The Record of the North
Below is some basic information, organized by character race, that should be helpful in creating characters. Most of the information here is aimed at creating characters in the North, i.e. Arbellor, Cantorhill, Riggsland, Lavaas, and the surrounding regions. If you wish to create a character from another region of the Shattered Lands, such as the Shining South, who is adventuring in the North for some reason, talk to me about names, customs, etc. When creating a character, it might be worthwhile to check out the Custom Feats and Powers section.
NB I plan on using the point-buy method in the PHB for stat generation.
All the standard character races are reasonably common as residents or travelers in the North, with the exception of Dragonborn, who are few and scattered. There are example names provided here for each race, along with references to real-world languages that can be mined for suitable names. A good source for foreign language names is Kate Monk’s Onomastikon. Feel free to change the names somewhat to disguise their origin. For example, Yustan, a fairly common name in the North, is obviously a mutated form of the French name Justin. Try to avoid names listed as “Biblical” in origin, since they’ll probably end up sounding out of place.
Most Dragonborn in the North are the fierce, proud raiders from the Black Eyrie in Riggsland. They roam in small bands or singly as mercenaries, largely avoiding close social ties with the lesser races around them. There is also a small community of Blasphemers (see the dragonborn entry) who, until quite recently, made middling livings for themselves as craftsmen and merchants in Reyen. Kaera II’s Edict of Purity in 2241 forbade them from owning land within the city, however, and they left to wander the hinterlands of Arbellor in small groups, seeking a new home. Since the social position of these two groups is very different, the first thing you should consider when making a dragonborn character is which group he or she belongs to. Not incidentally, the two groups also have different racial powers.
Dragonborn in the north almost universally speak Low Fluerisian in addition to their own tongue, called Awatu or Wyrmish. They may know almost any other tongues useful for trade, but those of the Eyrie almost never speak Gracwaeth on account of the hatred the dwarves bear for them.
Dragonborn of the Eyrie wear dark colored tabards over leather vests and leggings. They may also wear richly embroided, fur-lined cloaks in the winter, and some female dragonborn wear divided felt skirts to keep the cold at bay. Blasphemer dragonborn in the north may imitate this fashion to avoid notice, but more frequently wear long coats with turned-up sleeves, with loose, sleeveless cotton shirts for the males and cotton blouses and floor-length skirts for the females.
Dragonborn have names like Birqu, Elmamoul, Ersu, Jariath, Serun, and Shelesh for males and Asiya, Damaq, Gilana, Muhaddu, Nehis and Renanit for females. In general, names from old semetic languages such as Akkadian work well, although Hebrew names could also be used. Dragonborn are always named by birth order and matronymic, in the following way: if Birqu is the second child of Gilana, who was in turn the fourth child of Nehis he would introduce himself as “Birqu, Second of Gilana, fourth of Nehis” in formal situations and simply “Birqu, Second of Gilana” or “Birqu of Gilana” in less formal situations.
The dwarves of the north are all of the Graewys lineage, having been sundered from their Issek cousins to the south long ago. They are a pale folk with light-colored eyes and dark hair. The Graewys, men and women both, grow full beards. The current fashion among younger Graewys is to cut their beards short, but elders and some traditionalists wear beards that are long enough to have to be tucked into their belts during battle.
All dwarves in the north speak Graecwaeth, the language of the Graewys, in addition to Low Fluerisian.
Graewys usually wear thigh-length leather jerkins with many pockets for tools. Under these, they wear tunics and trousers with knee-high hobnailed boots. They wear hooded cloaks in somber colors when traveling, and cunningly crafted plate mail in battle.
Graewys names consist of a family name and a personal name. They are always given in full, with the personal name first and the family name second, except in intimate situations. Calling a dwarf by his or her first name is equivalent to using a nickname in our society; it is welcomed from close friends and family but is thought to be inappropriate for use with strangers or associates. Common Graewys names are Atli, Bardr, Einarr, Frecla, Odda, Scaefa, and Utta for males and Aude, Ebbe, Eyve, Hild, Sjona, Theda, and Werca for females. Graewys family names usually come from a descriptive trait such as “bold,” “cunning,” or “strong.” Good examples of such names are Geap, Hearthmod, Leoftaele, Neod, and Sterkur. Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse, and Old Icelandic make good sources for Graewys personal names. Graewys family names can be derived from complimentary adjectives in those languages.
The Eladrin of the north are usually wanderers. They have no large settlements in the former lands of the Floran Empire, though there are Eladrin ruins aplenty. Thus, Eladrin encountered in the north can be of almost any complexion. Like all Eladrin, their features tend to run to extremes. Vivid eye and hair colors are the norm, and the angles of their alien faces can be twisted into expressions of the greatest cruelty or the most heartbreaking compassion. The closest Eladrin settlement of significant size is the fabled City of Red Glass, which sits in the sunless north far beyond Riggsland. It is said that no mortal has looked upon the City of Red Glass and lived, although eladrin merchants travel to and from the city several times a year. The eladrin of the city are uniformly pale, with almost translucent flesh and bloodless lips. Their hair, too, seems bleached by the frigid winds of their home. Only their eyes, which range from icy blue to warm gold, show color.
All eladrin know languages other than their own tongue, Farwah. Most can speak Low Fluerisian, though their crisp pronunciation and use of archaic diction serves as a reminder to the observant that most of them learned Old Fluerisian first.
Most eladrin dress in modified military garb. Loose shirts and breeches are the norm, tied down at the wrists, waist, and ankles with sashes. When traveling, they usually wear cloaks with deep hoods. At their ease or at formal occasions, eladrin women wear brightly colored dresses made of a single length of fabric wrapped about their body. These dresses leave one shoulder bare and include several cubits of fabric that can be cast over the head like a hood. The men wear plain shirts and breeches with floor-length, often ornate vests with high collars. Both sexes often wear clothing or ornaments bearing a labyrinth design in token of the complex philosophy/religion of their people.
Eladrin names are in the language of Jandana. Adesh, Amohen, Damyar, Hariharan, Jayanth, Kundan, Tejal, and Viksun are examples of male names. Akriti, Bula, Druhi, Gorocana, Jayanti, Kanakvi, and Shreya are examples of female names. Eladrin do not actually distinguish between male and female names, save that male names must end in consonants and female names in vowels. Therefore, a man could just as easily be called “Shreyam” or a woman “Damya,” which are, respectively, masculine and feminine forms of some of the names given above. In general, names of Sanskrit origin work well, since the tongue of Jandana is based on this language. Surnames are unknown among the eladrin. Instead, over the endless years of their lives they acquire an identifying title, often one that refers metaphorically to their pattern of thought or speech. For example, an eladrin named Tajal who tended to interrupt frequently and drive brutally at a point of logic might be called Tajal the Cutter, while another eladrin of the same name who smiled and laughed often might be called Tajal Dawneyes. When dealing with mortals, eladrin usually translate these titles into the local language, and sometimes go by them entirely.
Elves in the north are almost all Senion, hailing from the Eikwood. Senion elves are notably shorter than some of their cousins, with females averaging around five feet and males five feet three inches in height. They have fair skin, pale hair, and blue, green, or purple eyes. Like all elves, they move with an easy grace that seems more avian than human.
The Senion speak their own tongue, which is the northern dialect of Telwahni. Many also speak the southern dialect of that tongue in order to converse with their far-flung cousins. Though knowledge of Low Fluerisian is fairly common among the Senion, only those who have spent significant time outside the Eikwood (a small minority) can converse in it comfortably. Although scholars can point to similarities of grammar and basic vocabulary that point to a genetic relationship between Farwah and Telwahni, the two languages were sundered so long ago that elves find the bizarre tongue of the Eladrin no easier to pick up than any other. Thus, surprisingly few speak it. It should also be noted that few Senion can read easily and even fewer can write, since these twin crafts are highly mistrusted in their society.
Senion tend to wear short tunics and loose cotton leggings with soft, knee-high leather boots. They dress in colors that easily blend in with their surroundings, preferring stealth to style. The wearing of bright colors or conspicuous jewelry is seen as a mark of bravery and high status, since such individuals are confident enough to not care if they’re spotted or not. Unusually for elves, Senion males can grow some facial hair, and their druids and elders often sport chest-length goatees.
Good examples of Senion names are Arddur, Austol, Conoc, Havgan, Selyv, Talek, and Trillo for males and Anwyl, Deryn, Heledd, Madren, Nia, Rhoswen and Uhta for females. In general, names from the “P-Celtic” group (Welsh, Breton, Cornish, and “Old Gaelic”) work well. Senion generally use a patronymic or matronymic (“Arddur son of Conoc” or “Nia daughter of Uhta”) in place of a surname. They may choose also to add one of three titles to their name, depending on which of the Maidens (see the article on Eikwood) rules the area of Eikwood they were born in. These titles are Scion of Ivy (northern Eikwood), Scion of Ash (Southeast Eikwood) and Scion of Willow (Southwest Eikwood). Outside of the Eikwood, these titles have little relevance and are rarely used.
The Halflings, or Pried, of the north either hail from the city-state of Demat on the coastline of the Spearmarches or from ghettos within large human settlements. They are usually just over four feet tall and clean shaven, with dark hair and eyes.
Halflings universally speak Low Fluerisian, reserving their own tongue, Ar’yen, for conversations amongst themselves. Many also speak Graecwaeth and Islander, since both of these tongues are extremely useful in trade. Those from Demat may know more exotic tongues like Issek and Southspeak. Since both elves and halflings were held in slavery by giants, Ar’yen and Telwahni share vocabulary that was borrowed from Gigantine. Therefore, although halflings rarely have the occasion to learn Telwahni, they often find it relatively easy to pick up.
Pried tend to wear longer clothes with more layers; robes are the norm for higher castes. Lower castes wear fewer layers or even tunics. Members of every caste sew plates of gold, silver, ivory, chased wood, and other materials into their clothing in order to display their places in society and their pride in their heritage. These are often carved with small scenes from Pried history or long passages from the Kevrin Levr or “Passage Out of Bondage”, which describes the waning and sinking of Ker yis, the formation of halfling society, and the founding of Demat.
Good examples of Halfling names are Adiuni, Belado, Conbrit, Disideri, Heranal, Lagu, and Maeldoi for males and Beladore, Berthild, Driserys, Metlia, Prostlon, Rozen and Ysabell for females. In general, names of Breton and Old French provenance work well, since Ar’yen shares some features in common with both Low Fluerisian and Telwahni. Halfling family names are always named after the (usually mythical) progenitrix of the family, with the prefix Den, which means “descended from” or “of” added, as in Den Ysigrane or Den Rhwyn. Halflings append the title of their caste to their names, which they always translate into the language of the people they are speaking with. For most, this is a simple description of their trade (e.g. Mason, Carpenter, Potter). The few members of the professional soldier caste are known by their function in battle (e.g. Cavalier, Spearman, Captain). For priests and scholars, other titles are used, detailed in the page on Halflings.
Half Elves, more accurately called Changelings or Fosterlings, are humans who were adopted by Eladrin as children and underwent a ritual called Saining before their first birthday. Saining changes the human child, making him or her more like the Eladrin. Half Elves have finer features than humans, with pointed ears and vividly colored eyes. The most attractive among them combine the resilience of a human with the bizarre grace of an eladrin.
Almost all Half Elves speak both Low Fluerisian and Farwah. Many half elves know more than a few other tongues, since as somewhat ambiguous figures they often do well as ambassadors and go-betweens.
Half elves have no distinctive costume of their own. Many wear a blend of human and eladrin clothing, though just as many wear one or the other.
A half elf’s name depends entirely upon the circumstance of his or her upbringing. Those who were raised solely among eladrin usually have an eladrin name. Those who had some contact with humans may also have a human name. Still others go by a nickname that is neither human nor eladrin.
Humans in the north are almost all of at least partial Floran descent, with skin ranging from deep olive to a light tan, dark, wavy hair and dark eyes. Some humans, however, have lighter, freckled skin, fair hair, and light green or blue eyes. Such people have more Northmanu blood in them, and are particularly common in the northern regions of Lavaas, Cantorhill, and the eastern interior of Arbellor.
Few humans in the North know languages other than Low Fleurisian (the common tongue in these parts). The more learned may know High Fleurisian, Plainlander, Northmanu, or even the languages of the non-humans who live in the North.
Humans of the North tend to wear clothes that mimic the style of the old Floran Empire, with both sexes wearing opaque leggings and two ankle-length tunics: one an under-tunic that is tight around the torso and the other a looser over-tunic with flared sleeves. These tunics are divided up the side, to about the knee for women and to the belt for men. Laborers, hunters, and others who would be hindered by flowing clothing usually wear tight, sturdy trousers and simpler tunics that hang only to the knee, though this fashion is seen as barbaric because it resembles the clothing of the Northmanu. Chain mail is the most common sort of armor, but some nobles still own plate mail.
Humans tend to have names like Aimar, Edouard, Junos, Obert, Guillot, Orable, Wigain, and Yustan for men and Alaiz, Aintzille, Ermengart, Lilianne, Mabille, Saissa, Yosaine, and Verrine for women. In general, names of Basque or French origin work well, especially those French names derived from Occitan (Langue d’Oc) or Old French. Humans from cities sometimes use surnames, which may either be family names or the names of family occupations (Cobbler, Baker, Vinter, etc.) Those from more rural areas are usually identified by one of their parent’s names (“Edouard son of Orable”) by their place of origin (“Edouard of Interas”) or by a characteristic (“Long Edouard” or “Edouard the Fat.”)
Ignore the PHB description of tiefling appearance. In the Shattered Lands, tieflings may manifest many sorts of bizarre, demonic features that tell of their ancestors’ oath. Small (1”) horns on the brow are common, as are sharp teeth or eyes with slit pupils. Less common features include a scaly pattern to the skin, a constant, faint scent of brimstone, or a small (under 3’) lizard-like tail. The only rules are that these features cannot give a game-play advantage and that all tieflings look odd enough to be distinguishable from humans from a few paces. Tieflings are of human bloodlines, and so tend to resemble the local humans in complexion and build. This rule holds throughout most of the North, except in Lavaas and the other lands to the east of the Iceflow River. There, the local tieflings tend to be darker of skin and more angular in facial features than the surrounding humans, since tieflings there live more apart from humans and the bloodline of what was once an invading army from the southeast has not been as diluted.
Tieflings speak human languages. They do not have a language of their own. Some cultists who serve the Lords Below may know the Duat-Tongue.
Most tieflings do what they can to not stand out too much, and so conform to local human fashions.
Tieflings have human names as well. Cultists of the Lords Below may give themselves names in the Duat-Tongue, but these are used only in clandestine meetings.