Bloodlines

In the City of Lives, the definition of “human” is fairly loose. All its ethnic groups are at least nominally human—the majority of their heritage descends from plains apes. However, crossbreeding is very common among Realmshifting populations, and so humanity finds itself with interbred characteristics from animals, gods, beings from strange far-flung Realms, and even the undead. Blood is very important in the City of Lives. One’s bloodline determines physical characteristics, natural talents, and unusual abilities. Social status is also closely tied to bloodline: The Grate-Scratchers, Kipmen, and Rurals make up the low classes; Iversdotters and Pariahs are the core of the middle class; and Leovites, Prometheans, and Sky-Carvers make up the upper classes.

The City of Lives itself holds eight common Bloodlines:

  • Grate-Scratcher: Sewer-dwelling scavengers who make remarkable machines from the refuse of the City.
  • Iversdotter: A bloodline of thousands of copies of a single woman, their street gangs ruling over the lower-class districts and acting as an unofficial militia for the City.
  • Kipman: Horrible crossbreeds of beast and man, jumbled mongrels whose hot tempers keep them in menial and criminal jobs.
  • Leovite: A bloodline of priests with leonine aspects, who run the City’s dominant religion, the Church of the Blinding Light, and also most of the City’s bureaucracy.
  • Pariah: This bloodline’s ancestors were thrown out of somewhere long forgotten, and they have never been trusted—or trusting—since.
  • Promethean: The oldest bloodline, descended from the man who brought fire from the sky and began civilization, Prometheans are old but not decadent, taking their time to make art out of anything and everything.
  • Rural: A bloodline of simple farmers from the Julian Plains, living by their utilitarian holy book, the Seeding Manual, and using their natural magics to make their tilling easier.
  • Sky-Carver: A bloodline of ambitious magicians, who flit between their high-topped citadels and plan how to use their power over the air to rule this and every other world.

And several other notable non-bloodlines:

  • Crossblood: A de facto ninth bloodline – any result of mixed bloodlines or Outlanders mixing with citizens. Shunned by most. Notable are the Dead-Blooded: A hidden group of shamed descendants of raping, pillaging undead hordes, who keep to themselves and their corpses.
  • Outlander: Anyone who wanders in from another Realm is both suspect and welcome in the City.
  • Sons of Light: An extinct bloodline, the original rulers of the City, wiped out by the Elder Trio during the Breaking.

Race roles, with examples from D&D

Bloodlines

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