The Kingdom of Silks is a well-ordered society on the whole, where etiquette and poise are paramount. Many different schools of philosophical thought contend for commercial and mystic authority, but overall the society has advanced beyond inter-faction violence. Arcane and psionic pursuits are what define the Kingdom, and the advances and conveniences these studies have produced allow most citizens to live in relative leisure despite the tremendous ecological devastation surrounding them. Though it is uncommon for most citizens of the Kingdom to pursue a purely martial path, those who do are extremely well-trained and dangerous. Much of the warfare is relegated to ranks of constructs, from the numerous terracotta soldiers cast from living earth before great battles to the sentient warforged and mysterious, musical shardminds.
The Position of Various Races Within the Kingdom of Silks
Eladrin: The majority of Kingdom citizens are Eladrin, and thus form the peasant caste. Most can read and write, and as farming is handled magically, most focus on jobs as scribes, carpenters, and artisans. Many Eladrin join the military, of course, though usually as martial characters. Eladrin also comprises a large percentage of the ancestor-worshipping clergy in the Kingdoms, using their powers to cast out malevolent entities unleashed by the other Bloodlines.
“Bloodlines” are specific magical philosophies, genetic qualities, and cultural similarities that bind particular citizens of the Kingdom of Silks. Most bloodlines are not actually related to the circumstances of a creature’s birth, but rather represent conscious choices available to most qualified Eladrin of the Kingdom willing to undergo the necessary changes and sacrifices. However, many bloodlines also breed true, or simply raise their children in such a way that the possibility of rejecting the covenant associated with the bloodline is never presented; this is especially true of Tieflings and Genasi.
Tieflings: The Tieflings are merchants, scholars, litigators, and politicians. Despite their bonds with Demons and Devils, the Tiefling bloodline is not inherently evil. Instead, very careful and elaborate contracts are usually signed by family patriarchs, granting power to and servitude from all of his offspring by blood. These contracts often include florid and numerous riders restricting the influence fiendish patrons may exert over members of the family, and often limits over how quickly or regularly a member of the family may supplicate the patron for greater power. The contracts are intended to limit young Tieflings’ ability to further their debt to their masters. The Tiefling culture also frowns on greed and haste, encouraging its youth to pursue knowledge slowly and patiently rather than in a rush. Of course, many young Tieflings break these bonds, but such rebels are quickly and efficiently hunted and put down by either fellow Tieflings–Especially those Avengers tasked with quieting the wailing souls of Tieflings who broke contracts before, and those Runepriests who specialize in sigils of binding and reprisal–or the shadowy Eladrin regulatory council that polices the bloodlines for excesses.
Other Eladrin may sign onto one of these contracts, becoming a tiefling at that time (though possibly with lower privileges and responsibilities due to being a late addition); after a certain number of years, these newly-minted tieflings pass the agreement on through their blood as well. At one time, trade between the Kingdom of Silks and the Tran Empire was said to involve an exchange of thinkers, and there are claims that some dwarven scholars may have signed contracts with the Tieflings as part of that alliance. All records of any such exchange, however, have been expunged most thoroughly. Many Tieflings settle in flame-and-ash covered areas of the kingdom, which allows them a certain amount of military security without needing to maintain large standing armies. Tieflings often favor summoning magic, and many pursue the Arcane and Primal power sources.
Genasi: The Genasi are amongst the most savage and unpredictable of the bloodlines, and rarely dwell within “polite” Kingdom society. Bound to Demons, Elementals, or occasionally Giant and Primordial patrons, Genasi are the most physically imposing of the Eladric offshoots. Master craftsmen and artificers who also thrive in military capacities, Genasi tend to live in the outskirts of the Kingdom, often in areas too physically inhospitable for easy habitation by other bloodlines. Families maintain altars to their particular source of power, and a ritual at the appropriate age (or later, in the case of Eladrin who join a Family) causes the supplicant to undergo his first elemental manifestation. Many Genasi serve multiple families, or undergo multiple manifestations from the same shrine; all of the Abyssal manifestations are commonplace and there is no particular stigma attached. Genasi are prone to mental instability and violence, but within their own society these tendencies are held in check by a comparable level of power from companions.
Githzerai: Loyalists to a culture that is thousands of years past, the Githzerai are a discrete race of Eladric origin; no one can undergo a change into a Githzerai. While it is difficult to claim that the Gith are “old” in comparison to the other races of the Silken Kingdom, the specific bloodline of the Gith has been distinctly defined since the days when the arcane practices that create and define the other bloodlines were being developed. Whatever their original source of study, the research the peoples of the Gith were involved with in that misty past was flawed; a great ritual they attempted cracked the earth beneath their city, spilling all of its inhabitants into a vast cavern miles beneath the surface. Obviously, most died; either in the fall, or in the cold, lightless days afterward when they battled horrible creatures created and led by the Firsts of the Ruby Caliphate, whose own sprawling empire had dark tendrils even beneath the nascent Silken Kingdom. The Gith that survived did so by developing the only resource readily available: themselves. While today many Gith live on the surface, and their people are very much a part of the Kingdom, the lessons of those first dark years are visible in every specimen’s pale flesh, silver-flecked eyes, and lightning-quick movements. Gith still favor internally-directed pursuits, whether that be as incredibly fluid swordsmen or levitating psions.
Changelings: Imperial spies without an emperor, Changelings embrace transmutative magic and are far less concerned about patrons. They may be found in any occupation, and often dabble in multiple skills (bards are thus a popular choice). Changelings are all made, never born; an Eladrin seeks out, or is sought by, existing Changelings and given certain acupuncture and alchemical treatments that render his flesh more malleable while awakening and growing certain voluntary muscles beneath the skin. Many Changelings pursue paths which provide further physical alterations, especially Barbarians, Wardens, Druids, and Battleminds. Others dedicate themselves to simple arcane studies. Because all Changelings are drawn from base Eladric stock, they have no overarching Family loyalty to conflict with their often mercenary agendas.
Deva: Monks and ascetics, priests of the past and researchers of forgotten lore. Devoted to eternal existence, Devas are also made rather than born. Unlike the other bloodlines, Devas can come from any Eladric race. After a series of ritual tattoos are applied to the flesh of a supplicant, he or she is encased in a crystal pod and left to incubate. Bathed in pure residuum and waves of psionic energy, the supplicant’s body and mind are both reshaped into a durable vessel remotely linked to all other Deva in existence. Thus a newly-formed Deva already has access to the thoughts, experiences, and recollections of hundreds of its kind currently active, and thousands more who exist as half-formed thoughts and snatches of memory. A Deva who dies has its personality cast into this swirling web, to be drawn into the next supplicant undergoing the change. Deva are inscrutable amongst the peoples of the Silken Kingdom; some pursue lives of violence and adventure without regard for their safety, while others might live out a hundred years as a simple baker in a small town. As various personalities influence the gestalt, a Deva might suddenly take up a grueling study of arcane magic or martial discipline, or dedicate its existence to vendetta against the family of a creature it has never met in this life.
Half-Elves: The lot of a Half-Elf is varied. The term itself is something of an archaic misnomer, as no “elf” has been naturally born within the Kingdom of Silks for many hundreds of Eladric generations. Its commonplace use reflects something of the prevailing attitude towards the halfbreeds within the Kingdom; not outright rejection, certainly, but a kind of casual racism that permeates most levels of “enlightened” Kingdom society. Half-Elves are produced when members of a specific bloodline breed with a pure-blooded Eladrin. Certain bloodlines, notably Deva and Changelings, are incapable of producing Half-Elves due to the dramatic physical changes their bodies have undergone. Other bloodlines, such as some Tiefling families and all Genasi, only produce a Half-Elf if the individual has undergone the necessary covenant; otherwise their child is simply an Eladrin.
Half-Elves have the ability to enter Genasic and Tiefling covenants, becoming fully-manifested members of those bloodlines. Similarly, a Half-Elf can be changed into a Changeling or Deva just as any other Eladric race. It is because of these possibilities that the true “Half-Elf,” the individual who chooses not to accept any of these paths to power, is so disdained. Most Half-Elves in the Kingdom are from families too poor to warrant the attention of a bloodline, and thus often enter martial military service. Of course, some are driven to excel precisely because of these cultural prejudices, either through application of concentrated study and physical conditioning or shorter, more dangerous paths to power. Half-Elves who have formed poorly considered pacts with the Infernal and Elemental forces are among the most common sources of violence and disturbance within the Kingdom. As such, many Half-Elves travel the world, settling into lives of adventure or banditry in the Tran Empire or Ruby Caliphate.
Warforged: Silken Warforged are generally built with more grace and delicacy than those of other kingdoms. Most are constructed from ceramics and lacquered wood, and it is common for them to be sculpted or actually adorned with clothing, usually robes or gowns. Silken Warforged are also likely to be crafted and imbued with specific gender, and even bloodline, identities: thus one may have a female Eladrin crafted from residuum-infused bone china teaching Eladrin children at a local school, or a red-iron warforged with two great, curling horns of volcanic rock set to guard a Tiefling bordello. While most warforged are built for combat, either as familial guardians or commanders of lesser constructs, the Silken Kingdom also sees the use of programming their ageless servants for other tasks. Many teaching duties are filled by warforged, as well as surveying and exploration in areas where a living creature would struggle to breathe or survive. Some warforged are created autonomous, but far more are eventually granted their autonomy after performing certain services, or upon the death of their appointed family.
Shardminds: Shardminds are a special type of construct created only within the Silken Kingdoms. Like the warforged, above, they tend to be anthropomorphized in features and personality, but the base materials of their construction are always crystals and faceted gems. These minerals are mage-grown over a skeleton comprised of precious metals, which are beaten into rods and inscribed with runes. Shardminds have a higher affinity for scholarship and arcane research than warforged, and are almost never constructed for combat purposes. Instead, shardminds serve as private tutors to the children of the greatest families, assistants in magical labs practicing dangerous experiments, and extremely efficient clerks in the Kingdom’s greatest libraries. Peasants claim that the heads of most important families have at least one shardmind whose sole purpose is to store the family member’s personality. Constantly updated through telepathic links, these shardminds are an insurance policy against assassination; at the moment of the family member’s death, the shardmind activates and proceeds to hunt and slaughter “its” killer.