by C. Stephens ©2011 v1.2. Submitted for use with the World of Imarel.
Average Height: 8 feet (males), 6.5 feet (females)
Average Weight: 500lbs (males), 350lbs (females)
Features: Fine body coat from head to toe, males have crested manes, all have gold, jade or amber eyes.
Languages Spoken: Ferinali, Northlandic, Voraathi, Elvish and Common
Racial Age Limit: Roughly 150 to 175 years.
Racial Nicknames: Lionmen, Mouse-Chasers, Furballs
Ferinals are a race unique within Imarel: Bipedal, sentient, and intelligent lionish humanoids. They are vaguely humanoid, greatly resembling their distant Zodasian cousins. Their limbs are long and corded with thick, coiled muscles that can store and burn energy with extreme efficiency, especially in times when food and water are scarce. Ferinals have strong, dignified features with powerful jaws that house large, carnivorous teeth made for ripping and tearing large quantities of raw meat. Their ears are small and round, positioned at the top of their head with a good range of motion for their excellent hearing. Eye color is usually gold or amber, and any variation in between. No other eye color is possible.
All Ferinals are covered with a fine, dense body coat; depending upon the region will vary in thickness and color. Ferinals in the Burning Lands will display silky, short gold coats to help them blend in with the sands, as well as helping to keep their temperatures regulated under the extreme temperatures of the desert. For the Ferinals of Zoda, their body coats tend to be much thicker and coarser, colored dark tawny for the grasslands, and almost silver for the Ferinals in the colder, northern climates. The few Ferinals of Miroa are ruddier in coloring, with coarser coats than those in Zoda.
Males are generally much larger and bulkier than the females. The males, as with most lions, are bestowed with generous, bushy manes which, by adulthood, are all but shaved off and trained to stand upright in stiff crests. Some females have retained an ability to grow hair, those that do generally plait it into hundreds of tiny braids adorned with stone beads.
Every Ferinal is taught to walk upright from an early age, though some may see this as very awkward as their legs are shaped like a lion’s hind-legs, walking on thickly-padded, digitigrade paws. Their arms do somewhat resemble a humanoid’s, though they are outfitted with thumbed forepaws. Each paw, including their lower feet, has independently extendable/retractable claws. Though a Ferinal has the ability to revert back to all fours, the option is rarely taken. Every Ferinal also has a tail, about four feet in length in adulthood, for counterbalance. Some fit the tufted ends of their tales with bits of metal shrapnel, to use as an additional weapon.
There have been a few documented cases of albinism in Ferinals and most albino Ferinals do not live to see adulthood. All black Ferinals fair a better chance, though they are nearly as rare as albino Ferinals. Much of the Ferinal folklore suggests that a black-furred Ferinal is a born leader of a pride, though not all black-furred Ferinals have lived up to this expectation.
Racial Abilities and Limitations
Superhuman Strength and Agility: This allows for physical feats such as bringing down large prey and surviving in harsh conditions by means of either quickly striking or quickly hiding (+10% to all attack rolls, -35% bonus to overall armor rating for melee/range/spells, overall increased movement speed).
Demon Sense: Having been born of the Cataclysm, a natural (unnatural) enemy of the Ferinal were the fiends the Cataclysm created. This was an ability developed over time; if a fiend wandered in their direction, the Ferinals are alerted to it through a deep-seeded feeling, and can therefore raise the appropriate defenses (55% chance to detect any infernal being, must be actively searching).
Uncanny Escape: Ferinals are extremely agile and dexterous creatures, as such they have the natural ability to evade any missile attack, save for those conducted at point blank range. Additionally Ferinals can dodge most melee attacks with the same proficiency, providing the attacker does not possess some form of super-human speed (55% to evade one attack per round and must forgo all other attacks that round).
Physical Hardiness: While Ferinals cannot regenerate, their physical durability is such that it is incredibly hard to injure them by normal means. Even shooting one with a flintlock at close range, providing you hit the deft Ferinal is by no means a guarantee for a kill. With a powerful heart and vascular system, they are able to maintain long chases as well, making them greatly feared adversaries whilst fleeing from them. This physical hardiness also makes them resilient to most natural diseases and poisons, though this does not confer immunity (85% to resist all poison/toxin based attacks, 60% to ignore crippling effects for 1d4 rounds).
Extraordinary Stealth: It is within the feline nature to be both extremely silent in movement and instinctively be able to hide themselves both in dark places and in plain sight. For that reason, Ferinals are unsurpassed in their hiding and sneaking capabilities, regardless of the environment (+85% to hide when out of combat).
Inability to Use Arcane Magic: Because they were created from the strongest chaotic magic possible, no Ferinal is willing to submit themselves to the use of magic that does not come from a divine source. Whether or not they can actually wield arcane magic is actually unknown since tribal law forbids it (-15% to any attack roll using an arcane weapon or item).
Susceptibility to Arcane Magic: Likewise, as they were created by the destructive force of the Cataclysm, Ferinals are incredibly susceptible to magic.If exposed to it from wounds for longer than fifteen minutes, they will become weak and nauseous, but will be able to move. Longer than thirty minutes however however is enough to render a Ferinal too weak to move. A half hour more, will render the Ferinal unconscious. Being struck with an arcane weapon or spell with lasting effects causes blood poisoning and is treated the same way (treat as lesser Bane damage).
Life From the Fires of Destruction: The Birth of the Ferinal Race
The great ripple of powerful Chaos Magic that was the result of the Cataclysm of D`Mir, created monstrosities such as the Anamalians and countless other abominations too terrible to behold, let alone mention. Yet, ultimately, the shock-wave of chaotic magic, while by no means benevolent, is credited with the creation of the Ferinals. It was thought that when the shock-wave mushroomed out, Humanoids (possibly Asyndi) that had been living in what was once the D`Mirian Plains were fused with a breed of plains lion similar to the ones that roam Zoda today. It is uncertain how this fusion took place; some scholars suggest that the humanoids might have been Shar`Vaire, who were transporting captured D`Mirian Plains Lions to the capital when the civil war broke out. Others postulate that no humanoid crossing was involved at all, but the Chaos Magic pulse that tore through Tal`Rah merely advanced the evolution of these lions.
With terrible abominations and undead that could kill with a mere glance wandering what was left of the D`Mirian Plains (which would be later renamed the Burning Lands), escape was tantamount to their ultimate survival. Ferinals that made it to safety began to gravitate to one another, thus forming the first semblance of a pride. These early months were rough, filled with sorrow as their numbers fell by half. Because the newly-made Burning Lands was fraught with danger, they fled out into the where they could and hid when fighting was not an option.
Some died of starvation or dehydration or because of the devastation and their own transformation. Some Ferinals succumbed to numerous anomalies within them created by the massive amount of chaotic magic. Even more, though, fell victim to whatever wandered out of the Ruins of D`Mir and onto the open land. This new, baby race was weak and confused; they could not speak and they could not fend. It was clear, as a people they either had to adapt quickly or die. They learned how to defend themselves, utilizing new abilities and they learned to hunt. Numbers proved to be their greatest ally, thus the first pride, known as the Rrroxin, was formed. Language developed, rough and simplistic at first, growing into the complexities that make up Ferinali today. The Rrroxin, translated to the Foundation from Ferinali, became the founding bloodlines from which every living Ferinal could trace their ancestry back to.
They found favor in the nomadic lifestyle, though even this was fraught with hazards. Wandering brought them face-to-face with either surviving Shar`Vaire, random demons, or undead at times – each experience taught them new lessons, sometimes harsh lessons when one or more of their pride would fall to the encounter. Time taught the Ferinals to see the Burning Lands as a friend, instead of their enemy. Instead of fighting against it at every turn, they sought a harmony within the wastelands. Generations of Ferinals rose and fell, before they truly formed the deep bond with the desert. Early Ferinals had incredibly short lifespans. As natural (and sometimes unnatural) selection culled the weak from the bloodlines, they began to grow stronger, life expectations lengthened, and the Ferinals began to flourish.
Not every Ferinal in the pride was content with living in a place so hostile that it would as soon as steal the water from one’s body, as provide water and nourishment. Ten generations from the initial creation, dissent from within the pride caused a split in the Rrroxin; unrest with the Burning Lands caused a quarter of the Rrroxin pride to migrate northwards, in hopes of finding a more hospitable environment in which to live, hunt, and grow in. The dissenting Ferinals had to travel carefully; Shar`Vaire had taken a fancy to hunting them for their hides, and for the fun of it. At the edge of the Burning Lands, they found Edgewood. It was the first contact with any humanoids that were non-hostile. Still preferring solitude, these Ferinals kept their distance, but maintained regular contact with the Wild Elves and Humans of Edgewood. They quickly picked up the Elvish language, and re-discovered their forgotten Common language.
Through the trade-folk that came through Edgewood, word traveled of a promising land called Zoda. It was said to be much colder than what they were used to, but it was largely unsettled and their worst foe, the Shar`Vaire, would not populate there for the cold climate. The elves convened with the Ferinals and both came to a mutual decision, Zoda was the best place for them to settle, for those that wished to migrate further, rather than remain near the Wild Elves, yet still dangerously close to the Burning Lands.
The pride of Zoda, known, ironically as the Brrr pride grew and prospered on the plains of Zoda. They quickly adapted to the colder climate, developing a thicker, tawny body coat to keep them warm and give them some camouflage. Eventually the Brrr pride split, one half staying behind in the grasslands, the other half trekking north to become Kieja Ma`irri. These, know as the Lions of the Ice, adapted to the much colder environment of the northern regions, their body coats lightening to a silver coloring, and thickening even further, growing dense undercoats in light of the harsh freezes.
Like their kin in Tal`Rah, the Kieja and Brrr prides never stayed in one place for very long. In doing this, they each had their first encounter with the Voraath. With like ideals, for the most part, the Ferinals and Voraath got on well, the only problems arising when the Ferinals encountered the Vakar Nas (Crushing Fist) and Khag-Jaht (Demon Eaters) tribes. Battles waged between tribes and prides were terrible scenes to behold, with the Voraath driving the Ferinals back at nearly every battle. This was largely due to the fact that the Voraath had far more combat experience than the fledgling Ferinals, combined with the sheer brute strength and endurance the golden-skinned giants of Zoda had. These battles, however epic were thankfully, few and far between, only occurring whenever one or the other wandered through the other’s territory. In this, the Kieja and Brrr prides became considerably more aggressive at defending their claimed land.
During this time of growth for the Ferinals in Zoda, there were exceptional changes being made for the Ferinals of the Burning Lands. The first split that took a quarter of the Ferinals away to Zoda began a split of the massive Rrroxin pride. Eventually the Rrroxin became four nomadic prides: the Grritxan (Blackpaw), the Shurrash (Longtooth), the Osarra`irri (Stone Lion), and the Grrata`irri (Strong Lion). Of the four, the Grritxan and the Shurrash adopted peaceful, gentle ways, being the most hospitable to strangers, caravans, and wanderers. The other two, the Osarra`irri and the Grrata`irri, developed aggressive and battle-minded ideals, frequently waging battles against whomever they crossed, even amongst their own.
No one is quite sure how Ferinals ended up in Miroa. The Ferinals there now, however, are much more aggressive and cunning, even feral-like, than their Tal`Rahian or Zodasian kin. To survive in Miroa for any length of time, intelligence and battle-readiness are acutely necessary, which the Irrak Izhi`irr (Lions of the Dead) possess in great quantities. This tribe of Ferinal is the only humanoid race to actually populate the dangerous land of eternal death, save for Masoq, with whom they war with nearly as much as they do the undead.
The Culture of the Ferinal People
Despite their chaotic creation, the Ferinal as a people and culture flourished. Within each pride is a chief and their mate. Chief positions were primarily male roles, passed down from father to son; however, in times when it was necessary, females would step into the role without question or challenge, oftentimes leading their people as well as a male. This has softened the often patriarchal mentality of the Ferinal, but many that cling to tradition still find apprehension in a female chieftain.
A shaman can be either male or female, advising and counseling the people as well as the chief; they beseech the Spirits of Life and Temperance, the Great Grandfather (Kaal) and Great Grandmother (Zorah) for aid in healing, wisdom, and guidance, through prayer and song. A god’s will was taken into serious account, for they, ultimately, decided whether or not a Ferinal would live or die, or gain the knowledge. It is the shaman’s purpose to interpret this. Ferinal shaman will also aid another Ferinal in vision quests, especially young Ferinals on the journey to find their life’s path. The medicine man/woman tends to immediate physical healing, utilizing passed on knowledge of the surrounding land and the body’s own unique abilities to help an injured Ferinal heal. If that is a Ferinal’s life path, they will begin to learn from an elder healer immediately until such a time when the responsibilities need to be passed from elder to apprentice.
It is the lore keeper’s purpose to pass on the traditions, legends and lore of the Ferinal, and the lore of their specific pride. They teach the young, record significant events of the pride, and record the births and deaths that ultimately affect the pride’s numbers. The lore keeper is usually the eldest member of the pride, the position not being given until a Ferinal is at least sixty years of age, and only then are they an apprentice to the elder lore keeper, for there is much to remember. Usually a lore keeper has held other significant positions within the pride, shamans are sometimes the best candidates for lore keepers.
Warriors are chosen through a series of challenges and vision quests. They must prove their strength is equal to their courage, their intelligence equal to prowess, wit equal to their honor. A common trial for the young warrior is to set out on their own and hunt an Anamalian, one of the toughest predators to kill. If the spirits show, and approval is met with the council of elders, the young Ferinal will be made a warrior.
Male Ferinal make up a vast majority of the warriors within a pride. It is a tradition for all male Ferinals to shave their bushy manes down to nothing but a strip, starting from adolescence when it begins to grow in. The remaining mane, is a short-shorn strip starting from a point in between their ears and stops between their shoulder blades. From youth, it is allowed to grow very slowly, keeping it cut low until adulthood. When a young male finds their life path, the surface of the crest is lightly stained with a certain color; red signifies a warrior, blue signifies a shaman, purple indicates a healer, green signifies the lore keeper, and black is indicative of the chief.
A mane is never given black dye until the time comes for a new chief to take his or her place as leader of the pride. Likewise, a mane is never given the green coloring until it is necessary for a new lore keeper to step in. As the Ferinal grows in maturity, age, and distinction, more dye will be allowed, as their mane crest grows longer. Should any of these positions be filled by a female, her hair will either be dyed the necessary color, or she will be given something to wear of that color, such as a piece of sacred jewelry.
Additionally, great honor is placed in the things they hunt or kill. A warrior will frequently incorporate an Anamalian’s bone quills into their mane crest or the tuft of their tail, or use a Sand Drake’s’ bones for weapons after a successful hunt, thereby honoring what they killed by taking aspects of that animal into themselves. Every part of an animal taken down during a hunt is used for the needs of the pride, nothing is ever wasted. Aside from the obvious uses for meat, blood will be used for dyes, bones used for weapons and tools, hides, depending upon the animal, are used for making shelters and the few clothes that they do wear, or wrapping for hand grips on their massive bows, cartilage and sinew utilized for securing heads on their spears and arrows, and making for durable drawstrings for their bows.
The Traditions of the Ferinal People
Maturity for mating is typically reached at about sixteen years of age, however the young are not encouraged to take a mate until they have found their life’s path, and have set to a good journey upon it. Ferinal typically mate for life, unless a mate falls to battle or hunt, then a second mate may be considered, though it is rare, and approval for the coupling must be approved by the council of elders. It is not at all unusual to find an unmated warrior among the pride, the more dedicated warriors wait until they are older and have most of the fire out of their blood before they will ultimately settle down.
Mating can occur any time of the year. Typically a female will give birth to two cubs, though three is not unusual. Every member of the pride has a hand in the raising of young, and every member being sacred to that pride, always has something significant to contribute to the way the new cubs will grow and prosper.
Death is greatly honored as a part of the life-cycle, including their own. When a Ferinal falls to cruel pleasure or sport hunts, and their body cannot be recovered, the possessions are burned on a pyre in lieu of the fallen, a ceremony performed just as if they were burning the body itself. Their spirit and soul are given back to the Great Grandfather and Grandmother; the ashes will be taken to a place called the Sacred Rock in the Burning Lands, where it is said the first Ferinals found each other; this is done with great care, for the site is dangerously close to D`Mir.
Ceremonies and traditions, for the Ferinal, are a major part of life. Significant aspects of life are given ceremony and celebrated: birth, transition into adulthood, marriage, a good hunt, the need for a good hunt, and death. These ceremonies help the Ferinal people establish social bonds, develop a sense of unity with the pride and foster a strong sense of both religious and moral values based on that particular pride’s traditions.