Daggerford and the North
The most populous and strongest of the major races of the Forgotten Realms, humans are considered the dominant race in Faerûn. Humankind in Faerûn comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Individuals sometimes show the height of the halflings, the stockiness of the dwarf, or the slenderness of the elf, yet remain completely human. Human skin color ranges from the pale, almost translucent Lantanese to the dusky, dark-eyed natives of Unther, with all shades in between.
Humankind is also one of the most aggressive of the major races, approaching the goblins in ferocity and the dwarves in its single-minded drive when aroused to battle. At any time in the North, some group of humans, often with nonhuman allies, is fighting some other group (usually of humans and nonhuman allies). The dwarves think that humans battle indiscriminately among themselves because their lives are so short and therefore meaningless. The elves think they are aggressive because humanity has not yet figured out how to communicate properly.
Humanity’s greatest advantage is its persistence and potential. No other race has as many special opportunities to increase in power and ability and sees them through. Most of the powerful and wise in the Realms are humans (as are most of the petty-minded and cruel). Within their own race, humans seem to provide equal chances to both males and females. While the tendency in many societies is for women to occupy a domestic role, there is little resistance to a powerful female leader or proficient wizardess, should a woman choose such a position as her goal in life.
Humankind’s attitudes range from the beatific to the diabolic, and its numbers include clerics of good faiths, pirates, traders, kings, beggars, slaves, mages, heroes, cowards, fishermen, and mercenaries. Humanitys abilities are limitless, and the question has been asked by some that when this race finally gets all the quirks out of its system and gets moving, will there be any room left for the other races of the Realms?
Human Ethnic Groups
The following are the most prevalent and largest ethnic groups to be found in Faerûn at this time. These are by far the most common ethnicities to be found within the Heartlands.
Calishites: These humans, descended from the slaves of Calimshan’s ancient genie lords, form the primary racial stock of the Border Kingdoms, the Lake of Steam cities, the Nelanther Isles, and Calimshan. Shorter and slighter in build than most other humans, Calishites have dusky brown skin, hair, and eyes. They regard themselves as the rightful rulers of all lands south and west of the Sea of Fallen Stars, and they look upon northern cultures as short-lived barbarian kingdoms barely worthy of notice. Most Calishites seek nothing more than a lifestyle of comfort and the respect of their peers.
Chondathans: Descended from the natives of the Vilhon Reach, these hardy folk have spread to settle most of the western and central Inner Sea region and much of the Western Heartlands. Chondathans form the primary racial stock of Altumbel, Cormyr, the southern Dalelands, the Dragon Coast, the Great Dale, Hlondeth and both shores of the Vilhon Reach, the Pirate Isles of the Inner Sea, Sembia, and Sespech. They are slender, tawny-skinned folk with brown hair that ranges from almost blond to almost black. Most are tall and have green or brown eyes, but these traits are hardly universal. The Chondathan domination of central Faerûn came about largely by virtue of extensive trade and settlement rather than by force of arms. Many Chondathans are merchants of one sort or another, and they are not afraid to take risks, travel, or settle new lands.
Damarans: Proud and stubborn, these humans were born from some scattered remnants of Narfell’s fall – primarily groups of Nars, Rashemis, and Sossrims who struggled to survive, while waves of Chondathan emigrants settled in the lands of the Easting Reach. These four populations gradually coalesced into a new ethnic group that now makes up the primary racial stock of Damara, Impiltur, Thesk, and the Vast. Damarans are of moderate height and build, with skin hues ranging from tawny to fair. Their hair is usually brown or black, and their eye color varies widely, though brown is most common. Damarans see the world in stark contrasts – unspeakable evil (often stemming from the hubris of long-fallen empires) opposed by indomitable and uncompromising good. Most Damarans are farmers; loggers, or miners in a harsh and unforgiving land.
Illuskans: The seagoing, warlike people of the Sword Coast North, the Trackless Sea, and the Dessarin river valley, Illuskans are tall, fair skinned folk with blue or steely gray eyes. Among the islands of the Trackless Sea and Icewind Dale, their hair color tends toward blond, red, or light brown. On the mainland south of the Spine of the World, however, raven-black hair is most common. Illuskans are proud, particularly of their ability to survive in the harsh environment of their northern homelands, and they regard most southerners as weak and decadent. Illuskans make their livings as farmers, fishers, miners, sailors, raiders, skalds, and runecasters.
Mulan: Members of this ethnic group have dominated the eastern shores of the Sea of Fallen Stars since the fall of ancient Imaskar. At various times in their long history, they have made up at least the ruling elite of Ashanath, Chessenta, the Eastern Shaar, Murghôm, Rashemen, Semphar, Thay, Thesk, and the Wizards’ Reach cities south of the Yuirwood. Mulan are generally tall, slim, and sallow-skinned, with eyes of hazel or brown. Their hair ranges from black to dark brown, but all nobles and many other Mulan routinely shave off all their hair. As a race, Mulans are arrogant, conservative, and convinced of their cultural superiority over the rest of Faerûn.
Rashemi: These humans are tough, sturdy, and well adapted to life in the harsh and dangerous northeastern reaches of Faerûn. They are descended from the nomadic tribes that won the Oregate Wars and built the empire of Raumathar. Not only do Rashemis dominate Rashemen and Thay, they also form significant minorities in Aglarond, the Endless Wastes, Thesk, and the Wizards’ Reach region. Rashemis tend to be short, stout, and muscular, and they usually have dusky skin, dark eyes, and thick, black hair. They cherish their strong ties to their land, appreciating its beauty while respecting its harshness. They display little of the arrogance that marks other groups whose ancestors once ruled empires.
Tethyrians: The Tethyrian culture is a melting pot of Calishite, Chondathan, Illuskan, and Low Netherese elements. This unique background makes Tethyrians among the most tolerant, though fiercely independent, ethnic groups in Faerûn. They inhabit a vast territory stretching from Calimshan to Silverymoon, and from the Sea of Swords to the Sea of Fallen Stars. Tethyrians are of medium build and height, with dusky skin that grows fairer the farther north they dwell. Their hair and eye color varies widely, but brown hair and blue eyes are the most common. Tethyrians are proud of their diverse heritage and protective of their freedom, so they tend to distrust powerful kingdoms and empires.
The following are ethnic groups which are either small in number, or who are most commonly found in lands far from Faerûn’s heartlands. In their own distinct regions, they may very well be the major local ethnic people.
Arkaiun: The Arkaiun are a human ethnic group residing primarily in Dambrath but also in Halruaa and the Shaar. Arkaiun culture was formed through the interbreeding of Nar refugees from Shandaular and Illuskan tribes. The Dambrathan Arkaiuns live as servitors of the half-drow Crinti.
Bedine: The Bedine were a nomadic people inhabiting the Sword of Anauroch. The Bedine arrived in Anauroch through a portal from Zakhara shortly after the Fall of Netheril. Unable to return to their homeland, they settled the sandy desert and mingled with the few remaining survivors of Hlondath. They became a superstitious and xenophobic people, distinct from both their Zakharan ancestors and Netherese influences.
Chultans: The Jungles of Chult are home to a tall, ebony-skinned human ethnic group who migrated north to the Chultan peninsula many millennia ago from a great island in the southern sea of Abeir-Toril. Two millennia ago there were many tribes in Chult, although the Chultans and the Eshowe were the most powerful and influential.
Durpari: The Durpari – a somewhat short and swarthy people – dwelt in the southeast of Faerûn before the empire of Imaskar, but when that civilization fell, the Durpari were thrust into a dark age during which the Mulhorandi hunted their tribes for slaves. The Mulan later turned their attention to defense against Narfell and Raumathar, and the Durpari founded their first kingdoms in −623 DR. The Durpari then traded in peace for the next two thousand years, with the exception of Reinhar I of Dambrath occupying Estagund for a time in 551 DR
Ffolk: The Ffolk are a race of humans that inhabit the Moonshae Isles alongside the Northlanders. The Ffolk inhabit the southern parts of the Moonshaes, including Flamsterd, Moray, Snowdown and Sunset, and the southern parts of Alaron and Gwynneth. Their society is mainly agricultural and is ruled by a High King or Queen who resides in Caer Callidyrr, the capital of the Ffolk.
Gurs: Also known as Selûne’s Children or the people of the highway, the Gurs live in nomadic societies throughout the Western Heartlands, although a few have settled in some of the poorer sections of cities such as Baldur’s Gate, Elturel, and Iriaebor. The Gurs are believed to be mainly of Rashemi descent due to their strong similarity with the natives of Rashemen. Fragments of lore originating from the period around the first century Dale Reckoning can be found which mention the Gurs as a group of nomads. What is known of the early Gurs suggests that they were refugees fleeing a long ago war between Raumathar and Narfell.
Halruaans: During the fall of the ancient empire of Netheril, most of the land’s inhabitants fled west from the spells of the phaerimm, settling the North. But some of Netheril’s folk, led by the archwizard Raumark, fled far to the south by means of great flying ships.
Imaskari: The Imaskari were the citizens of Imaskar, the ancient empire now swallowed by the Raurin Desert and the Plains of Purple Dust. Today they are vilified by the Mulan, who are the descendants of the slaves the Imaskari artificers abducted from other worlds using the mighty portals they crafted.
Lantanna: The Lantanna are humans who inhabit the isles of Lantan, Suj, and Orlil off the northwest coast of the Chultan peninsula. Known for their large green eyes, copper hair, and parchment-colored skin, the Lantanna are rarely encountered outside their native isles except aboard merchant ships. They trade along the shores of the Trackless Sea as far north as Neverwinter, the Shining Sea as far east as Lapaliiya, and the Great Sea as far east as Halruaa.
Machlyes: The Machlyes are martially-gifted, hermaphroditic humans, sometimes called Amazons by outsiders. Some scholars suspect they have their origins in magical experimentation, possibly by the Netherese. All Machlyes appear outwardly to be female, though most are more muscular than typical human females. Machlyes call the islands of Ixinos, Ilighôn, and Wavecrest home (with their capital on Ixinos).
Nars: Descended from the survivors of Narfell’s cataclysmic destruction, the Nars consist of twenty or more nomadic tribes that inhabit the dry grasslands east of the Giantspire Mountains and north of the Rawlinswood. Nars are short and stocky, with darkly tanned skin tones and straight, raven black hair, usually worn to the shoulders.
Neanderthals: Neanderthals are ancient holdovers from the earliest days of humankind. They are often called cavemen, and a few witty sages have termed them “dire humans”. It is believed that all Neanderthals are the descendants of a group brought forward in time by the ancient Narfelli for unknown reason. Most Neanderthals live in the mountains west of Narfell and the mountains of Damara and Vaasa.
Netherese: Netherese are an ethnic group of humans residing in ancient Netheril. Many cultures are either descendant or have been absorbed as Netherese, such as the Shadovar, the Halruaans, the Bedine, the Illuskans, the Nimbrals, etc. A few stray remnants of pure Netherese remains scattered throughout the North.
Raumvirans: Descended from the inhabitants of the great empire of Raumathar, the Raumvirans retain little of their former glory. In the present day, Raumvirans are concentrated along the shores of the Lake of Mists and the city of Almorel. Physically, Raumvirans bear a close resemblance to the Rashemi, indicative of centuries of close ties between the two groups. Although taller on average than their western neighbors, the Raumvirans are also generally stout and muscular, with dark eyes and thick black hair. Raumvirans are generally of lighter hue than the Rashemi, evidence of significant Sossrim heritage dating back to the height of their long-fallen empire.
Shaarans: Shaarans are a nomadic human ethnic group living in Southern Faerûn, primarily in the Shaar region, although some live in Halruaa, Dambrath, Unther or Mulhorand. Shaaran society is built around extended family units known as clans. Several clans form a tribe which is governed by a chieftain and a council of wise elders. Because the Shaar region acts as a crossroad in southern Faerûn, the Shaarans have learned to get along reasonably will with other cultures.
Shou: The Shou are humans originally from the Empire of Shou Lung in the eastern lands of Kara-Tur. Shou have yellowish-bronze skin, black hair, and broad, flat features. Shou are extremely rare in Faerûn.
Sossrim: The Sossrims are the inhabitants of Sossal. With skin as pallid as snow and hair with the fine, silver tint of an icicle the Sossrims have completely adapted to their arctic environment. The Sossrim were founded by a clan of Rashemi warriors led by Soss in -2320 DR.
Talfir: Elven writings dating back to the Crown Wars mention a dark-haired, fair-skinned human tribe in the heart of the great forest of Shantel Othreier. The Talfir were the original human inhabitants of the Chionthar river valley in the Western Heartlands. It is believed that the Talfir died out millennia ago.
Tashalans: Tashalans hail from the middle of the Chultan peninsula and the Isle of Tharsult. They are a black-haired, olive-skinned race that venerates snakes.
Tuigan: The Tuigan are humans from the Endless Wastes, the vast steppes that stretch between Faerûn and Kara-Tur. Tuigans have yellowish-bronze skin with black hair and broad, flat features. They are extremely rare in all areas of Faerûn except the easternmost lands.
Turami: Refugees of the Alamber Sea region, the Turami now primarily inhabit the land of Turmish. Generally tall and muscular, with dark mahogany skin, flat faces and curly hair, the Turami can be found all along the Sea of Fallen Stars, from Westgate to Mulhorand.
Ulutiuns: Although the Ulutiuns had long inhabited the polar reaches of Faerûn, these short, dark-haired, broad-faced humans with light brown skin were actually migrants from the northern reaches of Kara-Tur, who moved across the polar icecap millennia before 1347 DR.
Vaasans: Vaasans are the descendants of two waves of humanity who settled the Moonsea region – refugees from several Netherese survivor states and Chondathan immigrants from the south. They are sometimes referred to – especially in older texts – as Tesharans, Tharrans, or Yûls. They are typically fair to olive-skinned, with dark hair and thick beards.
Humans are kin to many races, such as githyanki and githzerai. Additionally, humans have bred outside their race many times, resulting in the various half-human races like half-elves and half-orcs as well as planetouched such as aasimar and tieflings.
(SOURCES: Races of Faerûn; The Forgotten Realms Wiki; Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting; Tome of Monsters; original material)