This is a teaser for one of the races being added by the new RPG setting I will be putting out later this year (2019). Being only a preview, some details may change upon publication.
Akor’mari (singular: akor’mar) are the cave-dwellers of the ‘mar races, and can be found in most inhabitable parts of the underground Reaches. On the Surface, they are rare, typically only living above ground where they are forced to due to environmental concerns (such as in swamps or in heavily volcanic regions) or for political expediency (such as the akor’mari allied with the Yeniden territories). This is to the relief of most other races, who throughout history have suffered the attacks of the akor’mari and term them one of the greatest evils of the known world.
For conversion purposes, akor’mari are closest to teir’dal (Everquest), Dunmer (Elder Scrolls), drow (Forgotten Realms and related), and most dark elf races.
Akor’mari tend to be shorter than humans, ranging from four-and-a-half to five-and-a-half feet in height. They are lithe and wiry–in contrast to the stocky Little Folk–often weighing less than 150 pounds. Their skin comes in shades of gray and black, some with khaki undertones but most with no coloring at all. Their eyes are frequently red, pink, white, silver, or purple, though akor’mari with mixed heritage can also have gold or green eyes. Akor’mar hair commonly comes in shades of black, gray, white, and silver, with gold or copper pigmentation being as rare as the khaki pigmentation in their skin.
Genetic deformations are relatively common among akor’mari, though many such individuals don’t survive to adulthood. One of the more common is an akor’mar with eyes that shift in color or glow with an internal light. Though harmless, these two mutations are usually considered malformations or as a throwback to an earlier race of akor’mari now known only in legend.
Personality and Demeanor
Akor’mari tend to be selfish and vicious. Their lives are defined by want, which typically translates into greed and ambition, but will also sometimes manifest as a rare compassion towards beings they perceive as underdogs. Akor’mari show ingenuity in navigating social circles, pitting rivals against each other or enthralling and then discarding allies as those allies prove useful (or not). They do not bond to others easily, tending to fall back into viewing their equals with suspicion or in economic terms.
Paradoxically, they display a fondness towards children and will occasionally take weak individuals under their wing for nurturing and protection; among scholars, this is thought to be the only thing keeping their societies together. Typically, an akor’mar has to feel secure in their social and economical position before undertaking such a relationship however, and akor’mari on the other end of the relationship may perceive such interest as an insult to their capabilities. Such pairings hence often end tragically, once the inferior surpasses their superior’s abilities and challenges them, or the superior loses faith in the inferior’s ability to thrive and abandons them.
Akor’mari mature at a slow rate compared to the other ‘mar races, reaching developmental milestones at the same time as or a few years slower than the average human. (The main exception to this is that they are born blind, like other ‘mar races, and remain such for several years.) Their child-rearing practices are heavily based on their access to resources: well-off akor’mari typically funnel their energy into the care of a few children and strictly regulate who is allowed to breed, while impoverished akor’mari are stereotyped as having as many children as they can in hopes that a few survive.
Physiologically speaking, akor’mari are fertile year-round and fairly indiscriminate in partnering, with a slight preference shown towards individuals deemed tough, cunning, and hearty enough to pass these traits on to their children. They are capable of having up to three children per pregnancy, and these pregnancies last about a year each, though many are aborted either by choice or through such natural causes as the offspring being deformed or the mother being malnourished. Typically at least one infant from successful pregnancies is stillborn or dies a few days after birth, and any remaining children are encouraged to fight it out until the weakest dies and the strongest survives. Should they survive their childhood, akor’mari are known to live well into their thousands.
Akor’mar culture tends to favor capitalism, both in that their life philosophy encourages competition and in that the Reaches allow only a limited amount of space for farming, hunting, or gathering. Akor’mari tend to be highly competitive with each other due to this lack of resources (perceived or otherwise). An akor’mar must show he or she is worthy of spending time and energy on, or is quick to find him- or herself replaced by prospective employers or even executed. Only children are (somewhat) spared from this in akor’mar society, in that only children of the same age may challenge each other, but those older than they are expected to extend their tolerance or even nurturing until the child comes of age. Siblings may then be either tight knit or constantly at each other’s throats depending on their age gap.
Akor’mari are (often rightfully) regarded with fear and suspicion by other races and are more likely to try and conquer other nations than to tolerate them. Those individuals and societies entering into truces with akor’mari frequently find themselves double-crossed at the akor’mari’s convenience later on. Thankfully, akor’mari prefer living underground and rarely come across other civilizations: it may be they drove all other races of the Reaches to extinction long ago.
Philosophy and Religion
The underpinning philosophy of akor’mar religion is one of constant self-improvement, which is thought to be most quickly obtained through challenges, hardship, and the conflict that occurs when opposites meet. Akor’mari see this concept embodied in their worship of the Twins, Althrasia and Tymalt.
Like natural akor’mar twins, Althrasia and Tymalt are constantly vying for dominance with each other, and their philosophies and domains of power represent a kind of yin-yang-like entity to their followers. Althrasia is associated with the female, with charm and guile, fertility, plenty, and vanity and soft living. Her symbol is a snarling face of the feline nekru beast. Tymalt is associated with the male, with honesty and aggression, with warfare of all sorts, and with courage in the face of hardship. His symbol is the sickle-shaped sword favored by his priests, which is often used in ritual sacrifices and in battle. Though the alternative is not forbidden, only men tend to become Tymaltian priests and while women become priestesses of Althrasia.
Temples of the Twins will frequently host competitions and holidays in which akor’mari are encouraged to participate in bloody duels. Many of these duels leave their losers broken or dead, but they are highly sought after as the winners enjoy prestige and their pick of employers and mates. Of particular importance is the Blood-Seek, in which akor’mari are chosen for raiding parties to attack and loot settlements of the Surface races. The return of a successful Blood-Seek raid then heralds a period of feasting and indulgence. Increased fertility is common after a Blood-Seek, attributed to Althrasia’s blessings but also probably due to the influx of enough resources for more akor’mari to consider having children.