Survey of Vanthropological Biological Diverity
Extensive exobiological surveys of Vanth indicate the following distribution of life forms in the representative sample area on the selected map. While the raw data is no longer available due to the interstellar crisis, the author used verified scientific data analyzed by the most qualified experts available to compile the most relevant information.
Risical Ruminations: Character Races
In most cases, character race should not be taken as a separate cliche! Ask yourself, what KIND of a Half Klengon/Half Wooky is this character? A Half Klengon/Half Wooky Doxy is very different from a Half Klengon/Half Wooky Psi Witch. Furthermore, the flexibiity of Risus allows very unusual characters heretofore unknown in the annals of Vanthistory; a permissive JourneyMaster might allow Bee Girls, Goblins, Orcs, and even Vampires to be played and enjoyed.
Amazons: Lovely and lethal female warriors dwelling in the hearts of dark jungles. Unwary males intrude upon them at their own peril, earning a sudden feathered shaft between the ribs or a place of honor upon a bloodstained altar. Amazons tend to become efficient huntresses, silent assassins, tribal warriors, and, very occasionally, priestesses worshipping bloodthirsty gods and goddesses in ecstatic rites. Though numerous travellers recount tales of “lust in the jungle” or “forbidden rites of love that dare not name its name”, little solid Vanthropological evidence exists of a professional courtesan class amongst the Amazons. (That being said, the Amazon/Doxy combination is too persistent in folklore and adventure tapes to be simply ignored! ~RG)
Dwarves: Short, bearded, song-loving Dwarves clash tankards and brawl with gusto, reveling in their rich heritage of millenia-long grievances and genocidal bloodfeuds. Brawny and hard to kill (a trait which is put to the test with surprising regularity), they command huge prices for their catalog of intricate and complex gimmicks, thingamabobs, whatchamacallits, deathtraps and war-machines. Dwarves are enthusiastic underground explorers, and are rumored to have an underground network that connects across the Sea of Great Peril. Aboveground, their mercantile skills come to the fore, both legitemately and illicitly. For example, in the City of Blackhawk, they operate an efficient and ruthless black market, assisted by organized gangs of cracklocks, hinge-busters, trap-jacks, and Delver Dans.
Elves: Merry yet dignified, these forest-dwelling archers who tap the wild forces of nature with flair and verve and a bit of styling mousse. They shape briar and flower and shadow into sublime fortifications, subtly hypnotic labyrinths, and tasteful earth-toned deathtraps. They claim to have been the first inhabitants of Vanth, and their long, sad, slow, yet lovely epics often lament how much the property values have fallen since “the neighbors” moved in.
Frankensteins: Patchwork beings with a patchwork culture, these lumbering, slow-witted, unfortunate giants often evoke fear and hostility in others; they are prone to rage when frightened or thwarted or embarassed. This doesn’t help them get along with their neighbors, who often respond in the traditional way (e.g., fitchfork and torch). However, those who can penetrate beneath their ill-matched features and brutish proclivities often find, to their surprise, the heart of a child… which was no doubt kept in a jar on someone’s desk.
Hoblings: Pipe-smoking, fur-footed, comfort-loving stay-at-homes, even shorter than dwarves. They are nimble and quick-fingered, but very traditional (“stuck in their ways”). Even so, their unsuspected reserves of fortitude and courage are usually revealed under duress, along with whines and grumbles. Their folktales abound with stories about “biggers” who entice a poor Hobling away for an “adventure”, who come to a nasty, brutal fate, while the “proper-sized” Hobling hero of the story survives and returns home, where he discovers that he already has everything any sane person could ever want. “Big is BAD!” is a popular Hobling adage.
Humans: Unremarkable, and thus unremarked-upon
Klengon: Bearded, bushy-browed, ill-tempered warriors who keep their honor on the edge of a sword and deal diplomacy from the barrel of a gun. Very traditional (i.e., predictable in a violent sort of way), their violent shamanistic religion fulfills their hidden, deep-seated mystical yearnings; Klengon religious ceremonies tend to involve lots of blood and swearing and inconveniencing the neighbors. Fortunately, the majority seem to live in a cluster of colonies in the foothills of the Bleak Mountains; unfortunately, many of them seem to find employment with either Darth Viraxis or the Zombie Princess. They are excellent mercenaries, though many turn to organized crime in urban environments or terrorize the countryside on salvaged hovercycles and zoombuggies.
Lizard Men: Cold-blooded in every sense of the word, these intelligent reptilians are not prone to thinking outside the box. Sources often describe a certain alien nobility of mien, although this may just be overly-romanticized claptrap. Though their mysterious leaders often indulge in millennia-long plots to regain their lost dominance of this and every other world, the majority of their race usually shows just enough initiative to find the nearest sun-warmed rock. Outsiders tend to think of them as a single group, but there are many species of lizard men.
Planetary Apes: Intelligent simians with all the flaws of the humans that they hunt and cage and run experiments on. They do not take kindly to implications that apes are mere beasts, especially topics such as tree-swinging and feces-flinging; such remarks will often get you a fistful of dung. It is rumored that in the Ape Sultanate, they hunt the native non-sentient humans for sport, and experiment upon them in the name of Science. Obviously, any other human who is caught in their realm may expect to suffer the same fate.
Robodroids: Artificially intelligent technological beings who come in a wide variety of forms to suit their function, though humanoid configurations seem to predominate slightly. They are usually highly disciplined and efficient within their areas of specialty. Most of them do not mind being treated by servants or slaves or inanimate objects, though the occasional exception has been noted. In such cases, upgrading their “Three Laws” circuitry and/or the use of restraining bolts usually remedies the situation. Unfettered Robodroids may turn hostile against humanity, as in the case of the Steel Warlords, though benign examples also exist (cf. the Limb Traders)
Vulkins: Frequently mistaken for pompous, stoic half-elves, the computer-like intellect and pacifistic ways of this people spawned an interstellar empire based on commerce and technological imperialism. Even they don’t know, however, if that empire survived the crash of the interstellar navigation grid (or so they would have us think). Vulkins are excellent scientists and administrators, but think little of exploration. Given their reputation for brutal honesty and integrity, it often comes as a surprise to many that Vulkins are capable of, and often quite good at, activities of an illicit nature, but it is their ability to perform distasteful tasks with no emotional involvement that enables them to thrive in such occupations.
Wookys: Seemingly a cross between a yeti and an English sheepdog whose rich, expressive vocabulary of grunts, growls, and bellows doesn’t seem to be a barrier to communication. These hulking, brutish “flower children” wear little armor (or clothing, for that matter), preferring to use high-tech versions of low-tech weapons, such as phasic crossbows. These hairy giants are often sought out as mercenaries, though their pleasant demeanor and high standards often cause them to reject potential employers.
OTHER RACES: Intelligence and culture are not restricted to these races. There are many uncatalogued beings tucked away in a remote swamp or hidden valley. Some beings are so heavily mutated and/or interbred that even they don’t know what their original stock was! Virtually any denizen of Vanth (or beyond) can be a player character, although playing beings without intelligence, a voice, or hands might be a real challenge for role-players. Moreover, lycanthropy in its many forms and permutations also exists in this post-apocalyptic land; many an involuntary shape-changer has been caught unawares by the rise of one of the many moons of Vanth! In short, do not be restricted by the boundaries of these guidelines; let your creativity be unleashed!