Race Category - Humans

Humanity falls into a general category and four other races. These four races are highman, nords, tenebrian and darkmen. We explain each of these below, starting with common humanity.


Humans are the dominant species of Ayreon, and are the standard by which the sages judge all other races. Or so human sages like to say. Humans even outnumber the orcs, if only because most races who find orcs living nearby kill them on sight, and very few adventurers are brave enough to delve into the dark of the mountains to take a census. Humans are found in all major cities that stand along the surface of the world, and are found in the far corners of Ayreon. They are diverse in their colorings and their cultures, they are versatile in their skills and in their arts, and they adapt well in all environments, including the most extreme and hostile.

This adaptability serves humans well in other capacities, particularly the professions practiced on Ayreon. While not the best in any one profession or career, they can take up any profession and excel beyond most, whether it is in the fighting arts, in the articles of faith, or in the diverse secrets of the mystics. They work best as warriors, farmers, and any profession that requires strength and some degree of endurance, but are also found in great numbers among the templars and priests of the various faiths of the world.

Humans rarely grow taller than six feet (roughly two meters), and it is uncommon for a human to be shorter than five feet (1.5 meters). Their skin and hair colorings vary widely, as do their eyes, and figuratively they may be as lithe as an elf and as robust as a short ogre. Humans form the bulk of humanity, but they are not the entirety of humanity - four subraces of humanity exist alongside their more common brethren. They are the highmen, the nords, the tenebrians, and the darkmen.


Legends give three accounts for the rise of the highmen. In one legend the highmen are the progenitors of humanity, the first ones to awaken as Wyome strode the world bringing life to all, who since that time have decreased in number and memory to make way for their descendants, the humans. In another legend, the highmen were humans taken to a distant and forgotten land in the west, there to serve as guardians and heralds of a long forgotten ancient race - some say elves, other dragons - who enhanced their intelligence and their magical abilities. A third legend places them as the heirs to a great empire of superior humanity, the remains of that race now lost to time and the seas.

Whatever the truth of these legends, highmen are the intellectual giants of humanity, rivaled only by their more malevolent brethren, the tenebrian. The recent history of Ayreon is in large part the history of these two clashing peoples, and most cities along the face of the world owe their existences to the highmen who founded them. Like all of humanity, highmen may take up any profession and excel at it, although more often than not they are found in the halls of magic and of temples. They tend to shy away from the darker arts, in large part due to their cultural heritage and their social needs, but a highman taking up necromancy is not unheard of. Most highmen are good in alignment and lawful in ethos.

Like their name suggests, highmen are the tallest of the human races, many of them on average reaching just below two meters in height. Their hair and eye colors vary, and their skin coloring tends from light to golden tan. In some cases highmen can be mistaken for very tall elves, though a closer look at their rounder faces and heavier frames quickly gives them away. Highmen are often slender, moreso than common humans, and many of the men lack the capacity to grow facial hair.


For much of the year the northernmost reaches of the continent is a frigid, hostile land filled with savage beasts fighting for survival. Dire bears, arctic lions, winter wolves, snow rocs, wargs, ice trolls and more fight against each other and against the brutal elements for food and territory, and only the strongest live to see the coming of the spring melting. It is in these lands that the Nords, a proud and rugged subrace of humanity, make their homes. They are also the lands that hone their bodies and shape their views on life.

Nords, like all of humanity, are an adaptable race, able to master any skill they put their minds to. The harshness of their environment, however, gives them little time for advanced culture and learning, so very few nords enter the spellcasting professions. Those that do guide their tribal communities as shamans or seers. The brutality of their daily lives, on the other hand, has toughened the nords, giving them an endurance unmatched by any of their weaker human cousins. It comes as no surprise, then, to find vast numbers of warriors among their ranks, many of them uncivilized barbarians but not a few working as mercenaries for foreign armies and as gladiators for sport.

The nords' features and builds are the same as most humans, though they tend to be taller than their common brethren, and broader in shoulder. Nords vary little in their hair and eye colors, generally being blonde- or red-haired with blue or grey eyes, while some have medium-to-light brown locks. Their skin tones are light.


The first recorded sighting of the Tenebri was in the mountains west of Lokatar over a thousand years ago. A Merendi scouting patrol, on a routine lookout for orc marauders, came upon a dozen or so of the blanched race who, upon seeing the armed squad of soldiers, fled and hid among the rocks and foothills of the region. Not more than twenty years later were the Tenebri to build a city in those same mountains, and have since plagued the world with their dark magics and their secret plots.

Tenebri, or the Tenebrians, are a rare breed on the surface of Ayreon, much prefering the eternal night of the Underdark and the hollows of keeps and towers where light has little chance of reaching them. They are a remarkably bright people, as much so as highmen, and are cunning to a fault. Not a few sages believe the Tenebri are the descendants of highmen, so intelligent are they, but have so far been unable to establish a positive connection between the two human races, nor can they say with certainty how the Tenebri came into their remarkable magical abilities.

Their pale skin is a different matter. Having lived for centuries beneath the surface of Ayreon (some believe it was for millenia), the Tenebri lost all need for melanin, and except for the rare individual all members of this human subrace are pale as ghosts. Their hair, too, is white to straw-blond, and their eyes seem to come in three shades only, white, black and ruby red. A tenebrian generally is tall, though not so much as a highman, with long, spindly fingers and a slender, or oftentimes a gaunt, build. Only with care and precaution can a tenebrian pass herself off as a common human.

Because of their builds, intelligence and cultural dispositions, tenebrians almost exclusively become men of letters - mages, priests, researchers and the like. Necromancers are common among their kind, and because of that affiliation, combined with an ugly history of empire building and slavery by more famous Tenebri, they are distrusted by all other humans.


It is unknown when or how the "darkman" came into existence on Ayreon, but there is no reported sighting of this human subrace prior to the founding of Lokatar, and early accounts of their arrival are apocryphal at best. One such account, written by a minor priest of Shorkam's Inquisition, describes a backcountry hamlet in the midst of famine whose inhabitants appeal to the gods of life and weather to save them from destruction. Their prayers go unheard and unfilled. Desperate as the end nears, the villagers turn then to the dark gods, pledging their souls in return for life in this world, and offering human sacrifice to seal the pact. The dark gods hear their prayers, and answer in the affirmative, then mark the race so they may be reminded for time-without-end the covenant made that fateful day.

Darkmen are, like their more common counterparts, a strong race that live out their brief lives in the wilds of Ayreon. They are not wild themselves, far from it, but tend to shy away from cities and large settlements unless inhabited by other darkmen. They are intelligent, and quick, and sometimes a darkman will rise above his fellows to enter an academy devoted to the arts of magic. Others come to dwell at the edges of human settlements, living as black marketeers or, worse, thieves. Darkmen can, however, enter into any profession and thrive.

Darkmen are indistinguishable from humans, being of the same builds, heights and features, but bear two traits common to them all: cunning, almost evil- looking black eyes and hair the color of nightfall. The thick lashes around their eyes accentuates the effect, making them appear as if they are up to no good, even if their intent is not malevolent. This almost unnatural look gives credence to the stories of villagers giving up their souls to sinister agents, and while many a darkman has given into the baleful powers of the world, examples of darkmen both pious and heroic dot the annals of history.