Many new players and GMs of the Mythus game are adepts or veterans of another FRPG, now experiencing Mr. Gygax's greatest work ever. One thing noticeable to many new players is the fact that the creatures typical to most FRPGs, Dwarves, Elves, Dragons, Pegasi and other races and creatures of fantasy are not present on the world of AErth. Oh, there are many species of animals that are now extinct (or could have existed) on Earth, both on the surface and in especially in the interior, and the Subterranean realms hold unique, yet realistic lifeforms. In addition, there are a few fantastic creatures found on AErth, undead and golems, but for the most part, AErth is devoid of these life-forms. All of the "typical" fantasy races live on a counter-sphere, Phaeree, which contains most creatures of legend, fairy-tales, and common races of modern fantasy novels (and FRPGs).
There is a reason for this design. If all the races found on Phaeree had to co-exist on AErth, mankind would only have a small foothold on the planet, with the other races holding court in other areas, and while this may fit other campaign worlds, it is not possible to do on AErth. AErth is a true divergent Earth (as opposed to an Earth-like world like many campaigns), diverging sometime in the distant past, with the existence of Heka and a few extra land masses being the major differences. A world "built from scratch" makes a GM much more dependent on that world's various supplements, but Mr. Gygax's world can be researched by GMs using any library. Making these fantastic beings on native to AErth would alter history, culture, and civilization, thus making it "non-historical", and, while it would then be unique, GMs would be more dependent on "official" supplements and the human civilizations would be more bland. Thus, this design offers the "best of both worlds".
Unfortunately this can be a little confusing to newcomers and novices. While we eagerly await detailed information on the counter-sphere and its inhabitants, I have written this essay on Phaeree's interaction with AErth. Hopefully, this information will be useful for new Mythus GMs out there.
Due to the nature of doors between AErth and the counter-sphere, there are occasional spontaneous transfers of creatures from the latter. Usually, these occurrences will be one-way and permanent, trapping a native of Phaeree in the lands of AErth! Of course, what a specific creature might do depends upon its nature. A creature from exterior Phaeree might retreat into an isolated area, or attempt to seek a way home via human heka-practitioners (assuming the being doesn't have any way to do this on its own). Some hobgoblin and most goblin races, however, might go upon a rampage, taking advantage of their superior abilities in AErth's mundane environment. Of course, if a monstrous marauding Firedrake was rampaging the moorlands or Hibernia, who would be the best to hunt down the monster? Why, the Player's HP company, of course! This is a great vehicle for GMs to suddenly introduce a menace into an area without sacrificing logic and believability.
Of course, not all Phaeree natives "peppered" on AErth are the victims of random door activity. Many races of Phaeree command great Heka, either through casting or power, which may enable them to freely transport themselves between the spheres. Many have knowledge of permanent gates, stable doors, and nexus points, particularly those in the Subterranean realms of AErth. Thus, those who have the power or the knowledge, as well as the inclination, can be found on AErth.
There are many reasons why the denizens of Phaeree visit AErth. In parallel to human tourists of Earth, many make a pilgrimage to AErth to enjoy the scenery (such as centaurs roaming the plains of AEropa, or to partake in prankish "sports"-- although in the case of the goblin races, this sport could be violent and malevolent!). In addition, the more organized groups have more ambitious reasons for visiting AErth. Several merchant companies from all three races are eager to trade and do business with the many nations of AErth, seeking various goods not found on the counter-sphere. Races such as Dwarves, Elves, Alfen, Trow, Drow and Slaugh all have agendas similar to humans, thus, you might find covert bandits of drow raiding small villages, an adventuring party of mixed Faerie-folk on a mission opposing the Accursed, Dwarves mining the subterranean lands looking for important and rare elements, a small cabal of Slaugh masterminding the covert coup in a major town... the list of possibilities is endless!
At this point, I must mention that is is unlikely that armies of organized warriors will appear on AErth. In the Mythus cosmos, the material plane is considered a "neutral" ground by outside factions. To borrow from Gary Gygax, it is akin to a strategy game, or "cosmic chess game" if you will. The farther away from the mundane plane, the less direct the influence. On AErth, to gain power, one must follow certain cosmic laws to gain power or influence. Unless these precepts are followed, any influx of power can and will be counter-balanced by an opposing force. If certain prescribed measures are not followed, a massive horde of conjured daemons serving an Entital power will be checked by a company of Devas from several opposing Ethos or Pantheons. Similarly, if the Slaugh just decide to send an army on an AErth-aimed blitzkrieg, they will be checked by Faerie and benign Hobgoblin (in addition to possible Supernatural and/or Entital forces)! This is not to say that they can never be a war between AErth and Phaeree nations, but they will be rare in the extreme and/or be the result of a long-term, well-organized and prepared plan.
Sometimes natives of Phaeree, for whatever reason, desire to form a permanent colony on the planet. While AErth may be more orderly than Phaeree, in many cases, the transition to a world with more rigid physical laws is easier for a creature used to chaos than the reverse (as orderly physical laws--at least the levels on AErth--are just seen from a Phaeree native's perspective as another form of "chaos"), so natives of Phaeree would feel little discomfort there. Many colonies of Faeries, Hobgoblins, and Goblins can be found underneath the surface of AErth, coexisting (or warring) with the native subterranean species. Especially comfortable underground are the goblin races, used to living under a dark sky, as well as other races who like to live or work under the earth, particularly such races as Dwarves, who are natural rock-workers.
In cases where the race is more attuned to the outdoors, settlements (or nomadic encampments) can be found on AErth, although these are rare. Elves would be most comfortable deep within the great forests of Avillonia and Iberia, both because of their kinship with the environment as well as to avoid contact with the human, and Centaur bands might be found wandering the plains of Kiev and Near Azir, far from the nearest cities. GMs of Mythus campaigns should feel free to place any small colonies of whatever humanoid race he or she desires.
Domesticated Phaeree Animals: On AErth, some of the non-sentient beasts are owned by very rich and/or powerful individuals. Ownership of a Phaeree animal is considered a sign of great wealth and prestige, and rich nobles, royalty, and other members of the upper class may own some form of exotic animal. (While these animals are rare, they are more commonly found owned by a such individuals than any creature native to Inner AErth--anyone who owns a living dinosaur must be very rich and powerful indeed!) Such animals are usually sold to humans via Phaeree merchants, who make a tidy sum of these creatures. Additionally, some humans may actually go hunting for these creatures or send out parties to capture such creatures.
Besides Aesthetic purposes, many of the Phaeree animals are also used to serve as guardians by their owners. While rare, some nobles may keep such creatures as Basilisks, Gorgoxen, Hydrae, Leoserpis, and the like as guardians for their treasure vaults. (Of course, anyone this rich and powerful probably uses other guardian creatures and spirits and has heka-oriented defenses as well!). Elven Animals (including Cushee and Caitshee), Tygers, and similar creatures can both be used as protective "watchdogs" and be pets of the family as well. Of particular interest to humanity, however, are Phaeree's Winged Steeds. Owning a Pegasus (or even a Grifiunicorn or Nightmare) is one of the dreams of many a knight or noble, as they are easy to train and care for. However, even ownership of a Gryphon or a Hippogriff (which are harder to tame and train) is a sign of power and prestige, and is nothing to sneeze at by the common folk.
The military of a state understand and appreciate the usefulness of such beasts. While it is rare to find a whole unit of Griffons employed in the military as an "air force" like Albion, you can rest assure that many of the powerful states utilize a few of these creatures. A powerful nation is likely to have a few pegasi employed by scouts and/or messengers. Large, combat-oriented creatures, such as Wyverns, Hydralizards, and Oliphants could be owned by large armies, as "monster squads". Pacts between "Creatures" and Humanity: Sometimes, a non-humanoid intelligent Phaeree native of great power will form a mutual alliance with an individual, city, or state. In these cases, both parties come to some agreement. It can be done out of kindness, be a purely "for hire" arrangement, or blackmail/enslavement. As an example, say a powerful Firedrake becomes trapped on AErth, and does not wish to be hunted down by the humans. She then approaches the city of Y's (hearing many "good" things about that place from fellow goblins), telepathically contacting the leaders of the city, and makes an arrangement. In return for a safe place to roost and enough food to live well, she agrees to protect the city, serve in its army, and work on "special projects" (i.e. bandit raids) for the governing body. Similar arrangements can be formed with individual creatures (for example, a Effriti serving a Yarbayan nobleman). The more sentient "steed races" such as Ki-lin are likely to do this.
Relating to this type of alliance is the "unknown guardian". These races are usually small benign humanoids such as brownies, and are more likely to do this is sparcely populated areas than urban centers, where heka is scarce (to avoid detection). They either do this out of pure kindness or for their own interests (such as shelter). They are likely to bring good fortune, protect home, hearth, and land, and rarely (if ever) reveal themselves. Humanoids inhabiting Human Civilizations: The more human-like races of Phaeree can and do form alliances with human civilizations. The Seelie are the most prone to be found in centers of civilization, but a few races of Hobgoblin nature can be found as well. Each major Phaeree race is likely to send ambassadors and diplomats to the major capitols of AErth which correspond to the location of their states on the counter-sphere. Though it is unlikely that Phaeree-kind will intervene directly in human conflicts, they are prone to quietly offer aid through trade of special goods, or providing special elite units to serve the human nation's endeavors. (Note that these types of alliance are also formed, albeit at a lesser extent, with the non-humanoid Phaeree kingdoms, such as the rumored alliances between the Pharaohs or AEgypt and the Sphinx kingdom of Om Thibankhen, or the occasional treaties made with between the Dragon kingdom of Kumi-no-Yama and the various Chinsungeese states.)
Besides the occasional ambassador, Phaeree individuals can be found serving in Artisan capacities. However, such individuals are very rare, save in communities that have quarters or villages comprised of one or more Phaeree natives (see below). There is, however, one noticeable exception: Gnomes. Gnomes in the Mythus game are natural businessmen, bureaucrats, and merchants, and can be found on many spheres. They have integrated themselves into society deeply enough so people are not shocked to find them in any civilized area. In fact, it is likely to find gnomes anywhere on AErth--An Explorer once commented that he had been on a mission to Magmur, and found a gnome trading camp several miles inland!
Certain races who have colonized AErth (and do not live in the subterranean realms) eventually become intertwined with a human state. The degree of this will depend upon the race's culture and human acceptance of the race's presence. Some colonies of Elves in the deep woodlands on the outskirts of a civilized nation would try to hide their existence from the state, chasing humans away, and might not recognize the rule of the land's suzerain as applying to them. Other Elven colonies might form a neutral alliance, informing the state of their existence and asking to be left alone. Races which have more in common with the Humans such as Alfen might wish to settle in villages on the outskirts of the nation. For example, there are a few small Alfen villages in Albion, Lyonnesse, and Flanders (among other states). Such communities like this have their own ethnic culture, yet recognize the nation and its laws, trade with its communities, pay its taxes (ugh!), and its members are considered citizens.
In urban areas, natives of Phaeree, like any other group of "immigrants", will form sub-communities. This all depends on their groups race, culture, number, and average SEC. These sub-communities are rare and would only exist in the largest of cities, and would likely be a few blocks in a cities "Foreign District". Such districts tend to be of peasant to lower middle class, thus Alfen, Dwarves, and those races whose culture emphasize the "worker class" would be the most numerous. Elves, Fays, and the like are rarer in occurrence than other Faeries, even in a city such as Londun, and are more likely to buy a townhouse or villa in the noble district (although the more snooty neighbors might object). Gnomes either troop together or integrate themselves into human society, depending on their individual preferences. If they lived in a "Faerie Quarter", they would be the most prestigious ones there, save one of Fay stock if he or she chose to live there. In any event, in the larger communities, there can be found special public houses, inns, shops, or multi-purpose establishments for the non-human folk, whether a sub-community is formed or not.
Fame of Phaeree communities: Some of the Phaeree communities, whether independent colonies, rural communities within a state, or urban subsections, may be famed across the surrounding nations. An example of this is the city of Zurich, Helvetia, which has a large population of gnomes. These gnomes have a lot of power and prestige, more so here than any other community on AErth. In that city, they control all the Banks, Lending and Exchange institutions, and have aristocratic levels of wealth and power. They have invested in and own several vineyards, mechanical manufacturing operations (time-pieces and music-boxes), quarries, and even a few of the famed Helvetian mercenary companies. The actions of these gnomes have been heard all around the world, and in fact are the source of many of the nasty rumors about all gnomes (these gnome families tend to very ruthless, cold, and ambitions and are less friendly than the norm.)! Those in Helvetia (and even in all of AEropa) that don't respect them, fear the infamous "Gnomes of Zurich".
Similarly, there is a small community of Dwarves who can be found in the Shadowshallow and the Mountains near the Rhine river who are famed for their craftsmanship of precious metals into jewelry, and these artifacts are famed worldwide. They are known as the "tamers of the Rhonegold", and have a covert trade treaty with Francia, despite the river's location beyond the borders of that state. Avillonian legends speak of a band of bandit Drow, the Dark Stalkers. These brigands are said to be be responsible for several unexplained raids upon small communities near the edges of the lands, as well as disappearances over deep within the forest. The government of Albion has so far found no evidence of these legends and disregard them, yet the common folk believe, and have sworn oaths that they've seen them. GMs should use these examples to create their own "famous" communities.
Cultural Clashes: A point must be made about human prejudices. Many other fantasy games assume that Humans, Dwarves, Elves, and other races get along extremely well. Yet the Epic of AErth is a world very much based on our Earth, and as such, the humans of this world have prejudicial traits against other cultures, ethnic types, and skin colors (although, ironically, it is rare for a "color" to be targeted in and of itself, unlike our Earth--it is more likely to be based on culture, Pantheon, or the like). Thus, other actual races can and will bear the brunt of human discomfort, prejudice, and even hatred.
While natives of Phaeree can be found in many of the larger urban communities, there are many small "backwater" villages on the outskirts of many states. I call these hamlets "backwater" since they don't utilize the most current technology available, are semi-isolated, don't have a lot of well-educated inhabitants (who are likely illiterate) and lack Heka-practitioners, save for an occasional healer or herbalist. (While magick is much more common in the Mythus game than in other games, like wealth, smaller communities have shallower levels of Heka in use). In such areas, superstition makes many people fearful of the "other-folk", and they are likely to flee or attack any they encounter. They are likely to know of gnomes, yet they will definitely be mistrustful and paranoid around them.
The more populated and educated urban communities will be used to such creatures, but there is still a lot of suspicion of them. Some of this is deep-rooted in old myths and superstition, and can be found on an subconscious level. The old human prejudice towards beauty and ugliness rears its head in many people. "Fay-kind", while seen as strange, are much more pleasing to the eyes of a human than the "pint-sized folk", such as gnomes and dwarves. Of course, cultural interpretations of beauty apply as well. While an Alfarwoman would be courted by many a male AEropean, a primitive tribesman from Afrik might attack the woman, thinking her a netherfiend! The differences between cultural mores and folkways of humans and Phaeree natives also form the seeds for prejudice. For example, the gnomes are very bureaucratic, shrewd, and ambitious. As such, these cultural traits and the success they have in the business world are hated by guildsmen, merchants, peasants who are employed by them, to name a few examples. The dour, "workaholic", meticulous dwarves may be disliked by other "working-class" citizens who consider their more efficient outputs and different work ethics threats to their status-quo. The same class might dislike the "Fay-races" for being "aristocratic", and an Alfen's love of comfort might be seen as "laziness" or "fopishness". This results in the standard lowering of the SEC class for starting HPs, as Phaeree natives are considered "second class" citizens.
Of course, Phaeree-kind has its own prejudices as well. Depending on the culture, Pantheon, and other factors in the state, races of Phaeree may have similar feelings towards humans. It should be noted that certain races of Phaeree may have prejudices towards other natives, but it is not as common as the prejudices of humans vs. humans. On Phaeree, the races co-exist in many kingdoms and are much more tolerant due to this upbringing. While it is known that elves and dwarves have many differences of opinion and argue a lot, it is rare in the extreme of any true anger or hatred existing between the two--this is saved for goblin-kind! Even goblin-kind, while warring amongst themselves, focus most of their hatred on Faerie-kind. As a result, natives of Phaeree are much more tolerant on a whole and are less likely to be prejudiced against humans than the reverse, although ill-feelings towards them by humans can result in their responding in kind.
All of these factors make for a very realistic world, and fuel the fires for role-playing adventures. For example, a group of HPs may investigate violence against an establishment run by gnomes, or a Non-human HP could face the fear of farmers on the outskirts of civilization. Many good tid-bits are available for campaigns. For a good example of human prejudice vs. a Non-human, I recommend reading R.A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms novels which include the character of Drizzt Do'Urden (the Icewind Dale and Dark Elf series). While this is an AD&D character, and the prejudice of the humans is due to the fact that he is a member of the "evil race" or Drow (whose culture he has rejected), the attitudes of the humans he encounters is likely to apply to ANY native of Phaeree in the Mythus game, and is good background material for any GM or player (and Bob Salvatore's novels are one of the finest works of fantasy literature in any event).
Human-Native Phaeree Hybrids: A note should be made about hybrids between humans and humanoid natives of Phaeree. Sometimes the males and females of two differing species "get together", whether willingly or unwillingly. Races genetically compatible with humans are the once-human Amazons and Slaugh, as well as the "Fay-folk" (Elves, Fays, Faeries, Alfar, Trow, and Drow). Some game systems have these "halflings" (and by this I mean races called "Half-"something, not the race based on J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbits) as a sub-race vocation or template. However, for game purposes, the offspring of such unions should be treated as either belonging to one species or the other-- that is, HPs hybrids will either use the non-human racial vocation, or one of the human vocations. This does not mean they are "pure members" of this race. Various quirks and/or counter-quirks should be added (such as the "Fay" quirk in the Mythus list) to round the persona out.
In closing, the counter-sphere of Phaeree and its symbiotic relationship with AErth allows the best of both worlds. The existence of Fantasy creatures as "aliens" prevents a disruption in the "historical parallel" of AErth, but they are sprinkled liberally enough to make AErth a true world of fantasy and legend. I hope this article has given many GMs and players insight into the interaction between the two spheres. Have fun!