- "I've been to many places. Vast, rolling fields as far as the eye can see, enormous cities that never sleep and shine and bustle all night. Enormous ships that should by all rights sink, people who didn't even speak a single word of Belharan. Each new place was fun at first, and yet got old fast... thrills only last a moment.
- In the end, Lupines belong here in the Marches, and going away only made that even clearer."
Name: Lupine (pl. Lupines)
Sexes: Male, female
Height: Ranges from 6'0" to 7'0"
Weight: Ranges from 178lbs. to 300lbs.
Hair: Brown, Grey, Silver, Black. Shades exist, but they are always dull colors. May be splashed with white on muzzle, neck, torso.
Eyes: Lupines have humanlike eyes. Blue, green, brown, black, grey and gold are all common colors.
Ears: Two canine ears atop head, with some variation of size and shape.
Lifespan: 55 to 80 years. Lupines have slightly shorter average lifespans than humans.
Maturity: As per humans, 18 years.
Lupines are tall and solidly-built beast-kin, possessed of considerable physical prowess from generations in the cold wilds. They are the native race of the Marches and are adapted to life there, possessed of thick bodies that range from muscular to stocky, a heavy coat of fur to keep out the cold, and keen eyes and muzzles for the Marches' cold, lightless nights. Lupines stand on a pair of digitigrade feet and tend to be considerably taller than most of the newer arrivals in the Marches. Each lupine is possessed of a soft, fluffy tail, which helps them keep their balance while walking.
Lupines have keen senses of sight, hearing and smell when compared to humans or orcs, to the point where they can hunt and track by scent with relative ease. Since lupine pups are born blind, their first experience of the wider world is, most fittingly, their mother's scent. Like many other beast-kin, lupines play to the stereotype of being strong and fast, but with thick skulls and brash attitudes; of course one must always be wary of relying on stereotypes when judging individuals.
Lupine fertility runs on a three week heat cycle for their womenfolk, two weeks off, one week on. When a lupine female is in heat, her libido and fertility drastically spike; at the same time, she exudes pheromones that lets potential suitors and rivals alike easily scent her condition. Skin and fur may become considerably more sensitive, and one's thoughts continually drift back towards being bred. Traditionally, lupine womenfolk who go into heat but don't want to end up with a belly full of puppies engage in hard physical labor in order to take their minds off their animal urges; this behavior has resulted in a number of quips and sayings amongst the people.
When a lupine woman does get bred with puppies, gestation runs its course over the next six months. Usually, two to four puppies are born in a litter, but sizes numbering up to nine have been recorded. Lupine pups are born blind and completely helpless; their eyes open after about two weeks, before which they do little more than snuffle around, sleep, and suckle.
Descended from lycans, lupines have lived in the Marches since time immemorial as its first inhabitants. Life was generally slow and idyllic across the generations, with few actually interested in the poor, inhospitable wilds they made their homes in. Empire must expand or die, though, and in time the frontiers of Belhar found their way to the cold forests and rugged mountains slopes of the northlands.
The natives initially put up some resistance to the newcomers, but despite their physical prowess could not stand up to the tactics, coordination and sheer numbers the empire could bring to bear. With many scattered tribes facing a unified foe, they melted away into the background while Belhar paved roads, opened mines and built palaces atop hot springs.
Neither did the Godswar bring any relief. This singular event may have been the one time in all of lupine history that every single tribe cast a unanimous vote to do something about the situation; they entered a brief mutual protection agreement with the minotaurs of Khor'minos to guard the hinterland while the minotaurs would look out towards the eastern seaboard. Constructed and armed with minotaur engineering and staffed with the finest warriors the tribes could bring to bear, mountainside fortresses were built to guard against the advance of the wraith host out from the heartlands.
The exact details are fuzzy, but this turned out to be an unmitigated disaster for both parties involved. Both the lupines and minotaurs blamed each other for the humiliating defeat and massive casualties involved; since the Jarl who negotiated had been killed in the fighting, his family was ousted by the tribes and relations with the minotaurs have been chilly at best for the last couple of centuries.
Since then, a tenuous peace has prevailed. What wildling tribes of lupines are left have gone to ground, hoping to avoid further violence; others have settled in mixed-race settlements and societies and accepted this as the new order of things, if it will mean protection from raids by islander orcs from the east. An ignoble existence, some might argue, but better than no existence.
Society & Culture
Lupines generally live in settlements numbering anywhere from a hundred to a few thousand. Their ancestral lands are too inhospitable to allow for truly large settlements, so the stereotypical village hidden in the woods or at the foot of a mountain is very much a reality. Many live as hunters, fishermen and gatherers; those closer to civilization may wind up as craftsmen or laborers. Many lupines choose to join mercenary groups formed by and for their own kind, as unlike some other races, being a mercenary is not looked down upon.
Following the encroachment of the Belhran Empire's borders, lupines have acclimatized well to what happens to pass for civilization in their corner of the world; most have no issue mingling with many of the other common races in their daily lives. They don't have strange needs, reputations or habits that would have been considered strange or repulsive in Behlaran society, found a societal niche to slide into, and did it well.
Lupine history and culture has been orally handed down for generations in the form of mnemonic poems and rhymes, whole sagas committed to memory by dint of sheer will. Runic script did not emerge until serious contact with other races was established a few centuries ago; almost all lupine runes are bastardized phonemes of Old Belharan. Some of the more isolated tribes still eschew runic script and rely on their memories.
Being vast and disparate, lupines have no truly unified voice or culture; as with humans, the habits of one tribe or village may differ considerably from those on the other side of the mountain. However, on occasion, various tribes do come together to produce an elective leader — a Jarl of sorts — when collective bargaining with a larger power is required, and to serve as the face of the race as a whole, or at least portion that lives in the Marches.
Codex entry is unlocked at the start of the game