Some Things to Know About the Five Peoples of Panzoasia
The overall population demographics of the Five Peoples in Panzoasia is roughly 50% Human, 20% Halfling, and 10% each Dwarf, Elf, and Gnome. The exact figure varies greatly from place to place however.
The universal symbol of the Five Peoples is a pentagram with the point upwards, while the upside-down pentagram symbolizes the evil Monsters and Depredators.
The Five Peoples (Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and Gnomes) all originated in the fabled Terrestrial Paradise, but left it for Panzoasia thousands of years before the Monsters came. The physical location of the Terrestrial Paradise is unknown – most claim it to be a now lost and inaccessible Corner of the Earth, while certain others claim it actually lies ruined somewhere in the Wasteland in the center of the continent.
The Five People all reach adulthood at the same rate – although Elves regularly live to be a thousand, Dwarves three hundred, Gnomes five hundred, and Halflings one hundred and fifty. Most Peoples who live longer than a human lifespan can still only remember the last 70 years or so of their lives, however. For Elves, the forgetfulness is even worse – they can only remember the last 30 years they have lived.
All Five People have always recognized the same Divine Powers. They do have not separate “pantheons”. Each People has their own set of traditions for honoring the Divine Powers and Immortals, however. Humans tend to build large, permanent structures for mass worship, while the other Peoples tend to prefer smaller-scale, or more informal, expressions of piety.
Intermarriage is most common between Elves and Humans (who are notably attracted to each other), but almost every other combination also occurs. Although less frequent, there is also a fair amount of intermarriage between Gnomes, Dwarves, and Halflings – and almost every larger town has at least one Human / Halfling couple who seems to “make it work” despite every challenge. All the Five Peoples are in fact capable of having children together. Generally, people of mixed heritage tend to have the height and general build their mother, although they frequently possess at least one feature typical of their father. For example, a man of mixed Gnomish and Dwarven parentage might mostly resemble any other Dwarf (and follow the Dwarf adventurer Class), but have the white hair and large nose typical of a male Gnome.
The cultural differences between People are generally most pronounced among “traditionalists” in rural and isolated settlements, and minimal among town dwellers. The urban population of Panzoasia tends to freely mix cultures. A Dwarf that lives in a settlement with Humans and Elves, for example, will still wear some distinctively Dwarvish body paint, but less than his subterranean kin – and will probably adopt Human-style clothes. Elves who live among other Peoples will dress and act more modestly than they otherwise would, and may even form stable nuclear families – something almost unheard of in more isolated Elven Communes. Gnomes who live outside a Hollow Hill will still sport outlandish hats, but they will be nowhere near as bizarre as the ones they don inside their own burrows. Urban Humans are famous for freely adopting cultural practices from other People – sometimes dressing in typically Elven outfits, wearing Dwarven body paint, or donning headgear of Gnomish make. Halflings, on the other hand, have always lived with other People – so their cultural ways are the same whether they live in the countryside or the largest town!
About the Dwarves of Panzoasia
Panzoasian Dwarves are noted for their distinctively broad and prognathous faces, with prominent brows, wide noses, and low foreheads. Both males and females are muscular and squat in build, and both stand about 4 ½ feet tall. Both male and female Dwarves tend to be more hairy than their Human counterparts, but Dwarven woman are not actually bearded (despite constant jokes to that effect). Dwarves tend to have the same skin and hair tones as nearby Humans, but a full 20% of the population are albinos with white hair and skin.
Dwarves across Panzoasia use body paint made from clay earth pigments, chalk, animal fat, and charcoal on their skin and hair – the most common patterns varying from region to region. Dwarves considers themselves “naked” if they are not wearing some body paint or hair ochre, no matter how many (or few) articles of actual clothing they are wearing. The jewel-like irises of Dwarven eyes can be the color of any gemstone – blue, green, red, purple, or orange are all possible. Because of their eye colors and body paint, there is a popular rumor/joke that Dwarves are actually made of earth and stone.
Most Dwarves prefer to use leather, skins, and fur as clothing wherever possible. They particularly love reptile skin, and the most prestigious garments are made from the hides of evil dragons and giant serpents. The only cloth they use is wool. They like to set stones and jewels directly into their clothing as decoration. Traditionalist Dwarves dislike cloth of vegetable origin so much that in hot conditions they may may wear nothing more than a leather loincloth (and chest-wrap in the case of women), otherwise covering their body with paint. In any event, Dwarven men are extremely proud of their hairy chests, and will dress to expose them as much as possible.
In the Ultimate West, Dwarven women in positions of authority often wear a face-paint design made by dipping the fingers in dark pigment, and dragging them vertically down the cheeks and chin. This the reason for the joke that Dwarf women have beards. High-status Dwarven women will also wear corset-like, fur chest-wraps – leading to another frequent jibe that they actually have hairy chests also!
Dwarves are the “people of the caves”, and prefer to carve and sculpt their settlements from solid rock. When they must build above ground, they use carved megaliths. After the Invasions, Dwarves retreated into deep tunnels, where they met and formed alliances with the Saganic Salamanders (also called “Vulcani”) who live in fiery rifts underground.
A dead Dwarf is cremated, as a symbolic return to the “Forge of Creation”. As an especial honor, a Dwarf’s charred bones may be used to help make steel for an heirloom weapon or piece of armor.
Every Dwarven culture is extremely fond of smoking pipes. These pipes are generally made of clay, or carved from various minerals – even precious and semi-precious stones! Pipes are smoked for leisure, and shared to seal deals and agreements. Much of Dwarven trade with the other Peoples is for the purpose of obtaining various herbs for smoking – particularly tobacco from Ha’wakun.
Dwarves are overwhelmingly Lawful or Neutral in Alignment. A sizable minority are Good. The small number of Chaotic Dwarves are widely despised by others of their own kind, and form a secret subculture. About 3% of Dwarves are Evil.
Dwarves use goats, mules, and cave dogs as mounts and beasts of burden, and have an especial affection for bears. They are the only people who dare to herd the Hrycus goat, whose fiery blood is needed to forge Adamant.
To a traveler from our Earth, the Western Dwarven language sounds vaguely like German; Southern Dwarven seems to somewhat resemble Zulu; Eastern Dwarven is oddly evocative of Tibetan; and Northern Dwarven mildly suggests ancient Norse. Each of the four Dwarven languages is written with its own set of angular runes designed to be easily carved into stone or wood.
The most common governmental form among isolated, traditionalist Dwarves remains hereditary monarchy, with the eldest child of either gender inheriting the title. A Dwarven Clan is headed by a Boss, whose position passes to their oldest child after their death. The Clans of a particular area will generally owe their allegiance to a Lord or Lady. If the Dwarves are living inside a nation not dominated by Dwarves, the Lord or Lady will be responsible for representing the interests of those Dwarves in the government. In the Ultimate West, only the monarch of Auddisland holds the title of “King” among the Dwarves.
Wherever they dwell with the other Peoples, Dwarves will naturally dominate the trades of mining, quarrying, masonry, and metalworking. Their armor and weapons are considered the best (and most expensive) throughout Panzoasia.