The Draughir are touched by the realm of Winter, a nightmare realm of hunger and death that nonetheless possesses hidden wisdom. They are calculating, practical to the point of expediency and protective of what is theirs, but they are monstrous in appearance, and struggle with inhuman instincts.
Draughir are most comfortable in military and economic roles which give them the independence they need to make the sort of pragmatic decisions they want to take. Draughir are often drawn to positions of political power but they can find it frustrating to share power with others, if they get in the way of the draughir's ability to provide effective leadership. Draughir priests are relatively rare; while draughir can be as virtuous as any human, their pragmatic nature means they tend to prioritize solutions over principles and their virtue is often more instinctive than intellectual.
While many take dominant roles, there are plenty of draughir who actively seek out second-in-command and lieutenant roles and they make excellent companions, attendants and right-hand henchmen - they are capable of fierce loyalty, to the right commander.
The draughir lineage is intended to appeal to players who want a character who is callous and merciless towards their enemies. Draughir are often pragmatic to the point of being brutal and are an option for anyone looking to play an emotionally hardened or otherwise unsympathetic character. The draughir give options for playing an anti-hero or misunderstood outsider, as well as a character who is “wrestling with inner demons”. It also allows a player to roleplay themes of practicality, morality and personal responsibility.
Inspirations for the draughir might include the heroes Batman or the Shadow who use fear as weapons against the criminal underclass and the comic-book villains R'as al Ghul or Magneto who do terrible things with the best of intentions. Other inspirations might include a fictionalised Vlad Dracul who does cruel things to his enemies but still thinks of himself as a protector of what is his; the Livia of I, Claudius who performs and encourages terrible acts for the greater good of the Roman people; the Bride from the Kill Bill movies; Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; the Sith from the Star Wars Old Republic, Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam of the Bene Gesserit from Dune, and to a degree the morlocks of H G Wells’ novel (and perhaps the 2002 movie) The Time Machine whose desperation to survive turns them into monsters. Marisa Coulter from the Northern Lights is a great example of an often heartless character conflicted by her feelings for those she cares about.
What they are not
- Sadistic or evil. Draughir are practical to the point of expediency, they are not innately wicked or corrupt. They are prepared to do cruel things only to achieve necessary ends, they do not delight in cruelty for its own sake.
- Undead. While draughir may often have a corpse-like appearance, they are living creatures.
Wendigo, the Cold, the Wise, the Hungry, Ghul, Dread
- Pale skin. A draughir's skin is usually pallid, pale or discoloured as if from ill health. You can use white or yellow make-up to lighten or jaundice the skin tone. You can paint every inch of your skin bone-white, but if you do this, then avoid leaving your neck visible and unpainted, as it undermines the appearance. The alternative is to apply make-up more traditionally to lighten the skin tones and give your skin a deathly pallor, if you do this then you can blend in the make-up rather than trying to cover all visible skin.
- Prominent veins. Some draughir have red or black veins that are clearly visible just beneath the surface of their pallid skin. You can use make-up to paint veins onto the skin; ideally they should be subtle and give a sense of being just visible.
- Scarred or gouged flesh. Draughir skin is often calloused, lined or marked. The skin may appear heavily scarred or be marked with lines, cuts or cracks that run across the skin. The pictures on this page show examples of the kind of disfigurements that are appropriate. These can be achieved with make-up or using prosthetics.
- Wrinkled skin. Draughir skin often appears aged, although this has no effect on their vitality. The skin may be mottled with liver spots and is often heavily wrinkled, especially around the eyes. Make-up can be used to enhance natural wrinkles and make them more visible, or Collodion or other prosthetics can create deeper creases in the skin.
- Predatory teeth. Many draughir have elongated canines. A high lineage draughir may have additional canine teeth in place of regular incisors or molars on both jaws. This look is best achieved with teeth prosthetics.
- Hollow, deep-set eyes. Some draughir have unnaturally hollow and deep-set eyes. You can achieve this look by using makeup to darken the eye-sockets to make them look deeper or use prosthetics to build up the brow and cheekbones to achieve a more pronounced effect.
- Predatory eyes. Draughir may have predatory eyes. Cosmetic contact lenses can be used to achieve this. The pupil should be the normal shape but the iris might be yellow or blood red.
- Clawed fingers. Draughir may have talons that replace their fingernails. These claws are never large enough to be used as a weapon. Clawed fingers should be black or bone white, with the claws short and protruding from the end of the finger where the nail bed would be. Wolverine style claws that protrude from the back of the wrist are not appropriate.
- Cold demeanour. Draughir might express their lineage by avoiding smiling and avoiding physical contact with others. Don't express warmth towards people and avoid talking about how you feel. Try to act as if your feelings and those of others were irrelevant and not worth comment or discussion.
Draughir blood influences the character of the one who possesses it. Not every draughir expresses these effects to the same degree, but characters who demonstrate these roleplaying trappings possess stronger lineage than those who do not.
- Draughir are cold. Draughir are not unemotional, they are capable of feeling jealous, angry, triumphant and many other emotions. But almost all draughir find it hard to experience any pleasure from the emotions of others: neither empathy nor sympathy are part of their nature. They are not naive or ignorant, they recognize and understand the emotions that others are feeling, they simply are not moved by them in any way. This makes it easy for them to disregard the feelings of others; when a village is starving to death a draughir will suggest eating the dead without a second thought, and will do it themself even if the rest of the village reacts with revulsion.
- Draughir have a pack mentality. Draughir are usually jealously protective and possessive towards their family and friends, but tend to treat strangers and acquaintances as potential rivals and competitors. Although they rarely exhibit much genuine empathy for those close to them, they are often fiercely loyal to those under their control or those they work with. This loyalty does not express itself as sympathy but they strive to ensure that the people they protect are safe and provided for. Draughir leaders can be socially domineering, they do not consider others' feelings and they expect those they are looking after to treat them with respect and deference.
- Draughir are calculating. They do what it takes to stay alive. Everyone is either useful, dangerous or not a threat. Every situation advances the draughir’s aim or hinders it. If something is useful, it should be used. If something is dangerous, it should be destroyed or avoided. A draughir on a vital mission will leave a lame companion behind rather than risk slowing the group down. They’re the kind of people who are comfortable with sacrificing ten lives to save a hundred, with using disease or terror as weapons. They choose the most effective course of action without experiencing any moral qualms or scruples or letting ethical considerations get in the way. If the destruction of a village will slow an advancing army, that settlement is history.
- Draughir are never satisfied. Most draughir are inveterate planners, they like to prepare for conflict and dangers. They fear being caught short and are never complacent that they will weather the storm. Any spare moments are spent trying to improve preparations and ensure sufficient resources are in place. This hunger can never be satisfied. This can be positive; they refuse to become complacent. It can also negative; they are never satisfied with what they achieve and find it impossible to relax.
- Draughir can eat carrion. Draughir get sustenance from anything they can eat or drink, even if it would cause a normal human to become sick. They can eat rotting meat, spoiled vegetables and uncooked flesh, as well as drinking blood, stagnant water or rancid milk without ill effect. They also don’t need as much food, drink or sleep as anyone else – they can survive by eating cockroaches if they have to (as long as they get plenty of cockroaches). They’re no more resistant to poison than anyone else; this is a survival tool that also allows them to subsist on leftovers and offal while their friends and family get the stuff they need to stay healthy. They can't dispose of bodies by eating them - it takes forever to eat a human body, 180lbs of raw meat and bone, even if you don’t throw up every time you swallow a mouthful.
- Draughir may degenerate into madness. Some draughir become increasingly preoccupied with preparing for external threats, to the point of paranoia. They rarely become delusional, but they become incapable of accepting risks and incapable of trusting people who are not a part of their circle. They will go to any lengths to protect their own and they view most outsiders as irrelevant at best, little more than lumps of meat while those that are notable all become potential threats or dangers. Lone draughir or individuals who have contact only with other draughir seem to be particularly prone to this madness, which is why most draughir seek out human company.
Draughir are as warm blooded and vital as any human, although they sometimes have corpse-like appearance. They mate and breed just like humans. While a few draughir – especially those of strong lineage – are born with clear draughir marks, others appear entirely human but undergo a transformation in later life (before they reach maturity).
The unexpected transformation of a beloved child helps fuel the fear that many feel toward the draughir. A common belief is that people who turn to cannibalism will have draughir children, or will slowly become draughir themselves.
If draughir present themselves respectfully to the Eternals of Winter they usually respond by treating the draughir as one of their own. Draughir who present themselves as equals will be treated as a rival or a threat.
Lines of the draughir
Some draughir children are killed or given away because people fear them and what they may turn into. Lone draughir children often feel isolated, because no-one else sees the world quite the way they do. When two draughir meet they may become rivals, unless one acknowledges the other's authority, but groups of draughir are able to work together provided they have strong leadership.
- Varushkan draughir are able to make difficult decisions, an ability that commands respect in this harsh land.
- In Highguard, the Suns of Couros chapter of Reikos provides a safe haven for draughir, so that those who are given up, cast out, or unwanted can find refuge with others like them and pursue virtue in meditation and isolation from the world. The chapter is noted for its focus in Winter magic, its pursuit of Vigilance and Loyalty, and the ruthlessness with which it opposes the Druj and any other enemies of the Empire.
- Also in Highguard, the people of Syrene are known to have significantly more children with draughir lineage than those in other parts of the Empire - but paradoxically these children are invariably fostered out to be raised in other chapters in Casinea.