Alar: History and Tradition The Alar are a conservative people who live an isolated existence. Their society is organised, rigidly structured and peaceful; they deal poorly with surprises and prefer an uneventful existence. They do, however, possess one major advantage over every other race: the ability to summon magnificent wings and fly. This has allowed them to built their capital city ‘Aureate’ high up in The Dim Peaks, making parts of it inaccessible to anyone without wings.
Most Alar show very little interest in the world outside of Aureate: their lifestyle is sophisticated and bountiful without requiring outside aid. Few of them ever feel the urge to leave their mountains, and expressing such desires openly is frowned upon. Those who choose (or are forced) to leave Aureate are expected to part with their wings.
Aureate reluctantly consents to trade for those few necessities they cannot produce themselves. This infrequent contact with a select few trading partners is the only association with the outside world the Alar are prepared to allow. They are hard working, counting many talented crafters and artists among their number, though they rarely consent to trade their arts with the rest of the world.
Aureate is ruled by a council of elders, and protected by its Sky Wardens. Outsiders mainly hear of the Alar only in stories, and therefore consider them to be mysterious folk. Their ability to fly is admired and envied, but they are otherwise seen as narrow-minded, self-centred and arrogant.
Alar: Appearances The Alar are distinctive, not only for their wings but also for their pale, white-blond hair. It is not customary for an Alar to cut their hair, instead wearing it bound into braids and complex knots. The tips of their ears are pointed and feathery, the plumage matching the colours of their wings. Their eyes are usually coloured in shades of silver, ice blue, violet, pale green and gold.
Alar: Wings and ReligionThe bird-like wings of the Alar are magical summons granted by their goddess, Alarina. On the longest day of the year, a ceremony is held in Aureate for all children of eleven or twelve years old: they pledge their lives to Alarina and the safekeeping of her mountain, and receive their adult wings in return. On initiation, the Sky Wardens receive heavier, more powerful wings, allowing them to better carry out their duty of defence.
According to Alarina’s priests, their goddess ascended to the divine realm of Basion from the very peak upon which Aureate was later built, and subsequently gave life to their people. This tale has never been either confirmed or denied by Alarina herself.
- Most Alar wear light footwear or sandals only, as they never walk long distances.
- An individual’s hairstyle often indicates their social status and, sometimes, their profession.
- Most of the Alar wear hair ribbons, with colour combinations reflecting their family membership (the only exception being priests, who can choose to wear “neutral” colors as a sign of their dedication).
The Ildrei are entirely practical in nature, with little use for frivolities such as art. They are hunters and scavengers, carrying only the necessities along with them on their travels. They are willing to plunder a defeated enemy, but they care little for valuables and rarely take more than they need to survive.
The Ildrei’s traditional leaders are the chiefs of the three most powerful families, known as the ‘Faolchú’. These chiefs are typically chosen for their physical strength and their talent for the Spindrift, though in recent years this ancient system has become a matter of politics and alliances instead. This has upset the more traditionalist members of Ildrei society, excluded some powerful families and caused rifts among the Ildrei packs.
The growing Camorian Empire has long posed a threat to the Ildrei. Many years ago, the Ildrei possessed cities hidden deep within the mountains; while crude, these settlements were vital for trading, medicine and the exchange of information and news. The Duskfen mires once formed a barrier between the two, preventing a Camorian invasion; more recently, however, the Camorians built dams and drained the wetlands, allowing them passage into the mountains with many troops. They located and destroyed all of the Ildrei cities and strongholds, leaving them divided, homeless and scattered throughout the realm.
Undazar, one of the larger ildrei settlements, before the camorian invasion.
The Ildrei typically possess black hair and pale skin. In their natural state they strongly resemble humans, excepting their long, sharp canine teeth. Over time, however, an Ildrei will typically make significant modifications to his or her body, resulting in a wide variety of appearances. The older an Ildrei becomes, the more heavily decorated their appearance will usually become.
These modifications are performed by Channelers, employing a mixture of surgery, alchemy and powers drawn from the Spindrift. Many of these procedures are experimental, and they are by no means painless or without risk. The chances of success depend greatly on the capabilities of the Channeler.
The Ildrei are a power-hungry race, and they are reckless and virtually fearless in their pursuit of power. Many Ildrei have perished or gone mad because they reached too far and exceeded their limits, and sometimes their body-altering procedures produce undesirable results.
Ildrei: The Spindrift The Spindrift is an intangible plane and a source of power to which all Ildrei are connected. The ‘Drift can be accessed and used to connect with blood relatives; however, the weaker the genealogical link between the two Ildrei, the weaker the connection, until eventually it fades away entirely.
- Weaver: Weavers can mould the essence of the Spindrift into any configuration they choose. They can wear it like armour, shape it into claws or weapons or use it to camouflage themselves. In theory, they could even build grand structures out of it. Weaving is the most common of the four Spindrift talents.
- Controllers: These Ildrei can dominate others using their connection to the ‘Drift. The most basic abilities allow a Controller to take over another’s senses and see and hear everything that the target experiences. More advanced Controllers can force another Ildrei to speak or act as the Controller desires.
- Chanellers: Chanellers direct power from the Spindrift into tangible objects, creating useable enchantments that can be passed on to other Ildrei. Some Chanellers enchant objects (such as blood relics), create potions and apply tattoos; others are responsible for Ildrei body modifications. Channellers are not rare, but skill levels can vary wildly. A good Channeller is a valued member of any pack.
- Seers: Seers are the rarest of the four. Where a typical Ildrei can reach across perhaps two or three generations within his or her bloodline, a Seer’s ability can stretch far beyond. A Seer still requires an anchor to locate another, as do all Ildrei, but they require something less substantial: instead of a tooth or a lock of hair, a Seer requires only a name, or an object that once belonged to the person sought. Some Seers can also function as a ‘hub’, connecting unrelated Ildrei together in the ‘Drift.
- Family (especially blood relatives) are very important to the Ildrei, because of their connectivity through the Spindrift.
- Selecting a partner frequently involves the entire family, as the birth of children creates new Spindrift connections between bloodlines.
- Ildrei consider “borders” to be trivial things. In their eyes the lands belong to no one and everyone and they cross them as they see fit.
- Prior to their destruction by the Camorians, the Ildrei cities of old had few permanent residents, varying in size depending on how many inhabitants the environment could sustain.
Entire Ildrei cities have been relocated in the past.