One bit of feedback that I’ve gotten from a few readers is that the races could use more description. While you may have gotten the sense of size, skin tone, or other features, a vivid picture of each race was lacking. I honestly struggled with this. I have detailed notes of each race’s characteristics (including terribly geeky, latin sounding classification names), but I didn’t want to slow the action with excessive exposition. I explored the details that mattered, but otherwise focused on moving the story.
That said, I would like to use this space to clarify some of the races, and illustrate how they are related to one another. In a burst of Edward Tufte inspired creativity, I imagined this diagram:
The entire graph represents the “humanoid” races so far encountered. Every character in A Togahan’s Tale (ATT) was humanoid. At the center of the diagram are humans, who possess traits common to all of the races. Skin color varies from pale to pink to darker shades of brown. Hair color is across the spectrum. Imagine any kind of human on Earth, and they fit in here. Most humans are not sensitive to the aether, and cannot manipulate it, unless they have Sevarian blood in them (see below). Most of the characters in ATT were human.
The three “fringe” races are full blooded, separate races each with their own features and characteristics. Briefly they are:
Sevarian – About the same height range as humans, they tend to have longer hair with demilune ears and almond shaped eyes. Their skin ranges from light tan to dark brown, with streaks and patches of brown, beige, black, ochre or even peach. Sometimes the skin accents are symmetrical, but not always. Sevarians are not only sensitive to the aether, they can actually see it. They are the most likely to be able to manipulate the aether (i.e. perform magic). Examples from ATT : Count Timoris, Vanguard Divani, Dante’s mother, and random gunslingers.
B’ruta – Standing a good head or two taller than most humans, and possessing proportionate muscle mass, b’rutas have skin color ranging from ashen grey to lavender, and all the darker shades of human hair. B’rutas are not sensitive to the aether, and cannot manipulate it. Examples from ATT : Sarat, Nian Evers’ anonymous bodyguard, and random gunslingers.
Birgother – Birgother are shorter, typically standing eye-to-eye with most humans’ chests or lower, with pale (sometimes nearly translucent) skin, stocky arms and legs, and stubby fingers. They often grow long beards and hair. Their eyes have a gem-like quality to them (jet, sapphire, ruby, or topaz are typical). Birgother are also not sensitive to the aether, and cannot manipulate it. Examples from ATT : Warlen Onithar, Marlie, Khetef, the two “child” assassins that attacked Dante on the eel, and…random gunslingers.
Devlic – Not really one of the fringe races, but devlics are what happens to Birgother after a couple generations of inbreeding and cannibalization. They have the same height and build, although are a bit leaner and more wiry. They have yellowish, if not translucent skin, bad teeth, and red eyes. Hair is dark, dirty, and stringy. Examples from ATT : A band of these attacked anyone who infiltrated the crashed Birgothric ship.
On the inner circle, we start to see what happens with cross-breeding. These tend to have some of their fringe characteristics, but appear mostly human. Socially, they will tend to live among humans and other cross-breeds. Neolitha is ripe with humans and cross-breeds, with only a few of the fringe races.
Shybloods – One parent is human, and the other Sevarian. They might appear totally human, or have one or two Sevarian features (like demilune ears, or weirdly symmetrical dark freckles). They might be sensitive to the aether, to any number of degrees (e.g. they might just be able to feel it like Dante, or might see faint shadows or weird lights). Examples from ATT : Dante, Pio, Pisces, Surtann, and of course, random gunslingers.
B’rutakin – They will have one b’ruta parent and one human, and their b’ruta characteristics tend to stand out. They will be taller than most humans, but shorter than most b’ruta. Their skin is typically a light grey with dark grey hair. Depending on their human ancestry, there is a small chance that a b’rutakin might have some aetheric ability. Examples from ATT: Oughot, Commander Xanheiler, and apparently a lot of random gunslingers.
The question marks on the diagram represent racial combinations that have neither appeared nor been mentioned in the Togahan universe, but might in upcoming stories. I’ll enhance the diagram and descriptions as we see more.
One final note: while these terms denote Neo people’s perception of the races, there will be two defining characteristics in the series: a person’s race, and their nationality. A b’ruta from Neo’s Second Territory will look the same as one from the Earnian homeland of Angandrea, but they may have very different geopolitical intentions. Whenever possible, I will try and clarify this.