For an Orc life is suffering. In a practical sense, an Orcs life is a short, violent and brutal affair. In a metaphysical sense Orc’s know that they are ultimately an utterly abominable and cursed race of species, the unholy spawn of the Demon Queen Arrakus and the bestial earth Primordial Gyannicus. They know what their violent, aggressive and bestial nature is, they know the sickening and twisted appearance that stares back at them. Even an Orcs birth almost guarantees the death of its mother as it tears its way out of her womb. They know the terror they instill in other races, they accept this. Orc’s embrace their nature, own it and fully become it within their short lifespans. For most Orcs, the best fate it could hold is to die gloriously in battle and in this sense Orcs are utterly reckless when it comes to fighting.
Since life is suffering Orcs resolve to cause as much suffering as possible within their short lifespans and do so with absolutely no remorse, any more than a wolf would show remorse tearing apart a young lamb.
Orcs favor underground lairs and places that are dark, wet and moist. Some scholars believe that this is simply as Orcs tire more easily during the day rather than at night hence why they tend to travel exclusively at night. There is another explanation. Orcs believe they disgust the sun itself and prefer to travel when not under its judging light that reveals their disgusting forms.
The Half-Orc is rather a more pitiable creature. They know their Orcish nature but the human side of them is constantly in a pitched battle to fight against it creating a constant state of tension and anxiety within the Half-Orc. The human instincts they possess of ambition give them the frightful goal of somehow having to deal with their darker Orc side. Thus a Half-Orc can be far scarier than an Orc as rather than merely being aggressive the Half-Orc combines it with a human cunning and all the flaws of being human too. Human societies will shun Half-Orcs for the most part, failing to see any difference between them and their more bestial Orc cousins. Orc clans, however, will accept a Half-Orc into their ranks if they prove themselves worthy enough and many Half-Orcs can become powerful leaders of Orc warbands as they have the ambition and ingenuity that goes along with the Orcs natural brutality.
It is a commonly held myth that Half-Orcs are born as a result of sexual violence. Whilst a scary tale young mothers tell their daughters to keep them at home it is not true. In reality, Orcs have little interest in copulating with humans or any other race. Half-Orcs are born as a result of the obsession some humans gain towards Orcs, these humans integrate themselves with the Orc tribes and if this happens to be within a seasonal mating period then often the result is a half-orc. A human is unlikely to survive long within an Orc tribe but the same can be said of most Orcs. Orcs aren’t particularly racially exclusive in respects to their way of life, if a being of another race can prove that they can keep up with the pace and life of an Orc tribe then they will be treated as just as much one of them as anyone else for better or worse. Few other races would want to belong anywhere near an Orc tribe, however, the likes of Ogres, Giants, Trolls, and Goblinoids will often join a tribe for protection, convenience, or the sheer joy of it.
Hartha, a Half-Orc who originated at some point in the year -200 taught another way for Orc’s and Half-Orcs to follow that many humans have also latched upon too. Hartha taught that yes, life is suffering, but absolution from this suffering comes from releasing oneself from desire by following a method known as the 5 pointed star.
These monks can be characterised by their shaven heads, orange robes, and bare feet. They eschew material belongings, live on what food they can either grow or are given freely and in what shelter they can find or are offered and spend their highly ritualised in a state of meditation and spiritual cleansing.
To a human life is ambition. Such ambition has driven humans to be the dominant race within the world of Ashfen for they constantly strive onwards and onwards to keep building, keep expanding and keep warring. The largest known human empire was the Rhufeinig Empire whose lands stretched from Elbion in the west to Arthia in the East. They fell apart roughly in the year 120.
Whilst such ambition is a driving motivator for a human it also means that Humans struggle to live within the present. They must always be doing the next thing, achieving the next thing, striving towards some goal. Elves would consider this behavior rather rushed and hasty. Why not take your time? A Halfling would simply wonder what the need was to keep striving onwards. Why not just sit, eat, drink and enjoy what you have?
Humans are the most culturally diverse of all the races. They are, despite some humans certainly having many prejudices, the most likely to integrate the other races into their cities, kingdoms, and empires. Even Orcs have been known to have been used as shock troops within Human empires and charismatic humans can gain control of the likes of Orcish tribes for their own nefarious ends.
Within the land of Elbion humans make up the majority of the ruling classes and much of the population. There are notably a noble family of Elves and of Dwarves integrated within the power structure as well as various independent states.
For a halfling life is abundance. Halflings do not as a result fear something like a famine for they know the earth will soon again bless them again with fruits and they will survive with any abundant stock they have in the meantime. They live quiet and peaceful existences within small, agrarian communities towards the peripheries of human settlements. They also live within the present. If they have a warm fire, food in their belly and a cup of ale in their hand they couldn’t imagine being any more happy for that is all they need. Hence the halfling proverb to ‘Consider the flowers of the field, they do not work, they do not spin.’
Some Halflings do find they enjoy the hustle and bustle of larger settlements with the big folk and integrate themselves within human communities. They make fine chefs, vineyard workers, and innkeepers for their place even away from their traditional homes is always the home. They enjoy worshipping Felese goddess of the harvest and Bacchia, goddess of wine and merriment.
There are some halflings who find they lust for adventure. This is not to say that they do not enjoy the life of agrarian leisure that their fellow Halflings embody but something itches at them, some little tick that makes them want to branch out. They want to see Elves, high mountains, foul Orcs and fearsome dragons and not just in stories. Halflings who have these sort of itches can be looked down upon by their fellow Halflings for such urges always bring trouble. When a Halfling with this itch does decide to go off on an adventure they do eventually, should they survive, return home and settle back into things with the itch firmly scratched. It is also likely they have hoarded a large amount of loot as a result of their escapades so live comfortable lives when they return even by Halfling standards.
To an Elf Life is Beauty. Nothing can be good that is not beautiful and there can be no beauty that is not good. It is fortunate that despite their incredibly long lifespans Elves do not age and so retain their beauty indefinitely.
Should you find yourself in an Elven settlement, especially a High Elven settlement, you may be asked to wear a finely crafted mask simply because your visage offends the denizens of the settlement. Exceptions can be made for particular attractive humans, although a Dwarf will always be made to wear a mask despite his protests at how fine the length of his beard is.
Elves were the first race to walk upon the lands of Ashfen and it is unlikely you will go long talking to an Elf without them bringing this up. Elves live within the past, looking longingly back towards their eternal ancestry as their race slowly fades.
There are few Elves left within the world at this point. Most of those are settled within secluded regions of the land. Some do integrate with the wider kingdoms and due to their skill, intelligence, lifelong experience and the respect that humans give them, they have little trouble gaining powerful positions within society. The current head of the Sarkoth magic guild is a female Elf by the name of Eruwen who was apprenticed to a former leader of the guild a male Elf by the name of Eremil. Likewise the Galadel noble family is still a powerful force within the land of Elbion, able to trace their ancestry far back to the founding of Elbion itself.
What happens when you combine ambition with beauty? A lust for adventure. It was a group of Half-Elves that formed the first adventuring guild upon Elbion the Bluecloaks whose exploits such as slaying the beast of Blackfriar have gone down in adventuring history.
They are torn between worlds and communities never quite fitting into either hence the urge to go forth adventuring in the world rather than try to settle within their communities.
Elves are often rather embarrassed by Half-Elves for they are a reminder of some trist that really should be above en Elf to do. Likewise, their stages of development differ so vastly from an Elves that most Elves struggle to raise them and so leave them bundled at the gates of human settlements.
Humans are actually quite welcoming of Half-Elves into their communities, they see them as blessings and most humans have a respect of the Elven races. It is jealousy that ends up breeding contempt as a Half-Elve is so naturally proficient due to their Elven ancestry in many things that young humans struggle in. This leads to ostracisation, bullying and constant attempts at competition and fighting amongst the Half-Elves peers.
Half-Elves are prided on their loyalty, fearless approach to danger, versatility, and decisiveness. They make fine adventurers, navigators, huntsmen, and scouts. They often worship Jitune, the goddess of wayfarers. This is matched against the fact they rarely if ever can find a sense of belonging in life and tend to travel from place to place, adventure to adventure, job to job, without ever being able to settle and find any lasting peace as they are constantly looking out towards the horizon.
For a Tiefling life is responsibility. Every Tiefling is burdened with a literal demon inside of them and those who do not strive to walk a path that controls it ends up falling to its clutches. These fallen Tieflings are known as followers of the Dark Path and once they have left the mortal realm to transcend into the Dava realm, the realm of desire where the demons reside.
Tieflings believe that virtue is the only good and other things such as material wealth, health and pleasure are merely distractions to achieving this. They believe they can free themselves from the demonic passions within them by following a path of reason, logic, and intellectual pursuits thus discovering the ultimate truths about themselves and reality. They will often live solitary lives and have an outwardly calm, unemotional and thoughtful exterior that hides an endless burning emotional storm within.
Followers of the Dark Path have abandoned this way and indulge purely in a form of extreme hedonism caring not for the consequence but simply indulging themselves in as dark and perverse a way as they desire. No last bite of food is ever enough and they live constantly looking for the next hit of pleasure they can find.
Tieflings who turn to adventure do so often as part of their path in life, they are aware that a life of combat, adventures, and danger can lead them down the dark path but want to see if they can control themselves even in the most heated, violent and terrifying of circumstances thus hoping to transcend their own nature itself.
To a Dwarf life is industriousness. There is nothing more satisfying for a Dwarf than a hard days work in the heat of the forge that produces a fine array of axes for their Dwarven comrades. Dwarfs are, hard-working, diligent and devoted to their craft whatever it may be. Though many Dwarfs make fine blacksmiths others work at a vast array of jobs, millers, bakers, tanners, innkeepers, goldsmiths, warriors and adventurers. They devote themselves to these roles, no matter what they are, with the full strength of their character and hardworking nature.
You can always rely upon a Dwarf to get the job at hand done and persevere no matter the cost or odds to the bitter end. Stubborn creatures, should you double cross a Dwarf within a deal he will still fulfill his side of the contract, however, he will also bear a furious grudge upon you as immovable as the mountain homes his clan resides in.
Dwarfs build their settlements within mountains for these areas provide the most natural resources for their industrial efforts and a safe harbor for them to carry on with their work. They detest Orcs for they are always within a struggle with them as Orcs build many of their settlements and encampments deep within the mountains away from the prying light of the sun.
Greed of gold, however, is the downfall of many a Dwarf. The Dwarven city of Akarak upon Mt Covenbalt within the Verdant Dale is a testament to this. The city was prized amongst the Dwarves due to its sheer majesty, wealth and size. Its council of rulers hoarded unfathomable amounts of gold, gems, and jewels that they either found from the rich deposits within the mountain or earned through trade of goods with other settlements. They would however not relent hold of their hoard and when during the first blood war the humans came to them for aid they did not offer them a penny or trinket.
It was not long after this that the mighty ancient red dragon Artharax heard of the huge hoard the Dwarves had coveted and assaulted the settlement. The Dwarves fought bravely but were no match for the fire of the dragon that could melt through steel beams. Those who survived abandoned the keep, to their own eternal shame and left it to the Dragon. The settlement is now the lair of the great beast and none of who have entered it have ever returned.