The origins of the dunladdin are shrouded in mystery, but mostly just lost in the mists of time. When the elfs and dwarfs descended from the Spirit world of Færie to explore the mortal realms they found the rural dunladdin already occupying the green rolling hills of the northern temperate lands, in both forest and dale. They were a fierce and territorial race back then, warriors, hunter-gatherers, painting themselves or tattooing themselves with woad to prepare for battle, like the historic Picts. In even the dunladdin’s own traditions, their origins are not accounted for, only their having been suckled and protected and taught the arts of field and husbandry by the ancient pagan gods of their people, sometimes accounted a boar, sometimes a horse, sometimes a wolf, or some similar totemic beast, now revered as simple intercessory spirits gathered into the fold of the Light.
Dunladdin are the smallest of the humanoid races, generally half-a-head shorter even than the average dwarf. While the average dunlad tends to be a little stocky in proportion, even run to a little portliness if he should become sluggish and not get out and get his daily constitutional, he is not nearly as chunky or blocky as a dwarf. Dunladdin are well-proportioned for their height, almost like scaled-down heavy-set humans with faces fairly round in the cheek or heart-shaped. Despite their stocky proportions, dunladdin are renowned for their soft step and nimbleness.
Their eyes tend to be somewhat larger in proportion than human, and exceptionally bright and sparkling, almost as high in color as an elf’s, but not quite as jewel-like and lacking that remarkable almond shape. The ears of a dunlad come to a point, but only just. The top of the ear runs straight out to meet the outside curve at almost a 90° angle, or sweep upwards only slightly. Regardless of the variation, it will certainly be a much shorter point than even an average half-elf, much less the tall sweeping points of a full-blooded elf. Halfling complexions are typically pale as cream, but with a rosy robust undertone, a touch of the peach and the rose. In the sun they burn relatively easily, but they eventually take a rich tawny golden tan. This never gets dark or turns brown, and like any human whose skin has been equally abused, in time it will take on the appearance of old leather. The hair of these folk tends toward strong waves and curls and unruly cow-licks. Their beards run a little thin, though some have the thickness to grow a nice full one, but what really stands out is the thick coat of fine downy hair that covers each dunlad from knee to toes, and the horny thickness of the soles of their feet, which are as tough as the soles of any hard leather boot.
The average dunlad (m.) or -las (f.) life expectancy is 120 years. Characters with an above average CND can expect a longer life, barring any unforeseen injuries and/or accidents, a shorter span for those with below average CND.
Rural burrow-dwellers who favor mild temperate climates and those like the Pacific northwest, from wide grassy plains to woodlands and deep rolling hills, dunladdin prefer their homes to have snugly paneled halls with large roaring fireplaces. Their homes are commonly delved into the sides of the hills of their homelands. On the plains, they can be sod-roofed fieldstone houses packed inside earthen embankments, much like the Irish and Nordic peoples, or buried completely under grass-covered mounds or tors.
The dunladdin are avid farmers and gardeners, with a love for lush foliage and bountiful flowers, vine-covered arbors and overflowing flower-boxes, neatly clipped hedges and even clever topiaries. That love is ingrained into their very bones. In a very real way, dunladdin dominated settlements and communities embody the lovely romantic pastoral look and feeling of Merrie Olde England of King John which the English countryside retained through the 1800’s, and which still survives here and there to this day.
Point of View
Rural folk, the dunladdin enjoy clean, wholesome country living, physical labor, and the satisfying sensation of collapsing exhausted in a comfy chair at the end of a hard day’s labors. Because of the thick soft hair on lower legs and feet, dunladdin have a great aversion to the human fashion of wearing hose or stockings, especially in the summer, and rarely wear shoes or even sandals, if ever. Even in the depths of winter, they may make do with a thick soft pair of felt slippers. Dunladdin are predominantly friendly and peaceful, often open-handed and generous in the fashion of rural country hospitality – but such generalities always have their exceptions. There’s one in every crowd.
In their simple, rural bent, dunladdin tend to favor plant or animal names or focus on a particular or prominent physical attribute of the family in sur-names: Reedstand; Willowroot; Tangleberry; Thistlebottom; Wolfear; Houndsgrin; Squirrelbrush; Mousekin; Stoatly; Longtoe; Hardfoot; Highhand; Bunyan; Widebottom; Snodwattle and the like. In maidens’ names, flowers are very popular: Dahlia; Daisy; Iris; Tansy; Pansy; Rose; Lilac; Lily; Violet; even Fern. While the ancient language and folkways of the dunladdin Pict-like forefathers are still with them, the greater the proportion of humans and other races dwelling around them, or among whom they live, the weaker the visible surviving traditions. They prefer to get along and stay in the cultural mainstream, but keeping their old traditions quietly among themselves.
To the dunladdin way of thinking, the dwarfs are somewhat strange. The dwarfish reclusiveness is difficult to fathom though, considering the dunladdin history with the humans and the wider world, they sympathize with it. Despite their ancient treaties and alliances, the dunladdin always get the feeling that their friendship starts at arm’s length. Despite the fact that they will carouse till the wee hours of the night, laugh, dance, and tell the most vile bawdy jokes in good fellowship, the dwarfs reserve when dealing with those outside their race seems impenetrable, especially when matters of commerce, sovereignty, and/or honor are involved. This, even in those small communities on the mountain slopes hard by the gates that they share with the dwarfish kingdoms inside the mountains. The fact that the dunladdin take such joy in lampooning them when their humor turns dour doesn’t help at all, of course.
The elfs, on the other hand, are the ancient mentors of the dunladdin, known long and well to them, and very well-beloved. They are treated as favorite cousins, even addressed as “cousin” on meeting. Though more reclusive than the dwarfs, the elfs are not shy about calling on the dunladdin at need, trading freely with them, or sending envoys with remembrances of ancient ties and shared anniversaries and occasions, battles waged side by side against common foes, heroes who fell together in those battles, great loves shared by both peoples happily remembered, treaties, and alliances. The dunladdin share the elfin love for fine food and drink, but much more enthusiastically, a point of some amusement to the elfs. The elfs have their strange ways, also, of course, but the dunladdin are long used to their elfin guests making camps nearby the dunladdin settlements, their refusal to walk across cultivated earth, whether a crop is growing in it or not, or their declining to spend much time in any subterranean dunladdin hall.
For those half-bloods of the disliked Færie races of ogre, troll and trow who have grown up close-by, the dunladdin see them as an unfortunate lot, generally pitied for the circumstances of their birth, though NEVER so when the half-blood pities himself well enough already. For those who waste their lives in self pity, the dunladdin have little but scorn, and even less of patience. The HalfElfs, on the other hand, are somewhat envied, sharing a touch of the mystical power and noble spirit of the blood of their elfin friends. When the elfin half-blood finds no peace among either his elfin kin or human, the dunladdin are always ready to welcome him, provided he is of good character and willing to contribute to the community.
Among the humans, the dunladdin live in peace, providing the humans treat them with the same courtesy as they do their own. Considering the humans’ propensity to look down on them both literally and figuratively, this make cohabitation rare except in remote rural marches. To the dunladdin, the humans are at their worst when they gather in great numbers, so they avoid their towns and cities as much as possible. Faires and market days are a necessary evil for carrying on commerce on which both races depend. They will brave passing within the walls of a human town however, to obtain the finest quality goods when there is no faire or market day soon enough to meet their need. A (very) few dunladdin who have caught the wanderlust have even made their way in the wider world as chapmen, though it make their own people view them as strange, even imbalanced in the head.
The irdanni do not have much to do with the other races except in trade, especially in wool and foodstuffs, so the dunladdin know little of them besides this commercial contact. The general impression of integrity and nobility of the winged folk they have gotten from their periodic contact has made the dunladdin receptive to a closer relationship with them. This is not likely on any larger scale, especially in light of the irdanni abhorrence of confined spaces, but the dunladdin are willing to cautiously pursue friendships with them on an individual basis.
While the pumatharæ are a rather ego-centric race, their greater numbers make them harder to avoid than the dunladdin might otherwise prefer. The felines’ preoccupation with their dignity and their own interests above any others, their selfishness in individual matters, make them largely at odds with the cheerful, boisterous, generous and very social dunladdin. Only the dunladdin who have departed from the ways of their own people and followed a path less social, especially those that might make them outlaw or otherwise put them at risk of the law, can bring themselves to pursue any sort of relationship, even professional. Even though the pumatharæ enjoy fine food and drink in a similar manner to the elfs, the dunladdin find this hard to share with them due to the fact that for the felines it is a matter of basking in luxurious cuisines and rare wines as one of the fruits of privilege and/or wealth, rather than for it’s own sake as the dunladdin do, simply to enhance the enjoyment of life.
With the fierce and solitary wulvers the dunladdin are wary. The only real contact that the dunladdin have with the shy and retiring wulvers is the occasional trade and through the wandering rangers, agisters, regarders, huntsmen, and their like who patrol the wilderlands in service to lord or Crown. The fierce character and appearance of the wolf-headed wulvers tends to put off the common run of dunladdin from the start. With only the limited exposure to the wulvers they have had, the dunladdin are cautiously receptive to exploring closer relations on an individual basis. Considering how rarely the wulvers themselves come together as a people, more extensive relations between them and the dunladdin peoples is unlikely.
Thoughts & Beliefs
Regardless of where they live, the dunladdin never forget their ties to the world. They have an inordinate awareness of and respect for their peoples’ history. The hardships they have endured and prospered through from the first meeting with the elfs through the incursions of the conquering humans are all maintained in a very rich oral tradition, which makes a rich resource for the scholars among them to finally record in unalterable form. The greatest lesson it teaches them is a humble but strong fire of spirit and quiet pride. Rarely have they ever needed help from others, and always they have been there to lend aid to others when they were needed. This awareness of and respect for history instills in most an uncommon fondness for the traditions and social rituals of “civilization.” The family tree is of great importance, not in any elitist manner, but insofar as it brings the deeds of the past back so those in the present need not repeat any previous mistakes. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find a dunlad who could not recite his lineage back six generations on both sides (in the mainline, anyway – aunts, uncles, and cousins perhaps not so well). Even moreso than among the humans, where carrying on the family line and business are highly valued (especially for dynastic reasons, to increase the family fortune), dunladdin pass traditional roles on from one generation to the next with great pride. Breaks in traditional family roles and occupations are only taken gracefully when the continuation is assured through atleast one other child.
With a propensity to become quite comfortable and set in their ways, dunladdin can be quite provincial. It can be difficult for them to comprehend the ways of and even the importance of foreign people or places, especially when those customs, people, or places have no direct impact on them. Though a friendly and generous people with those they know, always willing to lend a helping hand, they can be very suspicious of strangers looking for anything more than simple hospitality from them, especially when faced with a member of a race they have never personally encountered before. Given time to get used to them, dunladdin live easily with most races, though they share some of the general antipathy of the elfs for the half-bloods of their foes of Færie, the HalfOgres, Halftrolls, and HalfTrows. It is unclear whether this is due only to their exposure to the elfs, of if the dunladdin where similarly exposed to the Ogres, Trolls, or Trows in Faerieland. Like the dwarfs, though, the dunladdin believe the acorn never falls far from the tree, like father- like son, and it takes much proof to the contrary to shake this disposition and change this attitude.
If there is a host of dunladdin in Faerie, as there are of the dwarfs and elfs, the dunladdin of the mortal world are not aware of them.
It should be apparent that dunladdin are not very fond of change, especially rapid change, and this extends to their environment. They believe that, as the land lays, so it should be used. Fields are for ploughing at need, not forests, or the trees wouldn’t be there to begin with. To clear forest land for farming is a dire reason for killing so many beautiful living trees. Not only does it rob many animals of their homes, but there is no telling how many tree spirits and faeries may return for revenge. It is considered the worst of bad luck, whether the tree spirits have been duly propitiated or not. For the dunladdin, “live and let live” is the order of the day. This is not to say that they aren’t averse to helping things along by planting a berry bush, a fruit tree, or a nut tree or two, or some such, in the margin of a forest to increase the yield of the forest for their needs. It is not unusual for the dunladdin to seek to obtain lands once forested and cleared by another race in order to replant with a mixture of different trees that would fill the needs of all, or to gradually replant with useful species of trees as they die out and are culled to slowly create informal orchards. The sick, the dying, and storm-toppled trees are culled for building, and dead (ground) wood from windfall limbs are gathered for firewood.
Though small, the dunladdin are hardy of heart. Their stubbornness is adequately illustrated here, and as far as old age goes, dunladdin just don’t believe in it.
“That which cannot be cured, must be endured.”
They will be the first to admit they grow old and die like everyone else (well, except the elfs, anyway), but they will hardly admit to some white hairs and a few wrinkles to the day they pass over, and will boast that they earned every one. Their age has nothing to do with their strength and productivity in the community. They prefer to teach the wisdom that all dunladdin acknowledge in those who have lived long enough to gain it, mostly by showing and doing. Along with knowledge, patience and wisdom for dealing with the young are commonly reaped, understanding that the young believe that they are the first to think their thoughts or have their experiences, and that they are somehow immortal and untouchable by life’s hazards. Unlike the anger of the dwarf master standing silent with wounded pride in the face of younger dwarfs lacking the wisdom and respect to ask, listen, and learn, no elder dunlad would ever let the perhaps misguided exuberance and assurance of the youthful keep him from passing on the dear treasures of experience to the next generation. And no younger dunlad would ever spurn the practices and traditions of their elders, once those elders got their attention.
The land is Life to the rural dunladdin, and as it sustains them, so they give their love to it and devote their energy to cultivating it. This love of the land and dedication to it over the centuries has inspired a hard-bitten tenacity in them. This affects all aspects of their life – dedication to craft, to family and friends, to ancient customs and folkways. Although they generally prefer quiet, well-ordered lives following traditional roles and dictates, they are prepared to face any challenge :
“Some tasks are for the meek, for such is the course of deeds;
Small hands do them because they must.”
Though this hints at a hard and serious core, the player should not take it very seriously at all except when circumstances in the gameworld truly warrant it. Dunladdin are a cheerful and bumptious lot, who love to have a good time – and LOVE good food and drink! Most of them like to poke fun at serious times to defuse tensions, just as happy to laugh along with the rest when they are the butt of the joke themselves. The self-important and self-inflated are the favorite targets for their sharpest japes.
In difficult situations, the dunladdin always fall back on their social rituals and routines to cushion emotional blows or sudden unexpected, unsettling events. Meals still go on, chores still get done, tea is set in the afternoon (herbal tisanes among the common folk), and all according to its accustomed schedule. It is a matter of priorities. A place for everything, and everything in it’s place. This way, time spent in easy and familiar routine tasks, especially domestic ones which will not take care of themselves, is always used as a meditation time to sort things out, for the dunlad to get his thoughts in order or even come to grips with hard news or changes in circumstances or situation.
To the married dunlas, working beside her husband to help bring the family prosperity always has been and ever will be her right and proper place. When the husband works outside the house, whether in the shop of some craftsman or artisan, out in the family fields, or in the fields of another, or elsewhere, the married dunlas will always find some cottage craft to pursue to help bring in a little extra to make life easier.
The dunladdin’s chosen rural setting and dedication to the land give them an inclination to farming, gardening, pleasure gardens, and all sorts of husbandry from domestic to the horse, hawk, and hound of the noble hunt. They also put great stock in hard work. Often great tillers of the soil, they know well the value of patience and a day’s labor. The agricultural prowess of the dunladdin and their great knowledge of beasts and growing things are points of great pride, generally speaking. For the most part, they are perfectly suited to the medieval agrarian life, and one would be hard-pressed to find a single dunladdin home without an impressive and beautiful garden. So social by nature and so inclined to be domestic, it is not unusual to find a dunladdin family who has turned their excellent homely arts to brewing beer and ale and meeting the needs of weary travellers on remote routes, running a tavern or inn. They tend to make very talented alewives, brewers, and cooks. Family recipes are handed down for generations and jealously guarded. The agility and unobtrusiveness of the dunladdin also lends itself to a great prowess as rangers and huntsmen – or to stealthy knavery in those so inclined. Some turn to knavery out of need. Small hands do things because they must.
Dunladdin are rural in origins as a race, but they are by no means limited to Rural backgrounds, as defined in Chapter 2., as follows.
IF the player whose dunladdin character hails from a rural background should equip him with either the Farmer and/or Husbandman trade for his dunlad character, he is automatically granted Warden LoA in it/them. He also receives a 25% bonus to all experience earned towards it/them during play. These allowances may be extended to include the Gardener/Herberer Trade or the Cook or Chef, also, including those from Town backgrounds.
The dunladdin live easily among the dominant race of humans, but have no love for their cities. They fit into the signeurial forms of the medieval rural society the humans brought with them when they gained ascendancy over them easily enough, though signeurial bonds are stricter in nature than the similarly constituted social structures of the mentors they followed previously, the elfs. Dunladdin hang onto the Celtic tanist traditions of their ancient past in matters of succession and inheritance, though, maintaining a matriarchal subculture. They willingly jump through whatever legal hoops they must in the ruling human courts to make sure that their traditions are maintained.
The roles of male and female dunladdin are very much the same as the traditional roles filled by human men and women, though the dunlas (f) will always help out in her husband’s business, where that is a common but not so certain practice among humans. Even when the married dunlas has children the work goes on, with never a break in the kind, loving care the babes get.
The dunladdin children enter family life around age 6, helping out around the house. From this point onward they also begin their schooling (according to their station) and learning their role in society, all the social rituals. No later than age 12 the young dunladdin are apprenticed to a craft, the young nobles sent off to foster and be trained in another noble house, or to the Church, all in the same manner as human folk. By age 18-19, sometimes later depending on the length of the apprenticeship, the young dunlad or -las enters adult society, although 21 is the acknowledged age of legal majority.
Marriage is expected around the age of 20-21 for those in a position to strike an advantageous deal, especially for the young dunlas, but there is no hard and fast rule. While the marriage is a tool used to benefit the family fortunes, the dunladdin are an emotional and romantic people and insist that the match be made for love as well – a far different approach than among human folk. While there are always a few strong females out plying trades or crafts and their own careers, they are somewhat unusual, the exception rather than the rule.
The dunladdin are very gregarious social beings and VERY family-oriented. It is not unusual for as many as four generations of the same family, or two or three generations including aunts, uncles, and cousins, all to dwell under the same roof of some big, rambling burrow-hall.
The rural sameness and hard work by which the dunladdin generally live makes what happiness they can squeeze out of life just that much more precious. Among themselves and those they have taken in as their own, parties, gift giving and getting, and “pleasant conversation” (gossip) are the orders of the day for pastimes. Any excuse to open the larder and broach a barrel, break out the instruments to party and dance with the neighbors. This is why every visit by a traveling friend is met with a party, and why they are often considered shallow and frivolous creatures by those who do not know them well.