rating: 0+x

"Race" is a complicated subject in Urbis, at least from the perspective of the inhabitants of Rothea. While some non-human races are easy to identify, whether or not humans themselves constitute a single "race" is a matter of a lot of argument, in both academic circles and outside of them. From the perspective of many, it ultimately doesn't matter if someone is a short, stocky dwarf or a dark-skinned human from Malundi - both look very different from "people like us", and thus are considered a "different race". Just who does and does not constitute "the human race" is hotly debated. The capability to interbreed in itself can obviously not be the sole qualifier - after all, this would mean that elves and cambions are of the same race as "normal humans", and this claim is rejected by most scholars in this field.

The Civilized Races

The Civilized Races is a concept and legal term applying to the Flannish Cities, and defined in the Treaty of Praxus, and most nearby regions have accepted similar definitions. It refers to humans and all other races who have distinguished themselves in the war against the hordes of Negroth the Doombringer. Members of the Civilized Races have, at least in theory, fully equal rights before the law, although many prejudices still exist.

Furthermore, half-orcs are generally seen as a rather unfortunate subset of humans and thus technically have the same rights as humans, although they face severe prejudices.

Other Races

Sapient beings who do not belong to any of the races listed above, as well as humans from far-off lands who look strongly different from those of the Flannish Cities and surrounding regions, do not automatically have the same rights before the law (although being a citizen of a given city-state will give them those rights within that city). Whether or not the local authorities will extend such rights to others might depend on the following factors:

  • The ability to speak Common.
  • The amount and type of clothing the being wears (Flannish upper-class suits are best, loincloths or outright nudity is worst. Any clothing that is either extremely shabby or obviously foreign will be considered negatively).
  • The ability to protect oneself from the authorities (this often applies to dragons who don't attack the citizenry).
  • A reputation for being warlike and aggressive (orcs), or thieves and criminals (goblins, kobolds).
  • Actual criminal behavior.

Known races not among the civilized races include:

A special subset of these are the so-called "Verminous Races" which are generally considered to be a threat to public health and safety.

Finally, undead in the Flannish Cities region are never given any rights before the law even if they are sapient and behave in a civilized manner. Many manage to live among other people nonetheless by concealing their true nature.

Adventure Ideas

Designer's Notes & Resources

I do not plan to state this explicitly in canon material (I prefer it when game masters are able to come up with their own explanations), but here is the working assumption for the existence of the various races (warning - these could be considered fairly significant spoilers):

In the beginning, there was only one sapient humanoid race - humans themselves. But in the ancient civilization of Oreanor, the First City, a cabal of powerful mages ruled. And these mages started to magically modify their descendants while still in the womb so that they would be more dexterous, longer-lived, had better eyesight, were more attractive, and so forth. These were the first elves, and as their progenitors died out, they became the rulers of Oreanor.

But modifying their own descendants was not enough - they also started to modify the children of slaves to create a large number of slave races. Dwarves and gnomes became craftsmen, halflings were servants, and, as Oreanor became more aggressive and prone to infighting, they created a number of warrior races in the form of orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, and so forth. Eventually, the whole realm collapsed under its own infighting, and the survivors of all races scattered across the continent.

Creating new races is still possible with the right rituals, as the creation of the dragonkin by the dragons of the Desert of Thunder shows, but none are known to humanity. The kind of general social disruption it would cause if, say, the ritual to turn unborn human children into elves were to be rediscovered from ancient ruins is left to the fiendish imagination of the GM. But it is unlikely that the elven nation would take it well…


Add a New Comment
Urbis - A World of Cities © Jürgen Hubert. All material on this site excepting forum posts is owned by him.