prime Material plane, waiting and sleeping. Eventually, they were found by the Yuan-Ti people, who had been driven and cast adrift without a home for many centuries. The Yuan-Ti worshiped these Serpents, elevating Apep to a God of War and Kingship and Wadjeet to a Goddess of Water and Healing. In return the Yuan-Ti were honored, allowed to drink the blood of their gods which altered them and gave them the strength to defend their new lands. They also learned the desires of their gods and the fate of the world. Each of the Four Great Serpents was growing in power, devouring that which their progenitor had lost. Eventually, they would meet in an epic clash, devouring one another and being devoured in return to revive the Great World Serpent, destroying the world in the process.
The Yuan-Ti seek to aid their gods (after all, the destruction of the world will occur one way or another) and practice sacred rites of Devouring, where they consume lesser serpents, honored individuals, and great leaders. Once a season, and once on each holy day, volunteers submit their names to the temples hoping to be selected as a sacrifice. Once chosen they are prepared, killed, and then devoured by the community to spread their essence amongst the people, honoring and strengthening them. An unwilling sacrifice is never chosen, as it would taint the rapture and honor of the sacred ceremony. The Yuan-Ti who die without being chosen are sacrficed to the gods, returning all they have devoured during their life to their patron, generally Apep or Wadjeet.
Yuan-Ti society is divided into three tiers: The Thin-Bloods, the half-Bloods, and the Full-Bloods. Thin-Bloods are the lowest tier, having only received a small amount of the god’s blessing they remain looking as their ancestors did, similiar to long, thin humans, with only some of snake-like features such as vestigial scales, fangs or eyes. The Thin-Bloods are often sent out as envoys or colonists, since their loss is less damaging to the gods. Thin-Bloods often sacrifice lesser serpents, hoping to thicken the sacred blood within them, allowing their children to be born as Half-Bloods. The Half-Bloods have major snake features, but it varies greatly between the individual. Some have snake heads, others have snakes as arms, and others have snake tails instead of legs, resembling their cousins the Lamia. More than one unsuspecting Yuan-Ti has been devoured by a vicious Lamia, mistaking her for a Half-Blood female. The Leaders of the Yuan-Ti and most sacred people are the Full-Bloods, whose bodies are perfect and beautiful blends of snake and ancestor. As they contain the most bountiful sacrifice to the gods they are fiercely protected and rarely leave the cities to venture to the lands beyond.They also tend to sacrifice only Half-Bloods or Thin-Bloods of great worth.
I would post the Genasi now, but they are not quite ready yet. I’ll save them for a future update, maybe when I post my bigger write-up of the Lamia life cycle.