Tales from the Inner Sea
Nonhuman sentients in the Inner Sea
While humanity is by far and away the most populous of the sentients within the Inner Sea area, there are some others who either cling to the sidelines watching the humans at work, or in some cases actively participate within the regions affairs (with varying degrees of visibility).
There are always Broo. They tend to be found in less settled and structured areas, but they’re there. A Broo infestation in an area tends to draw the attention of any local army or militia to try and stamp it out as the threat of plague alone (let alone the armed menace of savage bestial evil worshipping rapists) is reason for any town, city or realm to act with determination and haste. Sadly Broo are enduring and it only takes a few to survive to withdraw, replenish their numbers and regroup again in time. Their religion such as it is can involve either a dark form of Shamanism dedicated to honouring spirit demons of disease or for some rare others the worship of Mowta as the Prince of Hell. No other nonhuman sentient causes the same kind of fear and revulsion as does a Broo.
The time of the centaur was in decline as soon as humanity started to organise and claim the forests and plains they used to inhabit, and now they live in isolated hidden pockets away from the eyes of the world. Lyreniil is where the greatest concentration is, though the odd surviving clan or family grouping may hide in old forests to the frightened surprise of the ones who see them. Almost all of the human inhabitants of the Inner Sea believe them to be either myth or extinct, and it is likely as the years roll by this will become true. The Centaurs are amongst the races referred to by rare and learned scholars as the Fading People. Little is known of their religious practices.
Other nonhuman sentient species may fare poorly or be in decline due to the continuing rise of Humanity, but not the Dark Trolls. Strongest in the Black Wastes, they are also found anywhere that humans and others are too weak to thrive in, like wastelands, marshes and swamplands. They are also occasionally seen in warbands called “Mobs” whenever the threat of Chaos is seen or heard of, for no other race has suffered at the hands of Chaos and Evil as the Dark Troll has. Dark Trolls are extremely matriarchal, with the Females all becoming rulers and Shamaness-Priestesses of terrifying power, whilst the males become hunters of great cunning and warriors of driven ferocity and almost unmatched power. Dark Troll attitudes to humans depends greatly on how they are encountered. If humans transgress on Dark Troll lands without invite, it will end in blood and screaming violence. If Dark Trolls venture onto human lands (and only the threat of Chaos causes such an occurrence) then it is more uncertain and very much down to the reactions of the local human populace as to how the situation plays out. Humans tend to regard Dark Trolls as frightening creatures to be wary of, and few would say they were a myth (many wish they were).
Dragons come in 2 kinds; the feral or “Low Dragon”, and the “Grand Dragon”. The differences between the 2 are down to intellect and behaviour, though not size or physical capability. A Low Dragon is blessed with great cunning and craftiness but no sentient intelligence nor magical ability, and certainly no power of speech. The Grand Dragon is a different prospect, with a formidable intellect, the power of speech and magical abilities that can include sorcery and more unusual and primal powers beyond human understanding. It is not known why some dragons are feral and others have intellect as nobody living has ever asked a Dragon the question or recorded any answer if they did. Rumour holds that the Wyrm Peaks may have Dragons living within it, as if there were not plenty of reasons already to avoid that area. Recorded Dragon sightings and encounters are few, the last being a Dragon rampaging through the now dead citystate of Velicca (an island realm once in the Bay of Jaws between Lyreniil and the Samsumar Jungles) some 240 years previously.
Certainly the most famous Dragon in myth and legend is the one named Varrax Pyrofer. A Grand Dragon, she was reputed to have vast wisdom, unearthly magics and be responsible for the rise and fall of a number of pre Armavine Kingdoms and Empires, and a claw in the raising of many folk heroes and legendary figures. Her name is known throughout many cultures and peoples, and all know her by the same name with no regional variation, an unusual occurrence. No other being short of the Gods has featured as much in legend and tale as she has, with her role in stories cast as tutor, destroyer, saviour and mischief maker amongst others, seemingly without rhyme or reason. The Gods themselves, whether Good, Evil or all in between were wary of her and the effect she could have on their mortal concerns, though some note that whilst in stories she aided and hindered Good and Neutral gods as the mood took her, she never had favourable dealings with Mowta and the other forces of Evil and Chaos.
Clannish, introspective and isolationist best describes a Dwarf. They stick to the Great Range mountains, some isolated holds in the Wyrm Peaks and the odd mountain range throughout the Inner Sea. They remain underground within their Holdfasts and rarely appear aboveground wishing the upper world and humanity in particular to leave them alone. They are known to follow some brand of ancestor worship that is unique to them that utilises sorcery too instead of spirit magic, further highlighting the differences between human and Dwarf. Some solitary Holdfasts located within the Armavine Empire have occasionally traded with humans, (no doubt to the disapproval of the majority of Dwarven society) and Dwarfcrafted items, whether weapons or other marvels are highly sought after and are objects of wonder and awe.
Elves are rare now, with their forests rolled back and the awful sight of fields and cities in their place being painful to them. Some clans reside in Menetia, most notably in the Keristal Forest, though they are more famed for living in Lyreniil and some realms in the Turbulent West. To most people an elf is regarded much like a Nymph, as a mythic spirit consigned to history and storybooks. Those who live in the areas that they do have contact with know this is not true. Elves and humans rarely have friendly contact when they encounter one another as the Elves remember what has been lost and see on a daily basis what has been done to the world they knew at the hands of humans and their striving for progress and expansion.
Elves follow a shamanistic faith strongly tied to their ancestors, the memory and spirits of trees and the existence of Nymphs. Some scholars have come to believe that Elves have their own deity outside the known Pantheon of the gods, something that the more reactionary elements of the clergy view with at best scepticism and at worst as heresy.
Thankfully rare and confined to places like the Wyrm Peaks, Caphaelian Expanse and the Turbulent West, nobody likes to see these colossal brutes appearing because opposable thumbs, almost human level intellect and unstoppable power doesn’t make for happy bedfellows. If Giants actually got along with each other the world would be in trouble, but since they are solitary and prone to fighting and eating everything they encounter there seems to be little chance of that. They have no known religion and no magic to speak of (only a fool would teach a giant magic), and seem to act as roving forces of destruction.
The Ogre of the Inner Sea looks like a tall well formed human with comely features. This appearance only runs skin deep however as they are almost without exception self centred followers of Evil who largely hate humanity and other sentients. They tend to either sorcery or much more likely the worship of Mowta and Neraka and always operate in secrecy, masquerading as humans and fitting in. They are very adept at dissembling and hiding who they are, though not from another Ogre (they can recognise each other on sight). They enjoy the eating of other sentients, with followers of Mowta and Neraka in particular using it as an instrument of worship and sacrifice. They are thought of by most as legends to scare children, though a few may suspect they still lurk in the shadows of the world going about their evil schemes.
Orcs are usually found in rough and mountainous terrain, forming tribes and clans that exist for a time before collapsing and reforming, from one strong authority figure to another. They are seen in some areas like the Great Range, The Turbulent West, (where some in the east say they fit right in) even the odd scattered island within the Inner Sea is occasionally home to an Orcish pirate ship or 2. Orcs are nothing if not adaptable. Most (but not all) Orcs don’t worship any Gods as the Orcish mindset cannot get around the abstract concept that a distant supernatural entity can grant you powers or assistance, instead using whatever sorcery they can muster as at least you can trick or threaten someone tangible into teaching you something.The only Orcish deity (if that is the word) known is one called Redeye, an Orcish legendary figure skilled at sorcery whose priests have been gifted sorcery. In fact singular Orcs have been known to become sorcerors of note and power, using their clan as guards and slaves to their drive for more power. Orcs are regarded as a dangerous menace when encountered, but at least they aren’t Broo.
Found solely in the deserts of the Caphaelian Expanse, these evil hybrids of man and scorpion live in villages and cave systems in the hillier and more rugged areas of the Expanse. They serve strong Queens who order them out to raid and seize whatever they can, whether food or loot, to bring it back the hive to be eaten or stored and used as best they know. Individuals lack great intelligence but the Queens are clever enough to coordinate their clan and utilise their surroundings. The primitive peoples of the Expanse hate them with a passion and always look to kill them when seen. Their Queens rule is total and she holds some form of mystical hold over her subjects, being able to communicate with them over a great distance somehow. If the Scorpion People have any religion it is not known, and contact with them is always hostile as they view all living things, whether sentient or not as food.
There are other species of sentients whose appearance is either so rare or without cultural impact that they have not been detailed here. Fachan, Minotaurs, Satyrs and Wyrms are examples but there are many more, largely consigned to either legend or apocryphal second and third hand accounts of witnesses.