Races of Ustalav
As with much of the Inner Sea, Ustalav is a nation inhabited primarily by humans, but that doesn’t exclude members of other races from participating in the Carrion Crown Adventure Path. The capital city, Caliphas, is conveniently located on the banks of Lake Encarthan; trade with the neighboring nations of Druma, the Five Kings Mountains, Isger, Kyonin, Molthune, and Nirmathas bring non-humans into Caliphas’s port, and from there into the heart of Ustalav. Trade aside, the rich and dark history of Ustalav is lure enough for the adventurous and curious among all the civilized races of the Inner Sea.
Humans dominate Ustalav’s population, and among them most are ethnic Varisians whose ancestors also called the land home. Whether nobles clinging to the few drops of blood that grant them a claim—albeit a distant one—to the Ustalavic aristocracy, or stoic peasants struggling to make ends meet in the unforgiving countryside, heritage and history are incredibly important to Ustalavs. All modern Ustalavs feel directly connected through familial ties to the centuries of torment at the Whispering Tyrant’s hands and share an inherited acceptance of a life of struggle and suffering. Among the populace’s Varisian ethnicity are communities of nomads who travel as far as the Varisian coast, and the wandering Sczarni, who are scorned even by many fellow Varisians for their stereotypical unscrupulous ways. Both unsettled groups are typically considered backward and dangerous, and are thus treated as second-class citizens. In addition, those humans of Kellid decent are treated with contempt, especially in the north, where they are negatively associated with the barbarian tribes of Numeria, the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, and the fallen realm of Sarkoris. Despite their relegation to second-class citizenship, Kellids are nevertheless common throughout Ustalav, and the monolithic remnants of their shamanistic society from before the arrival of the Varisians can still be found throughout the region.
Dwarves are less than common in Ustalav, yet the proximity of the Five Kings Mountains to the Immortal Principality means that there is steady trade between the miners, weaponsmiths, and brewers of the dwarven stronghold and the large urban ports on Lake Encarthan. Stout folk native to the land can generally be found in the mining-rich counties of Barstoi and Versex, where they often hold influential positions in local salt and tin mines. While many dwarven traders and tradespeople find themselves most accepted in the metropolitan centers of southern Ustalav, some venture into the more provincial and sometimes prejudiced counties in the east to answer the silent call to stand vigil against the orc hordes of neighboring Belkzen. Though natives of these regions are generally suspicious of (and sometimes even outright hateful toward) non-human visitors, those who take the time to get to know their dwarven neighbors often come around to their foreign ways, appreciating them for their hardiness and staunch pragmatism.
Elves are uncommon in Ustalav, especially outside the cosmopolitan capital of Caliphas or the nation’s many centers of learning. Even the oldest living elves are too young to remember the reign of the Whispering Tyrant, but elven memories are long and current elders recount tales of their parents’ generation joining the ranks of the Shining Crusade to drive Tar-Baphon’s armies from the banks of Lake Encarthan. As such, many young elves venture into the Ustalavic countryside, hoping to uncover long-buried mysteries or even to see the land where a not-so-distant ancestor perished. Some elves find themselves subject to deep-seated prejudice from Ustalav’s primarily Varisian inhabitants, who collectively—if subconsciously—hold a grudge against the elves who returned to Kyonin once the Whispering Tyrant was defeated so long ago, abandoning the crippled natives to fend for themselves—a fate from which the nation of Ustalav has never fully recovered.
Ustalav isn’t home to any notable gnome settlements, and the inhabitants’ general superstition makes them wary of gnomes living among them. That said, Ustalav is a strange place, and gnomes from around the world often travel there to see its bizarre sights and sometimes even more bizarre citizens. Particularly charismatic gnomes have been known to embed themselves with a traveling caravan of Sczarni, performing an agreed-upon task in exchange for being led throughout the countryside to see the inspiring sights and experiences within. Similarly, some gnomes find themselves accompanying altogether different caravans: traveling circuses. In these cases, their freakish companions often provide enough inspiration to stave off the Bleaching, while the gnomes themselves occasionally exploit their people’s rarity by going on display for gawking rubes willing to pay to see a “freak” or “captured fairy.”
Half-elf populations are always small throughout the Inner Sea, and this remains true in Ustalav. Minute numbers of such half-breeds can be found in Ardis, Caliphas, and Karcau, though isolated individuals are scattered throughout the nation. The superstitious and uneducated population of rural Ustalav frequently see the pointed ears, inhuman eyes, and fair features of half-elves and mistake them for tieflings, or other more monstrous half-humans. Such folk then make the offenders’ lives difficult, sometimes even running them out of town. Thus, native half-elves are cautious, and often do their best to disguise their elven traits. Half-elves from other parts of the world are prone to wandering, however, and many find themselves in Ustalav on their way somewhere else or as a final destination, believing the ancient land may hold some answer they seek.
Half-orcs are an extraordinary sight in Ustalav, and outside the seedier side of Ustalav’s many urban centers, half-orcs are most often found along the nation’s western border. The Whispering Tyrant ruled Ustalav for nearly a millennium as master of the vast orc hordes of Belkzen, and even a thousand years after the Shining Crusade defeated him and drove his armies back into the wastelands, the residual bloodlines caused by generations of orc attacks on human settlements still pop up in even the most prestigious of families. Though Sczarni are typically capable of defending themselves and wary of outsiders, some vulnerable caravans have been known to hire the occasional half-orc guard to ensure that they have the brawn on hand to counter any unexpected resistance from the nation’s darker denizens. Despite this, half-orcs are seen as monsters by most Ustalavs, and a half-orc in any Ustalavic setting is often the subject of extreme prejudice.
As with elsewhere in the Inner Sea region, halflings live and work alongside humans, ever in their wide and ambitious shadows. In Ustalav, halflings are relatively rarer than in the nations of southern Avistan, such as Andoran and Cheliax. As with similarly statured gnomes, halflings may be found traveling the countryside as part of wandering carnivals or freak shows, on display for their miniature stature or performing as acrobats or jugglers. Nobles in the more urban cities of Caliphas, Ardis, and Karcau may look to the prosperous nations of Cheliax and Taldor and follow their lead by employing halflings as servants, ever trying to emulate more extravagant societies. In the northwestern counties known as the Palatinates, halflings fleeing from the bonds of slavery elsewhere in the world see the emancipated citizenry as an example of the life they wish to live, free from both bondage and the idealistic crusading of liberty-focused Andoran, and they live and work side by side with the free humans of the region’s peasantry.