We’re inching ever closer to launching the Telia campaign, and soon you’ll be able to join the players as they wade through the heinous circumstances I put them through. But for now, and following from previous weeks, let’s take another look at the world of Telia.
Last week we spoke of a new race available to players, the Soulforged, and this week is no different. So without further ado, here are the Thelomir.
Thelomir: In the northern continent of Crownreach, and just north of the Imperial lands is Therokar, the Bonded Mountain, home to the Thelomir, guardians of the passes to the frigid wastes and Titanus city and eternal watchers of the heavy wrought doors to the Great Dark Below, also known as The Underdark.
For centuries, the Dwarves of the mountain fought the horrors below, their civilisation focused almost entirely on this task, their artisanry focused on the functional, whatever served their troops. Though as proud dwarves, they still found the time to create some of the most amazing brews that side of the world.
Then came the Surtanor Drow master artificers and scholars of the Underdark. Unlike the more bloodthirsty Drow of Camlin, infamous for their raids and wars across the Dark Below and their offering of captives and even their own citizens as sacrifices to their gods, the Drow of Surtanor’s goal is simply the pursuit of knowledge and art.
But not all in the Underdark see a difference between the different Drow people. Inevitably, the Allied Republic of Duergar, sworn enemies of the Camlin Drow, invaded Surtanor and ravaged it, tearing it to rubble and forcing its population to flee. Eventually, these exiles made their way to the dwarven doors to Shieldgrasp city and though relations were predictably tense, eventually the Dwarven leadership allowed the Drow to join them, especially after fighting off both their Camlin cousins and the Duergar pursuers, each after these artisans for different reasons.
Over the course of the next centuries, the Dwarves and Drow mingled and from them a new people arose, the Thelomir, the Bonded Folk, the brotherhood beyond blood, the Great Family, the true kin. From them, the mountain received its current name of Thelokar.
Thelomir are a welcoming sort and there is nothing stronger than friendship with a member of this race, perhaps only the retribution for breaking their trust. Thelomir are quick to welcome people into their lives and though they don’t generally hold grudges, it’s almost impossible to earn back a broken trust. The strongest honour in Thelomir society is making someone their Thelorei, their bonded brother, closer than a blood relation and by extension member of the Great Family, which encompasses every Thelomir living under Therokar and their own Thelorei.
Curiously, though they all have pointy ears, there is no true Elf and Dwarven hybrid among the Thelomir, but instead children are either primarily Dwarven (known as Thelomiran) in appearance or Elven (Thelomiref).
Having said so, there are common traits that set them apart from Dwarves and Elves. Thelomir skin and hair tones are those of their Dwarven ancestors, though Thelomiref often have darker shades of skin and paler of hair, though it’s rare for any Thelomir to have the obsidian complexion and stark white hair of the Drow. Both kinds of Thelomir have limited inherent magical abilities, facial hair, an appreciation for good food, a strong drink and a long nap.
Broadly speaking, Thelomiran are the martial arm of the Thelomir while Thelomiref tend to focus on artisanry. The Drow brought all forms of art and craftsmanship to Shieldgrasp and all Thelomir practice them, but the focus on functionality is ever present. Even the most luxurious clothing can turn into something battle-worthy and Wizards all over Telia look for Thelomir robes, with straps to tighten and wrap the loose clothing closer to the body, for those more athletic moments when cloth snagging might be lethal, and a ton of extra hidden pockets.
There are even rumours of Thelomir sculptors hiding clockwork mechanisms inside all their works, so even the most beautiful representation of beauty can turn into a killing instrument.
With the Thelomir, my idea was to give a different flavour to the typical Elf and Dwarf, and though I thought a hybrid could work, I realised that when you mix their physical traits, a half Dwarf/half elf is essentially a human. So, I figured it would be more interesting if the Elven and Dwarven traits were mutually exclusive, one dominant over the other half the time.
As a race, mechanically speaking, the Thelomir are highly customisable. Much like their physical appearance, Thelomir players can choose which racial traits from the original Elf and Dwarf bloodlines their character inherits. For example, a Thelomir character chooses between the Fey Ancestry trait (advantage vs charms and immunity to sleep effects) or the Dwarven Resilience trait (advantage vs poisons and resistance to poison damage), independent of whether they’re Elven or Dwarven looking.
This level of customisation on character creation is why they’re a new race and not sub-races for the Elf and Dwarf. The first version of the Thelomir write-up had them as such, but it got silly and overly complicated very fast, so I redesigned them as a separate race, with Elf and Dwarf as their sub-races.
Thelomir are also part of my focus on civilisations and cultures instead of races. It’s why the Underdark has several kinds of Drow society, some benign and others heinously evil.