Races and Ethnicities of Solstice
As the location that saw a mortal challenge the gods with near success, the only place where divine avatars sometimes walk the streets, a place of ancient power and apparently endless wealth, one of the largest cities in the world, and a major stop for both sea and land trade routes, Solstice is a place of interest to nearly every thinking species in the world. Its streets are filled with humans of all shapes and colors, dwarves from a hundred clans, laughing and carousing elves of their Spring Years getting into trouble and partying through the night, gnomes, halflings, orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, an entire grippli slum, drow famously common in the Webwood Distract, and three score other common races from around the world. But there are also races one can encounter with regularity in Solstice which are rare or unknown anywhere else. Races that are truly… alien.
Ctheph – 150-200 lb. civilized octopoids, with 4 stubby flippers along the back of their boneless bodies that allow them to (slowly) move along the ground. Able to survive both in air and water (salt or fresh), excellent spellcasters, cheerfully cannibalistic, strongly dislike fire, and covered in a thin coat of protective slime, ctheph’s native “homewater” is a large section of ocean to the east of Solstice. Feared and reviled by a large percentage of the humanoid and uriphant populations. However, since ctheph can gain racial memories by eating their elders, their culture is also now seen as a potential repository of crucial knowledge, since they lost very little of their total racial memory in the Crimson Conjunction 35 years ago.
Esigil – Sapient living runes, that can move on their own but must bond (normally with a humanoid, sometimes an idiot or mindless humanoid, and rarely with an ape) to communicate (even with each other) and interact with the world. Esigil are believed to be living spell effects created by the God-Mage as part of his plan to assault the heavens, but the race as a whole claims to have no loyalty to his ancient plan, and to have no memory of their origins. Most Esigil (the race name being capitalized any time it is in use, for reasons lost to the halls of eldritch grammar) have a short name the combine with the name of a host, through some place it first and others second. A typical Esigil is a complex rune the size of a Medium humanoids hand, and once they settle on a humanoid they are stationary until that host dies. Esigil have various ethnicities depending on the exact style of rune they represent, from the warlike erthak Esigil to the more ethereal vlenevae, but no one is sure how serious the Esigil are about these distinctions. Similarly, Esigil personalities are, according to rumor, strongly influenced by where they sit on a host body with those on the face seen as polite and thoughtful, those on the arm or front torso militant and short-tempered, and those on the lower back hedonists… but there’s significant debate about whether there is any truth to these generalizations.
Iri – Fist-sized floating snakelike eyeballs with 5-10 stingered tentacles coming off the back (where the optic nerves are for a normal eyeball). Iri are the remnants of an ancient race of larger floating eye-creatures that had some kind of central sphere and numerous eyestalks, but that race was not only destroyed by the God-Mage during one of his early conquests, all knowledge of the race’s name and its true form and powers was permanently erased from existence so that no one, not even the Gods of Knowledge, know more than scant details about them. No one is sure if the God-Mage created iri intentionally, or if their existence is an unintended side-effect of their progenitor race’s destruction.
Iri reproduce by stinging other creatures that have eyes, and sometimes one of the eyes pops out as a new iri, but they try to only do that to those about to die or close dear friends who don’t mind. Often employed as spies, librarians, and accountants, but also make good assassins, and many are druids, witches, and shamans.
Most right-thinking sentient beings revile iri as disgusting, but both elves and Esigil are exceptions to this. Indeed, some groups of elves become very intimate with iri, and see wearing an eyepatch as a small price to giving their friends the power to continue as a species. Everyone else thinks this is stupid.
Tyhnt – There is some debate about whether tyhnt even truly exist, or if they do whether they are a race, a leftover spell effect, or some form of minor conjunction. Tyhnt can only be perceived as a shift in color in an area (normally roughly 5-feet in diameter, though some are larger) which changes to look more bluish. The effect is subtle most of the time, but tyhnt are also psychic (both able to communicate telepathically and generally members of the occult character classes) and when using their powers change the area around them to be more strikingly blue. They can also communicate their presence mind-to-mind, with roughly the same range as the spoken word. Except for the use of psychic powers tyhnt can’t impact the physical world, but they are not immune to attack. Magic affects them normally, and even mundane weapons can harm them, as long as they are wielded by thinking foes. A tyhnt takes no damage from a mindless rockslide, but a sword swung with the intent to cut a tyhnt damages with through the sheer will of the wielder.
Uriphant – mule-to-rhino-sized highly intelligent woolly mammoths, with five opposed nubs on the end of their trunk that allow very agile fine manipulation. Excellent warriors and smiths. The uriphant were once native to the plateau where the Great Gnomon Spire was built, and have the distinction of being the only race to have opposed the God-Mage at every step of his empire. While a few independent groups of uriphants have attempted to begin colonies elsewhere, most of their small population remain in Solstice.
Uriphants are well-regarded by most other races, though they seem to have a special affinity for orcs and dwarves, and often act as a bridge between those two groups. Uriphant society conditions them to be suspicious of Esigil, who they see as children of the God-Mage and thus agents of their displacement from their original home, though that culture of mistrust has been significantly reduced since the Crimson Conjunction 35 years ago.