The Eastern Isle,

the Heavenly Realm

Players' Handbook

An Expansion of The World of Empire

A new area of play entirely, the Heavenly Realm are an isolated geographic region with almost no contact with any other campaign setting of the World of Empire. In the Heavenly Realm, the very physical laws of nature function in an entirely different fashion; a difference that is mostly felt in the fact that Magic does not exist there, while, conversely, a relatively advanced technology does. 

The following overview of the Eastern Isle is excerpted from a much longer tome by noted Yenni scholar Shurringo Dezingas Vakaro, Third Circle Priest.

History

It is generally known that the vast Eastern Isle, where the current incarnation of the eternal Heavenly Realm is to be found, was created by King Dragon at the dawn of time as a home for His human followers. King Dragon's most powerful vassals, the Zur Arreesh, were set over the less powerful mundane humans on the Isle, while King Dragon Himself turned His attention to other matters.

Upon arrival, the Zur Arreesh (literally, 'the Gods of This World') in obedience to King Dragon's wise Holy Law, divided the great human masses up into six separate Temple Clans and dispersed these Clans all along the Isle's westernmost shore, so they could develop their own ways and customs without interfering with each other. These first Temple Clans later became the Great Bloodlines, and though the Zur Arreesh's slowly increasing numbers led to a gradual founding of many additional Temple Clans, the 6 Great Bloodlines survived even the destruction of the First Empire.

The isolated Temple Clans spread slowly and did not begin to interact with each other for several centuries. When they did come together, King Dragon's Holy Law was respected, and the Bloodlines were maintained, even when communities of mixed Bloodlines began to be more common. Each different Temple Clan, with its own customs and traditions, found something valuable and helpful in the other Temple Clans, and under the wise governance of the Gods, humanity's dominion slowly extended until nearly the entire reaches of the Eastern Isle were included in what came to be called by later historians the First Realm.

The First Realm, directly ruled by the powerful Zur Arreesh, and with the blessings of King Dragon, overcame all its early difficulties. When the eastern shore of the Isle was approached by the first waves of colonists, they met unexpectedly fierce resistance by a strange, savage race of unknown Men who had already settled in that area, spreading out, apparently, from the mysterious Ringlands. Over the next century the orange skinned savages and their cunning, oddly misshapen masters fought viciously against the waves of settlers from the Western lands, but they were eventually driven back beyond the sea from whence they came. Repeated attempts by the Firsters to conquer the Ringlands failed, but for 8,000 years the Yssans were afraid to set foot on the mainland again. Only since Dirk Ironhand and his Vlemish clan invaded the central Island, tore down the Citadel of Ymen and slaughtered every living member of the horrible Yssan Poisoners Society have the ancient commandments been relaxed to allow small numbers of Yssans to come to the Third Realm, for purposes of trading medicines, chemicals, and Ringlander slaves in exchange for various Eastern Isles commodities.

The causes of the Fall of the First Realm are unknown to modern historians. Religious history of this time speaks of a War in Heaven, where god battled god to the death, for reasons mere mortals may never understand. Others have noted that it was in these dark times, when even the Priesthoods were too beset to keep accurate written records, that the first tales of the nonhuman Khiton appear. Was the Khiton's first appearance somehow linked to the Fall? Or, more likely, did the great Khiton war chiefs, seeking new lands to conquer, find out somehow about the gods' distraction and choose that propitious moment to invade the eastern plains of the Isle? Since the Khiton themselves are nomadic savages with no written language who bitterly despise all humans, and the gods do not speak of these times, mere humans may never know. But the First Empire did fall, nearly a thousand years after humans first came to the Eastern Isle. And its ruins can still be found scattered the length and breadth of the land. All the great modern shore cities are built on sites that were originally measured, levelled, and tunnelled by the First.

The Great Darkness lasted fifty generations of men, while the Gods withdrew entirely from us and the Priesthoods of the Temple Clans struggled to enforce King Dragon's Holy Laws on a populace more interested in bare survival than righteousness. By preaching that the Fall was a judgement from King Dragon on a sinful, decadent First Empire, the Priesthoods managed to maintain their power and keep the Temple Clans more or less coherent, although the borders of human dominion necessarily shrank back to the Eastern Shore. The six Bloodlines retreated into isolation from each other, their dwindling pureblood populations remaining within walled enclaves and tiny patches of ferociously defended farmland and hunting ranges. It was during this time that great exoduses of human refugees, fleeing the chaos of the Fall, crossed the great northern mountain ranges, which have traditionally been home to the Bird People, and settled in the distant moors of Vlema. Scholars also believe the distant human cities on scattered islets off the shores of Oklina, such as Olgatha'Nator, Tresski, Sbarrot, and Grammockius, were settled by waves of refugees during this period.

Only when the Zur Arreesh, the Gods of the Eastern Isle, returned their power and presence to their Priesthoods and their Temple Clans did the Great Darkness subside. The Khiton had had a thousand years to increase their numbers and spread across the Eastern Marches, but the power of the Gods stopped the Bug hordes at the Long Inner Sea of Sadness. Under their protection, the six Bloodlines began once more to increase their numbers. Eastern Holy Law was once more not only enforced, but more or less willingly obeyed.

The Second Realm lasted twice as long as the first, and at its apex, its borders were as extensive as those of the Modern, or Third Realm. The gods were strong in the Second Realm, manifesting themselves on earth with great frequency and dwelling for lengthy periods in their earthly palaces. The people were fervent in their worship and in their zealous adherence to King Dragon's Holy Laws. The Gods rewarded their people by creating wondrous constructs and giving their Priesthood plans for mighty machines and weapons, mightier by far than even the advanced miraculous devices we have now in the Fourth Realm. There can be no doubt that, if the Gods had chosen to do so at the time, they could have exterminated the Khiton race in its entirety and wiped the loathsome Yssans from the surface of the seas. But the Gods were merciful, and they merely issued the Great Commands, limiting the Khiton to the Eastern Marches and forbidding the Yssan race from ever leaving their native isles. So terrified of the Gods' mighty power were these enemies that even during the Fall of the Second Realm and the second era of darkness, they did not dare transcend the boundaries set for them.

The Second Realm's Fall is not as mysterious as the first. Clearly recorded religious mythology tells us that, indeed, the Gods did go to war again, and this time, their fighting was so ferocious, and they were so deeply involved in human affairs, that their Temple Clans were drawn into battle with each other. Temple records tell us that the cause of the war was an accusation by Suroka, God of Battle and Manly Strength, that Loka, the God of Chaos, had conspired with the self-exiled Serpent Gods many generations of men before to poison Woda, the Highfather, with a venom that had caused him to sink into a seemingly endess slumber. Furthermore, the records tell us that Suroka claimed that Loka had bribed the Serpent Gods to do this by offering them several powerful godly weapons, among which was the Eye of Woda, all of which had not been seen in Heaven since the Serpent Gods' departure. Virtually all the pantheon of Heaven was drawn into this conflict on one side or another, and while thunderbolts and hellblasts whistled through the immortal and indestructible streets of the Silver City, war raged in the cities and across the plains of the Second Realm. And with the horrible weapons the gods had given the priests to be used against the enemies of man if need be, this war was devestating beyond modern imagining. Entire cities were shattered and blasted to the ground; whole forests incinerated, vast ranges of farm land laid waste by the forces unleashed.

It is said by some historians that during that Great War in Heaven, a vast unknown number of the Gods perished, and that subsequently, when the Gods did return their attention to their scattered, much diminished earthly followers, they ordered their Priesthoods to remove all mention of the now dead gods from the Temple Records. This seems likely; those few exalted mortals who have been gifted with a sight of the Silver City since the beginning of the Third Realm say it is a mostly empty place, and that it was obviously built for a much larger population than that which currently resides there. All that is really known is, after the Great Heaven War, seven people in ten were dead, and the survivors no longer had the skills or numbers to rebuild or support civilization. They abandoned Holy Law, interbred without regard for Bloodline, became savages and even cannibals. Refugees from the Heaven War doubtless swelled the populations in Vlema, beyond the mountains, and Olgatha'Nator, beyond the Western Sea. When the gods finally returned their attentions to the battered remnants of King Dragon's People on the Eastern Isle, they saw that they would need to begin all over again if they were to fulfill King Dragon's Holy Covenants.

This time, the ascent from Darkness was a long, grinding, painful, and very gradual one. The Gods, diminished in number, manifested themselves only when absolutely necessary; to choose new Priests to found and lead new Temple Clans, to teach Holy Law once again to those who had forgotten it, to punish the first godless few who inevitably broke it. Some historians have wondered why the Khiton did not invade during the long second Darkness, while the Gods attention was elsewhere and men were huddled in the ruins of their cities, barely surviving. The simple fact is, the Khiton were probably still in terrified awe of the gods and the powers of the Second Realm, and having seen those powers released in the Great Heaven War, had no desire to come anywhere near the human occupied lands.

The Modern Realm, or the Third Realm, has grown up far more slowly than the first or second. For one thing, after the second Fall, the Gods have been far more distant and less active in ongoing human and Temple affairs. In fact, divine visitations and Temple investitures, which according to carefully preserved histories were common in the First and Second Realms, have been sporadic at best in the modern era. It is well known that all of the great Divine Palaces are empty of divine presence; the last god to actually dwell on mortal earth was Zhari, the Goddess of Dreams, and she departed for the Silver City over two centures ago. Since then, there have been occasional sightings of Celestial beings over the long years, but the last actual confirmed visitation was made 92 years ago by Marvata, God of Death and Destruction, to attend the funeral of the great Svenish hero Dirk Ironhand. In fact, the gods have become so distant that there is a growing minority who believe they no longer live, or at the very least, that they have taken the Silver City away from the Heavenly Realm and are no longer interested in the humans King Dragon placed under their care long ago. A surreptitious attitude of casual and common mockery of the gods has grown up, and while the Temples and more conservative elements of society discourage such things as blasphemy, sacrilegious jokes and mottos and even merchandise has appeared in the southermost port city of Turis, which is farthest from the heart of the Eastern Realm, and strongly influenced by the foreign ideas that come with foreign trade.

Culture

King Dragon's Holy Laws are strongly enforced by the Temple Priesthoods of the modern Eastern Realm, and even without the Priesthood's watchfulness, it can scarcely be doubted that the large majority of the population would devoutly and scrupulously obey the laws anyway. For the most part, the six separate Bloodlines obey the laws and do not pollute themselves genetically with other Bloodlines. However, the gradually increasing distance between the gods themselves and their Temples has led to some small amounts of disquiet in certain parts of the population, and this disquiet is only increased by certain troublesome public perceptions. Over 200 years ago, a Darellian Temple Clan, the Shadaro, hired several thousand Vlemish mercenaries with promises of rich loot and invaded the area of the Maritalo people and successfully conquered their one coastal city. The ruling Priesthoods of the six Maritalish Temple Clans were allowed to surrender peacably, and were then deported to Yen, while the Shadaro Priesthood assumed control of the city and its entire surrounding area. Then, in utter defiance of King Dragon's Holy Laws, the Shadaro forcibly adopted the members of the six Maritalish Temple Clans into the Shadaro Clan, and began to intermarry and interbreed with them. Over the past eight or nine generations, a half breed race, the so-called Daritalians, has emerged.

The fact that the gods themselves have not intervened, have not even apparently noticed, this enormous transgression of Eastern Holy Law, has undermined a great deal of the people's faith in the gods and the Priesthood. A Grand Council of Temple Clan High Prelates was called shortly after this occurred, and it was voted to call for Celestial Censure on the Shadaro Clan and the Darellian Bloodline. No response was forthcoming from Heaven, and to date, no official Censure has occurred. The Shadaro continue to rule Maritalo, the Daritalian race slowly increases its numbers, and the Shadaro Temple Clan Priesthood continues to have an official voice in any Grand Clerical Councils that are called.

In the years since the destruction of the Yssan Poisoners' Society's central conclave, the Citadel of Ymen, the ancient Commands have been relaxed somewhat. The surviving Yssans, although misshapen and deformed and somewhat loathsome of appearance, have professed themselves to be honestly grateful to be freed of the Poisoners insidious and tyrannical influence. Their mastery of chemistry and medicines seems unparallelled, and most merchant houses and Temple Priesthoods are happy to trade with one or two of them per year. They are still far from welcome, and tend to wear concealing clothing in the streets to prevent themselves from being stoned or lynched by irate, superstititious mobs. Still, it is a great mark of progress that they can be tolerated here in the civilized realms at all.

Although slavery for non-Pureblooded humans has recently been outlawed throughout the Third Realm, it must be noted that the social status of people of Impure blood has not risen measurably. Nearly every sizeable city of the Third Realm has a Lowly Quarter where such unfortunates are forced to live, if not by law and armed physical force, then simply by the disgust and opprobrium with which the Pureblooded greet them wherever they go. Halfbreeds can find only the meanest, most unpleasant sort of work at the lowest conceivable wages, although it should also be noted that the recent opening of mechanized assembly mills in the four great cities of Azoria has drawn Impies from all over the Third Realm, greatly expanding the size of the Azorish Lowly Quarters. As many more travel to the cities than there are positions in the assembly mills, the crime rate in the Azish cities has risen commensurately as well. However, the rich Merchant Houses which make use of the assembly mills need a cheap and replenishable source of labor, and their economic pressure on the Temple Clan Priesthoods has so far resulted in no immigration ban.

Slavery of those outside King Dragon's natural law, such as Khitons and Ringlanders, is of course acceptable under Eastern Holy Law, and many captured Bugs and Pumpkinheads labor on Azorish farms or in Helkish mines, or man the oars of various vessels. It is not illegal for such creatures to gain the status of freemen, but it is, of course, very rare. Those Khiton who do manage to purchase their freedom nearly always depart for their native regions. Ringlanders most often gain their freedom by committing some fabulous act of heroism in the hazardous areas of their labor, and in general, being completely unsuited to guide their own destinies, end up doing the same job they have always done, but drawing a pittance of wages as token of their liberty.

Lastly, we should not forego a mention of our respected and beloved cousins, the Great Grey Giants and the Frodds. When King Dragon first sent us to this Isle, we were accompanied by these invaluable partners. Although of course the Giants and Frodds cannot interbreed with humanity, over the many millenium they have remained steadfastly by our sides. Each Temple Clan has its own small group of these fine peoples, who are considered to in every way be the equal of any Pureblood Human of King Dragon's creation. Many Giants choose to dwell in the mountains, but unlike the Bird People known as the Aven, who deliberately segregate themselves from human society in their distant northern ranges, the Giants who do so reside with the Helk in their more centrally located ranges. And every large city has a community of Giants and Frodds dwelling therein, happily coexisting with their cousins of unaltered genetic stock.

The Provinces

Azoria

The Azorans are a race of cheerful, scrupulously honest merchants, who happily trade nearly anything with nearly anyone. A civilized, law-abiding society combined with a superior level of technical achievement on the part of their Temple Clan Priesthoods has made Azoria a wealthy land, where a significant percentage of the population enjoys luxuries unheard of elsewhere in the Heavenly Realm, such as indoor plumbing, central heating, gas-jet lighting, excellent urban sewer systems, and cheaply available labor-saving mechanisms.

Outside the four seaside cities of Turis, Azora, Basso and Harlor, Azoria is a land of rich, rolling farmland, with substantial mineral deposits to the Northeast, bordering the Helkish Mountains, and some fairly dense forests to the South, where the ground slopes down towards the Sea of Tears. Most rural Azish are grain and dairy farmers; Azoria's chief exports are beef, wheat, oats, cheese, and factory-produced mechanical devices like clocks, washing machines, and farm implements. Azoria also has a small trade in sea serpent oil, although the truly thriving trade in "snaking" operates out of the Petullan port of Gartomis, due to the greater depth of the more Northern waters of the Sea of Tears.

Azoria is ruled by three occasionally feuding Temple Clans, the Marvato (devotees of the God of Death and Destruction), the Tanako (devotees of the God of Thunder and Battle), and the Arshino (devotees of the Bear God).

In addition to her noble priesthood, Azoria is also greatly influenced by the six major merchant houses - the House of Abyrr, which has a Priesthood granted monopoly on the dry goods trade, including flour, sugar, cloth and textiles; the House of Halys, which has a similar monopoly on lumber and shipmaking; the House of Chast, which specializes in manufactured mechanisms such as clocks, steam engines, locks, sewing machines, and especially, firearms; the House of Lechan, which is the Kingdom's source for all metals and minerals, including specie and fine jewels, as well as building stone of all sorts; the House of Gregg, which publishes all of the Kingdom's books and newspapers, and the House of Beelo, which deals in livestock and meats. The Temple Clan Priesthoods are granted an immunity to these trade monopolies; the Priesthoods have their own fleets of ships and estates which produce meats, grains, and other products, as well as their own factories and mines, generally manned by those convicted of Spiritual Crimes. The Priesthoods, of course, do not sell such products, but uses them to support their charitable works.

Overall, Azoria is by far the most comfortable and civilized area of the Heavenly Realm to reside in.

The people of Azoria tend to be wide, burly and heavyset, with fair skin, rounded facial features and blonde or red hair. Currently it is fashionable, and has been for over a century, for men to grow their beards as long as possible while keeping their hair cut reasonably short. Women cut their hair off at shoulder length and keep it covered in public, if only with a token handkerchief.

The Azish have the following racial characteristics -

2 for 1 rerolls STR, CON, IQ, INTU, FRA

No rerolls to DEX, AG, SIZ, LUCK, CHA

Azish are Extremely Cheerful and Tutored at Azish Literacy and Math;

Azish are also Fat, and Heavy Sleepers

The Azish Cultural Code of Honor is as follows -

Never break a bargain.

Always obey the law.

Always make a profit.

Petulla, directly to the North of Azoria, is a land of rocky, harsh, alkalai soil that supports little but a tenacious ugly grass and some scrub growth. The Tullians are a sparse race, clustered mostly around their two port cities, Gartomis, which is built along a shallow natural harbor on the Inner Sea, and Perimon, which is midway down the length of the great Tullis River. Perimon has always been a major trade city. Gartomis' main industry is the "snaking" trade, which harvests the great sea serpents using longboats and harpoons - a dangerous but highly lucrative business. Due to the relative inhospitability of their land outside the seafront and the river, Tullians have evolved a very marine oriented culture. Most male Tullians, and many female, work as sailors, and are generally considered to be the finest such in the Heavenly Realm. Virtually all other Tullians work in professional areas related to maritime trades; those who want another lifestyle generally run off to Azoria or further.

The Tullians are, generally, a dour race, thought of as strange by outsiders, due to the unusual offshoot of King Dragon worship they practice. At the beginning of the Second Realm, the two Temple Clans of Petullia, the Paravano (followers of the Goddess of Pain) and the Tarenyo (followers of the God of Madness) brought forth an odd interpretation of ancient scripture in which King Dragon was thought to be merely a metaphor for the forces of primal creation themselves. Under Tullian teachings, the Gods are not servants of an actual entity, but are embodied and incarnate aspects of Nature itself, and entirely worthy of worship and devotion in their own rights. The Gods themselves have not censured this teaching, and thus the Tullians maintain it stolidly. These beliefs have shaped the fabric of Tullian society very strangely.

Tullians, of course, are a tall, lean race of singular appearance - utterly hairless, and possessed of bright red skin, with a sort of dorsal crest of reddish, skin-covered cartilage running up from the bridge of their nose, across the center of their head, and down to their upper spines. Their facial features are distinctive beyond this; Tullians tend to have green, blue or black eyes, large, beaklike noses, and protruding, overlarge, distinctly pointed ears, which they further emphasize with barbaric earrings, which the men wear in their left ear, while the women wear them in their right. Tullians have the following racial characteristics -

2 for 1 rerolls STR, SIZ, IQ, WP, DEX

No rerolls FRA, INTU, CHA, AG, CON

Tullians are Extremely Deft, Do Not Get Seasick and Always Know Where They Are.

Tullians are Frail and -3 to all Sneaky Roll offs.

The Tullian Cultural Code of Honor is -

It is disrespectful to speak a being's proper name aloud.

It is disrespectful to allow others to see one consume food or drink.

It is disrespectful to make loud noises unless a life is at stake.

Yen, to the north of Petulla and the east of the Helkish Mountains, is an overwhelmingly yellowish land that has produced a physically nondescript and unimpressive Bloodline. Mostly barren grasslands and marshes, overgrown with a particularly unpleasant mustard colored bracken and fernlike shrubs, Yen is even more uninviting and unpleasant than Petulla. There are, however, scattered communities of Yenni in the plains and swamps, eking out a living from subsistence level farming, hunting, and gathering. Occasionally, desperate merchants will send a trade caravan into the back regions of Yen and, very rarely, such a caravan will turn a profit, since Azish mechanisms are virtually unknown there, and the poor Yenni of these areas sometimes have valuable goods to trade - the rare zeshti moss, from which Khafta pipe tobacco is made, grows only here. Similarly, the beautiful, shimmering hide of the Yenni swamposaurus will fetch an enormous profit if properly harvested, cured, and brought back to more civilized markets, and, of course, such creatures can only be found there. Nonetheless, only a desperate merchant embarks on such a venture; nine out of ten such caravans meet with disaster and are never heard of again.

Most of the Yenni population dwells in Yen's one city, Oyo, along the Yennar River. What Oyo is primarily famous for is the Museum of Yen, the only non-priestly center of learning and knowledge in the Celestial Realm. The Yenni are, of course, universally famed for their scholarship; the Museum Archives contain the oldest and most exhaustive records of human history outside a Temple in the known World.

The Yenni are a milky pale people, with very high foreheads, receding hairlines, and thin, light colored hair ranging in hue from dark blond to lightish brown. Yenni men do not grow hair well on their faces, and thus generally go clean shaven. The Yenni tend to be of short stature and, due to their non-physical lifestyle, they run to plumpness, although they do not attain the true, noble stoutness of the Azish. The Yenni are a highly intellectual race, and very non-violent. The proportion of Priesthood to mundane worshipper is the highest in all the Realm, as nearly 4 out of 10 Yenni men enter take Holy Vows in order to pursue scholarly careers. Men wear their hair short and clothe themselves in loose, flowing garments. Women's styles are unknown; Yenni women are kept shut up at all times by their men, and have never been seen by outsiders. Finally, the Yenni are a remarkably courteous race.

The Yenni have the following racial characteristics -

2 for 1 rerolls FRA, IQ, INTU, CON

No rerolls SIZ, STR, AG, LUCK

Yenni are Extremely Well Tutored at Scholar,Literacy and 2 Foreign Languages, and are all Linguists

Yenni are also Extremely Greedy and Miserly of Books, Scrolls, and all other forms of Learning.

The Yenni Cultural Code of Honor is as follows -

Only use violence in self-defense. If you must defend yourself, though, do it well.

Always be courteous, especially to those you hate.

Knowledge is power. Do all you can to increase your power.

Helkis, the Mountain Kingdom, sprawls across a large, near impassible mountain range that runs alongside the Long Sea of Great Sadness, in the Center of the Eastern Isle.

Helkis is generally a poor nation, despite the fact that the region is the source of most of the mineral wealth of the Heavenly Realm. This is due mostly to poor management on the part of the Helkish people, who have, in the past, been cannily taken advantage of by Azish mercantile interests, who have bought for a relative pittance most of the mining rights in the kingdom. Helks themselves dislike being confined, due to their inborn proximity sense, so the mining is generally done by imported workers - Khiton and Ringlander slaves, for the most part, although there are some well trained Tolish pygmy miners who work as highly paid experts in difficult situations.

Physically, Helks tend to be a large-boned, massive people, with bony, protruding faces, including shelf-like brow ridges, ears like jug handles, chins like bread loaves, and eyes set deep in their sockets. The Helks are a black haired race, and tend to be hirsute, with thick, black, wiry body hair. Helks also have hands and feet that are oversized even in proportion to their own huge frames, giving them a deceptively clumsy appearance. Helks are actually an extremely fast, strong, and well coordinated race, who make fine athletes, warriors, and manual laborers. The men wear their hair short, with bushy mustaches that conceal the upper lip entirely; Helk women do not cut their hair, ever.

Because of the relative poverty of Helkis, the people tend to be tough, communal, and insular, relying on the land itself, and doing without most luxuries or comforts. Helks are a very physical race, and as anyone who has ever seen one can testify, very ugly, as well. Intellectually they are not well developed; most are illiterate, and as a race, they tend to be quite superstitious, believing in things like "little Earth people" that they call "kobolds", who supposedly haunt the mines, deliberately creating hazardous situations for miners, and who must be placated with offerings of various substances, primarily milk.

Perhaps one in a thousand Helks are taken in by the mysterious Talon Society and trained to be a "Talon", those formidable unarmed warriors who are the most expensive mercenaries in all the Heavenly Realm. Although "Talons" never use weapons, their fists and feet strike like stone clubs, and the Helkis proximity sense, which in a normal Helk simply tells him of the number of objects around him within a certain range, is in the Talon trained to a pinnacle of achievement, resulting in a warrior who can fight blind as easily as sighted, can confront any number of enemies without difficulty, and simply cannot be hit by missiles as long as the Talon is free to move.

The primary purpose for the existence of Talons seems to be to generate income for Helkis as a nation. Talons send virtually everything they make back to the various banks in the three Helkish cities of Kajor, Roxton, and Gratis. It conveys great status for a family to have a child chosen for Talon training, and that status increases once the child completes their training and is actually earning money for the race.

Other than Talons, though, there is little else that is of great interest about the Mountain region or its native Bloodline.

Helks have the following racial characteristics -

2 For 1 re-rolls to STR, DEX, AG, SIZ, FRA

No rerolls to IQ, INTU, LUCK, CHA, CON

Helks have Proximity Sense, defined below, and Ex High Altitude Resistant

Helks also have Poor Vision and are Ugly.

Proximity Sense is effectively a Helkish Statistic, rolled on 2d10. For those untrained in the usage of Proximity Sense, it is limited to a radius range equalling its score in feet. Within that range, an untrained Helk will receive a rough "radar image" of objects surrounding him or her. Proximity Sense is blocked by virtually any material, solid object, and certain minerals and substances will have a different "feel", even to the untrained. In order to differentiate between types of objects - i.e., bandits and rocks - a Helk must successfully get a result on a certain die size less than or equal to his Proximity Sense score. Training will affect the size of the dice rolled and effectively increase the PS score, as well. Training in Proximity Sense is an Exotic Skill; most Helk don't bother.

The Helkish Cultural Code of Honor is as follows -

Everything must be paid for.

You are Helk. Do nothing to shame the race.

No singing.

In order to be considered for Talon training, a Helk needs to have all physical stats 13 or higher, INTU and WP of 15 or higher and CHA of 12 or higher. Talon training is an Extremely Exotic Background, and gives a more detailed Code of Honor in addition to the standard Helk Cultural Code.

Darellia is, as a kingdom, even more uninteresting than Helkis. A huge, flat, grassy plain; the only thing about it that is remotely important is that it is the source of horses in the Heavenly Realm. The Darellians themselves are a wiry, cunning race of average size, who live in nomadic tribes, coming together only once a year for a Great Gathering at the tent city site of Tars, where Azish caravans travel to trade for horseflesh. The Darellians are a blackskinned race, with slanted eyes that are usually green, and a range in hair colors including brown, orange, and black. All adult Darellians possess a particular steed that they are deeply attached to, and claim that they can speak with, although this is most likely to be simply the result of lifelong training.

Darellians have the following racial characteristics -

2 For 1 rerolls to STR, AG, CON, INTU, WP

No rerolls to IQ, LUCK, CHA, SIZ, FRA

Darellians are also Extremely Gifted at Animal (Horse) Handling and Horsemanship, and are Extremely Well Tutored at Veterinarian, Animal (Horse) Handling, Horsemanship and various other related skills.

Darellians also have Very Claustrophobic and No Time Sense whatsoever

The Darellian Cultural Code of Honor is as follows -

Take care of your mount, and it will take care of you. While horses are not people, they are the most blessed of God's lesser creatures, and those who abuse them will not be rewarded.

Respect the property of others.

Slavery is evil, and evil must be destroyed.

Ardur Tol is a vast forested land at the far extreme Northeast tip of the Heavenly Realm. It is inhabited by the Tolish pygmie race, who take pride in going entire lifetimes without ever setting foot to the ground, creating entire communities in the intertwining branches of the ancient forest giants. The Tolish race are an odd looking lot; not only are none of them more than four feet in height, but they have distinctly coppery colored skin, very flat heads which slope to visibly pointed chins, and powerfully dextrous, six fingered hands.

Tolish have the following racial characteristics -

SIZE for a Tollian is rolled on minus 2d10, and that negative factor is used for all calculations - weight and TM as well as size.

2 For 1 rerolls to STR, AG, DEX, CON, INTU

No Rerolls SIZ, FRA, IQ, LUCK, CHA

Tollish receive +1 to figured Manipulation, Ex Hardy, Ex Good Balance, and Extremely Gifted at Climbing

Tollish also have Phobias at first level of Fire, Open Spaces, and Thunderstorms

The Tolish Cultural Code of Honor is as follows -

Magick is evil and must be destroyed.

Stay away from gods and priests!

The earth is the source of all evil; never touch it with your flesh.

Maritalo is, of course, the homeland of the surpassingly beauteous Maritalo race, whose children are sought after as the most highly prized domestic servants in all the Eastern Isle. Though the enslavement of Natural Humans is now illegal throughout the Third Realm, the Maritalo servant is still a greatly desired status symbol among the upper levels of society everywhere. The beauty of the Maritalo is perfect. They are a rosy skinned race of wonderfully silky complexion, with slightly enlarged, luminously hued eyes, and a crown of hair that falls in shimmering, liquid waves and that ranges in hue from a lustrous midnight black through a shining, liquid gold. The men are long limbed, with sleek, slender, catlike builds and only a light, becoming fuzz of body hair, and possess nearly no body fat at all, a trait which pleasingly emphasizes their muscular proportions. Maritalo females are slender waisted, long necked, narrow shoudered, and of diminutive height, rarely surpassing eleven hands. Their hands are soft and shapely and dextrous, and they are possessed of shapely figures that are held as the epitome of feminine desirability throughout the Third Realm. They have no unbecoming bodily hair at all. Both males and females share exotic, delicately boned facial features, with small noses, full lips, rounded chins, thin, arching eyebrows, and long, full eyelashes.

Unfortunately, the conquest of the Maritalo region, including its one seaport, by a small roaming tribe of Darellians two centuries ago, has placed this ancient and beloved Bloodline in no small danger of extinction. The conquering Darellian clan has quite deliberately adopted the Maritalo into their own Temple Clans and has intermingled their blood in what can only be seen as a deliberate flaunting of Eastern Holy Law. So far, the Gods have tolerated this flagrant abuse of our most holy and ancient commandments, and the new rulers, with their loyal army of several thousand very contented Vlemish mercenaries, is too strong to be dispossessed by armed military force. A new race has emerged, of mixed blood, known as the Daritalians. It goes without saying that these Daritalians are despised throughout the remainder of the civilized Realm, and rarely leave the borders of their birth province.

Although the Darellians have committed grievous sins against civilization by mixing two Bloodlines in this manner, it should be noted, if only in passing, that they have taken some measures to conserve the original Maritalo Bloodline, by deliberately allowin many Maritalo families to continue to breed with each other. This is almost certainly to maintain the steady, profitable supply of Maritalo servants that the rest of the Realm still clamors for, but still, it is reassuring to know that the Bloodline itself has not been lost. The Maritalo have also enforced regulations strictly prohibiting their Vlemish mercenaries from interbreeding with either the Darellians or the Maritalo, although there are many reports that indicate the Vlemish remain so loyal to the Darellian conquerors not only because of the high pay and relatively comfortable quartering they are given, but also because the Darellians allow them to make use of Maritalo boys and infertile Maritalo women in disgusting and unnatural ways. Nowhere else in the civilized Realm could a backwards, savage barbarian mercenary hope to aspire to having a Maritalo as a bedding toy, so if this is true, it is understandable why the Vlemish clans have continued to support the Daritalian conquerors of Maritalo.

The province of Maritalo is a gentle, beautiful, bucolin land of many lakes and rivers that is lushly productive when farmed. Maritalo beef is even more tender and robust than Azorish, although Azorish cattle farms produce far greater quantities than the scattered Maritalo plantations do.

The racial characteristics of the Maritalo people are as follows --

2 for 1 rerolls to Agility, Dexterity, Intu, Luck, Cha

No rerolls to Str, Con, IQ, WP, FRA

Maritalo are Extremely Attractive, Need Very Little Sleep, and Have Very Good Voices

Maritalo are also Lazy, Sheltered, and Vain

The Maritalo Cultural Code of Honor is as follows --

Beauty should be cherished, do nothing to mar it.

Tell people what they want to hear. Do not cause unhappiness.

Do not tolerate any sort of ugliness.

The characteristics of the rare Daritalian race are as follows --

2 for 1 Rerolls to STR, CON, AG, CHA, WP/INTU (choice)

None to IQ, SIZ, FRA, DEX, WP/INTU (choice)

Daritalians are Attractive, Well Organized, and Industrious

Daritalians are also Pain Susceptible and Greedy

The Daritalian Cultural Code of Honor:

If it isn't nailed down, it must be yours. If you can pry it loose, it isn't nailed down.

If it's easy, avoid it. Always look for the challenge.

The child's gains should exceed his parents'.

Vlema is not a part of the Celestial Realm proper. A rocky, thin soiled, chilly, misty, and gloomy chunk of weed strewn dirt on the far side of the Aven Mountains, a bare scrap of uninhabitable ground wedged between the peaks and the sea, it is not a place that could possibly support any sort of civilization. Instead, it supports the Vlemish.

Little is actually known of the social customs, traditions, and taboos -- if any -- of the Vlemish barbarian clans. Its people are irksome and disagreeable, not only for their uncultured insistence on going everywhere armed to the teeth, but for their delusional belief that they are somehow better than all the other Bloodlines because of their ridiculous refusal to worship either King Dragon or the Gods He has stationed over humanity to ward and protect us. That the Gods have not come down and kicked these arrogant no-kin savages clear across the Sea of Tears into Oklina is one of those modern mysteries that even the Priesthood cannot fathom.

Vlemish arrogance apparently finds its source in the fall of the First Empire. Many human refugees from the First Darkness apparently, somehow, found their way to what would become Vlema. Apparently, they took no priests along with them, and also apparently, these refugees had a very very poor attitude towards the Gods themselves, feeling that the Fall of the First Realm was directly the fault of Heaven and the Priesthoods, instead of laying the blame where it belonged, which was with the moral failures of the common people of the First Realm.

Over the course of several millenia, these refugees bred themselves into a distinctive race, whose hatred and distrust of the Gods and the Priesthoods only hardened through time and rote repetition. At the same time, the harsh, inhospitable land they had colonized, with its very limited space, caused them to evolve a very harsh, brutal, and violent culture. There was, apparently, no shortage of metal in the nearby mountains, and the Aven there were quite content to trade it to their new human neighbors in exchange for fish, wheat, corn, and coal. Thus, the Vlemish have never lacked for the necessary instrumentation in their endless vicious round of self-exterminations, which they dignify with the odd term 'vendetta'.

Vlemish almost never do leave their native land, for they hold civilized realms in utter contempt and bear an utterly irrational, but often frenzied, hatred for priests and scholars and merchants of all sorts. Those relative few who do leave and wander into more orderly regions often very quickly fall afoul of the law. Yet, over the past few millenia, those who have managed to restrain their volatile temperaments have nearly always found themselves quickly hired as mercenaries, for the Vlemish warrior, it must be admitted, is a ferocious and deadly fighter.

Vlema seems to have no real cities, only fortified strongholds and keeps, built in rocky, inaccessible places for purposes of military defense. These keeps are maintained by various Vlemish clan chieftains and his or her immediate family and related followers, and usually offer protection to a larger, nearby group of herders, farmers, or fishermen who support this chieftain's armed savages with produce and meat in exchange for this warding. So, apparently, not all Vlemish are highly trained warriors who are willing to disembowel anything that moves for no discernable reason whatsoever at any given time of the day or night... but these are the only types of Vlemish who ever leave their native land, so they're the only ones civilized people ever have to deal with.

Vlemish are, apparently, very loyal to their families, and although it is considered 'honorable' to be adopted into another clan if the patriarch of one's own clain is killed, it is considered much more admirable to declare a 'vendetta' against the more successful clan chieftain and wage war to the death against them. This seems to indicate that the Vlemish countryside is continually alive with skulking, heavily armed barbarians, slinking hither and yon, surlily muttering about blood-curdling revenge and gruesome retaliation for past slights, falling upon each other at every opportunity and making enthusiastic attempts to thrust sharpened lengths of metal as long as your arm through each other's torsos, necks, and heads. Unlike more civilized duelling customs, Vlemish battles are almost always to the death, although I'm informed that they may sometimes cease hostilities at a point where a particularly hated opponent has merely been horribly mutilated and crippled for life, so they can enjoy the prospect of ridiculing and humiliating him for the remainder of his miserable existence.

The Vlemish race are, it must be admitted, handsome, physically impressive specimens of humanity, in a brutish, crude, and utterly uncouth sort of way. They have florid, bronze-colored skin, long coppery red hair, usually braided and with feathers in it, disgustingly broad-shouldered and muscular physiques, and strangely pale eyes. They often wear actual body armor, sometimes made of real iron links or scales, but more often composed of plates of hardened, tanned animal hide, which is designed only for the express purpose of protecting them from some small amount of the potential damage caused by other Vlemish weapons. As stated, they go armed at all times unless literally restrained and stripped of their weapons at weapons' point. The Vlemish do not possess sufficient technology to manufacture gunpowder, and they disdain such weapons anyway as being 'dishonest'. Standard Vlemish weapons are iron swords -- not duelling rapiers, such as an Azorish gentleman might wear, but huge blades, as big as their individual mights will allow them to lift and swing, with both edges and points sharpened, designed, as the Velmish like to say with a chilling chuckle, for "bloody business". Vlemish also all carry at least one, generally two or three, unpleasant throwing hatchets they call 'burkas', which they all seem to be frighteningly adept with, and whose main intended use is, apparently, bringing down cowards who flee the scene of battle. Most Vlemish are also master bowmen, but they only use such weapons for game hunting, as it is against the Vlemish code of honor to engage an enemy who is incapable of striking back. Vlemish will always pursue or attack a retreating foe with any weapons available. They deeply despise cowardice, and will generally do everything in their power to destroy anyone who engages them in combat and then attempts to run away. The Vlemish will accept surrender, if it is offered without apparent fear, but merely as an acknowledgement of the Vlemish warrior's superior prowess. Of course, to a Vlemish, accepting surrender merely means the defeated foe is entitled to his life, provided he is willing to spend that life in quick, dutiful, enthusiastic service to the Vlemish who has beaten him. Vlemish in the civilized lands quickly learn that lifelong indenturement is not acceptable by civilized custom, and will usually settle for a surrendering opponent rendering them a service.

The Vlemish do not consider that they 'worship' anything, but in point of fact, they are very superstitious, and pay reverent respect to various spirits -- the spirit of battle, the spirit of courage, the spirit of manly performance, any stray spirits that might chance to be dwelling in trees, grass, dirt, water, and/or the atmosphere surrounding them, and, primarily and most importantly, the spirits of their ancestors.

Vlemish have the following racial characteristics --

2 for 1 rerolls to Str, Dex, Ag, Siz, Fra

No rerolls to WP, LUCK, INTU, CHA, IQ

Vlemish are Ambidextrous and Extremely Alert

Vlemish are Very Bad Tempered And Very Overconfident

The Vlemish Cultural Code of Honor is as follows --

Never trust a priest or a god. Kill them whenever you can get away with it.

You are your family. Do nothing to dishonor your family, do not allow others to dishonor or insult you or your family.

Ensure that your foes know who their slayer is. Battles should be fought up close, between warriors, with honest weapons. Do not use trickery or take unfair advantage.

Reading and writing weakens the mind and the body. Scholars and merchants are weaklings, and weaklings are meant to serve warriors.

Do not suffer the dishonorable to live.

The Ringlands are a group of somewhat mysterious small islands located a few hundred leagues off the main Isle's easternmost shore. The Ringlanders themselves were apparently long ago enslaved by the mysterious and loathed Yss, whose own native lands are unknown, but who have a large population with several cities on the large island that the Ringlands themselves circle.

Little is known of the Ringlands proper, for very few civilized people have ever set foot there. Even Dirk Ironhand's mighty invasion fleet bypassed the Ringlands entirely in their unstoppable onslaught against the very Citadel of Ymen itself, in vengeance, it was said, for an Yssan Poisoner's assassination of Dirk's favorite wife. Previous to Ironhand's bloodily effective raid against Yss Isle, the Yssan Poisoners had been held in dread by all, and were considered one of the most fearsome and horribly successful assassin's society in the known World. Since Dirk and his clan levelled the Poisoners' main refuge and fortification three generations ago, the Yssan Poisoner has seemingly vanished from civilized realms, except as an expletive and a bogeyman... in some Priesthoods and Merchant Houses, calling someone as 'subtle as an Yssan Poisoner" is a rare compliment. Among the Vlemish, however, to be called as "tricky as an Yssan" is a deadly insult.

The Ringlanders, apparently, are savages that by comparison make the Vlemish look positively effete. Rare explorers and occasional slavers who venture to the Ringlands say that the islands themselves are covered with ancient stone ruins, the obvious remnant of a once mighty civilization of completely unknown origin. It is reported that the remains of mighty stone and metal bridges that once connected the Ringlands to each other can still be seen on their facing shores, although the skill necessary to build such fantastical objects is beyond our modern abilities.

The Ringlanders themselves are utter savages, primitive beyond imagining. Entirely tribal, universally cannibalistic, the Ringland brutes live amongst the overgrown remnants of a vast, powerful and mystery shrouded predecessor civilization without the slightest intellectual grasp of the meaning of their surroundings. They hunt animals, succulent tubers, and doubtless one another through these ancient, enigmatic avenues, frequently breaking off pieces of priceless statuary to load into their crude animal skin slings and fling at each other while hooting imprecations poignant with subtle wit, such as "We kill you then we fuck you then we eat you!" and "We'll piss in your brains to make them salty!"

Virtually every civilized person has, at one time in their life, usually in their childhoods, had the startling experience of seeing their first Ringlander. These brutish persons are actually small in stature but extraordinarily strong and tough, having rather bright orange colored skin, low foreheads, broad flat noses, and outthrust jaws. They are black eyes, black haired, and nearly as hirsute as some of the amusing tree-monkeys that venturesome sailors have captured and brought back from the tropical shores of accursed Oklina. The most reassuring thing about seeing a Pumpkinhead in civilized surroundings, of course, is the collars around its neck.

Apparently, enslaved Ringlanders are made most miserable, not by hard labor or by wretched food or even by occasional disciplinary beatings, but by being forced to bathe on a regular basis. Many of them have complained, when they can learn to speak a civilized tongue coherently enough to do so intelligibly, that their natural scent is part of their power. It helps to overwhelm their enemies in combat, and wards off the depredations of evil spirits. There is doubtless some element of truth in this; anyone who has ever been within a city block of a Pumpkinhead who has gone a week without washing can attest that the reek is indeed enough to lay an entire platoon by the heels. This is doubtless why it is civil law throughout the Third Realm that Ringlander servants must be bathed at least every seven days, and considerate owners will hose the dimwitted orange bastards down considerably more often than that, regardless of how they dance and howl and shake their hairy fists at the sky. And a weekly dousing with a good pest control powder, while not legally mandated, is nontheless a nearly inviolable tradition for the owner of such creatures.

Ringlanders have the following racial characteristics --

2 for 1 rerolls to STR, CON, INTU, LUCK

No rerolls to DEX, IQ, WP, CHA

Ringlanders are Very Massive, Blooded, and add +6 to Strength

Ringlanders have Very Poor Balance, and have Overwhelming Body Odor (-1 per day unbathed to 2d6 rolls, +1 per day unbathed to Presence Attacks that command others to leave immediately, -1 to opponents in combat per 2 days unbathed, to maximum of 4)

The Ringlander Cultural Code of Honor is as follows:

Kill anyone weaker who insults you.

Kill anyone smarter than you and eat their brains.

Give part of your spoils to the spirits.

Never bathe. Your scent is part of your power.

Yssa is only the name we give to the large central island in the midst of the Ringlands. It is thought doubtful that the race of Yssans actually originates there; the Ringlanders, who have served them for as long as their vague oral traditions can tell of, have some jumbled and much confused tales of travelling to the islands with the Yssans from a distant place beyond the farthest clouds.

Whatever the case, however, the Yssans have apparently been in the area for as long as, or longer, than King Dragon's Humanity. They apparently came to the Eastern shore of the Celestial Isle very shortly after it was first created and colonized it, dwelling there for several hundred years until the population pressure of the First Realm brought us into contact with them and they were eventually expelled. Whether the ancient, powerful civilization that once dwelt on the Ringlands is Yssan or not is unknown, as the Yssans do not speak of their own past. All that is known is, whatever sort of Men they may be, they were not created by King Dragon and as such, are outside his Holy Laws. They may be killed without spiritual ramifications, and until very recently, they were considered to be perhaps the most dreaded, loathed, and fearsome enemy of our people. Only in recent times has it become known that in fact, most Yssans desire nothing but friendship and harmony with all other races, and it was only their longtime rulers, the hated Yssan Poisoners, who actively sought the subjugation or destruction of all other races.

Yssa itself, by all reports, is a remarkably unpleasant land, covered with toxic springs, poisonous plants and venomous creatures. It is almost entirely inhospitable and uninhabitable by outsiders, and only the Yssans themselves can flourish there. This, apparently, is why the Ringlander savages are allowed to run wild on the surrounding islands; when the Yssans need servants, they import them from the free breeding tribes. These imports usually only live a few decades at best in the toxic surroundings and can never reproduce their own numbers, so basically, the Yssans keep the Ringlands as a breeding ground for healthy slaves.

The Yssans are, frankly, very nasty looking. They have sallow, oily flesh, with lumpy-looking, potato like heads that seem too large for their wizened frames. Their pates are covered with thin, scruffy hair in various dull, unpleasant shades. The whites of their eyes are discernably yellowed, while the irises seem completely black... not a shiny, reflective black, but a dull, lifeless black that seems to drink the light rather than mirror it back. Their ears are large lobed and reminiscent of half a cabbage stuck on either side of their deformed looking faces, their lips are thick, greasy, and colorless, and their eyes themselves protrude like toadstools. Their fingers are spotted and appear gnarled, and they walk in a hunched, crablike manner, as if their spines were misshapen.

Yssans can now occasionally be seen in the Third Realm, generally in Azorish ports, where they travel to trade various medicines, chemicals, and household toxins in exchange for Azish textiles, grain, meat, and other products. Yssa is also rumored to trade with the near mythical cross-Sea nations, such as Belgoria, King Karl's Risen Empire, and even legend shrouded Kalis Wu. It is possible, one supposes, that the despised and dreaded Yssan Poisoners still ply their contemptible trade in these foreign lands, but that plague has been stamped out forever in the Heavenly Realm.

Who or what Yssans worship is not well known, although some have been heard to swear by something called Ymen, Lord of the Unclean, or Ylla, Lady of the Nauseating and Vile.

Yssans have the following racial characteristics --

2 for 1 rerolls to Con, Dex, IQ, WP, Intu

No rerolls to Str, Ag, Siz, Fra, Cha

Yssans are Extremely Well Organized, Extremely Shock Resistant, and Extremely Drug Resistant

Yssans are Extremely Ugly, Dislikeable, and have -3 to their Strength.

The Yssan Cultural Code of Honor is as follows --

There is virtue and power in that which weaklings reject as disgusting and vile.

In life, there are only slaves and masters. Always be a master.

Any and all means are justified to gain and keep mastery.

The only dishonor is in being mastered by another.

The Khiton Marches run along the Easternmost shore of the main Isle, extending from the central Long Sea of Great Sadness out to the oceanside, bordered on the north by the Darellian Plains, and on the southeast by the Rivanio River. During the First Realm, this area was discovered to be sparsely settled by the Yssans and their Ringlander servants. The First Realmers, led by the Gods, drove the Poisoners and their noisome slaves off the land promised to our people by King Dragon, and settled briefly in the area themselves. However, the Fall of the First Realm caused humanity to gradually draw back from the eastern frontier into its oldest and most fortified areas of population, and some time during the thousand years of Darkness, the inhuman, insectoid Khiton arrived and settled in this vast grassy region. Even at the height of the Second Realm, when humanity and the gods were at their mightiest, the Khiton's expansion into human held areas was only stopped, not reversed. Since the first Fall, then, the Khiton have dwelled in these lands, and stubbornly resisted any and all attempts to drive them out.

The Khiton are a nomadic, tribal race of hunters and gatherers. Their relatively small Hiveclans roam the grasslands during spring, summer and early fall, seeking game and wild produce... and, when it is possible to gain them, human slaves. The Khiton have apparently never developed any organized agricultural skills, and their indiginous technology seems arrested at a Stone Age level. Despite this, their warriors -- and virtually all of the Khiton Hiveclans seem to be warriors -- are armed with metal weapons.

The first of the weapons favored by the Khiton is the k'k'ztanga, a long, curved, somewhat flexible blade with a serrated outer edge whose name translates almost literally as "whipping sword". The "whipping sword" is generally as long as the average Khiton, which means they tend to be a good fourteen hands in length, although the curve of the blade means they rarely measure more than twelve hands if a straight line is drawn from the tip of the weapon to the end of the pommel. The pommel itself is large, because while Khiton warriors tend to fight with only two of their four segmented pincer-claws on the pommel, they can, if they wish, put all four claws to it, effectively redoubling their speed of attack and the damage the weapon inflicts.

The second traditional Khiton weapon is the cha ka kuuurka, or, "the disk for sawing flesh". This is a flat metal disk with sharpened, serrated edges and a round hole in the center of it. The Khiton warrior hooks the disk through the central hole with a flanged, 24 hand long piece of stiff, twisted leather, which they then swing around their heads, building up momentum until with a skillful wrist movement, they disengage the flange and send the disk hurtling towards their target. Although the spectacle of a group of Khiton solemnly whirling their throwing saws around their heads for a count of fifteen or twenty before releasing them may seem comical, the fact is, the cha ka kuurka can be thrown in this manner nearly 500 standard paces, and even at that range, can hit hard enough to lop off a limb or split a human chest like a piece of firewood.

The Khiton can also seem deceptively comical in another way, according to those who have actually seen them in the wild. The Khiton can and often do merely walk in a way we would deem normal. When they wish to travel quickly, though, they leap, much like the grasshoppers they somewhat resemble. The Khiton's legs are segmented and jointed similarly to such an insect's, and although they seem very large, their chitonous exoskeletons and relatively simple internal organs make them very light for their evident mass. With their great strength and comparatively low body weight, they can leap nearly as far as a strong, fast man can walk while counting to six, and they can do this, reportedly, two or three times in that same counting. Apparently, a favorite combat technique when they are facing humans is to leap a pace or so above the human's head and as they pass over, swing down on the foe with their whipping swords. From a distance, doubtless this would appear somewhat ridiculous, but those humans who have actually faced the Khiton in battle say that in general, one wants to kill them from as great a range as possible, as once the Khiton get within twenty paces or so, the battle is usually quite quickly lost.

When the Khiton are raiding for slaves, they also carry tough nets made of a twisted, cured rawhide and a woven seaweed that can only be cut when saturated with water. Again, they prefer to leap over their prey and drop these nets on them from above.

The Khiton are formidable foes in battle, not merely because of their inhuman strength and speed and deadly weaponry, but because their greenish exoskeletal armor makes them difficult to hurt. The hardness of their exterior coating is difficult to penetrate with anything other than a relatively close range rifle bullet. In general, the only way to harm a Khiton is to strike them hard enough to smash their natural armor, and that can be a difficult task.

In the winter, the Khiton retreat from the plains to large stone warrens they call Hives, burrowed into the Eastern face of the mountain range surrounding the Long Inner Sea of Sadness. These mountains are generally acknowledged to be Khiton territory, and neither Helks nor Giants have any permanent settlements in these ranges, although they do sometimes venture there in the seasons when the Khiton are roaming the plains.

It can be perilous for humans to live on the borders of the Khiton Marches, for as we mentioned, the Khitons lust after human slaves and are willing to take great risks to obtain them. There have been some reports that the Khiton use adolescent, whose powerful hormones have just begun to pour into their bloodstreams, as incubators for their own eggs. Whether these reports are true or not is not germane, as they are generally believed to be accurate and they motivate settlers whose children may be in peril to fiercely resist Khiton incursions into their terrain. Fully three quarters of the Heavenly Realm's militia forces are assigned to patrolling not only the borders of the Khiton Marches, but deeply into Khiton territory, too, in hopes of finding and destroying relatively small Khiton clans.

Khiton have the following racial characteristics --

Strength 2d12 +8

Constitution 2d8

Agility 2d12 +8

Dexterity 2d8

Size 2d10

Frame 2d6

IQ 2d10

WillPower 2d10

Intuition 2d8

Charisma 2d6

Luck 2d6

Khiton calculate Height by adding Size to 67. Khiton may Leap their TM for 1 exh. Khiton have four fully articulated upper arms and grasping pincer-hands. If they use all four hands on a melee weapon, they may double their Might bonus and add their CRD-6 to their normal attack. Khiton's exoskeletal armour gives them B/S/T protection of 9/7/5. If 1.5 times the appropriate amount of damage is ever done with one blow, the Khiton's exoskeleton is broken at that point, the Khiton will suffer 2x normal minuses for the wound, and the Khiton's exoskeleton cannot be mended unless the broken area is bound together and kept completely immobile for the entire healing period. If a Khiton's exoskeleton is not mended properly, the Khiton must roll off 1/2 its Luck vs. 7 whenever it spends an Exhaustion; if the roll is failed, the faulty mend reopens with all the original wound minuses. Khiton are Extremely Gifted at Acrobat and Extremely Well Tutored at their Combat Skills.

Khiton are Very Clumsy, Cannot Swim, and Will Die If Fully Immersed or Buried For Three Rounds.

The Khiton Cultural Code of Honor is as follows:

Obey the Queen, honor your comrades. Do not fight other People unless you must, and when you must, do so fairly.

Always remember, the shell-less ones hate you. Avoid them if possible, but do not hesitate to kill them if it is necessary.

The Hive and the People are all that matter. Protect their territory, defend the Queen, guard the young. Be strong and work hard and do not fear to die in the name of the Hive, for you will be reborn in an even stronger form to fight again.

Remember what you are. Cherish the freedom of your Hive. The Hive must never be enslaved again. Even if you must give up your freedom, or even your life, it is worth it, if the Hive remains strong and free and alive.