The Avarians are an avian/humanoid race that have evolved in the Thunder Peaks of western Ithria. An avarian appears to be a perfect blend of bird and human. An Avarian stands about five feet tall. Their thin body structures and hollow bones make them exceptionally light. Most Avarians weigh under 35 kilograms. The skin of an Avarian is covered with downy fuzz and feathers. Many subraces exist, but these only vary in size and color of plumage.
The defining physical characteristics of the avarians is their wing. Each avarian has two large, feathered wings. These wings are partially mounted on the back, but are also extensions of the arm. They consist of a flap of skin between the arm and body, but also extend out beyond the hand with an cartilage spine branching of from the elbow. The basic framework of the wing involves a large flap of skin on each side of the body that extends from the knee to the elbow, much like a bat or flying squirrel. This flap of skin is supported by several spines of cartilage that extend from the elbow and shoulders. A series of muscles along the arms, back and pelvis work in unison to flap the wing. Since the whole body is a sheath of muscle designed around this function, the avarian is a strong flyer.This odd fusion of avian and bat wing structure is not a true wing, nor completely independent of the arms, but somewhere in between. An avarian in flight is able to manipulate objects with his hands and has some limited arm movement.
The primary sense of the Avarian is sight. Hence, they have extremely good color vision. The Avarians have sight which is unmatched by any other race, equaling about 500% the human norm. Avarian eyes are also extremely sensitive to light and are able to adjust rapidly to varying light conditions, even moonlight. Only the phellysians have better night vision. The hands and feet are clawed much like the talons of a bird and have four digits. Avarians typically live to be about 70 years old. The physical features of the Avarian body allow sustained winged flight. The average Avarian is capable of lifting twice its body mass, maintaining wing-propelled flight for prolonged periods of time, gliding and performing many complex aerial maneuvers such as power dives. However, Avarians have difficulty hovering and are not able to fly backwards. Winged flight is typically three times faster than ground movement and the Avarians are very agile in the air.
The Avarians are an extremely proud race. They take offense easily and have a complex system of etiquette which other races transgress often. It is the Avarian pride that distances them from the rest of the world. Much of this pride and haughtiness comes from the fact that their homes reside on mountain tops above the other races. Only the Avarians are born with the ability to fly. Only the Avarians live so close to the sky and to the Gods of this world. (The Avarians believe that all deities live in the sky). It is viewed merely as a fact, by the avarians, that they are superior.
Jewelry tends to be colorful and fashioned from wood, twine, bone and leather more often than metal. It is often very light weight. It will sometimes incorporate gemstones, though only rarely. Clothing, tapestries, flags and similar items tend to be brightly colored. Avarians dislike confinement in any form (small corridor, prison cell, being bound) and usually feel more comfortable outside than within a building. Missile weapons and long stabbing weapons are favored. Light armor or no armor is the norm. Heavy and bulky armors make flight difficult and so most avarians stick to light weight armors - padded and leather being the most common.
Avarian religion is a dualistic faith... based upon two deities that represent two opposing sides (good versus evil). Like sides of a coin, the two are inextricably linked. These two polar deities represent the two sides to all things within the avarian world. Sky and Land, Good and Evil, Up and Down, Light and Darkness, Truth and Deceit. Their primary god is Arros, the Lord of Light, the Serene One. Opposing him is Setharus , the king of the underealm, the lord of gloom, the lurker in caverns, the keeper of secrets and the eater of the dead. He is the source of all greed, corruption and ill tidings.
This duality and conflict between the sky and the land influences many aspects of avarian culture. Things in higher position are always viewed more favorably. Things below or close to the ground are viewed unfavorably. Mining metal and cutting stone from the ground are labors that the avarians tend to avoid and regulate to slaves. Avarians dislike being beneath the ground. They can do it (such as when exploring ruins with fellow adventurers), but they dislike it.
Magic is approximately equal to human magic. Avarians are subject to the Drellis effect as are other mages. Priests are less common. About 1 in 2,500 Avarians pursues the study of magic and 1 in 6,250 become successful wizards. Avarian magic is not entirely compatible with the spells of other races and magical writings must be translated. Few laws restrict the use of magic.
Avar is a mountainous region containing seven Avarian cities and dozens of minor villages which dominate the mountain tops. The weather is cold and extremely windy. The mountainous terrain is very jagged with sheer cliffs and towering peaks. Deep narrow valleys permeate the mountains nestled between the sharp mountain tops. Resources include a variety of mountainous fauna and flora and large quantities of wood.
Avarian towns house hundreds of large wooden houses clustered about mountain tops and tiered mountain slopes. Such cities are large, complex, densely packed and completely immobile. One city may contain several thousand Avarians and several dozen subspecies. Each subspecies shares certain common physical characteristics (size, beak shape, feather coloration) and constitutes a clan. The avarian race consists of at least forty different clans.
The Avarians do have their own language known as Avarese consisting of complex series of chirps, clicks, whistles and twitterings. Most other races find this language difficult to understand and almost impossible to imitate. Non-avarian speakers of this tongue are exceedingly rare. However, the Avarians are capable of learning and speaking many other humanoid languages. The Avarians consider this another example of their superiority. The alphabet of the Avarian language reflects its complexity. Social literacy is about 60% as reading and writing is thought to reflect intelligence and superiority. Most records and histories are written. Literature and poetry are common. Art tends to be very visual in nature. Avarians music consists of rapidly played single notes that greatly mimics birdsong.
Relations with outside cultures are difficult due to physical isolation and cultural differences. Many Avarians travel, though. The frequency of Avarians in other nations declines with distance from Avar. Due to their flight capability, Avarians find easy employment in other nations as scouts and messengers. Avar is currently allied with no other nations. Avarians are known to most of the world as the "winged folk".
There is a subtle prejudice against dwarves and many avarians tend to view dwarves as lower class. This is mainly due to the dwarven tendency to live underground and their ferocious love of metal and stone. The two races could not be more different when it comes to their relationship with metal and stone. Avarians tend to be a bit arrogant and haughty with everone, but this is a more pronounced with dwarves and other subterranean races. For some avarians, this prejudice is not subtle.
Food is easily obtained. Avarians are omnivorous and thus have multiple options. Some agriculture is carried out in mountainous valleys. However, most food is procured through hunting and gathering. Each city takes care of its own needs. Surplus is stored and perishables are kept edible through the application of salting, cold stoarge, spices and/or magic.
Avarian technology is approximately equal to the human standard, though it lags behind in some areas. The avarians have a tendency to favor wood, leather, natural fibers, bone, antler and leaves in their technology and a dislike for relying on metal and stone. Because metal and stone are mined and quarried respectively, they are seen as materials "of the land". There is a subtle discrimination against the two as they are both seen as dirty or impure.
This dislike of metal and stone is not absolute. For instance, stone and wood are both used in avarian architecture. Metal is used in some jewelry and in some weapons. However, one will notice a tendency to avoid the use of metal or stone in avarian culture and technology where possible. Metal is used for some weapons and tools, but otherwise is rarely held or carried. Tools and weapons are similar to their human counterparts but tend to be lighter and decorative.
Wearing metal upon the body is even more disliked. The only exception to this is the occasional bit of jewelry that might incorporate wire. Because of this, armor tends to be cloth, padded, leather and other light weight types. Chainmail, plate mail and other metallic armors are almost completely shunned by the avarians. Even armor such as brigandine or splint mail armor utilize wooden strips or plates instead of metal.
As mentioned above, architecture is a mix of wood and stone construction. Avarians architecture often consists of large circular egg-shaped buildings called m'ktrykyas. These often have multiple elevated covered entrances called "high doors". Bridges and similar structures are rare, whereas balconies and ledges are common. Landbound creatures or "walkers" as they are commonly called generally find it difficult to move about an avarian city without assistance or magic.
Another common avarian architectural entrance is the prud'ka or "roof door". A prudka is a circular opening in the top level of a building, sort of like a pit. It is not part of the roof and the roof will often be open around the structure. The prudka is open to the sky. Doors on the inside walls of the prudka allow entrance to the top floor of the building. The prudka serves as a sort of entry hall and it is where greetings and goodbyes are conducted. Prudkas are favored by the wealthy and are considered quite fashionable. The size and decoration of the prudka denote social status. Typically, the House Sigil is often incorporated into the floor tiles of the prudka.
Avarians usually do not use other animals in productive capacities. (Most non-intelligent landbound life forms are viewed as a potential food source). However, Avarians do share an affinity with other avian life forms. Some larger avian life forms are befriended and used in various capacities.
Because avarians are such strong flyers, transportation does not pose much of a problem. Due to avarian pride, flying is viewed as the only "proper" means of getting around. Walking is limited to short distances only (i.e., from room to room). Transportation of materials is accomplished by one of two methods. Large cargoes are transported by teams of avarians or by large flying animals. Smaller cargoes are transported by runners (swift avarians) who also serve as messengers.
A typical avarian "runner".
Ownership laws parallel human standards. City governments, organization and institutions are also able to own property. Inheritance usually passes to the mate of the deceased, the oldest child or the parents, in that order. The monetary form varies from city to city but usually consists of small minted coins or small gems. Trade and barter is also not uncommon. Debt and credit are recognized by the culture.
The Avarian culture is patriarchal. Gender differences do exist in both rights and responsibilities. The males create and enforce the laws, defend the cities, obtain the food and generally run the entire civilization. Females lay and care for the eggs, raise the young and perform other simple labors.
The marriage system is surprisingly similar to human customs. Avarian marriage is monogamous. A single male selects a single female and mates for life. The Ceremony of Mating is a long and complex ritual involving both families and friends. Mate selection is almost always within the same subspecies - a male who selects a female of another subspecies is not granted the Ceremony of Mating and the two usually must find acceptance among the other races of the world.
Family form consists of two parents and children, as in many human societies. Avarian families tend to group by clan. Often, several families of the same clan will band together in a single mktrykya dwelling. Each such group of families is required to build their own mktrykya.
Avarian females usually produce between 1 and 4 eggs in her lifetime. Eggs require a 68 day incubation period. Pre-hatching death rate is low. Once hatched, an Avarian usually survives to adulthood. Small families are the norm.
Children are cared for and taught exclusively by the females. Discipline is lax as avarians tend to see punishment as barbaric. Rather, they obtain obedience through other methods. Recreation is almost always educational in nature. Once mature, avarians usually begin apprenticeships or study at one of the Avarian academies.
Avarian dead are taken to the temple of Arros and are burned on large pyres. Funeral ceremonies, like the Ceremony of Mating, are long and complex. The Avarian Death Chant is conducted as the deceased is burning. In it, the deceased is praised and all of his accomplishments and honors are named. Those who chant beg Arros to carry the departed soul up beyond the clouds where it can become one with the infinite sky. The ashes are left to the winds.
Avarian names consist of three parts : subrace type, family name and personal name. In casual, day to day conversation, only the personal name is used. The full three part name is usually reserved for more formal occasions.
Social stratification is pronounced. The Avarians do accept slavery and often utilize weak, mountain dwelling humanoids to this extent. The most common slaves used are skrell and ogres. Occasionally, a giant or goblin will also be enslaved. Avarians treat their slaves well, but the slaves are the lowest social class. The slaves are used to mine metal and quarry stone, two jobs that often going beneath the surface of the ground, a practice which is abhored by avarians. Above the slaves are the following separate classes : common citizens including craftsmen, hunters, gatherers and farmers, warriors, scholars, priests, mages and council members. It is important to note that flight ability influences social class. A warrior who flies well outranks a warrior who is a weak flyer. Similarly, an avarian with deformed or damaged wings suffers socially.
Each city is a self-contained governmental unit. It is governed by a central council which is in turn supported by various sub councils. The Council conducts all affairs : making laws, judging civil offenses, commanding the military and running the city. Council members are appointed by the Council. Individuals are selected from the population on the basis of wealth, personal status, past accomplishments, etc. Only males are eligible and membership is for life.
Each city maintains its own military force. This consists entirely of aerial warriors : archers (using the legendary avarian skybow), bombers (dropping large rocks, explosives, enemy corpses, etc.) and strafers (high speed passes using impact weapons or nets). An average city will have an armed force of about 500 members. The military also serves as aerial patrol and as hunters for the citys food needs.
Besides the Ceremony of Mating and the Death Chant, the Avarians have one other prominent ceremony known as the Sky War : an annual event involving aerial dogfights, flight contests, aerial formations, etc.
This website was last updated August 9, 2023. Copyright 1990-2023 David M. Roomes.