There are currently 8 playable races in the world of Hex: Shards of Fate.
Humans, Elves, Orcs, and Coyotle compose the Ardent.
The residents of the human realm of Carloth all have an unwavering devotion to their brave and righteous monarch, His Majesty, King Gabriel Boldheart.
The human kingdom is divided into three counties: Adamanth, Cerulea, and Gawaine. While King Gabriel oversees the entire human domain and administrates the capital of Adamanth, his two brothers Lord Talysen and Lord Ereck are the local governors of Gawaine and Cerulea, respectively.
When the vast and sudden Underworld Incursion erupted three hundred years ago, it was immediately apparent that, without help, the human kingdom would be overrun. The humans sought an alliance with the most powerful of the surface races, and the coalition called itself the Ardent.
The devastating war raged for a century. The human realms lay in ruin, and the virtuous King Wren was forced to acknowledge the horrible truth that final victory for the Underworld seemed inevitable. Unwilling to allow the extinction of humankind to occur under his reign, King Wren embarked on a final act of desperation.
Wren traveled north, to the foreboding Hyperborean Mountains. He brought with him thirty of his bravest knights. King Wren’s plan was to enlist the assistance of the Great Wolves, an enigmatic pack of ancient creatures who, it was told by the wise ones, held a great power beyond those of ordinary beasts.
When the human knights found the Great Wolves, they were shocked to find most of their numbers had been eradicated by the incessant assaults by the necrotic and their allies. The final pack of the noble beasts was preparing to defend itself against an overwhelming Underworld force, knowing they would perish in the attack but facing it with grim ferocity.
Inspired by the resolute bravery of the Great Wolves, King Wren and his knights chose to stand side by side with the beasts against the Underworld onslaught, even if it meant their own demise as well. In an act of incredible bravery, King Wren sacrificed his life to defeat the Underworld war party and save his knights and the wolves.
So moved by this selfless act, Lycae, the Primal of wolves, made a proposal no Primal ever had before: to give her own life to save her children. Using a unique combination of wild and blood magic, Lycae shattered her own Primal soul and distributed the power into her remaining children, transforming them into enormous, powerful creatures. Each of the thirty human knights who witnessed this unprecedented event became intrinsically bonded with a Great Wolf.
Once the human knights descended from the Hyperborean Mountains with their new Great Wolf companions, each the size of a horse and infused with the soul of a Primal, they were able to finally help push back the Underworld forces and save themselves from ruin.
Elves are creatures of pure wild magic. They are the great artists of the world. As the mortal species with the longest lifespan, elves have the time to become truly exceptional master craftsmen, and they use their talents to create breathtaking works of living art infused with wild magic. The elves have a tight relationship with the multitude of fey creatures that share the Feralroot Woods as their home, such as pixies, dryads, satyrs, treants, and other beings of pure nature. Elven wildshapers are specialized artisans who have learned to use wild magic to craft entire forests full of trees twisted into bizarre and exquisite forms.
Unless directly threatened, elves have little interest in war, preferring to spend their time engaging in revelry and creative pursuits. Artists, playwrights, chefs, winemakers, and poets are much more highly regarded than soldiers in elven society. Elves fight only when absolutely necessary, and even then prefer to use their affinity with wild magic to have their fey and beast allies battle with them. They are a fiercely isolationist race, and are often regarded as aloof and arrogant, even by their Ardent associates. Elves tend to pity the other mortal races, since they live such short lives, they can never achieve the wisdom and level of artistry of the “first folk” (a nickname the elves have given themselves). The arrival of Hex did not concern the elves. They have no interest in Hexing Gems, other than as baubles for their jewelry.
One thousand years ago, the elves joined with the humans to drive the shin’hare underground. The hyper-aggressive shin’hare were making relentless attacks on the coyotle and various creatures along the borders of the Feralroot Woods, attempting to enslave them. The shin’hare were such pests that the normally reclusive elves were prompted to take decisive action against them. Of course, the decision to push the shin’hare underground turned out to be a mistake, as the bloodthirsty rabbits were eventually recruited by the necrotic for the devastating Underworld Incursion. After a century of horrific war, one of the elven Primals, Oberon, was faced with an awful choice: witness the destruction of the surface world, or make a dramatic sacrifice. Inspired by the heroic efforts of the human King Wren, Oberon merged his consciousness with the very essence of wild magic, becoming a great and terrible spirit of nature. Once the Primal chose to martyr himself, Oberon was reborn as an enraged force of pure elemental energy that sought the annihilation of the Underworld invaders. This terrible nature god, combined with the human knights now bonded with the Great Wolves, was finally able to scatter the Underworld forces and bring the conflict to a stalemate.
In the two centuries since the détente began, the elves have once again receded into their woodlands, focusing on their artistic pursuits, but ever-wary of the next potential attack.
The orcs are a fanatically religious race whose society revolves around the zealous worship of their Mountain God, Kog’Tepetl. The orc obsession with gladiatorial combat is an attempt to appease and feed their mountain deity, who they believe gives them the strength to fuel their ferocity.
The orcs are led by five High Clerics who are all arena warriors that, it is believed, were selected by Kog’Tepetl by divine provenance to fight their way to the pinnacle of orc society until they are challenged and defeated themselves. In orc society, gladiatorial combat and religion is essentially the same thing. Kog’Tepetl demands the sacrifice of the weak to bolster the strong, for only the fiercest of his devotees will be capable of defending their rocky lands from being razed by the enemies from below.
Kog’Tepetl is a Primal that takes the form of a mountain, which the orcs worship and build their dwellings around. An enormous face is built into the face of the mountain, with the mouth serving as a deep cave that serves as one of the holiest sites in the orc realm.
The fighting floor of the gladiatorial arena is covered in small holes, and the orcs believe the blood of those that are vanquished in gladiatorial combat drip down into the holes to feed their mountain god. Ayotochi is the city that has been built at the base of the mountain, and is the most important and populated orc settlement.
The orcs’ five High Clerics serve as the prophets of their god, and are generally regarded as the wisest and most respected members of orc culture. Any orc, male or female, can become a High Cleric, though the process is incredibly arduous. Once an orc gladiator wins 100 arena battles in row (an astoundingly difficult feat that can only be remotely accomplished by the most ferocious and intelligent combatants), the orc must enter the Cave of Subjugation, an utterly lightness and tiny cavern deep within the mountain. The gladiator must meditate in darkness, alone, for 100 days. When the orc emerges from the cave, he or she must then challenge one of the current High Clerics in single combat to the death. If the challenger wins, he or she becomes the High Cleric in place of the one they defeated.
Orcs are not the only creatures who battle in their arena. War parties are often sent out to capture other creatures to fight. Orcs prefer to challenge themselves against creatures with a modicum of self-awareness, such as ogres, cyclops, and trolls. A captured slave that wins a large number of battles can earn themselves a valued place in orc society, meriting such perks as their individual freedom or even a comfortable home. A non-orc can never become a High Cleric, no matter how many arena matches it wins.
Orcs hate the vennen with a ferocious passion. No vennen would ever be captured for arena fighting, for any creature that participates in the orc gladiator games, even the lowliest dingler, is given a smidgen of respect, which no vennen deserves. An orc will always attempt to kill any vennen on sight.
The Underworld Incursion was so brutal, even the orcs in their remote mountain location took immediate, heavy losses. When the humans extended an invitation to join an alliance with the coyotle and elves, the orcs shocked even themselves by accepting and becoming the unlikeliest member of the Ardent coalition.
The coyotle, a cunning and proud folk, are nomadic wanderers of the Howling Plains and nimble hunters who only kill what is necessary to survive. A coyotle wastes nothing, be it meat from a kill or a word when they speak.
Of all the mortal races, the coyotle have the strongest connection with the world beyond physical existence. The “dreamhunters” are the spirits of long-dead coyotle wise ones who travel with the various tribes, giving counsel and helping bridge the world of the physical and the ethereal. Because of this, coyotle have no real concept of death, other than as a brief transition from one kind of dream to another.
Coyotle are skilled pack hunters, though they only kill for sustenance, never for sport. They can defend themselves when threatened, but prefer to stealth away from a fight if possible. When pressed, their shaman can summon the spirits of beasts to fight for them.
The coyotle have a keen interest in the stars, and have meticulously mapped the skies into patterns, similar to the Zodiac. They want to know how their world fits into the larger universe, and rumors exist amongst the other mortal races that the coyotle know where Hex came from and what its ultimate purpose might be. Because the coyotle believe all things that happen in the universe occurs at the same time, they have no interest in recorded history. They pass some oral legends between generations, and the ghosts of ancestors from the “tranquil dream” will often tell stories of events that occurred when they existed in the “living dream”.
The coyotle are amongst the most peaceful of the surface races, and have always had an affable relationship with their human and elf neighbors. They have had only minimal interaction with orcs, though the coyotle do admire their devotion. The shin’hare used to live on the surface, along the southern edge of the continent, just below the Howling Plains. They would make relentless attacks on the coyotle, attempting to enslave them. The shin’hare were also desperate to learn the secrets of how the coyotle controlled weather.
One thousand years ago, the elves joined with the humans to drive the shin’hare underground. Of course, this decision turned out to be a mistake, as the bloodthirsty rabbits were eventually recruited by the necrotic for the devastating Underworld Incursion.
When the humans offered an alliance, the coyotle had no choice but to accept, and so they became an essential member of the Ardent coalition.
Necrotic, Dwarves, Vennen, and Shin'Hare compose the Underworld.
Necrotic were once humans of great renown. Buried in the majestic crypts of the kingdoms of men, the corpses of long-dead human nobles were woken by the Hexing Gems and are infested with an alien consciousness with an unknown and dangerous purpose.
Their eyes socketed with diamond Hexing Gems, the necrotic have no memory of their former lives, and go about their purpose with calm and untiring devotion. Though the necrotic are technically undead, they do not emphasize this aspect of their existence. They consider themselves to be living creatures, even though they do not eat, sleep, or have any of the other biological necessities of mortal creatures. The necrotic call themselves “the Awakened”; their nickname for living humans are “the Sleepers”.
The necrotic are infested with an alien consciousness that is fed to them through the Hexing Gems they socket into themselves. What most mortal races do not realize is that Hexing Gems have sentience and self-awareness. This consciousness normally does not assert itself, except with the necrotic.
The necrotic came into existence approximately 2300 years ago when Hex struck the planet, scattering Hexing Gems throughout the world. The largest chunk of Hex that broke off, about the size of a small mountain, burrowed itself down deep into the crust of the planet and settled near the human crypts, which awakened the first necrotic. With no memory of their former lives and an urge provided by the gems to create more of their kind, the necrotic set out to rouse more corpses and begin building their subterranean domain.
It took the human kingdoms several years before they discovered the existence of the necrotic, and since then, the two races have been engaged in nearly constant conflict. The necrotic merely wanted to be left alone to pursue their goals, but the humans were horrified at seeing the corpses of former kings and knights committing unspeakable acts for some unknown purpose. The humans soon discovered that fighting the necrotic posed a nefarious dilemma: in order to fight the necrotic, some humans would inevitably die, which would only create more necrotic. This left the humans with the awful choice of leaving the necrotic alone, which was an unbearable thought, or warring against them, which ultimately bolstered the enemy’s ranks.
The humans’ solution was to hire mercenary companies of other races to battle against the necrotic. Though it would prove impossible to eradicate the necrotic using only mercenaries, this tactic was intermittently effective. Three hundred years ago, the necrotic finally reached the end of their patience with the incessant meddling of the humans. They decided that an invasion of the surface world would kill a multitude of humans. This would serve a dual purpose: it would cease the human meddling in the necrotic’s affairs, and would allow them to harvest corpses to create new necrotic.
The necrotic could not initiate such an endeavor alone, though. They approached the vennen with their idea, who eagerly accepted the chance to assault the surface world, especially the orcs. The shin’hare were also easily persuaded to join the coalition, as were the dwarves, whose expertise in creating tunnels to the surface was a key element in the plan. With the Underworld alliance in place, the Underworld Incursion was launched.
Formed from the very stone of the planet’s crust, the subterranean-dwelling dwarves are master craftsmen and experts in the application of pure destructive force. As beings of pure chaos, the dwarves are always looking to apply their ingenuity and ferocity to create increasingly complex and devastating machines.
If the dwarves have a motto, it is “destruction for destruction’s sake”. They are bloodthirsty, industrious, and never ever stop digging.
All dwarves are male. When a dwarf dies, it shatters into a pile of rough stone and pebbles. This rubble, combined with freshly dug rock and gems, is then used to make new dwarves.
Like the elves, dwarves are master craftsmen. However, unlike the elves, who create objects of beauty, the dwarves create machines of devastation. The dwarves are obsessive about inventing new weapons and tools of demolition. They craft everything from small crossbows that can fire heat-seeking rockets to massive, technologically advanced robots that can rend their way through solid rock as if they were digging grain out of a barrel.
The dwarves are allied with a race of enormous army ants, each the size of a rhinoceros. Dwarves are known to ride into battle mounted on these ants, all while slinging explosives from laser-powered rifles.
Dwarves believe the entire world is a giant machine, and if they can just figure out how the mechanism works, they can ultimately control its operation. They reason that a colossal robot the size of a mountain sits in the center of Entrath, yanking the pulleys that make the gears of the planet function. A sect of dwarves known as the Delvers believe they can mount an expedition that will dig to the center of the planet to find this robot and perhaps exploit it for their own purposes.
Though the dwarves have a marginal relationship with the necrotic, they did agree to join the Underworld alliance and take part in the Underworld Incursion. They did so as a means to bring chaos and devastation to the surface world, and in that, they succeeded. The primary responsibility of the dwarves in the Incursion was to create the tunnels that would allow the necrotic, shin’hare, and vennen forces to erupt into key locations on the surface.
Though the Incursion was ultimately beaten back, the dwarves have remained busy in their efforts to infest the surface world with anarchy. The dwarves’ new plan that they are working on now is to dig out enough of the Underworld that will cause the entire surface world to collapse below the ground.
Vennen are a hybrid of orcs and spiders that were created by Xentoth, who is known as the Spider Mother, the Queen of Eyes, and the Primal of Blood Magic. The vennen are utterly evil, cruel fiends that are infused with all-consuming sadism.
Xentoth is not only the mother of all vennen, she also serves as the object of their fanatical religious worship. The vennen seek to persecute anyone they consider a heretic (essentially, anything not a vennen typically falls under the classification of “heretic”).
The vennen are masters of Blood Magic, which they use to inflict as much pain on the world and the blasphemers that populate it. Though all living creatures are potential targets for their cruelty, they reserve an exceptional hatred for the orcs. If the vennen can be said to have any single goal other than persecuting heretics, it would be the eradication of the orcs from existence.
About two hundred thousand years ago, an orc raiding party exploring the caverns of the world below the surface discovered an enormous lake of blood. Outraged at the presence of surface-world intruders in this sanctified location, Xentoth captured and consumed the entire orc contingent. Soon after, she began to lay hundreds of eggs, and from these sacs emerged the first vennen.
All vennen are male. They generally call each other “brother”, as they are all the children of Xentoth.
The most important organization in vennen society is the Grand Inquisition, a tribunal of vennen Inquisitors who conduct trials against blasphemers accused of heresy against the Spider Mother (a group that includes just about every living creature in the world, including other vennen that the Inquisitors judge to be insufficiently zealous in their devotion to Xentoth).
The vennen Council of the Silken Thread is a sect of mages who are trained in diplomacy. The Council’s task is primarily to interact with the vennen’s Underworld allies to ensure that their mutual goals are being accomplished.
Three hundred years ago, the necrotic approached the Council of the Silken Thread with their idea to invade the surface world. The potential opportunity to exterminate the orcs was too tantalizing to resist. The necrotic convinced the vennen to join the Underworld alliance, and the Underworld Incursion was launched.
The shin’hare are a hyper-aggressive race of rabbits that is primarily motivated by an insatiable desire to conquer and oppress. Their society is rigidly feudalistic and has clearly defined class roles that are determined at birth. From the first moment it appears in a birthing cavern, a shin’hare’s function is established. For a great majority of shin’hare, that societal function is to serve as cannon fodder in their culture’s unending craving for subjugation.
The shin’hare place no value in any individual life. Because they can reproduce at a breathtaking rate, an important aspect of their combat tactics involves overwhelming their foes with sheer numbers. In any battle, masses of shin’hare are likely to be slaughtered, but they can always breed more.
Though physically frail and small, shin’hare compensate with well-trained agility, tenacious ferocity, and sheer numbers. A single shin’hare samurai is a surprisingly formidable warrior, and an enemy would make a grievous mistake to underestimate one, let alone an entire regiment of them.
All shin’hare are bred to serve a specific purpose, without deviation or expectation to be anything other than their assigned role. The vast majority of shin’hare are bred to be peasants and shock troops. The lives of the peasant class are considered to have no value, even to themselves. They know their existence is going to be brief, wicked, and end in violence, so they are taught to take as many enemies with them into death as they can.
Shin’hare clerics and rangers typically serve as field generals, directing the hordes of peasant shock troops in battle. The samurai swords of shin’hare warriors must be forged in blood. Shin’hare peasants are bred exclusively to be sacrificed in horrific rituals that use Blood Magic to temper the katanas of the samurai.
Those elite samurai that achieve exceptional glory in battle are amongst the most esteemed members of shin’hare society and are often rewarded with a harem of females that have been specifically bred to serve at their pleasure. A few elite warriors are selected as studs for the Concubunnies, which is considered to be a glorious honor.
A shin’hare that manages to die of old age (an extraordinarily rare occurrence) will live no longer than 40 years. An Exalted Emperor, however, can live for a century or more, and the current one, Emperor Ito, has remained alive for close to 150 years. A cabal of shin’hare warlocks is assigned to keep the Exalted Emperor breathing for as long as they can by using twisted Wild and Blood Magic rituals to unnaturally extend his life. These ceremonies often cause physical mutations in the Emperor, such as causing him to grow to an absurd height or sprouting extra limbs, ears, and mouths.
Once they discovered the existence of the relatively peaceful coyotle, the shin’hare launched countless raids on the Howling Plains. The shin’hare were desperate to enslave the coyotle and learn their secrets about how to control weather. Though the coyotle were able to fend off most of the shin’hare attacks, there were heavy casualties on both sides.
The never-ending shin’hare assault on the coyotle, along with their renewed aggression on the outskirts of the Feralroot Woods, prompted the elves to act once again. One thousand years ago, the elves joined with the humans to drive the shin’hare underground once and for all.
Exiled once again, the shin’hare did what they always do: adapt and thrive. They managed to forge a key alliance with the vennen, who taught them the mysteries of Blood Magic. Also, once they established their domain beneath the surface, the shin’hare finally discovered a race they could successfully enslave: the shroomkin, a passive race of walking mushrooms.
Three hundred years ago, the necrotic approached the shin’hare with an offer of alliance. Once the shin’hare understood that this meant a chance to assault the surface world that rejected them, they eagerly accepted. The shin’hare joined the Underworld alliance, and were enthusiastic participants in the Underworld Incursion.