Danava

Average Lifespan: 500 to 650 years
Average Height: 6’5” to 7’5” feet
Average Healthy Weight: 120 – 165 for women, 135 – 200 for men
Pregnancy Duration: Danava lay eggs three weeks after conception, often in clutches of 1-3. These eggs take six months to hatch.

Ship Captains pay tribute to them to sail across the seas. Fisherman leave a strand of their catch dangling in the water for them. Even those who enjoy the benefits of clean drinking water toss coins into fountains in thanks to them. They are the Danava, and their Empress, the leader of the Eiltia Empire, is the unchallenged mistress of the water realms. An amphibious species, Danava are possessed of a double-set of lungs which has made colonizing the inland waters (and thus expanding their dominion) quite easy. It is the belief of the Danava people that, as land-dwellers are reliant upon water for survival, they too are members of the Empire, and as such are subject to the rule of their Empress and her laws. The highest of these laws is that the water is life, and therefore sacred, so those Danava not busily recruiting land-dwellers are often safe-guarding and tending to the lands’ waters. Those who foul the waters, or fail to pay tribute to the Eiltia Empire, may find themselves the enemy of an otherwise peaceful people. Suddenly, the waters may become very dangerous for them indeed.

Physical Characteristics

Due to the waters supporting their growth, many Danava grow to be exceedingly tall and slim. This can make them quick and agile in the water, but somewhat fragile outside of it. All Danava possess smooth, pearlescent skin patterned in a variety of shades of blue, with paler blue Danava hailing from the warm waters at the heart of their Empire, and the darker blue Danava a result of colder water at the farthest reaches of their territory, possibly due to survival adaptations. Their hair is white, with those Danava who remain mostly in the water throughout their lives favoring shorter, more tightly-braided hairstyles than their land-faring relatives. Danava bear two raised, black protuberances on their face, centered in the middle of their forehead just above their eyes. These small nubs secrete salt and toxins that the Danava may have ingested in their watery habitat, and are also the only way Danava may produce tears, since their eyes lack the tear ducts so common amongst the Peoples. Close inspection of their hands and feet reveals a very thin, diaphanous webbing that aids in swimming. This webbing can prove to be somewhat troublesome for them, as it tends to tear quite easily, though it grows back and mends quite quickly, at roughly the same rate as nail and hair growth, and some Danava that must spend large amounts of time inland may elect to keep it trimmed back, so as to wear the gloves and rings so popular amongst land-dwellers.

History

Sheltered as they are within the warm waters of their capital, had it not been for Al’Drenra the Danava might have remained an unknown presence within the world. In those days, the Eiltia Empire did not exist, and the Danava were a migratory people, following the large fish which they depended on for food. Al’Drenra raged on land for years before warships began to cross the seas, and the records kept by the Empire claim that it was one such seafaring vessel that ran up on a sandbar, crushing a group of Danava youths there who had been basking in the warm waters. When the blood in the water and the shock waves of pain alerted nearby Danava who came to help, it is said that those on board slew them all, believing them to be rivals in the war. This massacre of what were, until then, a sheltered people greatly angered their goddess, the Mother, and she taught her children the arts of war and of its weapons. Spears which had been used for hunting were now used for piercing sailors, and nets for herding fish now invisible barriers for unwary ships. In only a short amount of time the seas were known to be completely hostile, and sometime later, much to the horror of others, the Danava began to follow the rivers inland.

It is an inglorious truth that the Eiltia Empire was the creation of Merolevianne (which translates, in the Old Tongue, to “Wrath of the Sea”), the first Empress, for the sole purpose of pursuing vengeance. Herself a mother of one of those youths that met their end on the sand bar, Merolevianne was a fierce, rigid creature completely at odds with the former pacifist nature of her people. With the advent of the war and its impact on the Danava, however, she found her place as a merciless warrior utterly devoted to securing her homeland from further threat…even if that meant killing those who came near the waters. During her reign, no lake, river, pond, or sea was considered safe, and if land dwellers desired water they were compelled to collect rain, or dig for springs. It is said that so great was her rage, so great was her blood lust, that when her goddess was subdued by the Elements she, too, was put into slumber. The first Empress of the Eiltia Empire, she was also the first to go into the Dreaming, and her tomb today is visited annually by Danava who pay tribute to her memory.

In recent history, the Eiltia Empire has continued its expansion: not merely into inland waters, but into the realms of commerce. Song of the Sleeping Ones (or “Song”, as she is known to land-dwellers), the current Empress of the Eiltia Empire, has entered into trade agreements with the Sapphire Council. Joreand Krithor, the Speaker of the Sapphire Council, is said to have courted her extensively for exclusive trading rights, and some whisper quite a bit more besides. Whatever the nature of their agreement, the end result has been that Danzibar has become the center of business for the pearl, fish, and coral trades, and in return they make frequent “tithes” to the Empire by dropping large piles of coin and jewels into the harbor.

Culture and Religion

Danava are born into a rigid caste system within the Eiltia Empire, consisting of (from greatest to lowest) the Empress, the Imperial Household, the Clergy, the Warriors, the Merchants, the Artisans, the Healers, the Laborers, the Servants, and the Slaves. While it is possible to move between the castes, it is very difficult, and on an individual basis most be personally sanctioned by the Empress or a member of the Imperial Household. The most common way of changing your caste is to marry into a higher one (castes are never lowered through marriage), and the lower spouse enjoys the privileges of the higher caste for the duration of the marriage, or indefinitely if they are able to help engender a child (they even retain their new caste if the child dies).

Danava are a matriarchy, and their society is predominately female-driven, though men enjoy many of the same rights as women. Men are, however, regarded as the more “bestial” of the sexes, with the Danava society viewing men as having more trouble controlling violent urges and physical excesses than women. For this reason, men are not permitted in the military, nor are they likely to hold high ranks within the Clergy caste or the Merchant. Most men work at home or in the Commons, where they shape and tend the corals that will be used to build the homes and grand architecture of the Eiltia Empire and see to the fish and kelp that feeds their people. It is not unusual for a high-ranking woman to have several husbands in her household, each of which were probably chosen for breeding and to assist her in her position within the Empire.

There are no children within most homes in the Eiltia Empire, as Danava women have the habit of laying their eggs (usually from 1-3) communally in large, underwater nurseries tended to by members of the Healer caste. This was a custom developed during Al’Drenra, when warriors were needed on the front lines and not in their homes, tending eggs, a task which the Imperial House felt could be satisfactorily handled by lesser members of society. This allowed the men, who otherwise would have been stuck caring for the children and dependent on their wife to leave behind jelly (a thick, nourishing substance females secrete and which is consumed by warriors in the field), the ability to spend their time crafting weapons, tending the food, and healing the injured. According to the Eiltia Empire, it was because of this habit the Danava survived Al’Drenra in a better state than most.

Unlike the rest of the Peoples, the Danava as a whole still pay homage to their creator goddess, whom they call Mother, and even view each Empress as a living incarnation of her. While they still pay reverence to the Elements officially, within each home in the Eiltia Empire is a tiny shrine to Mother, which is daily offered mussels, jelly, even land-fruits…anything sweet is considered an appropriate offering. Danava are also deeply intrigued by the nature of Aspects, and it is no secret that each time in the past one has been sighted, the Eiltia Empire has made great efforts to reach it before it was killed. It is rumored that, given the chance, the Danava would seek to revive their sleeping Mother, possibly by using the power of the Aspect to do so. Luckily, perhaps, no known Aspect has yet claimed to be part of the dormant Sea Goddess, though the Danava will tell you (happily, even) that it is only a matter of time. Blatant god-worshipers though they are, the Eiltia Empire has proven too strong and too numerous for any of the Elemental Clergy to move against.

Geography

Within the seas, no territory lines and no boundaries exist. To their minds, anywhere the water touches is under the dominion of the Eiltia Empire. This has caused some tension between the Danava and other cultures, as the Eiltia Empire believes this to include all ponds, rivers, lakes, and streams in addition to the sea. These bodies of water are located within territories that seldom think kindly of foreign nations claiming territory in the midst of their boundaries. Other races have found it difficult to argue with them, however, when the Danava appear to be the only race which can live underwater or travel there without magical assistance. In light of this, a compromise has been reached: Danava are tolerated in the waters, as they are basically a peaceful people, and in return they maintain the water systems so that others may enjoy them as well. While this sounds all very well and good on paper, in reality what it means is that the Eiltia Empire continues to expand its territories, and the land-dwellers have thus far been unable to stop them.

Relations with Other Races

The Danava believe that the Eiltia Empire is the best hope that Valindir has for a unified, safe, prosperous world, and because of that they adopt the attitude of expansionist benefactors. Everyone will, sooner or later, be assimilated into the Empire they believe, and so every race is looked at as a future “brother” or “sister”. This has, perhaps, made them more tolerant of other cultures than is usual, and their own culture more…fluid.

Alubra – Danava are unrivaled masters of their watery lands, and so it did not surprise them that “their” people should find a way to conquer the skies, as well. Greatly admired by the Danava for their brilliantly colored plumage and peaceful ways, the traditional term for the Alubra among the Danava is “pashae”, or “sky-cousin”. Few things are sweeter to a Danava than the singing of the Alubra people, and so many of the Eiltia Empire’s diplomats are treated to performances by their bards if people wish to have easy negotiations with them.

Centaurs – When the Centaurs were first cast from their lands by their former Human allies, the Danava were quick to offer them the sanctuary of the Empire, even ferrying a few individuals to islands under their dominion. Most Centaurs, however, chose to stay and fight, a regrettable and unnecessary course of action from the viewpoint of the Danava. The Danava have chosen to ignore the ongoing strife between the Centaurs and the Humans, freely offering aid in the form of trading or medicine to both sides, and because of this relations between the two peoples may at times be coldly civil, with the Centaurs viewing Danava as “naive” and the Danava believing the Centaurs to have a tendency towards bitterness.

Daphinae – The Danava have always had an eye towards recruiting the Daphinae into the Eiltia Empire, in part because of their prolific breeding habits, but also because of their obvious physical similarities. It is well known that a blending of the two species is physically impossible, but the Danava believe with proper guidance and over time the Daphinae could be their most valuable land-branch of the Empire, and could shepherd the forests and fields just as their water-dwelling cousins do the seas and rivers. The Daphinae as a whole, however, have proven less than adept at working within the constraints of an Empire, preferring instead the rule of their own desires, and that of the Puan and Fwi.

Drakien – Most Danava have no fear of the Drakiens, viewing them instead to be powerful potential recruits into the Empire, especially if they could be returned to their former Draconic glory. Against the protests of the Enlightened, several powerful mages for the Empire have already begun studies and tests to try to determine a way to reverse Nolan LeDeere’s infamous curse, though so far the results have proven disappointing. Still, the Danava have proven to be allies to Drakiens who have found themselves the target of an angry mob, or who have been unable to find reliable work.

Dwarves – It was quite on accident that the two races, normally so insulated and living in extremely different environments, happened upon one another. It is said that a Danava scout was exploring a series of caves connected to a lake in the mountains, and so stumbled upon an old tunnel of the Dwarves that had flooded. Following the watery shaft, the Danava unexpectedly surfaced in the midst of an underground lake, much to the shock of a few thirsty miners who had stopped for a break! As both races share a love of the Water Element, however, they became fast friends, and while the Dwarves politely continue to insist they will not join the Empire, they are more than happy to allow the Danava to roam the water-filled parts of their underground kingdom, finding them very useful for keeping out the strange and fearsome creatures which sometimes claim such places as their own, and thus make drinking water, once a dangerously rare commodity for the Dwarves, more plentiful.

Elves – Much to their irritation, the Danava insist on calling the Elves “cousins”, and lecturing them on their responsibility to the other Peoples as role models for the Eiltia Empire’s land branches. The Elves, quite flustered by another race’s assumed familiarity with them, let alone with lectures on their responsibilities, have taken the extreme reaction of sealing off the waterways by which the Danava once visited. Elves have an intense dislike of being compared to the Danava, and will insist (loudly, at great length, and sometimes violently) that the two are in no way related, and that their nation is sovereign and independent from the Empire. The Danava smile, disagree politely, and send familial gifts.

Gryphon – In truth, the Danava have always been more than a little jealous of the relation between the Elves, one of their land-dwelling cousins, and the Gryphons. While their Mother did a fine job of guarding them beneath the waves, they assert, they were never bonded so closely with another race as are the Elves. The Danava have been busily attempting to woo the Gryphons over to their side for generations, but this has not been as effective as they would like. They have consoled themselves with trying to create an underwater version of the Gryphons with magic and breeding for some time now.

Humans – Overall, the Danava have been delighted with the “progressive, realistic” approach towards peace and unification that the Sapphire Council, the largest governing body of Humans, has thus far employed in their dealings together. Close trade allies, each month the Sapphire Council sends out ships into the seas and offers “tribute” to the Eiltia Empire, ensuring that their trade ships and carrier vessels enjoy safe passage over the waters. Danava are to be found almost anywhere there are Humans, and often they are able to freely host recruiting centers in their cities.

Kithras – Much as they fear the Talmori, the Danava have an instinctive distrust of the Kithras, having the sneaking suspicion that the furred races view them as some sort of exotic food source. While it is true that the Danava themselves eat fish, and certainly share no relation with them, they are acutely aware that, when swimming underwater and viewed from above, they may bear some semblance to them, as evidenced by the frequent bear attacks they have suffered. Once or twice a hungry tiger has even taken a bite, and while the Kithras are similarly not related to tigers, they are, the Danava feel, entirely too similar physically to make them feel comfortable.

Kren – Fascinated by what they see as a strong, powerful race, the Danava are always extending invitations to join their vast Empire. While most of land-dwelling races seem to flounder in the water, the Kren took to it naturally; streamlining their bodies almost as well as the Danava themselves. Anyone who can get this graceful yet muscular race to join the Eiltia Empire is considered to be an excellent negotiator and is often given a rank to reflect their talents.

Melrog – It is the dearest, most desperate desire of the Eiltia Empire to acquire a Melrog and…to put it delicately…take it apart, as if the Melrogs were some overlarge clockwork piece. Always intensely interested in land magics, the Danava have never been able to figure out how the Melrogs were created, and a few stories whispered in taverns late at night recount how a friend of a friend has seen, once or twice, a few Danava officials kidnap the poor stone creatures and carry them off into the deeps, never to be seen again.

Minotaur – Most Minotaurs, being renowned for loyalty and strength (not only of the physical body, but of character) find that they are rewarded excellent positions in the Eiltia Empire, almost immediately upon recruitment. While it is the goal of the Eiltia Empire to eventually be able to claim ALL of Valindir, they do have preferences for their top ranks, and Minotaurs have, in the past, proven to be sound military investments. A Danava recruiter that manages to hire on one of the Minotaur people can almost always expect to see a large bonus in their pay.

Mithyrn – Though a few scouts claim to have seen a Mithyrn or two in their time, the official position of the Eiltia Empire is that they do not exist (all evidence to the contrary). The belief that Mithyrn are a legendary, unverified boogey monster amongst the land races is a curious oversight on the part of the Eiltia Empire, but it may stem from the insular nature of the Imperial Household, not a single member of which to date has been able to secure trade relations, or even an audience, with the elusive and secretive Mithyrn people.

Orcs – To the irritation of their Human allies, the Danava seem to be largely unbothered by the Orc people, many members of which they allow free access to their merchants and carefully maintained lakes and rivers. The Danava find them, contrary to what the Humans claim, to be a largely peaceful people, with perhaps a higher stamina and physical level than most others. As all land-dwelling races are somewhat strange to them, the green skin and sharp tusks of the Orcs are hardly something to be stared at, anymore than long brown hair or round ears might be.

Sidhe – Dubbed “fey” by the Danava, or “otherworldly” in the Old Tongue, the Sidhe are treated with fear and reverence by the Danava people, after one of their women visited the Empress as a child and managed to cure her of an intense fever that threatened to take her life which their own healers were unable to abate. Since then they have been treated with great respect and even given gifts in remembered thanks. If the Danava have ever shown a desire to “conquer” the Sidhe, as they do other races, they have kept such desires to themselves.

Senai – If there is one race that the Danava hate, it is the Senai. Viewed as “rebels” by the Eiltia Empire, the Senai are thought (at least by the Danava) to be descended from traitors and criminals that fled the justice of the Empress to hide in inland waters. Certainly the two races seem very similar, though Danava bear blue colorings on their skin while the Senai have a mix of green and brown. Regardless of their race’s origins, the Senai are usually attacked and driven from the water whenever the Danava “invade” their homes, and those who are caught are usually taken for slaves. This seems to be a remnant of barbarism on the Danava’s behalf, and no amount of peace treaties or bribes seem to be able to keep them from “dealing with the abominations”.

Talmori – Usually quite adept at discerning the difference between intelligent life and animals, the Danava traditionally (and embarrassingly) seem to fail at this with the Talmori, who are so covered in hair and claws and fangs as to horrify the Danava and lead them to believe they are unnaturally intelligent beasts. The Talmori, for their part, seem indifferent to this attitude, and may even perpetuate the mistake by “laying it on thick” around any nearby Danava, with much growling, barking, and excessive howling. No one is quite sure where the Danava’s fear of the Talmori began, but some theorize early Danava travelers may have mistaken the Talmori for bears, what with their large size and full fur covering. Bears were once a great threat to traveling Danava, as they had no reason to suspect an attack from above, and as bears seemed particularly fond of the “large trout” that Danava must have appeared to be.

Language

Danava detest using their vocal chords, and developed instead a remarkable aptitude for telepathy. Because they are able to present their intentions and wishes directly to the innermost minds of the Peoples, as well as “hearing” others, Danava are able to break the language barrier and communicate to anyone via telepathy. This has made them invaluable as translators and diplomats, and in the interest of peace (and their own expansionist goals) they are often found attempting to mediate disputes. They have not taken to spoken language well and prefer never to use it unless they must, speaking mostly Sylvan or Common.

Names

Because their own natural “tongue” is that of a telepathic —full of images, feelings, and things seen/heard/tasted/felt—- the translation of Danava names into spoken word has been an awkward one. Often the closest a person can come to saying a Danava’s name is to sound as if you are describing something, or administering a title, such as “Singing Current” or “Fang of the Deep Ones”. Land-dwellers, great lovers of nicknames, frequently shorten these for convenience, and even the Danava may give their shortened name, rather than recounting the full length of it and its significance to their people.

Male Names: Black Shell (Black), Ice Bearing Bones (Ice), Spear of Shark Bone (Bone)

Female Names: She Who Dreams Stars (Star), Night-blooming Coral (Coral), Song of the Deep Ones (Song)

Player Difficulty Level

Challenging – While Danava have the benefit of being able to live on land or in the water, their “peaceful expansionist” ways can make them difficult to play, as this can mean they are frequently brought into conflict with other people who may not like the idea of an Empire claiming mastery (enforced or otherwise) over them, or who simply dislike the idea of a woman giving them orders (a danger if a player chooses to play one of the predominately female Warrior caste members of the Danava society).

Notes on Role Playing this Race

For the sake of comparison, it may help to think of Danava as a sort of underwater, peaceful version of the Drow, with their goddess worship and female-oriented society. They can also be likened to Abe Sapien, a character from the Hellboy mythos, or even, with their tolerance of assimilated peoples religious customs and traditions, a less bloody Roman Empire. It is important to note that, while they are an Empire with goals of world domination, the Danava shun violence, and only resort to it when all other tactics have failed. The highest glory for a warrior is found not in how many enemies they slew, but in how many they brought into the fold.

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Posted July 5, 2011 by Evoru

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