Alaran Races: Njorlghar

Sorry about not posting for a few days, I’m on vacation in California and I’ve just been busy.

The cities of the Alliance are many. There is Wyrmspire, grand city of kings, Irongate, home of the dwarves, Elenaiar, haven of the elves, Below, a technological marvel, and a hundred other smaller cities dotting the landscape. All these cities are a unique blend of human, elven, dwarven, and Underfoot, with a small smattering of minotaur and Rhokari.

However, most, if not all of the Alliance cities are cities on two levels. The limestone upon which the Civilized Lands are placed is riddled with caves, and in the dark places below cities, a Njorlghar colony often forms. I’d give you suggestions on how to pronounce “Njorlghar”, but I couldn’t do it without at least one umlaut and an in-depth description of how to pronounce the “gh”. It’s kind of guttural – at the back of the throat.

The Njorlghar are a race of ratmen that live in the refuse of civilization. Crouching in the sewers of Wyrmspire and other such grand cities, the Njorlghar live on trash and murder. The Njorlghar will eat anything. They steal food often, of course, but they also grow fungus in their underground caverns and are not above cannibalism in a pinch.

The Njorlghar stand about four and a half feet tall. This would make them seem unfearsome, but this is definitely not so. With large fangs and ornery personalities, the Njorlghar are certainly scary. They operate in the shadows, only emerging when they know they have an advantage, and fighting to kill. The Njorlghar fight with long daggers, carved to imitate the appearance of fangs.

The Njorlghar have very sporadic religion. As they are not one united nation, they don’t have one united religion. Every specific colony of Njorlghar have their own beliefs. Worship of Anator, Black Hundriss, and Plaggan is common, although it is usually exclusive (one colony will pay tribute to one god and ignore the others). A variety of less mainstream religions also exist, with the most common being worship of a primitive Snake-god. There are rumors that certain, more sophisticated colonies pay tribute to Rudolphus or Omora Agabai, but these are mostly ignored.

Njorlghar colonies vary vastly in size. In smaller towns and cities, a colony is more likely to be a small family group, made up of two parents and eight or so children. Larger cities may have entire clans with hundreds of ratmen. The largest infestation, in the tunnels beneath Wyrmspire, consists of three clans of Njorlghar. These clans constantly fight each other, and as such are kept from growing much larger by the constant violence, as well as the attentions of the local Thieves’ Guild, which patrols the tunnels and regularly exterminates the ratmen.

The Njorlghar hold a deep fascination with poison and poisonous creatures. The ratmen often coat their daggers with venom, making them even more deadly than they already are. Njorlghar often keep poisonous creatures as pets. The most commonly kept pets are small, venomous snakes, as they are the most available creatures in the caves under cities, but scorpions are also commonly kept, although harder to find.

Njorlghar fur is most often gray, brown, or black. Occasionally, a red or white furred Njorlghar will appear. The Njorlghar are quite superstitious about fur color. Red-furred Njorlghar often become clan chieftains, although it is not known if this is due to higher ability or simply greater expectations from the rest of the clan. White-furred Njorlghar are the only ones that show any magical prowess, and thus often become sorcerers. Grey and brown furred Njorlghar are usually grunts, doing the dirty work of the clan. Black-furred Njorlghar are the most vicious, and often become assassins. Grey furred Njorlghar are the most common, and are also often lowest of the Njorlghar, they are usually kicked around by the rest of the clan.

Njorlghar language is incredibly odd. It is thought that at one point they had their own language, but through various adoptions and various manglings, the Njorlghar language has mutated. Today, it is a bizarre combination of Common, Dwarven, Elven, and the mysterious ancient language of the ratmen. Even those proficient in Common, Dwarven, and Elven rarely understand Njorlghar, as it has retained the grammatical structure of the ancient language, as well as some of the other oddities (it is thought that Old Njorlghar was a tonal language), and is as such incredibly confusing to outsiders.

Though the Njorlghar profess hatred for the surface-dwellers, they often take on characteristics of whatever race they live below. This has given rise to numerous Njorlghar subraces. The Njorlghar below Wyrmspire and other human cities are the most numerous, and often the most varied in terms of culture and religion. The Njorlghar below Irongate and dwarven cities are often stockier than their cousins, and rely more on brute strength then on lurking in the shadows. The Njorlghar below Elenaiar are the strangest of all. They have adopted much of the culture of the elves, and though still evil to the core, they are considerably more sophisticated than the other Njorlghar. The ratmen of Elenaiar often have lighter shades of fur, which is also often considerably silkier than that of their cousins, as they actually wash it.

The Njorlghar of Wyrmspire are undoubtedly the most varied of any of the Njorlghar. Below Wyrmspire is a system of tunnels that is part sewer, part cave, and some part tunnels constructed by the Thieves’ Guild for their illicit dealings. Within these tunnels dwell three clans of ratmen: the Bloodfang, the Daggertail, and the Grimtooth. These clans are all unique, and all hate the other clans with a passion.

The Bloodfang are the most powerful clan. They are more numerous than the Daggertail, but less than the Grimtooth. The Bloodfang are so named by their cannibalistic tendencies, as well as their habit of not cooking food before they eat it. After a battle, it is not uncommon to see a group of Bloodfang digging in to the corpses of their defeated opponents. The Bloodfang are powerful warriors, and know at least some strategy, the most common form of battle with them is being ambushed. They only attack when the odds are on their side, and as such are hard to kill. The Bloodfang worship a mysterious snake-god whose name is unpronounceable in any mortal language. Their priests anoint themselves with blood.

The Daggertail are the smallest clan of Wyrmspire, but also undoubtedly the most dangerous. The Daggertail are fearsome assassins, and while the most sophisticated of the Wyrmspire clans, they are also the most soullessly evil. All Daggertail are trained in the arts of the shadows. If a Daggertail does not want to be seen, it will not be seen. It helps that they tend toward black fur. The Daggertail have a loose affiliation with the Thieves’ Guild, occasionally lending out their services in exchange for not being targeted by the Guild’s monthly extermination raids. The Daggertail pay tribute to Black Hundriss. They have no priests, but the name of Hundriss is on their lips every time they kill.

The Grimtooth are simultaneously the largest and least dangerous of the clans. They are a loose group, having no actual leader or defining religion. The Grimtooth live in squalor and refuse. Their fur tends toward brown or gray, and a red or white furred Grimtooth is completely unheard of. The Grimtooth know no strategy, attacking in a mob whenever they battle. This is usually pretty effective, as they are incredibly numerous, but any small amount of strategy could easily defeat them. The Grimtooth are completely uncivilized barbarians, and it shows. Nobody pays much attention to them, and they are at most a nuisance.

Important Njorlghar:

Chieftain Ghith Nharghan is the leader of the Bloodfang clan of Njorlghar. He is a deviously evil being, delighting in slaughter, cannibalism, and basically anything involving blood. He is red-furred, but has odd black streaks through his fur. No one is quite sure why, as Njorlghar with mixed fur colors are completely unheard of. He is a behemoth of his race, standing five and a half feet tall and being possessed of incredible musculature. Ghith is vicious, fighting with two long, curved swords. He fights like a berserker, risking his life constantly while in battle. As such, his furred body is covered with scars.

Ghith is very charismatic for a ratman, and is the most powerful leader Bloodfang clan has had in generations. Under his leadership, Bloodfang has grown incredibly powerful. He is regarded as a danger by quite a lot of Wymspire politicians, as it is seen as only a matter of time before he takes his clan to the surface and wages war on the humans. The town guard has been pressured to make excursions into Bloodfang territory to slay Ghith’s ratmen, but as of yet they have not complied. The greatest enemy of Ghith is the Thieves’ Guild, who regularly exterminate his minions. Ghith fears that soon they will contract one of the Daggerfang to assassinate him, and has become incredibly paranoid.

High Priest Ithlnhar is the religious leader of the Bloodfang clan of Njorlghar. He is Ghith’s brother, and is fully supportive of Ghith’s leadership of the tribe. Ithlnhar venerates an ancient snake-god whom, according to Ithlnhar, was discovered and brought to light by Ithlnhar himself. Ithlnhar has set up shop in an ancient temple far beneath Wyrmspire, where he preaches to his faithful and performs dark rituals of incredible strength. Ithlnhar is smaller than average for a Njorlghar, with bright white fur. When Ithlnhar is forced to fight, he uses a small dagger coated with incredibly deadly venom. He says that this venom comes from the fangs of his snake-god, and that it is a sacred relic, but we’re kind of dubious about that.

Ghith fears Ithlnhar. Although he is loyal to Ghith right now, he commands incredible respect, and if he were to rebel, he would almost certainly take over leadership of Bloodfang clan. Ithlnhar is Ghith’s brother, but both come from a family that has produced red-furred Njorlghar as far back as anyone can remember. It is a total mystery how Ithlnhar was born with white fur. Ghith fears the snake-god most of all, as he can sense a terrible power about his brother’s temple, one that does not trifle with the wants of mortals.

Chieftain Rhath Ihnjerhith is the leader of the Daggertail clan of Njorlghar. Rhath is of average size for a Njorlghar. His fur is pitch-black. Rhath is an incredibly deadly assassin. He was trained in the arts of the shadows by his clan, as is traditional for all Daggertail, and after he came of age departed for the surface world to continue his training. This alone is incredibly unique, almost no Njorlghar can stand the sunlight, it burns their skin and blinds them temporarily. To combat this, Rhath tied a cloth around his eyes and learned to sense things with his ears and his nose. Rhath quickly became the deadliest assassin in Wyrmspire, combining his native Daggertail training with that of the Thieves’ Guild and some creativities of his own. To this day, he still fights blinded, even in his home in the tunnels, to hone his fighting skills. He fights with two long, curved daggers, and also utilizes several throwing knives for long-range slaughter.

Rhath is a psychopath, that much is clear. He is, however, an amazingly sane psychopath. It was he that organized the current arrangement between the Thieves’ Guild and the Daggertail, thus increasing his clan’s chance of survival quite a lot. Rhath is one of the most prolific assassins that the Thieves’ Guild hires; he is given a job about once every week. Due to his blind hand, quite a lot of prominent residents of Wyrmspire breath no more. He has intensified the training of Daggertail young, adding many of the tricks he learned on the surface world to the more traditional training already undergone.

Lady Dawneye is an enigma. She is the leader of a growing cult of Njorlghar who refer to themselves as the Enlightened. Lady Dawneye preaches that it is time for the Njorlghar to join the surface world and become a political power. She is far more benevolent than any other Njorlghar ever, and could even be considered good if the definition were stretched a little. The Enlightened, while currently dwelling in the tunnels below Njorlghar, are seeking a place that they will be allowed to stay in the surface world. Lady Dawneye is petitioning for a seat on the Council, something vehemently opposed by many xenophobic bureaucrats.

That Lady Dawneye is female is remarkable in itself. The Njorlghar live in an incredibly patriarchal society; female leaders are completely and totally unheard of. Lady Dawneye is of average height for a female Njorlghar (roughly an inch shorter than the males) but the resemblances end there. Her fur is white, with streaks of blue running through it. It is unknown whether this is natural or a die. On her forehead is a bright blue mark that looks amazingly like an eye, this is where she takes her name from. Lady Dawneye does not fight (she has bodyguards that protect her from the inevitable assassination attempts of the Daggertail) and prefers her food cooked. She is, on the whole, a completely amazing Njorlghar. Her fur is often washed and she wears rich clothing, as opposed to the rags of other Njorlghar. It is unknown from which clan Lady Dawneye hails, as whichever clan it was certainly is not making a big deal of it.

Lady Dawneye disdains the Njorlghar language, seeing is as a mangled abomination. She can speak Common and Elven proficiently, and is working on Dwarven. She is actively seeking to reconstruct the Old Njorlghar language, as a language of their own would certainly be symbolic of the Njorlghar having a greater place in the world. She venerates Rudolphus, as do most of the Enlightened. She is hated by all the clans of Njorlghar, which is odd, because in a way she is the greatest Njorlghar patriot yet seen.

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4 Comments

  1. pieboy said,

    August 1, 2007 at 11:53 pm

    That was a total surprise. I didn’t know anything about these dudes.

    Cool.

  2. tuskedchimp said,

    August 2, 2007 at 12:06 am

    I mentioned them in passing back in a few of the first Alara posts.

  3. Daniel said,

    August 2, 2007 at 10:38 am

    I had forgotten about them too. That’s their nature, though, isn’t it? Everybody ignores them unless they cause trouble, which they often do but nobody can ever trace it back to them. So they mostly get ignored and/or forgotten about. Interesting, then, that we here in the “real world” forgot about them the same way that the more civilized inhabitants of Alara do.

  4. March 17, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    […] Njorlghar of the Undercity are many and varied, but they’ve already been gone over in the Njorlghar post, so go look at that, you wastrels […]


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