The World of Sylnae – Races

If you are a regular reader of Lapsus Calumni (all six of you) you might have noticed that I make reference to something called a hobbin, or the fact that Fellion is a ghim. All of you are saying “Huh?” So I thought perhaps I should explain what these are, if nothing more than to put it into correct reference for those of you who come upon the zine and wonder what the madman is talking about.

A while ago I remade Sylnae…probably about a decade ago now, and I wanted to have as much original names for places, people things, etc. I did this in hopes of creating a bit more of a realistic culture for the world. Think about it, would the short stout fellas call themselves dwarves if they had no reference back to our world? Of course not. Would those awesome short cool fellas with large hairy toes call themselves hobbits (or halflings)?? Never.

Side note: Why in the gods’ names would any race except themselves being being called HALFLINGS is beyond me. Completely degrading! The shame!

So I set about creating a few unique names for my races. I wanted them barely different, that way it would build an instant connection for us, but something just a tad off, so we knew we were no longer in the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk. Thus were born the hobbins, ghim and of the world of Sylnae. Sylari are a recent renaming of the sidhe that used to haunt the forests and jungles of the world.

To that end, to give any reader a bit more detail on the races of Sylnae, I am including here the text from the game I am working on called Dungeon Delvers! I am including the text on racial modifiers (for character creation), this might be odd as I am still working on the game, but the details add a bit more depth to the racial explanations. I am including some artwork as well, the art is not mine and was ‘borrowed’ from other places around the web. The art is meant to convey an idea rather than an exact image of the races, but since I draw about as good as my dog, this is the best I can do for you.

The People of Sylnae


You, me, they are not so much different. Humans are a very adaptable people that can be found nearly everywhere. There are many varieties and different groups of humans, each with their own little quirks and uniqueness from the highlanders of Daenenbraig to the desert dwellers of the Great Steppes. Remember to add flavor to these groups and make each ethnic group interesting.

Human racial modifiers: Human characters can raise one Attribute of their choosing by 1 and receive two additional Traits at no cost.


The ghim are four to five feet short, stocky, strong but very skilled craftsman. Prone to have a strong dislike of any magic but their own (yes, there is a difference). Renowned for their deft skills with stone and metal, ghim master smiths and masons are highly sought after in courts across the land. Their society is typically clearly divided between surface and earth-dwellers. Earth-dwellers will normally have little to do with anyone on the surface except the surface ghim.

Ghim racial modifiers: +1 STR; one free craftsman based Trait. Gain a +4 to their Magical Defense when attempting to resist any non-ghim magic effects….good or bad. Ghim have excellent night vision and can see in very low lighting.


Hobbin are very short, most sit somewhere in the three foot range, and unless in wet or cold will usually be found barefooted. Due to their small stature, they have evolved to become dexterous, witty and creative people. Highly adaptable people, they can be found anywhere and any profession but they prefer professions involving natural substances such as leather working, cooking, or farming. Hobbins all share a devoted love of music and stories and children are taught how to play their small bagpipes nearly from birth.

Hobbin racial modifiers: +1 DEX or +1 WIS; One free Trait that must be nature based and gain the Bagpipe Musician Trait free.


A Kiskov is a large, burly minotaurs who are very strong and aggressive. Their culture is based on brute strength, family honor and pride. If a Kiskov gives you his word, he will stick to it until he stops breathing. (Yes the image is a doodle, but the kiskovs are more akin to the american bison than a European style minotaur.)

Kiskov racial modifiers: +2 to STR, +2 on any check that involves their code of honor. Receive one free Trait, must be sailor or mining based.


The Sylari are a newer race to appear in the land and very much in tune with nature. Green tinted hair and skin, sometimes a even a small, fleshy leaf will be found in their hair. Born of the Mother Tree, they grow in a leathery cocoon until comparable to a human young adult. At birth, most are curious and naïve, with a strong desire to learn about their world and the people in it. They share a thin mental bond with the great Tree which forms a sort of minor group memory. One of the most magical races, but limited to magic that can trace its roots back to the tuned-to-nature ways of the Sylari. People tend to think of the Sylari almost like young children as they are always asking questions and seem not to understand normal, everyday activities. The other races use of beer and ale fascinates them.

Sylari racial modifiers: Gain the free Trait of Collective Mind(WIS) – the GM may allow the player to make any Wisdom based check with a +5 when he deems there is a possibility that another Sylari may have information that could assist the character. On any Test that would involve common knowledge for any other race, the Difficulty Level automatically receives a penalty of +5.

A side note on the sylari, I hate elves. 😉 I recently read a great book that introduced me to the Guildwars2 world and their take on elves called the Sylvari, I boldly stole their take because, well, I thought it was way cool. However, they are creating a gaming world and therefore I think the race is sort of geared to that end. I like this image (to the left) way more as it presents and even more alien or fairy image of the sylari. I think they should be less people (human) like and more strange, since they are connected to nature (for REAL not just D&D for real) and I really like the idea that an occasional leaf or vine could sprout from their head or a sylari elder might have roots/leaves/vines tangled up in his long flowing green beard.


10 thoughts on “The World of Sylnae – Races

  1. Neat. Especially the Sylari. And as one of your regular reader, of course I was already familiar with hobbins and ghim. I find your lack of faith disturbing.

    I’m in dire need of a take on elves myself, and I do believe I’ll steal some of your stolen goods 😉 In fact, my need is so great that before Monday I need to have something ready for implementation. Being a GM is nothing but bloody hard work.

    1. Haha! If you check out that book, the sylvari are a very neat take on an elvish style race. The way they are born as adults but with child like wonder and curiosity is neat, the sort of naive way they view the world adds much to the story. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when they are trying to escape the city guard. They slay a group of them and two of the party recognize one of the slain (they used to work in the guard before the story takes place). The resident sylvari, being a necromancer and in need to someone to set of the numerous traps in the dungeon, she animates the dead body and then cannot understand why the two are a little disturbed by this. She cannot fathom why the others are upset. Interesting character development and excellent chance for players to play a unique character.

  2. Well, I wont have a chance to get hold of, let alone read, that book before monday, but it has slid in on the top of my to-read list.

    The reason why I fell for the Sylvari-take is that I’ve already decided that my elves comes from some sort of Great Primordial Tree. While I’m at it, why don’t I just tell you what I know about them so far.

    They are born of a tree (or trees; I’m thinking that the different ‘tribes’ came from individual trees – most of whom have withered and/or died by now).

    They are the oldest of the Younger Races – Man being the youngest of these.

    They are a space-faring race – using Elven Man-o-War ships from Spelljammer.

    In the previous Age they fought a great war against Man, and lost, thus leaving the World of Man (going beyond the Horizon, or some such). I’m thinking something along the lines of the Earth-Minbari War from Babylon 5 here.

    They have promised that when all seems darkest, they will “buy [humans] time.” This has allowed me to postpone their introduction for a few years now, but I fear I need to stop being coy and show some skin now…

    The orcs are a corrupted breed of elves. Not particularly original, I know. However, instead of Sauron being the corrupting force, I’ve used Cthulhu.

    I’ve also had a tribe of elves that stayed behind after the Last Great War appear. If you’re interested, you can read about those here:

    I’m sorry for ranting away, but since I don’t think any of my players are likely to pop by here I’m shamelesly using this opportunity to see if I can write my way out of this hole 😉

    1. Wow! I just read that post, great writing and awesome elves! Very atmospheric and almost spooky in the way your presented them, very cool! I certainly like when elves are presented in a light far removed from what, we as products of the D&D generation, have grown to expect elves to be like.

  3. Thank you for those kind words. If you’re not fed up with me yet, you could have a look at this one – – for some background on those elves.

    And again, thank so much you for bringing the Sylvari to my knowledge. I think that was exactly what I needed to break the creative deadlock I’ve been struggling with on the issue of the western elves. Now all I need to do is arange my thoughts in their proper order… Damn me for creating such big expectations around sopmething I’ve been trying to avoid dealing with 😉

  4. Harald: I missed some of this as I wasn’t at my normal place or time over the past couple days.

    Your elves are very effective in being ‘other’; I’ve always enjoyed that take rather than the ‘better’ or reverent tone many fantasy games seem to have towards them.

    In many ways, the back story/fluff of Earthdawn/Shadowrun on elves was what I found the most compelling- these are not just pretty humans- these are an alien race that live a long time, have different motives than us, are long minded, and badasses.

    On showing skin: maybe have an infiltrator tribe that is staying around or sent back to start the efforts on the humans, with some duplicity and double dealing intended. A little Vampire perhaps, but these are not people; they are elves- give ’em some rope!

    Anyway, I’m enjoying.

  5. Unfortunately I deployed to Iraq. My last time here I had much time in the evenings to goof off and work on creative things, this time it is completely different and when I am lucky I leave work around 7 or 8pm, and then I have little energy left for anything creative. Since deploying i have made very few posts here and have played nothing short of an on-going PBeM.
    So, sadly, Sylnae will have to hold off a bit longer, but rest assured, once free time is mine again, it will rise again.

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