Outlanders is a term used to describe those who come from the far north, well beyond the borders of the civilised world, in the place people refer to as "The Outlands". In this wild, cold, and rugged place, it is not only the chill winds and blizzards that blight the land. The Dark Arc of magic lays strong here, also. It has affected the land and those who dwell upon it in ways similar to Ghrea, to the south, and yet there are subtle differences. In Ghrea, the Dark Arc is must stronger and purer, and thus the resulting mutations - the ghreal - are far more malignant and corrupting. The mutations in the Outlands are far more benign and random. Outlanders are often mutated in ways which give them animalistic traits, such as webbed hands and feet, gills, tails, fangs and the like. These mutations can range from reasonably subtle to extremely pronounced, so that individuals resemble more animal than human. Humans affected in this way are known as ferian.
The ferian are a race of people which largely inhabit cave systems and small settlements within the Outlands. They are a primitive people, living in tribes which for the most part have little to do with one another.
Ferians have been greatly affected by the strange magical forces which flow around the Outlands. Once they were human, though over the years they have been gradually altered and mutated. Because the magical energies are not altogether formed of the Dark Arc of magic, but rather a twisted, malignant version of the Nature Arc, the alterations caused reflect this. Ferians exhibit animalistic features upon their bodies, which can range both in the degree of the mutation and the nature of what it is. Such features can include horns, tusks, claws, wings (most often useless), gills, tails, and furs. Many of these changes are beneficial, enabling individuals to run faster and jump higher, see in the dark, have enhanced hearing, and other such advantages. Lesser altered ferian might appear human, and only have some extra hair growth, or some minor facial alteration. Highly deformed ferian can have the bone structure of certain animals and might, for example, prefer (or be forced) to walk on all fours. At their most extreme, ferians could be seen as half-human, half-animal. They never lose their ability to reason as a human might, but physical deformities can greatly lower the life expectancy of a ferian. Whereas those with slight or beneficial mutations might live several decades, many infants die at birth or at a young age due to their bodies being unable to cope.
Breeding is important within ferian society, as mutations are carried down generations genetically. Parents with mixed attributes, for example the father exhibiting bear-like characteristics and a mother with cat-like ones, will produce offspring with both. Though this could potentially led to some powerful combinations, more often than not it led to horrifically mutilated children that rarely lived more than a few weeks.
In time, this resulted in a separation within the ferian, as individuals of the same ilk would gather together to ensure the survival of their children. No greater example of this can be found than within the ferian's largest settlement, Fang.
Built within a large, dormant volcano, thousands of the ferian people dwell within the massive caves and tunnels which were once formed by the volcanic activity which took place there.
The mountain is sub-divided into levels, within which the differing types of ferian dwell. The lower levels are the home of the bear-like ferian, who's massive strength enables them to mine within the mountain for precious stones which can then be traded. The dogs live at ground level, where many tunnels lead within the mountains, and thus they guard the most available routes into and out of the mountain, patrolling for thieves going in either direction. The birds come next, their keen eyesight enabling them to keep watch around the nearby lands. At the pinnacle of the mountain, in the loftiest, cleanest heights, live those who have the least mutations among the ferian. These individuals, the Overlings, as they call themselves, are seen as the purest among their race.
There are far more variants than just bears, dogs and birds, though they are largely outcast from Fang and live either in the ruined trading port of Hearth, in one of the minor settlements within the White Peak mountains, or head south to see if they can make use if their abilities within the realms of Rune and Magador.
Halflings hail from the Outlands to the far north of Iiosia. Though as stout as dwarves, halflings lack the power and physical presence of their cousins, and instead they posses a guile and quickness which a dwarf does not. While short and plump, halflings have a fleetness of foot and deftness of movement that belies their stature.
Whether it's because they’re naturally adept at such work, or because it’s part of their natural makeup, halflings have well earned the reputation that they are untrustworthy thieves and vagabonds. Proudly practicing the arts with a passion unmatched. Some even venture to become assassins.
Halflings have steadily migrated southwards into the lands of humankind and, while accepted, are met with a great degree of suspicion and mistrust whenever they are encountered. Though exceptions do exist, many halflings are dishonest and downright mean individuals who would steal from a street urchin’s begging bowl if they thought they could get away with it.
Many halflings find comfort in the finer things in life, such as good wine and music, fine clothes, and other such luxuries. Because of a halfling's general impatience, many resort to attaining these pleasures the easiest and quickest way, which is of course to trick, steal, lie, bribe and, in some cases, kill their way to them.
However, not all halflings are outright bandits. Many find a way to mix into society and live relatively honest lives within the major towns and cities of Rune and Magador. However, it is never easy for a halfling to shake the reputation that their race associated with, and it is thought among humans that, if there’s a halfling around, it is best to try to win his favour and get him on your good side, lest he rob you for everything he can while you sleep.
Halflings are often found adventuring, with the lure of ancient and vast treasure leading them into dangerous ruins and unknown lands, where their quickness, guile and sharp eyes are highly valuable for a group heading into dangerous ruins and unknown lands.
The halflings would not have come into being if it were not for a dwarf called Ragnar Fireheart, who was the only dwarf brave (or mad) enough to attempt to sale northwards. He and his crew were missing and presumed dead for 40 years, until word reached Vordaal that Magnus had succeeded in his mission. He had not only landed, but also began the construction of a docks and settlement on the southern shore of a new continent. The dwarves were overjoyed, and sent emissaries to congratulate him, and to certify the ownership of the new settlement for the dwarvern kingdom. It was this latter point that led to the issues that then arose. Whether it was due to the strange magics that emanated from the lands, or due to Magnus's flamboyant personaility, but Magnus rejected this, claiming that it was his discovery and therefore he claimed ownership. Outraged, the dwarves sent ships after him, but many sank before they even reached Hólm, and the rest could not penetrate the defences Magnus had built up. They returned defeated, and Hólm was held by Magnus. Magnus lived out his days as the King of Hólm, and his crew began to breed and multiply. Whether it was the limited gene pool, the strange magics of the land, the proximity, to Nethicka and the odd stone that lay within, or a combination of these things, is uncertain, but in the generations which followed the dwarves slowly changed. Becoming smaller, weaker, and losing their facial hair. The modern day halflings of Iiosia were born.