IC Welcome to Altera Arcana! Altera is a magic-filled world, home to five different sapient races, as well as many different magical beasts, and it is watched over by a pantheon of deities and spirits. Nearly all things in Altera revolve around the idea of “alignments”. All people have three types of alignments — everyone has an element, a persuasion, and a zodiac sign. One’s element determines what type of magic one has. Everyone is aligned with one of four elements — air, water, earth, and fire. Persuasions determine one’s basic personality type, with all people having one of four persuasions — the passionate ‘wands', the intellectual ‘swords’, the practical ‘pentacles’, and the emotional ‘cups’. Each person is also born into one of twelve zodiac signs, which function similarly to the zodiac as we know it, and gives each person a special connection to the deity that aligns with their sign. The five races that live in Altera are: the aggressive, orc-like creatures called Pyrans; winged humanoids called Avians; faun-like creatures called Terrans; aquatic humanoids called Aquans; and, lastly, humans. The first four races are often collectively referred to as “demi-humans”. You will find much more detailed information on demi-humans — as well as alignments and many more details about this world — in the tabs below. The story of this RP will be an epic journey across the world of Altera — which will likely mean traveling to the capital city of Altera, but it could potentially lead in a different direction — and it will eventually culminate in a journey to the realm of the gods. There will be a lot of traveling to do, monsters to face, and a bit of mystery to uncover. I don’t want to spoil too much, especially given what I have planned for the early stages of the IC, but, hopefully this is enough for a quick intro. All the other information you’ll need for this RP is organized in the tabs below, except for a few sections of info that were revealed ahead of time in the form of blog posts (which those of you who came from the interest check have likely already seen). Don’t worry, though, I’ll link to the blog posts wherever appropriate, and I’ll also include a list of all the blog posts further down. ALIGNMENTS As stated, the three alignments that all people have are one’s element, persuasion, and zodiac sign. A person’s zodiac sign is determined by their birthdate, while the things that determine one’s persuasion and element are largely unknown, generally defined only as “the dominant forces in the universe” at a given time. In any case, elements and persuasions seem to be effectively random, and people do not inherit elements or persuasions from their parents. Humans are evenly divided among the different elements and persuasions, while each demi-human race is predominantly made up of members of a single element and persuasion. PERSUASIONS: The four persuasions — wands, swords, cups, and pentacles — are understood to be the four different persuasions of mind that a person can have, and all people are born into one of them. In other words, they are essentially personality types — but the significance of them is deeply ingrained into human culture. The persuasion that a person is born into is determined at random. Because of this, and because of the fact that persuasions deal with personality, they are not as immediately obvious as one’s element or zodiac sign. Zodiac signs are determined by birthdate, so they’re known as soon as a child is born. Element signs have to do with magic, so they are identifiable as soon as a child is old enough to use magic. But with persuasions, many people do not feel that they truly know which category they are until they have a chance to grow into adolescence or possibly even adulthood, when they can really get a chance to understand themselves and decide which persuasion they continuously identify with. And while some people — especially younger people — may have a hard time pinning down what their persuasion is, it is understood (at least within human culture) that everyone falls into some category, even if they don’t know what it is yet. The persuasions are as follows: Wands: People of wands have a powerful spirit — a strong inner flame that never goes out. They are driven by their ambitions, their pride, and the thrill of victory. Wands are often competitive, and reflect traditionally masculine personality traits. At their best, wands are passionate, ambitious, and have un-matched perseverance. At their worst, wands are aggressive, stubborn, and impulsive. Swords: Swords are intellectual types. They are typically well-read and well-spoken, and they are driven by logic and reason. With wands, it’s the one with the greatest willpower who comes out on top — but with swords, it’s the one who presents the best argument who wins the debate. Swords also tend to be very complex thinkers. They are capable of understanding the intricacies of the world, though they are less likely to find a specific goal to act upon, unlike wands. At their best, swords are intelligent, well-spoken, and grounded in logic. At their worst, swords can be overly-argumentative, brutally honest, and may come across as aloof or uncaring. Pentacles: Pentacles, often shortened to “pents”, are very practical and down-to-earth. They are hard-working, but that is because they are motivated by future rewards (unlike, say, wands, who are motivated by their inner drive). They value money and physical possessions more than the other persuasions, but they are also the most concerned with their physical health and well-being. Overall, the things that matter most to pentacles are the physical things — things that they can plainly see. At their best, pentacles are practical, hard-working, and good at money-management. At their worst, pentacles are greedy and too absorbed in physical desires, possibly neglecting the emotional needs of themselves or others in favor of physical pursuits. Cups: Cups are the most emotion-driven. What matters most to them is what makes themselves and the people they care about happy. They are the most empathetic and caring, and they are the most aware of the importance of mental health and closeness with others. They are very interested in relationships — not just romantic ones, but relationships of any kind — and are the first to offer advice on how to deal with conflicts between people, typically favoring the “talk it out” approach. They are also thought to be the most creative and imaginative of the persuasions. Overall, they strongly reflect traditionally feminine personality traits. At their best, cups are empathetic, gentle, kind, and good at peacefully defusing conflicts by focusing on the emotions behind them. At their worst, cups can be overly-sensitive, prone to lashing out when deeply upset, and they are the most likely to deal with emotional turmoil. They are also more likely to struggle with addiction than the other persuasions. IN SUMMARY: What motivates the persuasions? Wands: Willpower and inner strength. Swords: Logic and reason. Pentacles: Future rewards. Cups: Happiness and fulfilling of emotional needs. What do the persuasions want most in life? Wands: To have success and status — to feel important. Swords: To learn and to be intellectually stimulated. Pentacles: To be healthy and wealthy. Cups: To be happy and to have fulfilling relationships/friendships. What would each persuasion consider to be the most debilitating? Wands: Anything that hurts their ego or status. Swords: Anything that makes them doubt their intelligence. Pentacles: Physical injury or monetary loss. Cups: Emotional harm or mental illness. ELEMENTS: Elements determine what sort of magic one will be able to use. Each persuasion correlates with a particular element (wands = fire, swords = air, pentacles = earth, cups = water). This means that people of a particular persuasion will likely be aligned with that persuasion’s corresponding element, although it is not a sure thing, and people with “non-matching” persuasion/element combinations aren’t exactly rare. The reason for this is that each persuasion has an element that, the way it is typically used, best compliments that particular persuasion (for example, it’s obvious why fire compliments the burning passion of wands). If a person has a non-matching set of alignments, that means that they will use their element in a way that is somewhat non-traditional (or at least, not strongly associated with that element). For example, someone with a fire/cups alignment may use fire to warm and comfort others rather than using it to burn and destroy, while a person with a fire/pents alignment may focus on the practical use of fire to produce heat, harnessing that energy to achieve other ends. Neither one’s element nor persuasion are obvious at birth, however. A child’s element is not obvious until that child starts to exhibit the first signs of low-level magical ability, which typically occurs around the ages of 7-10 years old. (And while it is possible for a child’s magical ability to develop before or after that time frame, they would be considered an unusually early/late bloomer.) As stated, persuasions are based on personality, and so one’s persuasion may not be obvious until that person is nearly an adult. However, because certain persuasions tend to correlate with certain elements, parents sometimes assume that their child will grow into whatever persuasion matches their element, unless their personality already strongly disagrees with that expected persuasion (in other words, it’s fairly obvious that your meek and timid son probably isn’t going to grow up to be wands, even if he is a fire-user). In demi-humans, each of the four races is predominantly made up of a specific element and persuasion. Pyrans are mostly fire/wands, Avians are mostly air/swords, Aquans are mostly water/cups, and Terrans are mostly earth/pents. Because of this, the overall culture of each demi-human race is strongly characteristic of a particular persuasion. In fact, demi-human culture doesn’t even have a strong sense of the four persuasions. Sure, it isn’t unheard of for demi-humans to at least be aware of the human concepts of wands, swords, pentacles, and cups, but these concepts don’t have nearly as strong of a presence in demi-human cultures as they do in human culture. Among demi-humans, there is simply “the norm” and “outside the norm”. Being a demi-human with a non-dominant persuasion can make one feel like an outsider within their culture, having a personality that clashes with the norm. It would be like having political leanings that strongly disagree with those of your family members or other peers, and is therefore bound to create some sort of friction. Because of this, demi-humans with non-dominant persuasions are the most likely to leave their native cultures and enter human society in search of like-minded people. ASTROLOGY: All (demi-)humans are born under a specific zodiac sign, which influences their personality. Unlike the persuasions, though, which are very broad and encompass a wide variety of traits, the zodiac signs are much more specific in the traits that they grant to a person. The system of the Zodiac was created by the goddess Celest, in order to give each (demi-)human a closer connection to a particular god. Each of the seven main gods (excluding Eterna) has two signs connected to them. Each god has a “primary” sign and a “secondary” sign. The primary signs of each god have a very clear connection to what that god stands for, while the secondary signs are a bit more difficult to decipher. In fact, there is some debate among scholars about why some of the secondary signs are connected to their respective gods in the first place. Some of these signs have personality traits that strongly echo those of a particular persuasion. This, however, does not mean that people of these signs are more likely to have those persuasions. They are still completely uncorrelated. However, having “matching” signs and persuasions means that those personality traits will be strongly reinforced, whereas “non-matching” sets mean that a person will likely be more balanced, having some traits of a different persuasion in addition to their actual persuasion. Below are the traits of the 12 signs: Aries (March 21st — April 19th) Secondary sign of Apollo The trait associated with Aries is leadership. Just as Apollo is the ruler of the gods, Aries are said to be powerful leaders — good at getting things started and putting things into motion. Taurus (April 20th — May 20th) Primary sign of Tenius The trait associated with Taurus is work-ethic. Much in the spirit of pentacles, Tauruses are known for their ability to steadily work towards a particular goal, even becoming stubborn when things start to get in the way of achieving that goal. Gemini (May 21st — June 20th) Secondary sign of Diana Geminis are an interesting sign, known for their duality. They are good at communicating and looking at both sides of something, and are interested in building balanced relationships. As for why this is Diana’s sign, these traits have been associated with the persuasion of cups as well as the fact that Diana serves as an opposite to Apollo, connecting back to that spirit of duality. Cancer (June 21st — July 22nd) Primary sign of Diana The connection to Diana is obvious with this one, as Cancers are known for their emotional sensitivity. They care deeply about their loved ones and become crabby when they are emotionally hurt. These are clearly the traits of cups. Leo (July 23rd — August 22nd) Primary sign of Apollo Leo is associated with the energy of wands. Leos are charismatic, energetic, and enjoy being in the spotlight. Virgo (August 23rd — September 22nd) Primary sign of Corvenus Virgoes are detail-oriented and good at completing tasks with efficiency, but they also have an overloaded mind, worrying about many different things. This is fitting for Corvenus’ primary sign, not only because Corvenus is the god of swords, but also because Corvenus is the god of so many things — from knowledge to travel to death — and many of the things he is responsible for, such as his record-keeping, all require great attentiveness to detail. Libra (September 23rd — October 22nd) Secondary sign of Corvenus Libras are known for being team players who work better in a pair or a group than by themselves. They are good at communicating and creating balance and fairness between party members. The emphasis on communication is likely why Libra is Corvenus’ sign. Scorpio (October 23rd — November 21st) Primary sign of Daius Scorpios are no-nonsense folk, focused on controlling their own destinies. They have a passion for growing stronger, even to the point of becoming destructive to themselves or others. This is fitting for Daius, the god who rose from being a meek servant of Tenius to an out-of-control beast that briefly caused even the likes of Apollo and Diana to be worried. Sagittarius (November 22nd — December 21st) Secondary sign of Daius Sagittariuses are truth-seekers. They are interested in philosophy and finding a deeper meaning in things. This sign’s connection to Daius is one of the most puzzling things in the Zodiac, but perhaps that is exactly the sort of philosophical mystery that a Sagittarius seeks to figure out. Capricorn (December 22nd — January 19th) Secondary sign of Tenius Capricorns are all about hard work and taking practical steps to become the best in one’s field. They reflect the down-to-earth nature of pentacles. Aquarius (January 20th — February 18th) Secondary sign of Celest Aquariuses are humanitarian and philanthropic, interested in making the world a better place. This connects to the charitable nature of Celest, interested in making people’s wishes come true. Pisces (February 19th — March 20th) Primary sign of Celest Pisces are by far the most interesting sign in terms of what they are capable of. Personality-wise, they are fairly easy-going, and they are big dreamers. But being the primary sign of Celest — the goddess of the future and divination as well as the system of the Zodiac itself — it is the intuition and dreams of Pisces that are the most interesting. Pisces are said to have the most intimate connection to the future, and are considered to have some sort of psychic ability. The dreams of Pisces are said to often be prophetic, and their intuitions and gut instincts are said to be more than just a hunch. SETTING (GENERAL) The setting for this RP is one that I would describe as “vaguely medieval”, but not strictly feudal. The kingdom of Altera is ruled by a monarchy, which lives in the capital city of Tarocchi, and the land is dotted with many cities and towns, which are all ruled by local authorities. In regards to technology levels, Altera can be described as pre-Industrial Revolution, and there is, of course, no electricity. RELIGION: Unlike the real-world religions of Christianity, Islam, or Judaism, the religion of Altera doesn’t have any sort of “holy book” or equivalent thereof where all its information comes from. Instead, it exists in the form of a series of myths that are passed down and re-told throughout the generations. The religion of Altera also doesn’t have a name, and it has no need for one. The people of Altera have never been exposed to any other religion. And so, the study of Alteran religion is not called “Jewish studies” or “Buddhist studies” or even “Alteran studies” — it is simply “religious studies”, and so forth. In addition to the seven main gods, the religion of Altera also includes countless “lesser deities”. Any sort of spirit that has great significance for some region or group of people would count as a lesser god. Some of these lesser gods are historical figures who were later deified — sort of similarly to Christian saints — though many are from myths of so long ago that they can’t even be traced back to a historical figure (although they’d still be considered just as real as the other gods). Most of these lesser deities, unless they are particularly well-known for whatever reason, are really only significant to a certain region or group of people, and are often not very well-known beyond their circle of importance. All of these lesser deities have at least one shrine, placed in a location that is significant to them. These shrines make it easy for these gods to be worshipped by the local population, as well as by visitors, as these shrines make visitors aware of the existence of these lesser gods, and it is customary to be respectful of them. Much like the main gods, most of the lesser gods have some sort of symbolic animal. Each town has at least one temple — most closely comparable to a church. In larger cities, many of these temples can be very extravagant, with decorative architecture, ornate paintings, etc. In smaller, less wealthy towns, the best temples may be considerably simpler. There are also several shrines in most towns, made to honor deities that have some sort of particular significance in that town or location. There is no “mass” in the same way that a Christian mass exists, but there are special services held inside the temples on particular holidays. The temples are also always open for general prayer, and the most devout of followers maintain a strict routine of prayer several times a day, either in the temples or in their homes. Every town has a small set of monks and nuns/priestesses who serve as the religious authority in the town and live in a monastery conjoined with a particular temple — and they are expected to teach to all those who will listen, tend to the temple’s maintenance, and serve as moral leaders for the town. In the case of larger cities with more than one temple, the jurisdiction of these monks is divided into districts, based on the locations of each temple. And although atheism is practically unheard of in Altera, most common people are not nearly as devout as the monks, and only visit the temples for special occasions or when they have something particularly important to pray for. The monks are generally friendly to demi-human visitors, but nearly all of the monks themselves are human — much like the rest of the authority figures in human towns. The four main holidays celebrated in Altera are: Apollo’s Day, which occurs on the summer solstice. Corven’s Eve, which occurs during the fall equinox, Diana’s Night, which occurs during the winter solstice, and Tenius’s Dawn, which occurs during the spring equinox. Apollo’s Day is a holiday that celebrates Apollo and the power of the sun, but it is also tied to the power of the state, making it a significant national holiday for the kingdom of Altera. Apollo’s Day is celebrated through large summer festivals. Corven’s Eve is a holiday associated with Corvenus and, in particular, death. It is said to be a night when the souls of the dead are allowed to visit the world of the living. It is also said that, for the dead, this holiday is two days long, and they will celebrate the 2nd half of it in the heavenly realm, hence where the ‘Eve’ in the name comes from. Diana’s Night is Diana’s holiday. It is a time for closeness between family members and friends. It is also strongly associated with romantic love between couples. Gift-giving is the most noteworthy Diana’s Night tradition, particularly between family members, couples, and close friends. Tenius’s Dawn is Tenius’ holiday, and it celebrates nature coming back to life in the spring. ROYAL GUARD: The Royal Guard are the closest thing Altera has to a proper police force. They are armored guards — typically mounted on a pegasai — who patrol city streets and keep order. The thing is, they mainly only exist within the capital city of Tarocchi, and are only ever dispatched to other cities under unusual circumstances. Many cities have ‘local guards’, but the nature (and effectiveness) of them can vary considerably from city to city. COMMERCE: Each town has shops for all the things that a town needs, such as tailors, shoemakers, bakers, etc. For goods that the town doesn’t already provide, most towns also have a marketplace where many different people can come to sell their wares, and this is where you’ll typically find foreigners, especially demi-humans, and it is a good chance to find many exotic goods. Alteran currency is coin-based. Coins contain different types of metal depending on their value, with gold and silver coins being the most valuable. These coins typically feature an image of the king or some other noteworthy figure on the ‘heads’ side, and a pentacle on the ‘tails’ side. The coins themselves are also often referred to as "pents" or "pentacles". While this standardized currency is used in most circumstances, bartering is not completely unheard of, in the right contexts. The marketplace in particular is an area where some sellers may be open to bartering, and it is an especially common practice between races. EDUCATION: In moderately-sized cities, children are given basic education up to grade 6 (approximately). These classes teach only basic reading writing, math, history, etc. Demi-human children are allowed in these schools, but they are still a minority, and the schools themselves cater mostly towards humans. More rural areas may not have any decent schools at all, and it is not uncommon for poorer children of rural areas to not receive an education entirely. Schooling beyond this point is even more optional, and also typically expensive, and it is no surprise that the most well-educated children are typically upper-class. Many children, at this point, start studying to learn a trade. There are also many specialized schools that a student can enter — including schools of magic, which center around spellcasting and using artifacts. GENDER: Although Altera is no doubt patriarchal — with men being seen as the only ones fit to maintain leadership positions, with rare exceptions — women are not completely limited in the opportunities that they have. They are still allowed to become educated, hold jobs, and are technically allowed to be financially independent — although it is somewhat frowned upon. Nearly all patriarchal institutions of Altera are enforced purely through culture and societal expectations — not law. Women are generally expected to marry, have kids, and take on the role of mother and housewife, with the man of the house being the breadwinner — but there are no laws enforcing this, and there are plenty of exceptions to this typical family dynamic. Some may not approve of a woman staying single, not having kids, or earning her own money, but it isn’t completely unheard of for such things to happen. There are very few jobs that women are truly banned from. In most cases, women not being allowed to work in a certain field is simply the result of male employers choosing to turn them away, rather than any law saying they aren’t allowed to apply in the first place. And even in fields where female workers are relatively common, it still wouldn’t be unheard of for an employer to choose a man over an equally qualified woman (consciously or subconsciously), or for men to typically have higher-paying positions. It is worth noting that many of Alterans’ expectations of men and women originate from the lore of Apollo and Diana. Men are like Apollo — strong, disciplined, and effective leaders. Women are like Apollo’s weaker half, Diana — kind and nurturing, but often emotional and unpredictable. And while most Alterans wouldn’t consciously reference religion in order to justify their beliefs on gender, these expectations are still deeply rooted in their culture. DEMI-HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY For sake of simplicity, I’m going to say that all demi-humans have approximately the same lifespans as humans. TERRANS: Terrans can be most aptly described as what we would call “fauns” — bipedal creatures with the upper bodies of humans and the legs of deer. All Terrans are completely covered in fur below the waist and have hooves for feet. And, yes, they also have fluffy white deer tails. The fur on the “human” halves of their bodies is what varies more significantly between individuals. Typically, females are more likely to have fur on their chests and bellies, and possibly also their backs and parts of their arms, but are less likely to have any on their hands, necks, or faces. Males, on the other hand, are less likely to have fur on their chests, but are more likely to have it on their backs, necks, shoulders, and underarms. In all cases, though, Terran fur, despite growing much more thickly than human body hair, is also much softer and far less coarse than human body hair. Males are also capable of growing facial hair, and both sexes are capable of growing long hair on their heads, similarly to humans. And the hair on their heads will grow as long as it is allowed to grow — unlike the fur on the rest of their bodies, which stays short (again, much like humans). Females, culturally speaking, are more likely to keep their hair short and simple, while males are more likely to grow their hair out, often tying it into ponytails or braids. Both sexes have pointed ears. The most prominent features of male Terrans are their antlers. These antlers first emerge during adolescence, and the size and shape of these antlers varies greatly between individuals. Just like with real deer, some males will have very large and intricate antlers with many different branches, while others will have smaller, simpler antlers. Culturally, having large and intricate antlers is seen as a desirable trait and is also strongly tied to masculinity, similarly to how our culture feels about penis size. Males with larger antlers are also seen as being more physically attractive, similarly to how our culture feels about women with large breasts. When antlers first begin to grow on a young male Terran, they have rounded edges and are covered in a soft, felt-like material, just like the ones on real deer. So, when this felt-like material comes off, it’s clear that the antlers are done growing. And once they’re finished growing, that’s the size and shape they’ll always be. Similarly, antlers that become broken or damaged will never grow back. You only get one pair. Antlers can theoretically be used for fighting, but, most males don’t exactly make a habit of it, as they wouldn’t want to see theirs get damaged. In terms of muscle mass and body frame, sexual dimorphism in Terrans is similar to that of humans. Males have more muscle, females have more fat, etc etc (here's a convenient guide if you feel you need a refresher on that sort of thing). One important difference, however, is that the breasts of female Terrans are much smaller and less prominent than that of humans (the most well-endowed Terrans would have, at best, a B-cup — and the average would probably be closer to an A-cup). Their breasts do grow larger during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but only then, and they gradually return to normal size afterwards. Terran fur is typically brown in color, but there are many different shades that it can be. It can range from a sandy yellowish-tan, to red, to nearly black. Young Terrans have dappled white spots on their fur (again, much like real baby deer), but these spots gradually fade away as they enter adolescence, leaving the Terrans fur to become a much more solid color. Baby Terrans are technically born with very little upper-body hair (if any), but that’s essentially comparable to how human babies are typically born without any hair on their heads. Most of their upper-body hair grows in fairly quickly, long before adolescence, leaving only facial hair and a few other odd patches of fur to wait to grow until puberty (varying between individuals). When Terrans live to a very old age, their hair and fur can turn gray, much like it does in humans, but the graying typically starts with the hair on their heads and faces and then gradually moves to other parts of their body (rather than all of it changing all at once). The fur on the lower halves of their bodies in particular may become significantly duller in coloration as a Terran ages, but it almost never turns completely gray. PYRANS: Pyrans are similar to orcs, except much skinnier — or at least, the males are skinny (more on that later). They also typically have red-tinted skin (as opposed to typical fantasy orcs, which are usually green-tinted). They all have large, sharp teeth, and a bit of an underbite. They have a ridge of horns on their heads, and they have clawed fingers and toes. Their hair is similar to that of human hair, but, culturally, both sexes generally prefer to keep their hair short. Males are skinny — compared to the females of their race — but they are still very large and muscular compared to humans, and the average height for males is around 6.5 feet (200 cm) tall. Their backs are a bit hunched over, but they have broad shoulders and very powerful upper-bodies. They have so much muscle in their upper-bodies, in fact, that many humans have described their appearances as being “top-heavy”. Females do not have the same skinniness as males, and their overall body shape looks a lot more similar to a traditional fantasy orc, except with less muscle, especially in their upper-bodies, and with a lot more fat. In fact, female Pyrans are known for their wide hips and round bellies. Females are also much taller than males, standing well over 7 feet (215cm) on average. Because of all this, females look absolutely massive in comparison to males. And so, despite females being less muscular and less agile than males, their sheer size alone allows them to remain a rather formidable foe in battle. Interestingly enough, females also naturally stand straighter than males, and don’t have the same hunched-over stance that males do. Pyrans are also notoriously big eaters, and the average Pyran (of either sex) consumes approximately twice as many calories per day than the average human. Pyrans are also known for their gravelly voices. AQUANS: Although they are sea-dwellers, Aquans are not to be thought of as mermaids, as they still have a basic humanoid body shape and therefore have human-like legs. They do, however, have scaly skin that is most commonly blue or green in color, although rarer colors include purple, orange, yellow, or even a striking red color. They also have fins around their wrists and ankles, thus helping them swim. And although these fins may at first appear to be nothing more than a patch of skin, they do indeed contain powerful muscles, thus allowing the fins to become stiff when they need to be. These fins on their wrists and ankles also shrink when they are on land, so that they do not get in the way of their hands and feet. Aquans have both gills and lungs. Aquans are often perceived as being an all-female race, although this is not exactly true. Aquans are still divided into males and females with an even balance between the two — but, there is very little sexual dimorphism in Aquans. Both male and female Aquans have what we would consider to be highly feminine physiques. Male Aquans also have higher-pitched, feminine voices, and even more feminine mannerisms (although the later is more of a cultural thing than biological). Secondary sex characteristics are extremely subtle in Aquans, and generally only noticeable in the eyes of another Aquan. Because of this, it is not at all uncommon for humans, Pyrans, Avians, and Terrans to have trouble telling the sexes apart. Despite the feminine builds of both sexes, however, neither sex has breasts, as their race as a whole has no biological need for them. Aquans do give birth to live young, but they do not breastfeed. Aquans have no hair on their heads (or anywhere else on their bodies, for that matter), but they do typically have fins on their heads and necks that mimic the appearance of human hair. The specific appearance of these fins varies greatly between individuals. Aquans are capable of living in both saltwater and freshwater, but the biggest communities of Aquans exist in the seas. In fact, it is rare to find Aquans making a permanent residence out of a freshwater home, although that is usually more due to the small size of most freshwater bodies and lack of a sufficient food source than anything else. Speaking of food, Aquans live primarily off of fish and other sea-dwelling creatures, as well as some sea-dwelling plants. Aquans’ mouths are filled with sharp teeth for hunting and biting into these fish. Aquans also have small claws on the ends of their fingertips, which help them hold on to slippery fish. Despite having legs and lungs, Aquans still aren’t very well-suited to living away from water for long periods of time, as they can become dehydrated very easily. When submerged in water, much of the water that their bodies need can be absorbed through their skin, making it so that an Aquan who lives entirely underwater wouldn’t need to drink any water at all. If an Aquan is outside of water for an excessive amount of time, however, they would need to drink plenty of water in order to make up for what they aren’t absorbing through their skin. In fact, Aquans living on land would actually lose water through their skin, as Aquans, even in moderate temperatures, sweat excessively in order to keep their skin moist. In short, Aquans in their natural habitats are not meant to spend long periods of time away from water, and an Aquan that decides to live permanently on land would need to keep plenty of water on hand, either for soaking in or for drinking. An Aquan can suffer from serious dehydration after as little as 4-5 hours without any water, or even sooner on a particularly hot day. AVIANS: Avians are winged humanoids, meaning they have arms and legs similar to that of a human in addition to wings. Their hands, however, have fingers that end in claws, vaguely resembling the talons of birds of prey. Most Avians wear long, dark cloaks that cover most of their bodies — this is just a cultural thing. When wearing these cloaks, most of their more birdlike body parts are covered. The only parts of them that are visible are their faces (which are also a bit bird-like, with thin, pointed noses and sharp eyes) and their clawed hands. Their cloaks are also fashioned so that they can unfurl their wings while wearing them. The wings resemble that of a raven or crow, and are covered in black feathers. Their wingspans are about two times the height of their bodies, and, with their wings, they are capable of flight. When in flight, the blackness of their cloaks and feathers starts to blend together, making them look like a single black mass flying through the sky. When they remove their cloaks, it is clear that their whole bodies are covered in dense black feathers — save for their faces, hands, wrists, feet, and calves. They have no hair on their heads, although the shape of their feathers often imitates the appearance of human hair. Avians are known for their very tall and lanky builds, making them all look rather skinny and bony. Females are slightly shorter and have slightly more fat than males, but they are all still fairly tall and skinny by human standards. The skin of an Avian is similar to that of a human, but very pale. Other differences between male and female Avians are, again, similar to that of humans, but with another key difference: while Avian feathers are typically described as simply being “black”, careful observation would reveal slight differences in the coloration of males and females, as well as differences in the shape of their feathers. Male feathers are slightly longer and have a sleek, shiny look to them. They are a deep jet black color, and often have subtle highlights of blue, green, or violet that are only visible in the right light. Female feathers, in addition to being shorter and scruffier, are also a paler, off-black color. Despite their birdlike appearances, Avians would technically be more accurately classified as feathered mammals, as they give birth to live young as opposed to laying eggs. Young Avians are born without any feathers at all, but they quickly grow fluffy down that helps keep them warm until their adult feathers grow in. Said adult feathers typically start to grow just before entering puberty. Avians are not capable of flight until their adult feathers are grown in — and even then, many of them do not become proficient fliers until well after their adult feathers are finished growing. And because Avian flocks often don’t have any permanent homes, Avian parents will often carry their children in their arms while flying. - Now, you may be wondering — can the races interbreed? Well, yes and no. It would technically be possible for two different races to produce some sort of hybrid offspring, but the result wouldn’t exactly be glamorous. Hybrid creatures would most likely lead short, sickly lives, and would have a number of deformed features, especially in places where the parents’ physiology greatly differed. For example, a human/Aquan hybrid would probably have deformed gills, and would be incapable of living underwater. A human/Avian hybrid would likely have small, misshapen wings and would be incapable of flying, etc. Not to mention, from a cultural perspective, hybrids are practically unheard of, and would most certainly be considered taboo. If a hybrid existed, it’s a pretty safe bet that they would be seen by most as a freak and an outcast. DEMI-HUMAN CULTURE When talking about demi-human culture, it’s important to differentiate between the cultures of demi-humans living amongst themselves vs demi-humans surrounded by humans. The demi-humans, even when they technically live within the borders of Altera, still maintain their own societies where Pyrans live amongst Pyrans and Terrans live amongst Terrans, all with fairly minimal contact with other races. This gives each race a distinct culture unto themselves — a culture which is easy for me to describe. However, not all demi-humans live like this. There are many demi-humans who live in human villages, or demi-humans who still technically live in societies of their own kind, but who still frequently interact with humans (say, in a neighboring village). In any case, traits of human culture would surely rub off on them, to varying degrees, taking them further away from the culture that they would be described as having “in isolation”. To provide a real-world comparison, it would be like comparing the culture of a Japanese person who actually lives in Japan and the culture of someone who has Japanese parents but grew up in America. They are both “Japanese”, making them of the same “race”, but the Japanese-American, even if they still felt a strong connection to their Japanese heritage (which they might not), would still surely reflect more characteristics of American culture than the person who grew up in Japan. In fact, they may feel more culturally at-home in America than in Japan (even ignoring potential language barriers). In much the same way, a demi-human born and raised in a human city would probably feel more culturally at-home in human society than in their own “native” society. In other words, culture — in real life and in this RP — is complicated. I only bring this up to emphasize that just because a character belongs to a particular race, doesn’t mean their culture can be so clearly defined. And hopefully this will also give you, the players, many more options in terms of deciding your character’s background. Of course, I am still going to go over how each demi-human culture operates “in isolation” (even though cultures such as these are never truly isolated, but, you know). Just bear in mind that not every single member of these races will come from a background like this. TERRANS: Terrans, mostly belonging to the pentacles persuasion, are very practical-minded people. They are hard-workers, interested in being productive, and trading and acquiring wealth — but only in a sustainable way. As the creatures of Tenius, they have great respect for nature, and they are never wasteful. They farm crops, but their farms are much smaller than human farms, as they do not wish to clear large tracts of land for farming. Instead, they farm in small plots of land wherever possible, often meaning that Terrans have small, personal gardens as opposed to massive farms owned by a single handful of people. They also do not farm animals, and they hunt for what little meat they consume. That being said, they don’t hunt very much — often only preying on old, sick, or injured animals, and always being careful not to take too much away from the surrounding ecosystem. Because of this, Terrans eat such little meat that many humans mistakenly assume that all Terrans are vegetarians. In actuality, though, meat just isn’t part of a Terran’s daily diet, and is typically only consumed on special occasions. That being said, whenever animals are hunted, Terrans are not wasteful with any parts of them, always making use of any pelts, feathers, or bones — the latter of which are often carved to make tools. Terrans are also highly skilled with medicine, especially herbs, and they are often regarded highly for their medical expertise. Whenever the opportunity arises, Terrans often travel to human villages to sell products such as crops, herbs, pelts, and objects made from bone or wood. The bone and wood products in particular are often sold at higher prices than similar products from human sellers, due to the “scarcity” of these resources, but, many humans are still willing to purchase them due to the notoriously impressive craftsmanship of Terran products. Because when you have a race as hard-working but simultaneously nature-loving as the Terrans, they’re going to take what few trees they’re willing to chop down and make sure that precious wood gets turned into very nice things. With the money that they obtain, Terrans often purchase from humans: metal tools, “exotic” foods (particularly bread and pastries), and sometimes books. On the topic of clothing — Terrans see clothing simply as a means for keeping warm during cold weather. That’s it. It is not a fashion statement, nor a prerequisite for public decency. Because of this, Terrans often don’t wear any clothes at all during the warmer months (although many of them do still cover themselves when entering human towns). And the clothes they do wear are often fairly crude and not as sophisticated as human clothing, taking on the form of very basic cloaks and pelts. The most important god, from the Terran perspective, is Tenius. They worship him as the creator of life and all great things that the earth has to offer. They see themselves as servants of his, tasked with cultivating and taking care of the earth. AQUANS: In many ways, Aquan society can be described as largely feminine, but not exactly matriarchal. Instead, due to the minimal differences between male and female Aquans, their society doesn’t have much of any clear gender roles at all. Male Aquans are typically just as effeminate as their female peers, and the sexes are considered equal in most regards. That being said, masculine traits such as aggression and competitiveness are somewhat looked down upon, but that has more to do with their societal norms than perceptions of gender. In fact, Aquans themselves typically don’t have very strong perceptions of gender to begin with. Femininity is simply a societal norm for everyone, rather than just half the population. In fact, Aquans will often refer to hypothetical individuals or individuals whose gender is not known as “she” by default, similarly to how our own culture (or perhaps, a slightly more dated version of it) often defaults to “he” whenever one’s gender is not specified. Aquans, being primarily of the cups persuasion, are highly empathetic and emotional creatures, and they place strong emphasis on the importance of providing emotional support to their friends and family. They value creating and maintaining stable relationships — be they romantic relationships, friendships, or family ties. Even when interacting with members of other races, they are typically friendly, empathetic, and sincere by default — however, Aquans, and all creatures of cups, also tend to be more sensitive and easily offended, and are also more likely to have poor control over their emotions. And so, despite being so kind and friendly by default, Aquans who are treated with hostility are more likely to lash out in anger, in return. This empathetic nature even extends to some animals, as Aquans are known to come to the aid of beached dolphins and small whales, and to free sea turtles from discarded fishing nets. And where, in Terrans, this kindness towards wildlife stems from a great respect of nature, in Aquans, it simply stems from a great sense of empathy towards other life. Even potentially dangerous sea creatures, such as sharks, are often met with kindness instead of aggression. Of course, it is worth noting that Aquans do not have a perfect pacifist streak with all animals, as they do hunt fish for food, but, aside from this, they are typically kind to nearly every creature, and try to avoid causing undue harm to them. Aquans are known for being polyamorous (having more than one romantic partner at a time) as well as pansexual (being attracted to any gender). They are creatures of free love and they are not the least bit prudish about sex — and they will often seek out sexual partners beyond those that they are “in a relationship” with, as this is not seen as immoral among Aquans. Sex in general is treated much more casually among Aquans than among other races. Aquans also recognize that sex and love do not always go together, and they are rather familiar with concepts such as sex without love or love without sex. As for how Aquans can have so much sex and still keep their numbers stable? They’ve become very good over the years at harvesting a special type of algea which, when prepared correctly, can be used as a form of birth control. Aquans live in loosely-organized underwater colonies, typically close to the seashore. When Aquans are underwater, they don’t really need to wear any clothing in order to keep warm (and such things would probably only slow them down in the water, anyway). However, they are known to craft necklaces, bracelets, and other forms of jewelry out of seashells, precious stones, bits of coral, etc. Piercings are also not particularly uncommon among Aquans. Aquans are known for having an appreciation of art, beauty, and creativity — and they are also typically superb singers. To Aquans, the most important god is Diana. They see her as a loving mother that created the sea, and is also the source of beauty, love friendship, and creativity. PYRANS: Pyrans are the only demi-humans which have their own proper sovereign state, which they call Pyros. They are prideful creatures and they consider themselves superior to other races, which is likely at least one of the reasons why they developed a centralized state when most other demi-humans have only loosely-organized communities. Their arrogance is also what drives them to conflict with the state of Altera. Pyrans value war and conquest. They are known for being aggressive — far moreso than humans — and they emphasize the importance of victory in battle and material gain over the pursuit of knowledge. That being said, although they are fearsome and passionate, they are not exactly brutish — as they are actually fairly intelligent, with mental capacities that are only very slightly below that of the average human (too close to really notice much of a difference). They are also creatures of honor, and they treat their superiors with great respect. This is another reason why they were more naturally inclined to form something akin to a kingdom than the other demi-human races. Where Aquans have a highly feminine society, Pyran culture is much more masculine. They value control and power, as well as the ability to keep a level head and reign in one’s emotions. They are also more competitive, which is often channelled into the competition between Pyros and Altera. They also don’t have the same, er… fashion sense as Aquans. The clothing worn by Pyrans tends to reflect one’s place and status more than personal taste. Pyrans, similarly to humans, view Apollo as a model leader — the sort of thing that they aspire to be. Unlike humans, however, Pyrans do not place the same emphasis on the importance of balance provided by femininity through Diana, or what Corvenus and Tenius mean for other social classes beyond the ruling class. Indeed, their entire society is modeled with Apollo’s strict but honorable ideals in mind. As stated in Magical Beasts vol 1, Pyrans are known for breeding greater fire dragons in captivity, which, thanks to countless generations of selective breeding, are much smaller and easier to control than wild fire dragons. Pyran dragons are riding animals, and they are most often used for combat purposes and travel, but they are also a symbol of status, as not every Pyran would be wealthy enough to own a dragon. In this way, Pyran dragons are viewed similarly to how humans view pegasai. Although it is obvious that, as far as combat situations are concerned, a Pyran dragon is much more powerful and useful to have in battle than the average pegasus. Pyran culture is strongest near the capital, Agnai. Further from that, however, such as the “border” between Pyros and Altera, things become more complicated. There is much more influence from human culture in these areas, and Pyrans living further from Agnai often don’t have the same sense of nationalism as those living deeper into the heart of Pyros. This is further complicated by the presence of Pyran fleets from further inland, acting with hostility towards human settlements near the “border” in an effort to expand Pyros further. AVIANS: Avians are highly intelligent creatures — more intelligent than the average human — and are often seen as mysterious and sometimes intimidating beings. Avians are the most nomadic of demi-humans, as they often don’t have permanent homes, and instead travel from place to place. They travel in groups consisting of extended families — which they refer to as flocks or clans. Avians place strong emphasis on the importance of family, and they will go to great lengths to protect the members of their clan. They are also very good at holding grudges. If they or their clan members are harmed by a human (or any creature!), they will remember it. Hexing — although still illegal in Altera — is slightly less taboo among Avians, at least when it is done as revenge against someone who has wronged their flock. Despite this, though, they are usually not hostile towards strangers — assuming that stranger has done nothing to anger them. Avians don’t have much of an organized society. Instead, each clan lives more-or-less by its own rules. Some clans have a clear leader, others do not. Some are more traditional in the sense that they maintain a large, extended family, perhaps even to the point of pressuring younger generations to stay with them and threatening to punish them if they try to leave — while other clans are smaller, and may encourage their members to leave and find lives of their own, therefore acting more like a human nuclear family than a traditional Avian clan. As stated, Avians often do not have permanent homes. Instead, their flocks typically travel from place to place, taking up temporary residence in places that they visit — sometimes in human inns, and sometimes in camps that they build, themselves. Being primarily of the swords persuasion, Avians greatly value knowledge, and often enjoy visiting human libraries. Being nomadic clans, however, they often don’t own many books, themselves — or much of any personal possessions, for that matter. But, they make up for all this with their resilient memories. Now, this nomadic lifestyle is traditional, but it is not the case for all Avians nowadays. Instead, some clans have taken up a more permanent residence in human villages, where — although they may still act as close-knit clans — they do not all live together, and they would generally have a more human-like lifestyle. Furthermore, there exist many Avians today who are estranged from their clans — either because their clan dissolved for whatever reason, or because they chose to leave the clan. And while many Avians may try to start up a new clan in this situation, not all do — especially since starting a new clan means starting a family, and an estranged Avian may be too old for such a thing, may be unable to find a partner, or just might not have the desire to start a family. Generally speaking, Avians see Corvenus as the most important god, as well as the keeper of all knowledge, and they see themselves as servants of him. - As stated in the physiology section, hybrids between races would be highly taboo, but mere sex between races is a slightly different affair. Of course, it would still be seen as wrong. Dirty and wrong. But it’s not quite as bad as it could be. For one thing, although we, as outside observers, could easily say that sex between species would technically be bestiality, the culture of Altera just doesn’t see it that way (for starters, demi-humans are at least capable of giving consent, unlike animals). In any case, sex between races is more-or-less comparable to something like sex between siblings. Most people would find the thought of it unsettling, but there are no doubt many people out there who fetishize it. And as for how sex between races could be less wrong than the existence of hybrids, well, think of it this way — an adult having sex with a minor is bad. An adult getting a minor pregnant would be far worse. CULTURAL CONFLICTS The kingdom of Altera is ruled by humans, and has a very human-centric culture. However, demi-humans are technically not considered second-class citizens or anything of the sort, and they technically have all the same rights as humans under Alteran law. Instead, their marginalization comes in the same form as that of any racial minority in the world today — such as stereotyping and just generally being seen as an “other” or an outsider. TERRANS: Terrans are the most common demi-human race in Altera as they live throughout its land, particularly the more densely-forested areas. They often have their own villages in these forests and rule themselves locally. Due to their close proximity to human forests, however, it is not uncommon for them to enter human villages for trade. But, due to their culture, the Terrans are often seen as being primitive and less intelligent than humans. A more ignorant human may even be surprised to see that a Terran is capable of reading or doing basic math, even though it is certainly not beyond their capabilities. Terrans, in their own villages, typically do not wear clothes, except for the purpose of staying warm during the colder months — and even then, they usually only wear very basic cloaks or pelts. And despite the fact that a Terran’s fur covers most of their more significant anatomy anyway, and even despite the fact that many Terrans do not make an effort to cover themselves when interacting with humans, the typical nakedness and lack of sophisticated clothing only adds to the “primitive” perception of them. Terrans also face the issue of human expansion. In their own forest villages, they lead very sustainable lives, and are very conscious of their effect on nature. They cut down very few trees in order to build and maintain their villages, and still don’t produce much of any “clearing” as the trees tend to come right up to their homes. Humans, however, are not quite as considerate of nature, and so expansion of a nearby human village often means the shrinking of their forests. In the worst case scenario, a human village that expands far enough may absorb a Terran village in its entirety. Some Terran villages may attempt to relocate in such a situation, but this is an obvious burden for them. Instead, many villages are simply absorbed by human cities and the Terrans living within eventually become integrated into human society. Indeed, there are many Terrans living in human towns and cities today who are the members of — or, more likely, the descendants of members of a dissolved village. These Terrans often become much more accustomed to human culture. Given the powerful work ethic of Terrans, the luckiest of these city-dwelling Terrans may go on to become successful artisans or business-owners, many of whom may even maintain a successful family-run business. The less-fortunate of city-dwelling Terrans, however, are often taken advantage of by those that they work for, working hard jobs for little pay as some employers may believe that they are willing to work harder for less. And of course, there are problems that male Terrans may run into on account of living in a world not designed for people with antlers, such as having to duck or awkwardly turn their heads just to navigate through a doorway. Male Terrans are also sometimes stereotyped as aggressive due to their antlers. In the worst of cases, some males — particularly those with large and extravagant antlers — may be desperate enough to have their antlers cut off entirely, just so they can fit in better with human society. Female Terrans, on the other hand, are often stereotyped as being passive and seeking to please. PYRANS: As hinted at before, Pyrans are often seen as a potential danger and a threat to Altera. This is at its worst near the border, as Alteran villages will sometimes experience attacks from Pyros troops wishing to expand their reach. This has led to a general distrust of Pyrans among many Alterans — even the ones living much further into the heart of Altera who have no affiliation with Pyros. Pyrans are also typically stereotyped as brutish, aggressive, and unintelligent. All of these factors — to say nothing of the intimidating size and stature of Pyrans — leads many humans to feel unsafe around them. It is also rare to see a Pyran exist among the Alteran nobility, and Pyrans are often assumed to be impoverished or of the working class. They are also statistically more likely to become criminals — with the unfortunate consequence of this being that innocent Pyrans are often assumed to be criminals, and many are attacked or even killed out of “self defense”, even when they don’t act with any aggression to begin with. Pyrans are associated with slums, crime-filled neighborhoods, and everything that is the opposite of the respectable nobles and upper middle class. AQUANS: Most of the stereotyping regarding Aquans has to do with them being seen as seductive temptresses, or as sinful and lustful creatures. They are so open about sex and displays of affection that many of them — at least in their native cultures — don’t even feel much shame about having sex out in the open. Obviously that means that Aquans living amongst humans will have to adapt — but seeing Aquans act so casually about sex only adds to the perception of them being lustful and depraved. Many Aquans also take up work as prostitutes — which, although it is technically not illegal in Altera, is still far from a respectable profession. And there is no doubt that human clients seeking Aquan prostitutes is no doubt seen as even more dirty and immoral than seeking human prostitutes. And while many Aquans take relatively little issue with such interracial relations, it still contributes to the human perception of them being sinful degenerates. AVIANS: Avians, due to their intelligence, are given a lot of so-called “positive stereotypes” (with real-world examples of positive stereotypes being those such as “Asians are good at math” or “black people are good at basketball”). The obvious harm that comes with positive stereotypes is that it raises the standards for certain groups in areas where they’re expected to excel, meaning that anything less than that raised standard makes them look inadequate. Avians in particular are stereotyped as having all the typical qualities of swords — being well-read, well-spoken, etc — sometimes to an almost superhuman degree. They are expected to be faster thinkers, have more resilient memories, and all-around just have a greater capacity for intelligence than humans. If Altera had such a thing as an IQ test, the average Avian would be expected to score considerably higher than the average human. And while it is true that Avians, on average, are more intelligent than humans, that doesn’t mean that all Avians are geniuses. For example, it’s true that, on average, men are physically stronger than women, and there are good scientific reasons as to why this is true. However, that doesn’t mean that all men are stronger than all women. In the same way, it’s entirely plausible for a particular human to be smarter than a particular Avian. But, in general, Avians are just expected to be smarter in most cases. In fact, it is sometimes seen as ridiculous for a human to be smarter than an Avian, for the same reasons that some men might find it embarrassing if a woman beat them in a fight. It is worth noting, however, that this stereotyping appears more frequently in humans judging Avians than in Avians judging humans. Or at least, it is far more blatant in humans judging Avians. Humans expect Avians to have a certain level of intelligence and, if they don’t have that, then the not-so-bright Avian in question may be looked down on as being a disappointment or shockingly stupid. This is especially troubling for Avians who are not of the swords persuasion, as everything that is expected of them falls so neatly in line with the swords mindset. Avians are also expected to be powerful magic-users, especially in regards to spellcasting. And there is a grain of truth to this, as an individual with a sharp mind would have an easier time memorizing spells and even creating new ones, and it makes sense that spellcasting, a discipline that would require a fair amount of looking at books, would lend itself well to the swords persuasion (unlike, say, raw magic, which would likely come easier to those with the passion of wands). But again, this positive stereotype, despite being backed by some truth, is not true for every individual, and it has the same sort of affects on Avians as the stereotypes claiming that they’re more intelligent. Some Avians, conversely, may also stereotype humans as being stupid, but many of them consider themselves too enlightened to, say, assume that no human can ever be smarter of them. Most of them are at least consciously aware that the intelligence difference between them is based only on averages, and there can easily be exceptions. Instead, the prejudices of Avians tend to appear in more subtle forms — such as subconsciously stereotyping humans, which is the sort of stereotyping that many of us do without even realizing it. There are some advantages to “positive stereotypes”, however. For starters, if an Avian does wish to be seen as an intellectual type or enter a scholarly field, then it isn’t too difficult for them to do. It is not difficult for Avians to claim jobs such as scribes, librarians, or possibly even schoolteachers. Other jobs, however, such as those that are more associated with physical labor, may be more difficult to land, especially given Avians’ skinny physiques. It may be difficult for an Avian to be taken seriously as a soldier, for example, unless they specifically plan on being a magic user. Avians are also seen as being a very “mysterious” sort, which has advantages and disadvantages of its own. On the plus side, it means that art and literature produced by Avians is often highly valued — not only because it comes from “more intelligent” creatures but also because it comes from these mysterious, powerful beings with mysterious, powerful minds. On the flip side, it also means that humans are often less trusting of Avians, as they are often seen as shifty outsiders instead of familiar fellow humans. In fact, it is for this reason that Avians are also more likely to be accused of using dark magic, especially if it is against a human. Female Avians in particular are sometimes fetishized as having a mysterious, foreign allure — much in the same way that Western culture sometimes fetishizes Asian women for these same qualities. STARTING TOWN This RP will begin in the small town of Atvance, as listed on the map in the politics and geography blog post. Aside from what was already featured in the blog post, here are a few noteworthy features about the town: Blacksmith: The blacksmith of this town isn’t exactly the finest in the land, but he’s still a blacksmith nonetheless. He has a small weapons shop, but it usually isn’t very well-stocked. He also does commissions. Artifacts shop: A small shop that sells typical artifacts — mostly raw ones, but there are some pre-made potions and charms as well. Also, live salamanders are currently in-season. Temple: The Atvance temple would be rather small and not very noteworthy, were it not for the priestess who lives there. She is a pisces who is said to have a very deep connection with the gods, and especially the goddess Celest. Many people come to her for advice about their futures. Library: A decently-sized library. For many, it is the only good source of spellcasters. STARTING PLOT I know I said I didn’t want to give too much away about the plot, but, I also don’t want you guys to feel like you’re going in completely blind, or think that I don’t have much of any plot planned at all. So, here’s a quick sneak peak at some of what’s to come: A mysterious man who goes by the name of Ace Dominyx will be present in the town of Atvance. And while he may enter the town with a friendly guise, something is definitely off about him. It seems he’s eyeing the throne like all the other princes, but, if so, what is he doing here? When the time is right, a spirit will gather our characters and inform them of their quest. From that point on, there will be a lot of traveling. And, as stated, the goal is to head for Tarocchi, but, things could go in different directions based on the players’ actions… And then there is the 2nd half of the RP, which will be more ~SPIRITUAL~, but that’s even more hush-hush for now. You’ll just have to wait and see what happens then. Blog Posts: Magical Beasts vol 1 — Descriptions of some of the monsters and creatures that exist in this world. Magical Beasts vol 2 Magic — Important information about how magic works. Pantheon — The gods of Altera. Religion (Misc) — Some other religious lore. Geography and Politics — Contains a map of Altera, among other important info. Not all of these were already linked in the OOC thus far, so be sure to check all of them out! RULES Some of these rules may seem a bit odd, which is why I’ve tried to provide my reasoning behind some of them (hence why some of these bullets are the size of a small paragraph). Still, I worry that some of them may be poorly-worded, or just won’t make enough sense to some of you. If a rule doesn’t make sense to you, then please say something. A rule does no good if people don’t understand how to follow it, and I’d be glad to elaborate if you’re confused. I know this rules list is rather long, but, please make sure you read all of it. Each one of these rules — even if it may seem strange to you — exists for a very specific reason, intended to help keep the RP alive and prevent things from getting slow and messy. I’ve been lenient about some of these rules in past RP’s that I’ve done, but I’m going to try to be a bit stricter this time around. Here they are: Please do not post “WIP” CS’s. I totally understand if you can’t write a CS in one sitting — in fact I would actually encourage that people take their time on CS’s instead of rushing them up — but, please save the in-progress version on a Word document on your computer, or in a Google Doc, or really anywhere else that isn’t this OOC. If you post a WIP CS, I will ignore it, and it will very likely get lost in the OOC before you can finish it. If you change your username while you are a member of this RP, please post about it in this OOC, notifying myself (and everyone else) of the change and what your old username was. It is much easier to run an RP when we aren’t losing track of who’s who. There is no formal limit on how many characters each player can have, but I will be limiting players individually based on how many characters I think you can handle. If you prove yourself to be a reliable RPer who’s never given me any problems, I will trust you with more characters. If you can only barely keep up with posting for the characters you already have, I probably won’t allow you to have more. Communication is key!! Please, please, please, just talk to me if you’re thinking of dropping out. I promise I won’t try pressuring you to stay — I just want to know what’s up. And it will make my life 1000x easier if I know that you’re dropping out than if you just stop posting and then never tell me why. This is also true (perhaps doubly so) if you still want to be a part of the RP, but you’re just having trouble posting. If I PM you asking why you aren’t posting, or if you want to drop out, please don’t be avoidant about it, just answer me. I just want to have an honest conversation about what’s up, and it will make things go so much more smoothly. Also, me contacting you about a lack of posting does not mean “rush out a post right this second or I will be very angry with you”. It just means that I want to talk. (And please be honest with me about whatever’s holding you back, as well.) You cannot post in the IC with a given character until I specifically tell you that that character is accepted. If you’re unsure whether or not your character is accepted, then feel free to ask me — or, just start by checking the accepted characters list. If your CS is there, then you’re in. If not, then I either need to update the accepted characters list, or you haven’t been accepted yet, and you should probably contact me about that. If you’re going to be unable to post for an extended period of time, please notify me about it. And, if your absence is long enough to warrant it, I would greatly appreciate you taking the time to write your character out of whatever scene they’re currently in, so that you don’t hold anyone up while you’re gone. Please try to include, in every post, something that other characters can react to — something to keep the interactions going. This means that you CANNOT: Make a post that only passively restates everything your character just saw, without having your character add a single action or line of dialogue in response. Make a post about your character doing something that doesn’t affect any other characters at all. (ie: them doing something alone in their home, or any other isolated location). This is a useless post that adds nothing that anyone else can use, and it is an especially prominent issue in the early stages of your RP. If you find yourself writing an isolated intro post like this, and then planning to go somewhere that allows for an interaction in your next post? Just add the actual interactive part onto the end of your first post. If you play more than one character, and you find that you need to post for at least one of your characters, please do not put off posting for that character because you “want to post for both/all characters at once”. If multiple members of the RP are all doing this, then, long story short, this creates a tangled web of everyone waiting on everyone else and no one moving forward. So, if you see that you need to post for one of your characters, post for that character. Post for the other one when it’s time to post for the other one. (That’s not to say that posting for more than one character at a time is always a bad thing, if it just so happens that you need to post for two characters by the time you sit down to write a post, but… just don’t make this your only reason for putting off a post.) Similarly, if you need to post for multiple characters, and you have a feeling it’ll take a while, please do not put off posting until you can find a long enough stretch of time to post for every character at once. If you only have time to post for one character, then post for one character. Things will move much more smoothly this way. DISCLAIMERS/GENERAL NOTES Here are a few things that aren't exactly 'rules', but that I still want to take some time to point out: The race descriptions in this RP are very specific. As such, it is very unlikely that I will accept images in CS’s for demi-human characters, unless you (or a commissioned artist) drew it specifically for this RP. So, unless you do have an image that was made specifically for this RP, I would prefer a verbal description. This RP will have no formal posting order. People will post whenever it would make sense for them to post, rather than waiting needlessly for players that they aren’t interacting with. In past RP’s, I used to provide guidelines for when an appropriate time to post would be, but that just wound up confusing people and creating more problems than it was worth. So, instead, I’m going to be keeping track of things like “groups” and “activity flow” off-site. Feel free to post whenever it feels right to do so, but I’ll also be leaving messages on people’s profiles about “friendly posting reminders” whenever it is their “turn” to post. Just remember that these “FPR’s” do not mean that you’re taking longer than you should or that I’m annoyed at you for not posting. …Unless I’m typing annoyed faces like “>_>” and leaving several reminders in a row, then that might mean you’re taking a while. In general, though, don’t be afraid of the posting reminders. I like to use my OOC threads as member lounges. This means that off-topic chatter in the OOC is allowed and encouraged. I feel like it makes it real easy for players to become comfortable around each other and become friends, which strengthens RP longevity. That being said, do not worry that you’ll have to wade through pages upon pages of off-topic junk in order to find important announcements. Whenever important announcements are made, I’ll be sure to tag everyone in the RP, so that no one misses it. Speaking of which, I strongly encourage all members to become comfortable using the OOC — both to just chat with other members, and to contact me about RP-related things. Believe it or not, I’ve been consistently able to use a player’s level of OOC activity as a good way to gauge whether or not they’re likely to drop-out of my RP's. No, really. And, 9 times out of 10, it’s always the players who never use the OOC and who only ever PM me with the few questions they have who wind up dropping out before long, while the active OOC users remain dedicated members that I rarely have to worry about. Now, I’m not saying that contacting me via PM is bad, necessarily, or that everything needs to be stated in the OOC, but… please, just make yourself comfortable using the OOC. We don’t bite. :P Also, if you’re arriving late to the RP, you are not required or expected to read through everything that’s happened in the IC so far. (And you’re definitely not expected to read through the whole OOC, for reasons that should be obvious by now. o_o) If you’re joining while the RP is already in-progress, just ask me for a summary and I’ll get you up-to-speed. I TRY TO BE AS ACCOMMODATING AND UNDERSTANDING AS I POSSIBLY CAN. If you’ve read this far, then you might be getting worried that I run a really tight ship around here — and, while I do put a ton of thought into my GMing, that doesn’t mean that I’m inflexible. So please, don’t be afraid to tell me about any sort of life issue, mental illness, or anything else of the sort that’s making it difficult for you to RP. I’ll try my best to work with you, provide you with a bit of extra leniency when possible, and, all in all, just try to make it easy for you to participate in the RP. This is especially true for anyone with a mental illness, as, being one of those people myself, I know how it feels when something that seems like it should be easy just isn’t. So, if there’s any small thing I can do to better accommodate for your needs, just give me a poke and I’ll do what I can. For example, if you have memory problems and feel like you would need more frequent reminders about things, that’s definitely doable. Just PM me if there’s something I can do to help, and we’ll work things out from there. This may seem a bit off-topic, but it’s caused enough issues in my other RP’s that I think it’s worth talking about here: do you ever have issues with your alerts sometimes “breaking” out of nowhere, leaving you unaware of replies to a thread until pages and pages have already passed? Well, there’s nothing “broken” about this, and there’s a very good reason why alerts do this in the first place (which I strongly encourage you all to take a look at, as hopefully it will help you “fix” your alerts and prevent them from “breaking” in the future). Also, I strongly recommend checking out your “watched threads” list every once in a while, as it’ll show you all the threads that still have unread posts in case your alerts turned off for any of them. So, if you check that at least once a day, you probably won’t ever fall too far behind if your alerts do “break” for this thread. If you're the type that enjoys using fancy formatting in your CS's and IC posts, then I want you to try to remember to be mobile-friendly as often as possible. I will be checking things on my phone when I can to make sure things are still readable from a mobile device. And lastly, I need you all to know that it’s ok to CALL ME OUT ON MY BULLSHIT if I really need it. I’m the GM, and, as you can see, I have a lot of rules and standards — but being the GM means I don’t have anyone watching over my shoulder to make sure I follow all my own rules or enforce them consistently. And, sure, I do try to be as fair of a GM as possible, but, I’m only human, and I do worry about coming across as unreasonable or whatever, and I don’t want you guys to just suffer in silence and then talk about me behind my back if you think I’m doing something wrong. So, if you don’t agree with something that I’m doing as GM, then say something. There’s a good chance I may start a debate explain my reasoning if I feel like I’m justified in what I’m doing, but, it’s good to have a few other pairs of eyes checking in on me, and possibly bringing things to my attention that I may have missed. I mean, I do kindly ask that you be civil about it and respect my final decision once all is said and done, but, yeah, it’s ok to confront me about stuff — I’ll gladly explain myself and we can work things out from there. CS TEMPLATE Name: Age: Gender: Race: Persuasion: Element: Zodiac sign: Appearance: [I would prefer verbal descriptions — please look under ‘disclaimers’ for more info] Weapons/other combat abilities: Bio: (history and any part of personality not already mentioned) Other: Accepted Characters: Alicia Sylpheed (F/23/Avian/Pents/Air/Scorpio) (Neobullseye) Calder Zabat (M/24/Aquan/Pents/Water/Gemini) (Fancy Turtle) Clay Woodwick (M/27/Terran/Pents/Earth/Virgo) (Kagayours) Darius Adom (M/24/Human/Swords/Water/Cancer) (Effort) Fane Cauthrin (M/21/Human/Cups/Air/Aries) (Mahariel) Kiri Lucidil (F/18/Human/Wands/Air/Pisces) (Luma) Raymond Seagate (M/22/Human/Cups/Water/Aquarius) (Eruantien) Roxanne Azimuth (F/23/Human/Swords/Air/Gemini) (PoetLore) Shireen Nahel (F/23/Human/Cups/Water/Gemini) (Greenie) Tawny Woodwick (F/19/Terran/Wands/Fire/Cancer) (Kagayours) Victarion Varus (M/27/Avian/Swords/Wind/Sagittarius) (Rithas) Zito Marcell (F/21/Terran/Cups/Earth/Pisces) (AnimeLover_Princess) Note: Genders, alignments, etc have all been clearly listed here in case anyone wants to even out the roster by choosing less popular alignments. Please do not feel pressured to make a character that only fills less popular roles. I don't want these categories to feel so limiting. If the character you really want to play is already a popular race/persuasion/etc, go for it! There's no reason why you can't. I only made the existing characters' alignments plainly obvious because I know that some people like filling less popular roles, and this format just makes things easier for people who would've wanted to know everyone's alignments anyway. And special thanks to @WhisperingWillows for all this fancy formatting!