Banestorm is the primary fantasy setting for GURPS, published by Steve Jackson Games. In this world, the Elves and Dwarves were at war with the Orcs. Eventually a subsect of the elves got sick of all the Waaaghs, and decided that they would create a magical mega-storm to wipe the orcs out or teleport them to a different world.
Unfortunately, the elves were arrogant and overconfident, and so they fucked up the spell. Instead of wiping out the orcs, they wiped out half of the elven settlements and summoned various races from across the universe. Humans came from Earth, in varieties of Christianity, Islam and even Judaism, Paganism, and Buddhism. Predictably, the different religions didn't get along. From a world known as Gabrook, there came Goblins, Hobgoblins, Kobolds and Reptile Men. From a world known as Loren'dil came Centaurs, Giants, Halflings, and Minotaurs. And from yet another world known as Olokun came Merfolk, Octo-folk, and Shark Men.
Naturally, chaos reigned for a little while as the elves fought for their survival, the dwarves holed up in their mountains, the orcs were pushed back into a small corner of the world, and everyone else was desperate to figure out what the hell was going on. The various human civilizations took control quickly however, and Muslim and Christian empires alike quickly spread throughout Yrth.
Humans are now the dominant species on Yrth, and have several empires and kingdoms scattered across the world. Most races have conformed to their beliefs and empires, but many more live outside of human civilization.
- 1 Races
- 2 Religion
- 3 Human Nations
- 4 Other Nations
Most of the original races of Yrth have subraces or subspecies. Some of the newcomers have subspecies too, though most certainly not all of them.
Old World Races
Dwarves of Yrth are the typical fantasy dwarves: squat, stocky, isolationist and expert grudgebearers. Most of them live in the mountainous nation Zarak, where few non-dwarves visit, and even fewer non-dwarves live. They used to live in many more mountain ranges, but the new kids on the block (humans) drove them to settle entirely in Zarak.
Their opinions on elves are... not positive. Their history with the elves has been one where the elves wronged them even before the Banestorm. After the Banestorm and its catastrophic aftermath, the dwarves hold an eternal grudge towards the elves, claiming that the elves should have recognized the perils of such a spell sooner. As for humans, they get along with Caithness since Caithness isn't constantly trying to conquer their few remaining lands. The same cannot be said for Megalos, who keep encroaching on dwarven lands. As for orcs... well, no one on Yrth likes orcs.
Gnomes on Yrth are relatives of dwarves that have lived on the surface long enough to be considered different from dwarves. Though they are biologically similar to dwarves, they don't show much aptitude for mining or forging. They tend to prefer farming, or herding, or general agricultural things. Some of them either live on, rather than under, the mountains of Zarak, but most live among human settlements, and adopt their cultures and religions.
The elves of Yrth are generally pretty standard fantasy elves: tree huggers, dying race, very graceful, beautiful, and intelligent. The Banestorm took a huge toll on their population, and many of them choose to live in forests and stay out of the politics of the newcomers. Despite this, many elves still have high opinions of many humans, though certainly not all of them.
Elves' opinions of the other major races are more mixed. They have a strained relationship with dwarves, due to the dwarves being stubborn grudge-holders who blame the entirety of the elves for the Banestorm. As for orcs, there are very, very few elves willing to see them as anything but monsters.
The elves don't reproduce very fast, and the banestorm has left them in a state of a constant downward spiral. Any children they get are thus celebrated and cherished.
- Half Elves
They also cherish the children they have with humans. Half elves have longer life spans than humans but also have shorter lifespans than elves. They are welcome in all elf villages and all but the most intolerant human settlements.
- Sea Elves
Sea elves live underwater, and rarely bother with the surface world. The Banestorm left them devastated as it is, and most of them have only bronze age technology at best, lagging behind many surface dwellers. They still get along with other elves besides dark elves though.
- Dark Elves
Dark Elves aren't drow in this setting. They're not even a real subrace of elves, but rather a separate faction that lives in the forbidden Blackwoods. The dark elves were the creators of the Banestorm, or the descendants of those elves. They are still extremely bitter over the total failure that was their attempt to destroy the orcs, and they have turned their bitterness towards all other races on Yrth. The dark elves believe that all other races are disgusting, and should be eradicated. They reserve special hatred for Orcs, but also have just as much hatred for half-elves, since they find that interracial relations with humans are disgusting.
Orcs are short, hairy humanoids with pronounced canines, lower intelligence and bad tempers. Orcs have been a thorn in everyone's sides for as long as they have existed. The elves and dwarves have ancient and bitter feuds with orcs, to the point that almost no elves tolerate orcs, and dwarves feel much the same. They were so bad at one point that the elves tried wiping them out entirely, and instead brought the orcs' greatest rivals, the humans, to Yrth. Since that point, the orcs have been beaten back to the Orclands, where they remain in tribal societies and go through cycles of violence and rebirth, occasionally making raids outside of the Orclands.
However, there are still some civilized orcs living in human society. They tend to be mistrusted until they prove themselves, but then they just get by. They dislike tribal orcs as much as anyone else.
Half-orcs in Yrth follow the general depiction of how half-orcs are usually conceived. They're at least more tolerated than their parents, but still usually looked down upon in human society. Orcs will accept them if they can prove their strength.
Ogres are exceptionally stupid and large. They are the larger cousins to the orcs, and often used as laborers and slaves for work that the orcs don't want to do. Some cities have an ogre, but they are generally closely watched slaves/servants.
New World Races
Standard Humans, but with the twist that they got mass-isekai'd to Yrth. Currently divided into several different governments, which include Catholic empire Megalos, Catholic Feudal wild west Caithness, Shi'ite Islam Al-Haz, Sunni Islam Al-Wazif, semi-protestant Tredoy and Cardiel, and vague asian Sahud.
Gabrook is a desert world, one with average to high mana and arid deserts. The Banestorm has swept people from Gabrook on three occasions, twice on the 11th century and once in the 12th.
Goblins on Yrth aren't the standard cannon fodder or always-evil race that many settings portray them as. Rather, goblins are portrayed as quick adapters, fitting well into most human societies. They are extremely extroverted, naturally curious, and rather bright and clever, and this has given them some serious clout in human society. Even though some established the Goblin Kingdoms, these soon got absorbed into Megalos. Depending on the region, goblin communities will adopt the dominant religion. But the real things that appeal to goblins are commerce and magic. There is a city composed 60% of goblins, and it's a mercantile city with a lot of goblin wizards.
Hobgoblins are a subspecies of goblins that arrived with the goblins from Gabrook. Unlike their extroverted, charming and intelligent cousins, Hobgoblins are brutish, dim-witted bullies. Many of them eschew civilization entirely, preferring to live out in the wastelands in hunter-gatherer tribes. Those that do live in the cities tend to be servants to the goblins.
Kobolds, unlike D&D Kobolds, are not dragon-folk, reptilian, or even dog-like. Rather, they are another distant cousin to the goblins, with blue skin instead of green. They tend to be rather weak, incredibly dumb and easily distracted, to the point that they're infamous across Yrth for their uselessness. The book confirms this by giving them the lowest possible points for a racial template. So, in general, Kobolds kinda suck.
The Reptile Men are the only non-goblinoid species to come from Gabrook. They are deeply mistrusted by everyone, due in part to the tendency for wilder reptile men to eat humans, orcs, and goblins. Humans and orcs from the Orclands tend to hunt them down as well and wear their leathery skin as armor.
They are currently settled in the deserts of Yrth, those being the Great Desert between Caithness and the Orclands, or the Islamic deserts of Al-Haz. In Al-Haz, they at least have adopted Islam and aren't murderhobos eating the flesh of other sapient beings. The same can't be said of the reptile men of the Great Desert, who often raid their neighbors in Caithness and the Orclands for food, and are extremely savage.
Loren'dil was a world of pleasant rolling hills and plains with some dense forests, with trees that sometimes pierced the sky. All residents from Loren'dil came a thousand years ago, and no new arrivals from Loren'dil have arrived since then.
Many former Loren'dillians find human farm animals disturbing; Centaurs balk at horses, and minotaurs tend to kill bulls on sight.
Centaurs are the basic archetype of centaur: horse body with half a human body extending from the neck.
Giants stand at nine feet tall, with the musculature to back it up. Some have strange characteristics, like having one eye, two heads, or some other mutation. They prefer to live outside of human civilizations for the most part, since most things built for humans are undersized for giants. Most prefer the Nomad Lands or the Orclands.
As a whole, they hate being compared to ogres, since ogres are idiotic, savage brutes, while giants see themselves as nothing like them and just want to be left alone. Some humans, however, just see giants as less ugly ogres; they get angry just as easily, though they don't eat people. Most giants and humans just don't get along, mostly due to size differences.
Halflings of Yrth tend to be a lot like humans, and set up similar societies. They mostly just live in smaller villages outside of bigger cities. They're rather weak, and don't make for the best soldiers, but they are excellent neighbors due to their hospitality. Most people get along with them easily.
Minotaurs of Yrth are the archetypal minotaurs, with a man's body and a bull's head. They tend to be solitary, aggressive, territorial, and oddly carnivorous. Most other people don't like them as a result, and minotaurs don't like other people either. As a result, most of them live in the wilderness alone. A rare few live in the cities of mankind and even stop eating people, but they never quite shake off their bloodlust. Some academics believe it's genetic.
Whereas Loren'dil was a planet of great plains and forests, and Gabrook was a planet of hostile deserts, Olokun was a world of oceans. There were a precious few small continents, but the violent oceans of Olokun often bared small islands only to flood them again later. Most species on Olokun therefore evolved to be able to breathe air despite living mostly underwater, so they wouldn't "drown" above water.
Merfolk are half-human from the waist up and half fish from the waist down. They move gracefully in the water, but can only crawl around on land. Their relations with other races tend to be minimal, since they live exclusively in the oceans and seas. That's not to say they couldn't get along, but they are much more likely to make friends with the underwater folk. They get along with dolphins and enjoy the company of Sea Elves. However, they don't get along with the shark men. At all. They didn't get along back on Olokun, and they don't get along on Yrth.
The shark men came from Olokun as well, but they come from a different sort of background. They aren't necessarily evil, and some even get along with the humans of Sahud as trading partners. However, to most other people, their culture is impenetrable and confusing, not helped by the fact that many shark men are isolationist and underwater. Thanks to this, they tend to be labeled as monsters, not helped by their reverence of the old shark gods.
Djinn Ascended One
These races are universally hated by everyone else on Yrth, and the book highly discourages you from picking one to actually play unless you're doing a monster run.
Brought in from Earth after the Banestorm, Christianity is the largest religion on Yrth, being based in some of the world's largest nations. This is medieval Christianity, and thus it is highly Catholic and very rigid.
Nations that practice Christianity
The other big religion brought from the early Banestorms, the Muslims of Yrth follow the old traditions of Sunnis and Shiites.
Nations that practice Islam
- Al-Haz: Sunni
- Al-Wazif: Shiite
Sahudese religion is a confusing subject for most other nations, but to put it short, it's a lot like a simplified version of Shintoism, where spirits live in various objects and animals. Paying respect and worship to these spirits keeps them happy.
These religious practices are only practiced in Sahud.
Faiths of Gabrook
Faiths of Loren'dil
The Great Desert
The Great Desert used to be an elven nation whose name has long since been lost. It used to be like the rest of the world, where normal mana and magic could work. The Banestorm basically ruined all of that, and now it's a barren waste where magic is dead. It's so devoid of magic that it can kill dragons, and drains the energy of elves. It's great for Reptile Men, though.
The ruins of the former elven fortresses are valuable to wizards, since old knowledge is contained within. For everyone else, though, there isn't much treasure or any significant artifacts to justify dungeon delving in the desert.
In short, fuck the Great Desert. Don't go there unless you have to.