An industrious and ever-learning people, humans are diverse and spread across Aserra. They can inhabit nearly every environment on Aserra, the only continent lacking a stable human population is Athok, but this is only due to the presence of the Aeul’Idayn in the frozen northern continent. Much of Thiskel and Kalesten is divvied up into nations between human societies, and they lived alongside the Danaij in the Forsaken Land, as well as scattered across islands throughout the oceans. Of the races of Aserra, humans have the highest population density.
Compared to many other races, humans are short-lived, with a lifespan of approximately one hundred years. They are also capable of reproducing relatively quickly in comparison to the elemental races. They are not granted any unique powers, but their creativity has led to the cultivation of many forms of learned magic.
Though wide-spread and diverse, all humans have an identical biology. Their only differences are phenotypical (superficial genetic traits, such as coloration) and cultural.
While they vary in many traits, there are general traits shared by all humans. Their ears are small and rounded compared to the other races. The average human male stands at 5’10” (178cm) and the average female at 5’4” (162cm), though cultural averages vary from region to region. Their builds range between light and heavy, often quicker to put on fat and muscle compared to the elemental races.
Human coloration ranges through many different complexions and pigmentation. Most people of the northern temperate region tend to be fairer of skin and eye color, hair colors including blondes, reds, browns, and black, while people to the south tend to become darker, reaching their darkest colors around the equatorial regions. By and large, the most common hair color is black and the most common eye color is brown. Hair textures can range from straight and sleek to tightly curled, depending on regional phenotypes. Human eye colors in Aserra include colors that are unseen in our world; not only are brown, blue, green, hazel, and other “normal” colors observed, but violet, red, orange, and gold eye colors occur in Aserra.
With their genetic diversity and rapid reproduction, humans are more likely to have genetic anomalies and mutations which result in individuals who don’t fit into the human norm, but are none-the-less as human as their peers.
Compared to other races, humans have a rather short lifespan. They can live upwards of one hundred years, but even in the best conditions most humans live for only 70-80 years. Disease, malnutrition, lack of proper sanitation, and lack of access to medical care can lower lifespans. Different cultures, depending on their level of development in medical understanding, have different average lifespans. In the best of societies with either scientific and/or magical advances in medicine and health may see a lifespan of between 80-100 years. The longest-lived humans may live into the 120s.
In most cultures, humans are, on average, considered adults by the age of 16, but the human brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25.
Humans have a faster reproduction cycle than many other races as well. Typically, females ovulate monthly, beginning around the age of twelve to fourteen, and ending around the late forties or early fifties. A woman can potentially bear a child per year, but this would be incredibly taxing on her body. After giving birth, a woman could potentially ovulate within a month, but lactation often suppresses ovulation, preventing the mother from becoming pregnant again for a time. Birthrates vary from culture to culture, but typically, families with more wealth and education have smaller, more manageable families, while families in lower classes tend to have as many children as possible. Left to their own devices, women will want to space their pregnancies so they can focus on raising their last baby, and manage the entire family without extra burdens on their resources. Some human societies are highly-male dominated, which puts a heavy reproductive burden on the females.
Humans are omnivores, ideally with a high vegetable/fruit to meat ratio. However, each culture has its own unique culinary tastes, depending on available resources. Some cultures are highly meat-based (such as the Quo-Mou) while others lean toward vegetarian (such as Emkalians). The vast majority of human societies rely on agriculture to acquire food, but a few societies are still hunter/gatherers or foragers.
As such a broad and varied race, culture is hard to describe specific to humans.
Gender and Relationships
In human societies, gender roles can vary from extremes. The nation of Samonight in Kalesten is extremely patriarchal and oppressive to women, while its opposite is Samdra, in Ertia, which is extremely matriarchal and oppressive to men. Most human cultures fall in between these two extremes, but only a handful are truly egalitarian.
Some cultures recognize gender beyond the binary of male and female and may have three or more gender identities. Cultures that still rely on hunting and gathering tend toward egalitarian societies, while those which have embraced agriculture and sedentary living arrangements tend to form class distinctions based on gender, age, and other traits.
Marriages and romantic relationships differ from culture to culture, though humans are rarely truly monogamous. In many cultures, marriage is officially monogamous, but extra-marital affairs are not uncommon, though they may be kept very secretive. Other cultures practice polygamy (typically polygyny). In these cultures, individuals of high socio-economic status are more likely to have more than one partner, be that entertaining paramours or concubines, or having multiple spouses.
Between different societies, romantic relationships can differ depending on gender stratification. In certain nations, one gender may be traded around as chattel while in others both genders have the freedom to choose their partners. In many cultures is most common for marriages to be arranged by parents, either when their children are adolescents or when they enter adulthood. In the end, humans typically seek life-long relationships with a partner with whom they can raise children, though they may not always be romantically or sexually loyal to that one person consistently.
Humans have a variety of religions, whereas most other races have a single religion that unites them, even across great distances. The majority of human societies worship the third-generation gods that represent different aspects and virtues of life. Most of north Kalesten and Thiskel follow this religion, commonly known as the “Religion of Light.” Most individuals focus their devotion on gods that fit into their lives. For example, a farmer will pray to the Seasonal Goddesses for ideal weather for his crops, while an artist may pray to Essan and the Muses for inspiration, or a soldier will pray to Saeven for guidance. The gods are prayed to regularly in the hopes of gaining their influence and winning their favor.
Opposite of the "Religion of Light" is the Religion of Dark which is the religion for the people of the Forsaken Land and shared by the Danaij and other races of the Forsaken Land. Small cults to dark gods exist throughout Aserra, but they are highly secret. The dark gods tend to eagerly answer prayers outside of the Forsaken Land in the hopes of gaining a foothold outside.
The people of Ertia follow Nydoinism, which is a belief that the Mother-Goddess Nydoini's essence still remains in the world in all living things, including within each individual. Ertians practice forms of meditation that work towards mastery over the body and mind, some more ascetically than others.
The peoples of the Lands of Kaius are a collection of tribes, some with vastly different lifestyles, but all of whom regard the dragon Kaius as their guardian. Every seven years, thousands of Kaians travel to the foot of the mountains of Kaius to pay tribute to their dragon-god in exchange for his protection. Dragon-worship is not uncommon in societies that have peaceful dragon neighbors. While the dragon cannot compare to gods, they are more real and tangible, as well as powerful.
Shamanism or Animism is both a belief and magic system, though shamanistic magic is only performed by those with extensive training. These cultures follow the guidance of their shaman who is in communication with the local spirits. This religion is also something more tangible than praying to distant gods, as shamans can affect real change in their world by working with spirits. People in these societies tend to have a reverence for nature, can be superstitious to avoid offending local spirits, and have unifying traditions.
Atheism is rare in Aserra, a world where magic can be seen to have real effects and the history of divine warfare is in the world's collective knowledge, along with cultures world-wide sharing faith in the same gods. However, with isolation from magic and other convincing elements, skeptics could easily deduce that there are no gods if there is no evidence. The secretive nation of Belvon in Kalesten has done it's best to replace belief in gods with belief in human ingenuity by insulating their people and outlawing magic. Agnosticism is more realistic in Aserra, or at least an indifference to gods if not outright questioning their existence.
Humans have no inherent magical ability, but have the potential to learn. Humanity has invented many magic systems, mostly relying on the magical energies found in one’s soul, though sorcery relies on mana and some other forms of magic are preformed through psychic exertion. However, the average human rarely knows anything about magic, and is often intimidated by it. In cultures that have embraced one form of magic or another, their users hold high positions in society, but the common non-magical people in society are typically wary of their power.
It’s a general rule that humans and many of the other races are often at odds with each other, though each culture and civilization may have its own relationship with other races. Humans are not well regarded by many Idayn or Nafod races, but are tolerated by Zaedyn, Mariel, Brech’mar, and Asath. Danaij typically regard humans as lesser beings and rule over them in the Forsaken Land, though roles are reversed outside of the Forsaken Land with small populations of wandering Danaij.