......The Peoples of Hearthstone......

Hearthstone has literally dozens of racial groups, though there were many more in its past. Some races were exterminated in violent wars over the ages and over time most of its collective denizens have come to see folly in such behavior. Not all. Most of the races are very small in terms of population (say, only a few hundred thousand at most, or as little as ten thousand for some of the more obscure ones).

I use the word "race" here loosely. Genetically and biologically, the various peoples of Hearthstone are close enough alike to be regarded as the same "species." They are, however, different enough so that the racial groups are not interfertile; their lore, and certain evidence, says that some of them were interfertile in the past, but that is no longer the case. If you're a geneticist, don't expect the scenario I have here to be scientifically accurate....though for all I know, it may be.

Some of the groups are modeled to some extent on animals in our world (otherwise, I wouldn't be much of an anthropomorphist!) but others are pure invention. Do not expect to be able to carry over qualities of our animals into the races that resemble them (eg, despite their apperance, Drovines do not have the qualities of sheep on our world).

The races, as a rule, do not intermix and intermarry, and indeed to do so is seriously frowned upon everywhere except Nullabor, since elsewhere marriages are more like business arrangements, and inter-racial relationships will simply not produce offspring. Some free spirits in Nullabor have broken the marriage barrier, and the Nullaborians do not disapprove of such relationships, but it still just isn't that popular to do anyway precisely because it won't produce children (and anyway, some 90% of the peoples of Nullabor are Elapines).

The people of Hearthstone's present day have engaged this as an ongoing debate. Low fertility rates are appealed to by some parties as a very good reason to avoid an interracial marriage, while others actually point to this as an indication that there's nothing wrong with it (e.g., "if so many of us end up childless anyway, what's wrong with an interracial marriage"). In the Eastern lands, close interactions between male and female members of different groups is looked upon with caution at best (in the Traditional Allies' lands) and revulsion at worst (in some places in the Egalitarian Confederacy), outside of what is necessary to pursue business relationships. I bring in some character discussions on this in Shrike Team #2 (Seeds of Rebellion), and both Shrike Team #4 (Boughs of Freedom) and Range Patrol #5 (Across the Elapine Line) will have the subject as a major theme. The subject will also be of some significance in the "final" Hearthstone series to be produced many years hence.

At the times of the Annals most of the races get along well, though there are odd moments (as you can see in the first of the Shrike Team annals, when Felicity receives some medical attention) when accommodation to various differences becomes problematic. Each race has different requirements for things like soaps, shampoos, furnishings, etc. and so they have ironically achieved a peaceful form of "cultural diversity" that makes it easy to appreciate that your neighbor is different. There is hardly any "racism" as such apart from what might happen if a racially-mixed couple appears in public -- if you know the story, think of how in Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet, the Sorn, Hrossa, and Pfifltriggi got along, though at times thinking each other odd and deficient in ways that their group was not. There are also some "biological compatibility" issues in which a member of one race may have an allergy to a member of another race -- in fact, make a special note of that as it will come into play in the Range Patrol series.

It is a given among the various peoples that, e.g., if you need some mechanical or investigative work done, you'll likely call on a Tilkrig first; if you need someone to fight on your behalf, a Prycene is your likeliest first choice, and then an Elapine...and so on. Stereotypes of this sort are not found to be offensive, because the fact is, they are overall true. The races are internally "wired" for what they do best; you'd never expect a Tilkrig to want to do anything but some sort of technical work, and a Prycene would simply have to be involved in the military, sports, or some other physical venture to be satisfied. Of course, one must work their way up to get an ideal job; until then, even Prycenes have to work at the local "fast food" joint; or if, for example, a Prycene warrior is injured, he may end up in a desk job somewhere.

Hearthstone didn’t experience any equivalent to our Victorian era. If it seems like they tend to be less restrained in matters like dress and custom, and more prone to displays of affection (even between members of the opposite sex), they are. Not that this leads to any sort of license when it comes to sexuality: The strictures of honor, thanks to the influences of the ancient Prycene Empire, still hang heavy over everyone there (even the Nullaborians, as far removed as they are in time and place from it). A female of honor like Sheila or Felicity doesn’t need to worry about being looked upon as an object -- do that, and you might end up being punched in the face by them, or even by male bystanders. An indication of the value placed on females here is that sexual crimes like rape earn the death penalty (assuming you aren’t lynched first, or even killed by your intended victim!). Only the dregs of this society view sexuality as something to be treated casually. The ironic result of this is that (as in Shrike Team #2, between Brom and Felicity) a male and a female (of a different race especially) can joke casually about being attracted to one another, with no threat hanging over their heads of being tempted into indiscrete behavior. It also helps that in general the females tend to be no less able to defend themselves than the males. Males are as a whole stronger, but females have the advantages of agility and quickness, and self-defense skills are taught as a matter of course.

It will be seen that the races as a whole (the Sk’lan are an exception) are highly egalitarian, gender-wise. You can expect to find females treated with full respect and dignity, and they are able to assume roles as warriors or what have you with no reservations by themselves or their male counterparts (though things like living quarters in the military remain strictly separated by gender -- no, it’s not egalitarian to THAT extent). I envision Hearthstone’s feminine population to be as whole to be an strong, assertive and independent lot -- but also very proud of their femininity. There’s no sense of the sexes as competitors, but rather (just as with the different races) members of the same team, each with a distinct role to play to make their world a better place. How this state of affairs came about has to do with the occurrence of a natural disaster in Hearthstone's distant past (see Eidolon's history) that compelled the majority of the peoples of this world to work together to survive, followed by the beneficial controls implemented by the Prycenes which kept a spirit of cooperation at the fore.

Lifespans of the groups vary between 450 and 800 of Hearthstone's years. Folks here live a long time, but at the same time, reproductive rates tend to be low. As a result there are far fewer children than adults. Their growth rates tend to be the same as ours for the first 20 of their years, and then things slow considerably.

Diet is pretty straightforward. Seafood serves a major role, as do insects and plants. There aren't many sorts of lower animals other than insects and sea animals. You'll also notice that there are not any fat Hearthstonians -- with the kind of diet they have (no animal fats or meats, aside from seafoods) you really have to work to GET fat, rather than to stay thin.

A Hearthstonian who came to our world would stand out quite a bit, and that's not just because of the fur. Sheila Rangslinger, for example, in our world, would be six feet tall; Brom Shriker, six and a half feet. The typical Hearthstonian is also incredibly strong by our measure. To them, though, it's just normal.

The total population of Hearthstone at this time is about 2.3 billion. Since the planet is twice the size of our own, that means there's still a lot of undeveloped wilderness, mostly towards the center of the continents and away from rivers and streams. Their largest city would be about the size and density of, say, Tallahassee, Florida -- no large, tightly-packed metropolitan areas here, since there's no issue of land being at a premium.

The Living Races of Hearthstone

Here's a rundown of some of the racial groups you'll meet in the stories, either now or in the future. I've put them in alphabetical order, with "living" races in the first cluster and extinct races in the second cluster.

Allethenes

Allethenes are the most numerous of Hearthstone's races, comprising about one of every 20 persons in the Eastern lands. They are based on no particular creature, but exhibit tremendous variations in their appearance and expression, save that their coat is nearly always some shade of brown. They are Hearthstone's business people and entrepenuers, and as a result will be found in numerous fields, but will not be as expert as another race might be, and so they often have the role of a leader of a group of more expert persons who either help turn their ideas into reality or else help them figure out whether or not it is practical.

Amentazari

These happy people are based on our hedgehogs. Polite and good-natured, they love nothing better than splashy colors on themselves and in their environment. They are Hearthstone's artists and architects, but also enjoy any sort of public service work where they can meet others and give them assistance, and so they also often enjoy roles as receptionists, secretaries, public service workers, or daycare workers. Amentazari are considerably chatty and it is sometimes hard to end a conversation with them; they're likely to follow you around talking long after you've lost interest or run out of time.

Av'nen

This group would be put in the "extinct" category, except for that one member is still alive and will remain that way: Eidolon. The Av'nen were exterminated several thousand of Hearthstone's years before during what is called the Seven Seasons War. Why he's managed to be the only one left, and for so long, is explained elsewhere...when they were alive, however, the Av'nen were a very serious people, generally tradesmen, not given to any laughter or mirth. It was this disposition that irritated a king in Hearthstone's medieval period and led to their extermination at his hands...and we'll see more about that in the far-future Karu'shi Av'nen series. They were artisans, merchants and traders in their time, and their role has been assumed by members of other races who are still advancing in their own fields. The Av'nen are distinguished by their unusual coat (which is somewhat like feathers, not fur) and by their eyes, which are one solid color. They also possessed unusual mental powers not unlike Star Trek's Vulcans, though the effects they could have on other races varied considerably; for example, they were seldom if ever able to influence a Tilkrig.

Bro'marg

The Bro'marg are a bit of an enigma; they are clearly a warrior-type race, but they resist contact or conversation with all races except the Prycenes, and in turn the Prycenes say little to nothing about the Bro'marg to the other races. Their status as escorts, guardians, and dragoons among the Prycenes has led some of Hearthstone's historians to suggest that they were defeated by the Prycenes sometime in the distant past and swore fealty to them. That they have those bright blue eyes and drab clothes doesn't lend much to conversation either. The females cover most of their bodies with a sort of ninja garb, as they tend towards stealth in their fighting technique, while the males are the brash muscle. They work in pairs once wed.

Celandines

They're based on our skunks, but they don't have bad odor; they have a bad attitude. The Celandines tend to be suspicious of outsiders and usually have a sour look on their face; it's rare to see one smile, but they give over full trust to someone who shows that they deserve it. The reason for this attitude is that they were ALMOST exterminated early in Hearthstone's history, and the memory has stayed with the group as a whole. It also doesn't help that a few of Hearthstone's most notorious figures of the past were Celandines. They are a quiet people who will enter into any field where they can keep to themselves though they prefer some sort of physical labor such as bricklaying or digging. They're cynics by nature, and to befriend one means some hard work cracking their shell. They not surprisingly comprise the second-leading racial group in Nullabor (after Elapines, who are 90% of the population there) as many have found it attractive to be in such a distant place.

Chet'lyn

This is Hearthstone's smallest and most unusual race, indeed a parallel society with which most of the other citizens of Hearthstone have little interaction. Though they may seem to be lower animals, they actually have a quite advanced technological system. They are arboreal, living in the trees of the Canopy on the southeastern continent, and in one other place we'll find out about...

To get to know these people isn't easy, since they seldom descend to the ground where everyone else is, and they actually would prefer that people think of them as mythical. Those who live in taller buildings under the Canopy may get to interact with the Chet'lyn if a few branches happen to hang down nearby; it's not easy or likely, but it is rewarding in more ways than one. The Chet'lyn are exceptionally friendly, loyal, and talkative, and have also devised a system of tokens which they offer in exchange for favor done for them (providing food, saving one of them from injury, etc.). Tokens can be exchanged for return favors of any reasonable sort, such as watching over a dwelling when it is unoccupied.

Drovines

Based on our sheeplike animals, the Drovine are a very obscure and reserved group that tend to pursue the natural sciences as well as data processing functions. (We'd say, computer geeks.) They remain almost exclusively along an enclave on the west coast of the Confederacy, though we will see that Felicity Hornacek (Sonica) is an exception. They tend to marry late in life, which is why they are not a numerous people. They prefer cold and damp climates, and all too easily get sunburned or suffer heat exhuastion in warmer climates.

Dusel'rohn

Little is known about this enigmatic people, who maintain their own enclave in the north and politely (but firmly) turn away visitors. They are self-sufficient enough not to have to engage in a great deal of trade, though they will for some reason tolerate one race in particular as brokers -- the Drovines, and then only those with white coloration. Needless to say, that has raised suspicion that it there is some connection with their own tendency to be colored white, but no one has been able to investigate, much less prove, whether there is indeed any connection.

Elapines

Based on our rabbits, the Elapine almost exclusively inhabit Nullabor and the western coasts of the Egalitarian Confederacy. They prefer open spaces and rugged outdoor life, tending to avoid the densely populated cities or heavily forested areas like the Canopy. They are adventurous, whimsical, and highly open to experimentation, but also very serious about their duties as citizens. Current fashion among female Elapines is to tie the ears back inside or behind their hair. The Elapine are also one of two races most concerned with the threat of the Cartel, and they have developed a formidable intelligence service to deal with it. Elapines are considered a warrior race, second only to the Prycenes in terms of fighting skill.

Exteryans

Inspired by our chipmunks, beavers, and other active little furry animals with buck teeth, the Exteryan are Hearthstone's loud and boisterous celebrators of life. They live in a remote, mountainous region of the Pryecene homeland where snow and ice are common, but they are indifferent to the temperature; they live there because they like playing in the snow. In ancient times they were often jesters or bards, but these days they are sports participants, entertainers, and if they are really dull...they work in advertising.

Gnordig

Based on our koalas, the Gnordig are Hearthstone's priestly and ministerial caste. They are quiet, caring, and studious, but not necessarily connected to any particular religious tradition. Indeed, some of them enter into the fields of psychology or counseling.

Hadrocenes

Distinguished by their pinkish or purplish noses and by the wide variety of shapes their ears come in -- ranging from "bat wings" to small nubs -- the Hadrocenes are a paradoxical race, seemingly the most cynical and stoic, but also able and willing to dispense practical, caring advice. They've done well as Hearthstone's philosophers, public administrators, lawyers, and politicians. They're prone to fussy precision, not for its own sake but because they feel strongly that there is a right way things should be done.

Krantikorene

Seldom seen outside their narrow strips of habitation along the northern coasts, the Krantikorene have nevertheless played a critical role in Hearthstone's development as their experts on the seas. Current technology in seafaring and fishing owes much to their insight. They are natural swimmers, having webbed hands and feet, and can dive to incredible depths, withstanding pressures that would kill other races. They tend to reject technical advances in other fields.

Kray'korin

The Kray'korin are reputed as Hearthstone's experts in the working of metal on all levels, for industrial, practical and artistic uses alike. The reason for their specialty has only been discovered quite recently: They are specially attuned to Hearthstone's powerful magentic field, the effect of which is that they have a sort of telekinetic ability, on an atomic level, where the crafting of metal is concerned. Their greatest gift to Hearthstone has been something they helped the Tilkrig develop -- polarium.

Lethorimin

Hearthstone's healers, you might say: They'll employ as physicians, dentists, or even massage therapists, and they do it well because of a unique gift they have of keeping all the other races' unique biological needs straight. Unlike most of the races, they've kept the ancient tradition alive of marking themselves with body paint.

Melacapra

The badger-like Melacapra are Hearthstone's second-order entrepeneurs; put another way, if the Allethenes are "big business," the Melacapra are "small business." Unlike the Allethenes, they are nuts and bolts people as opposed to dreamers of big ideas; to that extent, one may regard them as a backbone for Hearthstone's middle class.

Nepthenes

Some call them, "Hearthstone's best listeners" and what that amounts to is, in Hearthstone's ancient times they were good scouts and negotatiators; today they're all that, as well as psychologists, counselers, and (ergh) bartenders. The Nepthenes' distinguishing feature is a tendency to have that flaming shock of hair on top. It's hard to make one mad, and it's also not easy to get them interested in finer technical things. In other words, please don't ask them to listen to a Tilkrig explain thermodynamics. They will do it, but it'll drive them bonkers.

Pango'lyn

For this one I actually kept very close to the name of the animal inspired by them -- the pangolin (though there's some armodillo in there, too). The Pango'lyn are presently called "Hearthstone's undiscovered race" by the others because for many years they were considered either legendary or extinct. The fact was that they lived underground and were unsure what kind of reception they'd get, so they kept quiet. Only in the last 300 of their years have they come to make themselves known, and they have (much to their surprise) been readily accepted and become Hearthstone's miners, geologists, and geophysicists. They love to work with earth and rock and are also expert pottery-makers. In contrast to the Drovines, the Pango'lyn prefer hot temperatures and hate the cold.

Prycenes

Based on our raccoons, the Prycenes have two major variations, the Red-Banded and the Black-Banded. The Prycenes were the founders of a significant empire in Hearthstone's distant past (see below re Tilkrig cooperation), somewhat playing the role of our ancient Rome and covering much (not all) of the Eastern continents, though their empire, unlike Rome, never fell but gradually granted independence to other nations, so that now, only the original Prycene homeland, Taritanya, remains in their direct holdings. The Prycenes share with the Elapines a deep concern over the activities of the Cartel, and are conscious of the fact that their own military might is the only thing keeping a Cartel incursion into the East at bay. However, limits on transportation technology and intelligence gathering make any attempt of their own to attack the Cartel very risky, leaving the East open to a counterstrike. And so they have detente'...

The Prycenes are also a sociable people, with a tendency to look for places where they can be of assistance to others and enlist their cooperation in causes for the greater good. They are responsible for much of the charitable work and brokerage on Hearthstone.

Quarqari

Quarqari are a most unusual people, in that they are completely deaf. Their symbol represents a flower of five petals, with one missing -- corresponding to the five senses, one of which they lack, even as they have cultivated the beauty of the other four. They are not a numerous people, and are confined to an area on the north coast of the northeast continent, having not travelled far from their origins in the Northwestern continent.

In ancient times the Quarqari served in such unique positions as tasters to monarchs; their senses are so sharpened, for example, that they can sense even the tiniest amount of poison in a large amount of water or food. They also served well as cooks and chefs. In modern times they do that, but they are also specialists in ergonomics, aesthetics, environmental comforts, and indoor and outdoor decoration and design.

Saffrian

The Saffrian are a reserved people who specialize in any field where mathematics is of primary use: Finance, physics, astronomy. Study is a pursuit they take seriously and their mood is normally one of quiet contemplation. They're sociable, but prefer to wait until they are approached before taking part in conversation, and they will then allow the other party to dictate and direct the topic under discussion. If you don't ask for their expertise, they assume you don't want or need it.

Sanslorian

These quiet, gentle giants formerly lived in secluded, mountainous areas of the Cartel's continent. Once the Cartel became dominant, they tried to recruit the Sanslorian to do their bidding, but because the Sanslorian held to the traditional values of the Covenant of M'Kai, and were also pacifists, they refused. More on that story will come in our Range Patrol #4 (A Sanslorian’s Tale), so we'll keep it at that. The Sanslorian communicate mostly by expression and the occasional grunt. True speech is a rarity with them, though they are capable of it; typically they choose one from among them to speak for the group, and only this one will be vocal. They are farmers by nature who prefer to be left alone. The Sanslorian have peculiar biochemistry, like all of the races of the Northwest, but they have the most unusual diet of all the races, as they are capable of eating rocks and metal. They also do not need to sleep (though they can if they want to, and they often opt to -- it gets kind of boring otherwise).

Shaz'ree

The Shaz'ree are a minor race that has emerged as Hearthstone's archivists and historians. They are serious but not standoffish, and politely inquisitive. They've been responsible for a great deal of Hearthstone's informational architecture -- things like libraries, and on their version of the Internet, Boolean search engines.

Sk'lan

The dominant race of the northwestern continent and the motive force behind the Cartel, the Sk'lan have mastered genetic and bio-mechanical technologies with the goal to convert themselves into a significantly mechanized race (much like Star Trek's Borg, though without a collective mind). They raced into this technology unthinkingly, however, and now find themselves in a serious pickle -- which they try to get around with some rather nefarious tactics. We'll see more on that in the Annals, starting with Range Patrol #2: Invasion Praxis.

Before the advent of the Cartel, the Sk'lan were reputedly a simple and happy people (as in this second picture) with no interest in dominating others, so the switch that the Cartel represents is something of a mystery, one whose solution is hard to discern given the presently closed nature of Sk'lan society. They are a generally nocturnal people. The fangs aren't for carnivory -- their main staple is a large, melon-like fruit that they puncture with the teeth and suck the juices out of. Very appropos, some might say.

Tilkrig

Tilkrig are a small, scampering people with a love of technology. They will usually alter themselves with technical implants replacing an eye, ear, tail, or other body part. They are a numerous people, found on all the continents, but more inclined to follow than lead. As a result, many have been forced into service on the Cartel's home continent. On the free continents they specialize in any service area where technology is a key, ranging from forensics to the hard sciences. They most often specialize in more than one field or as many as five. They are a much beloved race in the free world, so that the other races most often are glad to have them perch on their shoulders or arms; but for reasons we'll see in Range Patrol #5, Across the Elapine Line, there are limits to the intimacy of the contact tolerated.

It may be noted that while some Tilkrig go around on "all fours" at times, other Tilkrig walk upright. It's a matter of internal pride for the Tilkrig as to how they choose to ambulate. Tilkrig who are more self-concious or have an inflated image of themselves may strive to imitate the larger races' means of locomotion (as we'll see in Shrike Team #1).

One reader has rightly observed that the Tilkrig are one of the most critical races in terms of Hearthstone's prosperity. Whoever befriends (or controls) the Tilkrig can also take charge of the rest of the world. Early in Hearthstone's history, one of the Prycene emperors realized this, and reached an accord with the Tilkrig, so that the two races together were able to bring Hearthstone out of a persistent "Dark Age".

Valapine

The Valapine, based on our foxes, are Hearthstone's lumberjacks, miners, and hardy explorers. They have no objection to spending days at a time in the wilderness pursuing their professions, and indeed, look upon it as a challenge to be met. However, they are not isolationist; they look upon themselves as brokers for the wonders and resources of the wilderness, and will gladly take jobs as rangers or guides.

Wilitrian

Based on our hippopotamus -- but without all the armor and fat -- the Wilitrian are much like the Melacapra in their role as small-business entrepenuers, but they tend more towards brokerage than industry or sales.


The Extinct Races of Hearthstone

These are races we might (or might not) meet in any Hearthstone tales set in their past. I haven't set too many details on them as these are mostly concept pieces.

Crosshatches

A race devoted to the cultivation of the land and a very simple lifestyle, the Crosshatches disappeared at the dawn of the technological age. They were usually standoffish and sought to move further away from urban centers as they encroached on their lands.

Quantacontracene

Based on our elk and deer, these roamed the wilderness in fighting pairs and were bigger than the Sanslorian. The female directed the male in battle through the use of song which put him in a "berserk" mode that could only be broken by her looking into his eyes.

She'lang

Based on our pandas. No more data at this time.