The Five Stars of Shou
Here are my scrolls on races natively born in the lands of Shou.
The Shou Empire is primarily a human accomplishment. The Xiang Dynasty is human, as are the high priests of the Church of the Five Stars. Humans are by far the most common race found in the Shou Empire, and are native to all of the lands in it.
Dwarves are found primarily in the mountains of Tabot, although there are several major cities of dwarves in the Spine of God range of mountains that form the western border of Shou. The dwarves of Shou are renowned for their stone-craft and their engineering.
The little folk are not uncommon in Shou, although they seem particularly prevalent in the jungles of Siem, where they have large river-dwelling communities. Across Shou, they have an affinity for rivers and trade. Some halfings even gain prominence in Shou governement; the chief magistrate of Kaineng City is a halfling.
Half-orcs are rarely acknowledged in Shou society. Although they are often employed as guards and soldiers, the subject of their parentage is quietly ignored. No half-orc will ever reach social prominence in Shou, where birth and lineage are of particular interest. Half-orcs are most common in the orc-infested western plains of Shou.
Occasionally, a liaison between a citizen of Shou and a visitor from the Feywild may result in a child. These children may be considered citizens of Shou, if born in Shou territory and acknowledged by their human parent. Otherwise, they are considered visitors the same as their elven progenitors. Whether or not the elves choose to accept them into their society is of little concern to the Shou.
These animal shapeshifters are rare, but known in Shou. Nobody knows where they come from, or what gives them their powers, but it is generally accepted that they come from somewhere in Shou territory. Most hengeyokai are willing to pass as human on a day-to-day basis, although the heroic tales of the legendary badger warriors of Chang do give at least some hengeyokai a measure of status in Shou.
The Kitsune are a race of fox people. Unlike the hengeyokai, who shift from animal to human, the Kitsune always have fox heads and tails, and are covered in soft fur. They are well known for their scholarship and their magical abilities. The Kitsune are native to Kozakura, and their presence is most seen on the eastern coast of Shou. The Academy of Nine Tails is a well-known and respected Kitsune wizard school.
The rat-people of the Nezumi are the least trusted race in Shou. They are known for their poisons and their skill as ninja and thieves. It is believes that the Nezumi come from Kozakura, but at this point little is known about their homeland, or even how large of a population of Nezumi exists. Most tales of the Nezumi are dark and full of death and treachery. It is even rumoured that the Nezumi treat with Oni to gain dark eldritch power.
The Lamia are natives of Siem. These people have the upper body of a human, but the lower body of a snake, much in the same way that Centaurs are half horse. They are known for their archery and their close connection to nature, particularly the jungle. Because they are cold-blooded, the Lamia rarely venture far north, and are unknown except in legend to the people of Tabot and Northern Shou.
It is said that beast-men with the heads of bulls live in the far north of Kohaku. Such people are primitive tribals, if not outright monsters, and are not citizens of Shou.
The dwarves of Kohaku and Tabot are known to work with large, powerful mountain dwellers with grey skin and tribal tattoos. This race is well-known to the dwarves, but not to the government of Shou, and they are not considered citizens.
On occasion, a child might be born to human parents who has the ability to change his appearance at will. Such children are exceptionally rare, and the ability does not seem to be hereditary in any way. It is said that only the Emperor knows the truth about how many of these so-called “changelings” exist in Shou.
There are some few ancient constructs who exhibit life and independent sentience in the kingdom of Shou. Whether these suits of armour are some sort of advanced golem created by a powerful wizard or are the souls of long-dead men bound again into the world of the living is still debated by the scholars of Shou. There are several of these constructs in the Imperial City, and one known to be in the possession of the Kitsune of the Academy of Nine Tails.