The world of Nahast is populated by hundreds of sentient races, some of them tracing their origins millenia ago. However, the nature of the Wheel of Ages is such that all memories of their previous glory was shattered and erased from their minds, with history becoming myth and all traces, including ruins and powerful relics pushed into the Land of Dreams, where they subsist to tease the races with dreams of an ancestral golden age.
Only the creatures of the Fifth Age are exempt from these dreams, for they were born in the current age of Nahast, but every day, more and more dreamers are finding their way into the forgotten remnants of the past Ages every time they go to sleep.
This page presents a general view of the races inhabiting Nahast during the Fifth Age, the time period that the webcomic deals with. More complete material will be added with time to fill out the hints and gaps in the information.
The First Age of Nahast was dominated by a special kind of creature: the spirits. Spirits are a sentient expression of a concept, a natural phenomenon, a place, a time, an idea… Some say that the spirits are akin to living dreams, and therefore it is the Land of Dreams where they live and breathe, visiting mortals and granting them visions and power.
During the First Age, the spirits existed in a rolling chaos; they had barely developed a conscience and very few of them had sentience as it is understood. As the Four Powers shaped Nahast into being, the spirits gained substance and began to distinguish themselves from their fellows. Soon, the spirits of the ocean lived apart from the spirits of the mountains. Abstract spirits did not exist then, as there were no conscious minds to birth them.
In the Fifth Age, the spirits exist much like they did throughout the turbulent history of Nahast. The Powers separated the world from the Land of Dreams at the end of the First Age, and the spirits are trapped there. The more powerful ones are able to have their voice heard by mortals, and few are even able to manifest in their true forms, rather than choose a physical vessel to reside in. Of course, the most powerful spirits are the gods and goddesses themselves, who rose from their low status in the First Age to be the dominant power of the world, below the Four Powers themselves.
Spirits, even the more peaceful and agreeable ones, are extremely dangerous and predatory. They all know that they can increase their power by feasting on another spirit’s essence, by attracting the worship of mortals or by having deeds done in their names; each spirit chooses to deal with these facts in its own way. Offerings to the spirits call their attention and allow them to part the curtain between worlds and peek into the mortal lands, and thus they seek many ways for mortals to do this. Shamans are able to detect the presence of spirits and channel their power into the world, which makes them a much sought-after breed of mortal.
No one, not even the gods, know who or what demons are, nor what is it that they want except the complete annihilation of everything that exists. Demons have existed since the First Age, but for some reason did not start trying to affect Nahast until the Third Age. Demons are invaders, anomalies in the finely woven tapestry of Nahast, but for some reason, the Land of Dreams is poisonous to them and so they can only appear in the material world when a door is opened directly to their infernal realms.
The Second Age was dominated by dragons; vast, majestic and primordially powerful creatures who were created from the essence of the Land of Dreams and the Elemental Planes, and given a physical body to reside in Nahast and rule over the lands, overseeing the comings and goings of the world more efficiently than spirits ever did.
Because they are part spirit, the greatest, oldest and wisest of dragons can and do become gods, as exemplified by the Five Dragon Gods of Solerne.
The dragons, as they were created, divided in seven main species, each of them subdivided in a many number of families.
Fire Dragons: Those who saw their existence born from fire and destruction. Fire dragons tend to be fickle and impetuous, and are seldom seen away from their homes in the heart of volcanoes or the heart of scorching deserts.
Water Dragons: The dragons that were made with the elemental essence of water are quiet, yet strong. They live in the rivers, lakes and oceans of the world, collecting secrets and learning the ways of gods and mortals. They are benevolent, yet their wrath knows no equal when they are angered.
Wind Dragons: Great travellers and explorers, wind dragons only touch the ground a couple of times each year, preferring to build their lairs in the clouds and wind currents. Wind dragons know as many secrets as the water dragons, and they are more talkative about them too if they meet someone they like or impresses them. They bring down the rain from the sky and are therefore closely related to water dragons, although they share more of a friendly rivalry than a true friendship.
Earth Dragons: Slow and somewhat dull, earth dragons make their homes in deep caverns and underground chambers, emerging on the surface on rare occasions. They are steadfast and resilient, and have a very particular fondness for mineral riches., which they use for almost everything: from nesting to food. Earth dragons are responsible for earthquakes, so the surface creatures give them due reverence and favour.
Wood Dragons: Closely related to earth dragons, these great beasts are amongst the most approachable by mortals. Linked to the forces of life, wood dragons are very close to all the forces of nature, from the spirits that trickle their power from the Land of Dreams to the fey creatures that are birthed from it. They are particularly attuned to fertility of both land and creatures, but they are also harbingers of disease.
Metal Dragons: These creatures embody particular ideas and magical resonances, responding more to their spirit half than their elemental one, however, they are strictly tied to the Material Plane like all of the rest of dragonkind. Metal dragons are purveyors of industry and culture, possessed of a more complex mind than other dragons.
Dream Dragons: The rulers of dragonkind, dream dragons almost never appear in the world of mortals, at least not anymore. Embodying the more abstract concepts, dream dragons are potent forces of magic and one step sideways removed from deities. Dream dragons span the entire gamut of philosophy and ideology, and some of them even betrayed Nahast and joined with demons.
Near the end of the Second Age, some dragons realised that the truth of their nature did not lie in their magically apt bodies, their reptilian features nor even in their ageless nature. They transcended all aspects of the mortal world and became what the Four Powers had intended them to be in the first place. However, this enlightenment came too late and for too few for the race to retain control of Nahast and avert the ending of the Second Age, and thus were born the Drakoi, the True Dragons.
Drakoi start their lives as mortal creatures, not necessarily physical dragons even. They lead a long life and find different wisdoms in the meanwhile and, if they can grasp the secret of transcendence, they become Drakoi. The Drakoi are self-styled guardians and guide of the creatures of Nahast. The oldest of them has been around since the end of the Second Age and shows no signs (to those who know him) of getting tired of walking around. They are truly immortal and can change their shape to anything, thwarting all magic that would reveal their true nature in order to appear as completely mundane members of the race they are mimicking.
The dragons of Nahast are dormant, with tales of a few active ones
travelling around in the mouth of sailors and explorers. They are the
only race that retains its memories of their Age, although the younger
generations do believe that they are more myth than reality, since all
of the evidence of a great dragon civilization vanished into the Land
of Dreams. The few wakeful dragons go about their business following
their elemental and spiritual natures, either terrorising or protecting
the creatures that live around their chosen lairs.
The Third Age belonged to intelligent reptilian creatures who became the first city builders in Nahast, as dragons had a great civilisation but did not build anything. The Third Age is sometimes called the Age of Dreams, for the reptilians were also the first race to worship the gods directly and gain access to the Land of Dreams as a result.
The reptilians had a very strong connection with the Land of Dreams and much of their magic centred on the worship of spirits and gods.
Reptilians divided the world in several great empires, each of them competing for domination and aligned to a particular god. This is the time when the war between gods that rages even to the current time started, with deities pushing their worshippers to war upon one another to gain even more power. It is this time also that reptilian sorcery opened the gates to the demons for the first time, with varied results.
The reptilians built great cities amidst swamps and jungles, favouring pyramidal shapes that went from great temples aligned with the stars to pointed cupules for palaces and other buildings of importance. Status in reptilian kingdoms was marked by castes, and there was no way to pretend one belonged to a different caste, for each was a different species in and of itself, with no hope for social advancement, for social status was directly tied to the reptilian’s species.
Brute Caste: The brutes were clumsy but very hardy
creatures that were used for the most disgusting tasks in a reptilian
Every caste had several subcastes. A reptilian citizen could climb in status amongst the subcastes, although this was difficult. Records of other castes have not been found.
The world of the Third Age was also populated by a great variety of creatures, and the reptilian kingdoms used them for much the same purpose that the later inhabitants have for animals: mounts, work and food.
The end of the Third Age came because reptilian society was locked shut and they were unable to change. The Time of Testing came as a series of wars between different empires threatened to destroy and rip the land apart. The wars were not territorial, but philosophical over religious and ideological disagreements. The wars raged on until the reptilians unlocked their most powerful magic and finally destroyed their civilisation and sunk into barbarity. The reptilian races subsisting in the present times are but pale shadows of the regal masters of the Third Age, and they are tortured by the feeling that they were much greater than what they are now, but cannot recall the why or how.
The great reptilian cities that were not completely obliterated were pushed violently into the Land of Dreams, with but a few ruins left in the physical world to mark their former locations. Such cities are populated by angry and vengeful ghosts of the annihilated reptilians, and the spirits they had bound into place.
The reptilian tribes that survive in the present age of Nahast live
isolated from everyone and warring with everything. Many, if not most
of them turned to evil out of spite, resentment and nostalgia for a
golden age they cannot remember, and the inheritor races of Nahast would
do well to leave them alone.
After the failure of the reptilian race, the Four Powers let the gods have another try at creating a sentient race, and the gods created the beastfolk by granting intelligence and a humanoid shape to some of the animals that were left after the terrible wars that ended the reptilians’ domination of the world. Instead of providing the same social systems to all of the beastfolk races, they left them to develop their own in an attempt to avoid what had brought the reptilians’ downfall.
Beastfolk are incredibly varied, sharing a few traits amongst themselves but all families having vastly different abilities and inclinations. Some worshipped the gods in organised religion, many others turned to shamanism, and others had the audacity to worship no higher being at all.
The beastfolk acted by instinct and thought mainly of the present, seldom of the future and rarely of the past, living the moment as it came. Unlike the people of the Third Age, the beastfolk never developed advanced civilizations and seemed content on leading pastoral lives. However, their instinctual abilities made them successful in feeding themselves and, having developed little need for material goods, they turned their intellects to more philosophical pursuits, achieving great advances in the sciences that soon caught up with what the reptilians had lost in the previous age; the difference is that it was never applied to advanced technology. Astronomy and divination reached its height under beastfolk thinking, and the lore transmitted through song and dance and other oral and written traditions left a very strong impression in the Land of Dreams. The beastfolk way of life gave birth to spirits that had never existed before, such as spirits of justice and love, and the first ancestor spirits came to be because the beastfolk custom of ancestor worship.
The beastfolk built simple structures when they had a need to keep their few valuables guarded. They came into conflict with one another, but nothing ever escalated to full-scale warfare. Territorial disputes were settled with duels of honour between two champions, and relationships between the different races followed the lines of predator and prey even if no one ate anybody else.
The beastfolk races numbered in the hundreds, but they organised in clan-like groups of similar species, some of them being:
Skrii’qek: The birdfolk were wanderers and explorers. Despite the lines divided between raptors, scavengers and tamer species, all skrii’qek are possessed by wanderlust, nesting for a few years before setting wing again. The skrii’qek described here belongs to the qu’arr subrace, a family of coastal and seafaring birdfolk similar to seagulls and albatross. Larriki is a member of the qii’rik, a family of small and quick raptors related to hawks and falcons.
Wufa: Canine beastfolk are varied in temperament and inclination, but all of them are unswervingly loyal and brave. They gather in family groups called packs, who also gather in larger groups. The urru are wolf-like hunters, while the hara are large and bulky shepherds. The most infamous of the wufa people are the quetzerri, the trickster foxfolk who developed powers of illusion unlike any other dogfolk.
Mobid: Strong and powerfully built beastfolk related to bovines that range from the peaceful kure, similar to oxen, to the savage and barbaric towar, related to bisons.
Merru: The catfolk were never very popular in the few beastfolk councils that were organised, as they were too independent and solitary to associate with other beastfolk or even with one another. The pyrrid are lion-like warriors, the khlarr are solitary rangers with tiger-like features, while the peshenti are natural sorcerers who claim they are the essence of feline nature, unrelated to any particular species. Note that there are no merru related to housecats; the merru see their half-tamed cousins as abominations of the Fifth Age.
Kiirari: The beastfolk created from sea mammals are egregious and friendly, with subtler temperaments running deep amongst them. From the friendly and cantankerous bibrim, to the wise and patient bosabu and the ferocious errak, the kiirari are amongst the few marine beastfolk.
The Beast Lords
Around this time, powerful beings known as the Beast Lords rose from the ranks of the spirits. They embodied both the voice of the animals they represented as well as the beastfolk tribe that worshipped them. Armed with enormous power, the Beast Lords crossed over from the Land of Dreams and took permanent residence in the mortal world. A Beast Lord is a larger, sentient and powerful member of its corresponding species, and there is only one for every animal race in Nahast. When a Beast Lord is killed, its essence flies into the strongest animal of its species in the world, who then grows and remembers who he was. This ability place the Beast Lords outside the divine wars that gods fight amongst themselves, which suits them just fine, as they gain no additional powers from the devoured essence of a fallen deity, either.
The Fourth Age ended when the spirits warned the beastfolks shamans of a great disaster that was approaching, but never telling of what it was. Scared that they would lose their way of life, all the tribes and families of beastfolk began to research into the matter, mustering all the magic they could grasp onto to curb the anonymous catastrophe. With a hundred and one prophecies making their round amongst the beastfolk, they all gathered in the southernmost lands of Nahast’s main continent. The more powerful shamans, priests and magicians decided that they would work together to avert the disaster, but their racial enmities remained strong and they were all working towards finding the best solution to their own family. In the end, the great ritual that would save them instead attracted their doom. With no clear idea of what the disaster would be, the beastfolk’s ritual only managed to tear down a piece of the sky. The impact broke the land in several pieces, creating the Shattered Islands in the south and littering the surrounding deserts with gigantic pieces of debris. Hundreds of beastfolk species perished forever in the catastrophe, and even Beast Lords disappeared, unable to pass on their strength to another animal.
In the present age, beastfolk are scattered around Nahast, with a few small territories here and there. Their lack of contact with one another is condemning them to extinction, although somehow they can feel where other of their own species are, and thus they can still keep their numbers high. The race as a whole was traumatised by the end of their age, and they have forgotten their incredible oral traditions and scientific insights, returning to a carefree barbarism, thanks to their still strong trait of not worrying much about other times but the present.
The Four Powers again took the reins of creation and gave birth to new races to populate the Fifth Age of Nahast, the current spoke in the Wheel of Ages. Legends tell that the Powers shaped each race from a particular patch of natural material, which gave the race a much stronger tie to the world as well as many unique characteristics, without any ties to each other. Upon creating the mortal races, the Four Powers also opened the doors of fully arcane magic, which flows directly from the Land of Dreams without the intervention of gods and spirits.
Unlike legends say, the dwarves and elves are not anybody’s firstborns. As a race, they have the same age as humans, although their different life spans and ties to their land gave them better insights more quickly so that it appears that they are an older race than what they really are.
Humans: Humans are the most populous race in Nahast, carving kingdoms out of anything and coming into conflict with everything. They adapted readily to any environment they came across and subtly changed themselves to fit that environment, creating hundreds of variations that do not qualify as full sub-races, but are different from each other. The strongest human empires in the Fifth Age are Solerne, Zergune and the Iron Baronies.
Elves: The people of the wood believe themselves to be the oldest of all the races. Proud and alien in thought and motion, they opened their hearts, minds and souls to the forests and were rewarded with strong magic. The elves of Nahast are not city-builders; they are too much the wanderers to devote themselves to violating their surroundings to the point of building any settlement larger than a village. Most elves are nomadic, but seldom leave the forest and jungles that saw their birth. Elves have many sub-races, the two stronger being the isolationist maehvindra and the adventurous viryuni.
Dwarves: The people of the stone rarely leave their deep homes under the mountains. Their mastery of all things of stone helped them make great technical progress in a few generations, pushing them ahead of all of the other mortal races of the Fifth Age. However, their skill and patience have already begun to stagnate, as if their head start sucked the vitality from their souls. Humans are now showing innovations that dwarves never dreamt about, and they adopt them and make them better thanks to their usual patience and still unsurpassed skill.
Halflings: Wild creatures who disdain the trappings of civilization, the halflings of Nahast are regarded as little more than animals by those whose lands neighbours the little people’s. Their untamed ways are a front for their deep spirituality. Amongst the Fifth Age races, it is the halflings who made the effort to get to know their predecessors, and the only ones with prophecies concerning the Time of Testing.
Gnomes: Bridging the gap between dwarves and humans, gnomes are inventive creatures, yet not as patient as the dwarves nor as tenacious as the humans, and therefore their culture advances in stops and leaps. Gnomes disdain having lands of their own, instead settling with other races, (most particularly the above humans and dwarves).
Demonspawn: When the Demon War broke out, one of the weapons in the Demon Prince’s arsenal was their ability to possess and corrupt beings of all kind. When the gods finally banded together in pantheons to fight the demonic hordes, the victory was so complete that demons had to find any possible way of escaping divine wrath. Many of them hid inside creatures of all strips and sunk so deep as to merge their essence and losing themselves. This effectively expelled the demon’s power from the world, but left the creature so twisted and evil as to be unrecognisable from its former state. These unfortunates are called demonspawn, and they can breed. For hundreds of years, demonspawn of similar or common anatomies have gathered in savage and evil tribes, launching raids against every settlement around them.
The Half-Breeds: A very recent phenomenon in Nahast, the Fifth Age races are finding out that they are cross-fertile. The first half-breed has barely died of old age during the events narrated in the comic, but more and more are being born across the lands. Half-elves are more common, as elves and humans do not have such a disgust for each other as other races. Half-orcs are an unfortunate mix born usually from violence, with orcs believed to be actually demonspawn. Gnome-halfling half-breeds are rumoured to exist, as well as human-dwarf but, considering that even half-elves and half orcs are only hearsay in many lands, nothing is proven. The half-breeds bring the beginning of the Time of Testing for the Fifth Age, but what the Four Powers expect from its inhabitants cannot be known until the Test is passed, or failed.
Art and story © 2002-2008 Alejandro Melchor.
Nahast Campaign Setting and Product Identity © 2002-2008 Proyecto Nahast
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