Of all the races, Humans more than any others have shaped Istaria’s recent history. Driven, adaptive and without major weakness, Humans are nigh impossible to suppress. Inheritors of a long and proud history, it was in a period of turmoil that humanity ultimately gave birth to the Withered Aegis and thus a dire blight upon all living things. Now bitterly embroiled in total war, humanity as a race must contend with the slow fragmentation of their once mighty kingdom, whilst fending off the depredations of their own wayward sorcerers.
Humans strike a balance between the mental and physical realms of development. When describing humans, no phrase defines them moreso than ‘mind over matter’. Despite lacking any significant physical advantages, humans have nevertheless become one of the most successful species upon Istaria and without a doubt the most ambitious. The original core of the Withered Aegis were once men, driven by dark ambition; similarly, it was humans who through their tenacity and sacrifice made possible the ultimate defeat of Torrin Macalir at the Battle of Tazoon. By their will the world has been re-shaped; at their swords empires have been laid low, and by their hands made whole again.
Whilst at first seemingly unimpressive, appearance is deceptive. Humans are physically stronger than most races, and back up this with a highly adaptive metabolisim and muscular structure. They are not limited in diet or environmental range, can survive temperature extremes and are resistant to most natural poisons. Humans can swiftly alter their physical makeup to deal with unexpected environmental factors and uniquely sport both light and dark fiberous muscle tissue, allowing them to build themselves for both strength and stamina. Within the space of a day the blood of a Human can alter its concentrations to account for injury, temperature and altitude variations that could well kill members of other species.
Humans have a significant advantage in endurance. Whilst many races could beat a Human in a sprint, very few could hope to match a conditioned Human in a distance match. This endurance also makes them resistant to injury- Humans can stave off injury-induced shock far longer than even other hominids such as the Half-Giants and Elves. The acuity of their senses is above average, though their spectrums of perception are somewhat limited.
Throughout their history, Humans have changed their methods of survival and lifestyles many times, often through necessity, though also through simple drift of time and distance. This has led to the rise of several rich and diverse cultures which exist at present in the various regions of Dalimond Penninsula and areas surrounding Tazoon. Additionally, their once-empire afforded them a large number of island colonies and settlements, even going so far as to explore and populate far distant continents. Many of these have been abandoned or lost contact due to ongoing hostilities against the Withered Aegis.
The Vandus Confederation was once the high government of Humanity. Now effectively defunct, it served to unite the various city-states and barbarian tribes into an empire spanning almost the entirity of western Aradoth, with extensive island holdings and colonies. Over time the Vandus Confederation began to fragment as the line of succession became confused, eventually resulting in a near totalitarian state in an effort to maintain security. This changed following a civil war, which saw the break up of the Confederation into the main factions known today.
Humans of Dalimond are an agrarian culture. Their lives revolves around the growing and harvesting of crops, as well as a thirst for magical talent and exploration. Originating from a group of Humans who were at one time slaves to the Dragons, they hold the fierce beasts in a mixture of awe and loathing. Dalimondians are raised to emulate the virtues of Ashlandar Vandus who led them to freedom from their long bondage; they make for dedicated and disciplined warriors and magic users. Having been long on the forefrunt of the deprevations of the Withered Aegis they have become highly militarised and stoic, as well as master builders of fortifications. Celebrations and exchanges of gifts occour at harvest times, though in recent years these feel forced and hollow.
Humans of Tazoon diverged from the Vandus Confederation after disagreements over succession in the line of Vandus Kings. Though ostentiously a Human city, Tazoon plays host to members of all races, usually acting as neutral ground and a forum for debate and airing of grievances. It is also a major hub of politics and trade. As such, the Humans who live here have always been an eclectic and mixed bunch, lacking the mild xenophobia that had characterised their race and fluent in many tongues. They buy cheap and sell dear, masters of the quick deal.
Tazoon is the current capital of the United Istarian Empire
The Kingdom of Morathaven is a frigid city-fortress on the edge of the Fiendish Dominion in Northern Aradoth. Descended from explorers and allied closely with the Dwarves and nomadic tribespeople, they were annexed by the Vandus Confederation and were valued as a bulwark against the Half-Giants. They too fell into disagreement over the line of succession, and during the Civil War their city was sacked, leaving it weak when the Fiends began to arise and made war on humanity. At present the city is occupied by the Fiends and most of the original population have chosen to live as nomads in the tundra.
In addition to these two major powers, smaller states exist independant of the influence of the Vandus Confederation and Tazoon. Now largely subsumed into the Empire, individual towns still retain quirks of tradition and superstition. In addition to this, Humans who spend time anongst other races often become naturalised to their cultures. Nomadic and Barbarian tribes still roam in the Tazoon Desert and Vandus March.
Humans are a fractious race; the same quarrels which allow them to advance rapidly also serve to divide and fuel feuds between their various nations and tribes. Throughout their history Humans have formed several influential nations, though over the slow tread of millennia many of these have been destroyed, absorbed or simply dispersed and migrated to greener pastures.
At present the Humans of the Vandus Confederation follow a monarchical system of government. Descendants of Ashlandar Vandus have traditionally held the rulership over the nation, with mixed results. One-time capital of the Vandus Confederation they retain many provinces of their former empire, each of which has its own local government.
Humans of Tazoon retain the democratic system of government they have used since the inception of their nation; now somewhat expanded to include representatives of other races as a part of the Pact. Though technically the capital of an Empire, when people speak of the Empire they are usually referring to the administrative body that is dedicated to maintaining cohesion amongst the Living Races and orchestrating the war effort against the Withered Aegis.
Humans are the primary food-growers of Istaria. Though all races have mastered the arts of agriculture and food preperation, none have been so successful in the arts as mankind. As such, they have massive surplusses to export.
Industry is something that Humans do well, and on a scale that few others can match. Whilst their goods may not be as high quality as more renowned producers, they are usually far more affordable or practical. Humans are middling quality metalworkers, and adept mechanics, allowing them to compete with Dwarven and Gnomian artificers who demand high prices for their work. Primary exports include but are not limited to: Grain, livestock, fruit, arms and armour, ships, farming utensils, chemicals and manufactured goods.
Humans developed most of the classical military doctrine currently in use. Over time, this doctrine more than any proved to be the most effective at countering the seemingly limitless mass of bodies that the Withered Aegis could throw into an assault, and even species usually ill disposed towards these rigid methods of warfare such as the Saris and Dryad have come to adopt them. Being an expansionist and militarised race, Humans have fought many wars and become quite adept at stratigic planning. Thanks to their large surplusses of food, Humans could also afford to support a large full-time force without their campaigns being at the whims of the harvests.
Human military structure focusses on rigid drilling and formation manoeuvres, acting as a single unit rather than a collection of individuals. This results in a force that has excellent training and discipline whilst remaininig flexible enough to respond to unexpected threats. Additionally, humans were quick to adopt successful tactics encountered in those races they fought over the course of their history. Even more extensive training regiems are provided for commanding officers, imbuing them with several millennia’s worth of stratigic acunem. Human armies are typically equipped with cheap but very servicable gear, and field a variety of specialist units.
The large-scale use of magic in warfare is a hallmark of Human warfare, as the talent is prevelant enough in their numbers to allow the fielding of entire regiments of spellcasters and battlemages. With the advent of the Fiends, they are not alone in this any longer.
The Imperial Army and Navy are primarily based on Human doctrine, which has been shown to be the most effective at countering the Withered Aegis. Classical human ships are fully rigged designs, making them more adept at fighting in open waters west and south of Dalimond and providing the ships with a level of safety on the high seas that was generally not found in other designs.
Notes to Players
There are at least three very distinct Human civilisations in existence on Aradoth:
Dalimondians (similar to England, 1300s);
Tazoonians (similar to Byzantium, 1000AD);
Morathaven (similar to Poland, 1100AD).
In addition, there are a large number of barbarian tribes of different types.
Humans typically interact well with other races; it is common for more courtly humans to be schooled in their languages, traditions and mores.
The rich-poor divide is more evident in humans than anywhere else. Rich Humans often have wealth to rival a dragon’s hoard in value, poor ones can barely scrape even the meagrest living.