As is well known, the world of Ghea is home to many strange and singular creatures, many of whom arrived here through the Chaos Gates at one point or another. So far as scholars can determine, the original inhabitants of this globe were humans. Yet certain races have been here for so many thousands of years, and have become so populous and well-known that at this point we may as well speak of them as native to Ghea. This article describes the characteristics of these various peoples.
The dwarves are less well-documented then the elves. They lived originally in the Molen-Tei Mountains of Ikhazdur. A religious and political schism split the Ikhazdur kingdom some fifteen hundred years ago; many dwarves migrated south to Alastari. The largest colony lives under the Daggerspine Mountains, having outposts all the way from Arkers to Rodeki, but smaller groups live in Murska and Lapur.
Dwarves are shorter than elves or humans, averaging four to five feet in height; they are heavily built and strong for their height. They have large heads, with strong jaws and large noses. Many dwarves are bearded, but this is not invariable. Female dwarves do not have beards, contrary to popular rumor. They are middling fair-complexioned, with hair colors ranging from black to brown. They usually have dark eyes, but blue or grey isn't unknown. Redheads are common but blond dwarves are rare.
While it is possible for a dwarf and a human to produce offspring, dwarves and humans do not find each other attractive all that often, so half-dwarves are extremely rare.
There are two main races of elves on Ghea, the Araoi and the Kyan. They share a slender build, sharp features, pointed ears and slanting eyes. The Araoi are by far the less common; they live, for the most part, in the kingdom of Alfhame, to the northwest of Alastari. They are an ancient people, tall and fair. They are known to be masters of wizardry, and have a reputation for pride and indifference to other races. In these late years, it is reputation only, for the lords of Alfhame have not ventured out of their northern fastness for many hundreds of years, secluding themselves since the devastation of the last Chaos Wars.
There are several Araoi colonies which were left adrift after the main kingdom closed its doors five hundred years ago--Monuntial is the most insular of these, still ruled and inhabited largely by elves. The Araoi of Fratsfa have for the most part interbred with the Fratsfans; few of pure blood remain; and the same may be said of the Karian Araoi in Lirith Kai.
The Kyan are smaller, often shorter than neighboring humans, and darker in coloring, ranging from the middling-fair Ardiventi to the dark-skinned Shagornan elves. They are less apt to magic than the Araoi, but quick and fierce in battle. Unlike the Araoi, the Kyan often intermarry with humans, and in some places, such as the Ardiventi Barony, there is little to distinguish elf from human.
The Shewish Giants live, unsurprisingly, in the Shewish Forest. The are indistinguishable from their Harkeny neighbors in every respect save height; Shews average seven to eight feet tall. Shews and humans can interbreed; in fact, some scholars claim that Shews are simply a tribe of very tall humans and ought not be classed as a separate species at all.
Karragit are a small, secretive people who prefer to dwell in marshes and along seacoasts. They are seldom more than five feet in height, with lank, grey-green hair and greyish skin. They have large, round eyes which may be pale green, yellow, or blue. They have webbed fingers and long, webbed toes. They are sometimes referred to as goblins, but this is considered insulting. They are reputed to have an uncanny connection with the marshes they live in, and tales credit them with all sorts of nebulous magical abilities. They are superb swimmers and divers.
Unlike the other races so far discussed, karragit cannot breed with humans without magical intervention. Some mages in times past made the experiment, for there are humans in northern Alastari, notably Stormcrowe and North Fork, with karragit blood.
Orcs are fairly common in northern Alastari, Serevada, and Ferencia; their original homeland appears to have been to the south, in Urhaurek. They are very similar in appearance to the humans which inhabit these lands--middling dark, with black hair and eyes. They tend to be taller and more heavily built than the average human, but the main difference is in the jaw. Orcs have large heavy jaws with elongated canine teeth, comparable with a gorilla's. The tusks are larger in males and seem to have evolved for sexual display rather than any dietary need. Orcs and humans can and very often do produce offspring; in many areas, such as Stormcrowe, there are so many humans with orc blood and vice versa it's difficult to separate the two races.
Rare in Alastari, the Pridefolk are a species of intelligent bipedal felines who live to the south on the Rirorni plains. They look rather like upright cougars and are nomadic hunters and herders. They cannot interbreed with any of the other races.
Northwights are a reclusive species of humanoid adapted to extreme cold. They live far to the north, on the glaciers, and feel uncomfortable at temperatures much above freezing. Save for their bluish-grey skin they look very human, but they are very different internally; they cannot interbreed with any of the other intelligent species.
Trolls are large, vaguely gorilla-like bipeds of dubious intelligence. They are not mammalian, but not exactly reptilian either; they are warm-blooded, with tough, pebbly hide and sparse, coarse hair. They have formidable fangs and enormous strength. They do not turn to stone in daylight. They appear to be right on the borderline of sentience; they can be taught language, but they do not possess it themselves. They cannot interbreed with any of the other races.