(:toc:)

Therians are originally descended from animals that were infected by the Bloodlust Virus and are the youngest of the Created Races, yet despite having only fifteen hundreds years of evolution behind them have come a long way. Now more human than animal, they nevertheless maintain a strong bond with the natural world and the animal kingdom, with just as many Therians choosing to settle in villages with other humanoids as live in the wild.

Physical Characteristics

Therians are one of the smaller and more human-like races, ranging from 5'6" to 6' in height. They have perhaps the widest ethnic range because they have their origins in the animal kindgom rather than the human one, easily ranging from Caucasian to Mediterranean, but these days mingle most with Nymphs and seem to be leaning more toward the Sylvan ethnicities now than any other.

In form, Therians are also perhaps the most varied, depending on their lifestyle. Nomadic clans living in the wild tend to be relatively specialised with slim figures and powerful leg muscles, whereas city-bred Therians can be more stocky with generalised musculature. Their development can also depend, or certainly be influenced by, their chosen forms?, with those who favour felines, for instance, developing the muscles necessary for powerful leaps or fast running, while those who favour primates might be more agile with stronger arms.



Original image from Alpha Coders.

Therian clans living in the wild tend to be feral and, if bothering with clothing at all, prefer leathers and other such organic materials[^Actually, all clothing in Elysia comes from organic material. Some, however, is better for Therians than others, when considering that clothing has to survive their morphing? and transition into their animal form.^]. For some, wearing the skins of animals is anathema, but for the most part, they view it as just part of the natural cycle of life.

Therians living in urban areas, on the other hand, tend to adopt the fashions found there.

Life Cycle & Reproduction

Age Band Actual Age Appears
Infant 0 `- 2 0 `- 2
Child 3 `- 12 3 `- 11
Adolescent 13 `- 17 12 `- 17
Young Adult 18 `- 23 18 `- 24
Adult 24 `- 40 24 `- 40
Middle Aged 41 `- 60 41 `- 60
Elder 61 `- 80 61 `- 80
Dead by 80 80

Therians have the shortest lifespan of the Created Races, with a rate of aging similar to that of humans. They usually appear very close to their actual age.

Note: Characters created with the Starter Pack? should be in the Young Adult category.

Modern Therians are born, and mature for the most part (see A Note on Children), in their human forms (which is a complete turnabout from the first animal-based Therianthropes who were born naturally as animals and simply had the ability to assume human form). They have the same gestational period as humans at 40 weeks, but twins and even triplets are common so this can be as short as 30 weeks (though "litters" born earlier than 36 don't usually survive).

Therian off-spring tend to be prolific with a typical family having no less than four and the norm being six.

Politics

Official Name: Therianthrope (pl. Therianthropes)

Common Name(s): Therian, Shapeshifter (or, more commonly, 'Shifter)

The sheer variety of animals available to choose from? means there's very little chance of any two Therians being the same. It's probably this level of choice and individuality that makes the species so unstructured, and Therians are certainly left to their own devices as long as they aren't breaking any city laws -- but that doesn't mean they're completely without order.

Sentinel?
Tribal Chieftain?
Clan Chief?
Therian
Clan Politics

Therians usually prefer to live away from built-up areas in nomadic clans, which are usually made up of extended family sharing a common ancestor. Within these clans, there is usually an "alpha" male[^As with Sentinels, clan chiefs can be either male or female across the species as a whole, but individual clans may vary depending on the favoured form. A clan of wolves may have an alpha mated pair and will defer to the female as well as the male, but a clan of dashiri might have an entirely different view of gender roles and defer only to the "bull". This displays, perhaps more than anything else, how the animal can influence the human, but it's impossible to say that all wolf clans (or all dashiri, or all primate, etc) will be identical because while they each may favour the one form, they will have access to others that will also influence them.^] who has proven himself strongest[^Having human intelligence often negates the need for brute strength in favour of reasoning and logic, but clan leaders are usually physically capable nevertheless.^] and who then makes key decisions for his clan's survival and prosperity.

Tribal Politics

In areas where more than one clan shares the same territory, there may be a chieftain (sometimes replaced by a council of elders from all the clans involved) to oversee disputes and to manage the clans as a single tribal unit.

However, these meetings are fairly uncommon and only tend to take place, at a location that is either central to the shared territory or that is historically or culturally significant, when there are important matters to discuss that affect all the clans. Whether these meetings involve just the clan chiefs and the chieftain, or everyone from the clans, depends on the situation (for instance, a meeting to deal with poachers may only involve the clan chiefs, but before he can declare war on another tribe the chieftain must first call a meeting of every clan member in the shared territory).

Territory Disputes

Both clan chiefs and tribal chieftains have the right to declare war on another clan or tribe if they encroach on their territory. Small disputes can be common in the more desirable locations where food is abundant, but larger disputes are rare.

This is largely because the chief or chieftain must gain consent from all members of his clan or tribe before he can send them to war, so differences are often settled by more peaceful means before things get violent. It's also partly because Elysia? has plenty to go around.

Racial Leadership

The Sentinel? governs the species as a whole with a light hand from a small office at the heart of the Rowan Caverns?. The position of Sentinel can go to either male or female challengers[^The majority of Sentinels in recent years have been male by coincidence, but women are considered equal by Therians as a general rule.^] who literally win the title by pitting themselves against other would-be Sentinels in the challenge arena. Winning is not reserved purely for the physically strong; strategy and agility have historically won in equal measure.

The Sentinel actually has very little to do in terms of leading his entire race and is more of a figurehead; instead he mostly acts as chieftain for Therians residing in the Caverns?. However, all Therians are bound by law to recognise him as their ultimate leader, even though most will never see him in their lifetime and may never be affected by his decisions.

Urban Therians

Some Therians choose to live in towns or cities that most others avoid. These Therians are still considered part of their clan and tribe, but by necessity must adhere first and foremost to the rules of whatever town they're living in. For the most part, these laws don't conflict with Natural Law[^While Therians have human reasoning and have thus developed certain "rules of common sense and decency" (such as not killing a neighbour), their main creed is the Natural Law of the Animal Kingdom (for instance, they don't hunt for sport).^], but cities don't have the same sense of community as the clans so many Therians find it difficult to adapt to an urban lifestyle.

No matter how far a Therian travels, or for how long they leave their home, they are still tied to their clan and are honour-bound to return if they're needed (most notably if their clan is at war with another).

Affiliations

Players are welcome to create their own clans (and tribes) as long as they don't encroach on occupied areas (we're open to territory disputes but please discuss them with Emma? beforehand), and to take up any role within them. You'll need to write up an Organisations page for them, using the appropriate template, to provide information for other players. Don't forget to include a [[!Therian Clans]] tag!

Ranks

Pagelist/list ranks/positions this race can acquire. Provide info in separate page or brief summary here.

Allies & Enemies

The old prejudices against Therians have mostly faded and they get along well enough, for the most part, with most of the other races. Despite avoiding urban areas, they are probably the friendliest of the species and are normally open to communication and interaction outside of their clans. That's not to say they have many visitors to their territories, and they will resort to violence if necessary to protect what's theirs, but they are otherwise perfectly willing to share their culture.[^Interracial relationships normally result in the non-Therian party being adopted into the Therian's clan and living with them, rather than the other way around. In the case of Nymph-Therian couplings this can be explained as the Nymphs' xenophobia making it difficult for the Therian to join the Sylvan community despite the relationship between the two species, but the same is also true for other interracial relationships. In that case, it's likely an aspect of Therian culture as much as anything else, and it certainly seems from previous instances that they would rather gain a member through mating than lose one.^]

Nymphs

Perhaps because of their connection to the Natural World, Therians share an almost symbiotic relationship with the Nymphs, with the latter being viewed as the feminine aspect and Therians as the masculine.

This relationship can manifest in a variety of ways. In some areas, a Therian clan may simply share territory with a Nymph commune, with the latter living in the tree-tops and the former living on the ground, while in others the clan acts as protection for a commune who in return help the clan prosper by making sure there's plenty to eat.

Oddly enough, despite this system of sharing and mutual benefits, the two communities rarely merge. Instead, they remain as separate parts of a whole, like cogs in a machine, and in this manner maintain their own unique cultures while adopting beneficial traits and quirks from each other.

Vampires

No matter how evolved Therians and Vampires become, there will likely always be an intense dislike between them. This is perhaps in part due to them both being instinctual creatures with predatory natures and a natural rivalry, but it's mostly that Therians know, on a subconscious level, that vampires -- or, more precisely, the Bloodlust Virus they carry -- are dangerous to them on more than just a physical level (no one in their right mind would want to become a Hind, after all).

For the most part, Therians do try to be civil now they're aware of their prejudice and where it comes from. However, their dislike of vampires is more reflexive than conscious, and many of them struggle with it no matter how tolerant they are otherwise.

Racial slurs: Dog[^Even though only a minority of Therians assume canine forms and the prejudices have largely faded, the demeaning term "dog" is still applied to the species as a whole. It is perhaps one of the most offensive slurs available, since it not only stereotypes their abilities and choices but also relates to the "wild animal" smell they tend to pick up from their transformations.^], furry, fang (applied slightly differently than it would be to Vampires but no less insulting), chief (used in reference to all Therians and as much a sign of ignorance on the part of the user as an insult against the usee), and more.

Territories

Base by Citron Rouge

When the Therians needed a land to call their own, the Nymphs were kind enough to offer their own?. This vast and abundant forest was already home to a wide variety of animals and would provide Therians with all they needed to survive and prosper. For a time, that was where they stayed.

Over the centuries, however, as clans grew and the species divided, so too was the forest. Each clan ultimately claimed its own pocket of territory on which to live, hunt and thrive, and for the most part (disputes and natural growth notwithstanding) those territories stayed within the same clan generation after generation.

Some clans have moved out of the forest onto the Daire flatlands? or the Nubian delta?, east into Yondallar rainforest? or even into the mountains?, but the majority of the clans still remain in the forest. Here, they build small villages for a settled lifestyle, or they can patrol their lands as nomads. Here, they can spend as much time in their animal forms as they wish?, or they might live a fully human existence.

And yet they remain tied to the out of the earth as a symbol of their unity and community, and as evidence of their humanity.

Players are welcome to create their own territories (and settlements) as long as they don't encroach on occupied areas (we're open to territory disputes but please discuss them with Emma? beforehand), and to take up any role within the community living there. You'll need to write up a Places? page for them, using the appropriate template, to provide information for other players. Don't forget to include a [[!Therian Territories]] tag!

Population

Therians reproduce quite prolifically (see Reproduction) so in just fifteen hundred years they've managed to overtake each of the other species in numbers despite (or perhaps because of) their shorter lifespans.

  • They make up a whopping 24% of the Elysian? population.
  • Therians make up 12.5% of the Dardanian? population.
  • There are no Therians anywhere else (although rumours have put small clans on Earth?, it's doubtful any Therian would be forgiving enough to live where their ancestors were hated).

Culture

Languages

The majority of Therians speak fluent Sylvan since many tribes share the forest with the Nymphs. What other languages they learn, if any, ultimately depends on where they live (for instance, those moving to or living in a town or city east of the mountains tend to speak Elysian, while those living in the Duskies? often use Anyeli).

The out-of-character influence for both Sylvan and Anyeli is Ancient Greek (see their pages for more information). Elysian? is roughly based on English.
Naming Conventions

As with the rest of the culture, Therian names are fairly simple, with a first name and their clan name following. Even in cases where there are multiple families within a single clan, Therians use their clan name to distinguish themselves rather than their family ties (for instance, Maaike Sullivan is of the Sullivan clan and not the Sullivan family, though in her case they are one and the same).

Clan names are almost always Elysian even though many clans now live in Sylvan territory. This is perhaps because the vast majority of the clans started out in Elysian-dominant Daire and migrated, but it’s a testament to their skill as storytellers, keeping their history and heritage alive, that the clan names have survived for so long.

Given names, however, tend to be either Sylvan, Anyeli or Elysian depending on where the clan’s territory is located, since these are naturally more recent.

The out-of-character influence for clan names is mostly Celtic. Given names tend to be based on Greek and its variants, or on English (though this also includes Anglicized Gaelic).

Currency

Therians for the most part don’t actually need currency. Nomadic clans get everything they need from the land they patrol, and everyone shares -- though in return, everyone must pull their own weight.

City-dwellers, on the other hand, must conform and adapt so they’ll use the local currency (usually xanthai) if need be, though they do prefer other, more natural means (such as bartering goods and services) wherever possible.

Calendar

Like the dragons and Nymphs, Therians don’t have a written history and instead pass on their history and fables orally in the form of stories and songs told or sung by the clan’s elders around the nightly camp fire.

Because of this, storytelling is a respected past-time but one that is shared; it’s rare for one person to have more than a few stories memorised. Likewise, the most respected story-tellers are those who can tell the story as their ancestors told it (rather than embellishing or dramatising events out of proportion) -- but that's not to say Therian history hasn't been skewed at all, only that they at least try to be accurate.

Religion & Philosophy

Where the Nymphs believe that Nature is the personification of Xanth and use everyday things to honour Her, Therians have distanced the Creator from her creations and see Nature as an entirely separate entity.

For this reason, Therians have no structure to their beliefs nor any organised means of worship. They don’t subscribe to official religions like the Priesthood?, and as a species don’t go out of their way to honour the Creator -- or Her creations -- in any form. In fact, Therians can be bitter about their lot in life as the “dogs of Elysia”, and many subsequently refuse to honour Xanth at all.

That said, they do respect the animal kingdom and the natural world, and all creatures great and small within it. (They also have some respect for the plant world, though not to quite the same extent.) Indeed, Therians have an almost simplistic outlook on life, trusting in the circle of life and the natural balance, and see perfection in animals that they hope to emulate.

Death Rites

Death for a Therian is not to be feared nor rejected. Instead, it is a way of completing the cycle and returning the body to the earth from whence it came. (Similarly, Therians have no qualms about hunting for food, as it’s just another natural part of life (as is being hunted, though that doesn’t mean they’ll roll over and let a predator eat them). That’s not to say, either, that a Therian will eat another Therian even in animal form; they’re not cannibals.)

Therian death rites are also very simplistic. In fact, wherever possible, the dead are simply left as food for scavengers, this being seen not as something cruel and disrespectful but as a way to honour the deceased by returning them directly to the earth. To burn a perfectly good food source is sacrilege to a Therian, and this is a rather large bone of contention between them and the Nymphs -- but so, too, is burying a corpse just as disrespectful.

City-dwelling Therians, on the other hand, can’t afford to follow standard practise. Where in the wild they can leave a body and move on to avoid the predators and scavengers attracted by the smell, in towns they must adhere to local customs as much to prevent monster attacks as to fit in. This can sadly cause some conflict (both between Therians and between they and the other races) as practises in some towns are often seen as barbaric and unnecessary, but for the most part it's a case of “fit in or leave”.

Education

Therians don’t have a formal education system at all and would laugh at the concept of trying to learn the things they need to know from a book. In fact, in many cases, what they learn can’t simply be shown or explained by a teacher to a student -- they must be experienced first-hand.

This is especially true for things like shapeshifting?, where a Therian must be very familiar with the way an animal moves and reacts in order to mimic it, or in hunting and tracking where full understanding of the environment and its wildlife is vital. However, Therians carry these first-hand methods of learning over into everything, encouring their children to be curious and to find things out for themselves rather than relying on what their elders tell them.

Of course, this means that the other races do tend to view Therians as being ignorant and illiterate since it’s rare for even city-dwelling Therians to teach their children academic subjects like reading or writing (though they do teach them how to count rather than let them be cheated).

What is often overlooked, however, is that -- despite their lack of academic knowledge -- Therians have the perfect system for their needs and are able to survive in the wild alone by the age of five[^Despite the ability to survive alone in the wild at such an early age, Therian children are not neglected or abandoned and nor are they actually expected to. It is, however, far too easy for children to get lost or wander off, and their parents make sure they’re at least capable of surviving until they can be found.^] if need be –- something that none of the other races, even the Nymphs, can claim.

Daily Life

Therians cannot sleep in their animal forms, and always revert? back to human if they're sick or injured. Despite this, many clans spend as much time as they possibly can in their animal forms, both for practise and as a means of educating their young. It's also said that, no matter how far Therians have evolved as a species, they still have strong ties to their animal ancestors which makes them dislike living as humans.

Life in Elysia is fairly simple to begin with, but a Therian's daily life is really as simple as it gets. Clans tend to wake early with the forest, spend some time bathing and preparing for the day, and then separate for their daily duties: the strongest of them hunt daily while the rest of the clan take care of the other chores like foraging, repairing tools and supplies, childcare, and so on.

Even children and the elderly are given simple chores so that everyone can pull their own weight and learn responsibility.

The Therian Diet

It’s rare for a Therian to be vegetarian (or any Elysian at all, for that matter) as they lead a naturalistic lifestyle where everyone and everything is food for everyone and everything else. Depending on the size of the clan, however, they may only need to hunt large game once a week, and they always make sure to use as much of the animal as they can so nothing is wasted, be it in their diet or clothes or tools.

A Note on Children

Therians are the only species who can use their skills, specifically morphing?, as children. They spend a lot of time during their early years playing in animal form rather than human -- something their elders encourage, since it not only serves as good practise for later in life but also often makes them easier to manage.

They still can only assume the forms of animals they’re familiar with, but they can do so with fewer restrictions and for longer periods of time.

However, they still revert to their natural human state while sleeping, sick or injured, and their transformations are greatly influenced by their emotions -- so getting stuck in animal form when frightened is quite common.

They are also still limited in terms of the size of animal they can copy (between small and upper medium), and they grow out of their natural ability to transform by the age of seven or eight. They must then re-learn the skill? as adults, with all the restrictions that brings.

Not surprisingly, Therian children also spend a lot of time running around naked. This is especially true in rural communities, since the social standards there are much more free and they don’t have to worry about the sensibilities of the other races. Even city Therians prefer to provide only simple clothes (if any) for their children until they’re seven or eight, believing that clothes restrict their ability to adapt to their environment and learn the ways of the wild (as well as their morphing).

It is perhaps for this reason that many Therian children are called “feral” by outsiders.

Relationships & Family

Loyalty -- primarily to the clan -- is perhaps the most important aspect of Therian culture. By association, this naturally extends to family and tribe as well since the three are all so closely related, but it's their ties to their clan and the community it brings that ultimately makes a Therian more than just a feral animal.

For some Therians, family and clan are one and the same, but for others there may come a time when they must choose between blood and clan. In Therian culture, no family or individual is greater or more important than the clan's safety and well-being as a whole, and so it's rare for the clan to come second.

That's not to say there aren't problems in larger clans. For one reason and another (such as genetic predisposition to being a strong leader), it's not uncommon for a position to be passed down through a family line, so feuds often occur within a clan. Such rivalries are usually tolerated and accepted as normal (the survival of the fittest) unless and until they put the clan at risk.

A Word on Half-Breeds

Perhaps because they share so many other commonalities (including the place they live), Therian-Nymph children can often transform much more easily than, say, a Therian-Zanaryan could. This is probably to do with the fact that Therians and Nymphs both live in very rural areas and are thus much more likely to see a multitude of animals on a daily basis for them to study and interact with, whereas the other races tend to be more urban. Living as an animal, for them, is not as intuitive as it might be to someone who is already immersed in the natural world. (See Sylvan Half-Breeds for more information.)

Because of this, and if only by opportunity (since so many clans and tribes share territory with the Nymphs), there are more Therian-Nymph hybrids than any other type, and more of these half-breed families are successful than with other Nymph hybrids (though they still struggle). However, the more xenophobic communes still refuse to accept even Therian half-breeds into their midst, while others only accept those willing to follow the elemental? path.

History

In 8,510 XA (510 AD), the first Hind appeared?. This ominous monster was created by a fledgling Vampire named Conor Flynn? on the night of his being infected. His first victim was a wolf in labour and, as Conor regained his senses, guilt pushed him to save her the same way he himself had been "saved".

Out of this misguided fiasco were left three pups, all of whom had also been infected by Conor's blood. However, perhaps protected from the full effects by their mother's own blood, they did not become monsters or vampires. Instead, raised by one of the local villagers who had stumbled across them while hunting Conor, they grew up to display intelligence and traits never before seen in wolves. It was not for several generations, however, that Conor's true legacy became known.

Skills & Weaknesses

All Therians can learn to morph? into various animal forms? and eventually can use their animal's supreme senses? and skills? even in human form. However, they can only assume the forms of animals in the small to large categories since they cannot exceed their body mass too much in either direction.

Therians don't divide themselves according to ability or their chosen forms, but it is true that many clans share similar forms among their members (for instance, a clan's members might all choose a wolf form). This is largely due to the availability of the animal in question rather than a philosophical or cultural decision[^Since it's often much easier to learn a form from someone else experienced in using it than it would be to head into the wild where it's often dangerous, forms tend to be passed down through a clan's lineage. Consequently, it's not uncommon for a clan to have a second name related to their focus form (eg. the Black Wolves or the Yiannis? Falcons).^] but it does still seem to divide Therians naturally.

Therians sadly do suffer plenty of restrictions on their ability to transform (see the Morph? page and the Q&A section for more information).

Skills:

Weaknesses:

Areas of Proficiency

  • Therians are natural-born hunters and trackers. Even in their human form, they’re usually familiar enough with their surroundings and the local fauna to be able to recognise most animal tracks by the age of five, and to follow such tracks fairly well by the age of seven. (These skills are normally limited to the area in which the Therian lives, so a Fae? Therian and a Nubian? Therian will each have a different repertoire. That’s not to say they can’t learn to recognise and follow new tracks, just that their experiences will naturally be localised.)
  • Likewise, Therians can make good Guardsmen? and headhunters, having both the senses and skills to sniff out crime and track down criminals.
  • Additionally, like Nymphs, Therians also make excellent wildcrafters, though it seems a profession mostly suited to females.

Related Pages

[^#^]

Races Therians Fae Forest Forest