The Nekron: A New Take on Drow
Let me just say I HATE DROW. The DnD anti-elves really annoy the heck out of me. They are annoying two hit die monsters. They have become hugely popular because of some well written DnD fiction books. Yet, they don't make sense. So lets try again.
The Nekron are one of the most disturbing humanoid races. In height, weight, and build, they are somewhere between Human and Elf (classic fantasy Elf). There fingers are long and delicate. Their ears are small and somewhat pointed. This is not what makes them disturbing. It is their other features.
Their skin is ashen white and nearly translucent. One can almost see their organs and bones beneath. In a bright light you can. Their eyes have no iris or pupil. They are a solid milky white. They can see in near total darkness (and see heat). While their skin is smooth, it is very dry.
Their faces would be quite comely, if they had noses. It is if their noses are partially cut off, or like a corpse who's nose retracts as it desiccates. There is a slight ridge and two slits there. Some of the females have very, very petite noses, but that is a rare trait.
They have slightly elongated canines as well.
Their hair ranges from white to black, with various shades of steel grey in between.
Their bodies are cool to the touch. While not room temperature, they are many degrees below Human and Elven norms.
Their voices have an odd vibrato. It could be musical, in a way. But it is off. Like they should not be using their voices.
In terms of society...
They live underground or in windowless buildings. They are not fond of the sun. Prolonged exposure to the sun and the heat of the day is tiring at best, painful at worst. They will often cover their eyes with gauze when travelling outside during the day.
Their society is rigid and orderly. Their system of laws is legendary. It is complex and inflexible, but it covers every possible situation.
There word is more than their bond, it is their life. However, they will only stick to the letter of their word, not the intent.
They are people based on law and letters, not feelings and morals. They do not have friends, they have people they transact personal elements with. You don't do things for your friends. You do things for people who will do things for you (or have done them in the past).
The Nekron came from somewhere else and are not sure how they got to this cursedly bright and warm place. The world above is like a hell to them.
Just a thought - I think they have too little emotion and feelings in them. Somehow, they seem to lack a ... soul?
Even the Duerga, the paramount of law and order, have feelings. Pride: in their craft and 'offspring'. Honour. Fear of silence. Determination to make the world a better place (not necessarily better for ALL, but still)
What drives the Necron?
Wish to survive?
Perverse delight in defiance of the world that was forced upon them?
The drive to be better than all others?
As for the voice and translucence - perhaps ... the light was different, back home, and their skin was meant to ward it off; or, it might have been an adaptation to let harmful radiation through, or even let a sort of beneficial radiation reach some internal organs.
The voice may have sounded a little different in the cradle of their race, the air compostion being different.
This could lead to some things, like a special Necron solarium that has light 'just like real'. I guess their music will either not have vocals, but be extremely precise intrumental art, or they might have special chambers with different (toxic to others?) air where they can sing.
You know, you could fill them with nostalgia and a sense of superiority, with disdain and disgust of all that is this world - they might even yearn to shed their bodies to return home.
Still, they should have SOME reason to interact with others as to be playable.
What might that be?
I'm getting images of underground metropolises of Gothic-gargoyle-covered buildings, made from basalt, with diffuse purple light.
So far, I like it- no constant slaughter or chaotic intrigue. They sound like a bizarre, disturbing, somewhat sad race.
I am also reminded (by the physical description) of Lily Lazer from HIM. He would be the very picture of a Nekron, to my mind, if his nose was just a bit more skull-like.
What do the Nekron worship, if anything at all?
Do they work magic? Do they keep slaves or whatnot?
Perhaps the main drive of their existence as a culture is to find the way home. All of their necromantic strength is bent on getting away from the Overland.
Enlightened Self Interest is what drives them. In short, these are people who need strong leaders or lacking that strong laws/ codes to follow. I see a web of legalism to hold their society together. If they want anything more than the basics, they need to work and work hard within the rules to get what they want. If you sit back and don't try to get around the rules, you will probably get squat. So everyone is working an angle, edging to get those things they want.
Are they greedy? Not really. Their culture is one that restricts and prevents people from getting things. You have to work hard underneith these rules to get anything beyond the bare basics. Thus they are all trained from an early age to work on it.
A society based on a serious codes of law is a good thing. A society where basic goods are distributed fairly is a great thing. It is only when these societies develop and develop that the weight of the laws begins to hold the people down that there is problems. Since this society is an old one, the burden of laws is probably pretty heavy.
Resources being a touch scarce, and with no law against it, they may eat the dead. It might even be seen as a touching gesture to feed your family one last time.
And since they are immortal or long lived, they have a long time to remember things. They remember the hungry times (lets face it undground dwellers are short of food, water, and space most of the time). They remember the person who stopped them from getting what they wanted (grudges). You can see where this is going.
Voice and Music
As for music... they may have singing. It just would sound awful to us. Imagine an Wagner-esk Opera with choppy vocals and most of the musical instruments being metal percussion and wind. The mind will just go ... 'huh'.
As for the sunlight issues. images of underground metropolises of Gothic-gargoyle-covered buildings, made from basalt, with diffuse purple halflight. It makes the cities errie. I like that. Perhaps they swish two chemical together in balls to make these purple glows.
aside: Perhaps they have domesticated gargoyles or are allied with their gargoyle race?
I would think the Nekron work magic. There are probably serious rules about its use to. They have a strong magical tradition, in a supporting role for their society (just like the Elves). They might do necromancy and other morally offensive magics because they are not illegal to them. (Maybe a minor Undead economy?). Perhaps they have towers that absorb magic, so their mages may use it more efficiently. Those towers might disrupt the Elven (and common) magic above ground. Hence part of the hatred people might have against Nekron.
They might have slaves. Why idle a resource in jail, when they can work off their violation of the rules. Minor infractions will have fines. Major infractions will have indentured servitude. True Crimes will have a death penalty. Yah, walk on the grass here...
Nekron worship... hmmmm. A heavenly buracracy. Thousands of Gods that have to be worshiped just so. Even their afterlife would be a tangled web of laws and punishments.
(You know, these people might have such a bad rap topside because the people who are escaping this oppressive society go beserk in the effective freedom of topside).
I do have one concern on the subterranean ecology. What do they eat? Farming and aquaculture are rather out of the question lacking in the sort of light required to grow plants, and with no plant life, there are no herbivores and nothing to feed the carnivores. Unless the underground kingdom is pretty much typical fantasy with a stone roof, there arent going to be rivers and streams everywhere. What do they do with their waste? What about the bypoducts of it, gases and poisons and such?
I think eating the dead would be more a matter of pragmaticism that could take on a religious nature, an interesting twist on the feast of the dead.
What do they eat? Farming and aquaculture are rather out of the question lacking in the sort of light required to grow plants, and with no plant life
Cop out: It's a fantasy world.
More creative: Create a non-photosynthetic ecology. Earth has sulpher-binding bacteria near super-heated deep ocean vents that form the basis of an ecology of sheet algaes, giant tube worms, crustaceans and fish - no light, except for some bioluminescence. Do the same thing underground.
Start with slime growing on hot underground pools, organisms (fungi) that bind the slime, critters that eat the organisms, things that grow 'leaves' to capture air-born nutrients on larger surface areas, animals that feed on the leaves, predators that feed on the leaf-eaters, bioluminescence to cast a nice eerie glow over it all. The further from the source of nutrients, the rarer and more 'desert-like' the flora and more ambulatory the fauna. Add flood-cycles and modest eruptions to create a local 'weather system' that could even be cyclic (think 'Old Faithful', but on a longer cycle).
Large, very weird and outrageously smelly (to terrestial noses) 'farms' could develop along with 'irrigation' and so on as Nekron agriculture takes hold. The Nekron toss their waste back into the hot pools as fertilizer. They can also have a pharmacology ('Rust wort cures burns'), breed for increased yields, and have herds of leaf-eaters to provide meat, bone, hide, milk/cheese or whatever. And lap-squoggles with glossy tongues and distinguished pedigrees.
Or something like that.
as long as you got some sort of nutrients, fungi can grow on it. Thus, I guess mushrooms'd be quite a common treat.
Then, if you look into how chlorophyll works, you see it is a chelate, a molecule with a central copper atom (correct me if I am wrong) that gets 'excited' when hit by sunlight, e.g. energy and passes the energy on to create ATP, the life's universal energy currency ... you just have to have a different molecule that reacts to a different kind of energy. Heat. Motion. Magic. Thoughts (think hard, son! these crops have to be ready 'till next week!). Whatever.
Thinking of the general lack of resources they suffer from, they'd be masters of recycling and ecology in general...
Not only Dwarf'n'Dumplings and Goblin Gulash, but more so. Think down the 'goblin soap' line of thought.
So, while filters clean the air of pollutants, those very pollutants can be put to work elsewhere. Are they biolgical? Fertilizer. Are they toxic? Weapons, or (al)chemical processing...
Likewise, faeces will be used to provide soil, old blades reforged, paper recycled.
Given their need to keep the subterranean ecosystem in balance, they will know the nature intimately, even more than surface elves...
I had not thought of their being masters of recycling. Of scrounging and frugal living yes, but not recycling. This does tie in nicely with their strong oppressive central government. The central committee would then make sure everything that could be collected was. The Central Committee would probably reallocate personal items every now and again.
'But those candle sticks have been in my family for two generations'
'I am sorry citizen, but we need the silver for both coinage and for the new manna condensor. You can apply for recompensation in the department of impounded recycling with form 35b/2. Then take the form to the department's requisition for endorsement. Then you know what to do, go to central disbersement, goto your ward's office......'
One magical/ technological item I have had for Elves and Dwarves are Glow Balls. Elven GlowBalls or Elven Lights are small baseball sized orbs (9 in/ 23cms in circumference). Using a static enchantment, the enhance a stone ball to glow like a firefly, with white/ green light. DeepLights of the Dwarves are larger (11 in/30 cms in circumference). These are chemical lights mixing sulfer and some mushroom based microbes, if kept warm, will continue to give off an amber glow. Necroballs are hybrids between DeepLights and ElvenLights. They are chemicals enhanced by small spells. They give off a deep purple light. The closer they are to a tower (manna transducer, the brighter they glow). They will glow for a while if kept warm away from a tower, but they will eventually extinguish.
Humans just use candles or wasteful wood fires of course.
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? Responses (23)
Ok, I like this. Their skin is the perfect example of a sunless race should be. Animals found in the depths of caverns or underwater have no skin pigment and are translucent as Moon as stated for the Nekron. Why? There is no radiation to turn their skin. A race with black skin just because... I never liked it. A desert race with dark/ balck skin, perfect reason. I like this version better.
Edited after seeing Moon wasn't done with posting the submission.
MoonHunter, I admire you for taking a D and D race that you really HATE and forging something decent out of it.
A brilliant take on an otherwise awful race. These are very good and very useable.
Whoa, ok I retract my previous statements... Good job Moon, Ill look through the War and Peace when I get a second.
Even a race like the Drow can be turned into something good.
Holy Bejesus... this is long eh? The original post without comments - I'm very impressed with how good a picture I have in my mind and what a strong feel I have for a race with so few words - very impressive!
After reading comments and additions I'll give this a 5. By far the longest post I've seen, I reckon this is more how the citadel used to be.... all forums and such instead of individual posts. Sort of a collaborative thing. (I don't mean to say it will be worse now, just a different format I think.. I wasn't around before.)
Awesome. I really like aspects of this race and will figure out something to do with them or a variant of them.
This is something everyone should really consider putting into their worlds. I'm working on fitting them into mine right now!
A sight better than most of the D20 crap about Drows.
I like these a lot better than standard drow. They seem a little too clinical to me though... Like something from X-files or something.
It could be written a lot better, but I still like it, A much better take on the Drow.
Someone should write up a Nekron for the Quest.
First off: awesome. It's a great entry, man. Second, though: Nekrons. Really. The bloody Necrons? I hate having to be the one who points out the similarities between what people put in and things from Warhammer, since some bugger is inevitably going to see that I also draw inspiration from various things and call me a hypocrite, but damn it, there's a DIFFERENCE between simply gaining inspiration from something and even being so lazy as to take the name from a very SIMILAR group (albeit one that isn't alive), and change only one letter to retain the sound but create a name that on paper looks much less appealing. Let's review: the Necron race was created by the company Games Workshop for their sci-fi series Warhammer 40,000. Much like the NEKRONS, the Necron usually are to be found underground, abhor the light, have no nose, have visible skeletons (since that's really what they are, walking, mechanical skeletons), have very strange voices (only their lords talk, but whatever), and are described as NOT POSSESSING SOULS. Now really, I'm not very upset about just those similarities; it's the name. It's just so bloody LAZY to simply change ONE LETTER. I'm not so stupid as to ignore something so irritably obvious.
Did you follow the linkage to the City Image? I think you would find it interesting. All the City Images are showing the city and its people and history through and only through its architecture.
To your points.
While I play many games, I do not play Warhammer and was totally unfamiliar with what you were talking about. Nobody to date had pointed it out either. (not as many Warhammer fans out there as I would expect).
It was simple an adaption of term necros to make a familiar sounding, death related ,racial name. I derrived a similar sounding name the same way they did. I changed the spelling to avoid the hyperblatent association that the Warhammer people went for.
As for the other similarities, if you are doing something that is an underground dweller, you will have the same adaption (that is simple biology). And to be honest, the Drow seem to be the antethesis of what they should be (biologically speaking). Which is why I pushed those "anti-drow traits" farther. Add the alien/ traveller aspect, gives them a more realistic origin than... Elves who hid underground. And the society of mine makes more sense... logistically.. than the standard drow approach. That is their entire positioning of the post.
With all the input, these guys have become interesting. Yay for the Citadel!
Yah, one of the better discussions of old. Many juicy details to peruse.
A very good replacement for the Drow, who otherwise are only good for 'tragic' characters and cheesecake art. In my own campaign the only allowed drow are a desert-dwelling variant of the barbaric drow of the D&D Eberron setting, but these translucent elves deserve to get a place. The description of an underground stalinistic-communistic society reminds me of the Human Hive faction in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri game, maybe the rise of a figure comparable to the leader of that faction explains why this unknow race is now letting itself know to the world. A methodical war of the underworld against the surface would be a bigger threat than the random raids of the old-style drows!
It the added ideas that really make this one 4.5/5
A decent race - I like them - and the discussion and evolution of the race from the discussion is excellent. It would make sense to redo the submission using the material in the discussion to fill it out.