The Savage Earth has a number of races, groups, orders, classes and professions to choose from. Many of these overlap. One could play a Barbarian Beast or a City-Dweller Beast, for instance. Some combinations are more common than others. Some are mutually exclusive. A beast cannot be an adept for instance.
Beside normal humans, there are several alternatives for player character races. Most other races were created by some amount of spirit shifting. The other races available to players are; Beasts, Talkers, Animates, Mutants and the Riven.
Beasts are descended from animals that were spirit-invested many generations back. Once a spirit is invested in an animal, that being is now a person, and can reproduce others of their kind, likewise improved. As generations continue, the human morphia asserts itself and each generation is somewhat more man-like, though throwbacks and prodigies are common. Most characters are assumed to be enough generations along to walk upright and have opposable thumbs.
There is a certain amount of complexity necessary for an animal to retain and reproduce a human spirit. Mammals are the most common, followed by birds and, rarely, reptiles and amphibians. Piscine or lower orders are not known to exist, neither are hoofed animals known to achieve Beast status.
Beasts are usually small populations, even if they are of a normally fertile race. Exceptions exist in the Wilderness, where some Beasts have achieved tribes of respectable population. Because the spirit of a Beast is a blend of human and animal, Beasts are roughly humanoid counterparts to their animal analogues. They will tend to have personalities, cultures and values commonly associated with their animal forebear (whether or not the animals actually possess these qualities.)
Rats are typically sneaky vicious scavengers who travel in marauding packs.
Mice are typically timid defenseless, poor and thrifty creatures.
Badgers are large, strong and solitary, with steady personalities.
Cats are vain, comfort-loving folk, but graceful.
Foxes are sly and tricky.
And so forth. It is possible that in exotic lands, there are exotic beasts. They may or may not be living in lands associated with their species, due to tremendous migrations enforced by the changing of the earth's climate.
Beasts can be smaller or larger than humans, but not to a great degree. Mice might be three feet tall, while most other small woodland creatures would be four to five feet in height. Unless strength is a perceived virtue of the animal forebear, they are usually weaker than humans. A Beast elephant or rhinoceros might have exceptional size, strength, or toughness.
The GM has templates for specific animals. Use this as a beginning point. Beasts vary widely in their amount of humanness, so there is room for customizing. In general, the more generations that have passed since the Prometheans, the more human-like the Beasts have become. But there is still tremendous diversity. Some Cat Beasts are little more than Talkers, while others are closer to furry humans with a few secondary characteristics of their animal forebears. Most fall somewhere between.
It is possible to interbreed between species, though fertility is limited. This practice is not a common one.
Beasts rarely have spirit manipulation abilities, and when they do they are usually weaker.
Other names Pookahs, Furries, Spirit Folk, Animen, Humanimals, Beast-men, Woodlanders or Critters
Example Characters: Persia, Char Windrunner, Cinnamon
It is possible for a normal animal to be possessed by a human spirit. These are rarer than golems and are simply referred to as talking animals or talkers. These are not usually player character material, but make good NPCs. There are two things that are normally used to distinguish spirit-animals from mundane. Talkers wear some item of clothing, be it a hat or a vest or what-you-will, in human fashion. Secondly, those without grasping appendages will wear a human-made thumb. This is simply a wrist strap and golden peg allowing the paw to have an extra digit to grip against. These are the marks of a civilized animal.
To create a talker, start with the basic animal from the Bestiary. Then add up to 25 points in skills, perks and talents. These points must come from Disadvantages. Characteristics may vary by no more than 3 from the baseline "standard" animal. Int and Ego can vary by 5. A character that was a human spirit placed into an animal body can retain all skills based on Int or ego. Presence skills receive a 3 penalty (10 pt. Disadvantage) unless the animal is particularly imposing or cute.
Talkers can possess no spirit manipulation ability.
Other names: Talking Animal, Spirit-Wolf / Spirit-Mouse / Spirit-Rat, etc.
Example Characters: Hugin, Peaches
An animate is the rarest form of Spirit-shifted character. Animates are basically sentient Golems. They are people who have had their entire spirit: morphia, anima and psyche transferred to an otherwise inanimate vessel. In most cases, these vessels are human shaped. Examples of vessels might be a rag doll, a scarecrow, a metal armature or mannequin, even a bunch of wooden sticks tied into man shape. It merely has to be articulated or bendable. The anima will provide the needed motive force. The Morphia ties it closely to the body and enables ease and comfort of movement. The Psyche provides direction and thought.
Animates can normally only be created by a very powerful Master. Such a procedure is extremely tiring and not undertaken lightly.
An animate cannot be killed, only destroyed. They do not need to breathe or eat. They are immune to pain and do not tire naturally, though their bodies might require regular maintenance. Sufficient damage can stun them, or even cause them to become teporarily unconscious. The materials of their bodies are normal materials, and subject to damage. The morphia tends to keep the body together under normal usage and does strengthen their resistance somewhat.
The spirit's anchoring to the vessel is psychosomatic. An animate rag doll for instance, can have her clothing, stuffing, and even head replaced over time and still remain the same being, even though she possesses none of the original material of which she was comprised. Only the overall destruction or dispersal of the entire body for a significant time can truly destroy an animate.
They are bought using the spirit rules. Each animate is a special case, but they all work off of the same template. They should have strengths and weaknesses commensurate with their construction material.Animates have a few unique requirements. Much of their energy and spirit is dedicated to maintaining their body. Very little is left over for growth or improvement. Animates characters often buy the Limitation Limited Experience
Animates have spotty recollection of former life and can even lose entire skills. In any case, their new existence is so radically different from before, that many adopt a new name or nickname to differentiate themselves from the person they used to be.
Finally, just because they are artificial does not mean they are unnaturally strong. An animate made of metal might have normal to moderately high strength (STR 10-16), but a rag doll would probably be STR 5-8.
Animates can possess no spirit manipulation ability.
Other names: Animae, Manikin, Marionette, Android
Example Characters: Hank Woodman, Iron John, Peter Shroud
In theory, a spirit can be reattached to a dead body, but this only animates the corpse, it does not return it to life. Most Masters would be loathe to do this. Though the morphia would tend to keep the body intact, even so far as to provide rudimentary healing, it would do nothing to prevent the smell of decay or the slow degradation of appearance. Limbs would not magically reattach. Also, the person would bear the social stigma of the walking dead.
Apparently, many of these problems have been solved in Mingatok and other cities of the Ukon Group, where they have strange devotions.
Example Characters: Scorch
Golems are not true characters, nor are they a race, but they are included in this section because they share many similarities with living beings.
Golems are much like animates, but are far more limited. A golem has no psyche, only anima and a morphia. Thus, they cannot think, but they are tireless workers. They can only perform tasks set for them by their creator. While these tasks can be fairly complex, they cannot be tasks that require a high amount of decision-making capability. They could pull a plow or a carriage, assemble parts, fetch and carry, even copy a book. But they would be stuck and unable to move if something goes wrong. Obstacles in the above instances might be an unexpected stone or detour in the way, ill-fitting parts, or an illegible word.
It might seem like these tasks require a certain amount of psyche to accomplish, and this is true. As stated before, no spirit transferal is absolutely pure. Just as animals invested with human psyche and anima gradually assume a bit of human morphia, so the opposite is true with golems. They are vested with anima, usually from the earth and patterned after human anima and morphia. They resemble humans in other aspects closely enough to cause them to develop enough psyche to perform simple tasks. They are not self-aware, however, anymore than is a plant.
Golems are used primarily for brute labor, or mindless repetitive tasks. They are much like animates in their physical characteristics, with the exception that they can be stronger or heavier. They do not have to support a psyche, and can thus expend more energy towards moving their bodies. Most golems are limited to proximity to their creator in order to keep functioning. True Masters might be able to make Golems that can last in the wilderness for a limited time, but this is a very difficult task.
Golems, of course, possess no spirit manipulation ability.
Other names: Robot, Worker, Automaton, Drone, Puppet
During ages past, the Rex Infernae did many strange things to human-kind. Many people were experimented upon for inscrutable reasons, perhaps for use as living weapons or spies. Strange alterations were made to the human form, or blendings of the animate and inanimate. Most of these pathetic creatures are long dead, but some survived and bred true. These are mutants.
Mutants usually live in small communities of less than a few hundred individuals whose members share the same mutation. Mutant tribes are not very common. They are often isolated or shunned. They may have a hideous or exotically beautiful appearance. They may have physical or mental enhancements. For game balance they must have a serious disadvantage commensurate to whatever exceptional abilities they might have. A player may design their own mutant tribe, but the GM will be the final arbiter of what fits the campaign or does not disturb play balance.
A tribe of half human/half goats with extremely limited intelligence.
Humans with natural claws that appear from hidden sheathes but are subject to uncontrolled killing sprees.
A tribe that can speak with animals but have no ability to speak with humans.
People with glow-in-the-dark skin, with no other abilities.
Normal humans with octopus heads, but no other abilities.
A tribe with perfect night vision, but extremely sensitive to sunlight.
If a tribe of mutants have spiritual mutations that cause them to resemble traditional creatures of myth or legend, they are often called by that name. The tribes in the above examples might be referred to respectively as: satyrs, wolverines, beastmasters, specters, cthulhus, and ghouls.
Since individual mutants are generally indistinguishable from the Riven (see below), they are often shunned or avoided by city folk.
Mutants should not be thought of as powerhouse superheroes. Though they may have an unusual ability or two, these abilities must lie within the context of the game world (i.e. spirit-based or biologically enhanced powers are okay, telekinetic flight, energy blasts or invisibility are not.)
Mutants theoretically are capable of the same spirit-shifting abilities as humans, though the farther they deviate from the human norm, the less likely this is.
The Riven are another matter entirely. Somewhere in the wilderness exist horrifying things known as Reavers. No one is sure of their origin, but their effects are legendary. Reavers are balls of unknown energy, about 3-6 feet across. They usually appear during storms, but this is not always the case. They travel through the wilderness in erratic unpredictable patterns. When they intersect the path of a living being, they shift its spirit around. Most creatures die from this. Those unfortunates that survive are called the riven.
The riven are people whose spirit, either morphia, anima, psyche or some combination of the three have been altered, enhanced, shifted or merged somehow. Riven are usually grotesquely disfigured and quite mad. Humans, beasts, animals and plants can be riven. Some of the more intelligent and sane form small communities, like the leper colonies of bygone days, where they can live their lives in a modicum of peace. Others wander the wilderness as ravening monsters killing or eating anything in their path.
Some particularly skilled adepts can reverse the effects of a Reaver, but generally, the worse the transfiguration, the harder it is to undo.
Sometimes an individual riven's mutation is minor enough to hide or disguise. Some prefer amputation of the affected part. Sometimes the mutation of the spirit is only the psyche, and the person is permanently maddened. The combinations are horrifyingly unlimited.
Examples of riven in order of increasing deviation from the normal:
A four-armed gorilla
An man-ant the size of a bear
Half-human/half lobster Tentacled Horror
There are two main classifications for societies within the Savage Earth. Those who live in cities, are ruled by adepts and follow the teachings set forth in the Standing Stones. These are referred to as City Dwellers. Everyone else is a barbarian. Within those two broad classifications there are many variations.
Humans, Beasts, and Mutants and some Riven are often Barbarians.
Example Characters: Haiku of the Yzlon, Kamlak of the Shattered Isles, Rath of the Hill Tribes
|City Dwellers are those who live in cities and follow the path set forth by Prometheus. The message of the Standing Stones has enough leeway in its interpretation that there can be much variation in local culture. There are even hints that the Stones may alter their teachings from place to place. However, there are several features which nearly all cities have in common.
The populace is under the rule of the of adepts. The city is built on or near the site of Standing Stones. The stones provide the basis for the city's culture.
Of course, many types of people can live in a city. Only a small percentage are adepts. A city dweller could be a rich merchant, a humble peasant farmer, a learned sage, a blacksmith, soldier. It really doesn't matter. They might hate or love adepts and golems and such. But they live in the city and know its ways. They are willing to be ruled by Adepts.
Humans, Beasts and Animates are often city dwellers. Mutants are less likely and Riven almost never are.
The City most often used as the stage of action in the campaign is Tallon. More on the culture of Tallon and by extension City Dwellers in general may be found here.
Rurals are actually a variation of City-Dweller. Rurals are usually colonies of Beasts, Mutants or Humans who follow the Promethean teachings, but do not live in a city. There are many such small communities within a day's travel of any given city. City Dwellers often refer to such people as Barbarians, and Barbarians often refer to them as City-Dwellers. Rurals should have the same general outlook as city-dwellers in regards to religion and culture, but for some reason are not located within city walls. Examples of such communities include Raccoon Lake, The Sabre River Clan of Beavers, the Fox Wagons, and the Caverns of the Night Folk.
Example Characters: Riccoco, Faliol
The term class refers to the profession a person has or the position they have in society. Some of them are voluntary, like Merchant, others are accidents of birth, such as Adept. Some are good choices for player characters (Adept, Gladiator, Merchant), while others are better as NPCs (Farmer, Slave, Soldier). Even those choices best suited for Non-player status may have valuable use as part of a character's history. What follows are a few examples.
|This is a person who is able to perform at least rudimentary feats of spirit manipulation. Most PCs will have a relatively low ability, mostly due to the points required. Also, any city-dwelling adept must be directly beholden to the Archon of the city. Humans and Mutants may be Adepts.
The lowest classification of adept. The majority do not pass beyond this level. Sighted may even be found among barbarian tribes, but without intensive training, they cannot progress any higher.
This is a person who is studying to the end of becoming a master. They have the ability to read spirit and utilize the information to some degree, but they cannot alter it. Most player character adepts will start as novices.
Masters, Highmasters, and Grandmasters
Masters are adepts who have reached the ability required to actually alter the spirit of an object. Morphists can control an object or persons shape and substance. Animists can control an objects movements or action. Psychists can reshape a being's thoughts and memories.
Humans may be Adepts. Mutants are possible, but unknown. Beast and animates may not be Adepts.
Example Characters: Archon Ningan, Master Farralon, Novice Tira
The ceremony that commemorates the creation of a paladin is public; the relationship between Paladin and Master is as close as a marriage. A Master is expected to return the paladin's loyalty with honor and support. It is a covenant. A record of a Paladin vestiture may be found here.
Paladins enjoy a high reputation and are respected (or feared) throughout their home area. There are many perks to being a Paladin. They are rarely charged for goods or services and they are often obeyed when they deign to give orders.
Most Paladins stay close to their masters throughout their lives. Their lives are relatively short however, due to their accelerated metabolism. Most Paladins understand this when they agree to their enhancement, but prefer to live a fast life of action and privilege to a long and dull life of obscurity.
It is possible for an adept who is not a Grandmaster to vest a person with enhanced spirit of some kind or another. These people are often referred to as Cohorts and may be servants, family members or other favorites. The bond between Master and Cohort is not as strong or formal as that between Grandmaster and Paladin.
There are rumors of a specilaized Cohort to be found in mysterious Saginaw. These soldiers have had their anima (which the Saginaw call Tempo) altered for heightened speed and reflexes only. They are called Quickfighters.
A player may not start out as a paladin, but may become one through exemplary service and loyalty. Paladins will have a 20 point Psych Lim: Fanatically loyal to Master (common, total). A Cohort may only have the 15 point Psych Lim: Loyal to Master (common, strong)
Related to the Paladin and Cohort is the Client. This is someone who has paid for his or her enhancement, usually through money, but often by a period of service. Clients are often wealthy or possess some skill or talent that makes them valuable to the adept. Clients are rarely vested for life and usually have to renew their contract after a set period. The Grandmaster Novya of Tallon is particularly well-known for her wealthy and influential clients.
Rules for how much a Paladin's or Cohort's characteristics may be increased can be found here. Note that few masters will take the time to invest someone who is not already of superior quality. It would not be effective to start out with less than the best.
Paladins are almost exclusively human.
Example Characters: Jerrick, Paladin of Hannon; Winston, Paladin of Ningan; Klein Quickfighter (cohort), Elias Guildmaster (client)
Fighting is very popular in the Savage Earth. It is Savage, after all. The term gladiator merely refers to anyone who fights for the entertainment of others. Some cities in the Merikian league have huge arenas where men, beasts and other things regularly battle to the death to the cheering of maddened crowds.
Some gentler places like Tallon have replaced blood sports with choreographed non-fatal fights or other non-lethal entertainment such as chariot races. In such places, the blood sports have been forced to move underground. A Gladiator in such a place may be similar to a WWF fighter of 20th century America.
Gladiators are usually popular figures and may enjoy the same fame or notoriety as a major sports figure. Some retire to public office or the merchant trade. Gladiators are almost never adepts. Barbarians make popular gladiators, since they bring a certain mystique to the arena.
Example Characters: Gustav Mahler, Exxon Ironhand
Merchants are those who make their living from the buying and selling of goods. They may also control their means of production, but this is not always true. The term merchant is usually separate from the term "Trader". A Trader may have a market place stall or a cart from which they sell. A Merchant is usually far richer and may employ many traders. But the major distinction is this. A trader sells within a single city or limited geographic area. The market he sells in is the same one he buys in. A Merchant is one who buys in one city or region and sells in a completely separate area. Merchants may travel overland in caravans or they may use ships to get their goods form place to place. Given the dangers inherent in travel, being a merchant is a very risky proposition. The rewards are great if one is willing to suffer setbacks or even the risk of messy death far from home.
In some cities, merchants are nearly non-existant, whereas in others they are quite powerful. The merchant class in Tallon for example is very strong and Tallonese goods may be found in all cities of the league.
Example Characters: Merchant Hamilton, Merchant Yon, Trader Kent, Trader Riccoco
Crafters and artisans are those who make and produce goods for the populace. In barbarian tribes, their skills are probably more oriented toward woodcraft and practical necessities of survival. In cities, they may been even further specialized. Crafters can be simple potters or basket weavers, to architects and engineers of great skill. Artisan in this case could also include performance arts such as poet, dancer or storyteller. Sometimes the difference between Merchant and Crafter can be blurred. Adepts, particularly morphists and animists are often crafters and artisans.
Example Characters: Hank Woodman, Mistress Dakota, Dnall the Swordsmith
Farmer is the oldest and ultimately the most important of occupations, as always. Farmers supply all the cities of the league with the food required for their livelihood. The term farmer may also include fishermen in this sense, since many of the cities supplement their diet with the bounty of the sea. Farming can be a dangerous occupation, since fields are rarely as well protected as cities and are more subject to invasion from barbarians, chimera and reavers. Most farmlands in the Merikian League are centered around evenly spaced forts or other strongholds. In time of crisis, a warning signal is sounded and all people immediately run for safety.
Farmers are often beasts, since this is a job which requires a certain closeness to nature and is rarely well-paid. Farms may be directly under the control of a central authority (collectives) or they may be independently owned and operated. Sometimes they are a mixture of both. This is the case in Tallon.
Crops in the League have been carefully augmented and tailored by adepts over the course of generations. The plants that are cultivated are faster growing, higher yielding hardier and more nutritious than any modern crops. Many have been altered to grow in the hot and extremely rainy climate of the league.
Example Characters: Master farmer Toshi
These are the religious types of the Savage Earth. Priest and Cleric are often used interchangeably, but properly a cleric is a religious figure equivalent to a monk. A Priest is a religious leader who performs services and ceremonies. Among City-dwellers, these are always adepts. It is a central precept of the Standing Stones.
A Shaman is a religious leader among the barbarian tribes. The actual title may vary from tribe to tribe. For example, in Yzlon the title is Gothi.Barbarian shamans may or may not be adepts. This is individual to each tribe. Barbarian Shamans are never Masters, for they lack the teachings of the Stones.
Example Characters: Bishop Thane, Sister Winnipeg
A great deal of information about the organization of Tallon's military can be found here. With tiny differences in detail, it can be assumed to be similar to how other cities run their militaries. Barbarian hordes generally have a martial ethic than trains virtually all members to fight for the defense of the tribe in some way or another. It's a difficult fight for survival out there, and everyone's help is needed. Beyond organized armies and military societies however, there are a number of mercenary companies scattered around the known lands. These companies may be made up of city dwellers, but barbarian origins are more common. They may be made up of beasts, humans or a combination of the two. There is even a mutant mercenary group.
Also, the term "soldier" may also in this case refer to guard, constable or anyone employed to use their fighting skill to protect someone or something.
Example Characters: General Hannon, Rath
There will always be those who band together to prey on the weak (but wealthy). Brigand bands may be comprised of any racial stock. Given their size and operation, they are likely to be found in the wilds on caravan paths or along shipping routes (in which case they are called pirates. Although some small bands may be found close to the cities, they generally focus around a camp or stronghold near regular traffic. In a city or within a barbarian tribe, they would be more likely to be called thieves. A thief is not just a pickpocket or burglar though. Some thieves are hired to employ their stealthy skills towards a useful end. A merchant might hire one to steal secrets from a rival. A thief might even be employed by the Archony (to recover lost treasures, perhaps). Some thieves brag about their skills in order to drum up business. As long as they never admit to any particular crime or get caught in the performance of their occupation, being a thief can be thought of as almost admirable, or at least exciting, like a major sports star who is also known for frequent brushes with the law. In general though, thieves are just plain robbers.
Assassins are very rare indeed. An assassin is nearly always an adept, since anyone else would stand out very plainly to the warning senses of a master. Assassins who target lesser prey may be normal humans or beasts though.
Example Characters: Slick Russpelt, Persia
Slavery as a custom varies from place to place, but it exists to some degree or another throughout the Savage Earth. It does not have the moral taint that it has in the 21st Century, though. In Tallon for example, there are three "slave" classes. The first are slaves taken in the Karkulite campaign of 20 years ago. These are "spoils of war" and can be assumed to be people who would have been killed otherwise. They are traditional slaves, i.e. property, though the Archon has done much to ameliorate their treatment. For example, you can't beat them to death.
The second "slave" class is indentured servitude. A person may sell themselves into a period of servitude to pay off a debt, or to secure a loan. Most students in the Hall of Art are indentured for 10 to 20 years. In other words, they may contract with a merchant to pay for their education if they will serve as ship's adept on a spirit craft for ten years. Indentured servants have all the rights of a citizen other than that they are subject to the orders of their master. They can vote, press charges, pursue happiness, etc.
The last slave class is the dreaded "thrall". A thrall is a person who has had their free will destroy by a skilled Psychist. A thrall is happy to be a slave. Thralldom is illegal in Tallon, but perfectly common in other cities, notably Orodon and Mingatok. It is also rumored to be practiced by the mysterious Saginaw.
For slave prices, see the price list.
Example Characters: Talmuk (thrall), Farallon (Indentured), Hannon's Concubine (slave)
This is a profession which has just recently sprung into being in the last generation or so. The explorer is a person dedicated to pushing back the mists of ignorance which veil the world. Often armed with ancient and inaccurate maps, untrustworthy instruments and inadequate weapons, they face extreme weather, fierce people and even fiercer beasts in order to tame a Savage Earth. Explorers usually require a patron, since it is expensive to outfit an expedition which may not ever see a profit.
Some explorers do have a profit-based mentality, though. They usually refer to themselves as scavengers or relic-hunters. These are people who prowl the ruins of the Old World cities, looking for items which can be brought back to civilization and sold. Since most relics are broken beyond repair, relic-hunters usually concentrate on items that would be of interest to collectors: objects of art, examples of literature, finely crafted items of unknown application. Such relic hunters may employ the services of a morphist who specializes in restoration of ancient items.
Finally, those people who have a good understanding of the lay of the wilds may hire themselves out to merchants as guides. Such people are called "scouts". All merchant expeditions will carry at least one scout.
Example Characters: Gilead (Explorer), Vagrant (Relic-hunter), Faliol (Scout)
In the interests of showing how all of these classifications may be used to describe a character, here are the PCs from the original campaign and the online campaign:
|Original Campaign||Online Campaign|
|Tira||Human, adept, barbarian||Beka||Human, city-dweller, merchant|
|Gustav||Riven, city-dweller, gladiator, artisan||Cas||Beast, barbarian, scout|
|Hank Woodman||Animate, city dweller, craftsman, artisan||Celeste||Human, barbarian, soldier (sailor), mercenary|
|Persia||Beast, city dweller, thief||Faliol||Beast, barbarian, scout, guard|
|Haiku||Human, barbarian, guard||Handle||Human, rural, thief|
|Gilead||Human, city dweller, explorer, craftsman||Nuyok||Human, city-dweller, adept|
|Khaz||Mutant, mercenary, barbarian||Rath||Riven, barbarian, gladiator, guard|
|Riccoco||Beast, barbarian, trader|
|Vagrant||Human, barbarian, relic-hunter|
|Palon||Human, city-dweller, guard|
|Joc||Human, city-dweller, merchant, thief|