Beastmen, al Masakh
Because of the mutagenic energy occasionally unleashed from the Plasmic Dimension—not least through the activity of sorcerers—physical transformation is not an uncommon occurrence. In most cases, individuals alone are affected, but supernatural catastrophes have also been known to affect entire communities at once. For unknown reasons, most mutations result in animalistic or naturalistic changes, as if plasmic energy acts as a supercharged evolutionary catalyst.
Whatever the mechanism, two things are certain. First, purebred humans are almost always judgmental of the various degrees of change that individuals experience. In Umiyid, the common folk hold racist beliefs about those they call "al masakh," the deformed, who include not only full-on beastmen, but also those who have been touched by mutagenic energy in more limited ways (e.g. growing a tail or gaining modified eyes). Second, beastmen breed true with others of their type, but they also freely hybridize with both humans and other beastmen. As a result, most transformed individuals are one-off rarities, but isolated pockets of beastmen have also formed stable communities over time. A few of the types have even been so long established that most humans recognize them as different species.
Due to root biological and cognitive similarities, humans are frequently able to communicate, even if not in a sophisticated way, with various beastmen, though this fact ultimately depends on shared language and on reasonable anatomical capacities. For those beastmen who were transformed rather than born, most still speak their mother tongue. For those born into beastmen communities, however, other idiosyncratic languages are more common. As a result, many beastmen in Umiyid speak Umiyidic or something like it, but some dialects diverged from the normal human tongue generations ago and thus may present only basic communicitive possibilities.
Common Breeds of Beastmen in Umiyid
The people of Umiyid recognize two "purebred" races, humans and Akhami, aka trolls. Humans are widely distributed, industrious, sedentary, and generally encompass the full range of historical human experience. Akhami, by contrast, live nomadic lives in small kinship bands, but otherwise are equally dispersed (and are also substantially more populous than any other beastman subtype.)
Compared to humans and Akhami, all other common varieties of beastmen are relatively rare. Nevertheless, even rural folk in isolated communities will likely have met one or two breeds of beastman, and will will be familiar with stories about a half-dozen more. In Umiyid, kobolds
Trolls are large, strong, elementally attuned creatures that live all across the planet. They are exceptionally adaptable, so they readily migrate to new biomes. Their physiology is particularly flexible, and seems to mutate faster than expected. As a result, trolls from different locations may look different, though all are slightly larger and stronger than humans, with broader foreheads and jaws and flatter faces set atop wide shoulders and lanky limbs. Trolls are deeply attuned to nature, and live in small, nomadic kinship bands according to its rhythms. This, in addition to the structure of their honor-based tribal arrangements, often brings them into conflict with human settlements, though they may be as willing to trade as to wage war.
Kobolds are small, lizard-like beastmen. Most possess double-lidded eyes, animalistic snouts, and sharp, carnivorious teeth. Kobolds are generally three to four feet tall, and are wirey, tough, inquisitive creatures. Kobolds are also exceptional at sneaking, hiding, and tracking. Most kobolds are highly social, and their communities frequently practice a rowdy form of direct democracy. Like humans, they are found all across the world, but they often live at the margins of human society, where they are feared and shunned.
Snakemen represent a widespread, civilized breed well past its prime. Their ancient culture is highly religious. Most members plot for a return to the glory of their prehistoric empire, so Snakemen frequently intervene in human affairs as cultists, spiritual leaders, or religious zealots. Snakemen are tall—over 7 ft, on average—and have the upper body of a man, but the extremities of a massive snake tail. Snakemen communities now live in remote, empty spaces where other species easily ignore them.
Rare Breeds of Beastmen in Umiyid
Minotsaurs are fallen bull-men, driven to extreme aggression and a barbaric lifestyle by twisted magic. Minotaurs live in small clans, always underground, where they make constant war on other groups. Minotaurs especially hate magic and magic users, who remind them of their genesis as mutated slaves to decadent kings. The surface-dwelling species from which they are descended is now extinct.
Khuld tend to live in small, peaceful underground complexes. Many Khulda were originally miners who were transformed when they encountered an underground shine, demon, or pocket of mutagenic gas. They are highly skilled miners with an excellent sense of direction. Their compact but strong frame makes them excellent burrowers.
Kestrel are bird-men. They are tall, often more than six feet tall, and they sport bird legs, talons, and wings instead of arms. Kestrel have excellent vision, including in the ultraviolet range. They nest in high, inaccessible places, and privilege small family groups over larger, more developed social and cultural structures. Kestrel are ruthless hunters, and rarely interact with other species except in war.
Common Breeds of Beastmen on the Islands
Saurians are tall, strong dinosaur-lizard people. They have a relatively developed tribal culture, though they are generally less technologically advanced than humans, and they usually settle in small kinship bands. Groups are differentiated by physical tribal characteristics. On Burkan al-Khafion and the Pearls, there are several distinct groups: The Red Crested Band, the Blue Neckfrill Band, the Yellow Crowned Band, the Black Skull Band, the Grey Ridged Band, and the Green Horn Band. Saurians frequently hybridize with purebred humans, leading to many variations of humans with modest saurian traits. Saurians are also known to hybridize with Vespula, giving rise to nightmarish reptilian-insectoid monstrosities.
Mantids are human-sized, insectoid (praying mantis) people native to the distant Pearls. They come from an extremely chaotic, martial culture. Mantids have mastered complex technology, and they wield armies and navies equipped as well as any in the world, but their successes have been greatly limited due to constant infighting and a depletion of high-quality leaders. As they rapidly colonize the Pearls, humans are frequently coming into conflict with Mantid colonies or political entities.
Silphe are small cockroach men, standing around four feet tall. They communicate almost exclusively through pheromones, and they are extremely xenophobic, due to the strong loyalty bonds that they create with members of their isolated communities. Silphe have generally not progressed beyond Iron Age tools, so they are almost always interested in trading for more advanced technology. They are excellent hiders, and will stealthily track interlopers in their territory. They are completely immune to magic.
Rare Breeds of Beastmen on the Islands
Froglings are small, amphibious frog-men who form large, highly social communities in swamps, marshes, and wetlands. They build intricate structures from reeds and mud. Froglings are very tolerant of other species, and are enthusiastic traders and explorers.
Vespula are human-sized wasp, bee, or hornet beastmen. Some varieties are basically human, but with additional limbs and insectiod features, while other are essentially giant wasps, the humanoid frame obscured by wings and strong insectoid influence. Vespula generally hold an alien psychology due to their hive-oriented social and biological life. Their colonies are often very large by beastman standards, and they are known to create impressive architectural constructs. At the same time, Vespula are also known for their fierce martial skill and their rampant xenophobia.
Beastmen of the Depths
Ant-men resemble small, three to four feet tall ant centaurs. They communicate mostly by pheromones and are generally wary of outsiders, though a few learn to speak the language of their neighbors. They are excellent diggers, climbers, and workers, and they react together in coordinated, collective defense when necessary. They mostly reside in the Pearls, though colonies may be found in mountainous terrain or underground.
Squid-men descend from individuals deeply twisted by powerful, extradimensional magic. Squid-men often have intrinsic magical abilities, though they are more or less insane due to overexposure to unregulated eldritch energies. They tend to live deep underground or in the ocean, but they do occasionally send raiding or exploration parties to the surface. Squid-men rely on slaves, especially Amberfolk, as a labor force.
Amberfolk are small people made of living minerals similar to amber. Their skin may range from yellow, orange, and brown to shades of green. Amberfolk communicate telepathically and may be distantly related to elementals, though they are now thought to be naturalized extradimensional visitors. Amberfolk live in isolated, pacifist communities, though they are frequently raided by Squid-Men.
Myconids are sentient fungi. They seem to operate like a hive mind, perhaps through biochemical or mystical coordination. Their culture, if they have one, is utterly opaque to other species. Due to the substantial biological and cultural differences, interactions between Myconids and other species tend to devolve quickly into fight or flight.