Strengths: Can heighten any of their own senses at will, though only one at a time. Can live deprived of much oxygen for days (but need SOME oxygen, just not much). The Underkin can speak at a frequency which can not be heard by non-underkin ears, allowing them to communicate seemingly silently with each other if they are within vocal range. The have the ability of "glamour" just like the Fae, allowing them to look human.
Weaknesses: Direct sunlight blinds them (though the same magic interference which protects vampires protects them within the city), and the more light there is, the more impaired their vision is. Can now only breed with humans. Tend to know little about human society and technology. Tend to have a fear of open spaces.
Lifespan: Underkin can live up to 2000 years. However, Underkin over 1000 need to be cleared by the race lead.
Susceptible to D13: No
Part of the Consortium: Yes
Race Leaders: Each race of the Underkin tends to have it's own leader and ways of policing its kind. However, since the introduction of the Red Haze, these leaders have become less important, the Old Ways have fallen by the wayside to a large extent, in favor of the Majorica. Located in the Underkin's now decimated capital city of Rhvia, the Majorica is a senate-like body, composed of a set number of representatives from each race. Their decisions are vetted and approved by a Consul, elected from within their number. Although the Majorica has existed for hundreds of years, it's power has only recently been recognized. Local groups of Underkin tend to organize in various different ways, usually decided by strength (though this strength can be physical, magical, or mental, or simply a strength of character). More and more, however, the leader is appointed by the Majorica. This person is addressed as the Raja.
Update (July/August 2023): An increasingly corrupt and hard-line Majorica eventually wiped the slate of local leaders across many regions. Underkin, fed up with the corruption, fought back, beginning with the assassination of several Majorica members and ending in riots and full scale civil war in Rhvia. The rebels forced the remaining Majorica members to resign, and instead drafted a new constitutional document, calling for the formation of a Senate. This Senate, lead by a Trumvirate elected by their members, will lead the Underkin into the future. Convergence City is within District 16, and voted for Trok Aimes, a Xya Lamia, to be their senator. Trok is working towards better alliances with other supernatural groups, as well as an end to the practice of slavery within the Underkin, instead wishing to partner with humans willing to work and live in the tunnels in return for protection.
Faction Stance on Rogues: New Underkin have a period of 14 days within which to contact the Underkin leadership and oath to the Raja. Underkin who willingly choose to not join the Cabal will be labeled as rogues once they are discovered. Breaking the terms of your oath is grounds for being labeled a Rogue. The Underkin tunnels are off limits to rogues. If the Raja elects, a rogue may have a bounty placed upon their heads to be captured and brought before the Raja for sentencing.
Background: Although they are collectively called "The Underkin", in truth, they constitute a smattering of minor races which banded together to thwart a greater threat. What they do have in common is that they live "beneath the surface", be that underground or underwater. This mode of habitation has kept them hidden from humanity for thousands of years.
The Nations of Underkin often tell fanciful tales of their origins. The duergar tell the tale of a god of blacksmithing who fell into a volcano but survived to father their race. Most drow claim to be born of Serendi, goddess of shadow, herself. The Mer have no end of tales, many of them Greek in origin. The Erzheka believe they're from a different planet entirely.
However, it is most interesting to look at the Fae thoughts on the origins of the Underkin. According to the Fae, a long, long time ago, the Fae devised a series of habitations beneath the ground, connected around the world by a series of magical tunnels. Not only did they want to be about to travel the planet with ease and without interference from humanity, they needed a place to keep those humans (and other creatures) who were of interest to them. Non-Fae were generally forbidden in Avalon, so non-Fae were kept "Below". Sometimes, for those non-Fae who were favored, they were kept in sumptuous luxury and kept in a state of intoxicated bliss. And for those non-Fae who had angered the fae? They were kept in punishment palaces bedecked with every form of cruelty and torture ever devised. However, over the years, something began to happen to these humans. The fae had placed a sort of...stasis magic on the underground, allowing their pets and prisoners to live indefinitely so long as they stayed in their cage. Unfortunately, the stasis magic, along with the magic used to fortify the tunnels and allow for ease of travel, changed the humans being held there. They became stronger and sturdier, enough to eventually challenge and drive out their captors. This, according to the Fae, is the origin of the Underkin -- who they see not only as abominations and ingrates, but as usurpers inhabiting a realm which is not theirs. On the other hand, the Underkin have long had their sights on Avalon, seeing it as a paradise that should be wrested from the control of their enemies and captors -- for the Fae have been warring against and attempting to destroy the Underkin for thousands of years.
The various Nations of Underkin, however they came into the world, have long since set aside their differences in order to put up a united front against the Fae. They have suffered many losses, yet a number of triumphs against 'the Oppressors', eventually bringing the war into one in their favor and coming to be a threat to the very gates of Avalon itself. During the 1950s, when devices of war were being built around the globe without near as much safety as one might hope, the Fae became afraid they might actually loose and constructed what they thought would be the Final Solution in their war: A poisonous gas known as The Red Haze. A massive, wordwide-coordinated push to deploy the magically infused gas was undertaken. Over 75% of the population of the Underkin died, and those who survived? They were believed to have been rendered infertile by the gas. Even those Underkin NOT in the tunnels at the time, have become infertile. The Red Haze has infused itself into the very tunnels in which the Underkin live and can be found in suitibly toxic amounts in the waters of most the world besides.
It looked like the Fae would have their way, and the Underkin driven extinct. However, it was soon learned that the Underkin biology is compatible with humanity. Much like the Shifters, the Underkin can now only breed with humans. This has led to more than one kidnapping, ending with a human being trapped in the Underground, enslaved by those who possibly used to be enslaved in much the same way. Most humans loathed being kept by the Underkin, but on rare occasions, usually through exceptional deeds or by fighting on the side of the Underkin against the Fae, they can be freed and adopted into Underkin society as full members. These humans who live among the Underkin are known as the "Aghaia", meaning "Accepted Ones" in the common tongue of the Underkin. In the last few years, there have been progressive movements by the Underkin to move away from slavery altogether.
It was an Aghaia known as "Sam Blackhand", the once (but no longer present) Speaker of the Majorica, who was sent by the Underkin to represent them at the Consortium. Because it was held above ground, and because there was Fae involvement, the Underkin were notably nervous about attending. In what seemed like a strange turn of compassion, the Underkin were not only worried about losing their enslaved breeding stock to D13, but apparently even more worried about losing the Aghaia, who had become not only brothers and sisters to them, but had brought knowledge to the underground in the areas of science and invention.
Although the Underkin have been long incredibly insular, the Consortium's tentative truce gave them their real first opportunity to explore the surface. Not only that, but they, of course, intend to find out the Fae's weak spots. Now that Avalon is closed, there is nowhere for the Fae to flee, but there is also less reason to fight. Most Underkin are almost gleeful to find that the Fae have been locked out of their ancestral home, believing it divine justice for eons of terror brought upon the Underkin. Others see it as their chance to wipe out the Fae once and for all. With the Fae more leaderless than in the past, and unable to hide, the Underkin await the moment to strike at the very heart of their mortal enemies.
Current Consortium Representative: Daedrin
Although most humans kidnapped by the Underkin become breeding stock, some are actually adopted into the Underkin society. Then again, they are now fathers and mothers to the newest generation of Underkin. Those who manage to become accepted are, indeed, well-loved by the Underkin. Once freed from the shackles of bondage, the Aghaia almost invariably stay with their captors, though nobody really knows why. On rare occasions, they leave the Underground and return to human society, however. Those who choose to stay are full citizens of the Underground, and not particularly considered "lesser" than their peers.
Due to their proximity to the Underkin, and time spent in the Underground, they heal much faster than a normal human. Aghaia develop the ability to speak both forms of Underkin, and can, in time, also learn magic, though casting takes them one round longer than most, and is exhausted more far quickly. Aghaia are the most trusted of all Underkin races, and their lies are undetectable even by magical means. Only human Aghaia gain these perks.
It is believed by some that not only did the Fae hold humans hostage beneath the Earth, but some of their more...volatile and dangerous pets and captives as well. Among these captives was Draikon the Black, a treaty-hostage traded to the Fae for one of their Princesses. A young and small dragon, only a few hundred years old, Draikon fell in love with an Erzheka woman. Their many children eventually became the beginnings of the Draikana, a race of small dragons. Small enough to maneuver the tunnels of the Underground, they range in size from a small dog to as tall as humans. It is believed that the Draikana grow in proportion to their habitat, so it is likely that once they leave the underground, they may begin to grow again, and their now-useless wings may develop the power of flight. As a people, however, the Draikana are known to be wise and perceptive, but also a bit kleptomaniacal. Usually, items that are taken will be returned if one asks nicely, but demands or threats are seen as a justification to keep the items. The Fae are particularly violent towards the Draikana, and tend to slaughter them on sight. There was long an edict by Queen Mab that captured Underkin may be enslaved, save for the Draikana, which must always be exterminated on sight. It's generally believed that Mab feared the Draikana eventually making an alliance with their Dragon ancestors, thus turning the tides of the war.
Draikana can breathe fire. They often worked in duergar forges, stoking the magical fires. They can, additionally, bite through almost anything, including metal, wood, and rock.
Darkly beautiful, the magic of the Drow rivals that of modern Fae. Living in the darkest parts of the Underground, their skin is often black as midnight, or a very dark shade of green, purple, or blue. Drow almost always have white hair, and take pride in their white hair. Drow without white hair are usually considered cursed. The society of the Drow is matriarchal, organized by ancient houses serving various functions, each led by a single matriarch. Jointly, the houses are ruled by the High Priestess of the goddess known as "Serendi", often personified as a midnight-black spider. Males are given few opportunities among the drow, but can achieve respect by becoming a Kaithnar, elite house warrior, though the path to becoming one is dangerous and difficult. Many noblewomen did not marry, but kept "Vethnar", caged males they used for mating purposes. Or they did, at least, until the Red Haze. Vethnar tend to be mostly ornamental pets now, or are forced to breed with captive human women. Noblewomen will not become impregnated by captive humans, but will occasionally do so by loyal Aghaia. The capital city of the Drow is Hlothlien, and the 'deep drow' accent of Hlothlien is said to be hard to understand by many underkin.
UPDATE: As of December 2024, the rights of male drow to not be slaves has been recognized by the Senate. However, in many drow communities they are still largely second class citizens and are prevented from voting by having to vote "separate" from the women, usually with much fewer booths and in more difficult to reach locations. Additionally, many male drow will be fired from employment for missing work for voting.
The drow have the ability to call upon their goddess, Serendi, to ask her protection. Doing so hardens shadow around their bodies, giving them a strong on-demand armor against casted magics. It will decay as magic destroys it. They can cast no magic of their own while this armor is in place.
Known by many as 'Dwarves', the Duergar are the heart of commerce and construction within the Underkin. When the Fae abandoned the Underground, it was the duergar who upkept the tunnels and structures the Underkin called their home. This was a somewhat natural progression for them, for it believed that many of them are descended from the original workers used to build those structures anyway. However, most of the Duergar believe themselves the descendants of a fallen version of Vulcan, god of metalworking and volcanoes. Their home city, Vulcanar, was built within a long dormant volcano, but was destroyed by the Fae during the days of the Red Haze. Since then, they've mostly congregated in their many mining outposts across the world. Almost invariably, if a human mine ever caved in, it's because it was found by the duergar and "reclaimed". The duergar are a proud people, and their ability at craftsmanship nigh-unparalleled on Earth.
The duergar are completely immune to fire and heat based attacks. They also have the ability to harden their skin like metal, armoring themselves against physical attacks, though not against magical ones. Like with the drow ability, this shielding will eventually crack and become useless the more it is pounded. Re-casting takes several combat rounds.
Long have their been rumors of "lizard people" who live beneath the Earth. The Erzheka are these people. Claiming that they originated on a different planet entirely, one destroyed by the ravages of war, a single ship of Erzheka crashed on Earth. The planet's face proved too cold for them in the winter, and so they sought out the warmth their ship's sensors detected at the core of the planet. No species lives deeper within the Earth than the Erzheka, not even the drow, and it is postulated by some that they were already there when the Fae began constructing their tunnels. As such, the Erzheka are credited as being the catalyst for the initial revolt against the Fae, and providing shelter for the refugees. The Erzheka tend to be covered from head to toe in scales, colors vary, and have long tongues which are slightly prehensile. As a people they are credited with a love of the sciences as well as invention, and though their ship has long been lost to time, many dream of returning to the stars. More than any other Underkin race, the Erzheka have taken to the Aghaia, enjoying the advancements in technology that their new brethren have revealed. The Erzheka dislike cold environments and can become disoriented in the cold. Additionally, their children, as well as the children of the Draikana and Lamia, are born from eggs.
Erzheka have prehensile tongues, can secrete a tacky substance from their hands and feet, allowing them to climb walls like geckos, and can additionally change their scale color to camouflage themselves. For this reason, most Erzheka are naked under their glamour when posing as humans. Erzhekan technology is highly advanced and unique from any other sort in our game setting. ((For more information on Erzhekan technology please look here)) As such Erzheka may pick any technological skill at mastery and are immune to the Underkin racial weakness of knowing little about technology. Lastly, the Erzheka may, with earned XP, gain Cyborg Augmentations for Cost + 2xp. These are not Vecratek versions, but Erzheka-built versions compatible only with Erzheka biology.
The Imps are one of the few Underkin races that do admit that they were once the prisoners of the Fae. One of the very first races to be imprisoned in the tunnels below the earth, the imps claim to be descended from demons - more specifically, they are the children of the Fel Ahzel. Legend goes that long ago, during the formation of demonic society, a group of ideological independents called the Fel Ahzel were cast out of Hell. Taking this as an opportunity to set up their own society, they attacked and subjugated the Fae city of Lealchaine. The Fel Ahzel slaughtered the Fae citizens and held Lealchaine as their own for over a century. But, the Fae do not soon forget such slights, and they took back Lealchaine, killing over half of the Fel Ahzel. The other half were imprisoned and brought to the newly constructed prison beneath the earth. Magical tortures were performed on the Fel Ahzel, some say in retaliation, but others say that the Fae were attempting to find the source of their Infernal power. After many generations the creatures, now stripped of Infernal power and instead infused with Fae magics by proximity, became the Imps. When the Underkin drove out their enemies from the tunnels, the Imps gladly joined their ranks. Retaining some demonic features such as horns and tails, but never wings, imps are seen as friendly, but extraordinarily mischievous. They tend to be short of stature, but come in many colorations -- though they almost always have very wild, untamable hair. Most hold absolutely no allegiance to their demonic origins, and are in fact some of the most stalwart opponents of the Infernals, claiming that they were ejected from the demonic ranks because they would not 'behave' and 'follow the will of power-mad tyrants'. The more democratic society of the Underkin suits most Imps fine. However, since the end of the Celestial War, there has been an increasing movement by a number of Imps to find ways to reconcile with the Nephilim and find a route to restoring their Infernal powers.
Imps tend to be very untrustworthy. Because of this, they have excelled at the art of Pactcrafting, creating magical and binding contracts both for themselves, and for other parties. One should always be careful in signing an Imp Pact, however. Tricksters that they are, they like to put loopholes and impossible scenarios in them in order to get what they want. Imp Pacts are only valid if they are signed by a sentient being of their own volition, without duress. Imps may choose not to take Pactcrafting and instead choose Minimate, which is the ability to shrink their true form to a size of only 1 foot tall. They do not, however, get the ability to fly, even if they have wings.
The story goes that Lamia, a queen of extraordinary beauty, once caught the eye of Zeus himself. In jealousy, she was cursed by Hera to live a life as half-woman, half-serpent. Horrified by this, she fled, looking for a place to hide in her shame. What she found was a cave, and she quickly became lost in it...and eventually arrived in the Underground. Although most outsiders tended to be killed on sight, the Underkin were taken by Lamia's story. They gave her refuge, and promised the refuge for any descendants she might have. Since that time, the Lamia have become a critical part of the Underkin. Oddly, they found a niche in the entertainment industry. Most of the Underkin are quite serious creatures, not given to laughter, or letting their hair down, but the taverns, brothels, and theaters of the Lamia soon became famous for getting even the most grizzled old duergar to let his beard down, so to speak. Lamia are trusted confidants, their ethical code being strict about keeping the secrets of their customers, but are known for their terrible wrath if betrayed. In recent years, disguised Lamia have been tasked with being the ones who go to the surface to abduct humans as breeding stock. This is usually done via seduction, but not always. Like the Erzheka, the Lamia are susceptible to cold, and are known to need an exceptional amount of food compared to most races. There are rumors that they will even eat their own young if denied food long enough. (Though they will probably eat YOUR young first.)
The Lamia give off an aura of trustworthiness. A Lamia's gaze is hypnotic, and makes people susceptible to the Lamia's suggestion. The target does not have to look directly into the Lamia's eyes. It's enough for the Lamia to look at /you/. This hypnotic power is known not to work on Wraiths, who have an exceptional amount of willpower.
The Merfolk are nothing like the Disney versions we so often see today. The Merfolk tell the tale of a pleasure palace city within a cave. Those who dwelt there were kept as sex slaves, forced to pleasure a hideous and cruel queen. They cried so many tears that their sorrow overwhelmed the underground lake at the edge of the city, and their songs of hopelessness traveled through underwater caves into the sea. There, Neptune, god of the sea, heard the songs and was moved. He filled the cave with water, drowning the abusive queen and her army. But he saved the captives, giving them the abilities they would need to make the sea their new home. Although the Merfolk tend to live in underwater caves, they do often take to open sea. Among the Underkin, the Merfolk are known for being providers of food. The staples of the Underkin diet are roots, mushrooms and fish.
Mer can, of course, breathe underwater, and swim rapidly. They can bestow these abilities temporarily on others with a kiss. If a Mer can reach an open body of water, they can enact a "fair escape" clause, to escape any danger. They also have enchanted voices which can manipulate emotions subtly, but quite powerfully when they sing. A mermaid's tears, applied to a weapon, will cause intense depression in the victim.