Brownfolk

Shiko 
Other names: Children of Knowledge, Drelfin
Origin: The Children of Knowledge emerged from the cauldron of a great volcano on the Moonaway Coast.
Elemental affinities: Earth, Heat, Thought
Size: Children of Knowledge are half human height. Knowledge hoped they would require less food and thus would be able to spend less time raising food and more time studying.
Skin: Children of Knowledge have all the shades of skin that humans do. Compared to the other peoples of Edgewhen, they seem to be various shades of brown.
Hair: Their hair is straight, wavy, or curly.
Beards: Around the age of 54, Children of Knowledge begin to grow long, white beards.
Language: They speak the language invented by the Goddess of Knowledge.
Divine gifts: Knowledge gave them the ability to freeze solid during winter and thaw out in the spring. They can’t really die from hypothermia. The idea was that they would not need to grow so much food to get them through the winter, and therefore, they would be able to devote more time to their studies. In practice, people don’t like mentally checking out for weeks at a time. This gift is rarely used voluntarily.
Common magic: Everyone is expected to learn basic Heat and Earth manipulation. In our world, all children draw pictures but only a small percentage of adults think they can draw. In Edgewhen, all Children of Knowledge can magically heat up a stone, but few adults put this to practical use.
People are encouraged to learn about all nine elements. Through centuries of scholarship, a variety of useful skills have been developed. These are practiced by specialists. One such example is the profession of crop enhancement. Life magic is used to monitor field crops or encourage the production of fruit trees. People sensitive to elemental Emotion often work as game-finders in the forest. Some earthenware is produced by manipulating or creating elemental Earth.

Origins

After emerging from the sacred volcano, the Children of Knowledge descended to a harbor near the mouth of the Redwood River and founded the village that grew into the sprawling city of Hicho.

Migrations

For the most part, these people are a sedentary group of scholars. Once they met the Children of Lith, they did begin exploring more, but they were content to expand only along the Redwood River.

After the Time of Dragons, several colonies were founded along the Moonaway Coast. These provided ports for ships trading with Children of Beauty and Children of Labor.

Philosophy and Religion

All Children of Knowledge serve their goddess by studying for 27 years, raising a family and working a trade for 27 years, and passing their knowledge on for 27 years. Their purpose is to guard the knowledge that will be needed to prevent demonic incursion.

Gender

By the time Children of Knowledge are old enough to grow beards, they are too old to have children. Because sexual reproduction has ceased to be a concern, they view themselves as “elders” which are a separate gender.

In the stories, I don’t want to take the time to explain why a woman has a long, white beard. If I give an elder a female pronoun, I probably won’t mention the beard. If I give an elder a male pronoun, it might just be because I know readers expect people with long beards to be male. The Children of Knowledge, of course, give elders their own special pronoun. The original gender of the elder does not matter to them.

Secondary sex characteristics are not very pronounced among these people and these characteristics tend to diminish further with age. If you met an elder, you would probably guess he’s a little old man.

I can’t tell you to what extent elders retain their primary sex characteristics. It doesn’t seem polite to ask.


Illustration by Kristina Gehrmann – www.mondhase.de.