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Rough Quests

THE PEOPLES OF ROUGH QUESTS 101

by Sergio Mascarenhas
Jun 10,2005

 

THE PEOPLES OF ROUGH QUESTS 101

Last column I short-listed the human peoples to be available for Rough Quests' player characters. This month I'll provide some more data on the same since this will be important for rules-design decisions further down the road.

HUMANOIDS

Humanoids are the equivalent of our real world humans as found in Earth. Concrete fantasy game worlds may present variations but that's not reflected on the main rules.

GNOMES

Gnomes are the smallest of Rough Quests human races. Physically they are very similar to little humanoids with proportionally larger heads. They have big noses and ears (it is fashionable for wealthy gnomes to shape them in a pointed form). Their head and facial hair is grey, their eyes blue and their skin light brown. They develop wrinkles very early, so they look old when compared with humanoids of the same age.

Gnomes don't develop active magic skills except for an innate talent for disguise. This talent allows them to blend into the visual and sonic environment by softning their colours, shapes and noises. At the same time, it creates small sound and light illusions that seem to come from somewhere nearby in order to distract onlookers.

Gnomes don't like physical action. They naturally have limited agility skills and avoid athletic feats, including melee fighting. On the other hand, they love to speak, haggle, and to engage on verbal confrontation. They are very dexterous and excel at delicate crafts and knowledge-oriented skills.

Gnomes live in dwellings that melt into the environment. In plains this usually means underground houses, in forests huts made of vegetation, in rocky areas grouts and crevices, in humanoid towns attics and basements, etc. Usually they have some kind of escape exit in their houses. If the exterior of their dwellings is unimpressive, their interiors are exquisitely cared for since gnomes love their comforts. Because of that, gnomes always carry a lot of stuff with them.

Gnomes love animals but avoid those that are dangerous or hard to control. Their beast of burden is the gnomish donkey, a donkey that is no bigger than a goat. They usually have pets like cats, birds, small mammals, etc. Their most dangerous companion is the black pigglet, a small pig that looks like a wild boar and is their equivalent of a guard dog.

Gnomes go well with most other humans. They are good friends of minotaurs, keep courteous relations with hoofed ladies and explore the opportunities offered by humanoids. The people with which they keep the least amicable relations are satyres due to their very different temperaments.

Gnomes are a curious lot, always looking for nice things for their collections, to see new wonders and to learn new tricks. That leads them for adventuring, most often than not with a larger human friend. They are valued by the other peoples as crafters, diplomats and scholars.

Gnomish economy is based on trade and crafts, coupled with subsistance agriculture if they can't buy their food from humanoids or other peoples. They may explore mining and raw goods production but they will not execute the work itself, instead they rely on the labour of bigger races like humanoids and minotaurs (either payed workers or slaves).

HOOFED LADIES

Hoofed Ladies are the feminine consorts of Satyres. The slender, white-skinned and with long, black hair Hoofed Ladies are almost similar to human females except for the next features: They have goat-like feet covered with white fur and dark hoofs (something that sets them apart from satyres that are goat-like from the waist down). Their eyes only show the pupil and the dark brown iris. Their nails are also dark brown and very thick, almost fang-like. Hoofed Ladies are secretive and usually dress long clothes that cover their whole body. It's not uncommon for them to cover their heads with something like a burka or at least a head-scarf. And they are highly magical.

Hoofed ladies may be very attractive for humanoid males and there are plenty of tales of humanoids falling in love with them.

Hoofed ladies live together in matrilinear families. They live in magical groves with a stone tower at the centre reserved for the elder ladies. Adult ladies and children live freely under the trees of the grove, magically protected from rain, other natural elements and hidden from intruders. Young females live at the outskirts of the grove, where they can consort with satyres and, sometimes, with wandering humanoids. It's not uncommon to find small gnome communities in the vicinities of hoofed ladies' groves.

Usually hoofed ladies avoid adventuring. There are circumstances that lead them to leave the grove, though. The most likely motives are: for young ladies, to follow their satyre or humanoid lovers, to abandon the grove in despair after the betraial by a lover, or for a specially sentimental youth to depart in search of love; for an adult lady, to be expelled from the grove after a major conflict with the elders (most of these conflicts are not motivated by serious issues and have more to due with conflicts of personality); for an adult or even aged lady, to leave the grove to avenge an offense or damage done to it by outsiders.

The groves are self-sufficient economic units that provide for the needs of the resident hoofed ladies. The ladies' diet is basically vegetarian with a choice of insects thrown in. Their cloth is made of special tree bark painted black with a vegetable colorant. The ladies love jewels but they only get these from nearby gnomes (getting jewls is one of the main reasons for their interaction), or from their satyre or humanoind lovers.

MINOTAURS

Minotaurs are very big humans with a bull's head and upper torso. They are the biggest and stronghest of the human peoples. Only female minotaurs develop magic abilities, and even then it's only a small proportion that are able to do it. On the other hand, male minotaurs have an inate magical talent, the minotaur's rage.

Minotaurs are very warrior-like. They live in clans that comprise a small number of mature males and a larger set of females. In minotaurish society, when male children reach adolescence they are expelled from the clan. Afterwards they have to survive on their own by forming wandering bands of bachelors (or by associating with a group of elders, see below). If and when the bachelors think they are strong and skilled enough, they challenge the adults of a clan for a fight. If the youngsters win it, they expell the defeated adults and take their place by retaining all the females and belongings of the clan. They allow the defeated to take with them the older females, the ones past their ability to give birth. These defeated form a group of elders that live together for the rest of their days. They may provide shelter for young bachelors.

The economic basis for minotaur clans is cattle production and agriculture. The bachelors usually offer their services as mercenaries or strongmen.

Urban minotaurs follow a similar social pattern, but in that case they live in closed quarters inhabited by a minotaur clan. The female live in a closed area, only the males interacting with the outside world. These minotaurs can be rulers, workers or soldiers. The young males are still expelled from the clan, but they may be integrated in armies or other social functions.

Female minotaurs are usually dependent on the clan's males. The exception are minotaur witch maidens. Wich maidens are rare females with high magical powers. They dedicate themselves to magic. They abandon their clan and live alone or in groups of two or three witch maidens. Sometimes they surround themselves with groups of emasculated bachelors for their protection. Witch maidens learn to fight and become formidable warriors.

Minotaur adventurers are usually bachelors or the rare witch maiden.

SATYRES

Satyres are the male counterpart of hoofed ladies. They are like humanoids from the waist up, and like goats from the waist down. They have small curved horns, short air and sparse beards. Their eyes and nails are like those of hoofed ladies. The thick skin and fur of their lower body offers them some degree of protection against damage. Satyres are very agile and charismatic. They may have a limited usage of magic.

Young satyres grow with their hoofed lady mothers. When they reach adolescence they join a satyre friend of their mothers and become his companion and pupil until they reach adulthood. From then they are on their own. Individualistic and leaning towards isolation, they enjoy the occasional company of other humans. Most of their life they will alternate periods of solitude with participation in small groups of wanderers. These may comprise satyres or any other humans. In between they will pay frequent visits to the hoofed lady groves that cross their ways.

Satyres usually develop strong friendships with a small number of individuals, usually other satyres but it may be with other independently-minded humans. These friendships may last for years but don't require frequent interaction. The contact with a close friend once every four or five years is enough to keep the strengh of the bond. Like with friendship, satyres may develop strong feelings of love for someone of any human race, but these feelings are strictly platonic. Conversely, satyres tend to develop strong feelings of hatred for anyone that betrays their love, friendship or confidence. This hate lasts long and is seldom pacified. Satyres express their friendship and love through music and poetry.

Satyres like to live the good life. They can eat and drink almost anything, and can be content with almost nothing, but they deligt in the best life has to offer.

Due to their individualism, tendencies towards a wandering life and adaptability satyres seldom develop strong attachement for a place, activity or things (other than those they can carry with them). That's why they are usually found doing menial jobs, as soldiers for sale, entertainers, scouts, punks, etc.

Because of the physical similarity between humanoid females and hoofed ladies, it is not uncommon for satyres to seduce humanoid females. This usually requires magical means since humanoid females tend to consider the beastly' half-nature of satyres too repulsive for a sensual involvement.

On their own satyres are foragers.

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