Altherys is a vast continent. Within it lies several independent realms, each of which more unique than the last, each with its own nations, cultures, and peoples. It seems hard to believe, then, that nearly every single individual of this widespread land can be rounded down between five different categories.
Despite their differences, be it political or physical, it actually isn’t that hard to round up the total races of Altherys down to five individual groups. Each of these races all have something in common that sets them apart from the rest, be it a shared heritage, a physical feature not found anywhere else, or an affinity to a particular type of magic. Though many of these races will act differently and independent of one another they are still easily marked by the shape of their ears, the amount of hair on their person, their physical prowess, or their unique closeness to the animal world. It is for this reason why Scholars of the Great Census had years ago divided the denizens of Altherys into five distinct races: Elves, Dwarves, Humans, Goblins, and Beastfolk.
Elves had lived on Altherys for centuries, arguably holding sway over the oldest of civilizations that existed on the continent. Originally their people were denizens of a distant, southern continent known as the Undying Lands. However a civil war, known as the First Kin War, divided their people and drove the defeated northwards across a vast land bridge that stretched upward into what would become the swamps of the Everbog today. Their arrival and subsequent settlement of the continent would herald the beginning of the First Era, though that Era would end when the land bridge collapsed beneath the waves, becoming the chain of islands known as the Fracture. On the continent they are commonly divided into four different ethnic groups; Wood Elves, Sand Elves, Gray Elves, and Drow.
Dwarves once inhabited the Deep Realms, a vast labyrinth of largely unexplored chasms, tunnel networks, and caverns that stretch throughout the underbelly of the continent. Their civilization stretched across many of these ancient caverns, but it came to an end roughly by the time of the coming of the Elves when their great nemesis, the race of Goblinkind, invaded their territory in vast numbers. Confused, overwhelmed, and unable to defend themselves, the last Dwarven kings chose to lead their people upwards to escape the Goblins, and so they emerged onto Altherys about halfway through the First Era. Their first passages they emerged became the site for new citadels and settlements, but many of these were lost to war, famine, and other tragedies, forcing many Dwarves to evacuate fully to the surface to become wayward travelers and craftsmen for hire. The two most common ethnic groups of this race are the Bronze Dwarves and the Iron Dwarves, with Gold Dwarves being a rare third and the rumored race of Copper Dwarves being considered almost a myth.
Humans have dwelt on Altherys on occasion throughout the First Era and before. Evidence suggests that there are even hidden human settlements in the continent’s largely unexplored interior, though few have been able to confirm it. However humanity never truly made an impact on the continent until the Second Era where they came in great numbers upon a vast fleet of ships. These came not as conquerors like the Elves but as refugees, arriving across Altherys’ western shores after the destruction of their home, Tyrenmor, which sank beneath the waves. Humans have since made great strides as a people on Altherys, creating civilizations that have lasted throughout the Second Era and still retain their legacy in some form in the Third, and even established the common language on the continent, Tyrenese. The most powerful human ethnic groups known are the Fryss, Aredani, Remesians, and the Baerahln, however there are many more ethnic races of Humans on Altherys than even these. Also, unlike most of the other four, the Human race is the only one capable of breeding fertile offspring with the other races, a process known as Kinship.
Goblins were once denizens of the Deep Realms much like the Dwarves were, and it’s rumored many of them still are. Dwarves claim that the Goblins were responsible for driving them to the surface of Altherys, though most Goblinkind have no tales or memory of it, or even know why they did. However due to their battle prowess and their habit to be prone to savagery it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out why. Goblins and their kin, the Orcs, are notorious for their reaving and sacking, and many blame their arrival in the latter years of the Second Era as one of the many destabilizing factors that led to the era’s end. Regardless of this, there are many Goblins who have proven to be good natured if a little misunderstood, and as craftsmen they are almost better than Dwarves with nimbler fingers and mechanically-oriented minds. Most make their home in the frontiers bordering the Realms, though more than a few have representatives in the Realms of Men in the form of Half-Orcs, their bastard children. The various ethnic groups of Goblins include Cave Goblins and the entire Orcish races, who are descended from human captives during the Goblin Wars. Of these, Pale Orcs, Red Orcs, and Mountain Orcs are the most common, with Black Orcs being a rare but notable breed found nearly exclusively in the Kaframil Desert in the east.
Lastly there’s the Beastfolk, and if there could be any one of the Five Races counted among the trueborn natives of Altherys, it would be them. Known for their strange, animalistic appearance, the Beastfolk have resided on the continent for millennia in loosely organized and highly independent tribal units that often either wandered the continent as nomads or lived in ramshackle huts, villages, and petty cities built with wooden palisades and mud hills. They are among the most oppressed of the races as well, with many among their number having once been accounted for as popular slaves; first by the Elves in the First Era, and later by the human Empire of Remes in the Second. Many among their tribes willingly joined forces with the Goblins during the Goblin Wars, leading incursions into Human lands and teaching the Goblins the ways of the wilds in exchange for their skill as craftsmen. Most Beastmen, however, are fairly peaceful creatures, choosing to live lives close to nature as their ancestors did. Satyrs count for the largest number of ethnic groups in their number, with Minotaurs coming at a close second.
Together the Five Races have managed to make their mark upon the continent of Altherys. Whether they choose to work together or make their way in the world alone, each of the Realms and nations of the continent are defined by them.