You are the people of the underground, living in the spaces unknown to and forgotten by those who live in the city above. Once, thousands of years ago, your people were slaves to others - details have been lost, but these masters left, or were banished, back before the city became what it is now. This is your place now, and you protect your home from those who lie above with a veil of secrecy. The strongest taboo your people hold is that which forbids changing your shape in front of outsiders. To them you exist only as a mishmash of urban legends - giant rats living in the sewers, strange women that appear to others who eke out their living from what is cast away by those living above.
You have been given gifts by the Wastelord, the god who watches over abandoned places and peoples, to help you survive in your chosen home: the ability to change your shape and go on four legs, to hide and pass through some of the undercity’s hidden places. As children, you all learned to take the form of a common rat - as you become more powerful, you are able to take on the form of the larger dire rats that your people keep as livestock and companion animals. The most powerful of your people are able to assume a hybrid form - combining the traits of your four-footed form with those of your human form.
There are not a lot of you - a few hundred living in one main village underneath the city sewers. Your people tend to marry young - around the age of fifteen, and family sizes vary, and you bury your dead in the outskirts of the ancient necropolis that dates to the time of the Masters (carefully, as there are powerful magics that can spawn undead abominations). You are led by your queen, Eiara. For the most part, your people have always had a queen, though there have occasionally been male rulers. Descent is passed through the maternal lines, and it is very closely tracked by a few dedicated scholars who keep records of lineages and other lore - the Znanje Staratelj. The priests who keep the ways of the Wastelord are conversely mostly all men, though some women, especially powerful seers marked by their clouded eyes, are also admitted into their ranks. In addition to their roles as spiritual guardians, these priests are given the power to help make your subterranean world more accommodating. They are healers, assist with farming mushrooms and other edible plants that will grow without light, and deal with with other natural creatures of the underworld.
Your people hunt the animals that stray into your world (mostly strays from the upper city, with some stranger things that find their way into your territory from the deeper world) for food and hides. You also take the castoffs from the world above - what is thrown away can often be repaired (by mundane or magical means), or repurposed. Metal is uncommon and precious, and you barter rather than use coins for trade. Your weapons are spears and bows rather than swords, your armor tends to be hide. Since you don’t have the means to create cloth, and it is not sturdy enough to survive your subterranean lifestyle, most clothing is also leather or hide, and you tend to be less concerned with it, and with issues of modesty, that those from the world above. White furs and hides are reserved for the queen and those she favours.
The underworld can be a dangerous and confusing place. Many people do not venture much further than your village, but some make their lives exploring the world beyond, and everyone is at least passingly familiar with Staza - the guide marks that help people orient themselves and warn of danger. Those who spend more time exploring can read the advanced form as well that often gives more specific information about set traps and the territories of more dangerous beasts.
Usually, this world is all your own. Some of the upper city dwellers delve as far as the sewers, either workmen or the very poor forced into the Wastelord’s domain to scratch out their own lives. Very rarely, something brings them further in… usually something that ends in disaster, be it for them or for you, when the delicate balance of life in the undercity is upset.
Recent reports, for instance, relate that they have been digging deeply across the river, disturbing old warding magics set to help protect your territory from incursions of more dangerous outsiders...
- Ajla - Female Chaotic Good Rogue. Ajla is a scout with contacts in the upper city. She is the one who first reports the incursion.
- Damir - Male Neutral Good Sorcerer(Harrow Bloodline). Damir is one of the Znanje Staratelj, the lore keepers who track genealogy and history.
- Elis - Lawful Good Fighter(Unbreakable) - Elis is a cousin of the Queen and a favoured member of the Royal guard. Elis is nominally in charge of the party but is not necessarily an assertive leader.
- Lazru - Male Neutral Druid(Cave Druid) - Lazru is a junior priest who has close ties to the Waste Lord and who has been having concerning dreams and visions.
- Mirza - Female Neutral Good Ranger - Mirza is also a scout, and she is intimately familiar with the underground areas around your city. She is intent on returning to her duties after having children.