Dwarves are a stocky race, roughly a foot shorter than humans, with broad, heavy frames. Dwarves trace their heritage to the furnaces of subterranean passages, and many dwarves born long after the planet’s disappearance still feel the sting of its loss, kept alive in dwarven song and legend. Dwarven history also claims that they once had a different racial god.
Dwarves are most commonly found on Central Station, where their guilds and clans wield significant power, or on city-sized Star Citadel ships. Significant dwarven communities on other worlds are rare, though small groups can be found throughout extrasolar colonies. Many dwarves are attracted to asteroid mining, with Star Citadels common in the Diaspora.
Larger dwarven communities often Focus on tradition and fight to keep ancient crafts, laws, and enmities alive. This traditionalism sometimes causes other races to see dwarves as old fashioned, or even backward. Dwarves are certainly cautious in adopting new technologies and slow to change their way of life, but once a new technology has proven safe and effective, it’s quickly adapted to dwarven needs. Dwarves are often mechanics, mystics, and soldiers. They tend to get along best with gnomes, halflings, humans, and other races, though they have a sometimes impolite appreciation for androids’ elegant construction and find much in common with kasathas and korasha lashuntas.
Most dwarves stand 4 to 4-1/2 feet tall and weigh 150–200 pounds. They’re considered adults at 40 and live up to 450 years.
Size and Type: Dwarves are Medium humanoids with the dwarf subtype.
Darkvision: Dwarves can see up to 60 feet in the dark.
Slow but Steady: Dwarves have a land speed of 20 feet, which is never modified when they are encumbered or wearing heavy armor. They also gain a +2 racial bonus to saving throws against poisons, spells, and spell-like abilities, and when standing on the ground they gain a +4 racial bonus to their KAC against bull rush and trip combat maneuvers.
Stonecunning: Dwarves gain a +2 bonus to Perception checks to notice unusual stonework, such as traps and hidden doors located in stone walls or floors. They receive a check to notice such features whenever they pass within 10 feet of them, whether or not they are actively looking.
Traditional Enemies: Dwarves still train to fight their ancient enemies. A dwarf gains a +1 racial bonus to attack rolls against a creature with the goblinoid or orc subtype and a +4 racial bonus to AC against an attack from a creature with the giant subtype.
Weapon Familiarity: Dwarves are proficient with basic and advanced melee weapons and gain specialization with those weapons at 3rd level.
Lithe, long-lived humanoids, elves are easily recognized by their pointed ears and pupils so large that their eyes seem to be all one color. Possessed of an inherent bond with the natural world, they tend to subtly take on the coloration of their surroundings over the course of many years and have a deep spiritual regard for nature.
Of all the races common to the solar system, elves were perhaps the hardest-hit, and the slowest to adapt and recover. Where shorter-lived races quickly gave birth to children who had never known any other way of life, and thus were personally unaffected by the loss of history, the elven generation continued on, broken and confused by the blank centuries in their own lives and memories. What’s more, those leaders charged with trying to piece together their social history from scraps soon came to a grim conclusion: their race had been betrayed by another—yet exactly which race was involved remains unclear, all suggestions of the answer scrubbed.
Reeling and angry, elves from across the system retreated to their ancestral homeland and dug in, determined to never again be caught unprepared by disaster. Even this was a fraught endeavor, however, as many of the established elven families resented the chaos and upheaval caused by the sudden flood of refugees.
Today, the elves are a reclusive, xenophobic race, little understood by their neighbors and uninclined to remedy that situation. Though their starships still travel the void, trading with other worlds, they largely carry all-elven crews, and most elves choose to live among their own kind. Those adventurous or rebellious individuals who choose to live among other races are called the Forlorn, due both to their loss of elven companionship and to their tendency to outlive friends of other races. Most are viewed with pity and suspicion by their kindred.
Within their borders, elves tend to be whimsical and passionate, yet when dealing with outsiders their laughter disappears quickly, replaced by a cold, unyielding wall. Elven warriors and diplomats operating on government business sometimes even choose to go masked, hiding their identities around other races in order to better represent a united elven state.
While elves have embraced technology and the security it brings, they also maintain a deep affinity for magic, seeing in its practice a continuity with their ancestors. Elves are most often mystics, operatives, and technomancers, and when they go adventuring, it’s often to recover bits of magical lore lost to history, or else to find ways to ensure their strength in the centuries to come. The primary exception to all of these tendencies are the drow—purple-skinned elves who reject the company of their brethren and mine alien tech from that world’s interior, making them some of the most feared and respected arms dealers in the system. Ordinary elves and drow despise one another.
Most elves stand 5-1/2 to 6-1/2 feet tall and weigh 100–150 pounds. They’re considered adults at 100 and naturally live up to 750 years.
Hit Points: 4
Size and Type: Elves are Medium humanoids with the elf subtype.
Elven Immunities: Elves are immune to magic sleep effects and receive a +2 racial bonus to saving throws against enchantment Spells and effects.
Low-Light Vision: Elves can see in dim light as if it were normal light. See Vision and Light.
Gnomes are a vivacious people who have adapted to their tumultuous heritage in curious ways, and evolved significantly from accounts found in records.
Most gnomes stand between 3 and 3-1/2 feet tall and weigh around 40 pounds. They’re considered adults at 40 and naturally live up to 500 years.
Hit Points: 4
Size and Type: Gnomes are Small humanoids with the gnome subtype.
Eternal Hope: Gnomes receive a +2 racial bonus to saving throws against fear and despair effects. Once per day, after rolling a 1 on a d20, the gnome can reroll and use the second result.
Gnome Magic: Gnomes gain the following spell-like abilities: 1/day—dancing lights, ghost sound, and token spell. The caster level for these effects is equal to the gnome’s character level. In addition, gnomes get a +2 racial saving throw bonus against illusion spells and effects.
Low-Light Vision: Gnomes can see in dim light as if it were normal light. See Vision and Light.
If it’s true that opposites attract, then elves and humans are the best proof. Despite their general distrust of non-elves, many elves find humanity’s passionate energy, dedication to living in the moment, and ability to accomplish so much in their short lives deeply appealing—a flame that burns all the brighter for its brevity. At the same time, many humans are attracted to elves’ lean bodies, elegant style, and centuries of wisdom. Where the two populations interact, half-elves occasionally result.
Half-elves are the interracial children of human and elven parents or the descendants of such children. While they can often pass for human by hiding their Modestly pointed ears, they nevertheless tend toward the tall, slim physiques of their elven parents, with life spans twice as long as those of their human kin. Despite being seen as generally attractive by both races, half-elves often feel like outsiders in both societies, always exoticized and never quite accepted as part of either group. This leads many half-elves to band together with others of their kind, or else abandon both their parent races in favor of new friends and families among aliens who lack those preconceptions. Since half-elves breed true, many second- or third-generation half-elves have no firsthand knowledge of their parent cultures.
As cultural chameleons, half-elves slide easily into other societies, adapting smoothly to alien mind-sets. They have a particular affinity for androids, ysoki, and any groups treated as outsiders by mainstream society, as well as for alien races like the shirrens who are different enough biologically that it would never occur to them to Focus on such minor racial differences as pointed ears or eye color. Many half-elves are fond of wandering, with a strong desire to prove themselves, seeking out new worlds in the Vast for fame and glory or in the hope of establishing new colonies. Though their often complicated relationship with their parent races makes them natural iconoclasts, they also tend toward kindness and understanding.
With their extreme versatility, half-elves are a perfect fit for nearly any profession, though in recent years an unusually large number have become operatives or soldiers for the Stewards, perhaps seeing in the enforcement of the Pact a chance to foster understanding and build a single system-wide culture that no longer strands half-elven children between two worlds.
Most half-elves stand from 5-1/2 to 6-1/2 feet tall and weigh 100–200 pounds. They’re considered adults at 20 and naturally live up to 180 years.
Ability Adjustments: +2 to any one ability score
Hit Points: 4
Size and Type: Half-elves are Medium humanoids with both the elf and human subtypes.
Adaptability: Half-elves receive Skill Focus as a bonus feat at 1st level.
Elven Blood: Half-elves are immune to magic sleep effects and receive a +2 racial bonus to saving throws against enchantment Spells and effects.
Low-Light Vision: Half-elves can see dim light as if it were normal light. See Vision and Light.
Half-orcs have both human and orc ancestry. Though these individuals sometimes result from the union of orcs and humans, the relative rarity of pure-blooded orcs means that most half-orcs are the children of other half-orcs. They usually stand a bit taller than humans and have strong, muscular builds, with green or gray skin. Many half-orcs have tusk-like canines protruding from their lower jaws, as well as slightly pointed ears and large brows that give them a brooding appearance.
Half-orcs are fairly uncommon. Unfortunately, most of the free half-orcs who inhabit the rest of the solar system are shunned or vilified due to traditional prejudices. The fact that these prejudices sometimes drive half-orcs to become exactly the brutal criminals society expects only reinforces this negative cycle. Those half-orcs who do find acceptance tend to do so within enclaves of their own kind, among androids and other marginalized groups, or in militaristic orders where the fear they inspire can be turned to their advantage. Though society funnels them toward roles as soldiers, operatives, and intimidating envoys, some find solace as mechanics, preferring machines to people. They get along particularly well in vesk mercenary groups, as the reptilian aliens lack traditional prejudices.
Some half-orcs, frustrated with society’s judgment of them due to their appearance, decide to accentuate their differences and take to extreme body modification. This subculture uses piercings, plastic surgery, and even cybernetic enhancements to express themselves and set themselves apart from the mainstream. Many half-orcs feel the call to join the Augmented, and such “steelskins” may not even consider themselves half-orcs anymore, looking down on members of their race who have kept their natural forms.
For those half-orcs least accepted by society, one popular option is to push beyond the boundaries of civilization, venturing to new planets where they can build colonies. While some of these orc-blooded colonial groups simply set down roots and live in peace within their small enclaves, others become professional pioneers. These latter groups take on contracts as first-wave colonists, landing on planets under extreme circumstances and enduring the hardest and most dangerous period of a colony’s founding, then sell off rights to a “softer” group of colonists so that they can go start a new colony elsewhere. This dangerous, extremely skilled work is well-compensated, and thus despite their rough reputation and appearance, half-orc professionals are often extremely wealthy, sometimes retiring to act as patrons for other half-orc ventures.
Most half-orcs stand from 5 to 7 feet tall and weigh 130–200 pounds. They’re considered adults at 14 and naturally live up to 80 years.
Ability Adjustments: +2 to any one ability score
Hit Points: 6
Size and Type: Half-orcs are Medium humanoids with both the human and orc subtypes.
Darkvision: Half-orcs can see up to 60 feet in the dark.
Orc Ferocity: Once per day, a half-orc brought to 0 Hit Points but not killed can fight on for 1 more round. The half-orc drops to 0 HP and is dying (following the normal rules for death and dying) but can continue to act normally until the end of his next turn, when he becomes unconscious as normal. If he takes additional damage before this, he ceases to be able to act and falls unconscious.
Halflings are a common race, having spread nearly as far as humans. Popular legend even claims that halflings were among the first humanoids to spread into the stars to colonize new worlds. Once thought of as a people without a homeland, halflings have peppered the void with colonies, and halfling caravan fleets—dozens of ships from as many different makes and eras—ply the trade lanes, eager to see new sights, swap stories, and trade strange and foreign goods. Their small stature and tendency to wander make halflings popular targets for raiders and conquerors, but time and again the tenacious race has rebounded from harsh challenges thanks to their cooperation, optimism, and what seems to be a racial gift for subterfuge.
Gifted with quick reflexes, charming confidence, and an apparent lack of fear, halflings are known across the galaxy as athletes, celebrities, and explorers. of course, this dramatic public image hardly defines the race as a whole. While most halflings experience a period of daredevil bravado in early adulthood, most settle out of it again just as quickly to become happy and loving homebodies, content with a hard day’s work and an evening spent with friends. Boasting a wide variety of eye, hair, and skin colors mirroring the human range, halflings usually have slight builds and large hands and feet. They make fast friends wherever they travel, preferring negotiation or clever wordplay to combat. Despite this accommodating nature, they have few permanent allies; halfling history is littered with long eras of domination and abuse, making them gregarious but wary of placing themselves in situations they can’t get out of again. While they share much in common with the ysoki—a love of travel and trade especially—they lack the ratfolk’s mechanical inclinations, and the two races often compete for markets, salvage rights, and trade lanes. If halflings truly ally with any race, it is humans, whose history is intimately entwined with their own, for better or worse.
A halfling’s even temper can sometimes be a bit off-putting to other races, especially when it’s exhibited in the face of incredible danger. A few find halfling cheerfulness and determination to be irritating, but many of those people change their minds once that tenacity is the factor that saves the day. Halflings are almost never offended by these attitudes, seeing them as natural inclinations of less confident races.
While not mistrustful of technology in general, many halflings look askance at cybernetic implants and biotech augmentations, feeling that natural halfling physiology is pretty much perfect as it is. They don’t look down on those who use such items, but it’s rarer than average to see a halfling with dermal plating or retinal reflectors. A halfling that accidentally loses a limb might consent to having a cybernetic replacement attached, but most halflings would spend the extra credits to make that prosthetic look as much like the lost limb as possible.
Halflings rarely lack for work. Media companies and corporations love an irrepressible halfling star or spokesmodel, and many starship captains believe in the stereotype of the fearless and steady-handed halfling pilot. Those halflings who turn to adventure find good use for their quick reflexes and boundless charm as envoys and operatives, though their general adaptability allows them to shine in almost any role.
Wandering halflings aboard starships typically finds spaces—even an area as small as a corner of a cargo bay—on their vessels to decorate in their own personal styles. They pin up keepsakes from their home planets (or colonies), such as dried flowers or scraps of metal from defeated hostile robots.
Most halflings stand 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 feet tall and weigh around 30 pounds. They’re considered adults at 20 and naturally live up to 200 years.
Hit Points: 2
Size and Type: Halflings are Small humanoids with the halfling subtype.
Halfling Luck: Halflings receive a +1 racial bonus to all saving throws. This bonus increases to +3 against fear effects.