The Masters: The masters were the invaders who came in and enslaved the prior owners of the land, conquering their territories and building their strongholds on top of the old kingdom. They consist of the Humans, the Half-Orcs and the Halflings.
Humans: The humans came as invaders and victors. Originally a harsh and barbaric people, they enslaved all the “lesser races”. From these races they learned how to forge steel and over the course of 400 years they settled into a structured government with the Grand Tyrant as their leader. The most common race in Aelland, they are treated as neutral for the most part, if not a slight disdain from some of the freed.
Half-orcs: The humans of old respected strength, and what better race to embody strength than the Half-orcs. The Half-orcs came over with the humans on the initial battle, and even managed to sway several of the native Orc factions to join in the battle. The Orcs were usually the slave disciplinarians, which makes them nearly universally disliked by the freed factions.
Halflings: The Halflings who came over with the humans usually ended up doing the menial tasks for the armies such as cooking, cleaning and honing weaponry. They benefited at first, but once the slaves were in place, Halflings had trouble finding work. They ended up forming troupes of performers and entertainers. The Halflings have become second tier citizens in the eyes of most of the people, and thus find much in common with the freed factions, their caravans serve as merchants who will sell fairly (and at a good profit) to those who normally would find prejudice with human or Orc salesmen.
The Freed Factions: These races were the ones that had been enslaved but recently were released. They strongly support the rule of the new Tyrant and have even recently left to seek out the ruins of their old habitations to re-inhabit them.
Elves: Otherwise known as Ael, the Elves are an ancient race that is so closely attuned with magic, that when enslaved they were given collars that would dampen their abilities. There are many races of Ael, however, they all were forced to serve as slaves.
At first the Ael were treated roughly by the slavers, and for many life was short. But as the masters grew to know the elves, they learned where they were most appropriate. Eventually the Elves became valued advisers and had even managed to climb to where they were revered as friends amongst the masters.
The Ael had the easiest time transitioning to the change, as very little had changed other than the dampener collars being removed. There are factions of feral Ael who instead resided in their secret strongholds within the forests and mountains. They welcome their enslaved brethren, but watch them carefully, fearful the taint of servitude has made them effective spies.
Dwarves: Otherwise known as the Dverger, the Dwarves received the short end of the stick when it came to the enslavement. Being stouter and tougher than the Ael, the Dverger were manual labor and therefore received more beatings by their Half-orc disciplinarians. The Dverger were prized for their skills as blacksmiths. Now that they are free many Dverger are re-inhabiting the halls that were left abandoned for hundreds of years. They seek the secrets of the old ways, and there is a rumor that an artificer of the ancient days has evaded capture, and awaits even today to pass his knowledge on to another.
While in captivity, the Dverger have made a rich heady ale, known as Dverger Black. Famously strong, you can find a variation of this ale in nearly any tavern run or supplied by a Dverger. One constant within the ale is a spice called Orcbane, which nearly every Orc blooded individual is horribly allergic to. The Dverger say it gives the ale an extra satisfying kick.
The Dverger have resented the Ael’s incresed status for quite a while and will not pass up an opportunity to call them weak. Due to years in captivity they have grown a hatred of the Half-orcs and a distrust of all but their own kind. They make fierce enemies, but if one can prove to them they are a loyal and trustworthy friend, a Dverger will make a staunch and resolute companion.
The Unbound: These races are a special exception. For what ever reason they managed to escape the clutches of slavery and surviving for years without notice.
Gnomes: The Gnomes managed to narrowly escape slavery themselves. When the terms of surrender were negotiated, the Gnome leader Glimli Gutterbaugh tricked the Human leaders into believing that Gnomes held the secrets of the great artifacts of old in their heads. For their freedom he would supply them with a powerful artifact. It was only by luck he found one that nullified necromantic magic on the grounds of what is today Harper Hall. Since then the Dwarves have used a term “To have a Gnomes’ luck”. The Orc’s overheard this one too many times, and so some tribes collect Gnome heads, believing that the more they have, the higher the luck they will have in battles.
Half-elves: The Half-elves originally started as a taboo. It was almost a bane to have a Half-elf child for several years. As Ael became more accepted as higher tier slaves, Half-elf children became more common. They became second class citizens and some even ended up inheriting slaves from their parents, as they were not slaves themselves.
The Half-elves are revered by the freed factions as liberators, and most Humans have already accepted them and harbor no hate to them.
The Woodkin: An elf only cult that resides within many of the forests of Aelland. Their cities are enchanted by magics so ancient that the trees that form their foundations have become inundated with the energies as well, forming a natural barrier that protects the cities from detection. Special stones called E’lom can bypass the protections of the city and allow travellers to pass through the enchanted barrier.
While all pure elves can see the cities, only those who carry the E’lom or have the correct enchanted tattoos of the woodkin can enter the city. Only a Tree Whisperer, the ruling druids of the city can properly complete the tattoos.
-In these cities, elves are the superior race. All others seen as sub-beings. Old blood still boils in these cities, and dwarves and half elves are barely tolerated here. (Half elves are seen as an abomination of the pure race.)
The Underground: Those who fled Aelland across the straight call themselves Truebloods. They are a race of Humans and half-orcs who still follow the old way. While most have come to embrace the new kingdom and the rulership behind it. There are those who remain behind who believe that the old ways will be restored.
These individuals serve as spies and sympathizers for the Trueblood and call themselves The Underground. No one is sure on the numbers of them, but they are very secretive, as they are aggressively hunted if discovered.
The Order of the Rune: This guild is considered to be the best at metal working in the land. The guilds tend to flourish in dwarven towns, but many a noble has been known to hire these members for years at a time for the prestige of having a runesmith working for them.
While the guild does not ban any race from it’s ranks, they tend to only recruit those of good character and dwarves over any other race. Furthermore, in the upper echelons of the guild, only dwarves hold positions of power. The highest members have access to sacred chambers to the guild.
The Blackfeathers: This organization of highway robbers operates outside the bounds of the law. Loosely organized, the guild has a secret sign that it shows to members to identify itself. The guild members strongly dislike the law for obvious reasons.
Entry into the guild is most commonly done by a show of strength or by a chance encounter where the guild takes notice of a potentiate. The guild members are honor bound to not attack another guild member, and if pursued by the law, to try to hinder or misdirect them.
The blackfeathers specialize in strong arm robbery, and therefore tend to profer rangers, barbarians, rogues and fighters. The woodkin tend to tolerate their presence in their forests, as it tends to prevent wanderers from entering, but they would not hesitate to put an arrow through the eyes of any member should they prove to cause problems. Smaller rural towns may be run by the blackfeathers, or pay them “protection” payments.
The Hive: Most large cities have a faction of the hife. This lot of criminals consists of assassins, forgers, beggars and theives as well as my other criminal elements. Unlike the blackfeathers, members of the hive traditionally rely on cunning and trickery over brute force to get their way. The Hive believes that the Blackfeathers give them a bad name and will not hesitate to turn in a Blackfeather if they enter the city.
To join, most commonly a recruit must commit a great act of trickery or thievery. Once accepted, they identify each other through hand signals and a pass phrase which varies by the season and moons. The only official ranks are the guildmaster and the lock keep in each city. The guildmaster runs the day to day business and besides the lock keep is the only one who knows the pattern of the passcode.
Respect is what runs the rest of the Hive members. The members compete by completing mazes and challenges. The more pins they get from these challenges, the more respected they are considered.
Hive members can bribe the guards of most major cities to avoid jail, and often times there are fences for identifiable stolen goods.
The Magi: More of a college than a guild, the Magi research and study magic. As part of this study into the arcane arts, it is believed they have insight that no one else can have. Because of this, they often serve as advisors to rulers. Traditionally the Magi remain neutral in world affairs and politics, preferring their books and scrolls to the menial lives of those who aren’t magic users.
The college sends initiates into the world to be vetted on adventures during a pilgrimmage. These initiates can stay on a pilgrimmage as long as they want, but the real respect in this guild is when they return from their pilgrimmage with an item of wonder, which permits the member to study within the halls of the keep.
The Gold Claws: This guild is a group of mercinary soldiers. They will take any cause for coin. The soldier is expected to respond to a summons even if they disagree with the cause they are called to fight for. This guild is seen as an elite fighting force due to the extraordinarily tough vetting process.
A recruit signs on for a bonus on completion of the first mission. Until then they are permitted quarters in the barracks and provided the bare means for existence. They don’t stay in the barracks long. Shortly after signing, the recruit is sent on a mission with other fellow recruits. These missions are usually extremely deadly and most recruits will not survive the encounter.
Due to the nature of this mercenary group, usually recruits have a chaotic alignment. The Gold Claws are respected for their savagery but are known to lack discipline. Usually their clients hire them to get the job done, no matter how messily.
Barbarians, Fighters and Rangers swell the ranks of this group.
The Light: These soldiers follow the path of good. They consider themselves a pillar of light in a dark world. The life of a member of the guild of light is one of servitude to the kingdom. Their militia is independent from the armies of the kingdom so that they may have the freedom to make choices without being beholden to the king.
The most elite of these soldiers become the king’s personal body guard. They do not take orders from him and are assumed to act in his best interest and defense at all times. The Light also ensures that the kingdom has a force that is battle tested, as the light has it’s own mission: to recover relics of the past so it may be used to unify the kingdom. To accomplish this, their members are often dispatched on quests to search ancient ruins or investigate and protect archeological sites in hazardous areas.
To be a soldier of light has a prestige with it, and generally paladins, fighters and monks join the ranks, as well as clerics and rangers. Applicants are screened using an ancient scrying technique that will tell the user their true nature.